I haven’t seen a lot of apologetic histories of the Soviet Union ( ” the gallant Lost Cause “): not yet anyhow. So far, just random garbage from the New York Times, about how sex was better under socialism.
But look at this map. It shows the sex ratio ( males per 100 females) of the population aged 25-49 in a number of European countries in 1950 – the adult men that do most of the world’s work. Those that produce more than they consume. In Russia, that number was 62, likely lower than anywhere else in the world.
I think one could truthfully say that one reason for the failure of Communism in the Soviet Union was that the heart of the country had been torn out. Something similar happened in France, in the 1920s and 1930s. People would talk about some problem that need to be solved, or some desirable innovation, and explain that it never happened, because the guy that should have done it died at Verdun. But it was worse in Russia. And it’s not just the dead: a lot of guys were crippled – so many that they made Moscow look bad, and therefore were exiled to Central Asia for appearances’ sake.
In part, the Soviet Union failed because ” an assegai had been thrust into the belly of the nation”. This makes a half-decent excuse: but it would be a better excuse if the Soviets hadn’t done so much of it to themselves.
Still: look at what Khrushchev had to work with . He had released most of the zeks, wasn’t running show trials, undoubtedly wanted to make Russia great again: but the young, strong, independent-minded men he needed were scarce. Some had died of typhus or famine in the Revolution, some had been shot and buried in Kuropaty Forest. More had died at Vyazma,Stalingrad, Kursk, and Berlin.
Back in the 1950s, Russia was a lot weaker than it looked. I wonder how many people understood that. Ike, certainly.