Bloodlands presents the Second World War with a different perspective: Instead of studying Nazi atrocities or Soviet atrocities separately, he looks at them together and merges the Ukrainian famine, the Holocaust, Stalin’s mass executions and the planned starvation of Soviet POWs to similar reasons. He presents a focus of WW2, as the title suggests, on the Europe between Hitler and Stalin, but shows also that their leading styles where partly not that different and the way they cooperted until 1941, for instance against the Polish people and the Jews. The auther suggests that Hitler and Stalin shared a certain politics of tyranny by bringing catastrophes, blaming the enemy of their choice, and then using the death of millions for their political ideas: “In this competition for memory, the Holocaust, the other German mass killing policies, and the Stalinist mass murders became three different histories, even though in historical fact they shared a place and time.”
He stresses that each of them had some kind of a transformative Utopia - but the realisation of only one of them was possible - which lead to some of the most extreme results of the second wold war: A policy of mass murder that could be proclaimed as a kind of ersatz victory.
Each of the dead became a number. Between them, the Nazi and Stalinist regimes murdered more than fourteen million people in the bloodlands. The killing began with a political famine that Stalin directed at Soviet Ukraine, which claimed more than three million lives. It continued with Stalin's Great Terror of 1937 and 1938, in which some seven hundred thousand people were shot, most of them peasants or members of national minorities. The Soviets and the Germans then cooperated in the destruction of Poland and of its educated classes, killing some two hundred thousand people between 1939 and 1941. After Hitler betrayed Stalin and ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Germans starved the Soviet prisoners of war and the inhabitants of besieged Leningrad, taking the lives of more than four million people. In the occupied Soviet Union, occupied Poland, and the occupied Baltic States, the Germans shot and gassed some 5.4 million Jews. The Germans and the Soviets provoked one another to ever greater crimes, as in the partisan wars for Belarus and Warsaw, where the Germans killed about half a million civilians. These atrocities shared a place, and they shared a time: the bloodlands between 1933 and 1945.