The Consequences of the Terror


Social Impact- Victims

1935- Focus on members of the Leningrad Party and early Bourgeois specialists
1936 + early 1937- Extended to former opposition and current leaders of the party, NKVD and the army, - Army = 35,000 officers shot, - NKVD= 23,000 agents killed
1935+ 1936- Yagoda’s NKVD convicted ½ million people, -2,300 shot, -405,000 prison camps, - the rest died in police custody or disappeared
1937-8- known as ‘Yezhov Bloodbath’ 

10% of adults (male) were executed/ sent to labour camps. Persecution directed at certain social group effecting urban and educated people more than manual workers and peasants. Most at risk- age 30-45 in managerial/ professional position. Women effected single or related to men that had been purged. Only 5% arrested were women

Discrimination based on nationality. NKVD specific targets for number of poles, Romanians and Latinos persecuted, -1.5 million arrested, -635,000 exiled, -680,000 shot

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Social Impact- Families

Centre district Moscow, some apartment blocks were deserted 1937

Wives of top party officials arrested with husband

Wives of ‘enemies of the people’ lost jobs

Husband arrested, had to petition for his release, some cases, queues formed outside government buildings demanding to know what happened to their husbands. Wives not considered enemies if they believed husband was innocent

Older children of arrested likely to be expelled form university and younger children were humiliated by peers and teachers at school. They were expected to disown or renounce parents

1937-8 formal renunciations were part of everyday school life and program of Komsomol

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Social Impact- Old Elite

Existing elite got rid of replaced by new loyal groups of leaders. Russian’s regions replicated show trials on a smaller scale. Yaroslavl trail at a rubber factory accused bosses of bad management entire workforce involved, watched bosses get humiliated- highly publicize. Monthly meetings held to criticize management. Existing management scapegoat for problems. Sacked ‘wreakers’ turned into the NKVD 

1937- massive purge of existing communist party members. Feb-March Centre-Committee meeting authorized extension of the terror, the spring elections were used ‘to purge communists in positions of authority. First time in 15 years, Stalin didn’t issue any lists of who to put forward for election to senior positions. Party administration was temporarily paralyzed as party members tried to avoid falling into the ‘hands of the NKVD, scrutinizing candidate for high office’

Junior members of the party took on the role of the NKVD, interrogating those who sought election and unmasking many ‘enemies of the people’, some areas elections lasted weeks.Yaroslavl factory, party committee’s 800 members attended meeting every evening for over a month in order who to decide to elect. Similar process when electing the leaders of Russia’s trade unions, candidates required to submit detailed biography, which was then cross-examined, on their real-class identity and service to party. Many still labelled ‘enemies of the people

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Social Impact- New Identites

One way to escape terror was to create new identity. Kulaks, priests, former Nepmen and people once part of Russia’s nobility were targets to the NKVD. Many of these reinvented themselves as factory workers or administrators in Stalin’s new industry. But simply working in a factory was not enough. For ‘former people’ it was essential to invent a new family history. This could be done in a variety of ways

1. Women could change class origins by marrying a genuine member of the working class. E.g. Anna Dubova, daughter of a Kulak, moved to Moscow, married a working man and started working in a factory school to escape exile
2. Forged papers readily available in Russia, official documents contained no photographs and thus easily faked
3. Was to destroy existing identify documents and, upon arrival to a new area, bribe a local official to invent a new identity as a working class. The most high-profile of this was Vladimir Gromov, he was sentenced to 10 years in a gulag for impersonation of a prize-winning architect and engineer. He used the identity to persuade the government to spy him a million roubles to advance for designing an important government project

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Economic Impact

Great Terror designed to boost economic production by eradicating ‘wreckers’ and saboteurs, however instead it caused havoc. During, communist party members felt compelled to lie about economic facts to give the impression that the government met targets and to avoid arrest or execution. Thus it was impossible to plan affectively because the truth was always distorted. The purges within Gosplan, eliminated many of Russia’s most experienced economic planners, and at a local level the terror was wiped away many competent industrial manager. Effect of purges in the Donbas region of Ukraine was typical of all of what happened in Russia

1929- this region accounted for over 77% of Russia’s coal production. Summer 1936 to autumn 1938- more than a quarter of coalmine management purged. Resulting in the rate of coal production to fall dramatically
Productions doubled between 1928-32 and again between 1932-1936, but barely grew from beginning of Great Terror to 1940. Slowdown in economic growth experienced in Donbas region experienced in whole of Russia
Historian, Alex Nove- argues failure of third five year plan relative to the direct results of the Great Terror which ‘swept away managers, technicians, statisticians and planners, leading to a shortage of trained workers.’

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Political Impact

Great Terror had a political purpose. Publically established the guilt and corruption of those who opposed Stalin. As at a local level, provided scapegoats for popular discontent, as well as drama to a mundane life
Three Moscow show trials ‘proved’, that everyone who had opposed Stalin had done due to a corrupt reason. Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin and former Trotskyists all traitors who had worked for foreign governments and assassins plotting the death of popular hero, Kirov. Trials were followed by Stalin moving to eliminate the follower of those who had been corrupted
Stalin’s economic plans had failed and the 1930’s was a time of shortages, hard work and strict discipline. To divert people’s attentions from problems, Stalin encouraged Russia’s ‘little people’ to hold bosses to account. Resulting local show trials targeted government employees, party officials and factory workers, with the defendant being charged with a variety of crimes which indicated the strength of discontent during the time
E.g. Kazan, Communist officials were publicly tried for misusing government funds, the trials attacked the luxurious lifestyles enjoyed by the Kazan party bosses. No crime had been committed a luxury was part and parcel of the lifestyle people felt their accusations had been justified

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Estimated number of executed vary between 500,000 and 1,500,000. Some 2,000,000 of those exiled to camps died between 1937-8 

Conquest (1990)                                                    Dmitri Volkogonov
(1937-8)                                                                 (1929-53)
Arrests-7-8million                                                    Executed- 7 million
Executions-1-1.5million                                            Imprisoned- 16.5 million
Pop. of Camp- 7-8 million
Died in Camps- 2 million
Famine (1932-3)- 7 million

Total (1929-53)- 20 million

Wheatcroft and Davies (94)
Total deaths- 10 million
Famine-8.5 million

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