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Welcome to the homepage of the Stalin Society of North America (SSNA).

stalin-ssna-smallThe SSNA is the result of many months of hard work and many years of hopeful emulation. In London, in 1991, the Stalin Society-UK was formed as an organization whose stated goal was to refute anti- communist and anti-Stalin libels and slanders through rigorous scholarly research and vigorous debate. Over the years, the Stalin Society-UK has contributed a number of very influential and well-received articles dealing with the Stalin Period of Soviet history, and has conducted and sponsored numerous education events, forums, and symposia. The success of the Stalin Society in Britain made many of us on this side of the Atlantic wish that we had a similar organization on these shores.

Well, on March 8, 2014, that became a reality. The Stalin Society of North America held its Founding Congress in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We hope to not only continue in the tradition of our British comrades, but to expand and deepen the work of reclaiming the history that was stolen from us. Our aim is nothing less the overturning of the Cold War anti-communist historical paradigm; and the restoration of history’s original – and correct – verdict of Joseph Stalin as one of the titans of the 20th century and one of the central figures in the history of progressive humankind. But we are not merely a collection of antiquarians and this is not just a historical society. Our mission is consciously and proactively political. To defend Stalin is to defend socialism; to stand up for a better, a more just and humane world. By defaming Stalin, conservative and anti-communist historians and commentators have attempted to demonstrate that no alternative to capitalism is possible, and that attempt to establish such an alternative will fail, monstrously so, in fact.

We say, “no!” We say that a new world is not only possible, but practical, indeed necessary; and we say that the successes and achievements of the world communist movement, and particularly the Stalin era in the USSR are there as proof. Through research, scholarship, and reasoned argument we seek to popularize that proof and reestablish that truth, once shared by millions, that socialism is the road to human progress, fulfillment, and freedom.

The SSNA is, and likely will always be, a work in progress. We will constantly expand and broaden our work. So, please come and visit us often. We hope, through the dissemination of printed information, educational events, and visual and audio media to serve as a virtual Stalin library and museum. There is much here already; but much more will always be arriving.

Our doors are open. Come on in!

Alfonso Casal
Chairperson, The Stalin Society of North America

The “Real Stalin” Series. Part Twenty: Foreign Policy Before W.W. II.

moscow-ussr-czechoslovak-minister-of-foreign-affairs-edvard-benes-ek394d

 

SU AND GERMANY TREATED AS OUTLAWS

The first admission of the young state to any international conference was at the Genoa Conference of 1922, called by the victorious allies in the hope of dumping the burden of a bankrupt, postwar Europe on the backs of Soviet Russia and vanquished Germany. The prospective victims had to be present in order to accept the burden.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 144

SU WANTS TO SIGN PEACE PACTS

The Soviets were the first to sign the Kellogg Pact, proposed by United States; they were the first to sign any international peace pact or proposal, sometimes before they were invited.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 146

In an August 22, 1939, letter to Sumner Wells, Acting American Secretary of State, Ambassador Davies said in reference to the Soviet-German Nonaggression Pact, “During the Litvinov tenure in the Foreign Office, there was to be sure a very strong moral impulse of hostility toward Germany and the aggressor powers beginning with the accession of Hitler to power. During that period the Soviet regime, in my opinion, diligently and vigorously tried to maintain a vigorous common front against the aggressors and were sincere advocates of the “indivisibility of peace.”
Litvinov’s able battle for peace and democratic ideas at the League of Nations and the vigorous attitude of the Soviet government in being prepared to fight for Czechoslovakia were indications of real sincerity of purpose and a marked degree of high-mindedness.
Beginning with Munich, and even before, however, there has been an accumulation of events which gradually broke down this attitude on the part of the Soviet government.
During my tenure in Moscow I was much impressed with the fact that the Russians were undoubtedly severely irked by what appeared to be a policy of “pinpricking” and an attitude of superiority and “talking down” which diplomatic missions of the Western powers assumed toward the Soviet government. The Soviets are proud and resented this deeply.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 454

In his conduct of foreign policy, Stalin showed great caution, restraint, and realism. He needed time to build up Russia’s industries and military strength. He was constantly provoked in the east and west, and in ways that must have infuriated him, but he never lost sight of the overriding need to delay the outbreak of war as long as possible. It was for this reason that he placed the greatest emphasis on peace and disarmament in world affairs.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 296

Each of the future allies sold space for time and let down allies and friends, until no space was left to be sold and no time to be bought.
In the course of 1934 Stalin set out on his search for protective alliances. Gradually, but not imperceptibly, he switched over from opposition to the system of Versailles to its defense. In September Russia joined the League of Nations. Hitherto the Kremlin and the League had boycotted each other. To Lenin the League had been the ‘robbers’ den’, the organization designed to enforce the peace of Versailles, to perpetuate colonial domination and to suppress movements of emancipation all over the world.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 417

Yet, in spite of all this, one feels justified in asserting that in those years, 1935-37 and even later, Stalin was genuinely striving for an anti-Hitler coalition. This course of action was dictated to him by circumstances…. At the Nuremberg rally of September 1936 Hitler spoke about the Ukraine and Siberia as belonging to the German Lebensraum in terms so emphatic and fiery that they seemed to exclude even a transient understanding between himself and Stalin. Later in the year the leaders of the Axis came together to announce the conclusion of the anti-Comintern pact. Throughout all that period clashes, some of them serious, were occurring between Russian and Japanese frontier troops. The storm seemed to be gathering over Russia in Asia and Russia in Europe. If not anti-fascist virtue, then the demands of self-preservation drove Stalin to seek security in a solid system of alliances.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 420

(Sinclair’s comments only)
Again and again Russia came into the conferences of Europe and proposed complete disarmament. Our reactionary newspaper columnists are quite sure that this was a bluff; but what a simple matter it is to call a bluff if you have the cards! Why didn’t the warlords of the militarist nations accept Litvinov’s propositions? Why didn’t they pretend to accept them?
The answer is because every one of them understood clearly that a collectivist economy can get along without colonies and foreign trade, whereas a profit economy must have these things and must increase them, and therefore is driven continually to fresh aggressions under penalty of revolution at home.
It is my belief that the disarmament proposals repeatedly made by the Soviet Union enable that country to stand before the world with clean hands, and place the blame for the wars which are coming upon the nations which refused the proposals and have gone on ever since to prepare for worse aggressions against the Soviet Union.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York: Rand School Press, 1938, p. 23

SU AND MEXICO ONLY ONES TO AID SPAIN

The Soviet Union shared with Mexico the honor of being the only governments that aided the Democratic government of Spain.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 147

As week succeeded week, it became obvious that the governments of Britain and France were prepared to give nothing to the Spanish people except advice. Once Stalin was convinced of this, he declared the intention of the Soviet state to give all the help it could to the Spanish loyalists.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 96

Three countries participated directly in the Spanish Civil War: Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union.
Krivitsky, Walter. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 88

It was late in August 1936 and the Franco forces were firmly organized and marching successfully on Madrid, when three high officials of the Spanish Republic were finally received in Russia. They came to buy war supplies, and they offered in exchange huge sums of Spanish gold. Even now, however, they were not conveyed to Moscow but kept incognito in a hotel in Odessa. And to conceal the operation, Stalin issued, on Friday, Aug. 28, 1936, through the Commissar of Foreign Trade, a decree forbidding “the export, re-export, or transit to Spain of all kinds of arms, munitions, war materials, airplanes, and warships. The decree was published and broadcast to the world on the following Monday. The fellow travelers of the Comintern, and the public, roused by them, already privately dismayed at Stalin’s failure to rush to the support of the Spanish Republic, now thought that he was joining Leon Blum’s policy of non-intervention. Stalin was in reality sneaking to the support of the Spanish Republic. While its high officials waited in Odessa, Stalin called an extraordinary session of the Politburo, and presented his plan for cautious intervention in the Spanish Civil War – all this under cover of his proclamation of neutrality.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 91

Two days later a special courier, who came by plane to Holland, brought me instructions from Moscow: Extend your operations immediately to cover Spanish Civil War. Mobilize all available agents and facilities for prompt creation of a system to purchase and transport arms to Spain. A special agent is being dispatched to Paris to aid you in this work. He will report to you there and work under your supervision.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 93

In plain terms, it was Captain Oulansky’s job to organize and operate a ring of arms smugglers, and to do this so cleverly that no trace could be discovered by the spies of foreign governments.
“If you succeed,” Yagoda told him, “come back with a hole in your lapel for the Order of the Red Banner.”
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 96

We all met in Paris in perfect secrecy on September 21. Zimin brought explicit and emphatic instructions that we must not permit the slightest possibility of the Soviet government’s becoming in any way associated with our traffic in arms. All cargos were to be handled “privately” through business firms created for the purpose.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 97

We made large purchases from the Skoda works in Czechoslovakia, from several firms in France, from others in Poland and Holland. Such is the nature of the munitions trade that we even bought arms in Nazi Germany.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 98

By the middle of October, shiploads of arms began to reach republican Spain. The Soviet aid came in two streams. My organization used foreign vessels. Captain Oulansky’s “private syndicate” in Odessa began by using Spanish boats but found their number limited. Moscow, held by Stalin’s insistence on absolute secrecy lest he become involved in a war, would not permit the use of ships sailing under Soviet papers.
With these false papers, Soviet boats loaded with munitions would sail from Odessa under new names, flying foreign colors, and they would clear the Bosphorus, where German and Italian counter-espionage agents were keeping a sharp look-out. When they had entered loyalist ports and delivered their cargo, their names would be changed back to Russian ones and they would return to Odessa under their own colors.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 99

My agent had bought the 50 government planes for 4,000 pounds each, subject to inspection. When the question of the consignee came up, he offered a choice of a Latin-American country or China. The dealer preferred China.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 102

I was ordered to send the planes to Alicante. But that port was blockaded by Franco’s vessels. The master of the ship made for Alicante, but had to turn back to save the ship and cargo. He attempted to head for Barcelona, but was prevented by my agent on board. My shipload of aircraft plied back and forth in the Mediterranean. Franco kept it from Alicante. Stalin kept it from Barcelona.
…The Norwegian ship finally slipped through Franco’s blockade and discharged its planes at Alicante. At the same time, other war supplies, including tanks and artillery, arrived from the Soviet Union. All loyalist Spain saw that tangible aid was actually coming from Russia. The Republicans, Socialists, anarchists, [and Trotskyists], and syndicalists had only theories and ideals to offer. The Communists were producing guns and planes to use against Franco. Soviet prestige soared.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 103

While this International Brigade – the army of the Comintern – was taking shape in the foreground, purely Russian units of the Red Army were quietly arriving and taking up their posts behind the Spanish front. This Soviet military personnel in Spain never reached more than 2,000 men, and only pilots and tank officers saw active duty. Most of the Russians were technicians–general staff men, military instructors, engineers, specialists in setting up war industries, experts in chemical warfare, aviation mechanics, radio operators, and gunnery experts. These Red Army men were segregated from the Spanish civilians as much as possible, housed apart, and never permitted to associate in any way with Spanish political groups or figures. They were ceaselessly watched by the 0GPU, both to keep their presence in Spain a secret and to prevent any political heresy from corrupting the Red Army.
This special expeditionary force was under the direct control of General Berzin, one of the two leading Soviet figures assigned by Stalin to captain his intervention in Spain. The other was Arthur Stashevsky, officially the Soviet trade envoy stationed in Barcelona.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 107

Berzin was selected by Stalin to organize and direct the Loyalist Army.
Stalin’s chief political commissar in Spain was Arthur Stashevsky.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 108

Dr. Negrin, of course, saw the only salvation of his country in close co-operation with the Soviet Union. It had become obvious that active support could come only from that source.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 112

The splendid feats of the International Brigade, and the material help received from the Soviet Union, so prompted the growth of the Communist Party of Spain that by January 1937 its membership was more than 200,000. The saving of Madrid enormously enhanced Soviet prestige.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 114

The successful defense of Madrid with Soviet arms gave the 0GPU new opportunities to extend its powers.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 115

By February 15th, however, they [the Fascists] were forced to retreat by the newly-reorganized republican army… and the support of 40 Soviet warplanes–moscas and chatos–that had just arrived in Spain: not as many in number as the German warplanes, but technically superior.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 327

Airplanes provided by the Soviet government, 500 pieces of artillery, and 10,000 machine guns were held up in France.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 336

The people of Spain had a loyal friend in the Soviet Union, which could be relied upon to do everything in its power to promote their cause and to frustrate the designs of every imperialist power.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 338

And henceforth the Soviet government did all it could to supply the Republicans with everything they needed, from men (through the international brigades who sent some 35,000 men to Spain), to military advisers from its own army, to armaments and food.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 440

It is common knowledge that soon after the fascist rebellion and the beginning of the civil war in Spain the Soviet Union began to aid and support the Spanish Republic….
By the end of 1936 the Soviet Union had supplied Spain with 106 tanks, 60 armored cars, 136 airplanes, more than 60,000 rifles, 174 field guns, 3,727 machine guns, and an unspecified amount of ammunition.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 724

VYSHINSKY: In his message to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Spain addressed to Comrade Jose Diaz, Comrade Stalin said: “The toilers of the Soviet Union are merely fulfilling their duty in giving all the assistance they can to the revolutionary masses of Spain. They fully realize that the liberation of Spain from the yoke of the fascist reactionaries is not the private affair of the Spaniards, but the common cause of the whole of advanced and progressive humanity.”
Report of Court Proceedings: The case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre–1937, Moscow: Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R, p. 506

The experience of the Civil War in Spain–where no country except the Soviet Union provided assistance to the legal government of the Republic,…
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 10

In the summer [of 1936] the Spanish Civil War started. Stalin became involved to the extent of sending supplies including 648 aircraft and 407 tanks. Three thousand Soviet military ‘volunteers’ served in Spain, and the Comintern organized the 42,000 volunteers of the International Brigade commanded by the supposed Canadian ‘Kleber ‘, in fact Red Army Corps Commander, Shtern.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 219

…Stalin, while professing Soviet adherence to non-intervention [in the Spanish Civil War], secretly approved the immediate dispatch of trained Soviet pilots to fly fighter aircraft supplied by the French.
Costello, John and Oleg Tsarev. Deadly illusions. New York: Crown, c1993, p. 254

Sixteen Soviet freighters put to see from the Black Sea port of Odessa, heading for the Mediterranean. By early November they had safely reached the Republican-held port of Cartagena, where they unloaded more than 800 tanks and aircraft along with thousands of gallons of badly needed fuel. Although military aid on a far more massive scale was needed to defeat Franco, Stalin’s first grudging commitment of Soviet support proved an important morale booster for the Spanish Republicans. Soviet supplies meant that the Loyalists were no longer battling alone against a Nationalist army being supplied with an increasing flood of arms from Germany and Italy.
” Madrid will not now fall,” declared Prime Minister Caballero, “now the war will begin, because we now have the necessary materials.” His defiant words were reinforced later that month with the arrival of hundreds of Soviet military personnel and more arms. Orlov and his comrades in the Red Air Force and Army units in Spain resented Stalin’s order that military personnel were to “keep out of range of artillery fire”. Their T-10 tanks and Mosca and Chato fighter aircraft proved more than a match for the German and Italian opposition. Even in the hands of hastily trained Republican pilots and crews the firepower and maneuverability of the Soviet weapons proved superior to Nationalist tanks and aircraft during the December battles for Madrid.
Costello, John and Oleg Tsarev. Deadly illusions. New York: Crown, c1993, p. 256

Stalin was as good as his word. Twenty years later, when Orlov testified in 1957 before the Senate Internal Security Sub-Committee and recounted how he had organized the looting of the Spanish treasury, Radio Moscow announced that the $420 million worth of Spanish gold smuggled to Russia in 1937 had been sent legitimately to “finance the Republican cause”. Franco’s government was pressing the Soviets to send back the bullion after Negrin’s heirs had returned to Madrid the official receipt for “510 million grams of gold” which the bank of Moscow had given to the cashiers of the Bank of Spain in 1938.
Khrushchev, the Soviet president in 1957 certainly was not going to return a single peseta of Republican money to the Fascist regime of Franco. This was made clear in a broadcast by Radio Moscow in which the USSR reminded the world that the value of Soviet aid delivered to the Spanish Government during the Civil War amounted to much more than the value of 510 metric tons of gold. According to the statement the Spanish account with the USSR was still overdrawn because of the Republicans’ failure to repay $50 million of an additional $85 million in supplies which they had allegedly been loaned officially.
Costello, John and Oleg Tsarev. Deadly illusions. New York: Crown, c1993, p. 263

After all, we had to intervene in Spain because of the fear of agitation on the part of Trotskyites. The Instantsia [Politburo] fears accusations of liquidation–accusations that we have let down the Spanish Left. This is absurd; questions of policy must be decided according to the demands of the State, and not from the point of view of [dissidents, critics, and traitors]….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 268

Stalin’s role in the Spanish Civil War likewise comes under fire from the “left.” Again taking their cue from Trotsky and such professional anti-Communist ideologues as George Orwell, many “Socialists” claim that Stalin sold out the Loyalists. A similar criticism is made about Stalin’s policies in relation to the Greek partisans in the late 1940s, which we will discuss later. According to these “left” criticisms, Stalin didn’t “care” about either of the struggles, because of his preoccupation with internal development and “Great Russian power.” The simple fact of the matter is that in both cases Stalin was the only national leader any place in the world to support the popular forces, and he did this in the face of stubborn opposition within his own camp and the dangers of military attack from the leading aggressive powers in the world (Germany and Italy in the late 1930s, the U.S. 10 years later).
Because the USSR, following Stalin’s policies, had become a modern industrial nation by the mid 1930s, it was able to ship to the Spanish Loyalists Soviet tanks and planes that were every bit as advanced as the Nazi models. Because the USSR was the leader of the world revolutionary forces, Communists from many nations were able to organize the International Brigades, which went to resist Mussolini’s fascist divisions and the crack Nazi forces, such as the Condor Legion, that were invading the Spanish Republic. The capitalist powers, alarmed by this international support for the Loyalists, planned joint action to stop it. In March 1937, warships of Germany, Italy, France, and Great Britain began jointly policing the Spanish coast. Acting on a British initiative, these same countries formed a bloc in late 1937 to isolate the Soviet Union by implementing a policy they called “non-intervention,” which Lloyd George, as leader of the British Opposition, labeled a clear policy of support for the fascists. Mussolini supported the British plan and called for a campaign “to drive Bolshevism from Europe.” Stalin’s own foreign ministry, which was still dominated by aristocrats masquerading as proletarian revolutionaries, sided with the capitalist powers. The New York Times of October 29, 1937, describes how the “unyielding” Stalin, representing “Russians stubbornness,” refused to go along: “A struggle has been going on all this week between Josef Stalin and Foreign Commissar Litvinov,” who wished to accept the British plan. Stalin stuck to his guns, in the Soviet Union refused to grant Franco international status as a combatant, insisting that it had every right in the world to continue aiding the duly elected government of Spain, which it did until the bitter end.
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 22

(Sinclair’s comments)
Whenever you may think about them you can hardly dispute the fact that Russia is for all practical purposes at war today. Russian technicians are helping the democratic people of Spain to defend their existence. Russian technicians are helping the people China to the same end. Russia is fighting not merely Franco, but Hitler and Mussolini in Spain.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York: Rand School Press, 1938, p. 22

Those of us who are over 50 today remember well that the Soviet Union, fulfilling its internationalist duty, helped the legitimate Government and the people of Spain with everything it could–arms, provisions, and medicines. Imbued with revolutionary enthusiasm and the spirit of romanticism Soviet tankmen, pilots, artillerymen, rank-and-file soldiers and prominent military leaders volunteered to fight in Spain.
Zhukov, Georgi. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 141

In the winter of 1936-37 most Russian planes in Spain were flown by Russian pilots, and the attack to drive the Nationalists back from Madrid was opened on Oct. 29 by Russian tanks, driven by Russians, led by the tank specialist General Pavlov and supported by Russian planes.
…Nonetheless, Soviet support was decisive in the autumn of 1936, preventing the Nationalists from winning the war in a few months. Russian advisers and the International Brigades brought order and discipline into the Republican army,…
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 540

[In December 1936] Stalin had sent a letter to the Spanish Prime Minister, Caballero, signed by Molotov & Voroshilov as well as himself, in which he urged the Republican government to avoid social radicalism, enlist the support of the middle class, and broaden the basis of his government “in order to prevent the enemies of Spain from presenting it as a communist republic.”
The fact that the Soviet Union through the Comintern was the only reliable source of arms and supplies gave Stalin the power to intervene in Spanish politics as well as in the war.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 541

“… the Soviet Union sent to the Spanish Government 806 military aircraft, mainly fighters, 362 tanks, 120 armored cars, 1,555 artillery pieces, about 500,000 rifles, 340 grenade launchers, 15,113 machine-guns, more than 110,000 aerial bombs, about 3.4 million rounds of ammunition, 500,000 grenades, 862 million cartridges, 1,500 tons of gunpowder, torpedo boats, air defense searchlight installations, motor vehicles, radio stations, torpedoes and fuel”.
(‘International Solidarity’; op. cit; p.329-30).

and under the new Soviet policy,
“… a little more than 2,000 Soviet volunteers fought and worked in Spain on the side of the Republic throughout the whole war, including 772 airmen, 351 tank men, 222 army advisers and instructors, 77 naval specialists, 100 artillery specialists, 52 other specialists, 130 aircraft factory workers and engineers, 156 radio operators and other signals men, and 204 interpreters”.
(‘International Solidarity’: op. cit. p.328).

In Berlin on 30 may 1937 Hitler stated: After Red airplanes bombed British, German, and Italian ships lying in the harbor of Majorca a few days ago and killed six officers on an Italian ship, German ships were forbidden to remain in the harbor any longer. On Saturday, May 29, 1937, the pocket battleship Deutschland was lying in the roadstead of Ibiza. The ship belongs to the forces assigned to the international sea patrol. In spite of this, the pocket battleship was suddenly bombed between 6 and 7 p.m. by two planes of the Red Valencia Government in a gliding attack…. The result of this criminal attack is that 20 were killed and 73 wounded.
Domarus, Max , Ed. Hitler’s Speeches and Proclamations, 1932-1945. Vol. 2. Wauconda, Illinois: Bolchazy-Carducci, c1990, p. 899

As it became clear that Italy, Germany, and Portugal would not abide by the nonintervention formula and that the insurgent forces were winning, Stalin decided to intervene.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 351

[In a letter to Kaganovich and Chubar on 18 August 1936 Stalin stated] I consider it necessary to sell oil to the Spaniards immediately on the most favorable terms for them, at a discounted price, if need be. If the Spaniards need grain and foodstuffs in general, we should sell all that to them on favorable terms. Let me know how much oil we have already delivered to the Spaniards. Make it incumbent on the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Trade to act quickly and decisively.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 327

[in a letter to Stalin on 18 August 1936 Kaganovich, Ordzhonikidze, and Chubar stated] We heard Comrade Sudin’s progress report on the sale of oil to the Spaniards. It was determined that 6000 tons of fuel oil have been sold as of 18 August, and another tanker has been ordered to fill up with oil.
In accordance with your [Stalin] telegram, the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Trade has been instructed to sell oil to the Spaniards immediately at a reduced price in the necessary amount on the most favorable terms.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 327

[In a letter to Kaganovich on 6 September 1936 Stalin stated] It would be good to sell Mexico 50 high-speed bombers, so that Mexico can immediately resell them to Spain. We could also pick about 20 of our good pilots to perform combat functions in Spain and at the same time give flight training on the high-speed bombers to Spanish pilots. Think this matter over as quickly as possible. It would be good to sell by the same means 20,000 rifles, 1000 machine guns, and about 20 million rounds of ammunition. We just need to know the calibers.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 351

[Footnote to a letter by Kaganovich on 11 October 1936 to Stalin]. On 29 September the Politburo had decided to begin arms deliveries. By 22 October 5 ships had been dispatched to Spain containing 50 tanks, plus fuel and ammunition, 30 hi-speed bombers, and artillery. Further Soviet arms shipments to Spain were made in larger quantities.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 368

In the cruel Spanish Civil War which followed, anti-fascists all over the world helped the Republican army. Stalin’s reaction was instantaneous and, once again, enlightened: Soviet advisers, tanks, and planes were rushed to the aid of democracy in Spain–together with a large number of NKVD agents.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 337

… Stalin’s Russia was the only country to provide real help to Republican Spain.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 426

The fact remained that Russia was doing something to try to stop the march of fascism, that communism appeared to extend a helping hand to an embattled democracy, while the French and British statesmen prattled on about nonintervention in Spain, where German planes and pilots and fascism legions were openly assisting Franco.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 427

While Russian military, air, and naval personnel helped the Republican side and the USSR furnished it with supplies, Soviet participation in the Spanish Civil War was veiled in much more mystification than that of the fascist powers.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 468

My father also wondered why the British had not supported the Spanish Republicans, since they had every interest in preventing the expansion of Italy and Germany into Spain. Germany and Italy had sent many troops. France and Britain acted as though neutral and blocked the approaches, and the Soviet Union alone sent arms via the Black Sea. I know this from Admiral Kuznetsov, whom my father met at this time. He commanded a cruiser which escorted the convoys.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 31

On 15 Oct 1936 Soviet tanks, planes and “advisors” started arriving in Spain to support the Republican government against General Francisco Franco, backed by Hitler and Mussolini.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 200

…more than 2000 Soviet volunteers fought and worked in Spain on the side of the Republic throughout the whole war, including 772 airmen, 351 tank men, 222 army advisors and instructors, 77 naval specialists, 100 artillery specialists, 52 other specialists, 130 aircraft factory workers and engineers, 156 radio operators and other signals men, and 204 interpreters….
The total extent of Soviet military supplies may be seen from the following figures: the Soviet Union sent to the Spanish Government 806 military aircraft, mainly fighters, 363 tanks, 120 armored cars, 1,555 artillery pieces, about 500,000 rifles, 340 grenade launchers, 15,113 machine guns, more than 110,000 aerial bombs, about 3.4 million rounds of ammunition, 500,000 grenades, 862 million cartridges, 1500 tons of gunpowder, torpedo boats, air defense searchlight installations, motor vehicles, radio stations, torpedoes and fuel”.
International Solidarity With the Spanish Republic, 1936-39. Moscow: Progress Publishers, c1974, p. 328-330

Among the more salient denunciations [of the Soviet Union’s assistance to Spain during the Spanish Civil War] are the following: That military aid to Spain came too late and too little; that a large part of the arms were obsolete; that they were given only to communist-led units; that the arms were fed, piece-meal, as it were, to the Governments of Caballero and Negrin in direct proportion to reciprocal controls and influence purportedly granted the Soviets; that the Soviets limited their aid to appease Britain and France; that Russian officers controlled and directed the Madrid armies; that as early as autumn, 1937, the Soviet Union “gave up” on the Spanish revolution and ceased all arms shipments….
And so on, and so on.
The tragedy of the above is that a great part of this quite malicious and self-serving, right-wing propaganda was put forth by both capitulationists and ultras alike…. The word “malicious” is apropos in this case, since each and every point can be easily proven a skillfully perpetrated lie.
Landis, Arthur H. Spain, The Unfinished Revolution, Baldwin Park, California: Camelot Pub. Co. [1972], p. 231

To all those who fault the USSR for not having sent sufficient arms to the Republic the following data should be interesting. The Franco Admiral, Bastarreche, at a conference in Zaragoza in 1960 stated that, “The Nationalist Navy sunk during the period of our war 53 merchant ships with a total of 129,000 tons; captured on the high seas were another 324 ships of some 484,000 tons. Twenty-four foreign ships were also seized, and as many as 1000 detained on the high seas for examination and later released….
Interesting, isn’t it? Among the known Russian ships sunk were the Komsomol, Timiriazev and the Blagoev, all in the Autumn of 1936. A number of others were torpedoed in 1937, as were many Spanish ships of the Republican fleet.
…The evidence then is more than sufficient to conclude that despite the tremendous losses of men, ships, and material along the thousand-mile, submarine-infested run from the Black Sea to Spain, the Soviets had never faltered in their aid to Spain….
Indeed, with 53 merchant ships loaded with Russian arms for Spain torpedoed and sent to the bottom of the Mediterranean, the Soviets have a right to suggest to their unconscionable attackers of the ultra-left, and others, that they not be so hasty with their quite self-serving accusations.
Landis, Arthur H. Spain, The Unfinished Revolution, Baldwin Park, California: Camelot Pub. Co. [1972] page 242-244

The Spanish government rallied all the forces it could on the political left. Spain’s communists in particular stood by it.
The revolutionary tradition impelled Stalin to look favorably on the request from Madrid for help. So too did the awareness that if no resistance to German assertiveness were shown, Europe as a whole would be exposed to the expansionist aims of the Third Reich. Failure to act would be taken as a sign that the policy of the popular front had no substance. Finance and munitions were dispatched by boat to Spain from Leningrad. Simultaneously the Communist International sent the Italian Communist Party leader Togliatti under the alias Ercoli to direct the activities of the Spanish communists.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 387

But he [Stalin] and the Comintern at least did something, and it is hardly likely that the Republicans would have held out so long if he had not sanctioned the Spanish Communist Party’s participation. His Trotskyist critics accused him of excessive pragmatism in his management of the Soviet foreign policy. They ignored the limited resources available to the USSR. Economically, militarily, and ‘above all’ geographically there was no serious chance for him to do more than he achieved at the time.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 389

CHURCHILL SUPPORTS SU MOVING INTO POLAND

Americans still talk as if Stalin and Hitler jointly and cynically divided the unfortunate Poles. But Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, said in a broadcast on October 1, 1939: “The Soviets have stopped the Nazis in eastern Poland; I only regret that they are not doing it as our allies.” A few weeks later, on October 26, Prime Minister Chamberlain himself rather sourly admitted in the House of Commons that “It had been necessary for the Red Army to occupy part of Poland as protection against Germany.”
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 164

There can be little doubt but that Moscow would’ve fallen had the blitz been launched from the old Polish-Soviet and Baltic-Soviet frontiers, rather than from the line which Berlin had been obliged to accept in 1939.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 429

In December 1944 Churchill said, “I cannot feel that Russian demands for reassurance about her western frontiers go beyond limits of what is reasonable or just.”
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 509

SU DESERVED PART OF POLAND AND TAKING IT WAS JUSTIFIED

The chaos that reigned throughout Poland was rapidly becoming civil war in the eastern part of the country. This territory, which Molotov called “Western Ukraine and Byelo– Russia” was inhabited by Ukrainian and Byelo–Russian peasants under Polish landlords. It was not given to Poland by the Versailles Treaty; both Woodrow Wilson and the British Lord Curzon left it outside their “ethnic Poland.” The Polish landlords thrust the new Polish State into a war of aggression in 1920 and took the lands. Through the Warsaw government, which they dominated, the landlords treated their peasants more brutally than had the Russian tsar…. In an effort to Polonize the territory by force they settled demobilized Polish soldiers along the frontier, often by dispossessing whole villages of natives. For 20 years the League of Nations reports indicated that Eastern Poland had one of the most brutally handled minority problems anywhere in Europe.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 165

Special attention must be paid to the secret protocols signed at the same time as the nonaggression pact. They provided for the division of Poland into German and Soviet spheres of influence “in the event of territorial and political changes on the territory belonging to the Polish state.” Some historians regard these agreements as totally wrong and speak of the “fourth partition of Poland.” In their view the Soviet Union could simply have liberated the Polish-occupied parts of Byelorussia and the Ukraine without any preliminary agreement with Germany. England and France had already declared war on Germany, they argue, and Germany would have had to resign itself to the actions of the Red Army. The fact is, however, that at the end of August 1939 no one could have said for certain how England and France would act after Germany’s invasion of Poland. They might still have refrained from declaring war. Both the prospect of German troops emerging on the Soviet border after occupying all of Poland and that of Soviet troops entering Polish territory without prior agreement with Germany entailed great dangers. I must agree that the secret protocols attached to the nonaggression pact were a natural extension of that pact. The Soviet Union was unable to prevent Germany’s invasion of Poland, but it could see to the strengthening of its own defensive positions in case of possible complications –especially since the territory involved was not strictly Polish but where the local Byelorussians and Ukrainian populations had long been struggling for national liberation.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 729

The outbreak of the Polish-Russian war is commonly blamed on the Poles and it is indisputable that their troops started it by invading, at the end of April 1920, the Soviet Ukraine.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 178

Both [Germany and Russia] were agreed that the new Poland had no right to exist – but the Poles made quite sure of the Russians continuing hatred by invading the Ukraine on April.5, 1920, capturing Kiev, the capital, on May 6. They were only driven out a month later and forced to retreat to Warsaw by a Red Army brilliantly commanded by Tukhachevsky, the man Stalin was to execute in 1937.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 14

Polish leaders eager to take advantage of what they perceived to be the exhaustion of the Red Army invaded the Ukraine and occupied Kiev that May [1920]…. A treaty signed at Riga in March 1921 gave Poland a slice of the western Ukraine and pushed the Soviet frontier 100 miles further to the east.
Overy, R. J. Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 23

The Katyn story must begin with the character of the Polish elitist officer corp. Poland was created as an independent country from the ruins of the Germanic, Austrian and Russian empires. The new Polish ruling elite was arrogant and opportunistic. As part of the all out imperialist assault against Soviet Russia, the newly created Polish state launched an unprovoked invasion into its neighboring countries in 1920. The new Soviet Russia was powerless against the Polish invaders, operating in conjunction with a dozen more imperialist countries. Poland annexed a large part of Ukraine, Byelorussia and Lithuania, even taking away its present capital, Vilnius. Some 20 million non-Poles were placed under the rule of the Polish landlords and gentry. Assured the support of England and France, Poland become the gangster of Eastern Europe. It took a fiercely anti-Soviet attitude, becoming an active base for all sorts of anti-Soviet political and terrorist groups that conducted raids and inserted agents into the USSR.
Mukhin, Y.I., Katyn Detective,1995

The Soviet Union had genuine territorial claims on Poland since the period of the Civil War when Poland took advantage of the weakness of the Russian Federation and in 1920 attacked the newly formed Ukrainian and Byelorussian republics as well as Lithuania. As a result of the defeat of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR.) in this war, Poland annexed the western regions of the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and Lithuania, including the cities of Lvov, Brest, Grodno, and Vilnius.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 235

POLAND TREATS JEWS BADLY

The frictions were complicated by the fact that the cities and trading towns of the region are largely Jewish…. Not even Hitler treated the Jews more brutally than did the ” Poland of the Pans” as the minor nationalities called it, using the Polish term for “Lord.” “A Jew-child is a future Jew; twist its neck when it is born,” read one of the Anti—Semitic posters the Red Army found when it marched into Poland. Frictions between all the minor nationalities had been kept at boiling heat by pogroms.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 165

EASTERN SUPPORT FOR SU MARCHING INTO POLAND

The Red Army’s march was seen in Eastern Europe as a check to this plan of the Nazis, preventing the organization of the East Poland chaos into a Nazi Ukraine.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 165

The arrival of the Red Army was not only unopposed by the population; there are evidences that it was hailed with passionate joy. “Russian troops went into Poland without firing a shot and were seen marching side-by-side with the retiring Polish troops,” said the first Associated Press dispatch.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 165

Ukrainian girls hung flowers on the tanks of the arriving Red Army.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 168

Few people who know the racial composition of Eastern Poland doubted that the population had resented the rule of Warsaw and felt “liberated” when the Red Army came…. Even the Polish Government–in–Exile did not venture to declare the Red Army’s march an act of war.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 169

Deputies from Grodno told how the Jewish and Byelo-Russian workers of the city had organized their own militia before the Red Army came and had rushed out and helped build a bridge for it into the city under the fire of Polish officers.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 169

Poles in fairly large numbers were deported to various places in the Soviet Union. Letters received by their relatives in Europe and America showed that they were scattered all over the USSR; the sending of the letters also indicated that they were not under surveillance but merely deported away from the border district. The Soviet authorities claimed that former Polish officers and military colonists had done considerable sabotage and kept the people disturbed by rumors of imminent invasions by Romanian and British troops…. Most of them then stated that they fully understood the necessity of the Red Army’s march into Poland.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 170

There is no question that the peasants preferred Russians to Germans along their border.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 175

The way was prepared by the Soviet refusal of the boundary line which Hitler first offered in Poland, and which would have given to the Soviets territory in “ethnic Poland” as far as Warsaw. This refusal not only preserved Soviet neutrality in the eyes of Britain but helped convince East European powers that the Soviets were not only strong but just.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 176

Next the Soviets presented Lithuania with her ancient capital Vilno, seized 20 years earlier by the Poles. It was an important gift, being twice the size of the present capital Kaunas; its 550,000 population increased Lithuania’s total population by 20 percent. Molotov later stated that it was not given because Vilno had a Lithuanian population; after 20 years of Polish domination, most of Vilno’s inhabitants were Poles and Jews. “The Soviet government took into consideration…the historic past and…the national aspirations of the Lithuanian people.” In other words that gift was made, not for the sake of Vilno, which didn’t particularly want to be transferred, but for the psychological effect on the Lithuanians.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 176

They added that the Soviets could have demanded anything up to annexation and complete Sovietization of their countries and neither Germany nor the Allies could have stopped it.” Their internal organization was no more affected by the new alliance than the governments in South America are affected by the acquisition of naval bases by the United States. The countries were not even required to join in the defense of the USSR unless the attack upon it came directly across their territory. Baltic diplomats and press therefore commented on the shrewdness and reasonableness of Moscow and on the expected trade advantages; they much resented the term “vassal” applied to them by the Anglo-American press.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 177-178

They [the Baltic Germans–ed.] formed the upper class in the Baltic states. For centuries they had been the outpost of German imperialism eastward; they owned the big estates and dominated the industries. At the time of the Russian revelation, much of the native population sided with the Bolsheviks; it was the Baltic Germans who overthrew the local Red governments, calling the troops of the Kaiser to their aid. The removal of these Baltic Germans by Soviet pressure on Hitler scattered what was, for the USSR the most dangerous Nazi fifth column anywhere in Europe. Baltic newspapers expressed regret mingled with pleasure at their going, and remarked that it gave the natives a chance at the better — paid jobs.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 178

In a sense, the expulsion of the Baltic Germans and the Soviet penetration into the Baltic countries seem to have been direct retribution for the German assault on Poland. A careful reading of the declarations of both Hitler and von Ribbentrop makes this evident.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 225

Americans still speak of Stalin as “Hitler’s accomplice” in cynically dividing Poland. But Winston Churchill said in a radio broadcast October 1st: “The Soviets have stopped the Nazis in Eastern Poland; I only wish they were doing it as our allies.” Bernard Shaw, in the London Times, gave “three cheers for Stalin,” who had given Hitler “his first set-back.” Even Prime Minister Chamberlain sourly told the House of Commons, October 26: “It has been necessary for the Red Army to occupy part of Poland as protection against Germany.” The Polish government-in-exile, which was in flight through Romania at the time but reached London some weeks later, never ventured to declare that Soviet march an act of war.
The population of the area did not oppose the Russian troops but welcomed them with joy. Most were not Poles but Ukrainians and Byelorussians. U.S. Ambassador Biddle reported that the people accepted the Russians “as doing a policing job.” Dispatches told of Russian troops marching side-by-side with retiring Polish troops, of Ukrainian girls hanging garlands on Russian tanks. The Polish commander of the Lvov garrison, who for several days had been fighting against German attacks on three sides, quickly surrendered to the Red Army when it appeared on the fourth side, saying: “There is no Polish government left to give me orders and I have no orders to fight the Bolsheviks.”
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 80

The American view that Stalin and Hitler had petitioned Poland in advance is not borne out by the way the partitioning occurred. The boundary between Germans and Russians changed three times before it was fixed at a conference, September 28. It is unlikely that German troops drove all the way to Lvov and attacked it for several days in order to give the city to the USSR. Nor is it likely that the Russians would have incurred casualties by rushing to Vilna, if the city had been allocated to them in advance.
“Respect for Russia has greatly increased; the peasants unquestionably prefer Russians to Germans along the border,” read an AP cable from past Europe, September 27th.
The march into eastern Poland, thus, seems not a connivance with Hitler but the first great check the Soviets gave to Hitler under the Non-Aggression Pact.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 81

When it became absolutely clear that the Polish state had collapsed, then the Soviet forces entered Poland (on September 17) in order to safeguard her defenses and the people of territories invaded by Soviet forces alike. The truth is that the Soviet army was greeted by the local population as liberators and heroes.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 572

And indeed, the invading Red Army units were welcomed by many Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Jewish inhabitants of this territory where the dominant Poles were an ethnic minority living mainly in the towns and the non-Polish population suffered discrimination.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 601

PRIESTS WELCOME BOLSHEVIKS

Dovzhenko laughed when I asked him about the attitude of the Ukrainian priests. “It is probably the first place where priests welcomed the Bolsheviks,” he said…. Under the Poles they were constantly being arrested for such crimes as “false registry of names,” which meant that they registered children in the Ukrainian language instead of in Polish.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 173

PEOPLE EXPERIENCE FREEDOM WITH FURY

There is no fury greater than that of people who, after centuries of oppression, have glimpsed freedom for a little while.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 174

FINNISH INDEPENDENCE CAME FROM BOLSHEVIKS

Finnish independence was a gift from the Bolshevik revolution. Any schoolteacher in present-day Finland would lose her job if she mentioned this incontrovertible historic fact. When Kerensky came to power, Finland applied for independence. The Kerensky government refused. Neither Britain, France, America, nor any foreign power approved of Finland’s independence in those days. Only the Bolsheviks approved.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 180

FINLAND SERVED THE NAZIS

This early democratically elected Finland was quickly suppressed. Baron Mannerheim, a tsarist general, called in German troops to overthrow the government.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 180

Finland was therefore known to the Soviet leaders as the most hostile of all the Baltic states.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 182

With the aid of German officers and engineers, Finland had been converted into a powerful fortress to serve as a base for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Twenty-three military airports had been constructed on Finnish soil, capable of accommodating 10 times as many planes as there were in the Finnish Air Force.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 332

As for the Finns, they carried out unrestrained propaganda against the Soviet Union. There can be no doubt that Finland was eager to join in a campaign against the Soviet Union.
Schecter, Jerrold. Trans & Ed. Khrushchev Remembers: the Glasnost Tapes. Boston: Little, Brown, c1990, p. 51

BOLSHEVIKS GAVE FINNS GOOD TERMS

Moscow first proposed an alliance such a she had with her other Baltic states, but almost at once dropped the proposal in view of Finland’s clear unwillingness…. The Soviets wanted the frontier moved back far enough to take Leningrad out of gunshot from Finland; they did not ask, as some have thought, for the Mannerheim Line. They also wanted some small islands that covered Leningrad’s sea approach. They offered in return twice as much equally good but less strategic land; later they raised the offer. They also asked a 30 year lease of Hangoe, or some other point at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland, as a naval base.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 183

In the peace terms the Soviet Union exacted from Finland considerably more territory adjacent to Leningrad than had originally been asked….The naval base at Hangoe was secured. But the Soviets returned Petsamo and the nickel mines near it, which they had captured. They asked no indemnities but agreed on a treaty whereby they supplied Finland with food. As terms go these were not excessive.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 191

Sir Stafford Cripps, British ambassador to Moscow, thinks that the terms might have been stiffer. He told me that all the Soviet annexations from Finland to Bessarabia had been necessary strategic moves against the coming attack by Hitler. He added: “the Soviets may be sorry someday that they didn’t take more of Finland when they could.”
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 191

Sir Stafford was wrong. Stalin’s sense of timing is better than Sir Stafford’s.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 191

EASTERN EUROPE SUPPORT FOR RED ARMY MARCHING IN

The most applauded folk in all Lithuania during my visit were the Red Army Boys. At concerts, dances, trade union meetings, I heard them mentioned scores of times and never without cheers.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 200

Old-time Lithuanians said: “we have seen in our lives three armies — the old tsarist Army, the German Army of occupation during the first World War, and now these Soviet troops. This is by far the most cultured Army we have ever known.” As boosters for the Soviet Union’s reputation, the Red Army did an excellent job.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 202

At the American Legation they explained that [Lithuanian] people were afraid not to come to the elections. But Smetona [right-wing Lithuanian president] had openly used police terror to make the peasants come to previous elections, yet they had not come. It was not terror that brought them to the places I visited; it was new hope.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 208

On July 21, 1940, Lithuania became a Soviet Socialist Republic by unanimous vote of the People’s Sejm…. A few hours later, on the same day, Latvia and Estonia followed.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 212

What is the use of all these little nations? They only put on heavy taxes for big armies and then their armies are no good anyway. We see what is happening in Europe to all the little countries.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 214

They secured a wide buffer belt from the coast of Finland to the Black Sea.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 220

Summing up, it seemed that life was no worse in Rumania for those who had stayed behind to greet the Russians, and that there were definite improvements for most people. The conservative peasant still had his land and kept more of the product of his labor. There were still plenty of cattle about. The worker had freedom and a sense of new power. The Jew was out of the concentration camps. He had equal rights and a chance to live. All had religious freedom; churches and their institutions were not being molested.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 38

In his speech to the supreme Soviet on October 31, 1939, Molotov said:
“When the Red Army marched into these regions it was greeted with general sympathy by the Ukrainian and Byelorussian population who welcomed our troops as liberators from the yoke of the gentry, from the yoke of the Polish landlords and capitalists.”
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 572

Some writers have condemned the “division of Poland” between Hitler and Stalin, the “occupation” of the Baltic states, and the “immoral collusion” of the two dictators. But the situation was more complicated. As a witness to the events that unfolded in the fall of 1939, I cannot forget the atmosphere in western Byelorussia and western Ukraine in those days. The people there met us with flowers, they held bread-breaking ceremonies to welcome us, gave us fruits and milk. Owners of small cafes offered free meals to Soviet officers. Those were genuine feelings. The people believed that the Red Army would protect them from Hitler’s terror. Similar things were happening in the Baltic countries. As the Wehrmacht units marched nearer, many people fled to the east, looking for safety in the territory controlled by the Red Army.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 278

Units of the Byelorussians and Kiev special military districts met no resistance in crossing the Polish frontier. Stalin read dispatches from Timoshenko, Vatutin, Purkaev, Gordov, Khrushchev and others. One from Mekhlis drew his special attention:
“The Ukrainian population is meeting our army like true liberators…. The population is greeting our troops and officers; they bring out apples, pies, drinking water and try to thrust them into our soldiers’ hands. As a rule, even advance units are being met by entire populations coming out on to the streets. Many weep with joy.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 359

The troops were allowed to use their weapons only if attacked. Only isolated armed clashes took place. There was in fact no resistance. The ethnic majority, being Ukrainians and Byelorussians, sincerely welcomed the arrival of the Soviet forces.
…In June 1940 the Soviet government succeeded in recovering Bessarabia and the northern Bukovina by peaceful means, and by agreement with the Rumanian government the frontier was re-established along the rivers Prut and Danube. The Moldavian Soviet Republic had been formed.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 361

The decision to take over Western Ukraine and Byelorussia, in the face of advancing German Armies, was in my view justified, and it was broadly in accord with the desire of the local working-class population.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 386

I phoned the General Headquarters at once. Stalin told me:
“Don’t disarm the Bulgarian troops. Let them be while they are waiting for orders from their government.”
By this simple act the General Headquarters of the Supreme High Command expressed its full confidence in the Bulgarian people and army who gave a fraternal welcome to the Red Army as their liberator from Nazi occupation and from the Tsarist pro-Fascist regime.
Zhukov, Georgi. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 548

RUSSIAN-GERMAN NON-AGGRESSION PACT WAS NEEDED

The non-aggression pact was not an alliance…. Without violating the pact, the Soviet Union was free to oppose, even by armed force, a German attack on Turkey or Yugoslavia. She agreed not to take part in aggression against Germany, but had promised nothing about resisting an aggression that the Nazis might start…. The pact did more; the Soviet Union, acting as a neutral, blocked Nazi expansion on several important occasions more effectively than could have been done by engaging in war.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 220

The pact was accompanied by a trade agreement in which the USSR agreed to supply Germany with certain raw materials in exchange for German machines. No estimates ever made of this trade place it as high as that carried on in 1931 between the USSR and German Republic — in other words, normal commercial trade. The USSR never became the “arsenal” for Germany in anything like the sense in which America, while still technically neutral, became the arsenal for Great Britain. America has even been the arsenal for Japan in her war against China to a far greater extent then be USSR ever was for Germany. The only commodity sent by the Soviets to Germany that could be classed as a war commodity was oil; the highest foreign guesses assume that the Soviets may possibly have sent as much as a million tons. America’s supply of oil to Japan even under the government licensing system was more than three times as much. In the second year of the pact, the Soviets signed a trade treaty with Romania up by which they got Romanian oil that Hitler presumably wanted.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 220

There is no proof of the often–made assertion that the non-aggression pact provoked Hitler’s march into Poland.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 220

The boundary between Germany and the USSR in Poland was changed three times. This suggests a rapid improvising by two powers that do not wish to fight each other, rather than a pre-determination of boundaries.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 222

The Soviet Union, in the 22 months of the pact’s duration, had checked Nazi expansion more than it was checked by all of Europe’s Armed Forces — Polish, Norwegian, Dutch, Belgian, French, Greek, Yugoslav, and British — combined.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 234

Chamberlain spoke of the pact as a “bomb shell” and “a very unpleasant surprise.” But this was pretense. He was not surprised save at the sudden realization that he had been outplayed in the game of “lets you and him fight.”
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 373

In the last analysis neither the USSR nor the western democracies won the diplomatic game of 1939. Both lost. Only Hitler won. The fact remains that Anglo-French policy gave Stalin and Molotov no viable alternative to the course they finally adopted.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 379

If Stalin himself did not want to go under, he must fight for the existence of British-American ‘capitalism.’ To such a paradoxical result had the law of historical development led. Stalin had meant to be the leader of a world revolution. The destiny of his success forced him to become simply a Russian statesman. As such he had procured for the Soviet Union a respite of nearly 18 months. His policy did not lead to the onset of the world revolution, but it did bring Russia into the Second World War under the most favorable conditions that could be secured. The feared war on two fronts, which would probably had been the end of Russia, had been avoided. The danger had existed all the time that Russia might be faced alone with an enemy of superior strength, or even a number of enemies. Now the Soviet Union entered the war at the side of the most powerful states in the world. As head of the Russian state, Stalin had made good.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 358

From that time on, Russia used the breathing-space granted by the Pact, not only to prepare for defense but to block Hitler’s penetration of East Europe through measures short of war. Hitler revealed this later in his declaration of war against the USSR and bitterly listed the Russian acts that blocked him.
Moscow’s first move was to build a wide buffer belt along her western border by alliances…. Moscow invited Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to send foreign ministers to Moscow to discuss an alliance. One by one, they went and signed…. The Baltic states, themselves, resented the term “vassal” applied to them by the Anglo-American press. They thought themselves not badly off. Their internal organization was not at the time affected; they merely gave bases to the USSR in return for help in their defense.
The dramatic expulsion of half a million Germans from the Baltic States followed. How bitterly Hitler resented this was shown in his declaration of war when he told how “far more than 500,000 men and women…were forced to leave their homeland…. To all this I remained silent, because I had to.” These are not words of a complacent victor. The Baltic Germans were the upper class in the Baltic States; some had been there as landed barons for centuries. It was they who, at the time of the Russian Revolution, brought in the German troops to overthrow local red governments. Their expulsion scattered what was for the USSR the most dangerous fifth-column in Europe.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 82

Many say that the treaty with Hitlerite Germany allowed us to do what we wanted with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, and Romania. Naturally, we understood that there were concessions to us in the Treaty and that they were to our advantage. I want to say this straightforwardly. The access we gained to the Baltic Sea significantly improved our strategic situation. By reaching the shores of the Baltic, we deprived the Western powers of a foothold that they might use against us–and that they actually had used during the civil war–for establishing a front against the USSR.
Schecter, Jerrold. Trans & Ed. Khrushchev Remembers: the Glasnost Tapes. Boston: Little, Brown, c1990, p. 51

At half-past-six on the afternoon of July 3, 1941, the day after his return to Moscow, Stalin spoke to his people:
“One must ask how could it have happened that the Soviet Government consented to conclude the Pact of Non-Aggression with such felons and monsters as Hitler and Ribbentrop. Had not the Soviet government thereby made a mistake? Of course not. A Pact of Non-Aggression is a pact of peace between two countries. It was just such a Pact that Germany offered us in 1939. Could the Soviet Government reject such an offer? I think no peace-loving country should reject an agreement with a neighboring State, even if at the head of that state stand such monsters and cannibals as Hitler and Ribbentrop. This, naturally, depends on the indispensable conditions that the peace agreement does not infringe either directly or indirectly the territorial integrity, independence, and honor of the peace-loving country.”
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 141

SELFLESS AID TO OTHER COUNTRIES

Second Meeting of Hoxha with Stalin
March-April 1949

I mention this, Stalin continued, to show how important it is to bear in mind the concrete conditions of each country, because the conditions of one country are not always identical with those of other countries. That is why no one should copy our experience or that of others, but should only study it and profit from it by applying it according to the concrete conditions of his own country.
“The chief of your General Staff,” Comrade Stalin told me, “has sent us some requests for your army. We ordered that all of them should be met. Have you received what you wanted?”
“We have not yet received any information about this,” I said.

At this moment Stalin called in a general and charged him with gathering precise information about this question. After a few minutes the telephone rang. Stalin took up the receiver and, after listening to what was said, informed me that the materiel was en route.

“Did you get the rails?” he asked. “Is the railway completed?”
“We got them,” I told him, “and we have inaugurated the railway, and continued to outline the main tasks of the plan for the economic and cultural development of the country and the strengthening of its defenses.”
On this occasion I also presented our requests for aid from the Soviet Union.
Just as previously, Comrade Stalin received our requests sympathetically and said to us quite openly:
“Comrades, we are a big country, but you know that we have not yet eliminated all the grave consequences of the war. However, we shall help you today and in the future, perhaps not all that much, but with those possibilities we have. We understand that you have to set up and develop the sector of socialist industry, and in this direction we agree to fulfill all the requests you have presented to us, as well as those for agriculture.”
Then, smiling, he added:
“But will the Albanians themselves work?”
I understood why he asked me this question. It was the result of the evil-intended information of the Armenian huckster, Mikoyan, who, at a meeting I had with him, not only spoke to me in a language quite unlike that of Stalin, but also used harsh terms in his criticisms about the realization of plans in our country, alleging that our people did not work, etc. His intention was to reduce the rate and amount of aid. This was always Mikoyan’s stand. But Stalin accorded us everything we sought.
“We shall also send you the cadres you asked for,” he said, “and they will spare no effort to help you but, of course, they will not stay in Albania forever. Therefore, comrades, you must train your own cadres, your own specialists, to replace ours. This is an important matter. However many foreign cadres come to your country, you will still need your own cadres. Therefore, comrades,” he advised us, “you must open your university, which will be a great centre for training your future cadres.”
“We have opened the first institutes,” I told Comrade Stalin, “and work is going ahead in them, but we are still only at the beginning. Apart from experience and textbooks, we also lack the cadres necessary for opening the university.”
“The important thing is to get started,” he said. “Then step by step, everything will be achieved. For our part, we shall assist you both with literature and with specialists, in order to help increase the number of higher institutes which are the basis for the creation of the university in the future.”
“The Soviet specialists,” Comrade Stalin went on, “will be paid by the Albanian government the same salaries as the Albanian specialists. Don’t grant them any favor more than your specialists enjoy.”
“The Soviet specialists come from far away,” I replied, “and we cannot treat them the same as ours.” Comrade Stalin objected at once:
“No, no, whether they, come from Azerbaijan or any other part of the Soviet Union, we have our rules for the treatment of the specialists we send to the assistance of the fraternal peoples. It is their duty to work with all their strength as internationalist revolutionaries, to work for the good of Albania just as for the good of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Government undertakes to make up the necessary difference in their salaries.”
Hoxha, Enver. With Stalin: Memoirs. Tirana: 8 N‘ntori Pub. House, 1979.

