Who said that?

World War II was a bloody and sickening affair. A dirty and shameful blot on human history. It was not a war for truth or justice etc. but as usual it was about power. The rivalry between established world powers of France, Great Britain, United States, USSR and want to be great powers of Germany, Japan and Italy.  Nevertheless, 80 Million people died due to wounds, and war induced disease and famine The former Soviet Union alone lost 26.6 Million people. 

Unfortunately behind everything we see or experience in the material world is about power. First they fight, then they decide what is the noble cause for which they are fighting. They fight, then they weep.

"It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it."


The Soviet Union was led by their leader Josef Stalin. Stalin was frequently described by Lenin as "a course, brutal, bully". Stalin's willingness to sacrifice large number of his under-equipped and poorly trained people to fight the Germans greatly helped the Allies win the war Stalin felt it could afford the loss of lives, and human attrition was a significant factor, along with courage, strategy, technology and ingenuity, of the Soviet people in winning the war against Germany. 

War often gives winners a taste of power. A power so addictive that they simply can't let go. Stalin wanted to the only powerful person in the Soviet Union, so he carried out one ruthless purge after another. No one was safe.  The Soviet nation, an economic, political and military superpower after the war was driven purely by fear. The people who trembled most were people closest to Stalin. Indeed the Soviet Union was a frightening place to be at that time.

Nikita Khrushchev was chosen to succeeded Stalin in 1953. Khrushchev was one of the eight members of the Presidium of the central committee of the USSR communist party. He was repulsed by what he saw was Stalin's personality based cult. He publicly denounced Stalin and Stalinism and it's consequences, at the session of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. 

A few minutes into Khrushchev's speech, somebody shouted out, "Why didn't you challenge him then, the way you are now?" 

The room fell silent, as Khrushchev angrily swept the audience with his glare. "Who said that?" he asked in a reasoned voice. Silence. 

"Who said that?" Khrushchev demanded, leaning forward. Silence. 

Pounding his fist on the podium to accent each word, he screamed, "Who - said - that?" Still no answer. 

Finally, after a long and strained silence, the elected politicians in the room fearful to even cough, a corner of Khrushchev's mouth lifted into a smile. 

"Now you know," he said with a chuckle, "why I did not speak up against Stalin when I sat where you now sit."

A few lessons to share with you.

  • The truth is never plain and simple.
  • Only two types of people normally speak the truth. Those who love or care for you /the cause or those who hate you. 
  • Everyone asks for the truth, but very few can swallow it. Even fewer are the people in power who can tolerate it. Rarely can senior colleagues or bosses digest the truth. In any event it is the messenger who always gets shot or hanged. 
  • If you must speak the truth, do so, but leave immediately.