2.23.2009 “Our Mission is to exterminate this Evil by the Root”: The Great Terror Look at highlighted words in the Powerpoints. Be prepared to write a short paragraph about each. Some ID questions and a 30 minute essay. Political repression increased in 1937 and 1938. This came to be known as the great terror. Internal enemies were allegedly linked to external enemies, making them especially dangerous in the eyes of the party. Old Bolsheviks-joined before the Party became a major group in 1917. Their organization was demolished and almost all of them were executed or imprisoned. Essential Background A purge is not necessarily violent, and fairly normal for revolutionary parties. A purge is intended to purify the party, to ensure that the main members of the party are still in-line idealistically, etc. Terror applies not just to party members, but to the population as well. Lenin was willing to purge, but he would never use terror against other party members. Stalin targeted other Communists who ran afoul of him. Cheka--->OGPU-NKVD Was terror an integral component of Bolshevik rule? Yes. It was a revolutionary party that sought to change society at all levels, needing to use violence to overcome resistance to changes. Terror in Robspierre’s mind was virtuous, in an effort to purify society. Dzerzhinsky, first head of the Cheka. Toward the Great Terror Heavy opposition to Stalin Riutin Platform (’32)- heavily criticizes Stalin and his policies. Riutin is arrested and Stalin demands that Riutin be executed. He is overruled by the other Politburo members. Congress of Victors-several hundred who cast ballots for General Secretary cross out Stalin’s name, but those ballots are destroyed. Many thought that Kirov would be an excellent successor to Stalin. He was Russian and boss of the Leningrad Soviets. Kirov came straight out to Stalin and pledged his loyalty. Kirov is assassinated in 1934 by an insane man. Stalin and the other leaders use this to begin major changes in the society (under the guise of threat to the Soviet Union). Leningrad is purged of potentially dangerous residents. While no one knows for certain whether or not Stalin arranged the assassination, Stalin used the assassination to begin an escalated program of terror. Mass purges (1933-1936) Show trial of Zinoviev and Kamenev (1936) Stalin’s telegram of September 1936 removes Yagodev and replaces him with Ezhov (NKVD) The Great Terror Central Committee Plenum (February-March 1937). Bukharin is the target of this meeting. Bukharin rejects accusations, but is soon arrested. Stalin makes clear that anyone who opposes Stalin will be punished. Stalin chooses to decapitate the Red Army after falsified Nazi reports implicated the generals of the Red Army. (May 1937) Central Committees decree of July 30th, 1937. Ezhov orders regional heads of NKVD to carry out massive movements against class enemies. This is the launch of the Great Terror. Hundreds of thousands are arrested. Bukharin show trial in 1938. 18th Party Congress: Stalin justifies, condemnds, reassures (March 1939) 1.3 million arrests, about half of them executed. Ezhov is removed from the NKVD, arrested, aand soon executed. The group of new leaders in the Soviet Union is known as the Class of 1937. The Victims The Terror was devastating for the population. Terror was deep and somewhat random. 1.3 million people convicted, ½ shot, ½ incarcerated Interpreting the Great Terror Stalin sent the orders that Ezhov instituted. Motivations: Voluntarist explanation-Stalin was paranoid, did this for his own personal end. Functionalist explanations: Center felt it needed to discipline the regions What did the terror achieve? It Stalinized the party and the society. After this terror, there was no one left who had legitimacy to criticize Stalin.