We assisted Spanish democracy, which had not yet become Socialist. We assisted China in her struggle against Japanese imperialism, although China is not yet a Socialist country.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 241

COMINTERN WAS NECESSARY REGARDLESS

It has been asserted that the Comintern was formed as an appendage of the Soviet Foreign Office. That assertion I regard as wholly inaccurate. There is ample evidence in Lenin’s writings to prove that he would have established it even had there been no Russian Revolution.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 190

STALIN SIGNED WITH HITLER BECAUSE OF ALLIED REJECTION

This [the masses having to choose between bourgeois democracy and fascism] continued until 1939, when the reluctance of the non-aggressor powers to ally themselves with the Soviet Union led Stalin to sign the non-aggression pact with Germany.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 198

SOVIETS BANKED ON CAPITALIST DISAGREEMENTS

While they [communist parties of other countries] recognized differences in the capitalist countries and differences between them, there is always the assumption in their policy that the capitalists would converge into a common front against the USSR…. But once again the contradictory interests of the capitalist States intervened and saved us [communist parties] from that disaster.
Fortunately capitalism as a whole has never been able to secure world unity on anything.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 199

STALIN TRIED TO AID THE WORLD’S WORKERS

Naturally the capitalist elements of every country, each influenced by their own special interests, accused the Bolsheviks in general and the Soviet Government in particular of responsibility for all the “disturbances” and “unrest” in the world. Stalin answered the critics: “The accusation does us too much honor! Unfortunately, we’re not yet strong enough to give all the colonial countries direct aid in their struggle for liberation…”
Russian trade unions collected 1 million pounds from their members to aid locked-out British miners. This incident undoubtedly paved the way to the severing of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1927, but the severance did not divert Stalin from the policy of aiding the workers of other countries.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 206

To be sure, Stalin never ignored the interests of the Soviet state and he was often cautious to the point of pessimism about the prospects for immediate revolution. But the letters show that he was also capable of hope and enthusiasm when revolution seemed to be on the move and ready to put his money where his mouth was.
… All in all, Stalin comes out of the letters with his revolutionary credentials in good order.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 36

In an October 7, 1929, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “I think that it’s time to think about organizing an uprising by a revolutionary movement in Manchuria…. We need to organize two double regiment brigades, chiefly made up of Chinese, outfit them with everything necessary (artillery, machine guns, and so on), put Chinese at the head of the brigade, and send them into Manchuria with the following assignment: to stir up a rebellion among the Manchurian troops, to have reliable soldiers from these forces join them…to occupy Harbin, and after gathering force, to declare Chang Hsueh-liang overthrown, establish a revolutionary government (massacre the landowners, bring in the peasants, create soviets in the cities and towns, and so on). This is necessary. This we can and, I think, should do….
…The matter will have to be put on the agenda of the Central Committee plenum. I should think that Bukharin is going to be kicked out of the Politburo.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 182

When Stalin looked out onto the capitalist world and the survivals within it of its “feudal” predecessor, he saw that it was evil. He saw that the overwhelming majority of the world’s people were compelled to work back-breakingly hard just to continue to exist in dreadful poverty, starvation, ignorance, humiliation, oppression, and war. Many Westerners are tempted to say that Stalin and the other Communists exaggerated the misery of the tolling masses of the world, but after looking carefully we realize that it is impossible for anyone, even Stalin, to exaggerate the horror of being poor.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press,1965, p. 81

[In an interview with an American labor delegation on September 7, 1927 Stalin stated] But what would happen if the Communist Party of America did appeal to the Communist Party of the USSR for assistance? I think that the Communist Party of the USSR would render it what assistance it could. Indeed, what would be the worth of the Communist Party, particularly as it is in power, if it refused to do what it could to assist the Communist Party of another country living under the yoke of capitalism? I should say that such a Communist Party would not be worth a farthing.
Let us assume that the American working-class had come into power after overthrowing its bourgeoisie; …would the American working-class refuse such assistance? I think it would cover it self with disgrace if it hesitated to render assistance.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 136

STALIN FELT FULLY JUSTIFIED IN SIGNING THE PACT

It was a dramatic moment when in the conference room of the Kremlin, Stalin and Molotov, the leaders of world revolution, stood side-by-side with Ribbentrop the spokesman of Hitler, the leader of world counter-revolution. But Stalin was unperturbed. His evaluation of the course of events and of the forces engaged was not that of the frantic critics in the West. Rightly or wrongly, he was convinced that he had averted, at least for a time, a war with Nazi Germany in which the Chamberlain and Daladier Governments of Britain and France would have become first Hitler’s arms merchants and finally his co-belligerents. He felt that his conscience had nothing with which to reproach him. He laughed to scorn those who regarded the pact as a wedding of Bolshevism and Nazism, and regarded their attacks as the chatter of fools. Why should he be regarded as a criminal for signing such an agreement when the statesmen of the critics’ own governments had been in constant political and personal association with the leaders of Nazism and Fascism, and had made pacts with them without consulting the Soviet Union or even the League of Nations, of which they were members and with which they were pledged to prior consultation?
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 215-16

As for Stalin’s decision to sign the Treaty, that was also a political maneuver. He thought he was deceiving Hitler, turning him against the West. I don’t think either Stalin or Hitler took the Treaty seriously. Each was pursuing his own goals. Hitler’s were those that we knew from Mein Kampf. Stalin understood correctly what Hitler was up to, but he thought he could deflect the blow of the German army away from the USSR and direct it at the West, and in that way buy time. Of course, the West, meanwhile, did everything it could to turn Hitler against the East.
Schecter, Jerrold. Trans & Ed. Khrushchev Remembers: the Glasnost Tapes. Boston: Little, Brown, c1990, p. 50

These events served to feed the suspicion and arouse the dissatisfaction of the realistic Soviet leaders, including Stalin. Apparently they got “fed up” with attempting to stop the aggressors by participation in European affairs, and characteristically boldly reversed their attitude and decided to secure their own position by making a pact of nonaggression with Germany, which would assure peace for Russia, at least for a time, regardless of any possibility of war in Europe.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 456

At the same time, however, it was obvious that a rapprochement between the Soviet Union and France, marked by the signing of a mutual assistance treaty, was proceeding at an even more intense pace. The Soviet Union had also joined the League of Nations and was conducting intensive diplomatic and political activities aimed at curbing the aggressive aims and actions of the ruling circles in Germany, Italy, and Japan.
The policy of the Soviet Union found very little support among the ruling parties of England and France. They, like Hitler, were pursuing a double game at that time, playing now an anti-Soviet card, now an antifascist one. Under the circumstances, Soviet diplomats also had to play a double game….
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 725

…As Stalin learned, his negotiating partners were, moreover, simultaneously continuing their secret efforts to reach an acceptable understanding with Hitler. It was clear that Britain and France were simply playing for time while seeking the most favorable outcome from their own point of view and without regard for Soviet interests. In effect, the Western powers offered no concrete ideas for joint action against Germany. Their intention was plainly to let the USSR play the chief part in resisting possible German aggression without giving guarantees that they would share a proportion of the burden.
…By the end of the summer of 1939 in had become plain to the Soviet leadership that, with Nazi Germany to the West and militaristic Japan to the East, in had no one on whom to rely. The argument Stalin had put forward at the 18th Congress seemed justified: anti-communism and a lack of a desire by Britain and France to pursue a policy of collective security had opened the sluice gates for aggression by the anti-Comintern pact. London and Paris were blinded to the real danger by their self-interest and hatred of socialism. Short-sighted politicians were saying, let Hitler make his anti-Communist crusade in the east. He seemed to them the lesser evil.
The Soviet Union faced an extremely limited choice, but Stalin realized that it must be made, however negative the reaction in other countries. As a pragmatist, he cast ideological principles aside and, once he was sure the Anglo-French-Soviet talks would not produce results, he resorted to the German option which was being offered so assiduously by Berlin. He thought there was now no other choice. The alternative was to place the USSR in confrontation with the broad anti-Soviet front, which would be far worse. He had no time to think of what successive generations would say. The war was at hand and he had to postpone its outbreak at any cost.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 351

Looking back, the Non-Aggression Pact appears extremely tarnished, and morally an alliance with the Western democracies would have been immeasurably preferable. But neither Britain nor France was ready for such an alliance. From the point of view of state interest the Soviet Union had no other acceptable choice. A refusal to take any step would hardly have stopped Germany. The Wehrmacht and the nation were tuned to such a degree of readiness that the invasion of Poland was a foregone conclusion. Assistance to Poland was hampered not only by Warsaw’s attitude, but also by the Soviet Union’s unpreparedness. Rejection of the pact would could have led to the formation of a broad anti-Soviet alliance and threatened the very existence of socialism.
In any case, Britain and France had both signed similar pacts with Germany in 1938 and were conducting secret talks with Hitler in the summer of 1939 with the aim of creating an anti-Soviet bloc. It is commonly suggested that the pact triggered the start of the Second World War, while it is commonly forgotten that by then the Western powers had already sacrificed Austria, Czechoslovakia and Memel to Hitler, and that Britain and France had done nothing to save the Spanish republic.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 356

After the war, the French Communist leader Bonte stated that the Kemsley visit, along with knowledge of the clandestine meeting between Goering and the British businessman, had been the chief factors in influencing the Soviets to seek an agreement with Germany. While this is certainly an exaggeration, there can be no doubt that the undercover dealings did have a strong influence on Stalin, as well as on Hitler, who was convinced by them that Britain would not fight. How could the Soviet leader trust a government which continued to indulge in such underhand activities while supposedly negotiating seriously with him? Admittedly, he was himself talking to the Germans, but he could always justify this as insurance, in case the Allied talks failed.
In keeping his options open until the very last moment, Stalin does seem to have been prepared to give the allies every opportunity to succeed.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 230

To the people of the USSR and foreign Communists, this Soviet-German Pact was a blow. True Communists were dismayed that Socialist Russia should make a treaty with the arch-enemy Hitler. They regarded Fascism as “the most aggressive form of Capitalism and Imperialism.”
But Stalin had his answer. He called the unpopular pact a “Marriage of Reason” and slowly the Soviet nation swallowed the pill, accepted their leader’s explanation, and even began to agree that Stalin had made “one of the wisest moves in history.”
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 131

At half-past-six on the afternoon of July 3, 1941, the day after his return to Moscow, Stalin spoke to his people:
“What did we gain by concluding a Pact of Non-Aggression with Germany? We assured our country peace during 18 months, as well as an opportunity of preparing our forces for the event of Germany’s attacking our country. This was a gain for us, and a loss for Fascist Germany.”
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 142

STALIN MOVED INTO POLISH TERRITORY WHEN JUSTIFIED

Accordingly, in the hour when the Polish government and general staff abandoned their country to its fate, with a promptitude that once more surprised the world Stalin set the Red Army on the march towards the “Curzon line.” This line, which had been universally recognized as the Russo-Polish boundary until the Poles tore a great area of white Russia and the Ukraine from the Soviets during the intervention wars, meant an advance through territory containing 12 million inhabitants. The banner of Revolution was raised, and to the rescue of these 12 million former Soviet subjects the Red Army hastened.
However the argument may go, the fact is that Stalin did not send the Red Army into the onetime Polish territory until there was no government left in Poland and the country was wide-open for the Nazis to acquire land as far beyond the “Curzon Line” as they chose.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 215

Their [the Russians] immediate purpose was to occupy as quickly as possible the Polish area whose possession they had wrung from Germany as part of the price for their pact of friendship and their supplies of oil, grain, manganese, and cotton. That they did this with no regard for Polish or Anglo-American public opinion is neither to their detriment nor their credit; it simply showed that Stalin, fully alive to the danger of Nazi invasion, was determined to put as much space as possible between his prepared defense zone and the coming blitzkrieg.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 251

STALIN FEELS THE COMINTERN MUST BE DISBANDED

Stalin stated, “It is true that at one time I did think, with Lenin, that the process of world Revolution could be led by a centralized international Communist Party–the Communist international. Experience, however, has proved that this is not possible. Hence the dissolution of the Communist international and the decision that each Communist Party must pursue its own aims and tasks independently, guided by the teachings of Marx and Lenin and the experiences of the Comintern….”
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 241

In this regard, Stalin said on 11 May 1943, “Experience has shown that one cannot have an international directing center for all countries. This became evident in Marx’s lifetime, in Lenin’s, and today. There should perhaps be a transition to regional associations, for example, of South America, of the United States and Canada, of certain European countries, and so on, but even this must not be rushed….
Dimitrov, Georgi, The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933-1949. Ed. Ivo Banac. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 271

On 21 May 1943 Stalin explained that experience has shown that in Marx’s time, in Lenin’s time, and now, it is impossible to direct the working-class movement of all countries from a single international center. Especially now, in wartime conditions, when Communist parties in Germany, Italy, and other countries have the tasks of overthrowing their governments and carrying out defeatist tactics, while Communist parties in the USSR, England, America and other countries, on the contrary, have the task of supporting their governments to the fullest for the immediate destruction of the enemy. We overestimated our resources when we were forming the Comintern and believed that we would be able to direct the movement in all countries. That was our error. The further existence of the Comintern would discredit the idea of the International, which we do not desire.

There is one other reason for dissolving the Comintern, which is not mentioned in the resolution. That is the fact that the Communist parties making up the Comintern are being falsely accused of supposedly being agents of a foreign state, and this is impeding their work in the broad masses. Dissolving the Comintern knocks this trump card out of the enemy’s hands. The step now been taken will undoubtedly strengthen the Communist parties as national working-class parties and will at the same time reinforce the internationalism of the popular masses, whose base is the Soviet Union.
Dimitrov, Georgi, The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933-1949. Ed. Ivo Banac. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 275

SU REPEATEDLY SEEKS TO UNITE ANTI-FASCIST NATIONS

In face of the growing war threat, the Soviet government repeatedly called for united action by all countries menaced by fascist aggression.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 270

The verdict of the record is unmistakable and obvious: responsibility for the breakdown of collective security rests on the Western democracies, not on the Soviet Union.
The melancholy details of the record need no restatement, except as they bear upon the situation in which the USSR found itself by 1939. Eight times during the preceding eight years the aggressors posed to the Western democracies a test of their willingness to organize and enforce peace. Eight times the Soviet Union called for collective action against aggression. Eight times the Western power evaded their responsibilities and blessed the aggressors.
The first test was posed by the Japanese seizure of Manchuria in September 1931. The second test was posed by Hitler’s repudiation of the disarmament clauses of Versailles in March 1935. The third test was posed by the fascist invasion of Ethiopia in October 1935. The fourth test was posed by Hitler’s remilitarization of the Rhineland in March 1936. The fifth test was posed by the fascist attack of the Spanish Republic. The sixth test was posed by the resumption of the Japanese attack on China in July 1937. The seventh test was posed by the nazi seizure of Austria in March 1938. The eighth test was posed by the unleasheding, through propaganda, diplomacy, and terrorism, of the nazi campaign against Prague in the summer 1938.
Chamberlain flew three times to Germany on the principal that “if you don’t concede the first time, fly, fly, again.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 275-80

On May 3, 1939, Litvinov resigned as Commissar for Foreign Affairs. He was the incarnation of collective security.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 366

By March 1938 there was a ample reason for Soviet leaders to fear war. Japanese aggression in the Soviet Far East and in China, the Spanish fascists’ victories over the army of the Spanish Republic and the International Brigades, Germany’s increasingly menacing policies and its occupation of Austria, and the anemic reaction of Western powers to these events and their reticence in supporting Soviet collective security efforts provided sufficient cause for concern in Moscow.
Chase, William J., Enemies Within the Gates? translated by Vadim A. Staklo, New Haven: Yale University Press, c2001, p. 294.

STALIN OFFERED FINLAND VERY GOOD TERMS

During the first week of October, 1939, while still negotiating its new treaties with the Baltic states, the Soviet Government proposed a mutual assistance pact with Finland. Moscow offered to cede several thousand square miles of Soviet territory on central Karelia in exchange for some strategic Finnish islands near Leningrad, a portion of the Karelian Isthmus, and a 30 year lease on the port of Hango for the construction of a Soviet naval base. The Soviet leaders regarded these latter territories as essential to the defense of the Red naval base at Kronstadt and the city of Leningrad.
…But the pro-Nazi clique dominating the Finnish government refused to make any concessions and broke off all the negotiations.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 333

Then Finland sued for peace, and, surprisingly, the Kremlin asked little more than its terms before the war began–a frontier somewhat more distant, the Mannerheim Line disrmed, and the occupation by Soviet units of strategic points like the island of Hango.
Duranty, Walter. The Kremlin and the People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941, p. 179

Having secured the southern Baltic against surprise attack, Moscow approached Finland, which holds the gateway of the north. Though Finland’s independence was a free gift from the Russian Revolution, Finland was known as the most hostile of the Baltic States. That early democratic Finland had been bloodily overthrown by Baron Mannerheim, an ex-Czarist general, with the aid of the kaiser’s troops. Finland had become a base for international actions against the USSR…. Finland’s air fields were built by the Nazis. Made to accommodate 2,000 planes, when Finland had 150, they were clearly designed for use by a major power….
The Finnish delegation came to Moscow October 11th. The Soviets proposed an alliance, but dropped it since the Finns were unwilling. Then they proposed an exchange of territory to protect Leningrad. They asked that the border be moved back enough to take Leningrad out of gunshot and that some small islands, guarding the sea approach, be given to the USSR. They offered in return twice as much territory, equally good but less strategic. They also asked a 30 year lease of Hangoe or some other point at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland–that long thin waterway that leads to Leningrad–as a naval base. President Cajander, of Finland, broadcast a statement that the terms did not affect Finland’s integrity.
A month of bargaining went on in which Moscow raised her offers. Finland stood to get nearly 3 to 1 in the territorial trade; and Hangoe base would be held, not 30 years, but only during the Anglo-German war and would then come to Finland fully equipped. Many Finns were boasting of the “smart bargain” their diplomats were getting. Then, suddenly, the Finnish negotiators broke off discussions with the cryptic remark that circumstances would decide when and by whom they would be renewed….
So when Finnish artillery shot over the border in late November and killed Red Army men, Moscow sharply protested, and, when Finland disregarded the protest, Soviet troops marched into Finland on November 30, 1939. Finland declared war and appealed for foreign aid.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 83

Compared with our own vast territorial and natural resources, Finland had little to offer us in the way of land and forests. Our sole consideration was security– Leningrad was in danger.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 152

On April 8, 1938, the NKVD resident in Finland, Rybkin, was summoned to the Kremlin,… Rybkin was ordered to offer the Finnish government a secret deal, sharing interests in Scandinavia and economic cooperation with the Soviet Union, on the conditions of their signing a pact of mutual economic and military assistance in case of aggression by third parties. The pact was to guarantee Finland eternal safety from attack by European powers and mutual economic privileges for the two countries on a permanent basis. Included in the proposals was a division of spheres of military and economic influence over the Baltic areas that lay between Finland and the Soviet Union.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 94

On Oct. 14, 1939, a Soviet note made firm proposals for an exchange of territory, together with a 30 year lease of the Hango peninsula and frontier adjustments in the Petsamo area and on the Karelian Isthmus. The Finns refused to yield at any point. Attempts to negotiate continued, but made no progress. On Nov. 13, 1939, Stalin broke them off. His patience was exhausted. He decided to use force.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 312

Encouraged by the success of his [Stalin] measures on the western borders, he now turned his attention to the northwest. He was worried by the proximity of the Finnish border to Leningrad and Finland’s obvious inclination towards Germany. Talks were conducted with the aim of compelling the Finns to move their border further from Leningrad for appropriate territorial compensation, but the Finnish foreign minister, Tanner, was under instruction from the country’s head of state, Field Marshal Mannerheim, a former general in the tsarist army, not to yield to the Russians…. At the end of November mutual recriminations started up over unprovoked exchanges of fire, notably in the vicinity of the Soviet village of Mainilo. Molotov handed the Finnish envoy, Irne-Koskinen, a note which contained a demand, amounting to an ultimatum, ‘for the immediate withdrawal of your forces 20 to 25 kilometers away from the frontier on the Karelian peninsula.’ Two days later the envoy replied that his government was ‘ready to enter talks on the mutual withdrawal of forces to a certain distance from the frontier’. Finland had taken up the challenge and, being equally unyielding, announced mobilization. On Nov. 28, 1939 the USSR renounced the 1932 Soviet-Finnish treaty of non-aggression. Neither Moscow nor Helsinki had exhausted all means to avoid war, to put it mildly.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 363

In 1938, the Soviet fear was that in the event of war between Germany and the Soviet Union, the islands [Aalands] could be used as a base for the protection of ships carrying vital German supplies of iron ore from Sweden. For Finland, the Aalands were important for the protection of her western shore. Now, Stalin was prepared to allow Finland to fortify the islands, on two conditions. One was that the Soviets should participate in the building and send observers to supervise the work. The other was that the Finns should allow them to build a fortified air and naval base on Suursaari, one of the Finnish islands which commanded the approach to Leningrad and the Soviet Baltic Fleet’s base at Kronstadt. The protection of both had become a matter of urgency for Stalin, and he was now, for the first time, prepared to do deals in order to acquire strategic bases for this purpose.
Once again, however, mutual distrust caused the talks to end in deadlock. Yartsev suggested that they should be continued under cover of the official trade negotiations which were then taking place in Moscow. The Finns refused. But Stalin did not give up. In March 1939 he sent a new emissary to Helsinki: Boris Stein, then Soviet ambassador in Rome. Stein had served for some years in Helsinki and was known personally to many members of the Finnish government. No doubt Stalin hoped someone more senior than Yartsev might carry greater weight.
Stein brought fresh proposals. The Soviet Union agreed that a fortified base on Suursaari might compromise the neutrality which the Finns had gone to such great links to establish. Therefore, the Soviets had another, less contentious offer: would Finland agree to lease to the USSR the string of islands including Suursaari? Or, if this proved unacceptable, would Finland be prepared to exchange the islands for an area of Soviet territory on the mainland? The islands measured 183 square kilometers. Stalin was willing to give a larger area in exchange, and to undertake not to fortify the islands.
In spite of advice from Marshal Mannerheim that they should negotiate seriously with the Soviets, and that it would be a mistake to send them away empty handed yet again, the Finnish government said no.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 379

The preliminary skirmishing of was now over. Molotov stepped back and Stalin took charge, running the conference himself from then on. He was consistently brief and to the point. Sometimes, when some particularly knotty problem came up, he would, as was his habit, rise from his seat and pace up and down, puffing on his pipe and listening carefully to all the arguments before making up his mind.
He made it clear that with the advent of the European war, the protection of Leningrad had become the immediate Soviet concern. Leningrad must be protected at all costs from any potential attack by land or sea. He therefore proposed moving the present Soviet-Finnish border northwards, up the Karelian Isthmus into Finland, a matter of some 25 miles, to take it well out of artillery range of Leningrad. In addition, in order to protect the city from attack by sea, he proposed that the USSR should take over all the islands in the Gulf of Finland, and lease the port of Hanko on the Finnish mainland for use as a Soviet naval base. He offered a payment of 8 million Finnish marks for a 30 year lease.
In the far north, he pointed out that the approaches to Murmansk, the Soviet Union’s only ice-free ocean port in the western part of the huge country, were also vulnerable. Here, he demanded that Finland should cede to him the Rybachi Peninsula, which commanded the approaches to Murmansk.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 388

In return for the territory to be ceded to the Soviet Union in both the north and south, Stalin offered the Finns over twice as much territory alongside the center of Finland. This would have the beneficial effect to Finland of thickening her dangerously narrow ‘waist ‘, the nightmare of Finnish military strategists since it meant an invader can swiftly divide the country in two.
The meeting ended on that note, and Paasikivi [the Finnish representative] and his team returned to the legation to wire the Soviet demands to their government in Helsinki. The government’s reply was uncompromising: they were not disposed to concede much, if anything at all.
Stalin was not a soldier – he was a bureaucrat. His days of military glory, such as they were, were long past. Yet throughout the conference he was evidently haunted by the ghosts of the Russian Civil War of 20 years before, when British warships had lurked in the Gulf of Finland and the White General Yudenich had tried to take Petrograd, the home of the Revolution. Then Stalin, having already claimed the glory for saving Tsaritsyn, the city which was later to be renamed Stalingrad, took control of the Red forces, as the special representative of the party’s Central Committee, and saved Petrograd, the city which was to become Leningrad.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 389

In June 1919, against the advice of his military experts, he [Stalin] had flung units of the Baltic Fleet, a few aircraft, and 800 troops from Petrograd into an assault on the two forts, Krasnaya Gorka and Seroya Loshad, which guarded the approaches to the city. “The swift capture of Gorka,” he had written in a report at the time which did nothing to play down his part in the proceedings, “came as a result of the rudest intervention by me and other civilians in operational matters, even to the point of countermanding orders on land and sea and imposing our own.” He had added ominously, “I consider it my duty to announce that I shall continue to act in this way in the future.” In 1939, his vision of himself as “Stalin, the Savior of Petrograd” kept intruding into the problems of the present.
“It is not the fault of either of us,” he told the Finns, “that geographical circumstances are as they are. We must be able to bar entrance to the Gulf of Finland. If the channel to Leningrad did not run along your coast, we would not have the slightest occasion to bring the matter up. Your memorandum is one-sided and over-optimistic…. It is a law of naval strategy that passage into the Gulf of Finland can be blocked by the cross-fire of batteries on both shores as far out as the mouth of the Gulf. Your memorandum supposes that an enemy cannot penetrate into the Gulf. But once a hostile fleet is in the Gulf, the Gulf can no longer be defended.
“You ask why we want Koivisto? [A Finnish island off the east coast of the Karelian Isthmus.]…. Regarding Koivisto, you must bear in mind that if 16-inch guns were placed there they could entirely prevent movements of our fleet in the inmost extremity of the Gulf [i.e.: round the port of Kronstadt]. We asked for 2700 square kilometers and offer more than 5500 in exchange. Does any other great power do that? No. We are the only ones who are that simple.”
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 390

At the end of this second day of the conference, Paasikivi informed Stalin that their discussions had now reached the point where he must return to Helsinki in order to obtain fresh instructions from his government. Stalin agreed, but reminded him of the urgency of the matter: the Finnish army was already mobilizing, while the Soviets were reinforcing their own border troops. The situation was therefore explosive.
“This cannot go on for long without the danger of accidents,” he said. Later that evening, the Soviets handed over a written memorandum containing their proposals. Stalin made no threats, delivered no ultimatum. He did not think it necessary to do so. He believed he made the Finns a fair offer, one they could not afford to refuse. But Paasikivi sounded a note of warning.
Paasikivi was not so optimistic. “The Hanko Neck concession and the cession of the area on the Isthmus are exceptionally difficult matters,” he said.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 391

Paasikivi did not care for the implication of this last remark. His country was neutral and wished to remain so. “We want to continue in peace,” he said, “and remain apart from all incidents.”
Stalin’s reply was blunt. “That is impossible,” he said brusquely.
Paasikivi refused to be put down, however. “How do these proposals of yours fit in with your famous slogan, “We do not want a crumb of foreign territory, but neither do we want to cede an inch of our own territory to anyone”? he asked.
“In Poland, we took no foreign territory,” came the reply, meaning that the Red Army had simply re-occupied land that once belonged to the tsars. “And this is a case of exchange.”
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 392

Paasikivi started by saying Finland was now prepared to make some concessions. These included ceding various islands in the Gulf of Finland and moving the Karelian frontier back up the Isthmus some 13 kilometers, eight miles, though not the 25 miles demanded by Stalin. However, he made it clear that on Hanko the Finns had not changed their position.
Stalin was not impressed, and insisted the new concessions were not enough. The original demands, he said, had been the bare minimum required for Soviet security, and could not be bargained away. He thought the present European war could easily escalate into a world war which might last for many years. In that event, the USSR must be able to defend Leningrad from attack via the Gulf.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 393

Paasikivi’s tough stand paid off. At about 9 p.m., barely an hour after the Finns had walked out, Molotov’s secretary telephoned them to ask if they would come back to the Kremlin for further talks that night. The resumed meeting started at 11 p.m.
Again, Stalin and Molotov faced the Finns alone. Molotov had drafted a memorandum after the earlier session, in which the Soviets made certain modifications to their position. Instead of demanding the right to put a Soviet garrison of 5000 men into Hanko, they were prepared to reduce the number to 4000, and guarantee to remove them on “the termination of the British-French-German war”. In addition they were prepared to compromise on the Karelian frontier issue.
Neither Paasikivi nor Tanner thought these concessions were in themselves enough to change the mind of the government, but they agreed to report them to Helsinki nevertheless.
Early next morning, Paasikivi went to Tanner’s room in the legation, after a sleepless night spent trying to find a way through the impasse. He had come to the conclusion, he told Tanner that for the past 20 years the Finns had been living in a fool’s paradise. They had chosen neutrality, but the truth was that neutrality was a luxury they could not afford with the Soviet Union as a next-door neighbor. Since they could not change the geography, they would have to change their policies.
If they refused the Soviet demands, he continued, this would lead to war – a war which Finland would inevitably lose. He proposed, therefore, to advise the Finnish government to accept Moscow’s terms….
Paasikivi and Tanner arrived back in Helsinki on Oct. 26 to find the Council had still failed to grasp the realities of the situation. The ministers seemed to be living in an Alice in Wonderland world, making statements which were totally at variance with the coldly pessimistic assessments of their own military advisers. Marshal Mannerheim himself bluntly forecast national disaster in the event of war with the Soviet Union. But the politicians refused to heed such warnings. Defense Minister Nuikkanen pooh-poohed his own generals. “The military command is always too pessimistic,” he told Paasikivi airily.
To compound their stupidity, the members of the Council of State also conspired to keep the Finnish people in ignorance of the true state of affairs. Erkko [Finnish Foreign Minister] even continued to preserve the fiction that in the last resort they could rely on Sweden to come to their aid. Bolstered by this false confidence, he drafted yet another set of proposals for Paasikivi to take back to Moscow. These offered a little more territory in Karelia – taking the border to 37 miles from Leningrad – and some in the far north, but not enough to come close to satisfying even the latest, scaled-down Soviet demands.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 394

On the Soviet side it is clear that Stalin, no doubt advised by Otto Kuusinen, his Finnish confidant, still believed the Finns would see sense in the end. Perhaps Kuusinen overestimated the political flexibility of his countrymen. In any event, the last thing Stalin wanted at this time was a war on his northern frontier. He and his advisers had analyzed the Finnish position with great care, concluding that it was hopeless. They presumed the Finns must have come to the same conclusion – what other conclusion was there to be reached? Surely, their argument went, no country would contemplate its own destruction when, by coming to an agreement, it would actually gain rather than lose territory? As always with Stalin, political logic dictated his own actions, and, as always, he presumed it dictated the actions of others.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 395

Molotov told Schulenburg in Moscow that he was extremely angry with the Finns, saying their stubbornness in refusing such modest Soviet demands could be explained as only “resistance bolstered by England.” The Soviet Union, he said, had even offered to pay all the expenses involved in moving the Finnish population from areas ceded to her, including the cost of building new homes for them. It could not understand their refusal of such generosity.
The failure of the negotiations to achieve the peaceful transfer of territory which he desired had far-reaching effects, even on Stalin himself. He came under considerable pressure from a strong body of opinion within the Politburo, led by Zhdanov. Lined up with Zhdanov were Adm. Kuznetsov, General Meretskov, commander of the Leningrad Military District, and Adm. Tributz, the new commander of the Baltic Fleet. No doubt Molotov, whose earliest political positions of any note had been in the Petrograd (as it then was) party, and who had been chairman of the economic council for the northern region, which included Karelia, was among those who had become convinced Stalin was being too soft with the Finns. These hard-liners thought the time for polite negotiation was over – in their view, even Stalin’s initial demands had been quite inadequate in military terms. They made no bones about the fact that they wanted a return to Peter the Great’s frontier with Finland, which had included the whole of the Karelian Isthmus and the city of Vipuri.
In Zhdanov’s eyes, the security of Leningrad was the single most important foreign policy issue facing the USSR. If Leningrad were not made secure from any external threat, the country could be sucked into the so-called “Second Imperialist War” because of the need to defend the city.
Stalin was a cautious man, but in the end he was won over by Zhdanov’s argument – and possibly by the fear of the consequence of his not backing the judgment of his own military men.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 400

The Finnish government instigated the incident, and did not deny that seven shells had struck the village of Mainila…. With a certain bravura, the Finns suggested that in order to avoid any further incidents, both sides should withdraw their forces the same distance from the frontier.
The Soviets were not amused by the Finnish reply. Molotov delivered another blast on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 1939. The relative positions of the two forces, he argued, were not comparable. “The Soviet forces do not threaten any vital Finnish center, since they are hundreds of kilometers from any of these, whereas the Finnish forces, 32 kilometers away from the USSR’s vital center, Leningrad, which has a population of 3,500,000 creates for the latter a direct menace. It is hardly necessary to state that there is actually no place for the Soviet troops to withdrawal to, since withdrawal to a distance of 25 kilometers would place them in the suburbs of Leningrad, which clearly would be absurd from the point of view of the security of Leningrad.
The Soviet Union regarded the concentration of troops near the frontier, and the incident of the seven artillery shots, as hostile acts. This was, Molotov declared, “incompatible” with the 1934 non-aggression pact between the two countries. “Consequently, the Soviet government considers itself obliged to declare that it considers itself as of today as being relieved of its obligations under the non-aggression pact…which is being systematically violated by the government of Finland.”
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 404

Only that afternoon [December 1st] a “People’s government of Finland”, under the presidency of Kuusinen, had been established in Terijoki, which the Red Army had managed to “liberate.” The Soviet Union instantly recognized this government as representing the “Democratic Republic of Finland,” and announced the formation of a “1st Finnish Corps” made up of volunteers, which would form the nucleus of the future people’s army.
Next day, Molotov signed a pact of mutual assistance with Kuusinen. Stalin, Voroshilov, and Zhdanov, Moscow Radio announced, were all present at the “negotiations.” It was no surprise to anyone that the new pact gave the Soviets everything they had demanded in the talks with Paasikivi, including the whole of the Karelian Isthmus, Hanko and the islands in the Gulf. What was surprising was that in return the Soviet Union gave the Finnish Democratic Republic no less than 70,000 square kilometers of central Karelia – over 20 times the amount of territory being ceded by the Finns – plus 120 million Finnish marks as compensation for the railways in the Isthmus and 3 million marks for the islands and the Rybachi peninsula in the far north.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 405

The proposal that Stalin put to the Finns on Oct. 12 was to move the existing Soviet-Finnish border on the Karelian isthmus 25 miles farther away from Leningrad; and, for better protection of the city from attack by sea, for the Soviet Union to take over all the islands in the Gulf of Finland and lease the port of Hankow for use as a naval base. In the north, he asked for the cession of the Rybachi Peninsula, which commanded the approaches to Murmansk, the Soviet Union’s only ice-free port on its western side. In return the Russians offered twice as much territory adjoining the center of Finland, where the narrow “waist” between the Russian frontier and the Gulf of Bothnia exposed the Finns to the danger of an invader cutting the country in two.
In the negotiations, which continued until November 8, Stalin showed himself willing to moderate his demands but not to withdraw them. Both Marshall Mannerheim, the hero of the earlier Finnish-Soviet war, and Paasikivi were in favor of coming to terms with the Russians, but the Finnish government, fully supported by public opinion, refused;…
Stalin was surprised at the Finnish intransigence; he appears to have hesitated before accepting the view of the hard-liners led by Zhdanov, the party boss of Leningrad, that they should not waste any more time but take what they needed by force. He finally agreed, subject to the proviso that only troops from the Leningrad Military District were to be involved.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 660

It so happened that I was gone, during that week, on a visit to Finland. I found the Finns pleasant and friendly. I was received in audience by President Paasikivi, that great Finnish realist, who, though originally a highly conservative businessman, considered it in Finland’s interests never to quarrel with the Russians. He said he had done his utmost, in November 1939, to meet the Russians at least half-way, since he regarded their demand for a frontier or rectification north-west of Leningrad “understandable and reasonable” in the tense atmosphere of the Second World War, which had already begun. He was prepared at the time to make concessions to the Russians, but he was overruled by the Finnish government.
… I met the future president of Finland, Mr. Kekkonen. Kekkonen’s line was very similar to Paasikivi: Finland had to be realistic; the Finnish government of 1939 was wrong to have dug in its heels; but although the Russian armistice terms– particularly the $300 million in reparations–were pretty tough, Finland was lucky not to be occupied by Russian troops and the most important thing for her was to maintain good-neighborly relations with Russia and to remain strictly neutral. The Finns, he said, were happy to have remained masters in their own house. Needless to say, a good deal was said about the Fulton speech; nobody present was happy about it. On the contrary, as Kekkonen said, it was going to poison the international atmosphere. This kind of thing, he remarked, would do nobody any good, and Finland was frankly worried about it, for it might provoke the Russians who until then had been “pretty reasonable” in their relations with the Finns.
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co. 1971, p. 110-111

He [Stalin] expressed strong resentment over the Iron Curtain speech made at Fulton, Missouri, by former Prime Minister Winston Churchill. This speech, Stalin said, was an unfriendly act; it was an unwarranted attack upon the USSR. Such a speech, if directed against the United States, never would have been permitted in Russia.
Smith, Walter Bedell. My Three Years in Moscow. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1950, p. 52

Would the czarist government have dealt so reasonably with Finland, asked Stalin? ‘There is no doubt on this’, he replied. Would any other great power offer 5500 km2 in exchange for 2700 (for the Soviets were willing to compensate the Finns in the north for the territory that the Finns were asked to cede in the south)? ‘No. We are the only one that is so stupid.’
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 223

Early in 1939 Stalin, with security in mind, asked the Finns to meet him for discussions about frontier adjustments, offering to exchange territory. In addition, he wanted the lease of a port on the Gulf of Finland, and asked the Finns to give up other strategic parcels of territory, totalling 1066 square miles in return for nearly twice as much–but less valuable–Russian territory in the far north. No agreement was reached. After the signing of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact and Hitler’s invasion of Poland, Stalin again sought territorial adjustments with Finland….
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 56

STALIN EXTRACTED THE MINIMUM FROM FINLAND

Hostilities between Finland and the Soviet Union ended on March 13, 1940. According to the peace terms, Finland gave to Russia to Karelian Isthmus, the Western and Northern Shores of Lake Ladoga, a number of strategic islands in the Gulf of Finland essential to the defense of Leningrad, the Soviet government restored to Finland the port of Petsamo, which had been occupied by the Red Army, and took a 30 year lease on the Hango Peninsula for an annual rental of 8 million Finnish marks.
Addressing the supreme Soviet of the USSR on March 29 Molotov declared: the Soviet Union having smashed the Finnish Army and having every opportunity of occupying the whole of Finland, did not do so and did not demand any indemnities for its expenditures in the war as any other power would have done, but confined its desires to a minimum…. We pursued no other objects in the peace treaty than that of safeguarding the security of Leningrad, Murmansk, and the Murmansk railroad….”
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 334

In the end Stalin seems to have realized the farcical nature of the whole proceeding. Although the Russian troops were victorious and all Finland could have been conquered, he concluded a moderate peace. The shadowy Finnish Soviet government disappeared from the scene. Stalin contented himself with little more than the territorial demands originally put forward. He was also realistic enough to see that, unlike the Baltic States, Finland offered not the slightest basis for the setting up of a Soviet regime established by the use of foreign bayonets. This recognition saved Finland after her second defeat in war.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 347

When Stalin actually gained his point after a hard-fought campaign, the policy he followed forces the observer to think that he never had any real intention of instituting a Finnish Soviet State. He certainly dropped the Kuusinen government the moment his demands were granted, though the military situation would have permitted him to overrun the entire country without further resistance.
In spite of the difficulties encountered, the Russian terms were surprisingly light. The Soviet assumed control of the Karelian Isthmus, possession of which assisted in the defense of Leningrad, together with certain vital coastal areas on the Arctic seaboard and several small islands in the Gulf of Finland. The whole area comprised only 3970 square kilometers, but it contained the whole of the Mannerheim Line and many of Finland’s most important defensive centers. As compensation for this annexation, the Soviet ceded over 70,000 square kilometers of territory situated in a less vital spot.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 116

In the peace terms, the Soviets took the Mannerheim Line and the naval base at Hangoe, protecting both land and sea approaches to Leningrad. But they returned Petsamo and its nickel mines; they asked no indemnities but agreed to supply a starving Finland with food. As terms go, these were not excessive. Sir Stafford Cripps, British ambassador to Moscow in 1940, told me, as I sat at tea in his embassy, that the Russians might someday be sorry they had not taken more when they could. He was thinking of Petsamo, which was soon to be a Nazi base against Allied shipping on the Murmansk run. But Sir Stafford was wrong; Stalin’s political sense was better than Sir Stafford’s. The Soviets were well advised to make easy terms. Had their demands gone beyond the obvious needs of Leningrad’s security, Sweden’s neutrality might have been shaken.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 86

It would be to claim that Stalin started the war intending to seize Finland. You might ask, why didn’t we seize Finland during World War II, when the Finnish army was virtually wiped out? Stalin showed statesmanly wisdom here. He knew that the territory of Finland wasn’t relevant to the basic needs of the world proletarian Revolution. Therefore when we signed a treaty with the Finns during World War II, just ending the war itself was more profitable for us than an occupation would have been. Finland’s cessation of hostilities set a good example for other satellites of Hitlerite Germany, and it also made good marks for us with the Finnish people.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 156

The Finns were overwhelmed by weight of numbers and by constant bombardment. They sued for peace on March 8, and four days later the treaty was signed in Moscow. The territories needed to secure the Baltic approaches to Russia’s frontiers had been won. Stalin did not consider occupying Helsinki or encroaching on other parts of Finland. The callousness and contempt that the Russians showed towards the Poles did not extend to the Finns, whom they respected.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 313

…Stalin recognized there were limits beyond which it would be dangerous to push one’s luck. The most striking example of this is his retreat over Berlin in 1949; but there are two other examples in 1944 that are more surprising because they affected areas closer, in one case very much closer, to Russia’s borders.
The first was Finland. When the Finns sought peace, the terms they were granted in September made permanent the loss of territory they had suffered in 1940, imposed a substantial indemnity, and required them to lease the naval base at Porkkala to Russia for 50 years. But remembering the international reaction to Russia’s earlier attack on them, Stalin allowed Finland to retain a greater degree of independence than any other East European country and acquiesced in the exclusion of the Finnish Communist party from a share in power.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 856

So the Kuusinen government was told to disband, and on March 12, 1940, the USSR concluded a lenient peace (considering everything) with Finland.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 522

The Government of Finland declined, one after another, all the friendly proposals made by the Soviet Government with the object of safeguarding the security of the USSR, particularly of Leningrad, and this in spite of the fact that the Soviet Union was willing to go out to meet Finland and satisfy her legitimate interests.
The Finnish Government declined the proposal of the USSR to shift back the Finnish border on the Karelian Isthmus a few dozen kilometers, although the Soviet Government was willing to compensate Finland with an area twice as large in Soviet Karelia.
The Finnish Government also declined the proposal of the USSR to conclude a pact of mutual assistance, thereby making it clear that the security of the USSR from the direction of Finland was not safeguarded.
In his speech at the session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on March 29, 1940, Molotov said:
“…The Soviet Union having smashed the Finnish army, and having had every opportunity of occupying the whole of Finland, did not do so and did not demand any indemnities for its war expenditure as any other Power would have done, but confined its demands to a minimum….
We pursued no other object in the Peace Treaty than that of safeguarding the security of Leningrad, Murmansk, and the Murmansk Railway.”
Foreign Lang. Pub. House. Schuman, F. L. Intro. Falsifiers of History. Moscow, 1948, p. 44

Liddell Hart says that after a negotiated peace was signed in March 1940, Stalin ‘showed statesmanship’ by offering the Finns ‘remarkably moderate terms’.

George Bernard Shaw, In a comment on the Winter War, said that the ‘only novelty’ about it was that Stalin took only what he needed instead of taking back the whole country as any other Power would have done. (This was an allusion to the fact that before the Russian Revolution, Finland had been a part of the Czarist Empire.)
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 57

On 21 January 1940 Stalin said, “We have no desire for Finland’s territory but Finland should be a state that is friendly to the Soviet Union.
Dimitrov, Georgi, The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933-1949. Ed. Ivo Banac. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 124

SU-NAZI TREATY INVOLVED ECONOMIC EXCHANGES AND TRADE

The nazi-Soviet pact had also a strong economic aspect. By this and later agreements, the USSR agreed to deliver great quantities of oil, grain, cotton, manganese, and other raw materials; but this was no mere tribute or sacrifice imposed by force. The Soviet received in exchange, through a clearing system, German machines and spare parts, machine tools, instruments of precision, chemicals and drugs. Soviet industry had run down badly during the purge, and most of its machines and tools needed replacement or repair. It was already beginning to produce such things for itself, but of all machinery imported in the last ten years, more than 60 percent was of German origin.
Thus Germany received much-needed raw materials, but the USSR benefited even more by the change,…
Duranty, Walter. The Kremlin and the People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941, p. 169

Recently, much has been written about Soviet shipments to Germany, and Stalin has been rightly blamed for supplying Hitler with grain, oil, and rare metals and for helping the Nazis accumulate strategic reserves that they subsequently used in the war against the Soviet Union. But at the same time, it should be pointed out that in return we also obtained much that we needed in the way of equipment and modern military hardware. Only on those terms did the Soviet government agree to supply to Germany the resources it was requesting. Among our acquisitions from the Germans was the Lutzov, a state-of-the-art cruiser of the same class as the cruiser Prinz Eugen. Both ships were built by Germany for its own fleet. The Germans also gave us the shop drawings for their newest battleship, the Bismarck, for thirty different combat aircraft, including Messerschmitt 109 and 110 fighters and Yunker 88 dive bombers, samples of field-artillery pieces, modern fire-support systems, tanks together with the formulas for their armor, and a variety of explosive devices. In addition, Germany undertook to supply us with locomotives, turbines, diesel motors, merchant ships, metal-cutting machine tools, presses, press-forging and other equipment for heavy industry, including the oil and electric industries.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 75

I saw clearly now why Soviet materials continued to be shipped into Germany on a regular basis even though the Germans didn’t comply with their delivery schedules. The idea was to gain time, to appease Hitler, and at the same time to demonstrate to him that it made no sense for Germany to go to war with the Soviet Union since this would effectively cut it off from a rich source of supplies.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 102

The Soviet-German trade agreement, concluded a few days before the signing of the nonaggression pact, provided for deliveries of modern equipment and the latest technology to the Soviet Union. Among others, our navy was very much interested in getting new equipment and technology.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 269

By early evening [in August 1939], the complete text of the trade treaty had been agreed. It was a complex document, allowing the Soviet Union to buy capital goods such as machinery and machine tools, construction and scientific equipment, chemical plants, ships and vehicles, to the value of 200 million Reichmarks over a two-year period. In order to pay for them, the Soviet Union would export to Germany equivalent values of raw materials, semi-finished products, oil, grain, timber, ores, phosphates and so on.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 208

Stalin, for his part, was as conscious of the military deficiencies revealed by the Winter War as any German general. It was clear that something had to be done. The question was what?
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 422

The assistance the Soviet Union was able to give Germany in Murmansk and in the transit of goods from other countries was welcome and undoubtedly of great value. But the most important area of whole operation for both sides during the period of the pact was the direct trade between them. There has long been a myth that in order to buy time and postpone the threat of invasion by the mechanized might of the Wehrmacht, Stalin was Hitler’s dupe, prepared to pay any price he demanded. The reality was entirely different.
Stalin could have had no illusions about Hitler’s ultimate ambitions. Neither did he have any illusions, even before the debacle of the Red Army’s performance in Finland, about the Soviet Union’s ability to withstand a German attack. But before he could prepare his country, and perhaps even increase its military strength to such an extent that Hitler would be deterred from attacking, Stalin needed to buy not only time but also technology. The only people he could obtain either from were the Germans.
For his part, Hitler needed vital raw materialsfor his arms industry in order to build up his forces to the level necessary for attacking the Soviet Union, and food to sustain his people while the military machine was made ready. Once he had failed to keep Britain, and to a lesser extent France, out of the war, the only place he could obtain either of his needs was the Soviet Union.
By September 1939, therefore, the two leaders found themselves in the ludicrous situation where Hitler needed food and raw materials from the Soviet Union in order to attack her, while Stalin needed machinery, arms, and equipment from Germany in order to be able to fight her off. The question was, who needed what most? Certainly, Stalin was perfectly well aware of Hitler’s needs. And while Germany still faced the allies in the west, he was able to drive a very hard bargain indeed.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 433

Three days later, however, on Feb. 7, 1940, there was a message from Stalin, asking the German negotiators to call on him at the Kremlin at 1 a.m. the next morning. When they arrived, they found him smiling and friendly, all sweetness and light. Ribbentrop’s letter, he said, had changed everything. The Germans could have their treaty. The Soviet Union would deliver commodities worth 420 to 430 million Reichmarks within 12 months, in addition to the 200 million Reichmarks worth agreed in the August 19 treaty. For the following six months, the Soviets would make deliveries worth 200 to 230 million Reichmarks. Germany would make deliveries to the same value over a period of 15 months for the first part, and 12 months for the second.
Stalin, still playing his role of the reasonable man, politely asked the Germans not to ask too high prices as they had done before – 300 million Reichmarks for aircraft and 150 million Reichmarks for the cruiser Lutzow, he quoted as examples, was really far too much. “One should not take advantage,” he said gently, “of the Soviet Union’s good nature.”
When Stalin had finished, Mikoyan, playing a friendly role after all the hard-man tactics of the preceding four months, raised another matter which the Germans had been vainly pursuing for months. This was to station a mother ship in Murmansk for the fishing fleet, to process its catches. Without a moment’s hesitation, Stalin agreed to it.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 441

On February 11, the new trade treaty was signed. Germany was assured of all the raw materials and grain she wanted – but the price exacted by Stalin was a heavy one. The list of war material to be given to him covered 42 closely typed pages. At the top of the list was the cruiser formerly known as the Lutzow [after the Graf Spee incident Hitler had given the name Lutzow to the Deutschland, since it would have been unbearable for a ship with that name to be sunk), the hull of which was to be delivered to Leningrad after launching, for completion in the Soviet Union. The complete drawings for the Bismarck were to be handed over after all, together with plans for a large destroyer and complete machinery for such a ship, and full details of performance of the other two cruisers.
The aircraft list included 10 Heinkel He-100s, 5 Messerschmitt Bf-110s, 2 Junkers Ju-88 twin-engined dive-bombers, 2 Dornier Do-215s; 3 Buker Bu-131s and 3 Bu-133s; 3 Fokke-Wulf Fw-58-v-13s and 2 Fokke-Wulf Fa-255 helicopters, plus the experimental Messerschmitt 209. All of these were regarded as test aircraft, which the Soviets could then buy in quantity or build under license later – they vigorously denied that they intended to copy them.
On and on went the list of equipment, guns, machinery, instruments, other ships and shipbuilding gear, plus installations and plants for chemical and metallurgical processes, many of them highly secret.
In return, the Soviet Union agreed to provide an impressive list of materials including:
1,000,000 tons of feed grains and legumes
900,000 tons of petroleum
100,000 tons of cotton
500,000 tons of phosphates
100,000 tons of chromium ores
500,000 tons of iron ore
300,000 tons of scrap iron and pig iron
2400 kilograms of platinum
Manganese ore, metals, lumber, and numerous other raw materials.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 442

Behind the facade, however, Stalin was thinking very hard about the situation. On the economic front, he was prepared to continue the friendship – whatever it cost he had to have German tools and technology. He ordered Mikoyan to take the breaks off the negotiations he was holding with Schnurre [a German trade Representative]….
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 536

SU SELLS GOODS BELOW WORLD PRICES

But nothing short of a world embargo will prevent Soviet Russia from selling her goods–at a lower price than any capitalist country can meet–in order to buy the equipment she requires.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 194

POLISH CLAIMS TO EASTERN REGIONS ARE NOT VALID

It has been contended that the territorial gain assured to the Soviet Union in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact represented the commencement of Russian neo-imperialism. That is not so, at least in regard to the Polish territories. There were four Polish regions which the Soviet Union claimed: Eastern Galicia (formerly Austrian), Volhynia, Polish White Russia, and the Vilna region. Volhynia had a purely Ukrainian population; it had been torn way from Soviet Russia by the Treaty of Riga, without the population being consulted, after the Polish-Russian war of 1921. Eastern Galicia was also mainly Ukrainian. Its capital, Lemberg, had the appearance of a Polish city, but only because a large proportion of the Jewish intelligentsia of Lemberg had been culturally Polonized in the preceding half-century. Eastern Galicia, which in Russia was called Red Russia, was an old Russian demand; it had been one of the Russian objectives in the First World War. Its Ukrainian population had offered armed resistance to Polish rule in 1918 and 1919; the West Ukrainian Republic had been proclaimed there, and had been given international recognition. In the end the Poles subjugated Galicia by armed force. The Ambassadors Conference in Paris, which then had to decide the future of the region, permitted Poland to retain it, but stipulated that it should be granted autonomy under a Ukrainian governor-general, a condition which Poland never fulfilled. Again and again the Ukrainians attempted risings, which ended in a sanguinary Polish pacification of the region.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 336

One final point: circles hostile to the Soviet Union have always equated the Soviet march into Poland east of the Curzon Line with the Nazi invasion and occupation of the rest of Poland. The two are qualitatively different. First, the Soviet forces moved only into territory which was theirs before it had been snatched by Poland after the October revolution. Second, and much more importantly, the Soviet Union waited for 16 days after the Nazi invasion of Poland.
“When, on September 5th [1939], Ribbentrop began to press the Russians to march into their share of Poland, Stalin was not yet ready to issue the marching orders… He would not…lend a hand in defeating Poland, and he refused to budge before Poland’s collapse was complete beyond doubt.” (Deutscher, op. cit. page 432).
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 571

STALIN SOUGHT SENSIBLE, ETHNICALLY BASED WESTERN BORDERS

Undoubtedly the population of Eastern Galicia had no desire to be under Polish rule; what is not known is whether it was ready to join Soviet Ukraine. Nevertheless when Stalin marched into Eastern Galicia, claiming that he must protect from the Germans, on national grounds, a population that was identical with that living in the Soviet Union, these were not empty words. As a matter of prudence he had halted along the Curzon Line, the line drawn by the Western Powers in 1919, almost exactly following the ethnographic dividing line between Poles and Ukrainians;….
Polish White Russia was also taken from the Russians in the Polish-Russian war in 1920. There is no doubt about the feeling of the population, who are Orthodox White Russians. These peasants always wanted to belong to Soviet White Russia.
The Vilna region was inhabited by Lithuanians and the White Russians. Only the city of Vilna was regarded as Polish. That city had actually a Jewish majority, but was even closer to Polish hearts than Lemberg. The Vilna region had also been annexed by armed force by the Poles. In its peace treaty with Lithuania in 1920 the Soviet state had recognized the Vilna region as belonging to Lithuania and the city of Vilna as the Lithuanian capital. The result was that from 1922 right up to the outbreak of the Second World War there had never been a reconciliation and resumption of normal diplomatic relations between Lithuania and Poland. Throughout the period the Soviet Union had steadily refused to recognize the region as Polish and had always recognized the Lithuanian claim to it. Now, when the Polish State seemed to have come to an end, it was only natural that Moscow should not abandon the Vilna region to the Germans. It turned it over to the then formally independent Lithuania, in conformity with the treaty of 1920. Barely a year later, however, Lithuania became a Soviet State and a part of the Soviet Union.
This policy of Stalin’s is quite intelligible. In his distrust of Hitler he had obviously, for reasons of military security, to push forward his frontier as far as possible. He chose the ethnographic frontier, the frontier that in 1919, in fact, had been internationally assigned to Russia. In his view, moreover, he had finally solved the Ukrainian and White Russian question by uniting those two peoples in a single State.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 337-338

And 1939-1940 hardly anyone was concerned about abiding by international legal standards. The Soviet Union hastened to take advantage of the situation in Western Europe to establish more favorable borders and better strategic positions before it’s inevitable entry, sooner or later, into the world war.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 732

On Sept. 17, 1939 prime minister Molotov spoke on the radio:
“No one knows the present whereabouts of the Polish government. The Polish population has been abandoned to its fate by its unfortunate leaders…. The Soviet government regards it as its duty to proffer help to its Ukrainian and Byelorussian brothers in Poland…. The Soviet government has instructed the Red Army command to order its troops to cross the border and to take under its protection the life and property of the population of the western Ukraine and western Byelorussia.”
Stalin had a note of similar content delivered to the Polish ambassador in Moscow. With hindsight and from the Soviet point of view, this step was largely justified: the territory entered by Soviet troops was indeed inhabited by Ukrainians and Byelorussians.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 358

