25 NOVEMBER 1938, Page 20


[To the Editor of THE SPECIATOR].

Snt,—May I be allowed to express my astonishment on reading Mr. E. H. Carr's article on Stalin in your Christmas Number. The portrait of Stalin's character is so at variance with what I have read elsewhere that I am extremely puzzled as to what to believe.

Comparing Mr. Carr's account with the well-known studies of Stalin by John Gunther in Inside Europe and W. H. Chamber- lin in Russia's Iron Age, I would mention a few examples. Mr. Carr speaks of the carefully-selected crowds in the Red Square ; Mr. Gunther implies there is no such selection. Mr. Gunther writes of Stalin's great intelligence, the easy manner in which he conversed with Mr. H. G. Wells and with American journa- lists, displaying a remarkable knowledge of European and American affairs ; Mr. Carr calls him a " trivial " thinker. He wonders does he live in one of the Moscow villas ; Mr. Gunther has no doubt of it. Most important of all, Mr. Gunther and Mr. Chamberlin make it quite clear that there is no question of Stalin being a puppet in the hands of advisers who inform him of what they please only. On the contrary, Stalin is unquestionably master of himself and of Russia.

From the accounts of the two authors mentioned and of numerous others I have received the impression of a highly- cultured and intelligent Dictator with a power greater than that of Herr Hitler. From Mr. Carr I receive the impression of an inferior being, shut away from his people, practically a prisoner in the hands of his party.

What am I, as an interested layman, to make of such con- flicting assertions ?—Yours faithfully,