The Great Purges Essay

The Great Purges Essay-57
Only later did the world discover that these confessions were elicited after long months of psychological torture and physical abuse. The following year, another group of old Bolsheviks were subjected to the same treatment.

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This was a turning point in Stalin's relationship with the rest of the Communist Party.

The assassin--who had been hired by the secret police, the NKVD--was shot, along with all his close relatives (this would become a typical Stalinist tactic).

A series of NKVD operations affected a number of national minorities, accused of being “fifth column” communities.

A number of purges were officially explained as an elimination of the possibilities of sabotage and espionage, mostly by a fictitious “Polish Military Organisation” and, consequently, many victims of the purge were ordinary Soviet citizens of Polish origin.

Meanwhile, a wave of hysterical denunciations, arrests, and executions swept the country.

In June of 1937, a number of leading army officers were arrested, along with the head of the secret police, Genrikh Yagoda--a blow from which the army would take years to recover.Most public attention was focused on the purge of certain parts of the leadership of the Communist Party, as well as of government bureaucrats and leaders of the armed forces, most of whom were Party members.The campaigns also affected many other categories of the society: intelligentsia, peasants and especially those branded as “too rich for a peasant” (kulaks), and professionals.Then, in quick succession, a number of minor Party men who had supported Kamenev and Zinoviev in the '20s were also arrested, charged with terrorism, and shot.This was followed, in January of 1935, by the arrest of Zinoviev and Kamenev themselves, along with a number of their allies; they would be tried in secret, accused of having "inspired" Kirov's assassination, and given long jail terms.In the early 1930s, a famine developed in the Ukraine; learning of the suffering there, Stalin's wife Nadezhda confronted him, demanding that he remedy the situation.The couple had a tremendous fight, and Stalin ordered the arrest of the students who had informed his wife of the disaster.Kirov rejected this notion, but at the Fifteenth Party Congress in 1934 many members expressed disapproval of Stalin's tight control, and a small percentage of the delegates actually voted against re-electing him the Central Committee.This brief swell of dissent only shows how egregiously people still misunderstood the nature of Stalin's rule.Then, in August of 1936, Stalin engineered the first of what came to be known as the Show Trials, in which he accused Zinoviev, Kamenev and their associates of conspiring (with the exiled Trotsky) against Stalin and the government.In an amazing scene that was broadcast around the world--and which played a large role in exposing the true nature of the Soviet regime--every one of the accused Bolsheviks confessed their supposed crimes.

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