STALIN’S TREATMENT OF THE BALTIC STATES WAS FAIR AND SENSIBLE

Stalin’s treatment of the Baltic states is also intelligible. As already said, no Russian Government will ever voluntarily renounce the Baltic provinces. The majority of the Russian revolutionaries, including the Bolsheviks, had always recognized the right of the Poles and Finns to secede from Russia. No one dreamed of according a somewhere right to the three Baltic peoples. Until 1917 the Latvians and Estonians had had no idea of demanding it. Until then not one of the revolutionary parties among those peoples had put forward any such claim. They had all fought side-by-side with the Russian revolutionaries, contenting themselves with the promise that in the hour of victory the Russian revolution would secure equal rights for all the peoples within the Russian Federation. As for Latvia, national feeling awakened there very late and first showed itself in the war of 1914-18.
In regard to the Baltic states, Stalin acted entirely in accordance with the views of Lenin. It was his opinion, as it had been Lenin’s, that the independence acquired by the Baltic states in 1918 was not the outcome of any popular demand. The capitalists and the big farmers, they considered, had started the demand for independence, with the support first of the Germans and then of the British, simply in order to avert social revolution. Certain facts seemed to confirm that view. The new Estonian Government met with considerable difficulties in the raising of an army. Only after a number of Estonian peasants had been hanged at Dorpat for refusing military service did the organization begin to make progress. In 1919, however, there were further plain indications that the Estonian peasants were fighting only unwillingly against Bolshevism. With the aid of anti-Bolshevik Russian troops, the Reds had been expelled from Estonia. The White Guard General Yudenich began his offensive against Petrograd with the aid of the Estonian Army. It was barely an hour’s journey by rail from the Estonian frontier to the former capital of the Russian empire. At the frontier the Estonian regiments mutinied, and had to be sent home.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 339

I have been told by people in Russia, who ought to know what they are talking about, that the Soviet police have been deliberately clearing out almost all the border regions between Europe and Soviet Russia, moving whole towns and villages from these regions out into Siberia or some other pioneer section where they begin life over again. The Russians are thus creating a vast no man’s land along the European borders, which can be heavily fortified, strung with electrified wires and barbed wires and made as nearly impassable as modern science will permit.
The government thus seeks to insure itself against an invasion from the west. But at the same time it also reassures European nations, especially the little border nations, who had more reason to fear Russia than Russia had to fear them. Noting that the borders are being sealed tight, the neighboring governments are pleased, being desirous only of being left alone so far as Russia is concerned.
But out in Asia the Russians are establishing no such quarantine along the borders.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 282-283

In late September-early October 1939, Stalin ordered Molotov to propose to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia that they sign a treaty of mutual assistance. After brief hesitation, some internal struggle and consultation with Berlin, the Baltic governments signed treaties permitting the entry of Red Army units. At the request of the Baltic governments, the number of Soviet troops was less than the armies of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The Soviet military contingents were to remain in their quarters and not interfere in the internal life of these countries, although Stalin was perfectly aware that the presence of the Red Army was bound to affect the political climate.
Despite some inevitable friction, the sides on the whole followed the spirit and the letter of the treaties. Sometimes the Baltic partners went further. For instance, when the Soviet-Finnish war broke out, the military attache in Riga, Col. Vasiliev, reported to Moscow: ‘On December 1 General Hartmanis declared: “If because of the circumstances of the war you need any landing strips for your air force, you can use all our existing airdromes, including Riga airport”.’ The Lithuanian government informed Moscow that ‘a committee has been formed for securing food products and forage for the armed forces [of the Red Army] in Lithuania.’ During the visit to Moscow in early December 1939 of the commander-in-chief of the Estonian army, General Laidoner–a former lieutenant colonel on the tsarist General Staff–an impression was gained that friendly relations were developing between both states and their armies.
When Hitler took Paris in June 1940, Stalin felt that if he did not at once invade England he was bound to turn his gaze to the east, and Stalin, aware of being unprepared and making sporadic efforts to make up for lost time, now took a new step. In the middle of June 1940, Moscow requested permission from the governments of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to deploy additional contingents of troops on their territory.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 362

While the moral aspect of the annexation of the Baltic states was distinctly negative, the act itself was a positive one, given the threats looming over both the USSR and the Baltic states…. Dekanozov nevertheless reported to Stalin and Molotov in early July 1940:
“A large meeting and demonstration took place in Vilna on July 7. Some 80,000 people took part. The main slogans were ‘Long live the 13th Soviet republic!’. ‘Proletarians of all lands, unite!’. ‘Long live comrade Stalin!’ And so on. The meeting passed a vote of greeting to the Soviet Union and the Red Army. A concert was given by the band of the Lithuanian Army, attended by the president and several members of the government and general staff….”
It is reasonable to suggest that, had Soviet troops not been there, the Germans would have marched into the Baltic states before June 1941, since they already had a plan to ‘Germanize’ part of the population and liquidate the rest, as a 1940 memorandum by Rosenberg shows. The overwhelming majority of the Baltic population was favorable to their countries’ incorporation into the Soviet Union in August 1940….
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 363

To save appearances, he falsified the popular will and staged plebiscites, in which Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians begged to be absorbed into the Soviet Union. His conduct was not more reprehensible than that of any other leader of a great power holding fast to or seizing strategic bases.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 447

While the acquisition of Bessarabia was proceeding, albeit cautiously, Stalin could afford to act more decisively in the Baltic. In fact, he could scarcely afford not to. As seen from the Kremlin, the Baltic states offered Hitler a most convenient springboard for an attack on the Soviet Union. What was worse, ideologically they looked to Berlin rather than to Moscow, in spite of having effectively become client states of the Soviet Union. True, there were now sizable Soviet garrisons in all three countries, but those troops were there to hold down the population during what Stalin had hoped would be the gradual process of Sovietization, rather than to protect the frontier with Germany. The Baltic states were beginning to look like the weak link in his defensive chain.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 465

LATVIANS AND LATVIAN TROOPS SUPPORTED THE BOLSHEVIKS

Still more ambiguous was the situation at that time in Latvia. Latvia had in the past harbored the most radical of Socialist movements. The revolution of 1905 had there been exceptionally sanguinary. After the fall of the Tsardom, Kerensky had permitted the Latvian soldiers in the Russian army, together with the new volunteers, to form regiments of their own under Latvian officers. These Latvian guards soon became specially well disciplined, first-class troops. When the Bolshevik revolution broke out, these were almost the only units that did not disintegrate but remained disciplined. Nor did they obey the order from Latvia to return there; on the contrary, they unanimously declared their support of the Bolsheviks, and remained in Russia. They were fanatical followers of the revolution. In the first two years of the revolution they were almost the only disciplined troops on which the new Soviet government could count. For a long time they formed the principal protection of the Government itself, and they were also the troops of the new terrorist authority, the Cheka. In that terrorist organization the Latvians occupied the principal key positions. Very soon the whole of the senior staff of the organization were Latvians.
The Red Army that marched against Latvia in 1918, captured Riga, and proclaimed the Latvian Soviet Republic, consisted almost exclusively of Latvians. They were not opposed by Latvians but by the hated Germans. Riga was not reconquered by Latvian troops but by German bands of adventurers, whom the Latvian commander, Ullmanis, had recruited, and by the Baltic Militia, the troops of the Baltic barons, so hated by the Latvians. It is significant that these formations wrecked a sanguinary terror against all the Latvians; they regarded all Latvians as Bolsheviks….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 340

SU RECOGNIZED EARLY-ON THE INDEPENDENCE OF ESTONIA AND LATVIA

When in 1920 and 1921 the Soviet Government concluded treaties of peace with Latvia and Estonia, and recognized the independence of those States, this, in the eyes of the Moscow politicians, was not really a conclusion of peace with those two States themselves, but primarily with the European Western Powers–part of the steps intended to bring to an end the foreign intervention in the Russian revolution and to give the young Soviet State a ‘breathing space’.
In the minds of the Bolsheviks, including Lenin and Stalin, the circumstances of the birth of those States governed their whole existence. They were always regarded as the creations of the anti-Bolshevik Powers, and not of the Latvian and Estonian peoples.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 341

STALIN INVADED THE BALTIC STATES ON VERY VALID GROUNDS

The question for Stalin in August 1939 was quite clear. He distrusted Hitler. The Baltic states neither would nor could resist a German lightning invasion. That would face him with an accomplished fact, but it would be difficult to declare war on that account against the Baltic States; and, of course, he had no desire to do so. If, however, he placed Russian garrisons in the Baltic States, it would be known in Berlin that any invasion would bring immediate fighting with Soviet troops. That would be a deterrent for Berlin.
Stalin went to work very cautiously. The Russian troops sent into the Baltic States were stationed in encampments of their own, far away from any settlement, and nowhere did they come into contact with the population. They were hardly seen. The Soviet State in no way interfered in the affairs of the three Baltic States; it did not even attempt to influence their armies. The regime remained as it was in all three states; and they retained their own diplomatic representation abroad. Even their communists, particularly in Latvia, still remained in prison.
Probably it will never be known how Stalin expected this to end. But he was overtaken by events. He seemed to have judged well; indeed, when war came the Western Powers seemed even weaker than he had assumed. France collapsed, and the British troops returned to their island. Hitler was virtually master of the whole of Europe outside Russia. Stalin had to safeguard his country. It proved that the garrisons in the Baltic states were insufficient. President Ullmanis, in Latvia, began to move. He was in intimate personal touch with Berlin. It seemed to him [Ullmanis] to be possible to bring about a German-Russian conflict. He no longer contented himself with dealing through the Latvian minister in Berlin, but sent men in his confidence as his personal representatives, to persuade the Germans to intervene. Naturally the Russians did not remain unaware of this. A pretext was given them by a small incident with a British warship in Estonian territorial waters. Moscow declared that the Baltic states were much too weak to be able to defend their neutrality. Such a breach of neutrality as had occurred might bring the Soviet Union into the war. On this ground, further Soviet troops marched into the Baltic States, and by a coup d’ etat completed the sovietization of the three States and their incorporation into the Soviet Union.
From Stalin’s point view, this policy was no abandonment of the old principles; indeed, it was the fulfillment of an injunction of Lenin’s. Lenin had not had any hesitation about bringing particular peoples of the Russian Empire back into the Russian Federation by force. An example had been Stalin’s own native country, Georgia…. Thus, in 1917 Georgia proclaimed its independence. It had a social democratic government, and soon established diplomatic relations with a number of European States. It even became a Member State of the League of Nations; but every effort to interest the great powers in its fate came to grief. When Azerbaijan and Armenia were sovietized, Georgia, too, was compelled to conclude peace with Soviet Russia. The peace treaty seemed entirely normal. In it Soviet Russia unreservedly recognized Georgian independence and bound itself not to interfere in internal Georgian affairs. But this treaty had a secret clause, which was published later. Under this clause the Georgian Government bound itself not only to amnesty all the imprisoned Georgian communists but to grant legal existence and freedom of propaganda to the Communists. Scarcely had this clause been given effect when the Communists provoked rioting in one of the public gardens of Tiflis. It was a trifling incident, but Lenin at once declared that the Georgian Government was unable to guarantee law and order in its own territory, thus endangering the neighboring states. Russian troops marched into Georgia, and the country was sovietized. Stalin had entirely concurred. In 1923 there was a new rising in Georgia, on an important scale; it was brutally crushed, with a great deal of bloodshed. Thus it cannot be said that Stalin’s policy toward the Baltic states was an innovation; it was entirely in line with the Leninist policy.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 342

A new and important shift thus occurred in Stalin’s foreign policy. His first move in the Baltic lands, the establishment of bases, had been dictated solely by strategic expediency. He had apparently had no intention of tampering with their social system. His sense of danger, heightened and intensified by the collapse of France, now impelled him to stage revolutions in the three small countries. For the first time he now departed, in a small way, from his own doctrine of socialism in one country, the doctrine that he had so relentlessly inculcated into a whole Russian generation.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 446

Of course, Hitler said, the Soviets were determined to exact a price for their cooperation with the Third Reich. But as far as Hitler could see, their principal aim was merely to extend Soviet access to the Baltic via Latvia and Estonia – a modest enough demand in all conscience.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 192

STALIN’S INVASION OF FINLAND WAS NECESSARY BUT NOT ETHNICALLY JUSTIFIED

The Finnish-Russian frontier came almost up to the suburbs of Leningrad. Stalin now went so far as to demand from Finland, among other things, the cession to Russia of the Karelian Isthmus with the town of Viborg. It was impossible for Finland to submit to that. Finnish Karelia was one of the richest provinces of the country. A large part of the Finnish industries was concentrated there; Viborg was the second city of Finland. The population of the province was entirely Finnish. The Russian demands were inspired not only by strategic considerations but also by nationalist instincts. Lenin had long been criticized on this matter by party leaders; it had been pointed out that the Karelian isthmus had been conquered by Peter the Great and had for 80 years been a Russian province. When in 1809 Alexander the First captured Finland from the Swedes, he negotiated with the Finnish estates about the new Constitution. Finland became an independent State, whose Grand Duke was the Russians Tsar. Alexander I then returned the province of Viborg to the Finns. Now it was declared to be a mistake of Lenin’s when in 1917, in recognizing Finnish independence, he failed to demand the return of that province to Russia.
This demand was, of course, a breach with the Leninist and the whole Bolshevik tradition. The Bolsheviks, like all Marxist, condemns such arguments from so-called ‘historical rights’ as reactionary and a pretext for imperialistic claims. Only the actual ethnographic facts counted for them. Lenin had therefore acted entirely consistently in 1917. In putting forward the new demand, Stalin departed from the line of argument on which he had relied in the past in annexing Polish and Romanian territory; in those cases he had relied on the ethnographic conditions.
The Soviet Union nevertheless declared war on Finland. This was Stalin’s first real breach with all past tradition, in three respects: it was a breach with Lenin’s past policy toward Finland; it was also definitely a preventive war, a sort of war which until then all Bolshevik theorists had condemned; and finally it was impossible, from the standpoint of Bolshevism itself, to reconcile the action against Finland with that against the Baltic states….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 346

Even though today we rightly condemn Stalin, we should also recognize that, given the situation at the time, many of the measures he took to delay the war and strengthen the USSR’s western defenses were to a large extent forced on him.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 366

We doubt whether Stalin had any more illusions about the value of this Pact than Hitler had. That is best proved by the Russian invasions of Poland, Finland, and Bessarabia which–tragic and indefensible though they were when judged by any moral standards, particularly in view of the hypocritical propaganda that accompanied these acts of aggression–were clearly and unambiguously measures of strategic protection against a threatening German attack. They were nothing more, certainly nothing in the nature of a “red imperialism,” as many people suggested.
Socialist Clarity Group. The U. S. S. R., Its Significance for the West. London: V. Gollancz, 1942, p. 59

SU CLOSELY ADHERED TO THE RUSSO-GERMAN PACT

It was obvious that the Soviet Union must be ready to supply Germany’s economic requirements. Especially at must be ready to supply strategic raw materials. This was the price not only of the peace enjoyed by the Soviet Union, but of its territorial gains. And Stalin delivered the supplies, carefully keeping to the agreements. Only in this way could he keep war away from his frontiers.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 348

Stalin was clearly determined, from the very start of the alliance, that nothing should be done which might in the slightest agree offend or upset his new partner.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 296

DESPITE HARD TIMES STALIN AIDED CHINA REPEATEDLY

In 1931 Japan delivered the first armed blow at the system of Versailles by occupying Manchuria. Stalin openly assisted the Chinese in every way possible, short of a declaration of war. He did this in spite of the fact that the whole of his country’s energies were directed towards the fulfillment of the first Five Year Plan and that widespread famine and sabotage were decimating the land.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 111

In September, 1931, on a trumped-up pretext the Japanese seized the Manchurian capital, Mukden, and within a few months extended their conquest over the whole of Manchuria, including the Chinese Eastern railroad, jointly owned and operated by the Russians and Chinese. Russia and Japan were brought to the verge of war because the Russians were convinced early in 1932 that Japan proposed to follow its Manchurian action by a drive through Outer Mongolia to the Russian area south of Lake Baikal, with the purpose of cutting off the Maritime Provinces of Eastern Siberia from the Soviet Union. The Russians faced this threat alone; far from having confidence in the Western Powers to check Japanese aggression, they believed that London at least was encouraging Japan to invade Siberia.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 183

Between 1919 and 1926 Sun Yat-Sen and and his followers turned definitely to the Soviet Union for help in their independence struggle. After repeated attempts to obtain aid from the United States and from various European governments, Sun Yat-sen became convinced that his best source of support was the Soviet Union. At the request of his government, and of the People’s party which he headed, the Soviet Union sent to China a core of technical assistants that at one time numbered approximately 300. The titular head of this group was Borodin.
Nearing, S. The Soviet Union as a World Power. New York: Island Workshop Press, 1945, p. 54

No figures are available showing the exact amount of material assistance sent by Russia into China during the 20 years that ended in 1937. In the first decade the material aid was probably considerable. In the second decade it diminished sharply. From the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 until the German invasion of Russia in 1941 Soviet aid to China again increased. Military necessity forced Soviet supplies to follow old caravan routes converted into extemporized truck roads across the Gobi desert.
Nearing, S. The Soviet Union as a World Power. New York: Island Workshop Press, 1945, p. 55

With minor exceptions Soviet Russia has extended consistent help to the movement for a Chinese Republic in the hope that a China directed by a Chinese Soviet government would be able to win its independence from the western empires, industrialize China, raise the standard of well-being of the Chinese masses and by so doing blaze the trail toward a Soviet Asia.
Nearing, S. The Soviet Union as a World Power. New York: Island Workshop Press, 1945, p. 56

On the question of the Sino-Soviet treaty of 1945,… the Russians would withdraw their troops from Port Arthur when the Chinese wished, and also yield up control of the trans-Manchurian railways. On other practical matters, Mao requested Soviet credits of 300 million U.S. dollars, as well as help developing domestic air transport routes and developing a navy, to all of which Stalin agreed.
Spence, Jonathan D. Mao Zedong. New York: Viking, 1999, p. 111

SU FULFILLED LEAGUE EFFORTS AGAINST AGGRESSORS

On September 18, 1934, in order to identify herself absolutely with the idea of European stability and peace, the USSR entered the League of Nations. Alone of all the members, she gave practical proof of a readiness to contribute more to the cause of peace than words and sympathy. When Mussolini sent his legions into Abyssinia, Moscow loyally fulfilled her obligations and welcomed the application of sanctions. Abyssinia was not Russia’s concern, she had no interest in arresting Italian designs in the Mediterranean and no African colonies to protect. She acted because she had no desire to see aggression elevated into a successful principle.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 112

STALIN CRITICIZES THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY

Stalin has paid particular attention to the Chinese Communist Party and the heroic efforts of the Chinese Soviets. He personally undertook the stiffening of the line of the Chinese Party at the Chinese Commission of the Comintern in 1926. His intervention, which has become famous in the annals of the Communist international, contended against the errors and faults resulting from diffidence with regard to the Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolution, and a certain tendency to consider the Chinese Revolution as having to remain a middle-class democratic revolution. Well, “all the measures which he recommended have been ultimately justified by events.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 107

In a July 9, 1927, letter to Bukharin and Molotov Stalin stated, “I believe that such a danger is more real (I mean the danger of the disintegration of the Chinese Communist Party) than some of the seeming realities so abundant in China. Why? Because unfortunately, we don’t have a real or, if you like, actual Communist Party in China. If you take away the middle-ranking Communists who make good fighting material but who are completely inexperienced in politics, then what is the current Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party? Nothing but an ‘amalgamation’ of general phrases gathered here and there, not linked to one another with any line or guiding idea. I don’t want to be very demanding toward the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. I know that one can’t be too demanding toward it. But here is a simple demand: fulfill the directives of the Comintern. Has it fulfilled these directives? No. No, because it did not understand them, because it did not want to fulfill them and has hoodwinked the Comintern, or because it wasn’t able to fulfill them. That is a fact. Roy blames Borodin. That’s stupid. It can’t be that Borodin has more weight with the Chinese Communist Party or its Central Committee than the Comintern does. Roy himself wrote that Borodin did not attend the Chinese Communist Party Congress since he was forced to go into hiding…. Some explain this by the fact that the bloc with the Kuomintang is to blame, which ties the Chinese Communist Party down and does not allow it to be independent. That is also not true, for although any block ties down the members of the bloc one way or another that doesn’t mean that we should be against blocs in general. Take Chiang’s five coastal provinces from Canton to Shanghai, where there’s no bloc with the Kuomintang. How can you explain that Chiang’s agents are more successful at disintegrating the ‘army’ of the Communists, than the Communists are at disintegrating Chiang’s rear guard? Is it not a fact that a whole number of trade unions are breaking off from the Chinese Communist Party, and Chiang continues to hold strong? What sort of Chinese Communist Party ‘independence’ is that?…. I think the reason is not in these factors, although they have their significance, but in the fact of the current Central Committee (it’s leadership) was forged in the period of the nationwide revolution and received its baptism by fire during this period and it turned out to be completely unadaptable to the new, agrarian phase of the revolution. The Chinese Communist Party Central committee does not understand the point of the new phase of the revolution. There is not a single Marxist mind in the Central Committee capable of understanding the underpinning (the social underpinning) of the events now occurring. The Chinese Communist Party Central committee was unable to use the rich period of the bloc with Kuomintang in order to conduct energetic work in openly organizing the revolution, the proletariat, the peasantry, the revolutionary military units, the revolutionizing of the army, the work of setting the soldiers against the generals. The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee has lived off the Kuomintang for a whole year and has had the opportunity of freely working and organizing, yet it did nothing to turn the conglomerate of elements (true, quite militant), incorrectly called a party, into a real party…. Of course there was work at the grassroots. We are indebted to the middle-ranking Communists for that. But characteristically, it was not the Central Committee that went to the workers and peasants but the workers and peasants who went to the Central committee, and the closer the workers and peasants approached the Central Committee, the farther away from them went the so-called Central Committee, preferring to kill time in behind-the- scenes talks with the leaders and generals from the Kuomintang. The Chinese Communist Party sometimes babbles about the hegemony of the proletariat. But the most intolerable thing about this babbling is that the Chinese Communist Party does not have a clue (literally, not a clue) about hegemony–it kills initiative of the working masses, undermines the ‘unauthorized’ actions of the peasant masses, and reduces class warfare in China to a lot of big talk about the ‘feudal bourgeoisie’.
That’s the reason why the Comintern’s directives are not fulfilled.
That is why I now believe the question of the party is the main question of the Chinese revolution.
How can we fix the conglomerate that we incorrectly call the Chinese Communist Party?… Both Borodin and Roy must be purged from China, along with all those opposition members that hinder the work there. We should regularly send to China, not people we don’t need, but competent people instead. The structure has to be set up so that all these party advisers work together as a whole, directed by the chief adviser to the Central Committee (the Comintern representative). These ‘nannies’ are necessary at this stage because of the weakness, shapelessness, political amorphousness, and lack of qualification of the current Central Committee. The Central committee will learn from the party advisors. The party advisors will compensate for the enormous shortcomings of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and its top regional officials. They will serve (for the time being) as the nails holding the existing conglomerate together as a party…. As the revolution and the party grow, the need for these ‘ nannies’ will disappear.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 140

On July 11, 1927, Stalin sent a letter to Molotov stating, “I read the Politburo directives on the withdrawal from the national government in China. I think that soon the issue of withdrawing from the Kuomintang will have to be raised. I’ll explain why when I come. I have been told that some people are in a repentant mood regarding our policy in China. If that is true, it’s too bad. When I come, I will try to prove that our policy was and remains the only correct policy. Never have I been so deeply and firmly convinced of the correctness of our policy, both in China and regarding the Anglo-Russian Committee, as I am now.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 143

Stalin, despite what is implied in the Trotskyite literature on the subject, did not love or trust Chiang; he simply underestimated him.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 277

… Stalin was to claim, and there is a hard-core of common sense in his argument, that though the Chinese policy failed, the premises under which it had been conducted could not be faulted. The Communists had to take the risk inherent in collaboration with the Kuomintang. Certainly the latter’s successes curtailed the influence of imperialist powers on China and set the stage for Communist successes some time in the future. The Chinese Communists could never have grown so impressively in membership and influence without collaborating with the Kuomintang, and it would have been sheer fantasy to imagine that in 1923 or 1927 they could have conquered a sizable part of China by themselves. There were occasions, he implied, when ideological incantations and citations from Marx and Lenin are powerless to change the disposition of class forces. Was it wrong to have the Revolution of 1905? he asked. It had ended in disaster, but it had also set the stage for 1917.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin: The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 277

In-substance the Trotsky-Zinoviev charges about China were absurd. To visualize how much so, we may compare them to the outcry of the American right wing a little more than 20 years later about how Truman and Acheson “lost China.” Those charges were unfair enough: how can one nation in peacetime determine the course of events in another vast and distant country? But at that time the United States was unquestionably the most powerful nation in the world, its industry producing more than half the entire global output. The American protEgE, Chiang, was until well into 1947 in control of most of mainland China, and it was his own policies as much as the Communists’ clever ones that brought about his doom. But here was a weak and impoverished Soviet Union, with its clients, the Chinese Communists, mustering a strength of only about 60,000. Could the most brilliant understanding of dialectic, the most “correct” directives sent to the Chinese comrades, have affected the issue of the struggle? Suppose that by some miracle the Chinese Communists had seized southern China: would the imperialist powers have tolerated their attempt to conquer the whole country? In his memoranda throughout 1926 Trotsky himself stressed the absolute necessity of not provoking Japan, of respecting her sphere of influence in Manchuria and north China. Any likely Communist conquest would have brought the capitalist powers together, would have presented the Soviet Far East with the danger of Japanese invasion, an invasion which everybody recognized, the Soviet Union was in no position to defeat.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 278

CHIANG’S GOVT IS AN IMPERIALIST LACKEY

In an August 29, 1929, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “The point is really to use our tough position to unmask completely and to undermine the authority of Chiang Kai-shek’s government, a government of lackeys of imperialism, for attempting to become the model of ‘national government’ for the colonial and dependent countries. There can be no doubt that each clash between Chiang Kai-shek’s government and the Soviet government, just as each concession Chiang Kai-shek makes to us (and he is already starting to make concessions), is a blow against Chiang Kai-shek exposes Chiang Kai-shek’s government as a government of lackeys of imperialism and makes it easier to carry out the revolutionary education of the workers in colonial countries (and the Chinese workers above all). Litvinov and Karakhan (and they are not the only ones) don’t see that. So much the worse for them.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 174

LITVINOV TALKS LIKE A SECRET TRAITOR TO THE SU

MOLOTOV: Litvinov was utterly hostile to us. We bugged his talk with an American correspondent, an obvious spy,… What did Litvinov say?
He said, “You Americans won’t be able to deal with this Soviet government. Their positions preclude any serious agreement with you. Do you think this government, these hard-liners will meet you halfway in any sense? Nothing will come of your dealings with them.
…For the people have no tanks, but the government has…. The government has party officers in such numbers that the people cannot exert their own will to change things. Only external pressure can help, that is, a military campaign. Only Western intervention can change the situation in the country.”
He said nothing to me personally. That too was unconscionable. Utter treason.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 68

CHUEV: They write a lot about Litvinov these days. I remember you saying you didn’t trust him.
MOLOTOV: He was, of course, not a bad diplomat–a good one. But at heart he was quite an opportunist. He greatly sympathized with Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev, and thus couldn’t enjoy our absolute confidence.
I believe at the end of his life he turned rotten politically.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 69

I [Litvinov] do not like Koba and consider his policy pernicious….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 89

For once I am in full agreement with the Instantsia.
[This is the Foreign Minister speaking?]
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 269

My own view is that we need no security measures at all…. Foreigners don’t understand anything about our affairs in any case… except the Poles, who understand only too well all that is happening here…. They have the only real information network in the USSR….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 278

STALIN UNDERSTANDS THE TRICKS OF CAPITALIST GOVTS

In a September 9, 1929, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “It’s not Henderson [British Foreign Office official] who is dangerous, since we have pushed him to the wall, but Litvinov, who believes Wise and other bastards more than the logic of things. Remember we are waging a struggle (negotiations with enemies is also struggle), not with England alone, but with the whole capitalist world, since the MacDonald government is the vanguard of the capitalist governments in the work of “humiliating’ and “bridling’ the Soviet government with “new,’ more “diplomatic,’ more disguised, and thus more “effective’ methods. The MacDonald government wants to show the whole capitalist world that it can take more from us (with the help of “gentle’ methods) than Mussolini, Poincare, and Baldwin, that it can be a greater Shylock than the capitalist Shylock himself. And it wants this because only in this way can it win the trust of its own bourgeoisie (and not only its bourgeoisie). We really would be worthless if we couldn’t manage to reply to these arrogant bastards briefly and to the point: “You won’t get a friggin’ thing from us.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 178

MUNICH SELL-OUT WAS TO GET NAZIS HEADED EASTWARD

Britain, however, under Prime Minister Chamberlain, built up Hitler, granting to him in haste everything that had for a decade been refused to the German Republic–the remilitarization of the Rhineland, the Nazi-terrorized plebiscite in the Saar, German re-armament, naval expansion, the Hitler-Mussolini intervention in Spain. British finance, which had strangled German democracy by demanding impossible reparations, helped Hitler with investments and loans. Every intelligent world citizen knew that these favors were given to Hitler because British Tories saw in him their “strong-arm gangster” against the Soviets. If any doubt remained of the aims of both the British and French foreign offices, the Munich Conference removed it. That cynical sell-out of Czechoslovakia was their trump-card in inducing Hitler to march East.
Anyone who watched, as I did, the British moves of those days, saw that Chamberlain, who spoke of “appeasing” Hitler, really egged him on. He suggested giving the Czech’s Sudetenland to Hitler before anyone in Germany dared demand it….
The only ally that proposed to help the Czechs resist this sellout was the USSR.
…Why were Chamberlain and Daladier willing to sacrifice 27 Czech divisions and one of the best fortification lines in Europe? What made them give Hitler one of Europe’s best armament plants–the Skoda Works? Where they conscious traitors, or weak? A manager of a local industry said: “You can say it in four words–They’re afraid of Bolshevism.”
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 74

Although the main imperialist rivals in Europe were the same as in World War I (namely, British and French versus German), the British and French in the pre-World War II years not only allowed the German ruling class to rearm but made great concessions to it. They allowed the German rulers to take Austria, Czechoslovakia, and other territories on the understanding that these new economic and military resources would be used in war against the USSR. In the first phases of the war the British and French acquiesced in the German conquest of Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and Holland; and the French ruling class in effect gave its German counterpart a lease on its economic resources for the conquest of the socialist state. The British ruling class split on whether to follow suit but finally decided, with U.S. prodding, that the price was too high. U.S. imperialism saw such concessions as a serious risk, realizing that if German imperialism controlled all of Europe, including the USSR and Britain, it would next join forces with Japan and mount a war against the United States.
On the hand, neither the American imperialists nor the British wish to see the USSR victorious. Both hoped that the USSR and Germany would mutually exhaust each other and allow British and American imperialist interests to penetrate deep into Europe. Thus they supplied the USSR with what they thought was just enough assistance to help it to resist but not conquer the Germans. They delayed opening a second front in the hope of a Soviet-German stalemate, but delayed too long–until the Soviet armies were rolling on to Berlin and seemingly threatened to overrun Europe. The reason for their miscalculation was that they did not understand the special strengths of the socialist state.
Stalin, in spite of later assertions to the contrary, was well aware of all these matters. In March 1939, more than two years before the German invasion of the USSR, he commented:
“Or take Germany, for instance. They let her have Austria, despite the undertaking to defend her independence; they let her have the Sudeten region; they abandoned Czechoslovakia to her fate, thereby violating all their obligations; and then began to lie vociferously in the press about “the weakness of the Russian army,” “the demoralization of the Russian Air Force,” and “riots” in the Soviet Union, egging the Germans on to march farther east, promising them easy pickings, and prompting them: “Just start war on the Bolsheviks, and everything will be all right.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 109

Stalin understood perfectly that France and Britain were preparing a new Munich, that they were ready to sacrifice Poland, encouraging Hitler to march on the Soviet Union. Harold Ickes, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, wrote at the time in his journal:
“( England) kept hoping against hope that she could embroil Russia and Germany with each other and thus escape scot-free herself.”
Harold L. Ickes, The Secret Diary of Harold L. Ickes (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954), Vol. 2, p. 705.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 233 [p. 187 on the NET]

To complete the picture of our mood I must say what we felt about the Western Democracies. Tragically, they offered us no hope. Both in the eyes of the thinking opposition and of the man in the street the Munich agreement had destroyed their moral authority. By that agreement Britain and France committed moral suicide. Hard though it is to say, in that crucial period between 1938 and 1941 hardly anyone in the USSR had a warm place in his heart for the British or the French. There was no need for any central Party directive. At meeting after meeting the opinion was expressed with genuine spontaneity that the Western Powers would betray us at the slightest opportunity and that we must, therefore, keep the utmost vigilance regarding the West. We mistrusted it from the bottom of our hearts.
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 169

To the Russians, Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, was the archvillain. They held him in contempt, and blamed him for the collapse of the Soviet policy of collective security. They were convinced that he was encouraging Germany to march eastwards, leaving Britain and France to enjoy peace while fascism and communism destroyed each other….
It was probably about this time that Stalin decided to open the door to an alliance with Hitler. It was a calculated gamble, but he could see no alternatives.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 304

In April 1939 diplomatic negotiations among the Soviet Union, England, and France were re-activated with the aim of establishing a system of collective security in Europe. But the most important Soviet proposals were rejected, while many of the English and French proposals were clearly unacceptable to the USSR. Moreover, the government of Chamberlain secretly continued to seek an agreement with the Germans to guarantee England’s security. The French and English ruling circles had obviously not abandoned their primary hope of turning German aggression eastward, against the Soviet state. Under these conditions Soviet diplomats again began to seek contacts with Germany.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 726

… England and France were playing an insecure and dangerous political game. They dragged out the negotiations with the Soviet Union while holding secret talks with Germany, still hoping that Germany would direct its aggression eastward.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 727

Most Western authors recount these events in a very tendentious manner–as though the Soviet Union were responsible for supporting Hitler in his attack on Poland and thus contributing to the outbreak of World War II. But this opinion is mistaken.
I do not intend to justify Stalin’s entire policy…. But the nonaggression pact should not be added to this list of Stalin’s errors….
The Soviet government was compelled to sign the pact because Britain and France, with their policy of toleration and nonintervention, had been encouraging German fascism and helped Germany recreate a strong military machine in the hope that it would be used against Bolshevism. Some of the big corporations in the United States had also helped, with the same aim in mind. The Munich accord of 1938, agreed to by Germany, Italy, England, and France, was what truly unleashed Hitler. After the occupation of Austria and Czechoslovakia the next step for Germany was almost certainly to try to destroy Poland. It was also clear to Hitler that England and France would “give up”: if they could be certain that German aggression would be directed eastward. “The enemy cherishes the hope,” Hitler declared at a military conference in Berlin on Aug. 22, 1939, “that Russia will become our enemy after the conquest of Poland.” Hitler considered France and Britain the weaker opponents, however, and at first planned to make war only on his Western front. To this day every document published in the West has confirmed that the Western governments of that time were responsible for the breakdown of negotiations for collective security in Europe. Under the circumstances the Soviet Union had to look after its own interests and security. In 1939 the nonaggression pact with Germany served that purpose.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 728

I would note in passing that, under the terms of an existing treaty, the Soviet Union and France were to assist Czechoslovakia jointly in case of an act of aggression against her. When in the fall of 1938 the threat became real, Moscow was ready to fulfill its commitment.
Mobilization orders were issued in the western part of the Soviet Union. France, on the other hand, did not live up to its part of the agreement and struck a deal in Munich without even consulting Moscow.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 22

[In 1936 Stalin said to Radek], “You know they’ll do all they can to forestall us by offering Hitler the neutrality of the West, to force him in our direction. We must put a stop to that.”
Alexandrov, Victor. The Tukhachevsky Affair. London: Macdonald, 1963, p. 28

With the temperature of the crisis soaring towards boiling point in September, 1938, Britain and France studiously avoided all the Soviet efforts to form a united front against Hitler.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 27

We must make it clearly understood that we shall continue the old historical process, that our dispute with Germany will be settled on the battlefields and that if somebody else–say Roosevelt–also resolves to fight Hitler, we shall be on his side in that hour when the fate of mankind is at stake.” Again he [Stalin] paused, and then added, “Please understand me! We must not act prematurely…. The danger is extremely great…. We cannot afford to receive the first blow… the most terrible blow of that war-machine–the biggest the world has ever seen…. If we did, we should be betrayed and finished…. All these Chamberlains, Halifaxes and the like wait only for that moment to let us down… to make us the prey of German imperialism…. They have less interest in us than in Togoland or the Cameroons…. They would rather give away the Ukraine than sacrifice any of their colonies…. We must be cautious….”
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 253

Europe in early 1939 was, in Stalin’s own words, a “poker game” with three players, in which each” hoped to persuade the other two to destroy one another and leave the third to take the winnings.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 302

The principle matter was settled: everyone, Stalin included, believed that Chamberlain was urging Hitler to embark on a crusade against the Russians, and that the Soviet government would have to take steps to divert the Germanic flood, and to direct it toward the valley of the Lower Danube, and then the Balkans and Asia minor,…
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 230

German Foreign Office documents captured by the Soviet troops after Germany’s defeat reveal the true purport of Great Britain’s and France’s policy at that period. They show that, essentially, British and French policy was not to unite the forces of the peace-loving states for a common struggle struggle against aggression, but to isolate the USSR and direct Hitler’s aggression toward the East, against the Soviet Union, using Hitler as a tool for their own ends.
Foreign Lang. Pub. House. Schuman, F. L. Intro. Falsifiers of History. Moscow, 1948, p. 16

Stalin chuckled, and said:
“The French Government headed by Daladier and the Chamberlain Government in Britain have no intention of getting seriously involved in the war with Hitler. They still hope to be able to persuade Hitler to start a war against the Soviet Union. They refused to form an anti-Hitler bloc with us in 1939, because they did not want to hamper Hitler in his aggression against the Soviet Union. But nothing will come of it. They will have to pay a high price for their short-sighted policy.”
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 206

While wishing to preserve peace as the decisive condition for building socialism in the USSR, Stalin saw that the governments of Britain and other Western countries were doing everything possible to prod Hitler into a war with the Soviet Union, that, being in a critical military situation and striving to save themselves from catastrophe, they were strongly interested in having the Germans attack the USSR. That was why Stalin distrusted the information he was getting from Western governments that Germany was about to attack the Soviet Union.
“Don’t you see?” Stalin would say. “They are trying to frighten us with the Germans and to frighten the Germans with us, setting us one against the other.”
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 267-268

Stalin stated, “In deciding to wage war against the Soviet Union, Hitler took into account the imperialist circles in Britain and the USA, who totally shared his thinking. And not without reason: they did everything they could to direct the military actions of the Wehrmacht against the Soviet Union.
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 2. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 282

SUMMARY OF BRITAIN AND FRANCE DRAGGING THEIR FEET IN SUMMER OF 1939

Voices in Britain and France demanded an alliance with the USSR to stop Hitler…. The USSR made several proposals for a triple alliance to guarantee both East and West Europe against the Nazis. Every suggestion was put on ice by the Chamberlain government and after delay, turned down. Chamberlain sought agreement rather with Hitler; on May 3, 1939, he startled the House of Commons by saying he was ready for a non-aggression pact with Germany. Two days later, he refused the proposal of the USSR for a military alliance.
Even Conservatives began to protest Chamberlain’s actions. Winston Churchill, on May 7th, in the House of Commons, demanded an alliance with the USSR. Under such pressure, the British and French ambassadors in Moscow were finally instructed, May 25th, to “discuss” an alliance. Ten vital weeks had been lost since the rape of Czechoslovakia. Three more weeks were wasted in waiting for a certain Mr. Strang to get to Moscow. This representative, sent by the British foreign office to “handle discussions,” proved, on arrival, to have no authority to sign anything…. The Soviets were clearly in haste; the British as clearly delayed. Suddenly, Moscow learned that the British Parliamentary Secretary of Overseas Trade had been discussing with a German official a loan of half a billion or a billion pounds.
To the Moscow leaders, it was clear that Britain either trifled or was trying to push war East….
Twice, Moscow signaled the British people that the discussions were getting nowhere. The first signal was the resignation on May 3rd, of Maxim Litvinov, Soviet Foreign Minister. For a decade he had symbolized to the world a program for peace through collective agreements against aggression. This program had failed, said Moscow through Litvinov’s resignation. It failed in Manchuria, in Abyssinia, in Spain, in China, in Austria, in Albania, in Czechoslovakia, in Memel–eight years of failure, because the government chiefs of the Western democracies appeased or encouraged the aggressors….
After six weeks, Moscow gave another signal. On July 29, Zhdanov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Supreme Soviet, declared in an article in Pravda that the talks with Britain and France were getting nowhere and that he did not think either Britain or France wanted an alliance or intended to check Hitler, but might be negotiating just to keep the Russians quiet while Hitler prepared to attack them.
At the end of July, when all Europe’s foreign offices knew that Hitler intended to seize the Polish corridor within a month, the Soviets made a last attempt. They suggested that Britain and France send military missions to Moscow to plan the mutual defense of East Europe on the spot. The missions waited ten days, then traveled by the slowest route; when they reached Moscow it was found they had no authority to agree to anything….
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 76

BENEFITS OF RUSSO-GERMAN NON-AGGRESSION PACT

The British and French, who had not scrupled to force the Czechs, by threats, to yield to Hitler, used no pressure to induce the Poles to accept the Soviet help.
So the Soviet Union made its decision. Hitler had offered a Non-Aggression Pact–he later admitted, in his declaration of war against the USSR, that the request came from him. The pact was signed between Germany and the USSR on August 23rd.
Hitler’s allies were angry. Mussolini and Franco openly disapproved. Terrible was the blow to Tokyo, for Japan was already fighting the USSR on the edge of Mongolia, and was reported to have told Hitler that she would be ready by August to join “the big push.”
In that tragic time, when Poland was breaking, a Soviet diplomat said to me: “But for our Non-Aggression Pact, we would now be under attack, from both Europe and Asia, by the Alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Britain and France would have held the Maginot Line and financed Hitler. America would have been Japan’s arsenal against us, as she has been against China. By our Non-Aggression Pact, we drove wedges between Hitler, Japan, and Hitler’s London backers. It was too late to stop the invasion of Poland; Chamberlain didn’t even try. But we have split the camp of world fascism and shall not have to fight the whole world.”
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 78

I believe that the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact of 1939 was historically inevitable, given the circumstances of the time, and that in the final analysis it was profitable for the Soviet Union. It was like a gambit in chess: if we hadn’t made that move, the war should have started earlier, much to our disadvantage. As it was, we were given a respite. I think the vast majority of the Party considered the signing of the treaty tactically wise on our part, even though nobody could say so publicly….
All the while the English and French and the whole bourgeois press were trying to sic Hitler on the Soviet Union, trumpeting, ” Russia is nothing but a colossus with feet of clay!”
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 129

The same Edward H. Carr, noting that the Chamberlain government “as a defender of capitalism” turned down an alliance with the USSR against Germany, made the following estimation of the gains made by the Soviet Union as a result of signing the Non-aggression treaty with Germany:
“In the pact of August 23rd, 1939, they [the Soviet government] secured: (a) a breathing space of immunity from attack; (b) German assistance in mitigating Japanese pressure in the Far East; (c) German agreement to the establishment of an advanced bastion beyond the existing Soviet frontiers in Eastern Europe; it was significant that this bastion was, and could only be, a line of defense against potential German attack, the eventual prospect of which was never far absent from Soviet reckonings. But what most of all was achieved by the pact was the assurance that, if the USSR had eventually to fight Hitler, the Western powers would already be involved.” (Carr, From Munich to Moscow: II, in Soviet Studies, Vol. I, October 1949, page 103).
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 570

On the hand, the signing of a nonaggression pact could avert war between Germany and the Soviet Union, at least for some time. Stalin did not rule out the idea that eventually he would have to confront Hitler. However, he wanted to put off the conflict for as long as he could. A pact appeared to offer a prospect of that.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 29

Russia was to supply Germany with grain and raw materials and to receive German machines and machine tools. One of the first things Stalin did, after the conclusion of the pact, was to dispatch his military missions to Germany. With what avidity those missions tried, in the first flush of friendship, to ferret out the German war industries can be seen from the complaints about their ‘excessive curiosity’, which Goering, Keitel, and Rader were already lodging at the beginning of October 1939. A little later Nazi economic leaders complained that the Russians wanted too many machine tools for the production of artillery and too much other war material.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 443

Four days later, on May 11, 1939, the first attack came. The crack Japanese army that had invaded Manchuria struck into the Soviet Union. The Soviet-Japanese war of 1939 is conveniently omitted from our history books, but this war, together with the Anglo-French collaboration with the Nazis and fascists in the West, form the context for another of Stalin’s great “crimes,” the Soviet-German nonaggression pact of August 1939. Stalin recognized that the main aim of the Axis was to destroy the Soviet Union, and that the other capitalist nations were conniving with this scheme. He also knew that sooner or later the main Axis attack would come on the USSR’s western front. Meanwhile, Soviet forces were being diverted to the east, to fend off the Japanese invaders. The nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany, which horrified and disillusioned Communist sympathizers, particularly intellectuals, in the capitalist nations, was actually one of the most brilliant strategic moves of Stalin’s life, and perhaps of diplomatic history. From the Soviet point of view it accomplished five things: (1) it brought needed time to prepare for the Nazi attack, which was thus delayed for two years; (2) it allowed the Red Army to concentrate on smashing the Japanese invasion, without having to fight on two fronts; they decisively defeated the Japanese within three months; (3) it allowed the Soviet Union to retake the sections of White Russia and the Ukraine that had been invaded by Poland during the Russian Civil War and were presently occupied by the Polish military dictatorship; this meant that the forthcoming Nazi invasion would have to pass through a much larger area defended by the Red Army; (4) it also allowed Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which also had been part of Russia before the Civil War, to become part of the USSR as Soviet republics; this meant that the forthcoming Nazi attack could not immediately outflank Leningrad; (5) most important of all, it destroyed the Anglo-French strategy of encouraging a war between the Axis powers and the Soviet Union while they enjoyed neutrality; World War II was to begin as a war between the Axis powers and the other capitalist nations, and the Soviet Union, if forced into it, was not going to have to fight alone against the combined fascist powers. The worldwide defeat of the fascist Axis was in part a product of Stalin’s diplomatic strategy, as well as his later military strategy.
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 25

At Munich the British and French had given Germany parts of Czechoslovakia “as a price for undertaking to launch war on the Soviet Union, which the Germans now refused to honor.”
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 604

No counterfeiters can expunge from history or from the minds of the people’s the overriding factor that under the circumstances the Soviet Union was faced with the alternative:
Either, in its self-defense, to accept Germany’s proposal for a pact of non-aggression, and thereby insure the Soviet Union prolongation of peace for a certain period, which might be utilized to better prepare the forces of the Soviet State for resistance to eventual aggression;
Or to reject Germany’s proposal for a non-aggression pact, and thereby allow the provocateurs of war in the camp of the Western Powers to embroil the Soviet Union immediately in an armed conflict with Germany, at a time when the situation was utterly unfavorable to the Soviet Union, seeing that it would be completely isolated.
Under these circumstances, the Soviet Government was compelled to make its choice and conclude a non-aggression pact with Germany.
The slanderous claptrap that all the same the USSR should not have agreed to conclude a pact with the Germans can only be regarded as ridiculous. Why was it right for Poland, who had Britain and France as allies, to conclude non-aggression pact with the Germans in 1934, and not right for the Soviet Union, which was in a less favorable situation, to conclude a similar pact in 1939? Why was it right for Britain and France, who were the dominant force in Europe, to issue joint a declaration of non-aggression with the Germans in 1938, and not right for the Soviet Union, isolated as it was because of the hostile policy of Britain and France, to conclude a pact with the Germans?
Is it not a fact that of all the non-aggressive Great Powers in Europe, the Soviet Union was the last to agree to a pact with the Germans?
Foreign Lang. Pub. House. Schuman, F. L. Intro. Falsifiers of History. Moscow, 1948, p. 39-40

SU HAD HINDERED NAZIS PRIOR TO BEING INVADED

Hitler saw that the USSR, as a neutral, was the immediate barrier in his path to world rule. In the 22 months of the Non-Aggression Pact, the USSR had three times blocked the Nazi advance. The Soviet march into Poland had checked for a year Hitler’s advance to the East; the Soviet return to Bessarabia had pulled him back from invading Britain; and Moscow’s power politics in the Balkans and Baltic had delayed him at the Dardanelles.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 90

SU WANTED PEACE SO BAD IT SIGNED A PACT WITH THE NAZIS

The USSR wanted peace above all things else and to get it, in his [The—–minister] opinion, would pay even the price of an agreement with Hitler. This is an extraordinary view in the face of the violent way in which Hitler and Stalin are calling each other all the vile names under the sun.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 82

…the Soviet government left no stone unturned to impart to the rest of Europe its own awareness of the Nazi peril. Its representatives ran hither and yon offering to all and sundry pacifist agreements, nonaggression pacts, and economic accords. They conducted negotiations not only with nations that might become victims of Nazi aggression, but with powers unfriendly to Russia, like Poland and Finland, and, on an economic basis, with Germany itself. In those days the Russians were like Cassandra, prophesying evil and striving desperately to avert it, but finding few to heed their warnings. Even the Comintern was pressed into the campaign for peace. It instructed foreign Communist Parties to make common cause wherever possible with Labor and liberal groups and to form a “United Front against the Nazi-Fascist danger.”
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 226

…As leader, he [Stalin] could say he was aiming the country towards catching up and overtaking the developed capitalist countries, but he needed time and he needed peace, peace at any price.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 384

For Stalin, the options had expired. Between Schulenburg’s visits to the Kremlin… Stalin finally took the decision to go with Hitler. It was, on the evidence available, the only way left for him to protect his country.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 220

DAVIES SAYS WEST’S POLICY MAY DRIVE SU TO PACT WITH NAZIS

In a January 18, 1939, letter to Harry Hopkins Ambassador Davies said, “The Chamberlain policy of throwing Italy, Poland, and Hungary into the arms of Hitler may be completed by so disgusting the Soviets that it will drive Russia into an economic agreement and an ideological truce with Hitler. That is not beyond the bounds of possibility or even probability….”
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 434

In a March 21, 1939, letter to Sen. Key Pittman, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States, Ambassador Davies stated, “From information that I get from most responsible sources and that I think is reliable, Hitler is making a desperate effort to alienate Stalin from France and Britain. Unless the British and French wake up, I am afraid he will succeed. If he does, he can turn his attention to Western Europe without any concern as to an attack from behind.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 439

STALIN GIVES UP TRYING TO SIGN PACTS WITH THE WEST

…Stalin’s speech to the Communist Party, delivered to the 18th Congress in March last (1939), definitely indicated a disposition toward withdrawal of Soviet activities so far as Europe was concerned, and a tendency to be extremely cautious “not to allow our country to be drawn into conflicts by warmongers who are accustomed to have others pull their chestnuts out of the fire for them”;…
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 444

[Report to the 18th Congress on March 10, 1939]
The tasks of the Party in the sphere of foreign policy are:
2. To be cautious and not allow our country to be drawn into conflicts by warmongers who are accustomed to having others pull the chestnuts out of the fire for them;
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 346

In a July 18, 1941, letter to Harry Hopkins Ambassador Davies said, “From my observation and contacts, since 1936, I believe that outside of the President of the United States alone no government in the world saw more clearly the menace of Hitler to peace and the necessity for collective security and alliances among nonaggressive nations than did the Soviet government. They were ready to fight for Czechoslovakia. They canceled their nonaggression pact with Poland in advance of Munich because they wished to clear the road for the passage of their troops through Poland to go to the aid of Czechoslovakia if necessary to fulfill their treaty obligations. Even after Munich and as late as the spring of 1939 the Soviet government agreed to join with Britain and France if Germany should attack Poland or Romania, but urged that an international conference of nonaggressor states should be held to determine objectively and realistically what each could do and then serve notice on Hitler of their combined resistance. They claimed that this was the only thing that would stop Hitler’s aggression against European peace. The suggestion was declined by Chamberlain by reason of the objection of Poland and Romania to the inclusion of Russia; and the disastrous unilateral agreements were then promoted and entered into by Britain.
During all the spring of 1939 the Soviets, fearful that they were being used as the “cat’s paw” to “pull the chestnuts out of the fire” and would be left to fight Hitler alone, tried to bring about a definite agreement that would assume unity of action and co-ordination of military plans to stop Hitler.
Even as late as August 1939 the commissions of France and Germany were in Moscow for that purpose. Britain, however, refused to give the same guarantees of protection to Russia with reference to the Baltic states which Russia was giving to France and Britain in the event of aggression against Belgium or Holland. The Soviets became convinced, and with considerable reason, that no affective, direct and practical, general arrangement could be made with France and Britain. They were driven to a pact of nonaggression with Hitler.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 495

In his diary dated October 28, 1941, Ambassador Davies recorded the following answer to the question: Will Stalin make a separate peace with Hitler? “The last question indicated to me how utterly people of this country misjudge the Russian situation. The real question which is vital now is, “Will WE force Stalin to make peace with Hitler again?” We, or rather the European democracies, forced Stalin into Hitler’s arms in August of 1939. We–that is to say, England and America–could force Stalin into Hitler’s arms again if Stalin were to believe that we were ready to let him down, use the Soviet army merely as a cat’s paw and double-cross him in the way that Chamberlain and Daladier did before and after Munich and up to the eve of Armageddon.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 509

The English and French representatives who came to Moscow to talk with Voroshilov didn’t really want to join forces with us against Hitler at all. Our discussions with them were fruitless. We knew that they weren’t serious about an alliance with us and that their real goal was to incite Hitler against us. We were just as glad to see them leave.
That’s how the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, as it was called in the West, came into being. We knew perfectly well that Hitler was trying to trick us with the treaty. I heard with my own ears how Stalin said, “Of course it’s all a game to see who can fool whom. I know what Hitler’s up too. He thinks he’s outsmarted me, but actually it’s I who have tricked him!” Stalin told Voroshilov, Beria, myself, and some other members of the Politburo that because of this treaty the war would pass us by for a while longer. We would be able to stay neutral and save our strength.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 128

Stalin, however, was aware–as were all Marxists at the time–that the British and French ruling classes were split on the issue. Hence the Soviet government offered to honor their treaty with France to come to the aid of Czechoslovakia. This the French government, with Chamberlain’s backing, turned down. The Soviet government then (April 1939) offered Britain and France a mutual assistance pact. This, too, was rejected. When it became clear that the right-wing, fanatically anti-Soviet sections of the British and French bourgeoisie were in political control, then, and only then, the Soviet government signed a nonaggression pact with Germany (August 1939). This pact gave the USSR a breathing space of almost two years to build up its armed forces for what it saw as an inevitable attack. At the time the pact was stigmatized by some as an alliance. If it had been, Britain would have been conquered and the United States put under siege. Churchill at the time considered the Soviet action as “realistic in a high degree.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 110

It is certain that the Soviet-German nonaggression pact delayed the Soviet Union’s entry into the war by two years.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 731

Stalin’s speech of March 10, 1939, delivered to the Eighteenth Congress of the communist party, was, however, a clear indication of his dissatisfaction with the democracies, and his impending withdrawal from their front. He pointed out that war–“the second imperialist war”–had been going on since the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931. He pointed out that the non-aggressor democracies were beyond doubt stronger than the aggressor states, but that nevertheless the democracies continued to give way to them. They surrendered Spain, Czechoslovakia, parts of China. Why? One reason he adduced was fear of revolution. Another was that the democracies, no longer interested in collective security, found that non-intervention, a policy of isolation and neutrality, served their best interests. Stalin indicated quite clearly that he could play this same game. Britain, he implied, played Germany off against Russia. Very well. Why should not Russia, in turn, play Germany off against Britain?
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 574

SU DID NOT LIKE THE APPEASEMENTS

Then followed a series of developments which aggravated the relationships between the Soviet government and the Western democracies.
The Soviets were “humiliated” and “deeply hurt” by being excluded from Munich.
Out of “appeasement” there grew still greater distrust, so far as the Soviet government was concerned, in either the capacity, the intention, or even the “pledged word” of the Chamberlain government or the Daladier government.
The Soviet proposals for a “realistic alliance” to stop Hitler were rejected, be the Chamberlain government….
During the Soviet-British-French negotiations, including the sessions of the Strang mission and Military Missions to Moscow, this distrust was intensified by the fact that these authorities were not clothed with power to close a final, definite realistic alliance.
The suspicion continued to grow that Britain and France were playing a diplomatic game to place the Soviets in the position where Russia would have to fight Germany alone.
Then there came the Hudson proposals for economic rehabilitation of Germany which again smacked of “appeasement” from the point of view of the Soviets. This was followed by the adjournment of Parliament by the Chamberlain government, without the conclusion of any definite agreement with Russia and the discovery by the Soviet leaders that a British Economic Mission had been sent to Denmark, allegedly with Chamberlain’s blessing, to study economic appeasement, along the line of policy which has been initiated by Hudson.
Added to this France and England had persisted in a refusal to enter into an unequivocal agreement to support Russia in the protection of Russia’s vital interest, in preventing the absorption through internal aggression of the Baltic states, whereas Russia had offered unequivocal support to Britain and France to come to their aid if their vital interests were affected by a German attack upon Belgium or Holland, regardless of the character of the aggression.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 455

