- Who was purged?
- Bolshevik leaders who Stalin had forced out in 1925 to 1927.
- Poets, Writers, Artists, Musicians, anyone creative who might have ideas which Stalin did not like.
- Managers of industries who did not meet their targets for production.
- Scientists, Engineers, Experts of any kind who Stalin did not trust or understand. Only loyal party officials, who accepted Stalin's decision without question, were safe.
- Army and Navy officiers, every Admiral of the Soviet fleet, three of the five Marshals of the Red Army, 90% of the generals and more than half of the officiers of the Red Army.
- Millions of ordinary Soviet citizens, who often did not know what they had done to anger Stalin.