Nazi Germany became the modern standard for political evil even before World War II. Yet in 1938, according to both William Shirer and John Toland, the Nazi regime held no more than 20,000 political prisoners. Political executions up to the time might have reached a couple thousand, and most of these were of renegade Nazis themselves during the indiscriminate butchery known as the "Night of the Long Knives." The famous Kristallnacht that horrified civilized opinion worldwide caused a grand total of 71 deaths. This in a nation of 70 million.
Cuba was a nation of 6.5 million in 1959. Within three months in power, Castro and Che had shamed the Nazi prewar incarceration and murder rate. One defector claims that Che signed 500 death warrants, another says over 600. Cuban journalist Luis Ortega, who knew Che as early as 1954, writes in his book "Yo Soy El Che!" that Guevara sent 1,897 men to the firing squad. In his book "Che Guevara: A Biography," Daniel James writes that Che himself admitted to ordering "several thousand" executions during the first few years of the Castro regime.
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