STALIN AIDED SMALL NATIONS AGAINST FASCIST AGGRESSION

The Soviet Union, from the beginning, never faltered in getting aid and assistance to China.
Throughout their participation in the League of Nations, the Soviet government led the fight for the protection of little nations vigorously and boldly. This was the fact in the case of Ethiopia and Spain.
No government saw more clearly or stated with greater accuracy what Hitler was doing and would do and what ought to be done to preserve peace and prevent the projection of a war by Hitler than did the Soviets. That is a fact regardless of whether their motive was ideological or whether it was for the safety of their own people.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 496

Those who have criticized the USSR for failing to intervene “arms in hand” to advance or save a revolution abroad have either urged the impossible or advocated an adventurism which would injure not only the USSR but the world proletariat. At the same time, when the USSR has been able to intervene directly the same critics condemn the action as unwarranted interference and suppression of “rights.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 91

LONDON POLES ARE HINDERING THE ANTI-NAZI WAR

At the end of the dinner, I asked how America could help Poland. Their [the London Poles] reply was, “If America really wants to help Poland, don’t have a second front in France.” I was appalled. Their attitude was so twisted that they were perfectly willing to prolong the war, endanger the chances of victory, and bring death to countless additional American boys, not to mention continued slavery and death for Nazi occupied Poland.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 99

The Home Army’s policy was thus the military reflection of the London Polish Government’s political strategy, which continued to the last to refuse to recognize one basic and inescapable fact about the nation’s destiny. It was simply that Poland could be restored to greatness only as a result of Red Army victory and heavy sacrifice of Russian blood.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 56

Before the Polish government could move its seat from Lublin to Warsaw, the Hitlerites had to be driven back further. Our troops advanced all the way to the Vistula River, coming literally within a few steps of the German-occupied capital.
Suddenly an uprising broke out in the city [ Warsaw]. It’s leader was the General Bor-Komorowski. He was acting on instructions from Mikolajczyk, an outrageous anti-Soviet and anti-Communist who headed the Polish government-in-exile under Churchill’s wing in London.
Ever since the Soviet army began its advance into Poland, Bor-Komorowski had been under orders from London not to engage in actions against the Hitlerite occupiers and not to aid the Soviet liberators in any way. It seems Mikolajczyk’s anti-Communist government-in-exile wanted to save its armed forces in Poland for the coming struggle against the Soviet army.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 187

SU SLOWLY MOVED FROM BEING NEUTRAL TO SUPPORTING COMMUNISTS IN CHINA

In 1945 a significant strain became apparent in Sino-Soviet relations, and the Crimean conference did nothing to alleviate it, as many had hoped it might. In general the Soviet attitude had shifted from one of formal “neutrality” in the internal quarrel between the Kungchantang, or Communist Party, and the Kuomintang, the nationalist party of the Generalissimo, to one of openly expressed repugnance for the “ruling circles” of the Kuomintang’s government at Chungking, and nearly all it represented.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 121

…Today (1945) Moscow views the Kuomintang regime with only slightly more confidence than it ever placed in the Polish Government-in-exile.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 122

CHINESE COMMUNISTS ARE REAL MARXISTS

Thus, it is misleading to contend that Chinese Communists are not Marxists, or that they do not hope, ultimately, to build up a classless, socialist state in China, or that they are not very close to the Soviet Union in their sympathies. People who try to persuade Americans to accept them on the ground that they are not “real Communists”–in the foregoing sense–are either misinformed or deliberately dishonest.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 136

The Chinese further deepened the rift because they are semi-Marxists rather than true Marxists.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 386

MOLOTOV SAYS TAKING PART OF POLAND WAS NECESSARY TO KEEP NAZIS AWAY

MOLOTOV: We negotiated with the British and French before talking to the Germans. If the West had permitted our troops in Czechoslovakia and Poland, then of course we would have fared better. They refused, thus we had to take at least partial measures; we had to keep German troops at a distance.
If we hadn’t moved toward the Germans in 1939, they would have invaded all Poland right up to our old border.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 9

MOLOTOV SAYS HITLER MET HIM TO GET THE SU TO ATTACK ENGLAND

CHUEV: Was there any point for the Germans to meet with you in 1940?
MOLOTOV: They wanted to fool us and draw us into a war with England on the side of Germany. Hitler wished to see whether he could involve us in the adventure.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 19

STALIN WANTS SAFE, SENSIBLE BORDER WITH POLAND

But we, Stalin and I, insisted on having at our border an independent but not hostile Poland. At the negotiations and even before, disputes raged over borders–the Curzon Line, the Ribbentrop-Molotov Line. Stalin said, “Call it what you please, but our border will be here!” Churchill objected, “But Lvov was never a Russian city!” “But Warsaw was,” Stalin calmly replied.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 53

We cannot lose Poland. If this line is crossed they will grab us too.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 54

“Churchill wants the Soviet Union to border with a bourgeois Poland, alien to us, while we cannot allow this to happen,” Stalin said. “We want to have, once and for all, a friendly Poland as our neighbor, and that’s what the Polish people want too.”
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 583

Now, Stalin had already insisted that the future government of Poland, which would be subject to the Soviet government, should accept as the eastern frontier the Curzon line, leaving the territories which were ethnically Ukrainian and White Russian to the USSR. The Poles installed in London would not agree to this, and finally created a situation which threatened the normal relations between Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 366

Before a further meeting with the President of the USA Stalin accordingly tried to enlarge the future Government of Lublin by accepting representatives of the London Government and of the Polish resistance groups, on condition that all should solemnly recognize the Curzon line. In exchange, he promised Poland the territories to the West which she had lost during the centuries of German pressure. This compensation was economically greater than the value of the territories lost in the east. He was evidently seeking to make the new Poland, by gifts bestowed at the expense of the Reich, a friendly country…. The London Poles proclaimed that those who accepted the Curzon line were ” traitors to their country.”
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 367

STALIN AND MOLOTOV KEPT CLOSE CHECKS ON ALL DIPLOMATS

…But we had honest, prudent, competent, and well-read diplomats. I think it was hard to fool us because Stalin and I kept a tight hold on everything–we couldn’t do it any other way at the time.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 69

I don’t recall our ever being cheated by foreign diplomacy. Of course, in some cases we acted more skillfully, and others less. We were always careful and didn’t pull any big blunders, to my mind. But there were small mistakes, of course.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 70

But it seems that diplomats need special training. They’re not just party workers.
I personally was never specially trained. My experience was party work and party polemics….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 76

STALIN DEFINITELY WANTED TO AVOID A TWO FRONT WAR

The strategic goal of the Soviet leadership was to avert war on two fronts, in the Far East and in Europe, at any cost.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 96

ENGLAND AND FRANCE SENT LESSER FIGURES TO NEGOTIATE PRIOR TO THE WAR

The French and British delegations that arrived in Moscow in August 1939 to probe the possibility of an alliance against Hitler were headed by secondary figures. Stalin’s policy of appeasing Hitler thus was based on the reasonable belief that hostility against Soviet communism by the Western world and Japan would forever keep the USSR in isolation from the international community.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 97

What is certain is that, if the western governments had wanted to drive him [Stalin] into Hitler’s arms, they could not have set about doing so more effectively than they did. The Anglo-French military mission delayed its departure for 11 precious days. It wasted five days more en route, traveling by the slowest possible boat. When it arrived in Moscow its credentials and powers were not clear. The governments whose prime ministers had not considered it beneath their dignity to fly to Munich almost at Hitler’s nod, refused to send any official of ministerial standing to negotiate the alliance with Russia. The servicemen sent for military talks were of lesser standing than those sent, for instance, to Poland and Turkey. If Stalin intended an alliance, the way he was treated might almost have been calculated to make him abandon his intention.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 434

THE MOLOTOV-RIBBENTROP SECRET PROTOCOLS WERE NOT SECRET

…When I look now at the Molotov-Ribbentrop secret protocols, I find nothing secret in them. The directives based on these agreements were definite and clear, and were known not only to the intelligence directorate but to the heads of military, diplomatic, economic, and border guards administrations. In fact, the famous map of the division of Poland, which was attached to the protocols in October 1939, was published a week later in Pravda, without Stalin’s and Ribbentrop’s signatures, for the whole world to see. By then, of course, Poland had fallen to Germany, and Britain and France had entered the war.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 98

STALIN AIDED THE CHINESE COMMUNISTS

Nevertheless, the seed of freedom was bearing fruit and the Chinese nation was ready to hear the Moscow Gospel. Stalin, like Lenin his master, a subtle opportunist, must have welcomed the chance of confuting by action in China the Trotskyist charge that he was betraying the cause of World Revolution. Actually, whether Stalin knew it or not, he was swimming with the tide of Russia’s eastward surge when in 1925 he sent military and political advisers, Army Commander Blucher, called Galen, and Borodin to Canton, where Sun Yat-sen’s brother-in-law, Chiang Kai-shek, had headed a new nationalist movement for Chinese unity and freedom from foreign control.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 143

In view of the Kuomintang treachery and the Communist Party defeat in the cities, it has been argued that the Communist International was wrong in its united front policy. Trotsky, for instance, lamented in 1928 that Stalin’s “monstrous” policy had “broken the spine of the young Communist Party of China.” Events, of course, showed otherwise. The Party not only survived but the united front policy had given the very small Communist Party access to the workers and peasants under the massive Kuomintang Party’s control. Mao, for instance, was able to organize the peasants in these years on the scale that he did, not because of his Communist Party membership, but because he was deputy head and actual leader of the Kuomintang’s Peasant Movement Training Institute. (At the same time Chou En-lai was deputy head of the political section of the Kuomintang’s Military Academy, and other Communist leaders simultaneously occupied leading positions in the Kuomintang.) Largely because of these connections, the Communist Party grew from a small sect to a party of 57,000 within six years. If it had not grown thus, it could not have survived the attack upon it–which, given the existing class forces, would have come anyway, alliance or no alliance–and lived to lead movements that soon resulted in a mass revolutionary base including rural Soviets.
The policy of collaboration between the Communist Party and the Kuomintang was not initiated by Stalin but by Lenin. Stalin apparently did not come actively on the China scene until 1925, and when he did he followed the already established policy, with which he agreed. Even after Chiang’s attack on the Communist Party, Stalin for a time hoped that the Party could continue an alliance with the left wing of the Kuomintang led by Sun Yat-sen’s widow, Ching-ling Soong, among others. However, the left wing folded under pressure and the right became dominant. When this happened, Stalin (like Mao) placed the emphasis on the peasantry–with a mass revolutionary perspective–rather than on a new alliance with bourgeois or petty bourgeois leaders:..
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 95

It was only when it became clear that Chiang was uniting with U.S. imperialism for a concerted drive against the communists that the Chinese Communist Party decided that a revolutionary war presented the only way out. Stalin did not oppose this view because he was opposed to the Chinese revolution as such. That he was not is shown by his release of large amounts of captured Japanese arms and equipment to the Chinese communists in 1945, following the Soviet invasion of Manchuria. He opposed Mao’s view presumably because he did not believe that the Chinese communists would win a civil war in which Chiang had superior armaments and numbers…. However, the conversation with Djilas also shows that Stalin did not conceive of himself as giving “orders” to the Chinese communists but only advice, and that Stalin was not only pleased but rather amused that they had shown him to be wrong. Later Stalin welcomed Mao in Moscow.
…Mao, then, did not argue that Stalin had tried to hold back the Chinese revolution at any stage as part of a policy of placing Soviet nationalist interests above international revolutionary ones, as his enemies were contending. He said only that Stalin made mistakes, “without realizing that they were errors,” the implication being, perhaps, that he had too narrow a revolutionary vision. Mao felt that Stalin had supported the Chinese revolution unselfishly, and, as he noted in 1950, Stalin rejoiced in its triumph. Stalin also introduced the policy of economic and technical aid to China that was later reversed by Khrushchev. We should note, too, that, as events were to show, Stalin was right in his feeling that insufficient emphasis was being given to the Chinese working-class.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 98

After the war, Stalin gave a great deal of assistance to the Chinese revolution. Arms and equipment of all kinds were delivered to the People’s Liberation Army, and by the second half of 1947 the winds of victory were filling its sails and Chiang was forced to flee with his remnant to Taiwan. Given persistent U.S. hostility, Mao was bound to opt for friendship with the Soviet Union, and after the Chinese revolution relations developed rapidly in numerous spheres, culminating in Mao’s invitation to Moscow to join in the celebration of Stalin’s 70th birthday.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 539

… Stalin very early outlined the basic theory of the Chinese revolution. Trotsky attacks this theory, which he sneers at as “guerrilla adventure,” because it is not based on the cities as the revolutionary centers, because it relies on class allies of the proletariat, particularly the peasantry, and because it is primarily anti-feudal and anti-imperialist rather than focused primarily against Chinese capitalism. After 1927, when the first liberated base areas were established in the countryside, Trotsky claimed that this revolution could no longer be seen as proletarian but as a mere peasant rebellion, and soon he began to refer to its guiding theory as the Stalin-Mao line. To this day, Trotskyites around the world deride the Chinese revolution as a mere “Stalinist bureaucracy.” The Chinese themselves do acknowledge that at certain points Stalin gave some incorrect tactical advice, but they are quick to add that he always recognized and corrected these errors and was self-critical about them. They are very firm in their belief that they could not have made their revolution without his general theory, his over-all leadership of the world revolutionary movement, and the firm rear area and base of material support he provided. Thus the only really valid major criticism comes from anti-Communists, because without Stalin, at least according to the Chinese, the Communists would not have won.
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 21-22

Soviet experts and Soviet weapons helped Mao seize control of Northern and Central China.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 510

STALIN FOOLED THE JAPANESE WHO WERE PREPARING TO ATTACK

Stalin met the peril [of Japanese aggression in the early 1930’s] with guile and determination. He and his Soviet Russia have proved their merit since then, but Stalin was never so great as when he did what he now did… and never so vilified as for doing it. Russia’s position was desperate–must I say that again? Japan, as Russia believed and as was probably true, was on the verge of invasion, and the Red Army had not enough food reserves, irrespective of other supplies, to fight a war; but the Japanese didn’t know it, and Stalin’s bluff succeeded, at frightful cost to his country.
Although I had been the New York Times correspondent in Moscow for more than ten years, I don’t for a moment pretend that I knew what was going on. I did not know, for instance, that the grain reserve of the Red Army was greatly depleted, that much of it had been taken to feed the towns and construction camps and pay foreign obligations in 1930 and 1931. Like other foreigners, including the Japanese, I thought that the measures adopted by the Kremlin to hasten the grain collections in the spring of 1932 meant simply that Stalin had decided he could rush through the fight for rural Socialism and win it by quick ruthless action. That indeed was the note of the Moscow press, with the obbligato of triumph about the Five-Year Plan in Four, and the great Dnieper Dam, the biggest in the world, to be completed in the summer, two years ahead of time. The Bolshevik habit of secrecy and distrust, acquired in years of conspiracy and prosecution, of living devious lives under “alias” names, and watching always for police spies in their midst, served Stalin well at this time. There was a gasoline shortage in Moscow, even for diplomats and other privileged foreigners; the Five-Year Plan demanded it. Their facilities for travel were restricted; the railroads could hardly bear the strain of the Five-Year Plan. There came stories from the provinces that the peasants once more were dismayed and bewildered by collectivization methods; that was due to the Five-year Plan. But no word of the danger of war, no suggestion that the Army needed gas and grain to be able to fight a war, not to mention boots and clothing which vanished from Moscow’s stores. Foreign observers in Moscow were fooled, but so were the Japanese, and it was only many months later that I learned what had really happened in the spring of 1932.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 191

STALIN’S REACTION TO MUNICH SELL-OUT

Moscow’s reaction to Munich was one of wounded pride and savage anger, but hardly of dismay, despite the Kremlin’s certainty of what Munich presaged. It was as if the Bolsheviks were like a man who has dreaded for years a dire event and done his best to avert it, but finds his efforts vain, and says, almost with relief: “All right, now I know where I stand. If I have to fight, I’ll fight, and depend on myself alone.”
…The USSR was alone, but it would continue to strive for peace and refused to let itself be used as a cat’s-paw by anyone.
These last words were both cryptic and prophetic. Stalin meant them as a warning to France and Britain that he saw through their schemes of embroiling Nazi Germany with the USSR.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 242

That, in history’s perspective, was the real effect of Munich, that Stalin had a free hand.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 245

In March 1938 Hitler seized Austria. The crisis over the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia followed. The belligerence of the Nazi leaders and the threats of violence repeated by German propaganda unnerved the British and French prime minister’s. They held anxious consultations with Hitler, and both governments agreed to bring pressure to bear on Czechoslovakia to surrender the borderlands in the interests of peace.
Stalin was not readily unnerved. He responded at once with proposals that Britain, France, and Soviet Russia should present a united front against Germany and prepare with the Czechoslovak High Command a combined military plan. All three powers should invoke the League of Nations and prepare to enforce the provisions of the charter in the event of German aggression….
The Soviet government was not consulted or included in the Munich conference which, meeting on September 28-30, 1938, surrendered Czechoslovakia into the hands of Germany.
The Western powers failed completely to respond to the Soviet proposals for a grand alliance under the aegis of the League. Churchill observed: “The Soviet offer was in effect ignored. They were not brought into the scale against Hitler and were treated with an indifference –not to say disdain–which left a mark on Stalin’s mind. Events took their course as if Soviet Russia did not exist. For this we afterwards paid dearly.”
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 302

…Then the Munich agreement was signed and Stalin realized that the fear of the ‘Communist contagion’ was greater than the voice of reason. And he was right.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 348

Winston Churchill summed up the result of the attitude of Britain and France towards the Soviets during the Munich crisis pithily and succinctly: “The Soviet offer was in effect ignored,” he wrote. “They were not brought into the scale against Hitler, and were treated with an indifference – not to say disdain – which left a mark in Stalin’s mind. Events took their course as if Soviet Russia did not exist. For this we afterwards paid dearly.”
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 31

[In May 1940] Stalin laughed and said:
“The French government headed by Daladier and the Chamberlain Government in Britain have no intention of getting seriously involved in the war with Hitler. They still hope to be able to incite Hitler to a war against the Soviet Union. By refusing in 1939 to form with us an anti-Hitler bloc, they did not want to hamper Hitler in his aggression against the Soviet Union. Nothing will come of it. They will have to pay through the nose for their short-sighted policy.”
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 171

Then came intervention, the continuing threat of attack by all nations, halted by the Depression, only to be re-opened by Hitlerism. It was Stalin who steered the Soviet Union between Scylla and Charybdis; Western Europe and the US were willing to betray her to fascism, and then had to beg her aid in the Second World War. A lesser man than Stalin would have demanded vengeance for Munich, but he had the wisdom to ask only justice for his fatherland. This Roosevelt granted but Churchill held back. The British Empire proposed first to save itself in Africa and southern Europe, while Hitler smashed the Soviets.
Statement by W.E.B DuBois regarding COMRADE STALIN on March 16, 1953

STALIN’S POLICY TOWARD THE NAZIS PROVED CORRECT BECAUSE THEY STRUCK WESTWARD

Hitler’s book, “Mein Kampf,” and his subsequent speeches had made it clear enough that the Ukraine and the Caucasus were his ultimate objective, and the Russians had long been expecting his onslaught. On that account they had braved ill-repute in Western Europe and in the United States to partition Poland, to garrison the Baltic States, and drive the Finnish frontier further back from Leningrad. They had done what they could to prepare for the wrath to come; but now they went further still to avert, if possible, the danger. They signed a new agreement with Germany, increasing their deliveries of oil and grain, and waited, breathless.
The four weeks from March 12, 1940, when Russia signed peace with Finland, to April 9th, when Hitler struck at Denmark and Germany, must have caused in the Kremlin a state of tension only equaled by the dreadful days of 1932, when the Ukraine and North Caucasus were stripped of gasoline, food, and seed-grain to strengthen the Red Army against a Japanese drive towards Lake Baikal. Now again, it seemed to the Russians that the issue hung in the balance, as a decade earlier they had waited to see if Japan would move north or south. Hostile critics of the USSR have declared that this period, the early spring of 1940, marked the depths of Soviet ignominy. The Russians, these critics averred, made a disgraceful pact with Germany; they raped East Poland and the Baltic States and Southern Finland. They instructed the foreign Communist parties all over the world to protest against the Franco-British “imperialist” war; they increased their supplies of raw material to Germany, and grovelled at Hitler’s feet.
…On April 9th Hitler struck at Denmark and Norway, and Stalin knew that the obloquy he had incurred abroad mattered nothing in comparison with what he had gained by Germany’s move to the west instead of the east. What a relief that was, what a crown of success to his policy! What a final negative to Chamberlain’s hopes of winning immunity for Britain and France and embroiling Germany and Russia!
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 255

STALIN BORROWED MONEY FROM THE FASCISTS

In the spring of 1935, while Anthony Eden, Pierre Laval, and Edward Benes were visiting Moscow, Stalin scored what he considered his greatest triumph. The Reichsbank granted a long-term loan of 200 million gold marks to the Soviet government.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 28

SPANISH GOVT WOULD NOT RECOGNIZE THE SOVIET GOVT

The Spanish Republic, after five years of existence, still refused to recognize the Soviet government and had no diplomatic relations with Moscow.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 90

STALIN CONTENDED THE CP MUST WORK FIRST TO AID THE WORLD PROLETARIAT

The destruction of the USSR would indeed have been followed by devastating attacks on the workers, the unions and political parties, in the capitalist world. His [Stalin] position is in essence, then, that a Communist Party, whether in a socialist or capitalist country, must work first to advance the interests of the world proletariat and that a central concern in these interests is the preservation of its developing socialist section.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 92

Some Latin poet has said that a thing well begun is half done. As against this, one may assert, with no less justice, that a thing which is only half done is not done at all. A succession of great proletarian adventures through the ages has shown us that whenever and in so far as the proletariat does not take everything into its own hands, it takes nothing.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 36

… the failure to understand the elementary principle of internationalism which lays it down that the victory of socialism in a single country is not an end in itself, but is a means for developing and supporting the revolution in all countries.
This [failure to understand] is the path of nationalism and degeneration, the path to the complete liquidation of the international policy of the proletariat. For those who are attacked by this sickness look upon our country, not as part of the whole known as “the international revolutionary movement,” but as the beginning and the end of this movement; they think that the interests of all other countries should be sacrificed to the interests of our country.
Support the liberation movement in China? Why? Won’t that…be risky? Won’t it embroil us with other countries? Would not be better for us to create “spheres of influence” in China, acting in concert with other “advanced” powers, and snatch a bit of China for our own benefit? A useful step, and no risks to run…. Support the liberation movement in Germany? Is it worth the risk? Would it not be better to come to terms with the Entente concerning the Treaty of Versailles, and get something for ourselves by way of compensation? Keep up friendly relations with Persia, Turkey, Afghanistan? Is the game worth the candle? Would it to not be better to re-establish “spheres of influence” with one or the other of the Great Powers? And so on so forth.
Here we have a new type of nationalist “frame of mind,” one which tries to liquidate the foreign policy of the October Revolution, and which cultivates the elements of degeneration….
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 280

But overthrowing the power of the bourgeoisie and establishing the power of the proletariat in a single country does not yet guarantee the complete victory of socialism. After consolidating its power and leading the peasantry after it, the proletariat of the victorious country can and must build up socialist society. But does that mean that in this way the proletariat will secure a complete and final victory for socialism, i.e., does it mean that with the forces of a single country it can finally consolidate socialism and fully guarantee that country against intervention, which means against restoration? Certainly not. That requires victory for the revolution in at least several countries. It is therefore the essential task of the victorious revolution in one country to develop and support the revolution in others. So the revolution in a victorious country ought not to consider itself a self-contained unit, but as an auxiliary and a means of hastening the victory of the proletariat in other countries.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 282

[Molotov stated]: As for the world revolution–we never did forget our obligation to the world proletariat. But unlike the Trotskyists who kept shouting about world revolution–we made one. Made one, and created a worldwide socialist camp. We didn’t keep shouting about industrialization like the Trotskyists, but we did it. In just the same way, they talk about collectivization, but it was Stalin who brought the peasants into the kolkhoz.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 253

Stalin and his associates had a pragmatic interest in ending their international isolation; they looked for opportunities for revolutionary self-assertion….
There was in fact much congruence between policy at home and policy abroad: at the beginning of the 1930s it was extremely radical in both cases. Communist parties across Europe were encouraged to go on the political attack against their governments. Ultra-leftist campaigns were approved. The Comintern, which had tended towards caution in Germany after the failure of revolution to occur there and had eliminated leftist leaders who sympathized with Trotsky, started to campaign against those whom it accused of “rightism’.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 382-383

MOST OF THE POLISH PEOPLE SUPPORTED THE SOCIALIZATION OF POLAND

Thus, despite vacillation on the part of certain elements in the population, the majority–and especially the working class–in the end overwhelmingly decided to engage in the socialist reconstruction of the Polish state….
I didn’t hear a single report or even a single rumor about armed resistance among the Polish population. If trouble had broken out, I certainly would have known about it. Comrades Beirut and Gomulka would have informed Stalin about it in my presence. Even if they hadn’t informed him–even if they’d tried to keep secret and outbreak of some kind–we still would have found out.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 197-198

On September 17 1939, following the escape of the Polish government into Romania, the Red Army marched into the territory Poland stole in 1920. The Red Army was welcomed as liberators by the local population, who were only too happy to see the rule of the Polish gentry broken. Even the Polish soldiers themselves welcomed the Red Army, which met virtually no resistance. The territory that was stolen from Ukraine and Byelorussia was restored to them and became part of the USSR. The territory of Lithuania was restored to it, including its capital, Vilnius.
Mukhin, Y.I., Katyn Detective,1995

STALIN SAYS COMINTERN LEADERS ARE NOT DIRECTING THE WORLD’S COMMUNIST PARTIES

The assertion that the American Communists work under “orders from Moscow” is absolutely untrue. There are no Communists in the world who would agree to work “under orders” from outside against their own convictions and will and contrary to the requirements of the situation. Even if there were such Communists they would not be worth a cent. Communists are bold and courageous, they are fighting against a host of enemies. The value of a Communist, among other things, lies in that he is able to defend his convictions. Therefore, it is strange to speak of American Communists as not having their own convictions and being capable only of working according to “orders” from outside. The only part of the labor leaders’ assertion that has any truth in it at all is that the American Communists are affiliated to an international Communist organization and from time to time consult with the central body of this organization on one question or another. But what is there bad in this? Are the American labor leaders opposed to an international workers’ center? It is true they are not affiliated to Amsterdam; not because they are opposed to an international workers’ center as such, however, but because they regard Amsterdam as being too radical. Why may the capitalists organize internationally and the working class, or part of it, not have its international organization?

Is it not clear that Green and his friends in the American Federation of Labor slander the American Communists when they slavishly repeat the capitalist legends about “orders from Moscow”? Some people believe that the members of the Communist International in Moscow do nothing else but sit and write instructions to all countries. As there are more than 60 countries affiliated to the Comintern, one can imagine the position of the members of the Comintern who never sleep or eat, in fact do nothing but sit day and night and write instructions to all countries.

Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 326

At the turn of the decade [from the 20’s to the 30’s]Stalin’s mastery of the Comintern was still superficial. Almost anyone who spent those years in the Communist party can relate from experience the bewilderment and the reluctance with which cadres and rankers alike began to conform to the new orthodoxy consecrated in Moscow.

Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 28

WHY THE NAZIS AGREED TO TRADE WITH THE SU

At that time I had already asked myself this question: Why had the Germans agreed to supply us their most modern military systems when the Wehrmacht was already planning to attack the Soviet Union? There must have been a number of reasons for this. First of all, in line with his broad disinformation campaign, Hitler wanted to convince Stalin that he had totally rejected the goal of “eliminating Bolshevism,” which he had proclaimed in Mein Kampf, and that he had shifted Germany’s policy toward co-operation with the Soviet Union. Secondly, underestimating Soviet scientific and technological potential, Berlin’s strategic planners did not believe that the Soviet Union was capable of mass-producing sophisticated weapons systems even when supplied with blueprints, and that the many items sent to the USSR would in the end make little or no difference. In any case–so they must have reasoned–even if the USSR did manage to get some types of modern armaments into production, the Wehrmacht would have time enough to defeat the Soviet Union before it began turning out those weapons on a massive scale. Thirdly, due to the naval blockade imposed by Great Britain, Germany was desperately short of strategic role materials, and the Soviet negotiators, particularly the people’s commissar for foreign trade, Mikoyan, demanded the latest technology, including military hardware, in exchange for Soviet supplies. At that juncture Hitler could not afford any complications in his relations with the Soviet Union, and with the nonaggression pact and the Treaty on Friendship and the Border, he was not only able to avoid a possible war on two fronts but also to circumvent the British blockade.
Documents of the period indicate that the German High Command objected to the delivery of military supplies to the Soviet Union. Grossadmiral Rader was the most outspoken critic of Hitler’s decision to supply the USSR. But the Fuhrer ignored the protests of his commanders, considering the Soviet shipments too important to be interrupted. He thought he was justified in his position, particularly since the Soviet side scrupulously complied with its commitments.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 76

SU USED NAZIS TECHNOLOGY PLANS SOLD TO THEM TO IMPROVE THEIR EQUIPMENT

Nevertheless, Soviet experts were able to study the very weapons we were to confront in June 1941. They used that knowledge to design new types of weapons systems, and this helped them to develop tanks, artillery pieces, and aircraft that by the end of 1942 were superior to what the Germans were using.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 77

HITLER DECEIVED BY LETTING SOVIET AGENTS SEE SECRET NAZI FACILITIES

In early April 1940, Tevosyan, whom I was accompanying, visited a German submarine base in Kiel . I was surprised that the Germans seemed to have no secrets from the Soviet people’s commissar. He could see whatever he wanted to see. This game of openness was part of Hitler’s disinformation campaign, part of his efforts to convince Stalin that Germany had no intention of going to war with the Soviet Union in any foreseeable future. There is no question that Tevosyan’s report on his tour of the German military facilities, filed through the USSR Embassy in Berlin, had an influence on Stalin’s assessment of Hitler’s plans.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 101

POLES UNDERGOING DEKULAKIZATION WERE TREATED WELL BY RUSSIANS

We should take note of the good treatment, on the whole, that the Poles who arrived got from local residents. Having themselves gone through dekulakization and exile, the majority of Russians helped the newcomers adjust to their new environment. Mixed marriages between exiled Poles and local residents were convincing evidence of the lack of ethnic animosity.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 265

SU AND GERMANY WORKED TOGETHER ON MILITARY MATTERS IN THE 1920’S

The import of German industrial goods assisted Russia in her recovery in the ’20s. The Politburo authorized Trotsky and Tukhachevsky to enlist German military skill, the skill of unemployed officers and technicians, in the training of the Red Army. As a quid pro quo the Russians permitted German military technicians to continue on Russian soil experiments which they could not carry out in Germany under the Versailles Treaty. In these arrangements Stalin made no change. They continued by force of inertia for some time after Hitler had seized power.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 409

Broadly speaking, Russia’s task was to consist in promoting revolutionary anti-militarism abroad.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 411

…Tukhachevsky and other Soviet military leaders had played a leading role in implementing the agreements reached by the Soviet and German governments after they signed a Soviet-German peace treaty in the Italian town of Rapallo in 1922. An important aspect of these agreements was the establishment of co-operation between the high command of the Red Army and the leadership of the Reichswehr, the German armed forces, which were limited according to the Versailles Treaty to having no more than 100,000 troops. The German pilots, as well as artillery and tank specialists, were then able to enroll in military schools created in the Soviet Union to study the mastery of modern armaments which Germany was forbidden to own by the Versailles Treaty. Thus, Germany was given the chance to prepare new officer cadres, also banned by the Versailles Treaty, which the Soviet government refused to recognize from the moment it was signed. In turn, the Soviet officers and generals studied problems of strategy and tactics in the Academy of the German General Staff. Later on, the cooperation was also extended into the area of armaments. In exchange for permission to build German military plants on the territory of the USSR, the Reichswehr presented the Soviet side with military patents, and the Soviet Union ordered strategic materials and complex equipment from German industry.
The Soviet-German military ties were more beneficial to the Soviet Union than to Germany.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 416

In the period of Rapallo when Russia and Germany, both outlawed by the rest of Europe, were drawing closer together, it was natural that the General Staffs of the two countries should be instructed to confer together. On the advent of Hitler, with his menacing program, the Russian generals were told to stop and did not do so.
Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 203

NO EVIDENCE STALIN ENCOURAGED GERMAN COMMUNISTS TO SURRENDER TO NAZIS

[Footnote]: Some of Stalin’s Communist opponents (Wollenberg, Krivitsky, and others) claimed that Stalin had deliberately led the German Communists to surrender to nazism in order to save the policy of Rapallo. This version has, in our view, not been supported by convincing evidence.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 414

SU SHOWS IT IS READY TO STAND BEHIND ITS TREATY COMMITMENTS

In the middle of the crisis Stalin ordered Litvinov to tell the Czechs that Russia was ready to go to war in Czechoslovakia’s defense, provided the French, too, carried out their obligation. The Poles were warned that if they invaded Czechoslovakia they would be guilty of an act hostile to Russia. As France, committing a breach of faith, did not carry out her obligation, Russia had no need to keep to hers; but she committed no breach of faith. The Poles invaded Czechoslovakia and were told by Moscow that they had not, after all, been guilty of any act hostile to Russia…. If Stalin is to be judged by his conduct at the time, there’s nothing with which he can be reproached. To the last he demonstrated his readiness to fight, somewhat in the style of that brave soldier whom only an ill-timed cease-fire prevented from accomplishing a great feat of arms–only that this time the fire had not even been opened.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 427

STALIN PERMITS THE POLISH BOUNDARY TO BE SHIFTED EASTWARD TO INCLUDE POLES

He [Stalin] was surprised by the rapidity with which Polish armed resistance collapsed. When, on September 5, Ribbentrop began to press the Russians to march into their share of a Poland, Stalin was not yet ready to issue the marching orders. He was now given over to scruples and second thoughts. He would not openly lend a hand in defeating Poland, and he refused to budge before Poland’s collapse was complete beyond doubt. His second thoughts concerned the fixed demarcation line which left part of ethnical Poland on the Russian side. This he was in no mood now to annex, for that would be too flagrant a violation of the professed principles of Bolshevik policy. He now preferred to shift the demarcation line farther east, from the Vistula to the Bug, so that only lands with a predominantly Ukrainian and Byelorussian population should be left on the Russian side. The reunion of those lands with the Soviet Ukraine and Byelorussia could be politically justified. It would permit the Red Army to cross the frontier not as a conqueror of Poland but as the liberator of the Ukrainians and the Byelorussians, the ‘blood brethren’ as he now called them, having caught a germ of racialism from his Nazi partners.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 441

LEAGUE OF NATIONS EXPELS THE SU BUT NOT JAPAN OR GERMANY

…On Dec. 14, 1939, Russia was expelled from the League of Nations, which had always been so indulgent towards the Third Reich and Fascist Italy.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 443

He [Stalin at Yalta] reminded his guests of a rankling Russian grievance: in 1939, during the first Russo-Finnish war, the League of Nations pilloried Russia and expelled her from its midst –the same League that had never lifted a finger against Hitler and never done anything against any act of aggression…. No, Russia would not allow herself to be so treated in the future.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 525

Practically the whole of public opinion in the West was shocked by the Russian attack on Finland… [Yet] It was, indeed, extraordinary how they [the French and British governments] hastened to get the League of Nations to expel the Russian “aggressor,” even though neither Japan had been expelled for having invaded Manchuria, nor Mussolini’s Italy for her blatant aggression against Ethiopia.
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.,1971, p. 45

SU WARNS AGGRESSIVE POLAND NOT TO TAKE NORTHERN PART OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA

The Poles, however, were a very different case. They were already lining up with Germany to demand territory from the Czechs, and were moving their own troops up to the border with the northern Czech region of Teshen, or Cieszyn as they knew it, which was rich in iron and coal and which had a minority Polish population. Litvinov was quick to warn the Poles that if they attempted to take Teshen by force the Soviet Union would consider her non-aggression pact with Poland as being annulled, and would then be free to take appropriate action in support of the Czechs. Haughty as ever, the Poles chose to ignore the Soviet threat, and continued with their claims.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 28

When Germany marched into the Sudatenland in 1938, Poland followed suit, annexing parts of Czechoslovakia for itself.
Mukhin, Y.I., Katyn Detective,1995

And Poland’s leaders had shortsightedly swallowed Hitler’s bait and grabbed a chunk of dismembered Czechoslovakia.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 440

HEAVY GERMAN/SOVIET TRADE WAS CUT DOWN WHEN FASCISTS TOOK OVER

Trade is a natural barometer of relations between countries, and the figures for trade between the Soviet Union and Germany are particularly revealing. Throughout most of the 20s, Germany had been the Soviet Union’s chief ally, and trade between them had flourished. In 1928, Germany was taking almost 29 percent of total Soviet exports, including a far higher proportion of their manganese ore, timber, oil, flax, and furs. In the other direction, Germany was supplying a similar percentage of total Soviet imports, mainly in machinery, which was most important to Germany since there were at that time few other markets open. By the time Hitler came to power, Germany was supplying an amazing 46.5% of the Soviet Union’s total imports. But that was the high water mark, and as the Nazis increased their grip on Germany, so the tide of trade fell dramatically. Within two years, Germany’s share of Soviet imports had dropped to a mere nine percent, and even though new agreements were made things did not improve as the ’30s progressed. In spite of Germany’s almost unlimited need for the raw materials which the Soviet Union could supply, German imports during 1938 barely totaled 50 million Reichmarks, where a few years before they had been counted in hundreds of millions. And they were still dropping: for the first quarter of 1939 there would be only 6 million Reichmarks worth.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 47

SU FOLLOWED A CONSISTENT ANTI-NAZI LINE FROM THE START

The second half of March, 1939, passed in a confused frenzy as the various nations involved struggled to come to terms with the situation. Only the Soviet Union appeared to follow a consistent line from the start, when Stalin seized the opportunity offered by Chamberlain’s volte-face and replied to the British approach with what his ambassador in London, Maisky, described as phenomenal speed.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 65

STALIN GENTLY REPLACED LITVINOV WITH MOLOTOV

Two days later [after May day 1939] Litvinov’s fears proved correct. After another fruitless meeting with Sir William Seeds in the morning, he kept an appointment with Stalin in the late afternoon. Stalin told him, quite gently, that he was being replaced as Foreign Commissar by Molotov, the Chairman of the Council People’s commissar’s – in other words the Prime Minister – of the USSR.
“It’s all over,” Litvinov recorded in his diary that night. “I have been fired like a maid caught stealing… without so much as a day’s notice.”
In fact, Litvinov was let down remarkably gently. Stalin and Molotov told him the Politburo was not blaming him for anything, but felt it was time for a change. He would be found a new job worthy of his talents and experience – as indeed he was, being retained as an adviser to the Foreign Commissariat, where he also helped train a new generation of diplomats before being sent to Washington, as ambassador to the USA, in 1941. Some time earlier, Stalin had told him, “Whatever may happen, Papasha, I will not let you down.”… Stalin was good as his word.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 74

[In late January 1939] I had been called to the Secretariat of the Central Committee to be told that henceforth all instructions to Merekalov, Astakhov, and Babarin would be sent directly from the Secretary-General’s office…. It would appear they have already decided to remove me.
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 292

[March 11, 1939] He [Molotov] told me my villa had already been allotted to… I am to be offered another…farther from Moscow…an honorable banishment…. I am preparing for the move… I don’t know what arrangements to make for the children.
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 297

I visited my new villa…. It’s a good way out… A wooden house with a cock on the roof….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 299

AFTER SIGNING THE RUSSO-NAZI PACT STALIN DID NOT CARE IF WAR BROKE OUT IN WEST

All this suited Stalin’s purposes admirably, for everything could be achieved without any action on his part. Now that the pact had been signed, he no longer had any interest in preventing a war – indeed, in Marxist-Leninist terms a war between capitalists and fascists was something devoutly to be desired.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 299

SOVIET SOLDIERS TREAT POLISH PEOPLE FAR BETTER THAN NAZIS

When the Polish government had called on all Poles, civilians as well as those in the armed forces, women as well as men, to fight the German invaders with every means they could devise – women had been urged to destroy tanks by pouring petrol over them and setting them alight, for instance – Hitler’s seized the excuse to order total war. Every village, whether it contained military units or not, was seen as a legitimate target for attack. Everything that moved on the roads, refugee columns as well as soldiers, was mercilessly machine-gunned by fighter aircraft, or dive-bombed by the wailing Stukas.
In comparison, Soviet troops behaved impeccably during the first few days of the Soviet occupation. Everything they obtained from the local population was paid for on the spot. There was no looting, little brutality, and very little killing, except in odd spots of resistance. Some of the resistance, it must be said, came from Ukrainian nationalists who had until then been happily killing Poles and Germans as part of their struggle for a totally independent Ukraine.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 338

Some Polish units, especially those of the border guards, put up a spirited resistance to the Soviet advance, but eventually most realized the position was hopeless, and submitted with a grim resignation. In at least one instance, a Polish unit which found itself trapped in a wood with Germans on one side and Soviets on the other, took a vote on which way to go.. The result was an overwhelming majority in favor of surrendering to the Red Army, in the belief that they would stand a better chance of surviving in Soviet hands.
Their belief was generally justified, though it did not take into account the incredible hardships involved in survival for any prisoners in the Soviet system.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 339

STALIN DID NOT SEIZE UKRAINE & BYELORUSSIA UNTIL POLAND’S GOVT FELL

On Oct. 27, 1939, Vilna was handed over to the Lithuanians. By then, Soviet troops were already moving into their new garrisons in all three Baltic states, but there was no attempt to take over any of the countries. That was not Stalin’s way.
In Stalin’s book, any move made by the Soviet Union had to have the appearance and the excuse of strict legality – even if he had to write the laws specifically for that purpose. That was why he had refused to move into western Byelorussia or the western Ukraine until the Polish government had ceased to exist. That was why in both those territories “democratic elections” had been held with such unseemly haste: he would have preferred a long time to prepare the ground, giving the Byelorussians and Ukrainians time to appeal to the Soviet Union for help and thus justifying the occupation, but the speed of Hitler’s Blitzkrieg in Poland had prevented this. In the Baltic states, however, he could afford to take a little time.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 368

On several occasions messages from Berlin, forwarded by the Ambassador Schulenburg, invited the Soviet armies to enter the eastern portion of Poland, which was reserved to them by agreements duly signed. But on two occasions, at Stalin’s orders, Molotov evoked technical reasons for postponing the entry of the Red Army upon a neighboring territory.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 246

SU AND GERMANY HAD A LOT OF EXCHANGES IN THE 1920’S

[In the 1920s] excellent relations with Germany had developed in the realm of traditional diplomacy; at the same time, the German Communist Party gained support, while relations on the third level (economic) continued to develop and strengthen. Economic relations were not limited to trade; they also included the all-around technical aid that Germany accorded to the Soviet Union. More than 2,000 German engineers and technicians arrived in the Soviet Union after the signing of the Rapallo Treaty. They actively assisted in renewing Soviet industry. German-Soviet military co-operation was provided for in a secret clause of the Rapallo treaty.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 211

In mid-1929 the Soviet Union had technical agreements with 27 German firms and 15 American firms. By the end of 1929, 40 American firms were co-operating with the Soviet Union.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 212

BALTIC STATES ADVANCED UNDER THE SOVIETS AFTER WWII

During the first five years after the war, extensive industrialization of the Baltic countries was carried out, based on restructuring the old and creating a new power system. Three years after the end of the war industrial development had already surpassed prewar levels.
The volume of industrial production in Estonia, especially in the chemical and engineering industries, had grown by 1950 to over 3.4 times its prewar levels. Also by 1950 the number of blue-collar and white-collar workers in the Baltic countries had increased by 40 percent since 1940. In Latvia industrial production in 1950 was three times the prewar level; for the same period in Lithuania it was twice the prewar level.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 470

The Baltic republics have the highest living standards in the entire country, and are among the most industrialized and most rapidly industrializing, while their health care and educational institutions are inferior to none within the Union….
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 296

SPANISH CP AND SOVIET GOVT WANT A BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY NOT THE DIC OF THE PROL.

The Spanish Communist Party, as paradoxical as this might seem at first glance, held a position similar to the liberals and did everything possible to prevent the further development of the revolution. It’s leaders stated that they must strive not for the social revolution and the seizure of power by the workers, but for the defense of bourgeois democracy. Given conditions in which “the country was in a transitional state that was capable either of developing in the direction of Socialism or of reverting to an ordinary capitalist republic,” they stubbornly defended a nonrevolutionary course. Such a line was dictated by Moscow, under whose orders the Communist press propagated the following slogans: “At present nothing matters except winning the war; without victory in the war all else is meaningless. Therefore this is not the moment to talk of pressing forward with the revolution…. At this stage we are not fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat, we are fighting for parliamentary democracy. Whoever tries to turn the civil war into a socialist revolution is playing into the hands of the fascists and is in effect, if not in intention, a traitor.”
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 350

In Trotsky’s opinion, victory in the war with Franco could be guaranteed only by the growing over of the Spanish Revolution from the bourgeois-democratic into the socialist revolution.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 353

Yet, at the same time, the the Comintern declared that the Spanish revolution, in view of the country’s backwardness, must keep within “bourgeois democratic” limits, and that “proletarian dictatorship was not on the order of the day.” It is easy to recognize there the Stalinist canon developed as antithesis to Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution and applied in China in 1925-27. This Canon was to underlie Stalinist policy in Spain through all its phases. At a later stage, in 1936-38, it was invoked to justify the communist coalition with bourgeois republican parties in the Popular Front, the “moderate” policy of the Communist party and its repressive action against P.O.U.M., the Trotskyists, and the radical Anarcho-Syndicalists….
Trotsky asserted that the Spanish revolution would have to pass, as the Russian Revolution had done, from the bourgeois into the socialist phase, if it was not to be defeated.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 160

In December 1936 he [Stalin], along with Molotov and Voroshilov, warned the new Spanish Prime Minister, the left-wing Socialist Caballero, to avoid any radical social policies and thus win the middle-class to his side. He should spare no effort, the letter went on, “to prevent the enemies of Spain from presenting it as a Communist republic.”
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 426

Gopner translated. As she tells it, the highlights of Stalin’s discussion on 20 March 1937 on the nature of the revolution in Spain were as follows:
a) The people and the world must be told the truth–the Spanish people are in no condition now to bring about a proletarian revolution–the internal and especially the international situation do not favor it. (Things were different in Russia in 1917 –[geographic] expanses, wartime, squabbles among the capitalist countries, in the bourgeoisie, and so forth.) In Spain, the proclamation of the Soviets– to unite all capitalist states and defeat fascism.
b) On the global scale, Spain is now the vanguard. The vanguard is always inclined to run ahead of events–and herein lies a great danger. Victory in Spain will loosen fascism’s hold in Italy and Germany.
c) Communist and Socialist parties must join forces–they now share the same basic aims–(a democratic republic). Such a union will strengthen the Popular Front and have a great effect on the anarchists.
d) Caballero has demonstrated his resolute character and his will to fight against fascism. Caballero must be preserved as head of the government. It would be better to leave commanding to someone else.
e) The General staff is unreliable. There has always been betrayal on the eve of an offensive by Republican units. The Republican army wins its offensives, when the general staff has no knowledge of them! The battle on the Guadalajara front makes that perfectly clear!
f) Madrid must under no circumstances be surrendered. The fall of Madrid would be followed by recognition of Franco by England, would cause complete demoralization among the Republicans, and would lead to a final defeat.
Dimitrov, Georgi, The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933-1949. Ed. Ivo Banac. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 60

BESEIGED CZECHS LIMITED FREEDOM IN THE SUDENLAND SO THE SU SHOULD LIMIT AS WELL

(Sinclair’s comments only)
I believe that the people of Czechoslovakia are sincere democrats, and that their government is honestly committed to the principal of government by popular consent; but as I write these words, the Czech armies are mobilized on the borders of Germany and Austria, expecting attack, and I am sure that democracy is greatly limited in the Sudeten districts, and that a secret police is active. I do not think it reasonable to expect more in Russia under the same conditions.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York : Rand School Press, 1938, p. 59

TROTSKY WRONGLY BLAMES STALIN & ZINOVIEV FOR THE FAILED 1923 GERMAN REVOLUTION

But the 1923 German revolution failed. From October it was clear that we were too late and had poorly calculated the timing and that the revolutionary wave had reached its apogee and commenced to recede, although the work of organization and propaganda foresaw at least two or three months more. Soon, the revolutionary wave commenced to recede so rapidly that the Politburo had to face the fact that there was virtually no chance for a coup d’etat and that it must be set forward to a more favorable time. Trotsky delivered a plethora of criticisms after the fact, pointed at Zinoviev and the Comintern for having waited so long and missing the boat. Zinoviev and Stalin, on the other hand, got out of it by accusing Trotsky of overestimating the acuteness of the German revolutionary situation, and, in the final analysis, it was they who were right.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 49

RUSSO-GERMAN PACT IS JUSTIFIED BECAUSE OF THE MUNICH SELL-OUT

The Nazi-Soviet pact, concluded in August 1939, can, on this account, be regarded as the logical conclusion of the Munich crisis.
Overy, R. J. Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 62

This pact [the 1939 Russo-German pact] aroused the highest “moral indignation” in the West; it was a “stab in the back,” a Russian betrayal of “collective security” etc. etc.–all these indignant people conveniently forgetting that Munich was their stab in the back to Russia and just as blatant a betrayal of “collective security” as Munich had been. Moreover, at Munich France had cynically betrayed Czechoslovakia, a country with which she had a firm military alliance. By signing their pact with Nazi Germany, the Russians did not at that time “betray” or throw to the wolves any country.
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.,1971, p. 44

COMINTERN DEMANDS NO UNITING WITH THE SOCIAL-FASCISTS

In accordance with this “general line,” the Comintern also changed its attitude towards the Social Democratic parties. In a truly revolutionary situation, it was said, those parties could only side with counter-revolution; and so no ground was left for communists to seek cooperation or partial agreements with them. As the bourgeoisie was striving to save its rule with the help of fascism, as the era of parliamentary government and democratic liberties was coming to a close, and as parliamentary democracy itself was being transformed “from the inside” into fascism, the Social Democratic parties too were becoming “social-fascist”–” socialist in words and fascist in deeds.” Because they concealed their “true nature” under the paraphernalia of democracy and socialism, the Social Democrats were an even greater menace than plain fascism. It was therefore on “social fascism” as “the main enemy” that communists ought to concentrate their fire. Similarly, the left Social Democrats, often speaking a language almost indistinguishable from that of communism, were even more dangerous than the right wing “social-fascists” and should be combated even more vigorously. If, hitherto, communists were required to form united fronts with the Social Democrats from “above and below,” with leaders and rank-and-file alike, the Comintern now declared a rigorous ban on any such tactics. “Only from below” could the united front still be practiced– communists were permitted to co-operate only with those of the Social Democratic rank and file who were “ready to break with their own leaders.” To favor any contact “from above” was to aid and abet “social-fascism.”
These notions and prescriptions were to govern the policies of all Communist parties for the next five or six years, almost up to the time of the Popular Front, throughout the fateful years of the Great Slump, the rise of Nazism, the collapse of the monarchy in Spain, and other events in which the conduct of the Communist parties was of crucial importance.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 39-40

TROTSKY CONTENDED STALIN’S INVASION OF FINLAND WAS JUSTIFIED

All the issues under debate were brought to a head before the end of the year 1939, when Stalin ordered his armies to attack Finland. Trotsky in his commentaries castigated Stalin’s “stupid and incompetent” conduct of the Finnish war, which had outraged the world and exposed the Red Army to humiliating defeats. He nevertheless insisted that what Stalin was trying to do in Finland was to secure an exposed flank of the Soviet Union against a probable attack from Hitler. This was a legitimate endeavor; and any Soviet government, acting in the circumstances in which Stalin acted (circumstances which were, however, partly of Stalin’s making), might well be compelled to protect its frontiers at Finland’s expense. The strategic interests of the workers’ state must take precedence over Finland’s right to self-determination. As Stalin’s invasion of Finland was met in the Allied countries by a campaign for “switching the war,” and for armed intervention in favor of Finland, Trotsky called all the more emphatically for the “defense of the Soviet Union.” This brought an outcry from his erstwhile disciples: “Has Trotsky become Stalin’s apologist?! Does he want us to become Stalin’s stooges?!”
… True, even in the heat of the most furious polemics, he had always reiterated that, despite everything, he and his followers would defend unconditionally the USSR against all foreign enemies. But quite a few of his followers had treated these declarations as merely his facon de parler; and they were dismayed to find that he meant what he had said. They charged him with inconsistency, duplicity, even betrayal.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 473

In terms of the new Trotskyism which they had culled from The Revolution Betrayed, Burnham & Shachtman had used fairly strong arguments; and both now claimed to defend Trotskyism against Trotsky himself. “Then I am not a Trotskyist,” the master replied paraphrasing Marx…. After all he had suffered at Stalin’s hands, nothing distressed him more than to see the judgment of his own disciples clouded by Stalinophobia; and to his last breath he pleaded with them “against hysteria” and for “objective Marxist thinking.”
The American Trotskyists had split into a “majority” which, led by James Cannon, accepted Trotsky’s view, and a “minority” which followed Burnham & Shachtman.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 475

GERMAN COMMUNISTS WANT TO UNITE WITH SOCIAL-DEMS AGAINST NAZIS BUT ARE REJECTED

When Hindenburg’s first term as president expired, the Communists proposed to the Social Democrats to put up a nonparty anti-militarist such as the writer Heinrich Mann, warning that Hindenburg could not be relied on to keep Hitler out of power. However, the SPD, like the other parties of the Weimar coalition, preferred Hindenburg. When the Communists put up their own candidate, as they had done in 1924, they were again accused of helping reaction: in 1924 because they refused to vote for Hindenburg’s opponent, and in 1932 because they refused to vote for Hindenburg. Hindenburg won the election over Hitler–and made him chancellor a few months later.
Blumenfeld, Hans. Life Begins at 65. Montreal, Canada: Harvest House, c1987, p. 146

True to form, the Social Democrat leaders refused the Communist party’s proposal to form an 11th-hour coalition against Nazism. As in many other countries past and present, so in Germany [in the early 1930s], the Social Democrats would sooner ally themselves with the reactionary Right than make common cause with the Reds.
Parenti, Michael. Blackshirts and Reds, San Francisco: City Light Books, 1997, p. 5

SU WAS THE ONLY COUNTRY AGAINST NAZISM AND FASCISM

But my strongest reason for identifying with communism and the Soviet Union was the fact that it was the only force defending mankind against fascism and war. The “West” praised Mussolini, favored Franco, and was at best ambivalent toward Hitler. In the Soviet Union there was never any doubt who the enemy was. There was instruction in sharpshooting available to everyone; I also took it. The target was a steel helmet with a swastika.
Blumenfeld, Hans. Life Begins at 65. Montreal, Canada: Harvest House, c1987, p. 174

SU DID NOT MOVE INTO POLAND IN 1939 UNTIL AGREEMENT WITH GERMANY

To German dismay, Stalin at first refused to sanction the movement of the Red Army into the territory agreed as falling within the Soviet sphere of interest. The reason was that the USSR and Japan remained at war in the Far East, and the military risk of deploying forces in eastern Poland was too great until the two countries agreed to make peace on 15 September. The Red Army moved into Polish territory two days later.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 402

CAPITALIST REPRESSION AND EXPLOITATION

In pursuit of counterrevolution and in the name of freedom, US forces or US-supported surrogate forces slaughtered 2 million North Koreans in a three-year war; 3 million Vietnamese; over 500,000 in aerial wars over Laos and Cambodia; over 1,500,000 million in Angola; over one million in Mozambique; over 500,000 in Afghanistan; 500,000 to one million in Indonesia; 200,000 in East Timor; 100,000 in Nicaragua (combining the Somoza and Reagan eras); over 100,000 in Guatemala (plus an additional 40,000 disappeared); over 700,000 in Iraq; over 60,000 in El Salvador; 30,000 in the “dirty war” of Argentina (though the government admits to only 9000); 35,000 in Taiwan, when the Kuomintang military arrived from China; 20,000 in Chile; and many thousands in Haiti, Panama, Grenada, Brazil, South Africa, Western Sahara, Zaire, Turkey, and dozens of other countries, in what amounts to a free-market world holocaust.
Parenti, Michael. Blackshirts and Reds, San Francisco: City Light Books, 1997, p. 25

FINLAND WAS AIDED BY ENGLAND AND FRANCE

The anti-Soviet policies dominated in these countries [ England and France]. In France a Ukrainian legion was created with defectors from the Soviet Union and national combat units of Caucasians in the army of the French general Weygand. When Finland started the war against the Soviet Union in December 1939 France and Great Britain took position on Finland’s side. Great Britain sent 144 war planes, 114 heavy guns and hundreds of thousands of grenades and air bombs. France sent 179 war planes, 472 guns, 5,100 machine guns and approximately one million grenades of different kinds. Simultaneously these countries made up plans to send in an army of 150,000 men to fight on the Finnish side against the Soviet Union.
Sousa, Mario. The Class Struggle During the Thirties in the Soviet Union, 2001.

