What were the Purges?
The removing of threats/people they do not trust
The Three Stages
1. The Chistka (cleanings) (1932-5) -over 20% of the party were expelled non-violently
2. The show trials of the old Bolsheviks e.g. Trotsky
3. The Yezhovshchina (1937-8) -a period of mass terror when thousands of people were denounced -arrested
Secret Police Agencies
Cheka- All Russian Extraordinary Commission for combating counter- revolution and sabotage (1917-22)
OGPU- (All-Union) State Politial Directorate (1922-34) -Yagoda to 1936
NKVD- Yezhov to 1938 (1934 onwards) Beria to 1953
Role of secret police steadily expanded as Stalin's power increased
Late 1920's Cheka concerned and with opposition politicians with party. But they didn't use physical methods -'the dry guillotine'
From 1928 they organised dekulakisation
Secret police they organised the prison labour camps
Finally, they spied on workers and peasants and organising the show trials of the 'saboteurs' accused of holding back information
Causes of the Great Terror
There was three main causes of the Great Terror:
Congress of Victors
Congress of Victors
This was intended to be a celebration of Stalin's economic achievements (February 1934)
Congress worried Stalin, as Congress voted to elect Central Commitee but Kirov topped rather than Stalin
Kirov = 1225 votes
Stalin = 925 votes
Results Kirov more popular than Stalin
group of old Bolsheviks approached Kirov, trying to persuade him to stand for 'General Secretary', Kirov refused. But Stalin founded out, events evidence he need to purge to get rid of those who couldn't be trusted
Stalin's paranoia led to the Great Terror, he felt he couldn't trust many within the party, so he removed anyone he saw as a potenial threat. He was the unchalllenged ruler, but he still felt he had many enemies, with recent history making him anxious. Trotsky, Zinoviev and Bukharin had all been in leading positions before they fell from power, worried thatthe same could happen to him.
Distrusted former rivals didn't believe truly converted to socialism, fearing old communists, who had been around before war. Worried they knew the truth about his rise to power and Lenin's view
Feared Red Army and Secret police had too much power. Lack of control meant he feared assassination attempts
Genrikh Yagoda- early 1930's second command of OGPU, attempted to win Stalin by fueling his suspicion. OPGU later NKVD compiled extensive report on discontent of collectivisation in countryside
Yagoda collected intelligence suggesting many communist officials questioned Stalin's wisdom linked to politics
Great Terror had two economic functions:
1. Stalin could blame economic problems on political enemies, ongoing difficulties in the FYP's could be explained by presence of 'wreakers' in the workforce. they were according to Stalin employed by Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev working to sabotage Russian economy. Stalin created Scapegoats for the economic problems caused by the FYP
2. Purges provided the avaliability of cheap labour. Majority of people purged sent to labour camps, prisoners in soviet gulags were also a source of slave labour. many of the projects commisioned and built during FYP's completed by prison workers.
Stalins motives were economic can be found in the trial of Shakhty engineers, Menshevik trial 1931 and trail of stale farm and agricultural officials 1933. Accused tried and found guilty of economic sabotage.