The Yezhovshchina


Radicialisation of the NKVD

This consists of two parts:

The fall of Yagoda

A new style of NKVD

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The Fall of Yagoda

Stalin didn't trust Yagoda, didn't believe it was firm enough in Trial of the Sixteen

Stalin also believed Yagoda had failed to provide evidence aganist Bukharin and Rykov in the final trial, had allowed Tomsky to commit suicide before the trial 

These doubts came from a report in 1928, in which Bukharin claimed Yagoda supported the right rather than Stalin

Yezhov played on Stalin's sucpicions and suggested it was time for him to step down

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A New Style NKVD

After Yezhov takesas people's commisar for internal affairs (Head of NKVD), Stalin sets targets for arrested execution and exiles

Stalin also purges the NKVD in 1937, removing the old communists who felt loyalty to people e.g. Bukharin and Rykov

These men idealogically opposed to use of indiscriminate terror

New recruits were happy to follow orders many of which were either thugs or career-minded administrators who were set on promotion

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Purges and Mass Murder under Yezhov: Party

Spring 1937, Stalin said traders and spies had entered the party, everywhere

He encouraged lower ranking party members to criticize and announce those in higher positions
Floods of accusations

Party members 'unmasked' by colleagues for 'being part of Bukharin right during the 1920's' or 'authorising concessions to peasants in 1925'

These people were invited to confess in mass meetings before being arrested

This became more frequent as many turned others in to get their job, settle scores or to deflect criticism away from themselves

This is not always happen from the bottom to the top

Party secretaries and higher official, anxious about finding a counter revolutionaries and 'fascist spies' in local party network, to show how loyal they were to regime

Thus denouncing people below them where as Yezhov and the NKVD went after the top party members

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Purges and Mass Murder under Yezhov: Society

There had been deportations of social groups hostile to communism before care of murder. Arrests of oppositionists, economic officials and administrators increased from spring 1937 onwards.

July 1937, politburo past a resolution condiments condemning 'anti-soviet elements' in Russian society

Yezhov drew up an arrest list of over 250,000 of these 'elements' including scientists' artists, writers, musicians but also managers and admin. Historians were vulnerable with many accused of leading terrorist groups after enter.

Anyone could be arrested as an oppositionist. A quota system was applied to geographical areas and public bodies. July 1937 proportion shot was 28% with the rest sentenced to 10 years hard labour this was all before arrest

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Purges and Mass Murder under Yezhov: Society Conti

A huge media campaign started encouraging ordinary people to criticize party officials, bureaucrats and managers seeking out 'hidden enemy'. This created popular dissatisfaction with 'officialdom' and resulted in a huge number denunciations and arrests

People were encouraged to denounce workers and saboteur in the workplace so the rest of the population didn't escape either. Once suspects were arrested and interrogated by NKVD they are always came up with names of accomplices. Workmates, friends and family or could find themselves arrested because of connections. Victims of the terror spread exponentially.

Boris Numeric, distinguished scientist, supposedly organised a 'counter revolutionary astronomers group' which engaged in wreckage, espionage and terror

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Purges and Mass Murder under Yezhov: Armed Forces

1937 turn of armed forces, Stalin was not convinced he could trust army to follow his policies

Leaders of the army were tough and hard to intimidate Marshall Tukhachevsky was the hero of the civil war but during this time was in conflict with Stalin

Stalin claimed that the army was plotting to overthrow him

Tukhachevsky and other generals had confessions beating out of them (blood stained letters) and were executed

The NKVD worked through the rest of the army

Stalin risked losing his best commanders when the prospect of war loomed, a powerful indicator that it went too far

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Facts and Figures- The Party

1,108 out of 1,996 delegates to the party congress in 1934 were arrested

70 percent central committee members 1934 were shot

5 / 11 members of the politburo in 1934 were killed -many mysterious circumstances

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Facts and Figures- The Armed Forces

8 generals all civil war heroes

Total 35,000 officers imprisoned / shot -11,000 reinstated by mid 1940

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Stalin called a halt to Great Terror

The purges were destabilising Russia's society

Yezhov resigned as head of NKVD in November 1938 arrested April 1939 and executed February 1948 blame to buy Stalin for the excesses of Terror

Lavrenti Beria replaced him

His first task to compile list of 346 Yezhov's associates who had also been shot

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Vasili Blokhin

Chief executioner under the NKVD

Served under administrators Yagoda, Yezhov and Berina

Personally executed tens of thousands of prisoners

The most prolific official executioner in recorded world history

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Murder of Trotsky

20th of August 1940 in Mexico - Ramón Mercader

This no means none of the original contenders for power are still alive

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