Talk:Joseph Stalin

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Unsourced[edit]

Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable, precise and verifiable source for any quote on this list please move it to Joseph Stalin. --Antiquary 18:11, 6 May 2009 (UTC)


  • Damn you all to hell. And it's not treachery, it's running a persuasive campaign.
    • Joseph Stalin, rumored to be said after the Great Purge of 1938
  • "It's a shame Hitler had to go and attack us. Together, we could really have done some things!"
    • Stalin made to his daughter after Germany had invaded the Soviet Union.
  • "I'm so paranoid that I worry that I am plotting against myself."
    • Stalin to Lavrenti Beria, the last leader of the secret police during Stalin's lifetime
  • The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. (Знаете, товарищи, - говорит Сталин, - что я думаю по этому поводу: я считаю, что совершенно неважно, кто и как будет в партии голосовать; но вот что чрезвычайно важно, это - кто и как будет считать голоса)
    • Both quotes are from Boris Bazhanov's 'The Memoirs of former Stalin's secretary' Saint Petersburg, 1992 (in Russian). Bazhanov defected to the West in 1928. Probably it was the same text that was published in France back to 1930 - Boris Bajanov, Avec Staline dans le Kremlin (Paris: Les Éditions de France, 1930) --Nekto 11:57, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
      • As of Bazhanov (Бажанов) sourced-quotes. Bazhanov was a well-known anti-Stalinist and in his books he provided extremly preconceived point of view. I personaly would at least mark those quotes as "attributed to". Those attributed quotations, compared to those sourced by reliable sources, differ greatly even in style. Not to mentiotion overall low reliability of Bazhanov's works.
  • In the Soviet Army, it takes more courage to retreat than advance.

It is claimed that Averrell Harriman, American ambassador in Moscow, said to American professor Urban (sp?) in 1979 that Stalin used this phrase in conversation with him. Further research is needed. --Nekto 12:33, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

There is little doubt that it WAS more courageous for a Soviet soldier to retreat than to attack. Those who attempted to retreat were typically shot by blocking forces designed specifically for that purpose. Stalin had issued a famous order called "Not One Step Back!" and enforced it mercilessly.

184.175.48.100 03:20, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

  • When I am gone, the capitalists will drown you like blind kittens.
    • Many variants; from a speech apparently made to the Politburo in 1950.
  • What shall we do? We shall envy!
    • Что делать будем? Завидовать будем!
    • Rumored to be said after receiving a report about Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky's inappropriately large number of female lovers.
  • Beat, beat and beat again!
    • When asked how to treat political prisoners and get information out of them, Nikita Khrushchev alleged that had been said.
  • Quantity is quality
    • Variant: Quantity has a quality all its own
    • This quote is reminiscent of the Marxist theoretical principle that steady quantitative changes can lead to a sudden qualitative leap. It is therefore likely that Stalin may have said something like this. However, in the variant "Quantity is quality", there is an undialectical equation of the two. Stalin is therefore unlikely to have used this variant; the variant "Quantity has a quality all its own" is therefore more likely.
    • This quote is sometimes tied to a commentary on Russian tank and troop production
      • I've seen this attributed to him on dozens of web pages. It probably should go in unsourced until someone can trace a primary source down.
      • It should probably go in the garbage can. 205.237.144.123 19:00, 20 February 2013 (UTC) Activist (talk) 19:06, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
  • You cannot make a revolution with silk gloves.
    • Variant: You cannot make a revolution with white gloves.
  • Then Devil is with us, and together we will win.
    • In response to Churchill's "God is with us", during WW2.
  • "All young people are the same, so why write about the young Stalin?"
    • Not stated, should be quoted from Russian archives.

Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.[edit]

  • Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.

I bet it comes from the western folklore. Those quotations were completely unknown in the USSR before perestroyka. I cannot find any sources for them in Russian. --83.237.62.153 18:44, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

  • Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.(Через полтора года, когда Сталин отстранил Зиновьева и Каменева от власти, Зиновьев, напоминая это заседание Пленума и как ему и Каменеву удалось спасти Сталина от падения в политическое небытие, с горечью сказал: "Знает ли товарищ Сталин, что такое благодарность?" Товарищ Сталин вынул трубку изо рта и ответил: "Ну, как же, знаю, очень хорошо знаю, это такая собачья болезнь")

The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic[edit]

"The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic."

