6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941

Event Co-sponsors

In 1941, history’s largest, most horrific war ever broke out, between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.  Some 55 million people were killed worldwide in WWII, half in the Soviet Union.  Who was Joseph Stalin?  Who was Adolf Hitler?  Why did they clash?  This lecture, based upon a book of the same name, uses a vast array of once secret documents to trace the rise of Soviet Communism and its deadly rivalry with Nazism.  It analyzes why Great Powers go to war against each other, delivering lessons for today.

Stephen Kotkin is the Birkelund Professor in History and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University, where he directs the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies and co-directs the Program in the History and Practice of Diplomacy.  He is also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.  He was the business book reviewer for the New York Times Sunday business section for a number of years.  His essays and reviews appear in Foreign Affairs, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications.  Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941, is his sixth book.

The Washington History Seminar thanks the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute for their co-sponsorship of this event.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Philippa Strum (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.



  • Eric Arnesen

    Professor of History, The George Washington University
  • Philippa Strum

    Global Fellow
    Former Director, Division of United States Studies, Woodrow Wilson Center


  • Stephen Kotkin

    Short-Term Grant
    Associate Professor, Princeton University