[Ads-l] Quote: A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic (Rewritten QI entry)

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Thu Jan 28 09:28:54 UTC 2016

The saying (with variations) attributed to Stalin in 1947 and later--one's man's death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic--may draw on a writing of Kurt Tucholsky from 1925 (and in at least three later printings), Französischer Witz. A French diplomat is represented as saying, "Der Krieg? Ich kann das nicht so schrecklich finden! Der Tod eines Menschen: das ist eine Katastrophe. Hunderttausend Tote: das ist eine Statistik!" (Tucholsky, Gesamtausgabe, Band 7, Text 136, page 375).

Stephen Goranson

From: American Dialect Society <...> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 6:12 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU...Subject: [ADS-L] Quote: A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic (Rewritten QI entry)

Fred, Charlie, Ralph Keyes, Jonathon Green and others have written
references that mention a well-known quotation that has been
attributed to Joseph Stalin. Back in May 2010 I posted an entry on the
topic. Now based on feedback and further research I have updated and
overhauled the post.

Thanks to Stephen Goranson, Barry Popik, James Marx, Wikiquote, Alex
Stroup, Mary, and Tucker Lieberman.If I inadvertently left your name
out of the acknowledgement section please let me know.

A Single Death is a Tragedy; a Million Deaths is a Statistic

The citation for Kurt Tucholsky is dated 1932 because the 1932 German
text and page scans are fully accessible and thus verifiable online. I
do not know the earliest date for his pertinent quotation.

Feedback welcome,

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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