As you can see, there's no easy compromise between the two schools. The Big Numbers are so high that picking the midpoint between the two schools would still give us a Big Number. It may appear to be a rather pointless argument -- whether it's fifteen or fifty million, it's still a huge number of killings -- but keep in mind that the population of the Soviet Union was 164 million in 1937, so the upper estimates accuse Stalin of killing nearly 1 out of every 3 of his people, an extremely Polpotian level of savagery. The lower numbers, on the other hand, leave Stalin with plenty of people still alive to fight off the German invasion.•Although it's too early to be taking sides with absolute certainty, a consensus seems to be forming around a death toll of 20 million. This would adequately account for all documented nastiness without straining credulity: •In The Great Terror (1969), Robert Conquest suggested that the overall death toll was 20 million at minimum -- and very likely 50% higher, or 30 million. This would divide roughly as follows: 7M in 1930-36; 3M in 1937-38; 10M in 1939-53. By the time he wrote The Great Terror: A Re-assessment (1992), Conquest was much more confident that 20 million was the likeliest death toll.