…The standard myth popularized by U.S. and British apologists attributes the Soviet victory in WW2 to the availability of limitless human hordes used as cannon fodder, and vast stocks of U.S. donated arms. This exhausted the enemy. Russian winters also get a big play in these fairy tales–as if the weather had been warmer for the communists than for Nazis.
T. A. “Stalin’s Successes, Humanity’s Gains,” Communist, Progressive Labor, Brooklyn, New York, p. 58-59

Contrary to the rehashed lies of vulgar western anti-communists wo pretend that the Soviet people mysteriously rose up all of a sudden in 1941 despite their leaders, history shows that these leaders had meticulously planned for war since the 1930’s. They tried to avoid war, but they also prepared to fight to win if war was imposed on them.
Production for war formed a key element of the plan. Defense appropriations rose from 395 million rubles in 1924 to 34 billion in 1938. The Red Army’s motor component (the number of mechanical horsepower per soldier) rose from 2.6 in 1929 to 13.8 by the end of 1938 Soviet tractor plants were constructed to be easily convertible into tank plants. Starting from scratch, by 1935-36, the USSR already boasted 74 aircraft factories, of which the most important group was situated well beyond the reach of enemy bombers. Therefore, Soviet tank and aircraft production had been guaranteed 6 years before the invasion.
T. A. “Stalin’s Successes, Humanity’s Gains,” Communist, Progressive Labor, Brooklyn, New York, p. 62.

The conclusion is inescapable. The Soviet government was not afraid to arm its people. It was not afraid to teach its people military science. It welcomed these developments and considered them necessary. It had full confidence in the majority of the population, and this attitude was reciprocated. Such a relationship between government and people is absolutely inconsistent with the absurd premise that Stalin ruled like a “despot” and that his power emanated from intimidation of the masses.
T. A. “Stalin’s Successes, Humanity’s Gains,” Communist, Progressive Labor, Brooklyn, New York, p. 63.

How many workers and peasants would have starved to death, how many would have fallen prey to disease and all the ravages of the old system had the Five Year Plans (for which collectivization was the key) not been implemented? How many millions would have fallen victim to Hitler’s genocide had the Soviet Union failed to organize both its industry and its agriculture for the coming war? The issue can be judged only from this perspective.
T. A. “Stalin’s Successes, Humanity’s Gains,” Communist, Progressive Labor, Brooklyn, New York, p. 66.

STALIN HAD GOOD REASON TO BELIEVE THE ALLIES WERE TRICKING HIM INTO ATTACKING

Warnings from Britain and America that the Germans would attack were worse than useless, given their desperate desire for war between Germany and Russia. Stalin assumed that their efforts to make trouble between him and Hitler took the form not only of information supplied through official channels, but also through covert disinformation. On one report from a Czech agent of Soviet intelligence, forecasting a German attack on Russia, Stalin noted, ‘This informant is an English provocateur. Find out who is making this provocation and punish him.’ It was reasonable to suspect that the British had planted disinformation on such agents, or even on Richard Sorge, a German who was a Soviet spy in Japan, and who warned of a German attack. And, despite various forecasts of invasion on particular dates in the spring of 1941, weeks passed without action and the time remaining for a summer campaign diminished. As events were to demonstrate, Hitler needed as much time as possible, if he were to take Moscow before winter set in. Stalin was justified in thinking that the delay through May and much of June meant that he was in the clear for another year. Even if Hitler had been contemplating a drive to the east, his decision to invade the Balkans and even Crete, with the resulting loss of time and also of German paratroops, should have persuaded him to call off the Russian campaign….
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 237

FINLAND SHOULD GIVE UP LAND BECAUSE IT IS TOO WEAK TO DEFEND ITSELF

Weeks before the Russo-Finnish War broke out, the Leningrad journal Krasny Flot (Red Fleet) spelled out the reasons why it was necessary to agree on mutual Russo-Finnish assistance in time of war. The journal, obviously reflecting official opinion at a very high level, cited the geographical position of Finland, the insecurity of her communications on the Baltic Sea, her economic weakness and “the absence of any menace to her frontiers from the east’–meaning from Russia. All this, it said, pointed to the necessity of Finland’s ‘rallying’ to the side of Russia. ‘Only by way of mutual assistance with the USSR can a country like Finland withstand hostile aviation, which could deal untold damage to her national economy.’

On 12 November 1939, commenting on Finnish naval capabilities in the event of a ‘third nation’ entering the picture, the journal said that the Finnish fleet was extremely weak and capable of undertaking only very limited defensive measures. Moreover, the Finnish armed coastal vessels were very lightly armed and slow, and in conditions where maneuvering was difficult, especially close to rocks, they would be easy targets for a strong enemy.
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 56

RUSSO-GERMAN PACT DID NOT MAKE THEM FRIENDS OR CREATE TRUST

Some writers persist in believing that Stalin trusted Hitler and the non-aggression pact, that ‘living corpse that poisoned the air’, as one Russian writer dubbed Stalin’s August 1939 treaty with Germany. A few experts quote novelist Solzhenitsyn as saying that, ‘Stalin trusted nobody but Hitler!’, but the evidence for this is tenuous. While the Hitler-Stalin Pact was in force, there was more acrimony than gestures of goodwill. Stalin, although a fellow dictator, kept aloof from Hitler; he exchanged but one or two perfunctory birthday greetings and messages with him. He declined at least one invitation to visit Berlin with the excuse that he disliked ‘unfamiliar settings’.
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 71

The “Real Stalin” Series. Part Nineteen: Anticommunist Fairy Tales About Stalin.

untitled

 

RUMOR, GOSSIP, AND HEARSAY DOMINATE ANTI-STALIN PROPAGANDA WRITINGS

History cannot be written unless the historian can achieve some kind of contact with the mind of those about whom he is writing. [TOO BAD MANY IGNORED THIS ADVICE]

Viola, Lynne. The Best Sons of the Fatherland. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1987, p. 5

Estimates of those who perished under Stalin’s rule–based principally on speculations by writers who never reveal how they arrive at such figures–vary widely.

Parenti, Michael. Blackshirts and Reds, San Francisco: City Light Books, 1997, p. 77

My collaboration with the people I have mentioned was based exclusively on personal initiative and trust. I did not make use of or have access to any closed archives, “special collections,” or any other limited-access depositories and I am not familiar with any.

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. xviii

In the nature of things there could not be a published source for much of the information in this book; it was passed on by the victims of repression or their friends or relatives.

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. xx

In some western newspapers after Stalin’s death as well as in the Russian emigre press of the ’20s there were various speculations on the subject of Stalin and women. One author, hiding under the pseudonym Essad-Bey, claimed that Stalin, like an Oriental sheik, kept his beautiful wife locked up at his Kremlin apartment or at his dacha and forbade her to show herself to other men, so that even his Kremlin colleagues never saw her face. Others asserted that Stalin married secretly after Alliluyeva’s death or that he held orgies at his dachas or in his Kremlin apartment. All this is the product of unfounded rumor or deliberate fabrication.

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 55

To this very day allegations occasionally appear in the foreign press that Lenin did not die a natural death but was killed by Stalin. For example, in 1976 the journal Veremya i my ran such an article by Lydia Shatunovskaya entitled “The Secret of One Arrest,” in which she repeats a story supposedly told to her by Ivan Gronsky, a former editor of Izvestia and Novy mir, to the effect that Stalin murdered Lenin. As the story goes, Stalin was visiting at Gronsky’s apartment, drank so much that he lost all self-control, and had to stay overnight; during this drinking bout Stalin told his host about the murder. This is all pure fantasy, though probably Gronsky’s rather than Shatunovskaya’s. It is true that Gronsky was a well-known figure in the literary world in the early 30s. He was the editor in chief of Novy mir and took part in preparations for the First Congress of Soviet Writers, but he was not elected even as a delegate. Stalin knew Gronsky, but to say that he was “Stalin’s most trusted man on literary questions” or that he “can go and see Stalin any time without a report to give”–these assertions were made up by Gronsky. In 1937 Gronsky was arrested and 16 years later returned from prison with a highly tarnished reputation. In order to win people’s confidence again, or at least to attract their attention, he was capable of making up the most unlikely stories about his life before and after his arrest.

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 77

To this day, in works published outside the Soviet Union, one can still occasionally encounter the allegation that Lenin did not die a natural death but was actually killed by Stalin. For example, in 1976 Time and We published an article by Lydia Shatunovskaya, entitled “The Secret of One Arrest.” Claiming that Stalin murdered Lenin, she repeats a story said to have been told by Ivan Gronsky, the former editor of Izvestia and Novy Mir. According to this story, Stalin once visited Gronsky in his apartment in the mid-1930s, got drunk beyond all self-control, and talked about the murder to his host. All this is pure fantasy, invented either by Shatunovskaya or by Gronsky himself.

Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 32

Trotsky, too, spread similar stories in the last years of his life. His version was so unbelievable that Life magazine, which had contracted with Trotsky for an article on Lenin, refused to print it. Several other American magazines rejected the article, and it did not appear until August 10, 1940, in the Hearst publication Liberty. Trotsky’s arguments in support of his version were highly unconvincing. He recalled that at the end of February 1923 Lenin asked for some strong poison he could take if he felt another stroke coming on. Trotsky remembers that the Politburo refused to give Lenin any poison, but in Trotsky’s opinion Stalin might have done so.

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 78

On Dec. 22, he [Lenin] requested Fotieva to provide him with cyanide in the event he lost the capacity to speak. He had made a similar request of Stalin as early as May, a fact in which Maria Ulianova saw proof of Lenin’s special confidence in Stalin.

[Footnote]: In 1939, shortly before he was murdered, Trotsky recalled an incident at the Politburo meeting in February 1923, at which Stalin, with a sinister leer, reported that Lenin had asked him for poison to end his hopeless condition. Trotsky to the end of his life believed it likely that Lenin died from toxin supplied by the General Secretary: There was something disingenuous about Trotsky’s claim, because he was in possession of a cable from Dzerzhinsky, dated February 1, 1924, that advise him that the autopsy had revealed no traces of poison in Lenin’s blood: according to Fotieva, Stalin never supplied Lenin with poison.

Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 469

Volkogonov promised to support my rehabilitation in exchange for my cooperation. When we met on November 4th, 1989, I suggested that Volkogonov correct his account of the Stamenov episode, which had just appeared in a literary journal. He claimed in the article that Stalin had personally met Stamenov, which I knew was untrue. I myself had handled the probe to plant disinformation among Nazi diplomats, feeling out the Germans’ desire for a peace settlement in 1941. When Volkogonov’s book appeared, the episode was not corrected. He sticks to the version that Stalin and Molotov planned a separate Brest-Litovsk type peace treaty with Hitler,…

Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 429

For no other period [the Great Purges of the 1930s] or topic have historians been so eager to write and accept history-by-anecdote. Grand analytical generalizations have come from secondhand bits of overheard corridor gossip. Prison camp stories (“My friend met Bukharin’s wife in a camp and she said…”) have become primary sources on central political decision making. The need to generalize from isolated and unverified particulars has transformed rumors into sources and has equated repetition of stories with confirmation. Indeed, the leading expert on the Great Purges [Conquest] has written that “truth can thus only percolate in the form of hearsay” and that “basically the best, though not infallible, source is rumor.” [The Great Terror, 754]

[Footnote: Such statements would be astonishing in any other field of history. Of course, historians do not accept hearsay and rumor as evidence. Conquest goes on to say that the best way to check rumors is to compare them with one another. This procedure would be sound only if rumors were not repeated and if memoirists did not read each other’s works.]

As long as the unexplored classes of sources include archival and press material, it is neither safe nor necessary to rely on rumor and anecdote.

Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 5

1[Footnote on page 265: The basic works on the Great Purges are uniformly based on memoir sources. Conquest, Terror, Medvedev, History: and Solzhenitsyn, the Gulag Archipelago, all rely almost exclusively on personal accounts.]

Soviet history has no tradition of responsible source criticism. Scholars have taken few pains to evaluate bias, authenticity, or authorship. Specialists have accepted “sources” that, for understandable reasons, are anonymously attributed (“Unpublished memoir of”), and treat them as primary.2

2[Footnote on Page 265: Much of the documentation in Medvedev’s and Solzhenitsyn’s works is of this form, as is much of the samizdat material. Such documentation is methodically unacceptable in other fields of history. One would be dubious about a footnote to the “unpublished memoir of the Duc de” in a work on the French revolutionary terror.

Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 211

Each of the emigre and defector sources represents a variant on the vast pool of such rumors and stories [regarding the Kirov assassination], but clearly none of them was in a position to know anything about their veracity. The authors seemed to pick the stories that fit together into particular schemes, and subsequent historians followed suit.

Indeed, in the rush to support a particular scenario, scholars have been strangely selective in their use of emigre memoirs. They have accepted and used those that supported their preconceptions and ignored those that did not. Students have embraced the rumors and flawed stories of Orlov, Barmine, and Nicolaevsky while ignoring accounts that call Kirov a “conservative,” describe underground oppositionist plots in the ’30s, and argue for the existence of a planned military coup against Stalin. The point is not that these unused memoirs are any more credible than the familiar ones, but that all memoir accounts should be subjected to intense critical attention that takes contradictions into account. All claims or hypotheses based solely on secondhand gossip or rumor should be rejected according to the elementary rules of evidence.

Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 216

One such work, however, was never published in the Soviet Union–Medvedev’s Let History Judge…. It is a completely and uniformly bitter condemnation of Stalin by a former communist.

Nearly all Medvedev’s work is based on the post-1956 recollections of surviving party members. Many such reminiscences appeared in the press in 1956-64, usually in connection with obituaries or anniversaries, and Medvedev apparently collected such statements and interviews as the basis of his work. He made virtually no use of central or local press sources, published material, or contemporary documentation. However, his introduction shows that he was familiar with the vast corpus of Western scholarship about Stalin, and in some places where Old Bolshevik circumstantial testimony is lacking (Stalin’s hand in Kirov’s death, for example), he seems to rely on Western versions.

Medvedev’s is probably the most useful account of the fates of various people…. Like the previously cited works, however, its problem is the distance between his sources and central events. Like all the above sources, none of Medvedev’s often anonymous informants was close enough to the center of power to tell why things were happening or indeed exactly what was happening. Medvedev is able to catalog events better than other writers, but he is not able to chronicle or analyze Moscow’s decisions or attitudes with first-hand evidence. All his informants were on the “outside,” and their first-hand experience extended only to themselves and their associates. Their speculations about why this happened or about Stalin’s position are little better than ours.

A work that deserves passing mention because of its current popularity is the Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn…. The work is of limited value to the serious student of the 1930s for it provides no important new information or original analytical framework.

Many of the linchpins of the Western interpretation are based almost solely on an uncritical acceptance of rumors from persons not in a position to know. This is not to say that these works are worthless lies bearing no relation to the truth. They are quite valuable descriptions of personal experiments and should be taken as such. But they are not primary sources that cast light on central decision making, or even on events of a national scale. Because many of these writers were victims or opponents, they may have known less about high policy than we do.

One need only scan the footnotes of any standard account of the Great Purges to see how much of the basic material of this view comes from the speculations of these contradictory and self-serving sources, who were in no position to report anything but gossip. Most Western accounts were written during the post-World War II period, and their authors relied on emigre and defector accounts for the vital underpinnings of their view. The inaccessibility of Soviet archives on these events compounded this tendency. Yet if one applies strict rules of evidence and of source criticism to these works, accepting only that which the informant can report firsthand, several aspects of the Western interpretation collapse.

[Footnote: In Conquest’s, Terror, half the notes in the chapters “Stalin Prepares” and “The Kirov Murder” are to emigre and defector raconteurs who were not close to the events they describe. Two-thirds of the references in the chapter “Architect of Terror” are to such secondhand accounts, which can in no way be tested for an account of the “architect.”]

Although the main weakness of the sources is their removal from the events they so freely judge, the question of political bias is also worth considering, as it is in other areas of historical inquiry. Orlov, Trotsky, the Mensheviks, and Khrushchev were all self-interested political actors and had little incentive to produce an objective view….

…a generation of Cold War attitudes have contributed to what would be considered sloppy and methodically bankrupt scholarship in any other area of inquiry. Historians of modern Europe would not try to study the politics of World War I by relying on the memoirs of soldiers from the trenches without exhausting the available press, documentary, and archival materials.

Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 218-219

Joel Carmichael writes:

“One of the principal oddities throughout this strange interval of hesitation [the period from the end of August through the end of October 1917] was that since Lenin was in hiding his place as the most authoritative Bolshevik was occupied by Trotsky, at least as far as the public was concerned. In effect this turned a man who had been an implacable opponent of the Bolsheviks for 15 years into their most authoritative spokesman….”

Such assertions are mistaken; they fly in the face of generally known facts. Trotsky’s name certainly did appear side-by-side with Lenin’s during the October days, but side-by-side does not mean equal. Even the broad public understood the different political weight of the two men. This was no secret to the enemies of the Bolshevik Party either. As for the “consciousness of the party,” there the names of Lenin and Trotsky were not at all equal. The party had only one leader, Lenin, and he alone was the inspirer and organizer of the October Revolution. It was not accidental that, while praising Trotsky, Lenin noted that the Mezhraiontsy had “hardly been tested in proletarian work in the spirit of our party.”

Carmichael ‘s assertions are absolutely wrong.

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 101

The question of Frunze’s death was not discussed at the party congress after all, but in 1926 the fifth issue of the literary monthly Novy Mir appeared with a story–Pilnyak’s “Tale of the Unextinguished Moon”–that clearly implicated Stalin in Frunze’s death, although the preface gave the following disclaimer:

“The plot of this story may suggest to the reader that Frunze’s death inspired it an provided the material for it. Personally I hardly knew Frunze, I was barely acquainted with him, maybe met him twice…. I find it necessary to inform the reader of this, so that the reader will not look in this sotry for real persons or events.”

Pilnyak displayed detailed knowledge of many circumstances surrounding the operation [for Frunze’s stomach ulcer] and Frunze’s death and stated bluntly that the “order” for the operation came from “Number One, the unbending man,” who “headed the triumvirate”…. It is not surprising that the entire printing of the magazine was quickly confiscated…. In the next issue of Novy Mir the editors admitted that publication of Pilnyak’s story had been an “obvious and flagrant mistake.”

Antonov-Ovseyenko has no doubt that Frunze’s death was a political act of elimination organized by Stalin. Adam Ulam, the American historian and Sovietologist, in his book on Stalin emphatically rejects this version. He feels that the whole problem had to do with the poor organization of medical service in the Soviet Union in 1925. As early as Lenin’s time the practice of party intervention in medical affairs had been introduced; obligatory rest or treatment was prescribed for many party leaders. Thus the Politburo’s decision about Frunze’s operation was not a rare exception. Ulam considers Pilnyak’s story unquestionable slander and comments:

“It is probably that Pilnyak was put up to it by somebody who wanted to strike at Stalin. The remarkable thing is that nothing happened at the time to Pilnyak or to the editor…. Whether out of contempt for the slander or a calculated restraint, or both, Stalin chose not to react to a libel which even in a [bourgeois] democratic society would have provided ample grounds for criminal proceedings against its author and publisher.”

Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 158

Frunze died in October 1925 at the height of the Stalin versus Zinoviev-Kamenev contest. He himself had taken no position in the struggle. His successor as War Commissar was Voroshilov. And so rumors began to circulate that his death had been more than simply another case of medical malpractice. The story exploded in the May 1926 issue of Novy Mir (New World), then as now the leading Soviet literary journal, in an all too transparent fiction about an “army commander” whom “Number One, the unbending man,” forces to submit to an unnecessary operation, during which he is medically murdered. The story, “The Tale of the Unextinguished Moon,” was by the noted Soviet writer Boris Pilnyak. The issue was, of course, immediately confiscated, and the substitute number of Novy Mir carried the editorial board’s frightened apology for printing anti-party slander….

This was slander, and it is probable that Pilnyak was put up to it by somebody who wanted to strike at Stalin. The remarkable thing is that nothing happened at the time to Pilnyak or to the editor. In 1937 [11 years later] they were both arrested, but on other charges,…

Whether out of contempt for the slander or a calculated restraint, or both, Stalin chose not to react to a libel which even in a democratic society would have provided ample grounds for criminal proceedings against its author and publisher.

Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 260-261

The opposition leaders were able to speak out as late as the autumn of 1927 through ‘discussion sheets’ which Pravda carried in preparation for the 15th Party Congress in December, and Trotsky was able to publish a statement in Pravda as late as August 1927. The boldest attempt of the opposition to use the open press was the publication in the literary journal The New World of ‘The Tale of the Unextinguished Moon’ by Boris Pilniak in May 1926. This was a barely disguised version of the death on 31 October 1926 of Trotsky’s successor in the post of narkom of defense, Frunze. He had been operated on for a gastric ailment, began to recover, then died. Frunze and Stalin were supposed to have been on good terms and the General Secretary made much of his attempt to visit the patient in the hospital shortly after the operation. The deceased, an old Bolshevik turned military man, received the fullest possible honors, including an eulogy from Stalin and burial near the Lenin mausoleum. But there was a rumor that it was a case of medical murder. Frunze supposedly had been Zinoviev’s candidate for narkom, while Stalin backed Voroshilov, who in fact succeeded Frunze in the post. Allegedly, the General Secretary had arranged a Politburo order to the unwilling Frunze to have the operation, during which he received an overdose of an anesthetic known to be bad for his heart, although he apparently survived the actual operation for several days.

McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 102

It is impossible in the nature of the case to exculpate Stalin. One might even speculate that he did not feel able to oust Zinoviev from Leningrad, while Frunze headed the armed forces. On the other hand, the evidence against Stalin is not strong, and it seems unlikely that he would have risked murder of such an important personage at this stage in his career. But the rumors that Stalin had murdered Frunze obviously served the opposition…. It was in any case, a demonstration that the absence of a reign of terror in the Soviet Union in 1926 that a writer, even a brash eccentric like Pilniak, would dream of publishing a novel that virtually accused of murder, the man whom the writer called ‘Number One’ and ‘the unbending man’. Or that a literary journal would accept it. In fact, one journal rejected it, and Pilniak cheekily dedicated the story to the rejecting editor when it was published, adding a preposterous denial that the plot was based on Frunze’s death. This was going too far. The offending issue of the journal was withdrawn, and apologies for such ‘error’ and ‘slander’, which could ‘play into the hands of the small-minded counter-revolutionary’, were forthcoming from both editors who were involved and the author. But the whole scandal served as much to advertise Pilniak’s tale as to suppress it, and the matter was common knowledge.

McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 102

(J. Arch Getty)

Frustrating to historians and journalists, this strange situation has inevitably spawned a heterogeneous collection of purportedly serious writings on Stalin. In the absence of reliable first-hand testimony or revealing written evidence, and in their desperation to understand the man, writers on Stalin and his period have offered the specialized and general public a diverse but sometimes troubling bill of fare.

Although there have been some outright forgeries, the more common tradition has been to infer the details of his personal life and actions. Novelists (and novelists pretending to be historians) have presented fictitious dialogs and purported soliloquies by the dictator. Others have made dubious claims of having known him closely and many memorists have reported scenes with Stalin that they did not witness. We also now have published collections of myths about Stalin.

Consider for example the famous “Letter of an Old Bolshevik.” First published in a Menshevik journal in 1936, the text reports to be the record of a conversation between Bukharin and Nicolaevsky in Paris and is the original source for several key points about Stalin. Internal inconsistencies and other problems cast grave doubt on its accuracy and even its authenticity. Nevertheless, scholars continue to cite it as evidence. Similarly, Orlov’s Secret History of Stalin’s Crimes has provided the bedrock evidence for another set of historical assertions. We learn here the “insiders” account of Stalin’s relations with the NKVD chief Yezhov and other nefarious personalities. Yet, it turns out that Orlov was abroad during the 1930s and picked up his tantalizing tidbits as second and third hand corridor gossip.

It may well be that some of what Nicolaevsky & Orlov report is true. But the dubious origins of the works must cast doubt on their claims. How does one know what is true and what is not? Does one accept what one likes and believes and reject the rest? In most other fields of historical research, such flimsy tales would be rejected as sources out of hand. Were we to do this here, we would discover that we no longer have evidence of Kirov’s moderation or Stalin’s conspiracy to kill him….

In addition to suspicious memoirs and pretended letters, there is a large corpus of historical fiction and fictional history. The problems with such literary sources have been analyzed in print. They tend toward fictionalization, are tailored to produce emotional responses, and try to make moral points. Despite apparent similarities between historical and literary works as texts, they are different genres. Historians conduct research and handle data differently than do creative writers. Hypotheses are tested, discrete interpretations are discussed and documented, and evidence is carefully weighed. For example, Rybakov’s Children of the Arbat, which has played a key role in anti-Stalin shock work and is even hailed as a historical source, contains numerous factual errors and flights of literary fancy. Even Volkogonov’s more scholarly Triumph and Tragedy contains invented dialogue between Stalin and his clique.

Unlike historians, literateurs are generally unconcerned about verifying their sources. Consider two recent examples. First, Shatrov in his play Dal’she, Dal’she, Dal’she tells the story of Zinoviev and Kamenev being brought from prison to the Kremlin in order to be persuaded to confess. His account of this alleged event in fact closely paraphrases the first account of this tale in the spurious Secret History of Stalin’s Crimes, published in the West decades after the event. It is also noteworthy that no evidence to support this tale was found in the Party Central Committee’s recent exhaustive archival examination and documentary publication on the interrogation and trial of Zinoviev and Kamenev.

Second, there is the currently popular story that Lenin’s Testament was never discussed at a party congress and that, if it had been, Stalinism could have been prevented. In fact, the document was considered by the Party Central Committee shortly after Lenin’s death and again in a closed session at the congress in 1927. At that time, Pravda published a Stalin speech which included excerpts from it, including the part in which Lenin criticized Stalin’s rudeness and called for his removal from the post of General Secretary. It was (like Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” to the 20th party congress in 1956) not published until recently. But the congress delegates who heard the Testament consisted of virtually all key party leaders and even a scattering of common folk from across the country….

The results of historical investigations into the Stalin period have in many cases been colored by two factors inherent in the subject itself. First, as we have seen, the paucity of reliable and creditable sources on the man (and even on the basic functioning of the system) has given rise to a most diverse and free-wheeling literature that often bears weak allegiance to basic rules of historical investigation. Secondly, nearly all studies have reflected the moral and political agendas of the authors. We have sometimes seen the eclipse of detailed scholarship by didactic preaching and political advocacy.

Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 101-103

The tale wags the dog: the critical use of sources, validity of scientific deduction, and strength of argument–the traditional measures of scholarly worth–take second place to the perceived values of the author. Reviewers worry more about the intentions of the author than about the sources or methodology involved and scholarship is transformed into a rite of exorcism. As we shall see below, this attitude is as prevalent in the former Soviet Union as it is in the West.

Politically, writing about Stalinism has meant taking a stance. Alec Nove has clearly shown how attitudes toward Stalin flow from the political agendas of the authors. The overarching importance of the Soviet Union and socialism to twentieth century political history, the strong communist, anti-Communist, and patriotic passions they have inspired, and the tendency of revolutions to create camps of winners and losers have guaranteed a partisan field of study from the beginning.

Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 105

But without the participation of professional historians, the process of glasnost will remain dangerously inchoate. Unevaluated and undocumented rumors, contradictory claims, and false information will continue to cloud the historical and literary air in the former USSR as they have in the West for decades.

Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 110

Although the “shock work” of publicist is important, it does not generally represent serious historical research. Professional historians in the former Soviet Union privately express dismay at the ability of journalists and publicists to monopolize the discourse, and many of them are appalled at statements emphasizing the primacy of political utility over objective research. Such unfortunately utilitarian approaches to scholarship sometimes even come from leading scholars.

Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 111

Finally, I wish I could be as “crystal clear” about what happened in the 1930s as Sergo Mikoyan is, but we still have few sources and a lot of work to do.

Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 140

Stories about Stalin have circulated at least since the 1920s and include aspects of his genealogy (he was said to be descended from Georgian or Ossetian princes), personal life (secret wives, amorous ballerinas, and illegitimate children in the Kremlin), and the circumstances of his youth and death. Even at this writing, characterizations of Bolshevism as a Jewish conspiracy are routinely heard even in educated circles in Moscow.

Given Russian cultural traditions, there is nothing particularly unusual about such folklore. What should be surprising is that so much of the oral tradition has found its way into the corpus of scholarly literature. Secondhand personal memoirs, gossip, novels, and lurid accounts by defecting spies eager to earn a living in the West are soberly reviewed in scholarly journals, cited in footnotes, and recommended to graduate students. Fictionalized “letters of old Bolsheviks,” political histories with invented Stalin soliloquies, and even dramatic plays are routinely incorporated into academic treatments in ways that would be laughable in other national historical studies.

Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 40

In other words, Rittersporn is saying: “Look, I can prove that most of the current ideas about Stalin are absolutely false.’ But to say this requires a giant hurdle. If you state, even timidly, certain undeniable truths about the Soviet Union in the thirties, you are immediately labeled `Stalinist’. Bourgeois propaganda has spread a false but very powerful image of Stalin, an image that is almost impossible to correct, since emotions run so high as soon as the subject is broached. The books about the purges written by great Western specialists, such as Conquest, Deutscher, Schapiro and Fainsod, are worthless, superficial, and written with the utmost contempt for the most elementary rules learnt by a first-year history student. In fact, these works are written to give an academic and scientific cover for the anti-Communist policies of the Western leaders. They present under a scientific cover the defence of capitalist interests and values and the ideological preconceptions of the big bourgeoisie.

Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 127 [p. 110 on the NET]

Most of the new material seems presented to make two points long accepted in the West: the terror was widespread and that Stalin had a personal role in it. Virtually all of the latest historical revelations are aimed at illustrating these points and the documents presented seem chosen for this in mind.

Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 42

(Arch Getty)

It is easier to reject contradictory evidence with the deus ex machina [any unconvincing character or event brought artificially into the plot of a story to settle an involved situation] of Stalin’s supposed cleverness: All twists and turns, hesitations and contradictions are thus the result of his incredible deviousness, sadism, or calculating shrewdness. There is really no counter to such ahistorical assertions, except that they are based on faith: the a priori presumption of a plan and the belief that anomalies were intentionally part of it. Such elaborate constructs are unnecessary to explain events; the simplest explanation with the fewest assumptions and consistent with the evidence is usually the best.

Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 62

(Stephen Wheatcroft)

Although there is a role for literary and propagandist works to force a process of rethinking upon closed minds, there is also a need for serious historical work to produce an unemotional and accurate portrayal of reality. So far we have seen relatively few serious historical works on this subject. Such work will require more than literary creativity; you’ll need a professional, objective evaluation of evidence which until recently has not been available for examination.

Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 275

I heard, when I was still in the USSR, all kinds of stories about how my father had “killed people in moments of temporary insanity.” Repeatedly people tried to make me confirm one highly improbable story about Stalin walking at his dacha–this was in winter–and seeing footprints in the snow. Calling a guard, he asked whose footprints they were. The guard did not know–he was seeing them for the first time. Stalin then drew out his revolver and shot the guard on the spot, remarking that the man “wasn’t guarding him properly.” No matter how many times I tried to prove that the story was out of keeping with my father’s character, people did not believe me and tried to convince me that the story was true.

Alliluyeva, Svetlana. Only One Year. New York: Harper & Row, 1969, p. 364

We have been considering Stalin’s psychological attitudes.

Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 319

[Footnote:] Trotsky suggests that Stalin may have poisoned Lenin. But this is no more than a vague surmise, as Trotsky himself states; and it sounds unreal in view of the fact that Trotsky never leveled that charge, or even hinted at it, during the many years of his struggle against Stalin up to 1939-40, when he raised it for the first time. Apparently, Trotsky projected the experience of the great purges of the late 30s back to 1924. Yet such a projection contradicts Trotsky’s own characterization of Stalin. “If Stalin could have foreseen”, says Trotsky, “at the very beginning where his fight against Trotskyism would lead, he undoubtedly would have stopped short, in spite of the prospect of victory over all his opponents. But he did not foresee anything”. Thus even after he had charged Stalin with poisoning Lenin, Trotsky still treated the Stalin of 1924 as an essentially honest but short-sighted man, a characterization that can hardly be squared with the accusation. There is also the fact that Stalin did not dispose of Trotsky himself in a similar manner, while the latter was in Russia, an act of which he would certainly have been capable if he had been capable of assassinating Lenin.

Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 253

Trotsky, relating the foregoing [accusing Stalin of giving him the wrong date for Lenin’s funeral], added, “Stalin… might have feared that I would connect Lenin’s death with last year’s conversation about poison…and demand a special autopsy. It was, therefore, safer to keep me away until after the body had been embalmed, the viscera cremated and a post mortem inspired by such suspicions no longer feasible.” But if Trotsky thought that at the time, he could have called for a post mortem from Sukhumi. Once more he mysteriously failed to act on his suspicions. Perhaps he only firmed up his suspicions in retrospect, when later he wanted to revenge himself on Stalin, for no other competent source thought Stalin might have poisoned Lenin.

Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 255

In the intrigues following Lenin’s death, he [Trotsky] was by no means straightforward, but at once “devious and faint-hearted,” and his own account is “pathetic in its half-truths and attempts to gloss over the facts.” [from The Bolsheviks by Adam Ulam, NY, 1965, pp. 573-575]… But Trotsky had never failed in his duty to suppress or misrepresent facts in the interests of politics. And his general reliability on the period in question could have been considered in the light of his accusation that Stalin poisoned Lenin. There is no evidence whatever that this is true, and Trotsky himself only brought it up many years later–in 1939….

Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 413

…a few Western Sovietologists began to assert that the Terror had claimed far fewer victims, and that ordinary life was not affected. The writer of a Western Sovietological textbook concerned to reduce the estimates to, as he put it, a few hundred thousand or even a few tens of thousands, wrote, “Surely we don’t want to hypothesize 3 million executions or prison deaths in 1937-1938 or anything like this figure, or we are assuming most improbable percentages of men dying.” The key word here is “improbable.” The Stalin epoch is replete with what appear as improbabilities to minds unfitted to deal with the phenomena. Similarly the argument that Stalin could not have killed millions of peasants, since that would have been “economically counterproductive.” Following such leads, a new group of Westerners came forward, with singularly bad timing, in the mid-1980s and told us (in the words of one of them) that the terror had only killed “thousands” and imprisoned “many thousands.” Such views could only be formed by ignoring or actively rejecting, the earlier evidence [WHAT EARLIER EVIDENCE]. This was accomplished by saying that those who produced it were opposed to Stalin and Stalinism, and therefore prejudiced, and that some of the material was secondhand. Thus it was not merely a matter of mistaken assessment of the evidence. It was, contrary to the duties of a historian, a refusal to face it.

Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 486

With any of these authors [Western Sovietologists and Russian dissidents], it is not difficult to find many factual errors, in exact formulations, juggling of facts, and outright distortions. This can be explained on the whole by two reasons. The first is the limited nature of the historical sources which these authors had at their disposal. Thus, the basic research for Conquest’s The Great Terror consists of an analysis of Soviet newspapers and other official publications, to which are added references to the memoir accounts of several people who managed to escape from the USSR. The second reason is that the majority of Sovietologists and dissidents served a definite social and political purpose–they used this enormous historical tragedy to show that its fatal premise was the “utopian” communist idea and revolutionary practice of Bolshevism. This prompted the researchers concerned to ignore those historical sources which contradict their conceptual schemes and paradigms.

… Solzhenitsyn’s book, Gulag Archipelago, contains no references whatsoever to Trotsky’s works. Solzhenitsyn’s work, much like the more objective works of Medvedev, belongs to the genre which the West calls “oral history,” i.e., research which is based almost exclusively on eyewitness [actually secondhand–me] accounts of participants in the events being described. Moreover, using the circumstance that the memoirs from prisoners in Stalin’s camps which had been given to him to read had never been published, Solzhenitsyn took plenty of license in outlining their contents and interpreting them.

Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. xx

However, very soon it became clear that the themes of the Great Terror and Stalinism were being used by many authors and organs of the press in order to compromise or discredit the idea of socialism. This anti-communist and anti-Bolshevik approach had largely been prepared by the activity of Western Sovietologists and Soviet dissidents from the 1960s through the 1980s, who had put into circulation a whole number of historical myths.

Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. xxv

Bourgeois historiography, despite its superficial objectivity and respectability, is politicized and tendentious…. This becomes abundantly clear upon reading the most substantive work devoted to the history of the great purge, Robert Conquest’s book The Great Terror. Without touching on the numerous other mistakes and juggling of facts which we have found in this work, let us stop to examine the contents of the three pages (and no more) which the author felt were sufficient to illustrate Trotsky’s views and activities. On these pages, Conquest managed to present no less than ten theses which remain unsupported by citations or by any other evidence, and which do not withstand criticism if they are juxtaposed with actual historical facts. Let us name several of these theses, after arranging them, so to speak, according to the chronological framework of the falsifications.

FROM HERE ON I AGREE WITH CONQUEST AND DISAGREE WITH THE TROT ROGIVIN

1. Trotsky “firmly crushed the democratic opposition within the party.”

2. Trotsky was a “leading figure among the ‘Leftist’ Old Bolsheviks, that is, those doctrinaires who could not agree with Lenin’s concessions to the peasantry. These people, and Trotsky in particular, preferred a more rigorous regime even before Stalin began to carry out such a line.”

3. Trotsky “never expressed a word of sympathy for the deaths of millions during collectivization.”

4. “Even in exile during the 1930s, Trotsky was not by any means a forthright revolutionary out to destroy a tyranny.”

5. Trotsky did not oppose Stalin ideologically, nor did he expose him as the gravedigger of the revolution, but “simply quarreled with Stalin about which ‘phase’ of evolution toward socialism had been attained” in the Soviet Union.

6. Trotsky “stood, in fact, not for the destruction of the Stalinist system, but for its takeover and patching up by an alternative group of leaders.”

7. Trotsky’s political judgment was “unbelievably inept.”

8. Trotsky’s influence in the USSR during the ’30s “was practically nil.”

9. All these points are logically crowned with “an alternative prognosis” or “a prognosis aided by hindsight”: if Trotsky had come to power, then he would have ruled only “less ruthlessly or, to be more precise, less crudely, than Stalin.”…

In turn, Conquest did not think up the argument cited above, which bear the stamp of lightweight journalistic escapades. Rather he copied them from the works of anti-communist ideologues of the 1930s.

Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 310

But in 1950 a book appeared by the French journalist Delbar, The Real Stalin. I didn’t know Delbar, but I recalled that he’d collaborated with Bessedovsky. I was interested and read the book. It was full of lies and inventions. I realized at once that it was Bessedovsky’s work. Things I’d told him earlier about Stalin and other Party leaders figured in the book, but completely distorted, full of lies, and in effect an insult to the reader. In addition there was frequent mention that such and such a detail (usually false or invented) had been given to the author by a former member of Stalin’s secretariat. This cast a shadow on me, since there were no other former members of Stalin’s secretariat in exile. Reading the book, a specialist in Soviet affairs could be led to believe I was the source of Bessedovsky’s documents.

I requested an explanation. He didn’t deny having written it all and having mocked his readers. When I threatened to denounce his fabrications in the press, he replied that the book was signed by Delbar, and Bessedovsky was not officially involved: if I attacked him, I could be charged with defamation.

Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 207

[At the 28th Party Congress in the summer of 1990] I was a candidate for the program commission of that Congress, but I was voted out by the orthodox Bolsheviks.

Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 474

I first met Yeltsin in 1989, and had many private conversations with him. After I was sacked from the Main Political Administration and, in June 1991, from the Institute of Military History, I became one of his advisers….

Volkogonov, Dmitrii. Autopsy for an Empire. New York: Free Press, c1998, p. 503

Not everything written in the Soviet Union about Stalin and Stalinism under glasnost exuded great wisdom. Some was plainly wrong, and some writers repeated ideas and arguments that had been voiced decades earlier in the West; even the Nazi literature on the Soviet Union found some latter-day emulators.

Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 4

According to the new mythology that made its appearance under glasnost, much of the blame for the terror, the show trials, and the purges has to go to Trotsky because he called for the physical elimination of Stalin. Thus, Volkogonov: Trotsky’s book The Revolution Betrayed, which was handed to Stalin in early 1937, was one of the last straws that broke the camel’s back. An earlier version of this farfetched theory can be found in Roy Medvedev’s Let History Judge, published in the Soviet Union in 1988….

What should one make of assertions of this kind? To begin with, the chronology does not fit. The first copies of The Revolution Betrayed appeared in May 1937, and even if the NKVD had worked day and night translating the book, they could not possibly have handed it to Stalin in 1936 at the time of the first trials. Indeed, in an earlier publication, Volkogonov had written that Stalin had received the translated manuscript only in late 1937.

We do not know what made him change the chronology; but whatever the reason, Trotsky’s book could not possibly had driven Stalin to his “desperate decision.”

Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 50

Biographers of Stalin, Trotsky, and other political leaders are frequently tempted to engage in descriptions and explanations beyond what the evidence will bear out. Doing so is sometimes inevitable in view of the lack of evidence, and a good case can be made for informed guesses, as long as they are not presented as fact and certitude.

Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 52

Stalin might have said in a small circle that it had been a mistake to let Trotsky go in 1929 in the first place, even though there is no evidence to this effect.

But even now, after all the revelations, we cannot possibly know what Stalin thought when he read Trotsky’s books or articles or when he received reports about Trotsky’s activities in exile, for there is no evidence.

… If Stalin really believed that Trotsky was a deadly threat, there would have been a change in his behavior once Trotsky had been killed. But that did not transpire; Stalin’s behavior in 1950 was essentially the same as it had been in the 1930s.

Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 53

We owe the revelations under glasnost about the arrests, interrogations, and the executions to a small number of indefatigable investigators…. Like Solzhenitsyn, they [Medvedev and Antonov-Ovseenko] relied almost entirely on oral history, that is, the recollections of prominent and not so prominent survivors.

The greatest single quantitative contribution to our knowledge was made, however, by a student in his 20s, Dmitri Yurasov…. At the age of 16 (in 1981), he installed himself in the state archives as a “palaeographer, second rank.”

Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 127

A retired Kharkov prosecutor named Ivan Shekhovtsov tried 17 times to bring court actions to restore the honor and good name of Joseph Stalin. The 18th time, he almost succeeded inasmuch the Sverdlovsk regional court in the city of Moscow agreed to deal with Shekhovtsov’s action against the well-known White Russian writer Adamovich, who (he claimed in an article in Sovetskaia Kultura) had been guilty of criminal libel. The line taken by Shekhovtsov during the trial was that because there were no documents proving that Stalin had ever committed a crime, he must not be vilified. On the other hand, the victims of the Stalinist period from Bukharin to the academician Vavilov, had all admitted their guilt. According to Shekhovtsov, anti-Stalin hysteria was engulfing the country, and with the help of foreign radio stations, the anti-Stalinists were systematically undermining the prestige of the Soviet system….

Shekhovtsov was a member of the legal profession, and as far as he was concerned, only documents counted; all the rest was hearsay.

Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 270

Is it possible that this Volkogonov did not know or hear about this speech [complementing Stalin] by Churchill? It would really be strange. But his main task was to heap abuse and calumny on Stalin and thus on the USSR, on socialism and on communism. That was his main task and the task of his backers who paid for his book to be published. I can say that Volkogonov spent his time without any truth in his diatribe. His main argument was the “Cult of Personality” and even Stalin’s enemies gave him his due. We would have expected a little more objectivity from our historian.

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 42

Those who now accuse Stalin of this and that, absolutely did not know him, did not see him personally–only saw him in photographs or in films, or they read about him from writers who also never saw him or met him, and wrote as they liked, made of him a person who was nowhere recognizable by people like me.

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 53

But today, numerous books are written about this–all historical facts are turned topsy turvy, inside out and upside down. They describe him [Bukharin] as the theoretician of the party. Khrushchev, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin all rehabilitated these enemies.

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 75

In the last 30 years in the press, there were hundreds of articles and many versions of attempts on Stalin’s life. These so-called “truths” are nothing but fairy tales. I and my comrades who were the bodyguards of Stalin know what happened and this will be history.

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 93

After the liquidation of the assassins ‘corps,’ Trotsky then did not constitute any danger to Stalin or the Soviet Government. But today’s press is full of all versions as to the assassination plots against Stalin. For example, “Pravda” (whose current owner is a Greek millionaire), writes that Kavtaradze tried to place a bomb in the Bolshoi Theatre where Stalin was sitting in the theater box. I was then the commandant of Bolshoi Theatre security and there was absolutely no such attempt. Not Rakov, or Tukov, or Krutashev [Stalin’s bodyguards] ever heard of such an attempt.

The newspaper “Niedelia-Sunday,” in an article about Beria, wrote that in the Ritsa Lake, there was an attempt on the life of Stalin, that Stalin remained alive only because Beria covered him with his own body. Tukov, who was there, said: “Beria would place anyone else in front of a bullet, but never himself. There was no attempt on the life of Stalin there. This is just yellow journalism by the newspapers. What really happened there was that Beria pushed me into the water when I caught a fish. Stalin was very upset with Beria and scolded him as he would a child for this act of stupidity.”

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 96

The novel by Rybakov, “Children of the Arbat,” stated that Stalin was afraid of people. That is why Rybakov states when Stalin was walking on the Arbat, the security closed all the entrances to the street. This is stupid and impossible to accomplish! It is physically impossible to close all the entrances since these are thoroughfares. Stalin’s car never exceeded 30 kilometers an hour and often, went as slow as 10 kilometers an hour. Stalin was never afraid of people or of the dark, as I have already written.

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 97

The following point is more serious. The modern “democratic journalists” have a field day with the personal life of Stalin, thinking up all sorts of stories, innuendos, and absolute falsifications.

The “Komsomolskaya Pravda” newspaper… basing itself on the dossier of J. Edgar Hoover, chief of the FBI in the USA, printed the item that on Oct. 17, 1938, in Lvov, there took place a meeting of Stalin and Hitler. At that time, I was head of the group that traveled with Stalin in Moscow and other cities or districts in the country. At that time, my assistants were always assigned to guard Stalin–Kykov, Starostin, Orlov, Krutshev, and Kirilin. We all state that this is a vile lie that Hitler and Stalin met in Lvov! In a detailed research of archival documents by the newspaper “Glasnost,” it was learned that Stalin was in Moscow all that time and was welcoming workers of the country at an official reception.

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 98

The magazine “Ogonyok” printed fragments from the book of Alexander Orlov “Secret History of Stalin’s Crimes.” Who is this Alexander Orlov? This is Lev Feldbin, twice in Lubyanka jail. He came from the Caucasus, where he commanded some border guards. During the 1930s, this Feldbin ran away across the border of the USSR and there, he wrote this fable.

He was never close to Stalin. He only met some of the heads of the OGPU such as Commissar Pauker. He is simply a complete liar. Is it at all possible for him to see Stalin meeting Hitler, while we, his personal bodyguards, were sleeping? Stalin never carried any pistols. He always wore his army clothes, plain and simple with no braids or medals or other decorations.

Feldbin states that a bodyguard of Stalin, Evdokimov, was a Trotskyite. This is an outright fabrication! From 1930, the personal guards of Stalin were Vlasik, Rumyantsev, and Bogdanov. Regarding Evdokimov, he was only a secretary in the North Caucasus Party demanding of Stalin that he give him permission to arrest Sholokhov. Stalin put him in his place.

This same Feldman writes that Stalin asked Pauker to gather for him pornographic photographs. We, his personal guards, living with him 24 hours a day, never ever saw any such trash. In his study, the only photographs that were seen were of Bedny, Sholokov, Gorky, and Mayakovsky. The other walls were practically bare. He lived very modestly.

This Feldbin states that on the road to his Dacha, Stalin had commanded that all house-cottages on the route be demolished. Anyone who knows the reconstruction of Moscow and the outskirts will laugh at such stupidity since these districts had large apartment houses, industries built along this highway!

“Stalin was guarded at his Dacha by over 1200 guards”! This is so ridiculous that anyone with a single brain cell would know that it’s a lie.

I cannot continue to list the lies by this enemy, Feldbin.

Now, to touch upon the “new sensation” that Stalin always had a “double.” The newspapers “Evening Donetsk” and “Crimean Pravda” went wild with the sensation that Stalin had a double–Evsei Liubitsky. After that, “Pravda” continued to spread this lie. Why was it necessary for these newspapers to spread such terrible lies? I do not understand. The Chief Editor of these newspapers, before printing such trash, should have looked into the archives of the Central Committee ACP[B], interview former members of the Central Committee CPSU.. But that was not in the interest of the newspaper “Pravda” as we mentioned before, now owned by a foreign millionaire.

My colleagues and I, being with Stalin practically 24 hours a day, years on end, surely, we would have noticed something if there really was a “double Stalin”!

For a “Stalin’s double” to be in existence, you would need to have another auto, the exact kind Stalin rode in, the same chauffeur, the same bodyguards, the same timetable, the same conference materials, the same answers, and the same mannerisms! This is absolute rubbish!

Or how could you fool the top actors of the Bolshoi Theatre, like Reizen, Lisitsian, Golovanov, Samosud, or Barsov who would have immediately noticed a double, since they were in constant contacts and meetings with Stalin?

Here are the statements of bodyguards such as Starostin who stated: “Stalin never had a double. Never did I, through 1937-1953, ever see any ‘double’ or anyone that I did not recognize. I was with Stalin every day going to and from the Kremlin, his Dacha, Government’s Dacha in the Crimea… and in all these years, if there was a double, surely we would have seen him at least once or twice”!

The same was stated by another bodyguard, Orlov.

Stalin looked after himself, never asked anyone to shave him and dressed himself and did all the other necessary things that a person does when performing his day to day work. After the death of Kirov, he was himself always in the steam bath. Maybe the newspaper “Pravda” thought that Mrs. Butuzova, the housekeeper who washed and pressed the clothes and did the cooking, maybe that was the “double of Stalin”? He was very courteous to her and even gave an autographed portrait of himself. No one else ever received such an honor.

During the Great Patriotic War, Marshal Zhukov was his constant adviser, whom he respected very highly for his bravery, honesty, and forthright nature. He had members of the Politburo to consult with, he did not have to have any “special consultants” since Stalin was a genius in tactics and had a phenomenal memory…. He was always rational, did not use words that had no meaning or reason to be said. He could be very funny, but never liked “yes men” and people with no thoughts of their own.

When discussing things with me, Stalin would think a moment and say: “Maybe you are correct. I’ll think about it.”

The nurse living in the nearest dacha, Valentina Istomina, former Commandant of the guards, Semenov, Captain of the first echelon of bodyguards, Krutashev–they all state that there was absolutely no truth to these lies that enemies of the Soviet Union and Stalin are peddling now about any “double” for Stalin!

If the late Goebbels would now hear all these tales and lies, he would turn over in his grave from envy! He, throughout the war, was not able to come up with such a fantastic tale. But history will surely sweep all the dirt off the grave of Stalin.

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 99-102

As is known, Khrushchev, at the 20th Congress, from the tribunal, stated that Stalin was always sitting, scared, in his iron cage. Since that time, the doors of lies have been blown open along with all sorts of fantasies that have been heaped up and said about Stalin. There is even a version that the Dacha where he worked, had iron bars on the windows, bullet-proof glass–a virtual castle.

There is also a version now that Stalin secluded himself in his fortress, that members of the Politburo decided by themselves that they would have to use flame throwers in order to get Stalin out of there! That they finally got inside this fortress and found Stalin dead!

I again repeat, there were no iron doors, double doors, all doors were made of wood, his doors were never closed, since he wanted fresh air and needed this circulation of air to help him breathe better. When they had to be locked, the keys were always in the hands of the Commandant of security of the Dacha. There were no other keys, no secret doors, no iron doors or other hiding places, as the present falsifiers try to invent today.

I again and again strongly state this, since Khrushchev tells the world things that he absolutely has no idea about, no way of proving these accusations and outright falsehoods. Khrushchev said: “I was an eyewitness when Stalin went into the toilet where there were no doors and after that, he came out in order to berate his bodyguard about how he was guarding him, his place was to be near him all the time, etc., etc.!

This is absolutely absurd that we, his bodyguards, would be requested by Stalin to go right into the toilet to be with him while he was sitting on the toilet! That Stalin would be afraid to go into the toilet himself–these are thoughts of the very sick mind!

This is absolutely the thought of a sick mind–yes, of Khrushchev’s very sick mind!

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 102, 104

Let us be truthful, at last!

This was the task that I placed before myself when I started to write this book. I did not embellish anything, did not try to color anything–I tried to tell the absolute truth about Stalin, with whom I was for more than 25 years.

You can judge for yourself the humility of Stalin and the opportunism, lies, sensationalism, and traitorous acts of the present “democrats” and former “Bolsheviks” who now write and write and still cannot dislodge the genius of Stalin, even after 43 years of trying.

This is why we, people who spent the best years of our lives working together with Stalin, write and struggle against the so-called “learned” who are trying to settle old scores or, if that is not possible, of trying to rewrite history irrespective of the time that was, or write according to the present weather that is blowing an ill wind. That is why we, together, are demonstrating and fighting against those who believe the thought-up sensationalism.

Dear readers, please, be vigilant!

Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 108-109

In further discussion of the way that the plans for 1942 came to be formulated, Blumentritt [Chief of the German General Staff on the Western Front and Rundstedt’s assistant] made some general observations that are worth inclusion as a sidelight. “My experience on the higher staffs showed me that the vital issues of war tended to be decided by political rather than by a strategical factors, and by mental tussles in the rear rather than by the fighting on the battlefield. Moreover, those tussles are not reflected in the operation orders. Documents are no safe guide for history–the men who sign orders often think quite differently from what they put on paper. It would be foolish to take documents that historians find in the archives as a reliable indication of what particular officers really thought.

Hart, Liddell. The German Generals Talk. New York: W. Morrow, 1948, p. 197

While the average person might understandably despair at this confusing tangle of documenting evidence, one justifiably expects historians to verify and authenticate source material.

Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 30

American historian Arch Getty has observed that for no other period or subject, except the study of the Soviet Union in the 1930s, have “historians been so eager to write and accept history-by-anecdote.” He states:

“Grand analytical generalizations have come from second-hand bits of overheard corridor gossip. Prison camp stories (“My friend met Bukharin’s wife in a camp and she said…”) have become primary sources on (Soviet) central political decision-making…the need to generalize from isolated and unverified particulars has transformed rumors into sources and has equated repetition of stories with confirmation.”

Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 89

It is a revealing characteristic of Conquest’s methodology pertaining to the Soviet Union, writes Getty, that he elevates rumor and hearsay to the level of historical fact. In fact, Conquest himself has stated: “Truth can thus only percolate in the form of hearsay” and, “on political matters basically the best, though not infallible source is rumor.” Getty comments: “Such statements would be astonishing in any other field of history. Of course historians do not accept hearsay and rumor as evidence.”

Having baptized hearsay and rumor into the realm of historical evidence in The Great Terror (the subject of Getty’s criticism), Conquest proceeds to bestow upon them the rights of confirmation in Harvest of Sorrow.

Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 89

A vast lot of nonsense has been written about the GPU.

Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 548

Written stories, biographies of people who were close to Stalin in his last days, do not agree with each other.

Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 18

Ligachev, a conservative figure in the Politburo until his forced retirement in 1990, told me ruefully that when history was taken out of the hands of the Communist Party, when scholars, journalists, and witnesses began publishing and broadcasting their own version of the past, “it created a gloomy atmosphere in the country. It affected the emotions of the people, their mood, their work efficiency. From morning to night, everything negative from the past is being dumped on them. Patriotic topics have been squeezed out, shunted aside. People are longing for something positive, something shining, and yet our own cultural figures have published more lies and anti-Soviet things than our Western enemies ever did in the last 70 years combined.”

Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 7

Afanasyev was determined to use his new post to help open up the study of the Soviet past. Exploiting his new access to at least some Party archives, he reviewed the letters of Olga Shatunovskaya, a woman who had been a member of the Communist Party Control Committee under Khrushchev. In those letters Shatunovskaya wrote that she had collected 64 folders of documents saying that according to KGB and Party data, between January 1935 and 1941 19,800,000 people have been arrested; and of these, 7 million were executed in prisons. Her statement was supported by specific data describing how many were shot and where and when. But the files Shatunovskaya described were declared “missing.”

Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 115

He [ Frunze] suffered from a chronic stomach complaint that doctors insisted required surgery, despite his protests. Stalin visited him in the hospital, where he pressured the surgeon to operate. Frunze died shortly afterward. Foul play has never been proved.

Overy, R. J. Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 27

Extravagant invention of all kinds can be found in the essay “Flight Out Of the Night” by the 76-year-old Boris Bazhanov…. At present Bazhanov is working on a new book, and from the extracts that have already been published fact seems to be combined with fiction in and extremely whimsical manner.

Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 33

Towards the end of his [Volkogonov] life, seriously ill but possessing full access to the archives, Volkogonov was hastening to complete biographies of all seven Soviet leaders from Lenin to Gorbachev. However, his outlook had shifted considerably, and he was now mainly concentrating on the exposure of negative material, without aspiring to objectivity or analysis.

Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 74

A more detailed, although one-sided, negative biography of Stalin has been attempted by the well-known Soviet playwright Edward Radzinsky…. In short, the book does not contain any fundamentally new material.

Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 74

But some former prisoners began to write memoirs or works of fiction about the camps and the repressions. The first were Solzhenitsyn in Ryazan, Shalamov in Moscow and Yevgeny Ginsburg in Lvov.

Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 118

According to the historian Antonov-Ovseenko, author of, Stalin and his Time, Stalin was coarse and cynical about his mother and gave orders for her to be constantly watched, assigning that task to two trusted female communists. Although he refers to the testimony of several Georgian Bolsheviks and their relatives, this is nevertheless a perfect example of pure invention.

Medvedev, Roy & Zhores Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 310

The vast majority of books on Russia written during the last years of Stalin are “Cold War” books, in which angry anti-Russian and anti-Soviet propaganda holds an infinitely larger place than any search for historical facts. Thus, the “historical” value of a classic of the Cold War literature of the time, Victor Kravchenko’s I Chose Freedom, though for several years a tremendously potent weapon of propaganda against Russia, with its clear implication that dropping an atom bomb on Moscow was the only possible solution to “the Russian problem,” is precisely nil. Dozens of other books of the same kind were published in the West between 1945 and 1953, and practically all of them are worthless to the present-day historian as sources of solid information, though they are, of course, significant as manifestations of the war hysteria that existed among many (fortunately not all) people in the West in the immediate post-war years.

Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.,1971, p. x

… he [Stalin] continually revised the basic elements of the “plot” until he found the right combination of elements to suit his political needs. [Look who’s talking]

Naumov and Brent. Stalin’s Last Crime. New York: HarperCollins, c2003, p. 133

Vaksberg has written that the trial of the doctors was planned for March 1953….. Like Sheinis, Vaksberg has produced no evidence to support the date of the trial, the reported barracks in Birobizhan, or the alleged reallocation of railroad facilities around Moscow. Any sort of change or movement gave rise instantly to such ideas. Rumor substantiated rumor and beliefs were taken as facts…. Vaksberg’s description of the “reserve tracks around Moscow…filled with freight cars [prepared to deport Jews],” however, is undoubtedly another unnecessary embellishment.

Naumov and Brent. Stalin’s Last Crime. New York: HarperCollins, c2003, p. 297

No one knows exactly how Stalin died….

In this vacuum of information and consistency rumors and myths have abounded for the last 50 years.

Naumov and Brent. Stalin’s Last Crime. New York: HarperCollins, c2003, p. 313

Americans have been subjected to widespread propaganda, both red and white. On no subject in the world has this been so prolific as about communism and the Soviet Union.

Davis, Jerome. The New Russia. New York: The John Day company, c1933, p. 3

It is difficult to escape the impression that close reading and in some cases the taking account of easily available sources do not necessarily characterize the researches of authors who present the “traditional” version….

This is the “secret report” presented by Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of the CPSU, which has been widely drawn on in the literature. And yet the possibility has never been taken seriously into account that its contents might have more to do with the political issues at the time it was compiled and the tactical objectives of its authors, rather than the realities of Soviet history….

All the indications are that it was based on rumors which were current in the USSR, or even on the memoirs of emigres published abroad, and that it was produced for the very purpose of confirming and “canonizing” the best-known version of events and phenomena that had been highly compromising for the regime….

It would certainly be na•ve to imagine that even the most attentive reading of original source material could bring to light everything that happened during that troubled period of Soviet history, when the most important events took place far from the public eye. But it would be equally alien to the professional ethic of historians to refrain from examining the available documents and to rely only on those witnesses that are the most accessible, and the most likely to confirm one preconception or another. For instance we shall see how much precious information can be gleaned from the documentation of the February-March 1937 Plenary Session of the Central Committee and from analyzing how and when it was published. That being the case, nothing can justify the author of the lengthiest work on the “Great Purge”, which is based mainly on sources like the “secret report” and emigres’ memoirs, for only quoting the testimony of a Soviet refugee. All the more so when the refugee was not present at the crucial session and the tale he relates is one he heard in a concentration camp in 1940 from another detainee who was not there either but had been told about it at the time….

True, it would be unfair to claim that earlier writers have completely failed to analyze original sources. But it must be noted that when they have done so they have become engrossed in the intentions of the leaders of the Party-State and their supposed prime mover, uncertain and at times downright unfathomable though these may be. So much so that their tendency to seek irrefutable proof for these intentions has brought them close to arbitrariness and tendentiousness in their choice and interpretation of the documents. Thus for example one of the favorite sources for historians: a decree in March 1935 forbidding the possession of knives and other edged weapons, which is frequently presented as a harbinger of the intensification of the terror. The authors seem unaware that other measures were being taken at about the same period to combat brigandage, armed attacks, brawls and “hooliganism,” phenomena which were all apparently on the increase at the time. Nor do they ever point out that the decree in question gave exemption from the ban to ethnic groups whose traditional livelihood or national costume entailed the carrying of knives. Furthermore one should add that another decree, only a few months afterwards, made it easier for private citizens to acquire small caliber weapons which could be bought without special license until February 1938….

The need to take into account the historical and documentary context of the sources quotes does not seem to be a strong point with some writers….

Although very keen to track down documents with which to demonstrate the escalation of terror and Stalin’s murderous schemes, the authors of the “traditional” version are far less ready to take account of sources which do not tend to support their theses. However, when they do do so, the conclusions they draw reveal very clearly the preconceptions that govern their approach….

In fact it is this burying of heads in the sand which is largely responsible for the tendentious quotation of source material and the ease with which authors have brought practically everything back to one single cause: Stalin. After all there’s nothing easier than to attribute to him the design of virtually everything that happened over 20 years in a country covering a sixth of the earth’s land-mass and home to 100 different ethnic groups. All one has to do is to set aside any possibility of a thorough examination of the social, political, and institutional context within which the regime operated and concentrate solely on the putative prime mover, refusing to touch the quite abundant material which would enable one to see the inner workings of the system.

This style of approach, instead of casting light on the origins, nature, and consequences of historical phenomena in all their complex variety, tends rather to put forward one-dimensional interpretations and over-simplified explanations which even at best have no more than a superficial documentary basis. At the same time it raises hypotheses which are really unverified, and at times frankly unverifiable, to the status of articles of faith. Thus, for example, the victims in high office who were dismissed and cruelly punished during this period: authors never tire of listing them at length and concluding from the mere fact of their fall that Stalin’s murderous machinations were at work, without showing the slightest interest in what the people in question were doing, how the organizations they controlled were being run, or what disagreements they might have had with their superiors, colleagues, or subordinates….

This same very simplistic logic is in many ways what perpetuates the idea that almost all the old guard of Bolsheviks were exterminated during the “Great Purge,” an allegation which is hardly borne out by the statistical facts. Certainly, since a large number of the victims of these turbulent years were officials of the Party and the state, they inevitably included a good many of the old elite who formed the backbone of the apparatus. But we should be aware that of the 24,000 party members in 1917 and the 430,000 or so militants at the beginning of 1920, there only remained 8000 and 135,000 respectively by 1927; this is but a small minority of the total membership which was estimated at over 1,200,000 by 1927 and at over 2,700,000 in 1934…. Out of more than 700,000 Party activists at the end of the Civil War there remained about 180,000 by 1934 and 125,000 at the beginning of 1939.

It therefore becomes somewhat difficult to state that the old guard of the Party had been reduced to naught, or that they were even the principal victims of the tumultuous events of 1934-1938,… As for the number of expulsions from the Party, it has been known for more than 20 years that this stood at nearly 279,000 in 1937-38 at the height of the “Great Purge.” In 1933, however, more than 854,000 activists had been expelled, over 342,000 in 1934 and nearly 282,000 in 1935; these figures are all higher than in the years of the “Great Terror.”

…Essentially he [Conquest] bases this on the memoirs of ex-prisoners who assert that between 4 and 5.5% of the Soviet population were incarcerated or deported during those years.

It seems improbable that men who are inside penal institutions would be able to form any exact idea either of the proportion of the population which is still at liberty or the numbers recently arrived in all the other camps and prisons, which they are not personally familiar with even though they had come to know a few by being moved around.

Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 7-12

In fact there is scarcely one of the writers of memoirs who can report from first-hand knowledge of affairs in the higher ranks of the Party-State, and yet it is these accounts that historians of the USSR quote most readily. It does not seem therefore entirely inappropriate to ask whether we are not dealing here with a series of rumors that were widespread as early as the 1930s, which then developed into an oral tradition and put down deep roots into the collective consciousness. These authors are cadres of the middle and lower levels of the hierarchy, persecuted intellectuals, Party activists with at best minimal responsibility, junior government officials or secret agents who defected after having passed the best part of their time abroad. They scarcely had access to the political bodies where the important decisions were made and where some of the crucial confrontations took place.

Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 16

In fact even the most cursory reading of the “classic” [anti-Stalin] works makes it hard to avoid the impression that in many respects these are often inspired more by the state of mind prevailing in some circles in the West, than by the reality of Soviet life under Stalin.

Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 23

(Solzhenitsyn’s lies)

We may gain some idea of Solzhenitsyn’s approach by checking how he uses some of the documents he refers to. He quotes for instance a decree from the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars on 7 April 1935 which, he says, “made children criminally responsible for any crime from the age of 12.” It is interesting to note that he is not alone in giving an erroneous interpretation of this law, and that others too have been led to believe that it allowed children to be found guilty of political crimes; this was the general view of writers on the subject even before The Gulag Archipelago was published. A mere glance at the text in question, however, reveals that the power ofinvoking “all penal sanctions” related only to children guilty of “theft, violence, bodily harm, mutilation, murder, and attempted murder.”

Solzhenitsyn is scarcely any more rigorous when he writes that the amnesty on 7 July 1945 freed “all those who had burgled apartments, stolen the clothes of passers-by, raped girls, corrupted minors, given consumers short weight, played the hoodlum, disfigured the defenseless, plundered forests and waters, committed bigamy, practiced extortion and blackmail, taken bribes, swindled, slandered, filed false enunciations…pimped or forced women into prostitution, whose carelessness or ignorance resulted in the loss of human life.”… Apart from the fact that the amnesty decree expressly ruled out anyone who had been “convicted on more than one occasion of embezzlement, theft, robbery and

hooliganism” and all those guilty of “counter-revolutionary” crimes, appropriation of public property, organized crime, premeditated murder and armed robbery, in most of the cases listed by the author the clauses cited laid down penalties of more than three years imprisonment,… Similarly the terms of the amnesty of 27 March 1953, which according to Solzhenitsyn “submerged the whole country in a wave of murderers, bandits and thieves,” actually did not permit the immediate release of the majority of thieves, and forbade that of almost all gangsters and murderers….

Solzhenitsyn is notorious for not liking thieves. It is no doubt this dislike which leads to his indignation at the pardon granted to those who plundered forests–mostly peasants who in certain circumstances could be sentenced to 10 years or more. This attitude also leads him to say that the penalty for stealing private property was not severe enough, when the minimum sentence from 1947 onwards was five years hard labor. He habitually contrasts political prisoners with common criminals to the point where he is prepared to state that, whereas the aggravating circumstance of having formed a “counter-revolutionary organization” was often used against “politicals,” there were no special penalties for offenses committed by groups of common criminals. This view does not bear comparison with the penal code.

One might dwell at length on the inaccuracies discernible in Solzhenitsyn’s work, many of which concern the fate of the leading actors in his Gulag. Thus for instance, the writer is unjust in accusing generals Egorov and Turovskii of being among the judges of the leaders of the Red Army at the famous secret trial in June 1937; their names do not appear on the list of tribunal members published at the time. But he is even more unjust when he makes people disappear in captivity and we find that, arrested though they may have been and sent to a prison camp, they sometimes did not stay there long. Thus he cites the arrest of Kuskova, Prokopovich and Kishkin, members of a famine relief committee in 1921. However, he omits to say that Kuskova and Prokopovich were expelled from the country in 1922 and Kishkin, who had already been tried on charges of conspiracy in 1919 and subsequently pardoned, benefited from a further amnesty and worked from 1923 until his death in the Commissariat of Health of the Russian Federation….

Our author [Solzhenitsyn] is equally mistaken in asserting that the biologist Lorkh was “dispatched” to Kazakhstan in the “stream” of agronomists in 1931 whose crime was to oppose the “directives” of Lysenko. We know that Lorkh was not a devoted follower of Lysenko’s theories. But we also know that, before receiving the Stalin prize, he had worked from 1931 to 1941 in a research institute near Moscow. And in any case, in 1931 Lysenko was in no position to issue directives that could result in a “stream” of agronomists being sent to the camps. He was already a rising star, but his career did not really take off until 1933.

Elsewhere Solzhenitsyn talks of five historians arrested in 1929. Now the biographies of four of them are known, and we find that three of them had been exiled to work in far-away provincial institutions and the two others were free during most of the 1930s. One of the latter, Gote, was elected to the Academy of Sciences in 1939. Another, Tarle, was awarded the Stalin Prize three times in the 1940s. In the same way, we can retrace the lives of eight people whom Solzhenitsyn lists among prisoners “preserved in the memory of the survivors,” to find that although they had been imprisoned, with the exception of one who was forced into exile they were all pursuing scientific careers in the 1930s and 1940s.

…But we should not forget that all the while attaching little importance to faithfulness to source documents where Solzhenitsyn asserts he has consulted them–or else where he could have done so–the heart of his narrative is based on the evidence, often oral, of 227 people. Now it is by no means certain that he was more meticulous in checking them than he was in reading easily available material….

Obviously it is difficult to check the accuracy of the eye-witness accounts from which Solzhenitsyn draws so many details and conclusions.

It would be clearly unfair to jump to the conclusion that the whole Gulag Archipelago is merely a collection of legends arising from the bitter reality of a national tragedy, and from the collective struggle to resist ruthless efforts to suppress its memory by the very instigators of this catastrophe. But it would be difficult to avoid the impression that Solzhenitsyn’s work is by no means an historical source unarguably exact in its every detail, but rather a mixture–and often an inextricable one–of indisputable facts and of their trace, sometimes very imprecise or distorted, preserved by a collective memory that has been more concerned about elevating a memorial to the martyrdom of its guardians than with the authenticity of its traditions. It is striking how many of Solzhenitsyn’s errors support this hypothesis. Indeed every inaccuracy that we have traced shows how far he is inclined to give priority to vague reminiscences and hearsay, even when he might have checked his sources, and how far his narrative obeys the rules inherent in all oral tradition, the impulse that collective memory inevitably has towards selective bias.

Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 231-235

Thus even though one might say that the number of detainees committed for political reasons was considerable, Solzhenitsyn’s assertion that half of the population of the camps and prisons was made up of people convicted under laws against “counter-revolutionary” crimes does not seem consistent with what we can discover from the development of penal policy and popular reactions.

Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 288

…the Gulag, while overestimating the number of those arrested as “counter-revolutionaries,” retains very little trace of the actual reasons for their arrests or convictions but concentrates on the circumstances of their detention, on police brutality, or on the hardships of life inside the camps.

Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 293

Nicolas Werth, a well-regarded French specialist on the Soviet Union whose sections in the Black Book on the Soviet communists are sober and damning, told Le Monde, “Death camps did not exist in the Soviet Union.”

The Future Did Not Work by J. Arch Getty, Book Review of The Passing of an Illusion by Franois Furet [March 2000 Atlantic Monthly]

…it is understandable that those who safeguarded the memory of repression concentrated their efforts on compiling a full inventory of affronts and cruelties, down to the finest detail. But we should not lose sight of the fact that they collected evidence that is often extremely hard to verify….

It is worth noting that as the witnesses of the camps in the 1930s gradually became fewer, stories began to circulate which are uncorroborated by the known accounts of their experiences, let alone what can be gleaned from consulting other sources.

Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 294

The equation “concentration camps = Gulag = Soviet regime” cannot be accepted therefore as an explanatory model for the highly complex realities of the Soviet Union’s past. The collective memory and the literary work which form its basis cannot be taken as entirely reliable sources for our knowledge of the world of the camps or penal policy, nor apparently can that policy alone provide a sufficient explanation for the historical processes at work within the Soviet Union.

Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 300

What our experiences show is above all the extremely precarious state of almost all our knowledge of the social-political history of these years, as soon as we set it against a systematic and critical study of the original sources which until recent years have been greatly neglected by research.

Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 319

(Robert Service’s many unproven accusations)

He [Stalin] ordered the systematic killing of people on a massive scale

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 3

In applying physical and mental torment to his victims, he degraded them in the most humiliating fashion. He derived a deep satisfaction from this.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 5

Stalin had a gross personality disorder.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 10

In fact he was very far from being ‘normal.’ He had a vast desire to dominate, punish, and butcher.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 12

He had killed innumerable innocents in the Civil War.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 12

But his sense of traditional honor was non-existent.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 27

The Party General Secretary ordered the arrested individuals [engineers and industrial specialists] to be beaten into confessing to imaginary crimes.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 259

A succession of such trials occurred in 1929-30 Outside the RSFSR. there were trials of nationalists Torture, outlandish charges and learned-by-rote confessions became the norm. Hundreds of defendants were either shot or sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment.

[This is one of those statements which has a source but how do you know the source has any validity]

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 268

He demanded complete obedience and often interfered in their private lives.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 277

His [Vyshinsky] basic proposition that confession (which could be obtained by torture) was the queen of the modalities of judicial proof was music to Stalin’s ears.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 281

His memory was extraordinary, and he had his future victims marked down in a very long list.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 285

Yet his maladjusted personality was not the only factor at work.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 285

Quite possibly Stalin continued to have the odd fling with young communists; and, even if he was faithful to Nadya, she did not always believe him and was driven mad with jealousy.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 289

Stalin’s cultural program was an unstable mixture. He could kill artists at will and yet his policies were incapable of producing great art

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 305

At a time when peasants in several regions were so desperate that some turn to cannibalism,

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 311

They eat berries, fungi, rats and mice; and, when these had been consumed, peasants ate grass and bark.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 312

The verdict was execution by shooting. Zinoviev and Kamenev had been told that, if they confessed to involvement in the Kirov “conspiracy’ in 1934, their sentences would be commuted. But Stalin had tricked them.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 320

He never got over them: the beatings in his childhood,

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 344

Solitary again, Stalin had no peace of mind. He was a human explosion waiting to happen.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 345

His was a mind that found terror on a grand scale deeply congenial.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 345

Meanwhile Ordjonikidze’s brother had been shot on Stalin’s instructions.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 349

Tukhachevsky was shot on 11 June; he had signed a confession with a bloodstained hand after a horrific beating.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 349

Nearly all the accused [at the Bukharin trial] had been savagely beaten.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 355

Two days later [after the Bukharin trial] Stalin approved a further operation to purge “anti-Soviet elements.’ This time he wanted 57,200 people to be arrested across the USSR. Of these, he and Yezhov had agreed, fully 48,000 were to be rapidly tried by troiki and executed.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 355

He [Stalin] had killed Kaganovich’s brother Moisei

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 374

Stalin the Leader was multifaceted. He was a mass killer with psychological obsessions.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 379

Stalin had Maria Svanidze arrested in 1939 and sent to a labor camp. Her husband Alexander Svanidze also fell victim to the NKVD: he had been arrested in 1937 and was shot in 1941. Alexander behaved with extraordinary courage under torture and refused to confess or beg for mercy.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 434

Tortures previously reserved for non-communists were applied to Rajk, Pauker, and Slansky. The beatings were horrific.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 520

An administrative behemoth ran the USSR whose master was the pockmarked little psychopath.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 538

Mikhoels was killed in a car crash on Stalin’s orders in 1948.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 577

As is not unusual in such a situation, proof is lacking; but circumstantial evidence filled the gap for the gossip-mongers.

Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 17

There is hardly any possibility of verifying that story, which comes, we must not forget, from Stalin’s bitterest opponents.

Trotsky , Leon , Stalin. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941, p. 29

[Footnote]: In general, the testimony of this police defector [Orlov] should be treated with reserve. He was out of the Soviet Union during most of the period he wrote about and must have relied mainly on gossip that was making the rounds in the police. Some of this probably was based on fact, but Orlov does not appear to have been able, or perhaps willing, to make a serious effort to discriminate between the more reliable stories and the less probable. Although he claimed that he took with him from Russia ‘secret data’ on Stalin, none of this has ever appeared. Rarely can his assertions be verified from other sources, but it is reasonably safe to describe as imaginary his assertion that Stalin once explained to foreign ‘writers’ why there was no documentary evidence in the purge trials. In fact, Stalin’s few press interviews are well established, and none deal with any such thing.

McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 360

DURANTY IS A FAIR SOVIET CRITIC

I had long talks with Duranty, an Englishman, but the representative in Moscow of the New York Times, and easily the ablest journalist in Eastern Europe. Duranty, while openly critical of many aspects of Soviet life and of Communist practice, is a fair-minded and, on the whole, sympathetic critic. Russians, while they do not like many things he says about them, believe in his honesty.
Cummings, Arthur. The Moscow Trial (Metro-Vickers). London: Victor Gollancz, 1933, p. 175

DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE SHOULD BE A MAIN SOURCE FOR FACTS

In all these matters, we must constantly question our sources. The evidence presented is based on sensitive documents long suppressed. It might be objected that documents and archives should not be our main sources for the repression. Indeed, we must consider the possibility that they have been altered or falsified. Fearful, culpable, and powerful officials over the years since 1937 certainly would have reason to take an interest in the paper trail of these crimes, and such people were capable of far more than adjusting the documentary record. Certainly, the record is incomplete and we must maintain a healthy suspicion of all official sources from the 1930s. But simply on the basis of suspicion and without any evidence, it would be rash to decide a priori that the archival record is false. Until and unless independent historians and documentary experts are able to examine all the sensitive documents in their physical form and contexts, the scholarly community is not in a position finally to establish their veracity–or lack of credibility for that matter.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 61

CONQUEST ADMITS HIS FIGURES LACK PRECISION

In fact all our chains of evidence (treated, in general, somewhat conservatively) lead, though without any real precision, to some such figure.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : The Macmillan Co., 1973, p. 702

We are not able to give exact figures in this field [numbers in the camps] any more than in the others.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : The Macmillan Co., 1973, p. 706

Nevertheless, there is an invaluable accumulation of useful information on a wide variety of themes. The accounts are indeed scrappy and incomplete, and in some cases uncritically assembled on a basis more journalistic than scholarly.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : The Macmillan Co., 1973, p. 750

It is clear that documents are in many cases inaccessible, and reliance must often be placed on the memories of surviving relatives and others.
The unsatisfactory nature of the documentation is strikingly shown in the divergence of Soviet sources over the dates of death, even of such prominent figures as Chubar, full member of the Politburo, or Marshal Yegorov, Chief of Staff. There are so many instances of two (and very occasionally instances of more than two) different dates for such deaths competing in the literature, that I am inclined to interpret it as follows: the earlier date may represent the imposition of the death sentence, which would be the last date to appear on the legal file on the accused, and would normally be carried out within days. If the sentence was thereupon commuted by administrative decision, the fact might not emerge on the documents available to a given researcher, but come out only in a different set of documents, or from the personal reports of surviving N.K.V.D. officers. BUT THIS IS NO MORE THAN LOGICAL SPECULATION. AND IN SOME CASES SHEER MUDDLE SEEMS JUST AS LIKELY.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : The Macmillan Co., 1973, p. 750-751

THE TRUTH CAN THUS ONLY PERCOLATE IN THE FORM OF HEARSAY.

…But of course not all hearsay and not all rumour is true [which implies most is]. On political matters basically the best, though not infallible, source is rumour at a high political or police level.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : The Macmillan Co., 1973, p. 754

MEMORIAL SHOULD BE BUILT FOR THOSE FIGHTING FOR SOCIALISM NOT AGAINST IT

His life was very complex and very hard. These modern “democrats” are trying to build a Memorial to the victims of Stalinism. I would suggest that they build a Memorial to the victims of these enemies of the people. Remember that just in Lithuania and Latvia during the last war, the nationalists killed more than one million people–teachers, party people, and young Komsomols. Two hundred thousand of our patriots were killed in the Crimea by the Tartar nationalists.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 108

ANTI-STALIN WRITERS ADMIT THEIR BIAS AND PREJUDICE

[Volkogonov said to Remnick] “I was a Stalinist. I contributed to the strengthening of the system that I am now trying to dismantle.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York : Random House, c1993, p. 408

SUMMARY OF CONQUESTS DECEPTIONS IN THE GREAT TERROR

1. Making comments with no proof.

2. When he does cite, it’s a rogue’s gallery of anti-Stalinist fanatics. Relies very heavily on the most rabid Rightists

3. He ticks off shootings, jailings, and exilings as if the persons were automatically innocent.

4. Almost never goes into the details or facts of any cases.

5. Never allows the prosecution’s evidence to be presented.

6. Particularly absurd accounts come from Orlov and Kravchenko.

7. Overwhelming use of secondary sources.

8. Uses all the rumors and scuttlebutt he can find.

9. Never shows one example of where Stalin caused a killing of an innocent person whom he knew was innocent.

10. Many times he gives a very superficial, biased presentation of an incident and quickly moves on.

11. Gives a trivial incident and then says the person involved was later arrested, implying he was arrested for the trivial incident.
For example: At a meeting of the Kiev Academy of Sciences, for example, someone denounced professor Kopershinsky. Another Communist scientist, Kaminsky remarked, “Where class instinct speaks, proof is unnecessary.” He, too, was later arrested.
Moreover, readers simply must accept the assertion that someone was arrested.

12. Uses the word “purged” incorrectly and doesn’t know what a purge is.

13. A lot of reports from anti-Stalin (glasnost) papers but not quoted from the original source.

14. Almost never do two sources report the same act.

15. Statements are not from opening archives but opening up archives to Rightists to spread their poison.

16. The trials really bother Conquest.

17. Always an assumption that anyone in jail is there for political reasons.

18. He often ignores testimony in the major Moscow trials as if it didn’t exist.

19. Jumps from topic to topic topic with quick insinuations and no proof’s

20. Uses material in novels as if it were actual history

21. Conquest’s writings reek with words like: seems, probable, probability, appears, presumption, perhaps, probably, no doubt (when there is doubt), presume, might have, implausible, we can envisage, possible, reported, reportedly, stories, unofficial reports, believed to have been, is said to have been, rumors have emerged, seem to have been, presumed, if, it has recently been speculated, and are said to have.

CONQUEST MAKES ANTI-STALINIST ACCUSATIONS FOR WHICH NO PROOF IS PROVIDED

When he [Kaganovich] himself was removed in 1957 [from the Politburo] he telephoned the victor [Khrushchev] and begged not to be shot.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 13

If Bukharin in the Politburo had spoken up against the Shakhty trial, if Trotsky in exile had denounced the Menshevik trial–if they had even objected not to the injustice as such,…
A.) What injustice? Where is the proof that there was an injustice?

It is true that those who did not confess and were shot secretly, demonstrated not merely a higher courage but a better sense of values.
a) To whom is he referring? What evidence does he have for these alleged secret shootings?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 28

This killing [of Kirov ] has every right to be called the crime of the century. Over the next four years, hundreds of Soviet citizens, including the most prominent political leaders of the Revolution, were shot for direct responsibility for the assassination….
a) What hundreds of citizens?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 37

Stalin’s plan succeeded, and his colleague [Kirov] lay dead in the Smolny corridors.
a. What plan and where is the evidence for same.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 41

Nine other men who had been present, including… Rumyantezev, were arrested. They were under arrest, or some of them were by Dec. 6 [following Kirov ‘s murder]. “Severe” interrogation methods were employed.
A] What is his evidence for this?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 46

There were rumors, to put it no higher, that fellow prisoners had seen Kotolynov at the time of his interrogation, badly scarred and beaten.
a) Rumors are evidence?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 48

No doubt, in a general way, Stalin favored silencing those who knew his secrets.
a. Proof?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 50

His [Stalin] opponents, on the whole, only realized his implacability too late. But it is unnecessary today to labor the point of Stalin’s unscrupulousness or yet the extreme vindictiveness of his nature.
a) No evidence is provided for his alleged implacability, unscrupulousness, or vindictiveness. The statement is just made and the author moves on.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 56

She [Stalin’s wife] seems to have obtained most of her information from students at a course she had not been allowed to take, and they were arrested as soon as Stalin found out.
a. Is any information or proof provided
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 58

With the exception of Zinoviev, Stalin was the only non-“intellectual” in Lenin’s leadership.
a) Would Conquest like to match his knowledge of history and literature with Stalin?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 61

He [Stalin] won his position by devious maneuver.
a) He provides no evidence for this whatever.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 62

There can be no doubt that Stalin pursued his grudges implacability, even after many years.
a) Conquest doesn’t provide evidence that grudges existed to start with let alone implacability.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 66

It is true that anyone Stalin had a personal grudge against was almost automatically included on the death list,…
a) Conquest provides no evidence that there was a personal grudge against anyone nor does a provide any evidence of a death list. He just utters these slanders and moves on.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 67

We do not need to posit a conscious long-term plan to say that in a general way the drive for power was Stalin’s strongest and most obvious motivation.
a) What is his evidence for this slander? Certainly none is provided.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 69

It is said that she [Lenin’s wife, Krupskaya] was in fear for her life in her last few years.
a) Said by whom? And what is the evidence that there is any validity?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 73

…the Kirov murder conspired various groups to talk of, and even to plan, in an amateurish passion which was no match for the police of the new regime, the killing of Stalin. Either way, such circles were now invariably arrested and shot.
a) To whom is he referring? Who was shot?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 78

He [Stalin] had developed direct control of the Secret Police and had set up other mechanisms of power responsible to himself alone and capable, given careful tactics, of overcoming the official hierarchy of Party and State.
a) Does he provide any evidence for this? Of course not.

His [Stalin] operatives were accustomed to the use of torture, blackmail, and falsification–if as yet mainly on non-Party figures.
a) Is any evidence provided for this? Again, of course not.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 79

He [Reingold] was interrogated for three weeks, often for periods of 48 hours at a time without sleep or food, by Chertok.
a) Is any evidence provided for this? No.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 83

Stalin went on to write that the Revolution was quite prepared to throwaway “great names,” including Gorky ‘s, if necessary.
a) Does Conquest provide any evidence of this threat to Gorky ‘s life made by Stalin? No. Because there is none.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 86

Stalin was not adverse to having people murdered and his respect for literature was not such as to prevent his disposing of many other Russian writers of repute. We shall consider this suspicion later.
a) He not only accuses Stalin of murder but even admits it’s a conjecture based on mere suspicion.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 87

Again, the selective assassination of NKVD of defectors and of other political enemies in the West was soon to become routine. And Stalin himself–had organized the killing of Kirov .
A] What evidence is provided for these slanders? None of course. What evidence is there that Stalin organized the killing of Kirov ? None.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 106

There is no doubt that threats to the family–the use, that is, of hostages for good behavior–was one of the most powerful of all Stalin safeguards.
a) There most certainly is doubt and Conquest most assuredly provides no proof of this accusation.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 127

The absolutely certain way for a defendant to get himself shot was to refuse to plead guilty.
a) Not a shred the proof is presented to justify this slander.

The only chance of avoiding death was to admit to everything, and to put the worst possible construction on all one’s activities.
a) Another unsubstantiated slander.

At the August 1936 Trial moreover, the defendants that actually been promised their lives and had reasonable expectation that the promise would be fulfilled.
a) Where is the evidence for this?

The same promise was evidently made to Pyatakov and others in the second trial.
a) “Evidently” is pure guesswork.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 128

The principle had become established that a confession was the best result obtainable. Those who could obtain it were to be considered successful operatives, and a poor NKVD operative had a short life expectancy.
a) Where he is his proof for this comment?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 131

The new trial did not have the immediate and obvious aims of the first. The motives remaining are plain enough. First, revenge….
a) And what is his proof for this?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 147

Although the Zinoviev trial was full of evident falsehoods,….
a) Such as what? Conquest is hard-pressed to provide one.

Sabotage, by Pyatakov and his subordinates, was most implausible.
a) Why?

As we have said, a plot designed to break the Government by terrorist acts could scarcely divert its energies, and risk exposure, by a vast network of people blowing up mines and causing railway accidents, simply to weaken the economy and sow distrust of the Government
a) Why not?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 149

He [Ordjonikidze] had been double-crossed. Personally involved in the negotiations before the Pyatakov Case, he had had Stalin’s assurance that Pyatakov would not be executed…. When Pyatakov was arrested, Stalin told Ordjonikidze, “Pyatakov will not be executed.”
a) No evidence is provided for this.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 167
It is now no longer disputed that Stalin did in fact procure Ordjonikidze’s death.
a) Not a shred of evidence is produced to prove this.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 170

All the accused eventually confessed under torture.
a) Not a shred of proof is provided for that slander.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 202

Confessions in the longer-drawn-out affairs were in part obtained by promises not to kill the surviving dependents.
a) Again not a shred of evidence is provided. Just slanderous accusations.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 274

[A commander of Stalin’s bodyguard mumbled that she [his wife] had said she would get rid of a picture of Stalin that hung in their new flat. For this, she got eight years.
a) Where is the evidence for this nonsense?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 274

Recaptured prisoners were always brutally manhandled, and almost invariably shot.
a) Again no evidence is provided.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 323

On the night of March 2, “special measures” were taken. The interrogators dislocated his [Krestinsky] left shoulder, so that outwardly there was nothing to be seen.
a) No evidence provided whatever.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 352

We can presume that they [Kamkov and Karelin] were in fact executed for their alleged part in the plan to assassinate Lenin, and similarly with Ossinsky,…
a) No proof whatever. “Presume” dominates his propaganda.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 374

…Stalin procured the death of both the others (Kirov and Ordjonikidze) by devious, though differing, means….
a) Again no evidence whatever.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 388

Bessonov’s liquidation is reported to have occurred in Orel prison,…
a) “Is reported” is not proof.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 395

Bela Kun was taken to the Lefortovo, where he was tortured.
a) No evidence
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 403

But Stalin had for some time been shooting prominent Central Committee members without such formality,…
a) What members and where is the proof?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 422

During the winner, various arrests were carried out, Corps Commander Rokossovsky had been beaten senseless and dragged off to prison,…
a) No proof
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 429

Of four of the fallen leaders, it has now been specifically said that they were tortured (Rudzutak, Eikhe, Kossior, and Chubar).
a) Said by whom and what is the evidence.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 439

In fact, if we are to believe Conquest at key junctures, he must offer more, or in some cases, any, evidence. Among his unsupported assertions in his response is that life in a totalitarian country is roughly comparable to being at a warfront. To support this notion in The Great Terror, he quoted only the memoirs of Robert Graves on English soldiers in World War I. We need more than that, but the memoirs I cited show something very different. (I find the totalitarian model in general, increasingly rickety, but I will spare us that issue here.) Another assertion: “the Soviet Union in a goodish year like 1935 is comparable to one of the most repressive dictatorships of today.” This must be shown, but I have found indications to the contrary. Another: peasants were “major victims” in 1936-1938. Perhaps, but we need more proof….
Thurston, Robert W. “On Desk-Bound Parochialism, Commonsense Perspectives, and Lousy Evidence: A Reply to Robert Conquest.” Slavic Review 45 (1986), 241.

CONQUEST MAKES ALLEGATIONS RESTING ON GUESSES, ASSUMPTIONS, & SPECULATIONS.

On Sept. 23, 1932, Ryutin was again expelled from the Party and arrested. Stalin seems to have hoped that the OGPU might shoot Ryutin without involving the political authorities.
a) “seems” is reliable historical terminology?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 24

[Regarding Kirov ‘s murder] Yagoda could only have acted on secret orders from Stalin.
a) Plenty of people acted without Stalin’s orders.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 43

Sokolnikov seems to have had an interview with Stalin and to have been promised his life. It is not clear why Sokolnikov believed this promise. It was, in all probability, made before the execution of Zinoviev and his followers.
a) Where is the proof? “seems to have had” and “in all probability” are not the words of an established case.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 140

But no one had any doubt that he [Ordjonikidze] died by violence, and that his end was not “natural.”
a) No proof, just slanderous implication.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 170

No clear account of the atrocities practiced in the Lefortovo is available.
a) He assumes there were atrocities and then admits he has no evidence to support his allegation.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 269

Instead, Conquest…finds the memoir evidence sound where it supports his views and worthless when it does not.
This statement leads me to his use of evidence in general. First, I am puzzled by his understanding of the word [estimate] in one case. Weissberg made an estimate, as he plainly said, of the total arrested. This estimate is no more “solid empirical evidence” than anyone else’s calculation is.
Thurston, Robert W. “On Desk-Bound Parochialism, Commonsense Perspectives, and Lousy Evidence: A Reply to Robert Conquest.” Slavic Review 45 (1986), 240.

I will examine one last assumption in the response: I cited seven, not one, cases of people who spent much more than three to four months in prison; yet Conquest clings to his original statement on prison turnover, another key part of his estimate of total arrests. My evidence is substantial, given the nature of the sources. It is much more than Conquest has offered, and now he must counter with some detailed material. He has attacked my use of memoirs–again, ironic criticism coming from him–all the more reason he should move beyond the general, often unreliable, statements in survivors’ accounts to an examination of the specific evidence they present. His massive generalizations require support: the “outside public” felt such and such by 1937, the whole country was “broken” in 1939. I prefer to call my own language on such points cautious rather than slippery; but I would call his wording unjustifiable. How can anyone say that 170 million people felt any one thing or another?
Thurston, Robert W. “On Desk-Bound Parochialism, Commonsense Perspectives, and Lousy Evidence: A Reply to Robert Conquest.” Slavic Review 45 (1986), 242.

MANY COMMENTS BY CONQUEST ARE PURE SLANDERS

As Kamenev was made to remark at his trial in 1936, “Our banking on the insuperability of the difficulties which the country was experiencing,…
a) No evidence is provided to show Kamenev was made to say anything.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 30

His [Stalin] aim remained, as is now clear, unchallenged power. So far, he had brutalized the Party, but he had not enslaved it.
a) How does Conquest know what his aim is, assuming he had one? Is he a personal psychologist? Had he ever met Stalin in his entire life? And where is his evidence that the party had been brutalized by Stalin?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 31

This was the first testing ground of the more recent technique of founding a case on false confessions extracted by terror.
a) Where is the evidence of terror in the Moscow trials and what is his evidence that the confessions were false?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 35

It must have been about this time that Stalin took the most extraordinary decision of his career. It was that the best way of insuring his political supremacy in dealing with his old Comrade [Kirov] was murder.
a) No proof whatever is provided that Stalin engineered the murder of Kirov his best friend. Apparently Conquest thinks that repetition of a lie will make it true..
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 36

Like many ambition-driven men he [Stalin] was very short, only about 5 ft. 3 in.
a) How does he know he was ambition driven? Stalin certainly had no assurance he was going to get ahead while in those labor camps and prisons as opposed to working his way up through the normal political channels. Could it be he was doing it for humanity?
b) And his stereotyping of short men is disgusting.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 54

Everywhere and in everything he [Stalin] saw “enemies,” “double-dealers,” and “spies.”
a) He did not see them but he was understandably on the lookout considering the fact that Bukharin, Zinoviev, Rykov, Kamenev, and other former allies sought to eliminate him. He would’ve been foolish not to have been very watchful and cautious.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 56

And he [Stalin] was stubborn, refusing to consider facts which did not correspond to his wishes.”
a) Again no evidence is provided but the slander is simply asserted. Conquest is more appropriately describing himself.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 57

A story circulating in NKVD circles has it that Stalin was asked for Radek’s life to be spared by Leon Feuchtwanger, as the price for his agreeing to write his book ( Moscow 1937) justifying the trials, which Stalin was anxious to have written….
a) No evidence is presented to support this and Conquest even admits it’s a “story”.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 165

A close friend of Ordjonikidze’s widow relates that she thought he had been killed by others, and had seen men running across the lawn away from the house at the time of his death.
a) This is history? A close friend of Ordjonikidze’s widow is supposedly quoting her.
(1) This is pure hearsay. The widow is not speaking; the friend is
(2) The widow allegedly said she “thought” he had been killed, which is guesswork;
(3) Men could have been running across the lawn for several reasons, assuming anyone was doing so.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 171

In this sense, even accepting a forced suicide, we can in any case certainly speak of the murder of Ordjonikidze.
a) No we can’t.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 172

Not that we can so simply exhaust Stalin’s motives. Former grudges and present nuisance value certainly played a part.
a) What is his evidence that Stalin was operating on grudges and nuisance valuse?
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 186

Now, for the first time, Stalin was to begin a massive offensive against his own supporters everywhere.
a) How ridiculous! An offensive against his own supporters!
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 192

Fear by night, and a feverish effort by day to pretend enthusiasm for a system of lies, was the permanent condition of the Soviet citizen.
a) That is pure nonsense. He is applying to all that which is only applicable to a small minority. In truth the exact opposite applies to the vast bulk of the population.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 252

Since Stalinist historiography is so extravagantly unreliable,…
a) Imagine a comment like that coming from an “historian” like Conquest who said “THE TRUTH CAN THUS ONLY PERCOLATE IN THE FORM OF HEARSAY. …But of course not all hearsay and not all rumour is true [which implies most is]. On political matters basically the best, though not infallible, source is rumour at a high political or police level.”
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 413

MANY STATEMENTS BY CONQUEST ARE PATENTLY FALSE

But it is now hardly necessary here to say more. It is nowhere believed any longer that the Germans were responsible [for the Katyn Massacre].
a) This is ridiculous.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 449

The Great Trials were, and it should have been plain at the time, nothing but large-scale frame-ups.
a) Utterly ridiculous comment totally ignoring an avalanche of testimony to the contrary.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 479

Everyone agrees that the Stalinist command economy was, and remains, a disaster. a) Totally divorced from reality. It was the exact opposite and propelled the SU into becoming a world powerhouse.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York : Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 488

MEDVEDEV MAKES UNQUALIFIED PSYCH JUDGMENTS OF STALIN WHOM HE HAS NEVER MET

Quite early in life he [Stalin] became a crude, unsentimental, and distrustful person, tormented by an inferiority complex and very ambitious.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 25

It is true that Stalin was not a tribune of the revolution and did not have a quick mind,…
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 31

Their [Stalin and his wife, Svanidze] son, Yakov, was left to the care of relatives. Stalin was not much concerned with the boy and gave little thought to his welfare.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 32

It can therefore be said with assurance that Stalin had no regrets at Kirov ‘s death.
a) More psychological concoctions by one eminently unqualified.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 345

Of course Stalin did not miss the chance to settle scores with his personal enemy, Mdivani, who in the ’30s served as deputy chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Georgian Republic .
a) More psychoanalyzing with no evidence.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 386

Some Komsomol leaders of the new generation were also arrested, but not as many as Stalin wished.
a) More psychoanalyzing. Some critics act as if Stalin had been on their couch every day when, in truth, the overwhelming majority were mere children or yet to be born when Stalin was active.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 418

Stalin was an extremely secretive person; he never told anyone his true intentions.
a) Yet Medvedev doesn’t hesitate to tell readers what he knew Stalin was thinking at any particular time and even admits he is wandering through the realm of guesswork by saying “this opens the door to all sorts of speculation about his motives.” And what government leader isn’t secretive?
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 537

According to Dmitri Shostakovich, for example, a friend of his family, the well-known surgeon Grekov, told them that a detailed diagnosis of Stalin’s mental condition was somehow done as early as 1927 by Bekhterev, one of the most prominent of Russian psychiatrists, who concluded that Stalin was mentally ill.
a.) Bekhterev had “somehow done” an analysis of Stalin that was reported to Grekov who told Shostakovich who told Medvedev. Talk about unreliable history! Maybe historical documentation and proof should be scrapped in favor of hearsay 2nd hand. No doubt critics of Stalin would relish such a proposal.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 542

Morbid suspiciousness, noticeable throughout his life and especially intense in his last years, intolerance of criticism, grudge-bearing, an overestimation of himself bordering on megalomania, cruelty approaching sadism [also unsociability, obstinacy, striving for dominance–on page 542]–all these traits, it would seem, demonstrate that Stalin was a typical paranoiac.
a.) How someone can make slanderous judgments of this nature with respect to an individual they never met once in their life, especially when thousands of decisions and events demonstrate precisely the contrary is anyone’s guess.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 543

Stalin was also not indifferent to the question of expanding Soviet territory. He was already beginning to think in terms of the former Russian empire, hoping to “regain” a large part of the territory that once had been part of it.
a) More psychological evaluating and judging by the unqualified. How on earth does he know what Stalin was thinking?
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 733

Stalin, although chairman, did not like to attend government meetings and let Voznesensky fill-in for him. This offended the vanity of men like Voroshilov, Molotov, Beria, and Kaganovich.
a) Now he not only knows Stalin’s psychological state but that of men around him. How does he know how these men were affected psychologically if it all.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 784

In reality Stalin was envious of Lenin’s place in history and tried to appropriate it for himself.
a) There is no reality to this nor is there any evidence for it. More unqualified psychoanalysis.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 815

Yet Stalin never felt bound by any laws or restricted by any rules whatever.
a) That remark is far more applicable to current [turn-of-the-century] American foreign policy than Josef Stalin. How often did the Soviet Union vote in the League Nations against virtually the entire world as the United States currently does in the United Nations.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 824

Stalin distrusted and despised the people. He belonged to a workers’ party but did not respect workers.
a) Another slanderous, unsubstantiated psychological judgment.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 840

Stalin was not in the least concerned with changing his opponents minds and drawing them into the common work. He sought to break their resistance and subject them to his will….
a) The inaccuracy of this is easily shown in the fact that Stalin debated and attempted to persuade his opponents endlessly.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 95

MEDVEDEV LIED FAR TOO OFTEN TO BE CONSIDERED A CREDIBLE SOURCE

Of course, we all welcome the rehabilitation of Bukharin, Rykov, and the others–even if it comes many years late.
a) Medvedev’s poll taking is as flawed as his history since “we all” is far from accurate.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 17

In the ’30s the Soviet press described all opposition leaders as traitors and spies for foreign governments who had been recruited to work for imperialist intelligence agencies in the first years of Soviet power.
a) Never were all oppositionists deemed traitors and spies.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 93

At the same time he was extremely vengeful, nursing his grudges.
a) The entire career of Stalin demonstrates his unceasing desire to let bygones be bygones. How many times were people expelled from the party and later readmitted, for example.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 95

In fact, neither Bukharin’s nor Rykov’s views and statements contradicted the basic postulates of scientific socialism or the views of Lenin.
a) Since Gorbachev’s views mirrored those of Bukharin and Gorbachev’s views led to the demise of socialism, it is safe to say this statement has no validity.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 148

Of course Stalin’s perfidy and his capacity for secret murder to supplement his own reign of terror cannot be doubted.
a) Where is his evidence for this unmitigated slander?
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 301

The French Communist Party, however, rejected the Comintern request. That was one reason why fascism was unable to gain a victory in France .
a) What! Tell that to the French living under the Vichyites.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 313

But how did Stalin react to the growing cult of his personality? The facts show not only that he accepted it calmly and as his due, which was improper enough for a Marxist-Leninist, but also that he directed and encouraged this praise himself.
a) Not only is this patently false but Medvedev follows this by quoting comments Stalin made to Lion Feuchtwanger in which Stalin denounces such adulation.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 318

Footnote: A few years later Smirnov was shot on Stalin’s orders,…
a) Quite false. He admitted his guilt in court and was sentenced by Judge Ulrich.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 329

Moreover, they [the defendants at the August 1936 Zinoviev trial] were deprived of the right to defense counsel.
a) That, of course, is a patent lie since all were offered counsel and most declined.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 356

… the illegal repression of former oppositionists in 1935-1936.
a) What was illegal about it? They were convicted in court.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 425

I have examined critically the various accounts of why Stalin unleashed the terror of 1936-1939. There is no need to overly complicate the explanation. His main motive was lust for power, boundless ambition.
a) That is absurd and even flies in the face of evidence presented by his opponents themselves.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 585

Footnote: In 1937 he [Beloborodov] was shot as a “Trotskyite,”…
a) No one was ever shot by a Politburo led by Stalin for being a Trotskyite. People were executed for what they did, not for what they believed.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 672

Stalin himself remained to the end of his life an uneducated man,…
a) That comment has virtually nothing to do with reality as Stalin was very well-informed especially with respect to the social sciences, literature, and the arts.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 719

Thus the threat to the Soviet Union’s northern border was not great enough to justify, even in part, a preventive war against Finland .
a) Medvedev’s military acumen is no better than his historical analyses. Finland was next-door to the Soviet Union ‘s second-largest city and strategically located to provide a fascist pathway for invading the SU.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 733

MEDVEDEV MAKES ONE STATEMENT AFTER ANOTHER WITHOUT A SHRED OF EVIDENCE

But Stalin brushed aside these well-founded objections.
a) Rarely did Stalin ever brush aside well founded objections regarding anything. What is his evidence for this?
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 253

The trial [of the Toiling Peasant Party] was almost completely rehearsed,…
a) No evidence is presented for this slander.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 262

After the death of Alliluyeva, Stalin remained a widower to the end of his life. He had a few brief affairs with women. Some children resulted from these liaisons, but they all bear their mothers’ names.
a) Where is the evidence for this slander and his nephew says he married Rosa, the sister of Kaganovich?
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 303

Only a very few people, for example, were privy to the secret rigging of the 1930-1931 trials.
a) And where it is his proof for this? The answer is nowhere.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 328

After this conflict with Stalin, Tovstukha was reassigned to the Marx-Engels Institute. An early death saved him from a more painful end.
a) Now what is his evidence for this slander? Gratuitous slanders of this nature abound in the writings of people like Conquest and Medvedev.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 329

This indictment [of Nikolayev for the Kirov assassination], riddled with contradictions, was the only document published in the case.
a) No evidence of any contradictions is presented.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 343

They [the Moscow trials] were monstrous theatrical productions that had to be rehearsed many times before they could be shown to spectators.
a) He doesn’t show evidence of even one rehearsal let alone many.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 376-377

Most of the testimony consisted of outright lies, deliberately fabricated in the torture chambers of the NKVD and put into the mouths of the accused by sadistic investigators.
a) That is an unmitigated slander for which no proof whatever is provided.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 377

Molotov made up the whole story [regarding the 1934 attempt on his life] for the sake of provocation.
a) And where is the evidence for this slander?
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 378

Some defendants were promised their lives and assignment to party or Soviet work in Siberia or the Far East .
a) No evidence is given for this.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 383

Then Stalin sent Ordjonikidze the false depositions extracted from the prisoners by torture.
a) No proof is usual.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 399

Indeed, many of the Komsomol leaders who perished were personal friends of Ostrovsky,…. Most of them died in the camps or were shot on Stalin’s orders.
a) Same question. Where is the proof?
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 419

Stalin also authorized the execution of Pauker, the head of the NKVD’s operations section, the commandant of the Kremlin and head of the Kremlin Guard….
a) No evidence.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 425

Willi Munzenberg, one of the best Comintern officials, was expelled from the party for refusing to leave Paris for Moscow and certain death. He was killed in France in 1940 under suspicious circumstances.
a) How does he know he faced death and how does he know the alleged facing of death was due to him refusing to leave? This is a typical case of attributing guilt by innuendo.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 435

In January 1938 his [Meyerhold] theater was closed, and soon after that this remarkable man was arrested and killed after especially severe and refined torture.
a) No source is cited for this, assuming it even occurred, nor is Stalin in any way implicated.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 448

But when, during the next big trial, he [Feuchtwanger] sat in the Moscow courtroom and heard the confessions of Radek and Pyatakov with his own ears, his doubts banished and he accepted the whole fantastic story.
a) Medvedev wasn’t even there and was only a child at the time but he claims to know more about what happened at the Pyatakov trial than someone who was actually present in the courtroom.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 475

Physical torture was used by the NKVD not on its own initiative but with the approval and even at the insistence of Stalin’s Politburo.
A No evidence is provided for this.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 486

Thus, when Stalin permitted and even forced the use of torture, he was committing an outrage to the memory of the Russian revolutionaries.
a) Again, as usual, no evidence is provided as is typical of so much in Medvedev’s book.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 489

That is why torture was introduced in the NKVD on Stalin’s insistence.
A.) And where is the evidence for this?
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 540

Only the same motives can explain the terrible conditions that were created on Stalin’s orders in the camps.
a) More slander without evidence.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 543

Investigators tortured President Kalinin’s wife until she signed statements compromising her husband.
a) And where is the evidence for this?
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 550

Footnote: Shalamov informed me of this.
a) Time after time Medvedev simply accepts what anyone says that is anti-Stalin without any corroboration or checking being required.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 550

Most of Stalin’s wrong decisions were so extravagantly and senselessly costly that they cannot be condoned.
a) What wrong decisions? Medvedev talks as if their existence is a given when no evidence is provided.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 749

Guests were often invited to play chess with Stalin, but warned never to win.
a) This is not only an unsubstantiated allegation but a childish one to boot.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 863

All the signs pointed to another 1937. Only Stalin’s death at the beginning of March 1953 prevented a renewal of mass repression.
a) Not content with accusing Stalin of injustices for which he is not responsible his critics go even further by speculating that had he lived another would have occurred. Of course no evidence that would withstand scrutiny is provided.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 865

[One of the overwhelmingly favorite deceptions employed by critics slandering Stalin is to provide lists of the names of military and civilian personnel preceded by such words as shot, executed, arrested, jailed, victims, perished, and didn’t survive. Proof is rarely provided that these people actually met the fates attributed to them and there is always the underlying implicit assumption that they were innocent. Readers are simply asked to take the author’s word for it.
But even more important is the manner in which the information is submitted. More often than not it’s just a simple listing of names as is done between pages 396 and 449 in Let History Judge. What the person was accused of having done is not mentioned. The prosecution’s evidence against him or her is not revealed. The number of times the person has been previously convicted is never mentioned. Proof showing those arrested or jailed were often released within hours is conveniently omitted. The number of times an individual’s acts had already been excused is never discussed.
But above and beyond all this skullduggery are some truly revelatory considerations. Although almost never asserted, because there is no substantive proof that would endure in court, but always implied, is the contention that Stalin is responsible for any and all these deeds when, in fact, he was at the mercy of the judgments of others. For one man to cover nine time zones and 180 million people is a bit much to say the least.
With respect to those who were innocent during the 1930s specifically, this presents an unfortunate situation for Stalin and an expedient opening for his critics. In order to convict Stalin of criminal behavior his critics have to prove: a) the repressed person was innocent or no evidence was provided to prove his guilt; b) Stalin knew the repressed person was innocent; and c) Stalin personally ordered the person to be repressed while knowing he or she was innocent. With respect to all three, Stalin’s critics have failed ignominiously. However, that has by no means caused them to cease their listings because they are fully aware of the fact that few readers will check the specifics involved or ask for documentation and corroboration. It is just always taken for granted that if Stalin is involved it must be bad, wrong, and negative when facts prove the opposite. Stalin was as concerned with rooting out anti-socialist people within the government who were repressing genuine Marxists as anyone. The problem was that there were many anti-socialist elements in serious and critical positions throughout such agencies as the NKVD and the military. It was not by accident that two heads of the NKVD, Yagoda and Yezhov, were punished severely.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 396-449

MEDVEDEV QUOTES NOVEL AND POETRY AS IF THEY WERE REAL HISTORY

Quotes memoirs replete with hearsay
Even more than Conquest he cites the contents of novels as history.
Actually recites poetry as if its contents were history.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 32

Rogovin uses material in novels as if it were history also.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park , Michigan : Labor Publications, 1998

MEDVEDEV’S SOURCES ARE UNRELIABLE

The list he gives of those who assisted him in writing his book and most of their comments give the impression of a group sitting around the kitchen table conversing while enveloped within a general philosophy of I-can-top-that.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. xvii

ADMITS HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS ARE HIGHLY DUBIOUS BUT QUOTES THEM ANYWAY

Footnote: I find highly implausible the story told by Bazhanov about a Czech engineer who installed a telephone for Stalin, so that he could eavesdrop on all phone conversations in the Kremlin. Bazhanov alleges that after the engineer had done his job he was shot on Stalin’s orders.
a) Medvedev finds it highly implausible but, nevertheless, can’t resist inserting it, demonstrating his conception of an “objective” historian.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 90

MEDVEDEV LEVELS OUTRIGHT LYING SLANDERS AGAINST STALIN

As early as the internal party disputes of 1918-1923 he [Stalin] distinguished himself by his harshness, rudeness, and disloyalty, as Lenin noted in his Testament.
a) Where does the Testament refer to Stalin’s disloyalty?
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 95

Nasty, suspicious, cruel, and power-hungry, Stalin could not abide brilliant and independent people around him.
a) More unsubstantiated slanders.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 344

Until then [the murder of Trotsky] it had been Stalin’s rule to eliminate anyone who knew too much.
a) Where is the evidence for this?
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 394

In all probability Stalin shot many more Soviet participants in the Spanish Civil War than the number killed by fascist bullets in Spain .
a) What a slander! Not a shred of evidence and he even admits he’s saying it “in all probability” which is guessing.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 473

He undoubtedly knew that the thousands of party leaders arrested on his orders were neither spies nor traitors.
a) And what is his evidence for this slander. Certainly none is presented.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 538

Stalin often gave his agents and subordinates criminal orders–verbally, of course–and then had them arrested for carrying out those orders.
a) Another blatant slander without a shred of proof being offered.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 584

In the late ’40s he [Stalin] not only endorsed the proposal for a biography of himself but closely followed the writing of it, inserting many handwritten remarks in the manuscript, especially where he found insufficient praise for himself.
a) And where is the evidence for this slander?
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 818

MEDVEDEV’S WRITINGS REEK WITH HEARSAY, INNUENDO, AND RUMOR

Orlov insists that Ordjonikidze was murdered, but admits that he bases his belief on rumors and stories he heard from NKVD agents arriving in Spain .
a) Rumors and stories abound in anti-Stalin works.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 401

Footnote: Recounted by G. L. Mekhanik, who heard it from T. Firsova, who heard it from the Zinaida Ordjonikidze.
a) Talk about hearsay run amuck! And this is being passed off as history.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 579

At a dinner with literary people Stalin also called Tolstoy, Ehrenburg, and Pavlenko international spies.
Footnote: Alexander Fadeev, who was at the dinner, reported the comment to his friend N. K. Ilyukhov, who is Medvedev’s source.
a) So we are supposed to believe Stalin said it; Fadeev heard it; he told Ilyukhov who told Medvedev. Talk about hearsay! One can’t help but think of that game known as Gossip which is played by children. No doubt the accuracy is as valid in one as the other.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 863

Footnote: Orlov often uses rumors or chance conversations as sources.
a) No comment is needed; yet, Medvedev quotes Orlov.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 360

[Footnote]: There was really no attempt to conceal the fact [that Stalin’s wife committed suicide]. The press announcement spoke of her “sudden death” on the night of November 9, 1932 which in the case of a young woman has to be construed as a suicide. It is therefore not correct to say, as does Roy Medvedev (page 368), that the death was reported as due to appendicitis. That was the story her small children were told.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York : Viking Press, 1973, p. 354

MEDVEDEV PRESENTS SPECULATIVE HISTORY AS REAL HISTORY

Soon after that, anonymous pamphlets against Trotsky began to circulate unofficially, primarily reminding readers of his “non-Bolshevik” past. Robert Tucker suggests that these pamphlets were inspired by Stalin.
a) “suggests” is not reliable history. Does he present any evidence? No! Even if Stalin were the source, so what. They are true.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 111

To this day no one knows how many peasants died of starvation in 1932-1933.
a) But that doesn’t stop anti-Stalinists from tossing around incredible figures, engaging in speculations, and even claiming there was starvation.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 244

It should be said that a careful reading of the proceedings of the trials, indictments, and statements of the prosecutors and defendants leads me to the firm conviction that most of the charges were intentionally falsified.
a) That’s not history but his opinion on history. These considerations lead others to the opposite conclusion.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 266

MEDEVEDEV TRIES TO CRITICIZE SU BUT ENDS UP COMPLIMENTING ITS PRODUCTION FIGURES

The Supreme Council of the National Economy had planned that gross industrial output would increase 2.8 times from 1927-1928 to 1932-1933, with heavy industry increasing 3.3 times. In fact, over the five-year period gross industrial output approximately doubled and heavy industry increased by 2.7 times, considerably short of the planned targets.
a) This is a backhanded complement disguised as a criticism. What capitalist nations doubled their gross industrial output and increased their heavy industry by nearly three times during this period? They would have been ecstatic to have done so.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 250

MEDVEDEV CITES FROM ALLEGED SOURCES WHICH HE REFUSES TO REVEAL

The scale of the Stalinist terror was immeasurably greater. I know, from sources deserving the fullest confidence,…
a) Yet he never cites any of these alleged sources. We’re supposed to take his word for it.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 454

IN THE ENTIRE BOOK THE ONLY TORTURE PERSONALLY TESTFIED TO IS ANEMIC

The Old Bolshevik Sergei Pisarev relates the following:
In just two prisons, in the Inner Prison of Lubyanka and in Lefortovo, I was subjected to 43 sessions of monstrous insult, with spitting in the face and foul language….
a) In the entire book this is the worst torture that is personally testified to as opposed to mere hearsay and terrible slanders. Many an American prisoner would be more than happy if the worst treatment he received was having his face spit on and hearing foul language.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 492

MEDVEDEV’S BOOK DOES NOT EVEN HAVE A BIBLIOGRAPHY BUT HE SAYS IT DOES

My bibliography contains nearly 200 books under the heading “Prison Camp Literature.”
a) Let History Judge by Columbia University Press (1989) has no bibliography.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York : Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 500

LAQUEUR OFTEN LIED AND/OR MADE ACCUSATIONS WITHOUT PROOF OR EVIDENCE SUCH AS:

He [Stalin] was no intellectual; Trotsky, Bukharin, and many others were superior to him in this respect.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York : Scribner’s, c1990, p. 12

Tolerance vis-a-vis dissenting opinions had never been a characteristic feature of the Bolshevik party.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York : Scribner’s, c1990, p. 41

He lived first in Turkey , later in France and Norway , and ultimately in Mexico , where he was assassinated on Aug. 20, 1940, at Stalin’s behest.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York : Scribner’s, c1990, p. 46

Stalin gave instructions to kill Trotsky,…
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York : Scribner’s, c1990, p. 53

There were no conspiracies against the regime other than imaginary ones; there was not even a potential opposition against Stalin.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York : Scribner’s, c1990, p. 61

Although limited in scope, these trials are of relevance because the charges against the accused were largely false and the techniques employed to extract confessions were also novel.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York : Scribner’s, c1990, p. 62

At about the same time [prior to the Zinoviev trial], Stalin gave free rein to the application of physical and mental torture: When it produced no immediate results, he threatened the NKVD for their inefficiency. On July 29, 1936, Stalin gave another order to apply whatever methods deemed necessary to extract confessions from those accused of espionage, Trotskyism, or other charges.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York : Scribner’s, c1990, p. 78

Stalin read a great deal, but he seldom, if ever, went to a concert or an exhibition.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York : Scribner’s, c1990, p. 104

They were threatened with the murder of their relations; furthermore, they were told that if they did not confess, they would be shot without the benefit of a trial.

