The Great Terror Essays

The Great Terror Essays

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The Great Terror, an outbreak of organised bloodshed that infected the Communist Party and Soviet society in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), took place in the years 1934 to 1940. The Terror was created by the hegemonic figure, Joseph Stalin, one of the most powerful and lethal dictators in history. His paranoia and yearning to be a complete autocrat was enforced by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), the communist police. Stalin’s ambition saw his determination to eliminate rivals such as followers of Leon Trotsky, a political enemy. The overall concept and practices of the Terror impacted on the communist party, government officials and the peasants. The NKVD, Stalin’s instrument for carrying out the Terror, the show trials and the purges, particularly affected the intelligentsia.

The NKVD, transformed by Stalin from the original secret police set up in 1917 known as the Cheka, was a secret police service formed in 1934 with Genrikh Yagoda as executive until 1936. The NKVD was a law enforcement agency of the Soviet Union that had direct power over the Communist Party. This secret police organisation was no longer controlled by the party, but rather it controlled the party and only Stalin stood above it. Although the agency contained a regular, public police force of the USSR that included traffic police, firefighters and border guards, the agency ultimately directed mass executions that were not legally authorised, directed labour camps, inhibited resistance and were responsible for mass deportations to deserted regions. The main role of the NKVD was to enforce Stalinist policy, impacting society as people became frightened of the police, rather than feeling safe, until it dissolved in 1946.

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...cruited by French writer, Andre Malraux, a spy for France. Babel was tried by an NVDK troika, a commission of three persons who issued sentences, and was prosecuted for being a spy for the French, Austrians and Leon Trotsky. Babel was imprisoned in Butyrka Prison and was shot on January 27th 1940.

The Great Terror that occurred from 1934 to 1940 greatly impacted Soviet society due to the enforcement of the Stalinist policy by the NKVD. The implementation of the policy through the purges of innocent individuals and government members, the forced convictions of the innocent during the show trials from 1936 to 1938 and the effects this all had on groups in society such as the intelligentsia, greatly affected the lives of Soviet people making them fearful for their safety and their future. The Terror not only removed dissent from society but also made people fearful.


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