This year it is the 110-year anniversary since a work read by many was published, and many people refer to it at the drop of a hat. It’s about the forecast made by Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev (chemist, author of the periodic system of chemical elements, Mendeleev’s table) in his work “To the knowledge of Russia” (1906). Mendeleev extrapolated the data of the all-Russian census in 1897, to the future. Using the birth rate recorded back then, in 2000, 594.3 million people would be living in Russia.
Alas, Mendeleev was ‘conscientiously mistaken’, as they say. He could never have dreamed of – no, not the scale of the repressions and wars that would follow. Rather, he could not forecast the European urbanization process and decrease in the birth rate resulting from it (there is much less space to live in the city, not to mention other factors: more social possibilities, contraception, termination of pregnancy, and so on).
The natural increase in Tsarist Russia just before World War I was 1.67%. On this basis, anti-Soviet demographers came up short 100 million people by Stalin’s death in 1953, and, without any further ado, stated that Soviet tyranny killed them all: “Ask Mendeleev!” But the situation was more curious.
The annual increase in the Russian population from 1917 to 1959 was 0.60%. In the same period, the British population increased by 0.46%, and the French by 0.41%.
Using Mendeleev’s miscalculation, it turns out that there were bloody Bolsheviks in those countries too. If not, their populations should have dropped more significantly. The historian Igor Pykhalov joked that if we apply the same calculation to Finland (which withdrew from Russia after the Revolution in 1917), it would turn out that the Finns killed almost 2 million of their own!
30,000 people died in Finland during its civil war. The Finnish White Guard killed 12,000 communists in concentration camps (the same thing happened in Russia, but the Red army won), while they lost 25,000 people the Soviet-Finnish war, and 82,000 people in World War II on the side of Hitler… So, where are those 2 million missing?
Multiply these 2 million by all of Soviet Russia, and you will see the same strange result. Dozens of millions of Soviets were recorded as victims by anti-Soviets, while there was nothing even close.
…Today, another election campaign is on the rise in Russia. You’ll see, or rather, hear the argument for Mendeleev repeatedly the coming months. “Where are the 500 million people Mendeleev wrote about?” they will say, to silence their opponents.
Every time, when you hear this reference to ‘us with Mendeleev’, you are more than welcome to think that the person saying this is either lying or ignorant.