Stalin’s Great Purge, taking place from 1937 – 1938 is estimated to have killed between 600,000 to 1.2 million.
Political opponents and ethnic minorities were summarily executed, while others were sent to gulags where they died in horrendous captivity in Siberia.
Estimates vary widely on how many political prisoners and ethnic minorities were killed during Stalin’s reign. The data is difficult to interpret because the Soviets manipulated census figures.
However, some historians have put the total as high as 6 to 10 million, this being across his entire despotic tenure from 1922 to 1953.
The Holocaust was Hitler’s systematic murder of six million Jewish men, women and children, around two thirds of Europe’s Jewish population.
The Nazi leader believed Germans were ‘racially superior’ and deemed Jews inferior.
The atrocity saw, not only Jews but also homosexuals, disabled people, Slavs and Roma, shipped across Europe to concentration camps to be killed in gas chambers and worked to death.
The most notorious camps were Auschwitz, Bełżec, Chełmno, Majdanek, Sobibór, and Treblinka in occupied Poland.
The Holodomor, or the Hunger, was a mass starvation of an estimated 3.5 million in Soviet Ukraine from 1932 to 1933.
When famine struck across the Soviet Union that year, the Ukraine was pillaged by the army and secret police who stole the harvest and all the food in villagers’ homes.
Ukrainians dropped dead in the streets, lay dying and rotting in their houses, and some women became so desperate for food that they ate their own children.
If they managed to fend off starvation, they were deported and shot in their hundreds of thousands.
The disaster, which Stalin wrote was designed to ‘break the back of the peasantry’ – to shatter their independent spirit – remained a state secret, denied by the government.
The Nazi Hunger Plan was devised to steal food from the Soviet Union and give it to soldiers and civilians to continue fuelling the German war effort.
It was devised by SS chiefs Herbert Backe along with Heinrich Himmler.
The architects of the plan agreed that the German army’s invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, could only be carried out if the troops fed themselves off the land, Soviet infrastructure not being adequate to ship supplies across rail lines.
In drawing up the plans the Nazis concluded that ‘if we take what we need out of the country, there can be no doubt that tens of millions of people will die of starvation.’
This was no matter to Hitler or the Nazis who saw Slavs, Poles and Serbs as ‘untermensch’, literally meaning underman, or subhuman.
Historian Timothy Snyder estimates that ‘4.2 million Soviet citizens (largely Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians) [were] starved by the German occupiers in 1941–1944.’
Between 1929 and the year of Stalin’s death in 1953, 18million men and women were transported to Soviet slave labour camps in Siberia and other outposts of the Red empire – many of them never to return.
Prisoners worked in the most extreme climates, facing temperatures of -20C (-4F), as they cut down trees with handsaws and dug at frozen ground with primitive pickaxes.
Others mined coal or copper by hand, often suffering painful or fatal lung diseases from inhaling ore dust while on the job.
Labourers in the prisons worked up to 14 hours a day on massive projects, including the Moscow-Volga Canal, the White Sea-Baltic Canal, and the Kolyma Highway.
By the time the last Soviet gulag closed its gates, millions had died. Starvation was not uncommon, as prisoners were barely fed enough to sustain such difficult labour. Other prisoners were simply dragged out to the woods and shot by guards.
From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany operated more than a thousand concentration camps across occupied Europe.
The camps were run exclusively by the SS, Hitler’s paramilitary organization made up of those most loyal to Nazi ideology, which believed the German race to be superior to all others and wanted to exterminate those deemed ‘inferior.’
The first camps were filled with many of Hitler’s political opponents, most of them Communists.
During World War Two the Nazis established extermination camps to systematically murder six million Jews.
Other inmates included homosexuals, disabled people, Slavs and Roma people who were considered ‘untermensch’, subhuman.
Many were killed in gas chambers, others died of starvation, in extreme working conditions, while others were killed by firing squad and by hanging.
The most notorious death camps were Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau in occupied Poland.