According to David McCullough's biography of Harry Truman, Stalin did in fact say this to Truman--I believe it was at Potsdam. The book gives the quote a bit differently from how it is usually attributed--I remember it as "one death is a tragedy, millions of deaths are statistics". If I can find a copy of the book then I will add some more detail.

"When one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it's statistics"

This is the exact quote from the McCullough biography of Truman. According the the citation in that book, McCullough got it from page 278 of a book called "The Time of Stalin: Portrait of Tyranny", by Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko. McCullough quotes Stalin as having said this to Churchill at Teheran. "Churchill had been arguing that a premature opening of a second front in France would result in an unjustified loss of tens of thousands of Allied soldiers. Stalin responded that 'when one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it's statistics'". Although I don't know where Ovseyenko got it from, I think that we can consider this sourced.

It makes sense that this quote never gained any currency in the Soviet world since he apparently only said it in private, never in public.

Can anyone check the Antonov-Ovseyenko's book and say what source he used? He himself cannot be a primary source (he was in prison at that time). --Nekto 07:12, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

The quotation most likely comes from The Black Obelisk (Der schwarze Obelisk) by Erich Maria Remarque written in 1956: Wir starren in das Abendrot. Der Zug pufft schwarz und verloren heran wie eine Begräbniskutsche. 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.

The earliest mention of the quotation when it was attributed to Stalin that I managed to find is a New York Times' article (1958) - Unwritten Pages at the End of the Diary; ANNE FRANK: A Portrait in Courage. By Ernst Schnabel. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston from the German "Anne Frank: Spur Eines Kindes." Illustrated. 192 pp. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co. $3.95. :

" A SINGLE death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic." Stalin's epigram is admirably illustrated by Ernst Schnabel's pointilliste portrait of Anne Frank during the few months she lived after the last entry in her diary, Aug. 1, 1944. [ END OF FIRST PARAGRAPH ]


Once heard from a writer interviewed on radio that this quote supposedly comes from an early 20th century theatric play, and apologies but that is as much i can recall now.

In an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr (11.11.2011) Winston Churchill's daughter, Mary Soames, explained that she overheard Stalin say this to her father. Churchill, was upset having received news that a family friend had died. He apologised to Stalin in light of the vast loss of Russian life. And Stalin then gave this reply.

Interestingly, in the interview - The Andrew Marr Show -Lady Soames said death of thousands not "millions".

The interview can be found here at 5:25. Davehill47 (talk) 13:54, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

I moved some of the discussion of this quotation from the upper section down into this named section. Davehill47 (talk) 13:56, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

Soldier not worth a General[edit]

  • A Lieutenant is not worth a General!
    • Stalin's refusal for a prisoner exchange, after Kurt Daluege offered Stalin back his captured son if General Paulus was returned to the Germans.
  • I do not trade a soldier for a marshal.
    • In response to the German offer to trade a POW Field Marshal Paulus for Stalin's captured son Yakov.
  • I do not change the soldier for the marshal.
    • In response to the German offer to change a Marshal for Stalin's captured son Yakov.

Conviction vs Fear[edit]

"I prefer to rule my people through fear rather than conviction. Convictions can change, but fear remains. "
Isn't this a quote from Stalin? I didn't see it in the list, though I may have missed it. --84.193.113.243 19:05, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

Sounds like a condensed version of Machiavelli's Chapter XVII of the Principe ("... much safer to be feared than loved ..."). The rationale given there is exactly the same -- only wordier -- as in the alleged Stalin quote: that humans are "ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed [...] they will offer you their blood, property, life and children [...] when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you ...".
It is not impossible that Stalin paraphrased Machiavelli. Whether it is likely IONO; I'd guess not considering a) Stalin himself favored brute-force approaches to Machiavellian scheming, and what seems like schemin was simply clinically paranoia. b) Machiavelli was perhaps the foremost philosopher of power in the late Aristocrat/early Capitalist era, and that era was precisely what Stalin wanted to overcome (he didn't co-opt later Capitalist philosophers either as it seems).
Needs reliable source (date, setting, context) but I'd tend to believe it's bogus. 87.78.80.57

To choose ones victims quote[edit]

I've heard this quote attributed to Stalin "To choose ones victims, to prepare ones plans minutely, to stake an implacable vengeance upon the world there is nothing sweeter in the world." Can some one investigate?

Terror to control the population[edit]

There is a quote being attributed on the web to Stalin that I was unable to find a source for:

"The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. The public will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened"

If anybody can confirm or refute Stalin as the origin of that source, it would be great to add it to the article. --217.237.39.193 10:53, 11 September 2012 (UTC)