Vladimir Tismaneanu, in his appreciative review of Robert Gellately’s Stalin’s Curse: Battling for Communism in War and Cold War, makes the startling claim that “Stalin was intent upon provoking a new world war” (“Painting the world Red”, Books, 7 March).
Yet in “Remarks on Economic Questions Connected with the November 1951 Discussion”, a section in his booklet Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR dated February 1952, Stalin makes it clear that capitalist countries, “although they clamour, for ‘propaganda’ purposes, about the aggressiveness of the Soviet Union”, nevertheless “are aware of the Soviet Union’s peaceful policy and know that it will not itself attack them”.
Many of us will read Gellately’s important book to learn how he resolves this contradiction between Stalin the paranoid warmonger and Stalin the supporter of a peace movement to prevent another world war.
Honorary research fellow in psychology
University College London