Quotations by Stalin, Josef


History shows that there are no invincible armies and that there never have been.

Josef Stalin (1879-1953) Soviet political leader
“Comrades! Citizens! Brothers and sisters! Men of our army and navy!”, Radio Address (3 Jul 1941)

A few weeks after the invasion of the USSR by Germany.  Full text.

Added on 18-Dec-09 | Last updated 18-Dec-09
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We think that powerful and lifeful movement is impossible without differences — “true conformity” is possible only in the cemetery.

Josef Stalin (1879-1953) Soviet political leader
“Our purposes,” Pravda (first issue) (22 January 1912)
Added on 20-Nov-09 | Last updated 20-Nov-09
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A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.

Josef Stalin (1879-1953) Soviet political leader
(Attributed)

Alternate versions:
  • "Death of one man is a tragedy. Death of a million is a statistic."
  • "One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is just a statistic."
  • "When one dies, it is a tragedy. When a million die, it is a statistic."
  • "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic."
The actual quote (such as is supported) appears to be "When one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it's statistics." It is found in David McCullough, Truman (1992), said by Stalin to Churchill in Tehran when the latter was concerned over the potential casualties of opening a second front in France prematurely. McCullough cites it to Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, The Time of Stalin: Portrait of Tyranny (1981).

On the other hand, Mary Soames (Churchill's daughter) said in a BBC interview with Andrew Marr (11 Nov 2011) that she overhead Stalin say this to her father at Potsdam, when Churchill was upset over the death of a family friend and then apologized to Stalin given the high number of Russian war casualties.

The earliest mention of the quote and Stalin is a 28 Sep 1958 book review.

Compare to Erich Maria Remarque, Der schwarze Obelisk (1956): "Sonderbar, denke ich, wir alle haben doch so viele Tote im Kriege gesehen, und wir wissen, daß über zwei Millionen von uns nutzlos gefallen sind — warum sind wir da so erregt wegen eines einzelnen, und die zwei Millionen haben wir schon fast vergessen? Aber das ist wohl so, weil ein einzelner immer der Tod ist — und zwei Millionen immer nur eine Statistik." [Strangely, I think we all have seen so many dead in the war, and we know that more than two million of us are unvalued -- why we are so excited because of an individual, and we have two million almost forgotten already? But that is probably so because a single death is always a death -- and two million only a statistic.]

Also compare to a 1932 essay on French humor by Kurt Tucholsky, German journalist, pacifist, and satirist. He wrote of a diplomat in the French Ministry of Foreign affairs, who said: "The war? I cannot find it to be so bad! The death of one man: this is a catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands of deaths: that is a statistic!"
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Nov-17
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To govern is not to write resolutions and distribute directives, to govern is to control the implementation of the directives.

Josef Stalin (1879-1953) Soviet political leader
(Attributed)

Quoted in Neil McInes, The Communist Parties of Western Europe, ch. 3 (1975)
Added on 13-Nov-09 | Last updated 13-Nov-09
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To choose one’s victims, to prepare one’s plan minutely, to slake an implacable vengeance, and then to go to bed … there is nothing sweeter in the world.

Josef Stalin (1879-1953) Soviet political leader
(Attributed)

In Robert Conquest, “Lenin’s Guffaw,” New Republic (15 Sep 1986).  Remark to colleague before signing almost 40,000 death warrants.

Added on 8-Jan-10 | Last updated 8-Jan-10
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It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
[Я считаю, что совершенно неважно, кто и как будет в партии голосовать; но вот что чрезвычайно важно, это – кто и как будет считать голоса.]

Josef Stalin (1879-1953) Soviet political leader
Comment (1923)

Alt. trans.: "I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how." Quoted in B. Bazhanov, The Memoirs of Stalin's Former Secretary (1992) [Борис Бажанов. Воспоминания бывшего секретаря Сталина]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.

Josef Stalin (1879-1953) Soviet political leader
Interview with H. G. Wells (Sep 1937)

Full text.

Added on 4-Dec-09 | Last updated 4-Dec-09
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In the Soviet Army, it takes more courage to retreat than advance.

Josef Stalin (1879-1953) Soviet political leader
Remark to Averell Harriman

Harriman, the US ambassador to the USSR, quotes Stalin in B. Sokolov, The Truth about the Great Patriotic War.  Full text.

Added on 15-Jan-10 | Last updated 15-Jan-10
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