The key figures were mercilessly bullied, isolated, and subjected to all kinds of blackmail; many were tortured.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York : Scribner’s, c1990, p. 140

It is one of the mysteries of the Stalin era that no serious attempt was ever made to kill the dictator… there is no known case of a conspiracy against Stalin.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York : Scribner’s, c1990, p. 144

During the last year of Stalin’s life, Poskrebyshev fell from grace; but for the death of the dictator, he might have been a victim of the next purge.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York : Scribner’s, c1990, p. 176

[Pasternak and Akhmatova]… had been persuaded that if they referred to Stalin in some form or another, they might not be arrested or one of their close relations might be released from prison or a camp.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York : Scribner’s, c1990, p. 184

During the whole war, only once had he [Stalin] been anywhere near the frontline, and only for a few hours, whereupon he quickly informed Churchill and Roosevelt and apologized for not being able to answer their messages earlier because his presence with his troops was so urgently needed.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 198

The notion that the murder of Kirov was carried out by members of theZinovievist opposition was put forward by Stalin in order to take reprisals against the former opposition figures, primarily the Zinovievists.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 304

Although in 1936 no information had been obtained concerning illegal terrorist or organizational activity by Bukharin and Rykov, the investigations began consistently to obtain just such evidence from all those who had been arrested. During such inquiries, all legality was flouted, and such prohibited methods as blackmail, intimidation, persuasion, and promises, as well as direct physical coercion, were widely used.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 322

LAQUEUR RELIES ON SPECULATION AND ADMITS HE IS RELYING ON A RUMOR

It is likely that some of the defendants in the early trials (1936) were promised a prison term rather than the death sentence if they confessed.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 136

…According to a rumor frequently heard, there were several dress rehearsals for each show trial, so that the defendants did not know in the end when the true “public” performance was taking place.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 136

LAQUEUR CITES PERVERSIONS OF JUSTICE BUT AVOIDS MENTIONING WHO CAUSED THEM

As a result of the perversions of legality that were permitted, thousands of innocent people were arrested and convicted on groundless charges.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 325

ROGOVIN REPEATEDLY MAKES ACCUSATIONS WITHOUT A SHRED OF PROOF

A month later, however, Olberg “confessed” that he had come from abroad on assignment from Trotsky, and that he had recruited into a terrorist organization many teachers and students at the Gorky Ped-Institute. All the people he named were brought to Moscow and shot on Oct. 3, 1936.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 3

Nevertheless, not only Kamenev’s oldest son, but his middle son as well, the 16 year old Yuri, was shot in 1938-39.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 8

Stalin made a few additions to the defendants’ testimony which they were supposed to give at the trial. He demanded that Reingold formulate the alleged terrorist instructions he received from Zinoviev in the following way….
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 12

Whereas Yezhov reduced the “main and principal task of the ‘center'” to the assassination of Stalin, Stalin formulated it as the “assassination of comrades Stalin, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Kirov, Ordjonikidze, Zhdanov, Kossior, and Postyshev.”
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 13

“Stalin’s promises to spare the lives of the defendants….”
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 36

The Kemerovo Trial was the first “Trotskyist” frame-up at which the defendants were charged with sabotage.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 95
a) Where is the evidence it was a frameup

Of course, in order to convince the defendants to “voluntarily” confess, they were promised their lives in return.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 177

… the veracity of the self-slander generated in the torture chambers of the NKVD.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 250
a) Where is the proof that the NKVD had torture chambers?

In the spring of 1937, on orders from Moscow, the hunger strikers were told that their demands would be met. They were all sent to the “Brick Factory,” a former site for special punishment, where in the fall of 1937, mass shootings of the prisoners began.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 392

However it ignores the indisputable fact that many victims of Stalin’s terror signed the confessions beaten out of them at the pre-trial investigation,
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 448

For instance, Medvedev, whom we have mentioned earlier, which tortured by the same investigators who tortured the generals appearing before a military trial.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 449

ROGOVIN OFTEN USES CONJECTURAL WORDS SUCH AS ASSUME, EVIDENTLY & APPARENTLY

Uses words based on conjecture such as: assume (p. 26), undoubtedly (p. 27), may have been (p. 36), evidently (p. 64), apparently (p. 126).
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 26

We can assume that when Zinoviev and Kamenev met with Stalin and agreed to confess to the charge of terrorist activity, they asked in return to remove the charge of preparing to restore capitalist relations in the country after they had come to power.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 26
a) “Assume’ is evidence of nothing

The four defendants [in the Pyatakov trial] who were spared did not outlive their codefendants for long. Radek and Sokolnikov were murdered in 1939 by criminals who were prison cellmates, apparently on orders from the “organs.”
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 126
a) “Apparently’ is not proof

We must assume that Stalin saved the “Letter of an Old Bolshevik” in order to put psychological pressure on Bukharin during the prison investigation.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 237
a) “Assume’ is not evidence or proof

ROGOVIN GIVES ADVICE REGARDING GOOD SCHOLARSHIP WHICH HE HIMSELF IGNORES

The historian is duty-bound to leave unpainted spots in the picture he presents until he finds objective and irreproachable evidence and testimony.
A) If only anti-Stalin historians would follow this advice.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 463
a) This advice is exactly what he repeatedly pays no attention to.

REMNICK REPEATEDLY MAKES ACCUSATIONS WITHOUT PROVIDING A SHRED OF PROOF

Stalin had slaughtered millions during the collectivization of Ukraine.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 54

In 1926, Stalin’s wife, Nadezhda, left him. He begged her to return, and at the same time had her followed by the secret police.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 127

Stalin had his other portrait painter’s shot and their paintings burned.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 128

NEKRICH AND HELLER CONSTANTLY MAKE UNPROVEN, SLANDEROUS ALLEGATIONS

At the time of the Red Army’s retreat in 1941, mass arrests were carried out among the western Ukrainian population. In the majority of prisons, NKVD troops shot all inmates who had been sentenced to more than three years. In some towns the NKVD burned prisons with all their inmates.
a. By the author’s own admission this comes notoriously unreliable Ukrainian sources.
Nekrich, Aleksander & Mikhail Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, 1986, p. 453

According to information that is far from complete, rebellions took place in the following camps in the years after the war: 1946, Kolyma; 1947, Ust-Vym, Dzhezkazgan; 1950, Salekhard, Taishet; 1951, Dzhezkazgan; 1952, Vozhel (Komi), Molotov, Krasnoyarsk Region; 1953, Vorkuta, Norilsk, Karaganda, Kolyma; 1954, Revda (Sverdlovsk), Karabash (in the Urals), Taishet, Reshoty, Dzhezkazgan, Kengir, Sherbai Nura, Balkhash, Sakhalin; 1955, Vorkuta, Solikamsk, Potma. [Source: U.S. Senate Hearings, USSR labor camps, February 2, 1973)
a. The authors admit their information is far from complete.
Nekrich, Aleksander & Mikhail Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, 1986, p. 495

In 1949 he [Stalin] summoned Khrushchev from Kiev and named him Secretary of the Moscow Party Committee and a Secretary of the Central Committee, probably hoping in this way to balance the forces in the Politburo and to use Khrushchev to conduct the upcoming purge. [No source]
Nekrich, Aleksander & Mikhail Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, 1986, p. 499
a) No source is provided for this slander.
b. Where is the evidence for an upcoming purge?

The struggle against imaginary plotters became Stalin’s main preoccupation.
Nekrich, Aleksander & Mikhail Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, 1986, p. 501
a. No source is provided and the authors are engaging in speculative psychological guesswork.

In 1948 the committee’s members were arrested on Stalin’s instructions. They were tortured and in 1952 were shot, including Lozovsky. Before their arrest, Mikhoels had been murdered–on January 13, 1948, on a street in Minsk by state security agents.
Nekrich, Aleksander & Mikhail Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, 1986, p. 502
a. Khrushchov is the source for this slander but provides no evidence.

Under atrocious tortures, the accused doctors confessed to having taken part in a plot to murder army, party, and government leaders through the conscious use of incorrect medical treatment….
The case was reported to Stalin, who ordered that it be prosecuted and that the arrested men be beaten until full confessions were extracted.
Nekrich, Aleksander & Mikhail Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, 1986, p. 503 a. No sources or evidence is submitted for these slanders.

Stalin was personally in charge of the “doctors’ plot.” His scenario consisted of several acts: Act One, sentencing after full confessions; Act Two, execution by hanging (it is said that this execution would have taken place in Red Square, in Moscow, as in days of yore); Act Three, pogroms throughout the country; Act Four, Jewish personalities from the world of culture would turn to Stalin, asking that he protect the Jews from pogroms and give them permission to leave the big cities and go back to the land; Act Five, mass deportation of Jews, “at their own request,” to the country’s eastern territories.
Nekrich, Aleksander & Mikhail Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, 1986, p. 503
a. Where on earth is any evidence for this libelous litany of anti-Stalin schlock? Not one source is provided for anything.

The country lived in anticipation of a new wave of terror such as it had never seen.
Nekrich, Aleksander & Mikhail Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, 1986, p. 504
a. Again no evidence or sources are provided. Just slanders.

… and on the other by creating an artificial collective memory using the Short Course on the History of the Soviet Communist Party, and numerous other falsifications produced by historians, writers, artists, actors, and poets. [No source]
Nekrich, Aleksander & Mikhail Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, 1986, p. 511
a. Where is any proof that the Short Course was a falsification?
b. What falsifications?

On May 17 and 18, 1944, 194,000 Crimean Tartars were deported from the Crimea. According to rough figures, close to 18 percent of these died within the first year and a half of deportation.
Nekrich, Aleksander & Mikhail Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, 1986, p. 535
a. Whose rough figures and what documentation is there

For the first time in the history of the Soviet Union [1957] the removal of leaders from top party posts was not followed by their arrest.
Nekrich, Aleksander & Mikhail Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, 1986, p. 555
a. That is a blatant lie. Trotsky, Zinoviev and Bukharin were removed from high posts and even the party, as were others, without being arrested.

A new, large-scale purge that Stalin had planned right before he died was intended to “pull up the last roots,” that is, to get rid of members of the generations of the 1920s and 1930s who had accidentally survived and still carried fragments of the banned historical memory and who were therefore potentially dangerous to the regime.
Nekrich, Aleksander & Mikhail Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, 1986, p. 578
a. Where on earth is evidence for this gratuitous slander which not only lacks corroboration but is nothing more than speculative guesswork as to Stalin’s psyche, mental state, and intentions.

THE IMAGE PEOPLE ARE GIVEN OF STALIN HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH REALITY

I have made these remarks at the opening of the present chapter because when I was in Moscow one of the first things that struck me forcibly was the attempt made by writers and even photographers to give a false impression of the Russian dictator, Stalin. The picture which one sees of him at every turn of the street and those that are sent for publication abroad are as unreal and untrue as the numerous stories that are published about him in books and newspapers and periodicals. In the new Russia there seems to be an overpowering craze for public hero-worship. Under this influence writers and artists strive to transfigure outstanding individuals of the Soviet regime into idealized types or symbols of some subjective emotion of the crowd. Hence we have a widespread falsification that in the first instance is detrimental to the individual who is the subject of this legend-monitoring. Stalin is a particular victim of this public craze….
From the portraits I had seen of him and from the stories I had heard and read, and from the sound of his name, which does not suit him at all, I had expected to meet a Grand Duke of the old regime, stern and abrupt and unfriendly. But instead of this type of person I found myself for the first time face-to-face with the dictator to whose care I would readily confide the education of my children. I had read that he does not show himself in public because his face has been much disfigured by smallpox. But as a matter of fact scarcely any traces of the scars are to be seen. I had also read that he always had an escort of five motor cars when he makes his daily journey to and fro between the city and his country home at Gorky, the palatial residence where Lenin lived during his illness and where he died. It is said to be guarded day and night by heavily armed Cossacks. One is told everywhere in Moscow that Stalin enters the Kremlin each day by a different gate and that when he takes his meals the table is furnished with the gold plate that belonged to the Czar. Popular rumor even goes to the extent of declaring that he keeps his young wife locked up at home, as if he were a Turkish Sultan.
The truth is otherwise. He has never entered the palace at Gorky since Lenin’s death. When I visited him in Moscow he was living with his wife and children in a modest little house outside the city. He goes to his office alone in his own car and enters by the same gate every day, without receiving any special salute from the sentry on guard. He lives and eats as the average small tradesman does. He is very orderly and very particular about the distribution of the working time at his disposal. His tastes are quite simple, and practically the only form of entertainment he indulges in is that of the ordinary workman who sits down once in a while to a glass of wine in the company of a few friends.
He has often been pictured as an aristocratic freebooter from the Caucasus. But I could see no traces of that character in him. Nor could I imagine him as the Georgian adventurer who is said to have taken Ivan the Terrible as his model. Even the historical insinuations are incorrect here,… When I visited Stalin I found just a lonely man who is not influenced by money or pleasure or even ambition. Though he holds enormous power he takes no pride in its possession, although it must give him a certain amount of satisfaction to feel that he has triumphed over his opponents. I should say that there are two traits that dominate Stalin’s character. The first is the habit of patience, which he has cultivated to a supreme degree, and the second is his ability to depend entirely on himself and entrust nothing to his fellow men. These qualities are found generally in men who move slowly and carefully towards their ends. I need not mention here his extraordinary energy, because that is a quality in all constructive men.
Everything about this man is heavy– his gait, his look, even the movements of his will. He has a habit of laughing often as he talks…. He can carry through a policy or plan with plotting perseverance to its completion without suffering the slightest discouragement at the hitches and set-backs that occur during the effort.
…If my intuition be correct Stalin is naturally good-hearted. But his position has made him hard and unyielding. He is not without imagination, but he denies himself the luxury of indulging in its flights. He is not ambitious,…
Ludwig, Emil. Leaders of Europe. London: I. Nicholson and Watson Ltd., 1934, p. 350-352

MEDVEDEV SAYS SOLZHENITSYN’S GULAG BOOK IS VERY CONTRADICTORY

[Footnote]: Among works by Russian emigre authors, the first that comes to mind is of course Solzhenitsyn’s three-volume The Gulag Archipelago, an immensely important yet extremely contradictory book.
Medvedev, Roy. On Stalin and Stalinism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. ix

STUPID COMMENTS BY ROBERT SERVICE

Dzhughashvili was by no means an outstanding thinker.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 92

Stalin differed from Lenin inasmuch as he never,not even once–commented on the need to avoid anti-semitic impulses.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 156

Stalin remained uneasy about factional regrouping. His operational code was: once an oppositionist, always an oppositionist.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 279

This was his way. Once an enemy always an enemy!
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 285

Stalin aspired to his own personal cult.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 357

Expelled Bolsheviks were invariably sent to the gulag or shot.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 367

Few dared to contradict him even in private conversation. Only Molotov had sufficient confidence to disagree with him about policies,and even he had to exercise caution in his phrasing and demeanor.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 374

The Home Army, while planning to defeat the Germans in Warsaw by Polish efforts, pleaded desperately for Soviet support and received almost nothing.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 470

He [Stalin] had ordered the murder of thousands of captured Polish officers in April 1940 in Katyn forest in Russia.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 471

and he [Stalin] was long practiced in the art of solving public problems by means of the physical liquidation of those who embodied them.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 471

What was militarily inexcusable in Stalin’s behavior, however, was his rejection of all Polish pleas for assistance once the Warsaw Uprising had begun on 1 Aug. 1944.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 471

He [Stalin] needed only a scintilla of doubt about individuals to flash in his mind before consigning them to the security police.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 491

“probably” only a minority in society keenly admired him.
[“probably” is guessing]
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 601

Stalin treated debate from below as a danger to desirable unanimity, and he arrested and killed to secure dominion. Potential as well as overt enemies perished.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 602

LOTS OF LIES BEING WRITTEN ABOUT STALIN BY PEOPLE WHO NEVER MET OR KNEW HIM

Volodya says, “Transferring all the guilt on to one person is stupid, just as it would be stupid to ascribe all credit to him. Stalin came to power as the bearer of a concrete idea. He maintained this position although he offered to stand down five times and was five times reappointed. A lot of fiction is written about Stalin nowadays, by people who did not know him personally. The people who knew him closely have disappeared. I have not met people who knew Stalin closely who would express such negative opinions about him as are expressed today. The Stalin that really existed is in my grandfather’s book and my mother’s memoirs, not the Stalin that is being drawn today. That is a terrifying half-truth which cannot explain anything. They are inventions which are unnecessary and harmful, and do not do any good to the history of our country.
… this person occupied his post for a period of 29 years, because the policy he advocated was very close to the Party line and to the wishes of the people.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 278

A week later Stalin gave a major radio address to the country, delivering it in person at the Central Broadcasting Studio. (Stalin’s biographer Robert Payne says that Stalin recorded this address in the Caucasus, more than 500 miles from Moscow, but chief radio announcer Yuri Levitan says that he watched Stalin delivering this address at Moscow’s Central Broadcasting Studio.’)
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 168

THE SKILLFUL TRICKS AND DECEPTIONS OF CAPITALIST PROPAGANDA

During the Cold War, the anti-communist ideological framework could transform any data about existing communist societies into hostile evidence. If the Soviets refused to negotiate a point, they were intransigent and belligerent; if they appeared willing to make concessions, this was but a skillful ploy to put us off our guard. By opposing arms limitations, they would have demonstrated their aggressive intent; but when in fact they supported most armament treaties, it was because they were mendacious and manipulative. If the churches in the USSR were empty, this demonstrated that religion was suppressed; but if the churches were full, this meant the people were rejecting the regime’s atheistic ideology. If the workers went on strike (as happened on infrequent occasions), this was evidence of their alienation from the collectivist system; if they didn’t go on strike, this was because they were intimidated and lacked freedom. A scarcity of consumer goods demonstrated the failure of the economic system; an improvement in consumer supplies meant only that the leaders were attempting to placate a restive population and so maintain a firmer hold over them.
Parenti, Michael. Blackshirts and Reds, San Francisco: City Light Books, 1997, p. 41

IT IS BETTER TO BE CURSED THAN PRAISED BY CAPITALISTS

CHUEV: Western broadcasters talk a lot about you, curse you and Stalin.
MOLOTOV: It would have been worse if they had praised us.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 12

HITLER WAS AN EXTREME ANTI-COMMUNIST NATIONALIST

MOLOTOV: Hitler was an extreme nationalist. A blinded and stupid anti-communist.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 14

MOLOTOV FEELS THERE ARE STILL HITLERS TODAY

CHUEV: Did Stalin meet him?
MOLOTOV: No, I was the only one to have such a pleasure. There are people of that kind now, too. That’s why we must pursue a vigilant and firm policy.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 14

HITLER WAS SMART AND NARROW BUT NOT A MANIAC

MOLOTOV: Hitler… there was nothing remarkable in his appearance. But he was a very smug, and, if I may say so, vain person. He wasn’t at all the same as he is portrayed in movies and books. They focus attention on his appearance, depict him as a madman, a maniac, but that’s not true. He was very smart, though narrow-minded and obtuse at the same time because of his egotism….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 15

HITLER ADMIRED STALIN’S PERSONALITY

MOLOTOV: I sensed he [Hitler] was not only afraid of our power but that he also stood in awe of Stalin’s personality.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 16

MOLOTOV SAYS HITLER WANTED TO DIVIDE THE WORLD

MOLOTOV: I said. What do you want? What are your proposals? “Let’s divide the whole world,” he [Hitler] said. “You need the South, to get to the warm waters.”
…We had agreed to observe the treaty–they were not doing so. We saw they didn’t want to observe it.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 18

LIES DOMINATE NOWADAYS

…Nowadays you don’t get the real facts handed to you on a silver platter. They are mixed up and corrupted in every way, so to speak, and obscured by all kinds of other facts.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 253

Since 1945 they [bourgeois historians] have been in possession of material proving that the conditions in the Soviet Union were just the opposite to the myths they had been creating.
Sousa, Mario. The Class Struggle During the Thirties in the Soviet Union, 2001.

With few exceptions, the Smolensk archives have remained practically untouched thereafter.
The archive material never got a first page position in Western mass media. The reason is that the political life in the Western region of Soviet Union as reported in the Smolensk archives had nothing in common with the concoction of monstrous lies and myths which were displayed (and still are) in mass media in the West. The archive material, which is a collection of documents with contributions from hundreds of thousands people with a wide range of opinions about all aspects of life could not be used in the propaganda war against the Soviet Union.
Sousa, Mario. The Class Struggle During the Thirties in the Soviet Union, 2001.

The research of Getty has destroyed some myths and lies about the Soviet Union, but the most important is above all that it gives the individual a possibility of judging for him/herself. And this, to draw one’s own conclusions is in fact important.
Sousa, Mario. The Class Struggle During the Thirties in the Soviet Union, 2001.

KHRUSHCHOV IGNORES STALIN’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS & GIVES THE BOURGEOIS DESCRIPTION

“I will probably not sin against the truth,” Khrushchev declared in his 1956 speech, “when I say that 99 percent of the persons present here heard and knew very little about Stalin before the year 1924, while Lenin was known to all.” This is probably true as a statement of an isolated fact but its import distorts the truth. For it omits Stalin’s early Party history, his courageous struggles under tsarist terrorism and his long support of Lenin, his leadership of the Party within Russia as head of the Russian Bureau, his founding of Pravda, his recognized leadership in the Central Committee where he gave the political report in Lenin’s absence in July 1917, his military service during the civil war, his leadership against the Trotskyist opposition. Khrushchev’s comment supports by implication the bourgeois caricature of Stalin as a maneuvering upstart.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 123

It is in the light of this growing anti-socialist influence that we have to view Khrushchev’s “secret speech.” The speech has nothing to do with Marxism. It does not examine the class or even the political forces behind events but is a superficial, essentially bourgeois narrative centered around a personal vilification of Stalin. Moreover it was a reactionary document, applauded by the world bourgeoisie and serving to split the world Communist community.
This bourgeois-type outlook is clear in the policies associated with Khrushchev and his group both before and after their seizure of executive political power (which they were perhaps able to do because of the decimation of the working class in the war). They extended private plots and privately owned farm animals, dismantled much of the central economic planning system, gave factory directors more power, elevated profit as a major incentive to production, favored consumer goods over capital goods, and allowed a cultural “thaw,” the essentially bourgeois nature of which is made clear in Ehrenburg’s autobiographical writings and other works….
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 134

CONQUEST IS A PAID PROPAGANDA AGENT AND LIED ABOUT STALIN

In January 1978, David Leigh published an article in the London Guardian, in which he revealed that Robert Conquest had worked for the disinformation services, officially called the Information Research Department (IRD), of the British secret service. In British embassies, the IRD head is responsible for providing `doctored’ information to journalists and public figures. The two most important targets were the Third World and the Soviet Union. Leigh claimed:
`Robert Conquest … frequently critical of the Soviet Union was one of those who worked for IRD. He was in the FO [Foreign Office] until 1956.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 108 [p. 92 on the NET]

The defeat of Trotsky, though not yet final, had been due to a virtually unanimous campaign by all the other leaders, his only support being the dying Lenin. Factional fighting in the Politburo was now, however, thrown open for all. Of the seven men elected as full members in June 1924, six would be killed by the lone survivor.
This membership now consisted of Zinoviev and Kamenev; Stalin; Trotsky; and Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky.
[WRONG: NO EVIDENCE STALIN KILLED TROTSKY; TOMSKY COMMITTED SUICIDE; THE OTHER 4 WERE FOUND GUILTY BY A TRIAL
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 133

…Feuchtwanger, whose book on Stalin and the USSR really deserves to be read, indeed reprinted, for the pathos of its idiocy. [Describes Conquest]
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 184

He [Pyatakov] had been, it was true, an oppositionist, and an important one. But he had abandoned opposition in 1928 and had worked with complete loyalty ever since….
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 140

After the pleas, the court recessed for 20 minutes. It has been suggested that this was to give time to put a little pressure on Krestinsky. Probably; but the recess was only five minutes longer than that at the previous trials.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 344
SOLZHENITSYN WORKED WITH REACTIONARIES AND SUPPORTED TRAITOROUS GENERALS

We would like to open a brief parenthesis for Solzhenitsyn. This man became the official voice for the five per cent of Tsarists, bourgeois, speculators, kulaks, pimps, maffiosi and Vlasovites, all justifiably repressed by the socialist state.

Solzhenitsyn the literary hack lived through a cruel dilemna during the Nazi occupation. Chauvinist, he hated the German invaders. But he hated socialism even more passionately. So he had a soft spot for General Vlasov, the most famous of the Nazi collaborators. Although Solzhenitsyn did not approve of Vlasov’s flirt with Hitler, he was laudatory about his hatred of Bolshevism.

Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 178-179 [p. 156 on the NET]

Solzhenitsyn’s politics are those of the extreme right in the West. He is opposed to detente, to wars of national liberation, to multiparty parliamentary forms. He advocates an active and aggressive Western offensive against the Soviet Union and the abandonment of detente.

Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 288

BEFORE HITLER BRITAIN LED THE ANTI-SOVIET CRUSADE

Until Hitler’s coming to power, Great Britain had led the crusade against the Soviet Union. In 1918, Churchill was the main instigator of the military invervention that mobilized fourteen countries. In 1927, Great Britain broke diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and imposed an embargo on its exports.

Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 196 [p. 184 on the NET]

MEDVEDEV IS A BOGUS SCHOLAR WHO RELIES ON GOSSIP RATHER THAN DOCUMENTATION

On the question of socialism, as indeed on other questions, the attacks on Stalin and ‘Stalinism’ are almost always attacks on Lenin and Leninism. In order to show the correctness of this statement it would be useful to look at a book called Let History Judge written by a Soviet bourgeois intellectual by the name of Roy Medvedev. Medvedev attacks Stalin but ‘praises’ Lenin. Medvedev’s attack on Stalin is not based on any facts or documentation, but on mere gossip and the fertile imagination of a bourgeois brain whose input in terms of fabrication is unlimited. Even the reactionary anti-communist columnist Edward Crankshaw, one of the reviewer’s of this book in the Observer of March 26, 1972 had to admit that Medvedev was “denied access to all official archives”. This however, does not prevent Crankshaw from agreeing with, and admiring, Medvedev’s attack on Stalin, the reason for this being that “this book is high drama of a gifted intellectual wrestling for the truth, guided only by his inner light.” This is how ‘truth’ is established by the bourgeois mind, i.e., by completely ignoring the facts and relying on one’s “inner light.”

Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 163
VOLKOGONOV SAYS HE IS NOT WRITING TO AVENGE HIS FAMILY

It may be said that this book is my way of avenging the wrongs done to my family. But I deny this.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 564

FOR GOOD REASON STALIN WAS AMONG THE MOST HATED OF BOURGEOIS ENEMIES

From an anti-Communist point of view, Stalin was certainly one of the great villains of history. While he lived, the Red forces consolidated their power in one country and then led what seemed to be an irresistible worldwide revolutionary upsurge. By the time he died, near hysteria reigned in the citadels of capitalism. In Washington, frenzied witch hunts tried to ferret out the Red menace that was supposedly about to seize control of the last great bastion of capitalism. All this changed, for the time being, after Stalin’s death, when the counter-revolutionary forces were able to seize control even within the Soviet Union.
…the bourgeois world view, based on competition, ambition, and the quest for personal profit and power and and portraying “human nature” as corrupt, vicious, and selfish, that is, as the mirror image of bourgeois man.
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 37

PARES COMPLIMENTS THE SYSTEM BUT IT NOT AN ADMIRER OF IT

I [Pares] went, definitely not as an admirer of the existing regime,…
…It was always the peasantry that had formed the backbone of the Army;…
Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 195

ANTI-STALIN WRITERS HAD AN AX TO GRIND AND WERE BIASED

“Comrade Roy Medvedev, tell me, please,” the KGB officer had said, “would you have written your books about Stalin if your father hadn’t been sent away to the camps?”
…The KGB officer at Lefortovo had surely asked Roy the right question. “Why?” No one had ever posed it to him quite so directly or with such perverse intent. “I realized then just how closely my destiny was intertwined with my father’s,” Roy told me one day in his tiny study. I was sitting there in that prison room, and it all came back.”
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 110

The “Real Stalin” Series. Part Eighteen: Katyn.

5-omalley2

GERMANS COMMITTED THE KATYN FOREST MASSACRE

All the evidence I secured showed that the Polish group in London was more interested in doing something against Russia than in doing anything for Poland. This made it easy to understand why they accepted and spread the Goebbels story about the murder of 10,000 Poles in Smolensk. Their unhesitating acceptance of this Nazi propaganda caused the Soviet government to sever relations with the Polish government-in-exile in 1943. It will be remembered that the Germans captured Smolensk on the night of July 15th 1941. Almost two years later Goebbels broadcast to the world that the Russians had killed 10,000 Polish prisoners there, and that their bodies had been found in the Katyn Forest. The Polish government-in-exile immediately gave credence to the Nazi allegation by asking the international Red Cross to investigate. It seemed a preposterous charge. If the Russians had really killed the Poles it would have been known by the people of Smolensk and the Germans would certainly have found out about it almost immediately. It was not the sort of thing that the Germans would have kept quiet about for two years. The Red Army retook Smolensk on September 25, 1943, and the Soviet government immediately instituted an investigation of a massacre.
I visited the Katyn Forest with American, British, Chinese, and French correspondents. Dr. Victor Prozorovsky, Director of the Moscow Institute of Criminal Medical Research, showed me about. The 10,000 bodies had been dug up, and the Russians were systematically examining everything found on them as well as performing autopsies. Eleven doctors were working continuously. I watched some of the autopsies, which were very thorough. The bodies, including the internal organs, were remarkably well preserved. The doctor said that this alone was sufficient to prove the falsity of the charge.
The Russians found letters on the bodies dated after the Germans occupied the city, thus proving that the victims could not had been killed at the time alleged. We talked with a Russian priest whose parish was in the Katyn Forest. He had been driven out of this church by the Germans, and then the building had been surrounded by barbed wire and SS men. The priest declared that the Germans had killed the Poles there. A Russian who had served under the Germans testified that the German authorities had ordered the death of the Polish prisoners. The diary of the Mayor who fled with the Germans contained clear evidence that the Germans had committed the murders. However, the fact which impressed me as much as any other, was that the corpses still had their fine leather boots. I had seen, traveling at the front, that it was general Russian practice to remove the boots of the dead. It seemed unlikely that they would have made an exception in this case, and left 10,000 pairs of good boots behind. Every correspondent who visited Katyn Forest came away convinced that it was another Nazi atrocity.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 99

In 1943, near the railway station of Katyn, in the forest near the village of Kozy Gory, a vast burial ground of several thousand Polish officers was discovered. The Nazis at once declared that this was the work of Soviet hands’, while a special commission in Moscow stated that it was simply another example of Nazi brutality. A series of documents have been found in a special section of the Main Soviet Archives which make it plain that Katyn was in fact the work of Beria’a agency, though no single document has yet been found bearing his signature or that of any of his henchmen actually ordering the massacre. The order must either have been destroyed after the act or have been given orally.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 360

Each one of them [Polish officers] had been shot in the back of the neck with a German bullet.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 404

KATYN GRAVES STORY DECLARED GRIM FRAUD
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, June 28.
The story of the mass graves at Katyn, which caused a world sensation two years ago, was a propaganda stunt staged by Goebbels and Ribbentrop to cause a split between Russia and her western allies, says a report received here through special channels that is supported by a message from Oslo tonight. A Himmler close collaborator, SS Brigade Leader Schellenberg, is declared to have given this sensational information during an examination at Allied Headquarters in Germany last Tuesday. He is quoted as saying that 12,000 bodies were taken from German concentration camps and attired in old Polish uniforms to make them appear to be Polish officers.
Tonight a corroborative report was received from Oslo, where Erik Johansen–recently repatriated prisoner from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany–tells an interesting story about German production of false identification documents for bodies in Katyn mass graves.
Johansen says a special section of the concentration camp was completely isolated and strongly guarded by SS men, whereupon forty to sixty Jewish prisoners were picked out to forge the documents. They received the best optical instruments obtainable so the work could be done to perfection. They made passports, letters, etc. and even wallets, which were treated with a special chemical fluid to make them look worn.
Before the German capitulation all machines, instruments and material used were destroyed and the Jewish specialists were killed to prevent the secret from getting out, he said.
New York Times, June 29, 1945 p. 2

Katyn Forest Massacre
from Military-Historical Journal, 1991
by Romyald Sviatec

Who gained more from the murder of the Polish officers?
In order to answer this question, it is necessary to, at least sketchily, clarify the relations of the Germans and the Russians toward the Poles. It is known that the Germans started the war with Poland, as they required Polish lands and Polish workers. From the first days of the occupation, they began to destroy the Polish intellectual elite. The movement of the Russians into the eastern part of Poland had a different character, which was expressed in the note of the Soviet Government handed to the Polish ambassador in Moscow. The Polish-German war exposed the insolvency of the Polish state. In the course of ten days of military (German) operations, Poland lost all of its manufacturing and cultural centers. Warsaw, as a Capital of Poland, did not exist any more. The Polish government fell apart and did not show signs of life. This meant that the Polish state and its government factually ceased to exist.
With this, the agreements that had been concluded between the USSR and Poland were no longer valid–left to itself and abandoned without direction. Poland became a convenient field for all kinds of the accidental and unexpected, capable of threats to the Soviet Union. Because of this, being until then neutral, the Soviet government could not be in different to these facts any more, as also to the fact that the Ukrainians and the White Russians,–being of the same blood (as the Russians)–and living on the territory of Poland, and having been thrown to the mercy of such destiny, remained unprotected.
In view of such a situation, the Soviet government gave an order to the High Command of the Red Army that the army should cross the frontier and take under protection the life and property of the population of Western Ukraine and Western White Russia. After this took place, the war between Poland and the Soviet Union was officially ended and Poland represented no more of a danger for the USSR….
The situation with the Germans was exactly the opposite. In spite of the fact that the German armies were occupying Poland, the war between the two states was continuing, as some of the Polish army were fighting against the Germans in France and England, and therefore, any Polish officer presented to the Germans a potential danger.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 197-198

Being in Varkut, Camp No. 10, [Romyald Sviatec] met a Major of the German Army who, from 1941, found himself in Smolensk. From him, I found out that it definitely was the Germans who operated several camps for Polish war prisoners. In one conversation, I got interested in his knowing about Katyn. He answered me directly that this was the work of the hands of Germans, as it was in the interests of Germany to commit this massacre.
He was sincerely surprised that the Polish officials were blaming the Russians. The Major stated that a good soldier, especially an officer, must die, if his Motherland is perishing. He stated that after he had fallen to the Russians as a prisoner, he understood very well that he might die, and if that would be his fate, he would accept that as a good German soldier. He also knew the attempt by General Sikorski in Moscow to free the Polish officers and soldiers, which he said would assist the Soviet-Polish agreement. This German major did not, in the slightest, consider his Polish officers’ massacre by Germany as a crime. To his way of thinking, these Polish officers represented a danger to the German Reich. This was also the opinion of most of the other German prisoners of war.
In Camp No. 11 in Varkut, I met Vlodzhimir Mandryk, who, before the war and during the period of occupation, worked in the main post office in Smolensk. He absolutely insisted that near Smolensk, from 1940 there were German camps for Polish prisoners of war. He was adamant that the Germans murdered the Poles.
By his account of the period between August and October of 1941, letters to Polish prisoners of war ceased to arrive and be processed by the post office. Any letters that kept on coming to the prisoners, the Germans gave the post office orders to destroy all these letters. Also, at this time, Mandryk recalls the Germans told everyone in Smolensk that the Polish officers were relocated back in Polish territory.
…Amongst the many recollections which I read about Katyn, there was a book by Stanislaw Svjanevich by the name of “In the Shadow of Katyn,” and also in the book by Joseph Chapskov, “Upon the Inhuman Earth.” I learned that Polish war prisoners were treated very well by the Russians. In 1940, there were three Polish generals in POW camps–Minkewich, Smorovinsly and Bakhaterebur. When these prisoners were departing the camps, the Soviet authorities gave them a farewell banquet, especially for the higher officer corps. The Russians wanted to show the Germans that they are civilized and knew how to treat prisoners. This might be looked upon as having little meaning, but if you lived with the Russians during those hard times of war, you would appreciate the real meaning of that gesture.
The Russians wanted to show the Polish officers that they, the Russians and Poles have one common enemy, therefore, uniting together would be in the interests of everyone. No one can convince me that it was the Russians who murdered these Polish officers. [This was also shown by] the Polish-Russian agreement of 1941 when thousands of Polish prisoners of war were freed from the camps, and the formation on Soviet territory of the Polish army took place.
In July 1952, together with a group of invalids, I was directed into the region of Irkutsk to camp No. 233. Here, I got acquainted with Father Kozera, who showed a great interest in the Katyn massacre. During the eight years we were together in many camps, he accumulated many interesting materials, which brought him to the final conclusion that the Katyn crime was perpetrated by the Germans.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 206-209

…Altogether, I spent nine years in the Soviet Union–two years in exile and seven years in camps. During that time, I went through much, met thousands of interesting people, but I also know that if the Soviets had wanted to get rid of the Polish officers, they would have sent them to the ” Novaya Zemlya” to work and thus, be productive.
I am far from praising the Soviet system…. I also do not pretend that I am not guilty of many things. There were people that got into the NKVD and the party who were real enemies of the system. They got rid of many dedicated people. But I cannot keep quiet on this Katyn event. I must defend the Russian people, if only to correct the existing lie that is being nurtured and promoted to this day about the Katyn massacre.
Even though I do not like the communist system, I must admit that this system has shown decency and follows the established law and order of the system….
With all the documentation that I have in my hands, I state categorically that the accusations by the Polish government in London, England were made solely for political reasons.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 206-211

Katyn Forest Massacre– Conclusion of Romyald Sviatec
In conclusion of this sad history, I would like to advise the Poles that they once-and-for-all discontinue and stop the insults regarding their Eastern neighbor, since the borders of Poland have been enlarged as the result of the Second World War, for the benefit of Poland.
Every true Pole must not only be satisfied with this, but also appreciate the country which was responsible for saving Poland from practical extinction. I returned from the Camp in 1956 and visited our Western territories. Only then did I realize the economical importance of the new Polish borders and in my heart I forgave the Soviets for their jailing me, because it was Stalin and the USSR which brought and formed these new important borders for Poland.
For all those who still stubbornly dream about Poland from the Baltic to the Black Sea, I suggest that they read the letter by Winston Churchill to the Poles. It calls for those Poles who are not aware of history or what it is they want, nor what they now possess, and do not wish to know or admit that it was the Soviet Union through its sacrifices of many millions of its people and soldiers, so the Poles could have their own independent state–which they were never able to gain by their own strength:
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 222

[In a November 7, 1944 letter Churchill stated:]
1. …
2. …
3. Moreover, without the Russian army, Poland would have been destroyed or brought into slavery and the Polish nation itself would have been wiped off the face of the earth. Without the valiant Red Army, no other power on earth would have been able to accomplish this. Poland now will be an independent, free country in the heart of Europe with wonderful and better territories than the one she had before. And if she will not accept this, Britain removes from itself all obligations and lets the Poles themselves work out their own agreement with the Soviets.
4. I don’t think that we can be asked to give any further assurances and promises to Poland regarding their borders or their attitude regarding the USSR. Poland fell in days to German Nazis, while the Polish government at that time refused to receive help from the Soviet Union.
Those Poles that are now vying for leadership in Poland must think that we, the British, are stupid that we would start a war against our USSR ally on behalf of the demands to restore the Polish eastern borders which had the majority of non-Poles living in those territories. A nation that proved to the world that it could not defend itself, must accept the guidance of those who saved them and who represent for them a perspective of genuine freedom and independence.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 224

POLAND ’S NOV 1939 ATTACK ON THE SU CHANGED THE STATUS OF POLISH PRISONERS

In the Soviet intervention into Poland, the USSR detained between 250-300 thousand Polish soldiers and officers. Most were released from detention centers. However, some 130,242 persons were maintained in detention camps of the NKVD, before their situation changed.
In November 1939, the Polish government in exile, as arrogant and bullish as ever, declared war on the USSR, supposedly in reply to the Soviet-Finnish War. The Poles went as far as creating a special brigade to be sent to fight the Red Army in Finland. By this act of war, the Polish government changed the status of the Polish soldiers still detained in the USSR. They now become automatically prisoners of war, and thus those still remaining in NKVD camps could not be released.
Mukhin, Y.I., Katyn Detective,1995

20,000 POLISH PRISONERS COULD NOT BE RELEASED UNTIL THEIR CASES WERE JUDGED

After the official inclusion of the territory captured by Poland in 1920 into the USSR, the Polish prisoners of war automatically became citizens of the USSR. By decision of court, it was named illegal for the NKVD to detain and force these soldiers to work. Therefore, most soldiers and petty officers were all released into civilian life as citizens of the USSR. However, there was a group of people that could not be released. These were those charged with crimes against the non-Polish and Polish population in the newly liberated areas as well as for war crimes against the USSR. This group comprised members of Poland’s military and governmental elite, gentry, landlord and manufacturers. There were plenty of war crimes committed by these people, such as the mass execution of Soviet prisoners of war in 1920 and active support for diversionary and terrorist groups against the USSR. It was decided to keep these individuals, numbering more than 20,000, in detention camps of the NKVD until a Special Commission of the NKVD examined their cases and decided upon a sentence for them.
Mukhin, Y.I., Katyn Detective,1995

POLISH CASES WERE JUDGED BY A SPECIAL COMMISSION AND THE RESULTS WERE AS FOLLOWS

The Decision of the Special Commission of the NKVD

The action of sentencing these foreign officers to war crimes was against international laws of the time. It was also not the time for the USSR to take such steps. War would soon come, and to publicly announce that some of the Polish officers were being considered as war criminals, could not help the USSR. Foreign imperialists, who were only looking for an opportunity to attack the USSR, would see this as an opportunity. Therefore, it was decided to keep this as secret as possible. A Special Commission of the NKVD was organized to individually investigate each case of the persons accused of crimes against the people or war crimes. Starting from December 1939, the administration of each camp in which the prisoners were being detained, started selecting those prisoners to be investigated by the Special Commission of the NKVD. On December 31, 1939 L. Beria sent the order for the camps to deliver the names of the suspected officers. By February 20, 1940 the order was issued to release from camps all those individuals who were sick, invalid or representatives of the working intelligentsia. After a lengthy review by the members of the Special Commission, a decision was reached. The first time the conclusion of the NKVD was made publicly available in its entirety was in September 1993 in the “Military-Historical Magazine.” This document was found in the Archives of the USSR. The decision of the Special Commission of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) was the following:

1. To give the status of war criminal to the persons considered socially dangerous; to exile for the period of up to 5 years under public supervision in the districts specified by the NKVD; to sentence them for the period of 5 years under public supervision with the prohibition of residing in the capitals, large cities and industrial centers of the USSR; to imprison in correctional-working camps and isolate in the camps for a period of up to 5 years, and to send outside the limits of the USSR foreign citizens considered socially dangerous.

2. To give the status of war criminal to the persons convicted of espionage, sabotage, diversion and terrorist activity and to imprison for the period from 5 to 8 years.

Starting from March 16 1940, individual cases were reviewed by the Special Commission of the NKVD and sentences were established for them. Some individuals were found not guilty of wrong doing and were returned to the prisoner of war status or were released. It was decided by the Special Commission that the privilege of correspondence be removed from the prisoners that were sentenced. The reason for this was that they were no longer prisoners of war, but war criminals, and thus the Soviet authorities were under no obligation to allow this privilege.

Furthermore, the fact that the Polish officer elite had been sentenced as war criminals could not be released publicly. Releasing such information to the world would have been damaging to the USSR, especially in this time when allies, even half-hearted ones, were necessary. However, not all the detained prisoners were sentenced. Those that were not, were placed in prisoners of war camps from where they could freely correspond. Furthermore, the Special Commission of the NKVD issued orders to the Starobelsk prisoners of war camp, where the Polish officers were previously held, to destroy the documentation regarding their prisoner of war status. An order was issued from L. Beria on September 10, 1940 to the commander of the camp to destroy the stock-taking documents of the prisoners of war. This order from Beria had no security clearance, and therefore could be viewed by anyone. The existence of this order has been seen by the western “historians” as evidence that the officers had been executed and that the Soviets were trying to cover their tracks. This is not the case. In the order of Beria and in following orders to the Starobelsk camp, the camp administration is asked to make copies of the prisoner’s photographs and some other additional files which were to be sent to the Kharakov UNKVD. The reality of this order is that the status of the officers had changed, from prisoners of war to war criminals. They had moved from the jurisdiction of the NKVD to that of the UNKVD, which dealt with such cases. Documents about their prisoner of war status could be destroyed, since they served no more purpose. But the pictures of the prisoners were sent to the UNKVD, where new criminal files were opened for the prisoners.

With this, the work and jurisdiction of the Special Commission of the NKVD was finished. The prisoners were moved from the Starobelsk camp to three separate camps near the Smolensk area. These camps were specially set up by the UNKVD for the Polish officers.

Since 1943, the USSR was forced to publicly admit that the Polish officers and other individuals were sentenced to imprisonment in correctional and working-camps for the period of 5 to 8 years without the right of correspondence. Since that time, the USSR has been accused of lying. Indeed, it was concluded by the Nazis and the western imperialists that the USSR had sentenced these individuals to death instead of imprisonment. However, the discovery of the actual decision of the Special Commission of the NKVD, has proved beyond a doubt that the USSR was not lying. The prisoners were indeed sentenced to terms of imprisonment, or as in the case of foreign nationals, to exile. The decision of the Special Commission of the NKVD should never have been doubted because in 1941 several individuals of foreign nationality were exiled outside the USSR. Among them was a Polish officer of German origins, R. Shtiller, who was deported to Germany and revealed information about the sentencing. Furthermore, those Polish officers found not guilty were returned to their prisoner of war camps, from where they could freely correspond. The entire investigation of the NKVD begs the question, that if the intention was to kill the prisoners, why carry out such a lengthy investigation of individual cases and release persons found not guilty? If the intention was to execute them, none of this would have been done. However, as with most truthful evidence on Katyn, this information is rejected and kept hidden as much as possible by the western and Russian revisionist historians. Instead, these “historians” and the Gorbachievite gang, resorted to forgeries and lies on the decision of the NKVD.

On June 22 1941, Germany launched its invasion of the USSR. At the time, Poland still held its declaration of war against the USSR. It wasn’t until after the war had started, that the Polish government in exile retreated its declaration. In July 30 1941, the government of Sikorsky entered into negotiation with the USSR about the release of the remaining Polish prisoners and about the organization of a Polish Army from these. By early August 1941, it was decided to create a Polish Army in the USSR under the command of Polish General Anders (who was one of the prisoners), called the Anders Army. Sikorsky promised Stalin that the Anders Army would remain in the USSR and fight against the Germans. All he wanted in return was that 25,000 Polish soldiers be sent to the Middle East to join the British Army. Stalin agreed, and in 1941 the Anders Army was created and armed. Sikorsky also asked Stalin about the fate of the missing Polish officers. Stalin avoided the question, giving the answer that he did not know (while the Soviet press made up imaginative theories of what happened). But the truth was that Stalin indeed did not know what had happened. By that time the Germans had taken Smolensk and the Polish camps and the Soviets did not know what happened to them. Also, this was not a priority for the Soviet Union. In any case, Stalin organized a committee to find out what happened to the Polish officers. They could not find out what happened to them, except that they had been captured by the Germans. On this, we shall talk about later.

Anders, being of the Polish military elite and as arrogant as usual, had a deep hatred for the USSR. The USSR was sacrificing much by arming these Polish soldiers. At a time when weapons had to be taken out of museums to arm the defenders of Moscow, the Anders Army was being armed with the best weapons. In an act of treachery, which was second nature for the elite Polish officers, Anders led his army of 114,000 into Iran. He abandoned the Red Army and abandoned the fight for his homeland to run away to Iran to join the British. This was indeed a great blow to Polish-Soviet relations. Never again would Stalin trust the Polish government in exile, and proved once more their treacherous and cowardly nature. Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of Polish soldiers and officers still remained in the USSR. these were organized into the Polish People’s Army, under the command of the PKKA. This was created in October 1941 and fought alongside the Red Army until the end of the war. By the Battle of Berlin, the Polish People’s Army numbered 400,000. They were the only Polish troops to participate in the liberation of their country from the Nazis.

First, lets begin with the “proofs” of the Nazis. Following the liberation of Smolensk from the Germans in September 1943, a Special Commission was established, headed by Academician N.N. Burdenko. Following a lengthy investigation of the area, questioning of witnesses and the excavation and study of 925 bodies, the Burdenko Commission wrote a 56 page report. This report was made public in 1944. Since then, the revisionist historians have accused the report of being simply a propaganda document with no truth in it. However, this assessment does not hold. In 1990, a “Top Secret” version of the Burdenko report was discovered. This “Top Secret” document was sent by Burdenko to the heads of the Soviet government.

