Which people were more inhumane and barbaric: a) the Soviet Union and Nazis during World War II or b) the Romans during the time of the Empire?
Easy answer: a.
I just completed The Fall of Berlin 1945 by Anthony Beevor which shocked me and convinced me the Romans have nothing over the modern age as far as inhumane treatment of human beings.
Actually, I’d put the Soviets a step ahead of the Nazis if you really want to know.
Perhaps you know the history. Hitler rose to power when the German people were forced to choose between the Nazi party and the Communist Party (some choice!). In Hitler’s schizophrenic paranoid mind, the future of Germany depended on resisting all those who would suppress German nationalism. In order to fire up the German people to his purpose, Hitler blamed all Germany’s problems on the Communists and Jews as the agents who were working toward Germany’s destruction. Hitler vowed that it was Germany’s right and responsibility to resist and destroy the communist menace.
Once Western Europe was beaten, Hitler turned his attention to attacking the Soviet Union. He believed that as long as the Slavs remained powerful, they could come to the aid of Western Europe. With Russia destroyed, America and Britain would be isolated and Germany could retain her hold over Europe.
On June 22, 1941 Germany launched its attack on the Soviet Union. Once it had moved forward by several hundred miles, an occupation political apparatus, intent on exploitation of the Soviet people, was put into place. Thousands of Soviet citizens were murdered in an attempt to remove all leaders who could organize resistance against the Germans. Before the war ended, twelve to fourteen million Russian civilians had been killed in addition to nine million military deaths.
Of course, the German occupation would not hold thanks to Mother Russia’s size and climate. Hitler had made the same foolish mistake as those before him thinking that Russia could be physically conquered. After the Germans failed to take Stalingrad in 1943, the tide turned and they were forced to retreat. By January 1945, the Russians were advancing into German annexed Poland, killing everyone in their path. The Nazi genocide had been based on the German notion of race superiority. Russian genocide was pure revenge. Towns were wiped out, every woman raped, and every child killed. The Russians even killed their own people who had been captured by the Germans at the beginning of the war, assuming they had become disloyal. By the end of the war, the Germans suffered two million civilian deaths in addition to five million military deaths.
With the outcome of the war a certainty, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met in Yalta February 4-11 1945 to decide how Europe should be rebuilt in the post war period. Roosevelt, with two months to live, appeared weak to the others. Churchill considered Stalin a “devil-like tyrant” who couldn’t be trusted but Roosevelt insisted on being the one to negotiate directly with him, based on a naïve notion that he understood Stalin’s motives and could control him. Roosevelt should have applied a rule learned in antiquity – never trust the tyrant. Instead he allowed his desire to get Stalin to declare war on Japan and join the United Nations to cloud his judgment. Stalin agreed to attack Japan ninety days after a German defeat, which turned out to be only seven days before Japan surrendered. With respect to the United Nations, Stalin had secretly negotiated a veto power format designed to protect his interests, unknown to Roosevelt, so his resistance to joining was in fact a ruse.
So we have the arguably the two worst human beings of the twentieth century destroying each other without any consideration for the lives of innocent people. Why has man not progressed morally in two thousand years? Because man is man and when he is a part of a group, his behavior often takes on an evil character freed from responsibility.