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USSR: The Great Purge 1934-1938

  • Oct 7, 2012 · 3:00 PM
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Following the Bolshevik consolidation of power in the early 1920's, the Great Purge [masked]) intitiated a series of repressive campaignes. The purge cleansed the Soviet military and political system of the old Lenin Guard and established Joseph Stalin (Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili) as an undisputed and unchallenged leader of the Soviet Union. It also cemented Stalin's Cult of Personality image, which would last all the way to his death in 1953. According to historical documents the Purge started in the late 1936 and didn't officially end until late 1939. The results were disasterous. Most of the Soviet military high command was executed. The Communist party was purged, and it's members either imprisoned or killed without a trial. In just over 2 years of State Sponsored Terror over 1 million people were executed. Also, hundreds of thousands of peasants, intelectuals, artists and unaffiliated persons were sent to a Gulag (labor camps). Our next discussion will begin with the end of NEP (New Economic Policy) and take us throgh Stalin's first 2 five year plans (industrilization) and collectivization (agrarian) policies. We will elaborate on the reasons why Stalin implemented the purges. Was it an attempt to consolidate all power in his own hands and rule the country as he saw fit? Or was there a real threat to his rule from the upper ranked military leaders and party officials? Why were collectivization policies so ruthlessly carried out? Was it a planned out genocide or a failure of the Soviet economic system? So many questions, so little time

 

 

 

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  • Gary H

    Good. VERY chatty.

    October 8, 2012

  • Gary H

    item:
    Stalin’s Great Terror: Origins and Consequences
    By Vadim Rogovin
    29 December 1998 EXCERPTS: This myth says that virtually the entire population of the Soviet Union was reduced to a stunned silence by the terror, and either said nothing about the repression, or blindly believed in and supported the terror. ... They [the left opposition to Stalin] spoke out against forced collectivisation and the erroneous methods of industrialisation which were leading to great deprivation for the vast majority of the Soviet people. They spoke out against the growing system of privileges and social inequality. The bureaucracy had usurped political power from the working class and was consolidating its position and privileges. ... http://www.wsws.org/articles/1998/dec1998/rog1-d29.shtml

    October 8, 2012

  • Bronislav M.

    Thank you for attending everyone. Very lively and productive discussion. I learned quite a few new things. Till next time.

    October 7, 2012

  • Anthony C.

    A friendly and enthusiastic group of people eager to discuss history. I can't wait for the next meetup! Thank you, Bronislav!

    October 7, 2012

  • Nancy D.

    Looking forward to another lively, informative discussion. @Tracy: I don't believe we've met, but thanks for the book recc - sounds very interesting!

    October 6, 2012

  • Tracy

    I can't make this meeting, but I will recommend a book I found fascinating which is partially on this subject: "The Unquiet Ghost: How Russians Remember Stalin" by Adam Hochschild. http://www.amazon.com/Unquiet-Ghost-Russians-Remember-Stalin/dp/0618257470/ref=la_B000APHVX4_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1349549071&sr=1-5

    October 6, 2012

  • Bronislav M.

    Gary,
    Yes, agreed. The destruction of the local collectives intensified after NEP and through the 1930s. The state took control (centralized) of the economy much further then it ever did before (under Provisional Government or Lenin)

    August 20, 2012

  • Bronislav M.

    Thanks Jim

    August 20, 2012

  • Jim P.

    Here are some book suggestions for this session: On Stalin, Simon Sebag Montefiore's YOUNG STALIN and IN THE COURT OF THE RED CZAR cover this period very well. I just finished Amy Knight's WHO KILLED KIROV? about the assassination that triggered the purges. Don't forget the excellent fiction relating to the purges, especially Victor Serge's THE CASE OF COMRADE TULAREV; Anatoly Rybakov's CHILDREN OF THE ARBAT and FEAR; and Arthur Koestler's DARKNESS AT NOON. Solzhenitsyn's GULAG ARCHIPELAGO, THE FIRST CIRCLE, and CANCER WARD also touch on this period.

    August 20, 2012

  • Gary H

    I have a bone to pick with the phrase, "Why were collectivization policies so ruthlessly carried out?" I think it was local autonomous collectives that were crushed and forcibly taken over by the state. - Gary

    August 20, 2012

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