Hello all! So I've always understood josef stalin to be a dictator. Until the other day, I had never met anyone who challenged this. The person who did is a self described communist (and a very good person. Smart.). His notion is that Stalin was a good leader and wasn't responsible for any mass murders, and that, in fact, there were no mass murders. He said the numbers and statistics just don't add up. Any opinions on this? What is the legitimate evidence on both sides? Not just unbacked notions. Not just a sentence declaring something. What do the Russian archives say? Are any sources that can be conjured even truly reliable? Could documents be forged? I want the truth, and it's hard to find. Both sides are vehement and their sides are total opposites. Stephen Kotkin has gone through the archives and said, indeed he is a dictator. Grover Furr, too, has said to have gone through the Russian archives and claims the opposite. Was the great purge a calculated scything of any possible opposition by a paranoid man who wanted to secure power for himself or was it a legitimate trial of a few possible traitors who may have wanted to undermine the good of everyone else (most of whom were let go in the end)? Was Holodomor the result of the dictates of Stalin and his greed and demand for rapid industrialization mixed with a disdain for the Ukranian people? Or was it merely the unfortunate result of drought and the collection of any locally grown food for the distribution to the greater population? Did stalin give the orders to kill the Polish in the Katyn Massacre, or did the Nazis do it and fabricate a story about the Soviets being responsible for it a few years prior? Were the kulaks innocent 'barely-better-off' peasants killed by the ruling, authoritarian State of the USSR, or were they the selfish rich who were trying to undermine the greater good of all by hoarding food and livestock and, thus, had to be stopped? Thank you.