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The Great Terror: The Purge of the Russian Communist Party in the 1930s

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´╗┐The Great Terror: The Purge of the Party in the 1930s In the spring of 1937, Stalin made it clear that he believed there to be traitors within the party at all levels. He encouraged the ?unmasking? of these traitors. And so the purge of the party began. Although Stalin used Kirov?s murder as a pretext and justification for the Great purges he firstly encouraged party members to denounce those- whether they were in higher positions or of a lower rank- who they felt were part of the Bukharin Right in the 1920s or the Trotskyites. This however, simply meant that party members could accuse colleagues who stood in their way of promotions or to settle old scores or simply to deflect criticism from themselves. ...read more.


The man Stalin chose to carry out the trails was Vyshinsky. First show trial: Kamenev and Zinoviev (and 14 others) had been arrested and put on a smaller trail in January 1935; however by August 1936 they were taken from prison and put on a very public show trial. After giving testimonies accepting their guilt they were sentenced and the very next day executed. Following this the thousands accused of being Trotskyites were also taken and sentenced. Second show trial: January 1937, Karl Radek (a well-known Trotskyite) and Pyatakov, a deputy in the Commissariat of Heavy Industry became the next victims, and after going through the same process of the previous show trial they too were found guilty and executed. ...read more.


Bukharin was able to give a more spirited testimony but in the end he and 20 others were all shot within the hour. Many will ask why they confessed, and the answer is really very simple. They were willing to die as long as they could negotiate that their families would be spared, but perhaps a more disturbing truth is that they also understood that their deaths would hopefully aid Stalin in establishing socialism, and goal which every communist shared. It must also be remembered however that although evidence was clearly forged, eg a man accused was in prison when he was supposed to have committed an offence, many on both the inside and outside of the Soviet Union believed the defendants guilty. ...read more.

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