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Stalin & the Terror Key Questions Why did Stalin launch the Great Terror in 1934? In what ways did he terror differ from earlier Communist repression? What was the scale of the terror? The Great Terror • 1927 - Kirov elected chairman of Leningrad Soviet • 1932 - Riutin expelled from Party • 1934 - Congress of Victors (celebration of Stalin’s 1st 5 yr. plan & Collectivization. • 1934 - Kirov Assassinated • 1935 - January: Zinoviev & Kaminev arrested for Kirov’s murder. The Great Terror • Role of the Cheka (secret police) expanded under Stalin. Became OGPU , then later NKVD. • 1928 - OGPU organized ‘deKulakisation’ (mass exile of 10 million peasants. • Organized prison /labour camps whose inmates constructed large public works & built the city of Magnitogorsk. • Spied on workers & peasants. Organized ‘Show Trials’ of saboteurs. The Great Terror • Causes of the Terror: • End of 1934 Stalin launched wave of political terror that claimed a million lives & 12 million sent to forced-labour camps. • Stalin’s reasons for Terror: • Events inside party led him to believe his comrades could no longer be trusted. • Stalin’s paranoia fed by his secret police • Purges tied to his economic goals • Purges enabled him to remove his political rivals. The Great Terror • The Congress of Victors: • Kirov won election to Central committee defeating Stalin. • Kirov then approached to stand as general Secretary (post held by Stalin). • Stalin now purged the party. After three years 1000, of the congress 1200 delegates had been executed. • Stalin removed all who he thought stood in his The Great Terror • Yagoda head of OGPU sought Stalin’s favour by pandering to his paranoia and collected information on many party members who had ever disagreed with Stalin. • Terror Economics: • allowed Stalin to blame economic problems on enemies. • 5 yr Plan target failures were seen as the fault of ‘wreckers’ in the employ of Trotsky, Zinoviev, & Kaminev (e.g. scapegoats) • Terrors provided slave labour. • Scapegoats tried for economic sabotage. e.g if machinery broke. The Great Terror • Kirov murder: Dec 1934 • It is unknown who organized Kirov’s murder, but some believe it was the NKVD & Stalin. • Soviet press blamed Leonid Nikolayev, who - they claimed - worked for a Trotskyite - Zinovievite terror group. • Convenient for Stalin as murder removed his most powerful rival & enabled Stalin to imprison two of his old opponents. • His war on Terror (hunting down Terror group) enabled him to execute Party members who opposed him. The Great Terror -1934-6 • Kirov’s death enabled Stalin to launch a terror wave against the party. • Within hours of the murder Stalin issued a decree authorizing swift execution of political opponents. • Yagoda appointed to investigate the murder. • Stalin interrogated Nikolayev personally. Nikolayev implicated Trotsky, Zinoviev & foreign powers. Over 100 political prisoners shot directly. • Trotskyites were purged from the party (30-40,000 exiled) • Yagoda oversaw arrest The Great Terror • Describe how each of the following factors led to the great Terror: • Congress of Victors. • Stalin’s paranoia. • Terror economics. • The murder of Kirov.
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