LECTURE 9 - HANDOUT

LECTURE 9 - HANDOUT - Denis Kozlov 9 History 2021 / RUSN...

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Denis Kozlov History 2021 / RUSN 2023 Soviet Russia LECTURE 9 LECTURE 9. The Great Terror, 1936-1938 1. The history and mechanism of the Great Terror 2. Human experiences 3. Interpretations THE GREAT TERROR OF 1936-38 – PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT THEME IN SOVIET HISTORY ON THE ONE HAND, THE TERROR EMBODIED SOME OF THE CRUCIAL POLITICAL PRINCIPLES AND VALUES OF THE SOVIET REGIME. ON THE OTHER HAND, THE TERROR SHAPED THE COUNTRY’S HISTORY AND POLITICAL CULTURE FOR THE ENTIRE SOVIET PERIOD THAT REMAINED AFTER IT. AND EVEN IN THE POST-SOVIET ERA, THE LEGACY OF THE TERROR CONTINUES TO SHAPE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE STATE AND THE INDIVIDUAL IN RUSSIA AND IN MUCH OF THE POST-SOCIALIST WORLD AT THE SAME TIME, THE GREAT TERROR – PERHAPS THE MOST MYSTERIOUS AND LEAST EXPLAINED THEME IN SOVIET HISTORY. MUCH OF WHAT HAPPENED IN 1936, AND ESPECIALLY 1937 AND 1938, REMAINS UNCLEAR TO US. PARTLY THIS IS SO BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF SOURCES: DESPITE THE OPENING OF THE RUSSIAN ARCHIVES SINCE THE EARLY 1990S, MANY CRUCIAL ARCHIVES – THE PRESIDENTIAL ARCHIVE AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE ARCHIVES OF THE SECRET POLICE – REMAIN CLOSED. ALTHOUGH HISTORIANS NOW KNOW MUCH MORE THAN 15 YEARS BEFORE, THEY STILL CANNOT ANSWER, IN FULL DETAIL, EITHER WHY THE TERROR TOOK PLACE OR HOW, PRECISELY, IT WAS IMPLEMENTED THE TERM “GREAT TERROR” – COINED BY THE HISTORIAN ROBERT CONQUEST. THE TERROR OF 1936-38 IS ALSO KNOWN AS “THE GREAT PURGES.” IN THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE, THERE IS NO SINGLE INDIGENOUS DEFINITION OF WHAT HAPPENED DURING THESE YEARS. THE WORD ‘TERROR’ IS OFTEN USED, BUT IT IS OF WESTERN ORIGIN. SO IS ANOTHER DEFINITION, ‘MASS REPRESSION’. BETWEEN THEMSELVES, RUSSIANS MOST COMMONLY REFER TO THIS PHENOMENON BY A DATE – ‘1937’ – THE YEAR WHEN THE TERROR REACHED ITS PEAK. 1
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Denis Kozlov History 2021 / RUSN 2023 Soviet Russia LECTURE 9 ***QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER: 1. WHY DID THE GREAT TERROR TAKE PLACE? 2. WHAT WAS THE MECHANISM OF THE TERROR? 3. WHO WERE THE VICTIMS OF THE TERROR? 4. HOW MANY VICTIMS DID THE TERROR CLAIM? 5. WHAT WERE THE LEGACIES OF THE TERROR? AS WE MOVE AHEAD IN THIS COURSE, WE WILL TRY TO ANSWER SOME OF THESE QUESTIONS ********************* 1934 WAS A RELATIVELY “GOOD” YEAR IN SOVIET HISTORY: SINCE THE MID-1930S, THE GROWING INDUSTRY BEGAN TO YIELD MAJOR RESULTS. INDUSTRIALIZATION WAS DEVELOPING SUCCESSFULLY, ALTHOUGH IT HAD TAKEN ENORMOUS HUMAN SACRIFICES + AGRICULTURE BEGAN, TO SOME EXTENT, RECOVERING FROM THE SHOCK OF COLLECTIVIZATION: PRODUCTIVITY GREW ECONOMIC RISE END OF 1934 – BREAD RATIONING ABOLISHED THE SECRET POLICE MADE FEWER ARRESTS, AND FEWER PEOPLE WERE CONVICTED, FOR EITHER POLITICAL OR “ECONOMIC” CRIMES (THE TWO OFTEN OVERLAPPED) THAN IN THE PREVIOUS THREE YEARS FEBRUARY 1934 – OGPU REPLACED WITH THE PEOPLE’S COMMISSARIAT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS – NKVD . THE COMMISSAR OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS – GENRIKH YAGODA (FORMER HEAD OF OGPU) UNLIKE THE OGPU, NKVD DID NOT – AT ITS INCEPTION – HAVE THE
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LECTURE 9 - HANDOUT - Denis Kozlov 9 History 2021 / RUSN...

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