The Burdenko Commission refuted all the points of the German and International investigation, except for the fact that there were 12,000 bodies. First to be examined was the location of the burial itself. The Germans claimed that the Katyn forest was an isolated area which had served as an execution ground for many years. In reality, Katyn was a popular area of vacationing. The NKVD vacation home was located only 700m away from the burial places. There resided the wives and children of the NKVD officers on vacation there. The city and surrounding population frequented the Katyn forest as a place of vacationing. Villagers came to the forest for picking mushrooms or for pasturing their animals. The area was not closed off the public in any way. Furthermore, the burial was only 200m from the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway. This was a heavily traveled road, with thousands of people crossing it every day. Could this be an area where executions were carried out for many years? Could this be the area where for months, 12,000 people were buried? It was not possible for the Soviets to carry out this act in such a place. Surely the NKVD could have found an area which was far more secure than this, an area where the only witnesses would have been bears. Most importantly, this revelation about Katyn proves the Germans were lying. According to the findings of the Burdenko Commission, it wasn’t until the Germans occupied the area that the woods were closed to the population. Signs were put up, warning anyone who entered that they would be shot. A German military unit was stationed on the grounds of the Katyn forest, closing off the area.

And about the cabin found by the Germans directly next to the graves (where the Germans said the executions had been carried out). It was in actuality a cabin for the Pioneers! It appears, that the exact area of the burials was a favorite ground for the Pioneers to set up their summer camp. Therefore, a permanent cabin was build on that area for housing materials for their use (while the Pioneers themselves slept in tents).

The Burbenko Commission also answered the question of what had happened to the Polish prisoners after their camps were overrun by the Germans. The directors of the prisoner camps were located and questioned. The director of camp 1ON, Major of Security V.M. Vetoschinikov, testified about what happened. According to him, he received orders about the evacuation of the prisoners from the camp. However, he had not received any instructions on how to carry this out, since phone connections had been cut off. He and some employees of the camp drove to Smolensk to clarify the situation. He met with Engineer S.V. Ivanov, head of transportation on the western stretch of the Smolensk railway. Vetoschinikov asked Ivanon for a few train cars to transport the prisoners. However, at the time the evacuation of the city population was being carried out. Therefore, Ivanon told him not to expect any train cars since none were available. Vetoschinikov tried to contact Moscow about permission to evacuate by foot, but could not contact them. By that time, the 1ON camp was cut off from Smolensk and the director had no idea what had happened to the prisoners or their guards.

Officer Ljubodzetsk witnessed what occurred in the 1ON camp after Vetoschinikov did not return. According to him, the evacuation of the camp started to be carried out by foot. However, the Polish officers rebelled. They said they wanted to wait for the Germans and surrender to them. At least the Germans, they thought, would treat them in accordance to international norms. The majority of the prisoners decided to remain in the camp and wait for the Germans. Only a few of the prisoners agreed to the evacuation – those of Jewish origin. Therefore, it has been proven that the Polish officers were alive and in the camps by the time the Germans captured them. The Burdenko Commission gathered testimonies from a number of other eyewitnesses from the neighboring villages. According to several of them, they had seen Polish prisoners in the area near Smolensk as late as September 1941.

The Burdenko Commission went on to investigate if anyone had actually seen the process of execution of the Polish officers by the Germans. They found three women, the cooks of the NKVD vacation house, A.M. Aleksejava, O.A. Michailova, and S.P. Konachovskaja. At the time, the house was the base for a German military unit. According to the women, this was the Staff building for a Construction Battalion No.537-1. There were 30 persons stationed at this place, according to the cooks. They could not remember the names of all of them, except for a few. The commander of the battalion was Lt. Colonel Arnes. Others were Lt. Colonel Rekst, Lt. Hott, Sgt. Luemert and few others whom the women could remember. They witnessed the entire procedures of the Germans. Though they never witnessed an execution, they were aware of what was going on. According to all three women, several trucks regularly arrived at the residence starting from September 1941. They would not come directly to the residence at first. Coming off the main highway, the trucks would stop somewhere between the highway and the residence. The officers of the 537th would go into the woods. About half an hour later, individual shots in succession begun to be heard. About 1 hour after the trucks had stopped, they reached the building and all would disembark. They would go into the house and wash themselves in the bathroom. They would then proceed to drink heavily. The women were not allowed out of the kitchen when the drivers and the other members of the convoy arrived. They were kept in the kitchen, cooking meals for them. On several occasions, the women noticed fresh blood stains on the uniforms of at least two officers. The cooks usually left their work in the evening. According to them, the officers had the unusual habit of sleeping until 12 o’clock. They suspected that they conducted the same business during the night. They also saw Polish officers on at least two occasions. On one occasion, one of the women was allowed to go home after her usual hours, in the evening. Walking on the road, she noticed a group of 30 prisoners. She recognized them as Polish because she had seen their uniforms before, while they were conducting construction work for the Soviets. On another occasion, two of the women accidentally saw two Polish officers inside the residence, surrounded by German officers. The women were chased back into the kitchen and there was a large fuss around the officers. A few minutes later, the women heard two shots. They had been warned several times to be careful about what they saw and not to tell anyone. As punishment for their intrusion, one of the women was locked in the basement of the building for 8 days while the other two for 3 days. After they realized what was going on, they quit their jobs on various excuses.

The conclusion that can be drawn from the testimonies of these three women is that the Polish officers were being executed by the Germans in the autumn of 1941. Apparently, several trucks were carrying groups of 30 or so prisoners to the Katyn woods. Stopping “between the highway and the residence”, or approximately 200m from the highway, the prisoners were unloaded. There awaited them the 30 members of the 537th in addition to the drivers and escorting soldiers. The prisoners were individually executed directly above their burial grounds and were thrown into their graves. This is a scene which can be seen many times in German footage of executions, where a German officer stands behind a kneeling prisoner, shoots him in the back of the head and throws him into an open grave. Following their work, all the German officers, soldiers and drivers went into the residence to clean off the blood or dirt and to celebrate with drinks. Now it was finally proven what had happened to the Polish officers.

The Burdenko Commission started excavation of the burial grounds in Katyn on January 16, 1944. The Commission dug up 925 bodies from those which had not already been examined by the Germans. There was a multitude of physical evidence on the bodies themselves. An obvious feature of the bodies was the heavy gray overcoat of the Polish officers. The question must then be asked, if the Polish officers were shot in the spring of 1940, as the Germans claim, why were they wearing coats? The only explanation for this is that they were not killed in the spring, but in a cold season, perhaps in autumn.

The hands of some Polish officers had been tied using a white braided cord. At the time, the USSR was the largest producer of hemp rope. In fact, the only kind of rope produced in the USSR in the pre-war years was hemp rope. Smolensk was one of the main centers of production. Therefore, the conclusion can be drawn that this was not rope produced in the USSR, but in some other foreign country.

The most obvious forensic evidence to look for in a murder case is the bullet and the bullet case. It was determined by the investigation on the 925 bodies, that most bullets had made an exit whole in the front of the head or in the face. In 27 cases, the bullet had remained inside the head. It was determined, the kills were made with low-velocity pistols. Many bullet cases were found in the graves. These were primarily of a 7.65mm caliber, but there were also a few 6.35mm caliber and even fewer 9mm bullets. The inscription on the 7.65mm bullets were “Genshov and K”, a German producer of cartridges known also as “Geko”. So the bullets were produced in Germany! The question must then be asked, did the USSR make use of such weapons? Perhaps there was some export of 7.65mm cartridges to the USSR from Germany? The truth is the USSR made no use of any kind of gun with a 7.65mm caliber. The standard bullet size for Soviet pistols, including the TT, was 7.62mm. The USSR did make use of several types of guns with a 6.35mm caliber, but Germany also produced 59 types of pistols with a 6.35mm caliber. Also, USSR did not have a 9mm pistol until after the war, the Makarov pistol. Therefore, it is proven beyond a doubt that the executions were carried out with bullets produced in Germany and with guns which the Soviet Union did not possess. The only explanation is of course that these were carried out by the Germans. As for the German claim of having found bullet cases with Soviet inscriptions on them, this can only be propaganda since no producer, caliber or type of case was mentioned (on all Soviet cartridges the name of the factory of production is mentioned).

The bodies were searched for documentation of any sort. Many documents and papers were recovered. Among them, were at least 9 documents with dates from 12 November 1940 to 20 June 1941. These included 2 letters, one received and another not sent out, one icon and a number of camp receipts. The existence of these papers is proof that the prisoners were still alive until at least the German invasion started.

And what about those leaves the Germans supposedly found in the graves? If these leaves had fallen into the graves, and 3 years later (the Germans claimed the Poles were killed in 1940) they were still distinguishable to be birch leaves, then they must have been dry at the time of their fall. A fresh leaf would decompose very quickly and there would be nothing left of it. A dry leaf, especially birch leaves, can maintain their form for a long time if buried. But even they, cannot maintain their shape after 3 years. So there must be a different explanation. If the murders happened in the spring of 1940, then there would have been no dry leaves. And as is known leaves fall from the trees in the fall. Perhaps in the fall of 1941, or one and a half years before they were exhumed.

Investigation of the PKK and International Commission

Even more physical evidence about the bodies in Katyn comes from the investigators of the International Commission itself, who examined the bodies in 1943 under German supervision. Two members of the forensic team of the International Commission, Czechoslovakian Professor of forensic medicine F.Gaek and Bulgarian forensic scientist Marko Marks, were questioned on the matter. Marks was arrested in 1944 by the Bulgarian People’s Government and accused of lying on his Katyn investigation. Instead, Marks told them he did not lie, but that his real report was never made public by the Germans (thus Marks was freed). According to his experience, on May 1 1943, the team was flown from Katyn to Berlin. On the way to Berlin, their plane landed in an isolated military airfield. There, the members of the commission ate dinner. They were then given a prepared report on what they saw, which they had to sign. According to Marks, the report the Germans made public was only signed by the members of the commission, but not written by them. Instead, as Marks accounts, the members wrote individual reports which the Germans did not make public. In these reports, the conclusion of the commission was that the bodies in Katyn were too well preserved to have been buried 3 years earlier. Instead the commission concluded the bodies had been killed one to one and a half year earlier, in late 1941 or early 1942.

The findings of the Polish Red Cross (PKK) were also the same. On the death certificates they made for the victims at Katyn, they specified no date of death. According to its members, who testified after the war, they could not agree on a conclusion. Most thought the killings had been carried out one to one and a half years earlier and not 3 years as the Germans claimed. However, they could not write such a thing. Therefore it was decided to leave the time of death simply blank.

The PKK and the International Commission, as well as experts invited from other countries, examined in detail the bodies the Germans had laid out for them. The way in which these examinations were carried out was bizarre. The PKK members were present in the exhuming of the 4143 bodies they examined. The Germans had rounded up people from the neighboring villages to dig out the bodies. Once the bodies were out, the peasants were forced to search their uniforms for documents and papers of any kind. Once these were found, they were placed in individual folders with a number. The same number was placed on the body with a metal tag. The documents found in the bodies were not given to the PKK. By order from Berlin, all diaries, letters, receipts and orders were to be sent to Germany immediately for translation into German. The PKK members were given only the passports and other identification papers of the prisoners. Now it becomes obvious why the investigators found no documents with dates after the spring of 1940. Any document which would have contained a date was taken to Germany for “translation”, and only then made public. The PKK and other commissions were given only documents which did not contain any dates or hints of when they were killed.

The examination of the bodies themselves was even more revealing as to their time of death. According to the pathologist and forensic experts, the bodies were in a good condition. The tissue on the bodies was still attached. The skin on the hands, face and neck had turned gray, and in some cases greenish brown. There was no complete decomposition of the bodies and no putrefaction. In the bodies, muscles and tendons were still visible. Limbs were also still attached. When the bodies were carried out by the peasants, no parts of the bodies came apart. The uniforms of the bodies was still in good condition and held together well. The metallic parts of their uniforms, such as belts, buttons and nails, was still metallic and shiny in some areas. They were not rusted completely.

Bodies decompose faster in the warm seasons of the year, spring and summer. In winter bodies decompose very little and are as if in refrigeration. If the German version of the story were true, and the officers were killed in the spring of 1940, then there would have been 3 summer seasons between that time and April 1943. However, if the bodies had been killed in the autumn and winter of 1941, as the Soviet version of events goes, then there would have been only 1 summer season between that time and April 1943. In 3 summer seasons, the bodies would have been in a far more advanced stage of decomposition than the commissions found. For this reason the conclusion of both PKK and International forensic experts was that the bodies were killed one to one and a half years earlier, during the German occupation of the area. However, such a conclusion could not be made public by Germany.

The decomposition of the bodies was also the reason for the German delay in excavating the area. According to them, the location of the graves was discovered in March 1942. Excavation of the bodies started more than 1 year later. The Germans knew that since the bodies had been buried in the autumn and winter of 1941, they were still not decomposing by March 1942. Therefore, it was necessary to wait at least one summer for the bodies to decompose, and then excavate them in the spring of 1943.

Revisionist Evidence Refuted

The two eyewitnesses presented by the Gorbachevites are indeed lying about what really occurred. But it is not them who are to be blamed. They had no other choice. Soprunenko refused to admit that he received such an order for several months. The daughter, fearing for her and her fathers safety, said it was true that her father had seen an order from Stalin to kill the prisoners. The old man denied it, until after months of intimidation and threats was forced to tell them what they wanted to hear. But the Gorbechevite inspectors had not taken into consideration one detail. Soprunenko had already been asked the question of what happened to the Polish officers. He was asked this by the Committee that Stalin organized in the fall of 1941 to find out what happened to the Polish officers (on behalf of Sikorsky). The documentation the general-major received and sent on this matter was found in the Archives of the USSR as “Top Secret” documents. The truth, that Soprunenko had said in the fall of 1941, was finally found out and shattered the lies of the revisionists. One of the first persons questioned in 1941 on what happened to the Polish officers was precisely General-Major Soprunenko. Soprunenko wrote several documents under the title “Top Secret”. In these documents Soprunenko says the UNKVD “is at a loss” about what happened to the Polish officers. It did not know! He also wrote a document about the release of prisoners of German origin to Germany in a prisoner exchange program. But his reply to the Commission was that the UNKVD did not know. If the general-major had indeed been ordered by Beria to execute the Polish officers, he would have replied “on the indication of Comrade Beria, the Polish officers were shot.” Remember that the documents were “Top Secret”. No one would have seen them, except for people who would have sent such on order themselves! Why hide an order of Stalin and Beria…from Stalin and Beria? Yet Soprunenko made no such comment. He never received or saw such an order. He placed the responsibility for the disappearance of the prisoners on himself and on the UNKVD. So the truth of what the old man knew became known in the “Top Secret” documents, and the testimony he was forced to give to the Gorbachevite inspectors was proven to be false.

The testimony of Tokarev was false as well. He knew the Gorbachev inspectors would not quit until they heard what they wanted to hear. So Tokarev, being smarter than these revisionists, told them exactly what they wanted to hear, and at the same time hinted in his testimony he was only pulling their tail. The whole story of how the executions were carried out makes absolutely no sense. Even according to the German investigation, the pistols used in executing the Poles were low-velocity pistols. Tokarev says the executioners used TT pistols. TT pistols are very high-velocity guns, with a muzzle velocity of 420m/s. It is very powerful, and at a point blank range, it would not have produced a simple entry and exit wound. At that range, it would have carried away with it half the head! To give an impression of its power, even today the only hand guns that compare to its power are magnum revolvers. Furthermore, when shooting indoors against brick or cement walls, it ricochets off the walls and hits the executioners themselves! Therefore, TT pistols are never used for executions at close range and inside buildings. TT pistols also have a caliber of 7.62mm. No such bullets were found in the Katyn graves. Of course, Tokarev was aware of this, but his questioners were not.

The most obvious aspect of Tokarev’s false testimonial is his description of the execution process. Tokarev says the executions were carried out in the UNKVD buidling in the middle of Smolensk. How can executions of 300 prisoners per day be kept secret in a large prison in the middle of a city? It cannot. The executions, if they were 6000 per month, went on for 2 months. If the executions were to be carried out in absolute secrecy, the building had to be emptied of personnel for 2 months. All the other prisoners, the guards, the office personnel, the telephone operators, the janitors, the cooks and storekeepers of the complex had to be sent home for 2 months and operations of the UNKVD had to be shut down for that period. Guards would have to be placed outside the building, indeed a long way out of the building, to keep people from coming near enough to hear the shooting. Could all this have been carried out in secret in the middle of a city? Of course not. It makes no sense, and Tokarev knew this. Furthermore, is it possible for 10 guards to execute 300-200 prisoners every day? According to Tokarev, they were executed in groups of 10-40 people. The entire process, according to Tokarev, was to take them out of their cells, take them to an office room to be identified and to complete necessary documentation, take them to special room to be executed. Afterwards, they were loaded into trucks from the back door of the building and taken to their burial sites. This entire process would have taken a very long time, especially for a small group of 10 guards. The prisoners would have been less than cooperative. It is hard to drag 10-40 men who know that they are going to be executed. So the time elapsed in this process is even longer. If there are 10 hours of daylight in April, and Tokarev said the executions were carried out during the daylight hours, then there was a 2 minute time period for the execution of every person in order to kill 300 persons per day. This is the time if the guards take no breaks and eat nothing during this process. Furthermore, if the prisoners were killed in the UNKVD building in the middle of the city, why were there bullet cases in the graves of the Polish officers? It is simply impossible. The Burdenko Commission already showed how the Germans, who were master executioners, carried out their actions.

Forged Documents

As a final chapter to the Katyn drama, the Gorbachevite “historians” announced in 1992 the discovery of three documents, undeniably proving Soviet guilt in Katyn. The first document was a request by Beria to the Political Bureau, to give the order to execute the Polish officers. The second document, is the protocol of the Political Bureau for its Session No.13, where the request of Beria is noted. The third document is a letter from Shepelin to Khrushchev dated March 3 1959, informing him that all documentation on Katyn would be destroyed.

All three of these documents are false, and this article shall prove so. The letter of Beria to the Politburo is of most importance. It is also the most obvious fake. In the letter dated March 5 1940, Beria says he thinks it necessary that “the NKVD” propose to “the NKVD” to transfer the cases for 14,700 prisoners of war and 11,000 arrested people. It asks the Politburo in request I, to order “the application to them of the highest measure of punishment – execution”. In request II, it asks that the sentences for the persons be carried out without their presence and without representation for them. In request III, it asks the Politburo to appoint this matter to a “troika” made up of Kabulov, Merkulov and Bashtakov. This letter is under the title “Top Secret”. On the first page of the document, it is signed by Stalin, Molotov, Mikoyan, Voroshilov. The names of Kaganovich and Kalinin are added under these, where they express “after”.

The mistakes and inconsistencies in this letter are many. To start, the letter is “Top Secret”. Standard procedure for a “Top Secret” letter were to write on the letter the name of the person who typed it, the names of all the persons who have seen the document, the names of all persons to whom this letter is to be sent, the number of copies made of this letter, the carbon paper used to make a copy of it and finally the tape of the typewriter used to make this paper. For the “Beria document”, none of these exist. Without these precautions, it is not a “Top Secret” letter. The forger of this document either was not aware of the requirements of a “Top Secret” paper, or such requirements could not be forged by them. Either way, this paper immediately looses its value, and furthermore shows it is a forgery.

But the mistakes do not stop here. The signatures of the members of the Politburo go against the form. In this letter, 4 members of the Politburo have simply signed their names. By this act, they have rejected the request of Beria. You see, if the members of the Politburo agreed to send out an order or to carry out a request, it was necessary for them to sign the document, and to write next to their signatures “agreed” or “after”. In order for the request to be agreed and the order to be sent out, the members had to express their agreement to the request or their agreement to an order being sent. If they simply signed the paper, it meant that the members had read the document, but had not agreed to it and had not sent out any orders. The forger was obviously not aware of this and has made the mistake. Even if this request is authentic, which it is not, it was not accepted by the Politburo.

On the first page of the document, along with the four signatures of Stalin, Molotov, Mikoyan and Voroshilov, the forger added the names of Kaganovich and Kalinin underneath these. What the forger was not aware of, is that both Kaganovich and Kalinin were absent from the 13th Session of the Politburo in March 1940. They could not have placed their signatures on this document.

Beria’s requests contain even more proof that it is a forgery. Beria’s requests that he finds it necessary for the NKVD to propose to the NKVD, makes no sense. Why would Beria find it necessary to propose to Beria? This is a mistake which the forger accidentally made. Why he made this mistake shall be discussed below.

In Beria’s third request, he asks for the creation of a “troika” of three individuals mentioned by name. This entire request makes no sense. When a troika is created, its members are never mentioned by name. They are mentioned by their post. What was to happen if one of the members died or was removed from his post? Was the troika destroyed or was this person, who was no longer in position, still in the troika? It could not have been done in this way. For an example, the reader should refer to the above decision of the Special Commission of the NKVD, where its members are identified only by their post. It is not important who the individuals are. The individuals in the posts may change, but the troika still stands.

Furthermore, this document gives no indication as to who should receive or should be informed of the decision of the Politburo. The only person mentioned is L. Beria. But in a document such as this, the names of the persons to receive it are also included. Otherwise, how is Kabulov to know he is a member of the “troika”? This document is “Top Secret”. It is given to him only by the Politburo. Furthermore, the persons in charge of carrying out the orders of the Politburo, in this case the people or organs to carry out the executions, must also be named. Otherwise, if it is simply announced to them by a second or third party, it is no longer a “Top Secret” decision, but something for the whole world to know. This document contains no such names.

The request for execution to the Politburo is a further mistake of the forger. Such a request would never have been made. The Politburo did not have the authority to make such an order. The only body capable of issuing an order for execution was the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, specifically the Supreme Court of the USSR. Only by decision of the Supreme Court could an execution be carried out. The Court also established special “troikas”, which by authority of the Court had the power to sentence to execution. In this document, Beria is asking the Politburo to create a “troika” to sentence people to death. It was impossible! Only a decision of the Supreme Court could have created such a “troika”. An example of how such a process was carried out, happened in 1941. The German advance was threatening to capture the prison at Orel, where important members of anti-Soviet groups were being held. It could not be allowed for them to fall into the hands of the Germans, who would use them against the USSR. Therefore, a meeting of the Supreme Court was called where it issued an order for execution, and only then were the prisoners executed. Even in the most pressing of times, 1941, the rule of Soviet law was not broken. So why was Beria asking the Politburo for such a decision?

The question must be asked, why did the forger make such mistakes? The reason for them is that the forger used an original document from Beria to the Politburo. The forger needed an original document to have a document number and to keep the same characteristic style of Beria. He did not change the first page, except for adding the names of Kaganovich and Kalinin (which the forger thought should have been there). However, the forger changed the second page, Beria’s requests. So in the original document of Beria it read “…the NKVD finds it necessary to propose to the Special Commission of the NKVD…” Then it would make sense. The forger however, removed the Special Commission, since its decision was to sentence the officers to a maximum of 5 years of imprisonment. Therefore, in the original document, Beria’s request was not to execute the prisoners, and thus disagree with the conclusion of the Special Commission. It was in agreement with the Special Commission. Instead of ordering an execution, the original document should have read ” with the application to them of the sentence of 5-8 years of imprisonment as specified by the Special Commission of the NKVD”. Also, in the original there was no request for the creation of a troika. Only then would this document make sense. It was only asking the members of the Politburo to agree to allow the NKVD to propose to the Special Commission of the NKVD the transfer of files to them and to allow the NKVD to propose to the Special Commission to carry out its investigation of individuals without their presence and without the presence of their representation. This original request of the document is supported in the fact that on March 16, 1940, the Special Commission started receiving personal information on the prisoners and began its individual sentencing. This is the exact request of Beria’s original letter to the Politburo.

If the original document had read as such, then the signatures on the first page are transformed into an agreement. This is not bizarre, but if the Politburo was not asked to carry out an order or to take any action, but only to agree, then a simple signature would have sufficed. If there were no orders or actions to be carried out, then none had to be specified next to the names. So by changing the requests of Beria, the forger also changed the decision of the Politburo. Nevertheless, this document so proudly displayed by the revisionists is no doubt a fake.

The second document is the protocol of the Politburo on the request of Beria. It confirms all the requests of Beria, the execution of the prisoners and the creation of the “troika” with the members Beria mentioned. This is the letter that is taken from the logs of the Politburo and sent to the persons specified in Beria’s request are to receive it. However, since no such persons were indicated on the letter of Beria, to whom was this protocol sent to? Furthermore, since by their simple signatures, the members of the Politburo did not agree to Beria’s request, why was a protocol of the Politburo made for it? Also, it does not contain the signature of the Secretary of the Politburo. Without the signature, it means nothing. This second document is simply a continuation of the first one, an attempt of the forgers to show the Politburo agreed and sent out an order. Just as the Korger changed the original Beria document to suggest execution, so was changed the original protocol of the Politburo.

The third document is very poorly made and seems to have the purpose of telling all other historians not to search documents on Katyn any more, Khrushchev has destroyed them all! On this letter of Shepelin to Khrushchev, there is no number at all and there is no signature. It follows no form. Nevertheless, in this letter Shepelin tells Khrushchev that all documents on Katyn will be destroyed since they have no “historical value” to anyone. How did Shepelin think that documents on executions of thousands of foreign nationals, had no value to anyone? Among the documents Shepelin mentions, are the stock-taking documents of the prisoners of war from their camps, mentioned among them is Starobelsk camp. As we have already seen, an order was sent from Beria to the commander of Starobelsk in September 1940, to destroy the stock-taking documents of the prisoners of war since criminal cases for them would be opened. How did these stock-taking documents reappear in 1959 for Shepelin to destroy? For the prisoners of war sentenced to prison by the Special Commission of the NKVD, criminal cases were opened and there existed no more documents of their prisoner of war status. Also, in this document, the protocol to execute the Poles is said to have come from the Politburo of the CPSU. Shepelin simply refers “to the protocol of the Politburo of the CPSU to execute…” The problem with this is that the CPSU did not exist until 1952. In 1940, there was no such government body! In 1940, it was called the Politburo of the AUCP(B) (All Union Communist Party – Bolshevik). Also, Shepelin cannot simply refer to such a “Top Secret” document without quoting it or without including a copy of it for Khrushchev. Otherwise, how would Khrushchev know what Shepelin was talking about. Yet all these simple mistakes are made by the forger.

All three documents are forgeries. There are only a few authentic documents recovered on Katyn (the resolution of the Special Commission, the orders to Starobelsk ext.) Any additional documents on Katyn, such as the criminal cases of the prisoners, were located in the Smolensk Archives. Unfortunately, the Smolensk Archives were captured by the Germans during WW2 and later by the Americans. If these documents exist anymore, they are in the hands of the Americans, and will thus never be revealed. Nevertheless, it is important to show that the revisionists have no documents implicating the USSR, but instead resort to forgeries and lies.

Conclusion

What conclusion can be drawn from the evidence, counter-evidence, documents, forgeries and heaps of propaganda on Katyn? For 60 years the anti-communist forces of the world have told us Katyn was a Soviet responsibility. The Nazis proclaimed this as a crime of the Jewish communists. They used it as one of the many pretexts for placing into concentration camps and slaughtering tens of millions of Soviet citizens and Jews. The western imperialists used the Nazi pretext in the 1950s, to place on trial communists. They used it to launch a crusade against communism, to protect their empires and colonies, slaughtering more millions. The anti-communists and scoundrels ruling the USSR in the 80s and 90s used Katyn as a pretext for destroying the USSR and throwing the Soviet people into the brutal exploitation of capitalist and Mafiosi gangsters. Millions more died. Today, the modern revisionist “historians” would like to exonerate the Nazis of any responsibility. Today they use Katyn as yet another pretext to show how the Soviets “fabricated” the Holocaust and how they “fabricated” Auschwitz and all the other unimaginable crimes of the Nazis. Katyn has always been used as a weapon of the fascists and imperialists for justifying their murderous campaigns. The truth on Katyn however is far from what these Nazi sympathizers and scoundrels would like us to believe. Katyn was the work of the Nazis. It is they who killed the Polish officers after capturing them from Soviet camps. The conclusion one should draw simply from the heaps of lies, propaganda and forgeries the imperialists and Nazi-sympathizers, is that Katyn is their responsibility. Otherwise, there would have been no reason for the Nazis to conduct their “international” investigation as they did and for the Gorbachevite revisionists to create fake documents. But beyond their lies and forgeries, one should look at the truth on Katyn. The truth stands that the Polish officers were sentenced to terms of prison for their various war crimes. To tell the truth, no one should feel sorry for these Polish officers. They were traitors and cowards in the face of their country and people. However, they did not deserve a German bullet in the back of their head. Only a Polish bullet would have sufficed for their crimes against the Polish people.
Mukhin, Y.I., Katyn Detective,1995

STALIN SEVERS TIES WITH POLISH GOVT BECAUSE IT SUPPORTS WITH HITLER ON KATYN

[Personal and secret message from Josef Stalin to Winston Churchill on April 21, 1943]
The behavior of the Polish government towards the USSR of late is, in the view of the Soviet Government, completely abnormal and contrary to all the rules and standards governing relations between two allied states.
The anti-Soviet slander campaign launched by the German fascists in connection with the Polish officers whom they themselves murdered in the Smolensk area, in German-occupied territory, was immediately seized upon by the Sikorski Government and is being fanned in every way by the Polish official press. Far from countering the infamous fascist slander against the USSR, the Sikorski Government has not found it necessary even to address questions to the Soviet Government or to request information on the matter.
The Hitler authorities, having perpetrated a monstrous crime against the Polish officers, are now staging a farcical investigation, using for the purpose certain pro-fascist Polish elements picked by themselves in occupied Poland, where everything is under Hitler’s heel and where no honest Pole can open his mouth.
Both the Sikorski and Hitler governments have enlisted for the “investigation” the head of the International Red Cross, which, under a terror regime of gallows and wholesale extermination of the civil population, is forced to take part in the investigation farce directed by Hitler. It is obvious that this “investigation,” which, moreover, is being carried out behind the Soviet Government’s back, cannot enjoy the confidence of anyone with a semblance of honesty.
The fact that the anti-Soviet campaign has been started simultaneously in the German and Polish press and follows identical lines is indubitable evidence of contact and collusion between Hitler,the Allies’ enemy,and the Sikorski Government in this hostile campaign.
At a time when the peoples of the Soviet Union are shedding their blood in a grim struggle against Hitler Germany and bending their energies to defeat the common foe of the freedom-loving democratic countries, the Sikorski Government is striking a treacherous blow at the Soviet Union to help Hitler tyranny.
These circumstances compel the Soviet Government to consider that the present Polish government, having descended to collusion with the Hitler Government, has, in practice, severed its relations of alliance with the USSR and adopted a hostile attitude to the Soviet Union.
For these reasons, the Soviet Government has decided to interrupt relations with that Government.
I think it necessary to inform you of the foregoing, and I trust that the British Government will appreciate the motives that necessitated this forced step on the part of the Soviet Government.
Richardson, S, Ed. The Secret History of World War II. NY: Richardson & Steirman, 1986, p. 91-93

Katyn

GERMANS COMMITTED THE KATYN FOREST MASSACRE

All the evidence I secured showed that the Polish group in London was more interested in doing something against Russia than in doing anything for Poland. This made it easy to understand why they accepted and spread the Goebbels story about the murder of 10,000 Poles in Smolensk. Their unhesitating acceptance of this Nazi propaganda caused the Soviet government to sever relations with the Polish government-in-exile in 1943. It will be remembered that the Germans captured Smolensk on the night of July 15th 1941. Almost two years later Goebbels broadcast to the world that the Russians had killed 10,000 Polish prisoners there, and that their bodies had been found in the Katyn Forest. The Polish government-in-exile immediately gave credence to the Nazi allegation by asking the international Red Cross to investigate. It seemed a preposterous charge. If the Russians had really killed the Poles it would have been known by the people of Smolensk and the Germans would certainly have found out about it almost immediately. It was not the sort of thing that the Germans would have kept quiet about for two years. The Red Army retook Smolensk on September 25, 1943, and the Soviet government immediately instituted an investigation of a massacre.
I visited the Katyn Forest with American, British, Chinese, and French correspondents. Dr. Victor Prozorovsky, Director of the Moscow Institute of Criminal Medical Research, showed me about. The 10,000 bodies had been dug up, and the Russians were systematically examining everything found on them as well as performing autopsies. Eleven doctors were working continuously. I watched some of the autopsies, which were very thorough. The bodies, including the internal organs, were remarkably well preserved. The doctor said that this alone was sufficient to prove the falsity of the charge.
The Russians found letters on the bodies dated after the Germans occupied the city, thus proving that the victims could not had been killed at the time alleged. We talked with a Russian priest whose parish was in the Katyn Forest. He had been driven out of this church by the Germans, and then the building had been surrounded by barbed wire and SS men. The priest declared that the Germans had killed the Poles there. A Russian who had served under the Germans testified that the German authorities had ordered the death of the Polish prisoners. The diary of the Mayor who fled with the Germans contained clear evidence that the Germans had committed the murders. However, the fact which impressed me as much as any other, was that the corpses still had their fine leather boots. I had seen, traveling at the front, that it was general Russian practice to remove the boots of the dead. It seemed unlikely that they would have made an exception in this case, and left 10,000 pairs of good boots behind. Every correspondent who visited Katyn Forest came away convinced that it was another Nazi atrocity.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 99

In 1943, near the railway station of Katyn, in the forest near the village of Kozy Gory, a vast burial ground of several thousand Polish officers was discovered. The Nazis at once declared that this was the work of Soviet hands’, while a special commission in Moscow stated that it was simply another example of Nazi brutality. A series of documents have been found in a special section of the Main Soviet Archives which make it plain that Katyn was in fact the work of Beria’a agency, though no single document has yet been found bearing his signature or that of any of his henchmen actually ordering the massacre. The order must either have been destroyed after the act or have been given orally.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 360

Each one of them [Polish officers] had been shot in the back of the neck with a German bullet.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 404

KATYN GRAVES STORY DECLARED GRIM FRAUD
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, June 28.
The story of the mass graves at Katyn, which caused a world sensation two years ago, was a propaganda stunt staged by Goebbels and Ribbentrop to cause a split between Russia and her western allies, says a report received here through special channels that is supported by a message from Oslo tonight. A Himmler close collaborator, SS Brigade Leader Schellenberg, is declared to have given this sensational information during an examination at Allied Headquarters in Germany last Tuesday. He is quoted as saying that 12,000 bodies were taken from German concentration camps and attired in old Polish uniforms to make them appear to be Polish officers.
Tonight a corroborative report was received from Oslo, where Erik Johansen–recently repatriated prisoner from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany–tells an interesting story about German production of false identification documents for bodies in Katyn mass graves.
Johansen says a special section of the concentration camp was completely isolated and strongly guarded by SS men, whereupon forty to sixty Jewish prisoners were picked out to forge the documents. They received the best optical instruments obtainable so the work could be done to perfection. They made passports, letters, etc. and even wallets, which were treated with a special chemical fluid to make them look worn.
Before the German capitulation all machines, instruments and material used were destroyed and the Jewish specialists were killed to prevent the secret from getting out, he said.
New York Times, June 29, 1945 p. 2

Katyn Forest Massacre
from Military-Historical Journal, 1991
by Romyald Sviatec

Who gained more from the murder of the Polish officers?
In order to answer this question, it is necessary to, at least sketchily, clarify the relations of the Germans and the Russians toward the Poles. It is known that the Germans started the war with Poland, as they required Polish lands and Polish workers. From the first days of the occupation, they began to destroy the Polish intellectual elite. The movement of the Russians into the eastern part of Poland had a different character, which was expressed in the note of the Soviet Government handed to the Polish ambassador in Moscow. The Polish-German war exposed the insolvency of the Polish state. In the course of ten days of military (German) operations, Poland lost all of its manufacturing and cultural centers. Warsaw, as a Capital of Poland, did not exist any more. The Polish government fell apart and did not show signs of life. This meant that the Polish state and its government factually ceased to exist.
With this, the agreements that had been concluded between the USSR and Poland were no longer valid–left to itself and abandoned without direction. Poland became a convenient field for all kinds of the accidental and unexpected, capable of threats to the Soviet Union. Because of this, being until then neutral, the Soviet government could not be in different to these facts any more, as also to the fact that the Ukrainians and the White Russians,–being of the same blood (as the Russians)–and living on the territory of Poland, and having been thrown to the mercy of such destiny, remained unprotected.
In view of such a situation, the Soviet government gave an order to the High Command of the Red Army that the army should cross the frontier and take under protection the life and property of the population of Western Ukraine and Western White Russia. After this took place, the war between Poland and the Soviet Union was officially ended and Poland represented no more of a danger for the USSR….
The situation with the Germans was exactly the opposite. In spite of the fact that the German armies were occupying Poland, the war between the two states was continuing, as some of the Polish army were fighting against the Germans in France and England, and therefore, any Polish officer presented to the Germans a potential danger.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 197-198

Being in Varkut, Camp No. 10, [Romyald Sviatec] met a Major of the German Army who, from 1941, found himself in Smolensk. From him, I found out that it definitely was the Germans who operated several camps for Polish war prisoners. In one conversation, I got interested in his knowing about Katyn. He answered me directly that this was the work of the hands of Germans, as it was in the interests of Germany to commit this massacre.
He was sincerely surprised that the Polish officials were blaming the Russians. The Major stated that a good soldier, especially an officer, must die, if his Motherland is perishing. He stated that after he had fallen to the Russians as a prisoner, he understood very well that he might die, and if that would be his fate, he would accept that as a good German soldier. He also knew the attempt by General Sikorski in Moscow to free the Polish officers and soldiers, which he said would assist the Soviet-Polish agreement. This German major did not, in the slightest, consider his Polish officers’ massacre by Germany as a crime. To his way of thinking, these Polish officers represented a danger to the German Reich. This was also the opinion of most of the other German prisoners of war.
In Camp No. 11 in Varkut, I met Vlodzhimir Mandryk, who, before the war and during the period of occupation, worked in the main post office in Smolensk. He absolutely insisted that near Smolensk, from 1940 there were German camps for Polish prisoners of war. He was adamant that the Germans murdered the Poles.
By his account of the period between August and October of 1941, letters to Polish prisoners of war ceased to arrive and be processed by the post office. Any letters that kept on coming to the prisoners, the Germans gave the post office orders to destroy all these letters. Also, at this time, Mandryk recalls the Germans told everyone in Smolensk that the Polish officers were relocated back in Polish territory.
…Amongst the many recollections which I read about Katyn, there was a book by Stanislaw Svjanevich by the name of “In the Shadow of Katyn,” and also in the book by Joseph Chapskov, “Upon the Inhuman Earth.” I learned that Polish war prisoners were treated very well by the Russians. In 1940, there were three Polish generals in POW camps–Minkewich, Smorovinsly and Bakhaterebur. When these prisoners were departing the camps, the Soviet authorities gave them a farewell banquet, especially for the higher officer corps. The Russians wanted to show the Germans that they are civilized and knew how to treat prisoners. This might be looked upon as having little meaning, but if you lived with the Russians during those hard times of war, you would appreciate the real meaning of that gesture.
The Russians wanted to show the Polish officers that they, the Russians and Poles have one common enemy, therefore, uniting together would be in the interests of everyone. No one can convince me that it was the Russians who murdered these Polish officers. [This was also shown by] the Polish-Russian agreement of 1941 when thousands of Polish prisoners of war were freed from the camps, and the formation on Soviet territory of the Polish army took place.
In July 1952, together with a group of invalids, I was directed into the region of Irkutsk to camp No. 233. Here, I got acquainted with Father Kozera, who showed a great interest in the Katyn massacre. During the eight years we were together in many camps, he accumulated many interesting materials, which brought him to the final conclusion that the Katyn crime was perpetrated by the Germans.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 206-209

…Altogether, I spent nine years in the Soviet Union–two years in exile and seven years in camps. During that time, I went through much, met thousands of interesting people, but I also know that if the Soviets had wanted to get rid of the Polish officers, they would have sent them to the ” Novaya Zemlya” to work and thus, be productive.
I am far from praising the Soviet system…. I also do not pretend that I am not guilty of many things. There were people that got into the NKVD and the party who were real enemies of the system. They got rid of many dedicated people. But I cannot keep quiet on this Katyn event. I must defend the Russian people, if only to correct the existing lie that is being nurtured and promoted to this day about the Katyn massacre.
Even though I do not like the communist system, I must admit that this system has shown decency and follows the established law and order of the system….
With all the documentation that I have in my hands, I state categorically that the accusations by the Polish government in London, England were made solely for political reasons.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 206-211

Katyn Forest Massacre– Conclusion of Romyald Sviatec
In conclusion of this sad history, I would like to advise the Poles that they once-and-for-all discontinue and stop the insults regarding their Eastern neighbor, since the borders of Poland have been enlarged as the result of the Second World War, for the benefit of Poland.
Every true Pole must not only be satisfied with this, but also appreciate the country which was responsible for saving Poland from practical extinction. I returned from the Camp in 1956 and visited our Western territories. Only then did I realize the economical importance of the new Polish borders and in my heart I forgave the Soviets for their jailing me, because it was Stalin and the USSR which brought and formed these new important borders for Poland.
For all those who still stubbornly dream about Poland from the Baltic to the Black Sea, I suggest that they read the letter by Winston Churchill to the Poles. It calls for those Poles who are not aware of history or what it is they want, nor what they now possess, and do not wish to know or admit that it was the Soviet Union through its sacrifices of many millions of its people and soldiers, so the Poles could have their own independent state–which they were never able to gain by their own strength:
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 222

[In a November 7, 1944 letter Churchill stated:]
1. …
2. …
3. Moreover, without the Russian army, Poland would have been destroyed or brought into slavery and the Polish nation itself would have been wiped off the face of the earth. Without the valiant Red Army, no other power on earth would have been able to accomplish this. Poland now will be an independent, free country in the heart of Europe with wonderful and better territories than the one she had before. And if she will not accept this, Britain removes from itself all obligations and lets the Poles themselves work out their own agreement with the Soviets.
4. I don’t think that we can be asked to give any further assurances and promises to Poland regarding their borders or their attitude regarding the USSR. Poland fell in days to German Nazis, while the Polish government at that time refused to receive help from the Soviet Union.
Those Poles that are now vying for leadership in Poland must think that we, the British, are stupid that we would start a war against our USSR ally on behalf of the demands to restore the Polish eastern borders which had the majority of non-Poles living in those territories. A nation that proved to the world that it could not defend itself, must accept the guidance of those who saved them and who represent for them a perspective of genuine freedom and independence.
Lucas and Ukas. Trans. and Ed. Secret Documents. Toronto, Canada: Northstar Compass, 1996, p. 224

POLAND ’S NOV 1939 ATTACK ON THE SU CHANGED THE STATUS OF POLISH PRISONERS

In the Soviet intervention into Poland, the USSR detained between 250-300 thousand Polish soldiers and officers. Most were released from detention centers. However, some 130,242 persons were maintained in detention camps of the NKVD, before their situation changed.
In November 1939, the Polish government in exile, as arrogant and bullish as ever, declared war on the USSR, supposedly in reply to the Soviet-Finnish War. The Poles went as far as creating a special brigade to be sent to fight the Red Army in Finland. By this act of war, the Polish government changed the status of the Polish soldiers still detained in the USSR. They now become automatically prisoners of war, and thus those still remaining in NKVD camps could not be released.
Mukhin, Y.I., Katyn Detective,1995

20,000 POLISH PRISONERS COULD NOT BE RELEASED UNTIL THEIR CASES WERE JUDGED

After the official inclusion of the territory captured by Poland in 1920 into the USSR, the Polish prisoners of war automatically became citizens of the USSR. By decision of court, it was named illegal for the NKVD to detain and force these soldiers to work. Therefore, most soldiers and petty officers were all released into civilian life as citizens of the USSR. However, there was a group of people that could not be released. These were those charged with crimes against the non-Polish and Polish population in the newly liberated areas as well as for war crimes against the USSR. This group comprised members of Poland’s military and governmental elite, gentry, landlord and manufacturers. There were plenty of war crimes committed by these people, such as the mass execution of Soviet prisoners of war in 1920 and active support for diversionary and terrorist groups against the USSR. It was decided to keep these individuals, numbering more than 20,000, in detention camps of the NKVD until a Special Commission of the NKVD examined their cases and decided upon a sentence for them.
Mukhin, Y.I., Katyn Detective,1995

POLISH CASES WERE JUDGED BY A SPECIAL COMMISSION AND THE RESULTS WERE AS FOLLOWS

The Decision of the Special Commission of the NKVD

The action of sentencing these foreign officers to war crimes was against international laws of the time. It was also not the time for the USSR to take such steps. War would soon come, and to publicly announce that some of the Polish officers were being considered as war criminals, could not help the USSR. Foreign imperialists, who were only looking for an opportunity to attack the USSR, would see this as an opportunity. Therefore, it was decided to keep this as secret as possible. A Special Commission of the NKVD was organized to individually investigate each case of the persons accused of crimes against the people or war crimes. Starting from December 1939, the administration of each camp in which the prisoners were being detained, started selecting those prisoners to be investigated by the Special Commission of the NKVD. On December 31, 1939 L. Beria sent the order for the camps to deliver the names of the suspected officers. By February 20, 1940 the order was issued to release from camps all those individuals who were sick, invalid or representatives of the working intelligentsia. After a lengthy review by the members of the Special Commission, a decision was reached. The first time the conclusion of the NKVD was made publicly available in its entirety was in September 1993 in the “Military-Historical Magazine.” This document was found in the Archives of the USSR. The decision of the Special Commission of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) was the following:

1. To give the status of war criminal to the persons considered socially dangerous; to exile for the period of up to 5 years under public supervision in the districts specified by the NKVD; to sentence them for the period of 5 years under public supervision with the prohibition of residing in the capitals, large cities and industrial centers of the USSR; to imprison in correctional-working camps and isolate in the camps for a period of up to 5 years, and to send outside the limits of the USSR foreign citizens considered socially dangerous.

2. To give the status of war criminal to the persons convicted of espionage, sabotage, diversion and terrorist activity and to imprison for the period from 5 to 8 years.

Starting from March 16 1940, individual cases were reviewed by the Special Commission of the NKVD and sentences were established for them. Some individuals were found not guilty of wrong doing and were returned to the prisoner of war status or were released. It was decided by the Special Commission that the privilege of correspondence be removed from the prisoners that were sentenced. The reason for this was that they were no longer prisoners of war, but war criminals, and thus the Soviet authorities were under no obligation to allow this privilege.

Furthermore, the fact that the Polish officer elite had been sentenced as war criminals could not be released publicly. Releasing such information to the world would have been damaging to the USSR, especially in this time when allies, even half-hearted ones, were necessary. However, not all the detained prisoners were sentenced. Those that were not, were placed in prisoners of war camps from where they could freely correspond. Furthermore, the Special Commission of the NKVD issued orders to the Starobelsk prisoners of war camp, where the Polish officers were previously held, to destroy the documentation regarding their prisoner of war status. An order was issued from L. Beria on September 10, 1940 to the commander of the camp to destroy the stock-taking documents of the prisoners of war. This order from Beria had no security clearance, and therefore could be viewed by anyone. The existence of this order has been seen by the western “historians” as evidence that the officers had been executed and that the Soviets were trying to cover their tracks. This is not the case. In the order of Beria and in following orders to the Starobelsk camp, the camp administration is asked to make copies of the prisoner’s photographs and some other additional files which were to be sent to the Kharakov UNKVD. The reality of this order is that the status of the officers had changed, from prisoners of war to war criminals. They had moved from the jurisdiction of the NKVD to that of the UNKVD, which dealt with such cases. Documents about their prisoner of war status could be destroyed, since they served no more purpose. But the pictures of the prisoners were sent to the UNKVD, where new criminal files were opened for the prisoners.

With this, the work and jurisdiction of the Special Commission of the NKVD was finished. The prisoners were moved from the Starobelsk camp to three separate camps near the Smolensk area. These camps were specially set up by the UNKVD for the Polish officers.

Since 1943, the USSR was forced to publicly admit that the Polish officers and other individuals were sentenced to imprisonment in correctional and working-camps for the period of 5 to 8 years without the right of correspondence. Since that time, the USSR has been accused of lying. Indeed, it was concluded by the Nazis and the western imperialists that the USSR had sentenced these individuals to death instead of imprisonment. However, the discovery of the actual decision of the Special Commission of the NKVD, has proved beyond a doubt that the USSR was not lying. The prisoners were indeed sentenced to terms of imprisonment, or as in the case of foreign nationals, to exile. The decision of the Special Commission of the NKVD should never have been doubted because in 1941 several individuals of foreign nationality were exiled outside the USSR. Among them was a Polish officer of German origins, R. Shtiller, who was deported to Germany and revealed information about the sentencing. Furthermore, those Polish officers found not guilty were returned to their prisoner of war camps, from where they could freely correspond. The entire investigation of the NKVD begs the question, that if the intention was to kill the prisoners, why carry out such a lengthy investigation of individual cases and release persons found not guilty? If the intention was to execute them, none of this would have been done. However, as with most truthful evidence on Katyn, this information is rejected and kept hidden as much as possible by the western and Russian revisionist historians. Instead, these “historians” and the Gorbachievite gang, resorted to forgeries and lies on the decision of the NKVD.

On June 22 1941, Germany launched its invasion of the USSR. At the time, Poland still held its declaration of war against the USSR. It wasn’t until after the war had started, that the Polish government in exile retreated its declaration. In July 30 1941, the government of Sikorsky entered into negotiation with the USSR about the release of the remaining Polish prisoners and about the organization of a Polish Army from these. By early August 1941, it was decided to create a Polish Army in the USSR under the command of Polish General Anders (who was one of the prisoners), called the Anders Army. Sikorsky promised Stalin that the Anders Army would remain in the USSR and fight against the Germans. All he wanted in return was that 25,000 Polish soldiers be sent to the Middle East to join the British Army. Stalin agreed, and in 1941 the Anders Army was created and armed. Sikorsky also asked Stalin about the fate of the missing Polish officers. Stalin avoided the question, giving the answer that he did not know (while the Soviet press made up imaginative theories of what happened). But the truth was that Stalin indeed did not know what had happened. By that time the Germans had taken Smolensk and the Polish camps and the Soviets did not know what happened to them. Also, this was not a priority for the Soviet Union. In any case, Stalin organized a committee to find out what happened to the Polish officers. They could not find out what happened to them, except that they had been captured by the Germans. On this, we shall talk about later.

Anders, being of the Polish military elite and as arrogant as usual, had a deep hatred for the USSR. The USSR was sacrificing much by arming these Polish soldiers. At a time when weapons had to be taken out of museums to arm the defenders of Moscow, the Anders Army was being armed with the best weapons. In an act of treachery, which was second nature for the elite Polish officers, Anders led his army of 114,000 into Iran. He abandoned the Red Army and abandoned the fight for his homeland to run away to Iran to join the British. This was indeed a great blow to Polish-Soviet relations. Never again would Stalin trust the Polish government in exile, and proved once more their treacherous and cowardly nature. Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of Polish soldiers and officers still remained in the USSR. these were organized into the Polish People’s Army, under the command of the PKKA. This was created in October 1941 and fought alongside the Red Army until the end of the war. By the Battle of Berlin, the Polish People’s Army numbered 400,000. They were the only Polish troops to participate in the liberation of their country from the Nazis.

First, lets begin with the “proofs” of the Nazis. Following the liberation of Smolensk from the Germans in September 1943, a Special Commission was established, headed by Academician N.N. Burdenko. Following a lengthy investigation of the area, questioning of witnesses and the excavation and study of 925 bodies, the Burdenko Commission wrote a 56 page report. This report was made public in 1944. Since then, the revisionist historians have accused the report of being simply a propaganda document with no truth in it. However, this assessment does not hold. In 1990, a “Top Secret” version of the Burdenko report was discovered. This “Top Secret” document was sent by Burdenko to the heads of the Soviet government.

The Burdenko Commission refuted all the points of the German and International investigation, except for the fact that there were 12,000 bodies. First to be examined was the location of the burial itself. The Germans claimed that the Katyn forest was an isolated area which had served as an execution ground for many years. In reality, Katyn was a popular area of vacationing. The NKVD vacation home was located only 700m away from the burial places. There resided the wives and children of the NKVD officers on vacation there. The city and surrounding population frequented the Katyn forest as a place of vacationing. Villagers came to the forest for picking mushrooms or for pasturing their animals. The area was not closed off the public in any way. Furthermore, the burial was only 200m from the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway. This was a heavily traveled road, with thousands of people crossing it every day. Could this be an area where executions were carried out for many years? Could this be the area where for months, 12,000 people were buried? It was not possible for the Soviets to carry out this act in such a place. Surely the NKVD could have found an area which was far more secure than this, an area where the only witnesses would have been bears. Most importantly, this revelation about Katyn proves the Germans were lying. According to the findings of the Burdenko Commission, it wasn’t until the Germans occupied the area that the woods were closed to the population. Signs were put up, warning anyone who entered that they would be shot. A German military unit was stationed on the grounds of the Katyn forest, closing off the area.

And about the cabin found by the Germans directly next to the graves (where the Germans said the executions had been carried out). It was in actuality a cabin for the Pioneers! It appears, that the exact area of the burials was a favorite ground for the Pioneers to set up their summer camp. Therefore, a permanent cabin was build on that area for housing materials for their use (while the Pioneers themselves slept in tents).

The Burbenko Commission also answered the question of what had happened to the Polish prisoners after their camps were overrun by the Germans. The directors of the prisoner camps were located and questioned. The director of camp 1ON, Major of Security V.M. Vetoschinikov, testified about what happened. According to him, he received orders about the evacuation of the prisoners from the camp. However, he had not received any instructions on how to carry this out, since phone connections had been cut off. He and some employees of the camp drove to Smolensk to clarify the situation. He met with Engineer S.V. Ivanov, head of transportation on the western stretch of the Smolensk railway. Vetoschinikov asked Ivanon for a few train cars to transport the prisoners. However, at the time the evacuation of the city population was being carried out. Therefore, Ivanon told him not to expect any train cars since none were available. Vetoschinikov tried to contact Moscow about permission to evacuate by foot, but could not contact them. By that time, the 1ON camp was cut off from Smolensk and the director had no idea what had happened to the prisoners or their guards.

Officer Ljubodzetsk witnessed what occurred in the 1ON camp after Vetoschinikov did not return. According to him, the evacuation of the camp started to be carried out by foot. However, the Polish officers rebelled. They said they wanted to wait for the Germans and surrender to them. At least the Germans, they thought, would treat them in accordance to international norms. The majority of the prisoners decided to remain in the camp and wait for the Germans. Only a few of the prisoners agreed to the evacuation – those of Jewish origin. Therefore, it has been proven that the Polish officers were alive and in the camps by the time the Germans captured them. The Burdenko Commission gathered testimonies from a number of other eyewitnesses from the neighboring villages. According to several of them, they had seen Polish prisoners in the area near Smolensk as late as September 1941.

The Burdenko Commission went on to investigate if anyone had actually seen the process of execution of the Polish officers by the Germans. They found three women, the cooks of the NKVD vacation house, A.M. Aleksejava, O.A. Michailova, and S.P. Konachovskaja. At the time, the house was the base for a German military unit. According to the women, this was the Staff building for a Construction Battalion No.537-1. There were 30 persons stationed at this place, according to the cooks. They could not remember the names of all of them, except for a few. The commander of the battalion was Lt. Colonel Arnes. Others were Lt. Colonel Rekst, Lt. Hott, Sgt. Luemert and few others whom the women could remember. They witnessed the entire procedures of the Germans. Though they never witnessed an execution, they were aware of what was going on. According to all three women, several trucks regularly arrived at the residence starting from September 1941. They would not come directly to the residence at first. Coming off the main highway, the trucks would stop somewhere between the highway and the residence. The officers of the 537th would go into the woods. About half an hour later, individual shots in succession begun to be heard. About 1 hour after the trucks had stopped, they reached the building and all would disembark. They would go into the house and wash themselves in the bathroom. They would then proceed to drink heavily. The women were not allowed out of the kitchen when the drivers and the other members of the convoy arrived. They were kept in the kitchen, cooking meals for them. On several occasions, the women noticed fresh blood stains on the uniforms of at least two officers. The cooks usually left their work in the evening. According to them, the officers had the unusual habit of sleeping until 12 o’clock. They suspected that they conducted the same business during the night. They also saw Polish officers on at least two occasions. On one occasion, one of the women was allowed to go home after her usual hours, in the evening. Walking on the road, she noticed a group of 30 prisoners. She recognized them as Polish because she had seen their uniforms before, while they were conducting construction work for the Soviets. On another occasion, two of the women accidentally saw two Polish officers inside the residence, surrounded by German officers. The women were chased back into the kitchen and there was a large fuss around the officers. A few minutes later, the women heard two shots. They had been warned several times to be careful about what they saw and not to tell anyone. As punishment for their intrusion, one of the women was locked in the basement of the building for 8 days while the other two for 3 days. After they realized what was going on, they quit their jobs on various excuses.

The conclusion that can be drawn from the testimonies of these three women is that the Polish officers were being executed by the Germans in the autumn of 1941. Apparently, several trucks were carrying groups of 30 or so prisoners to the Katyn woods. Stopping “between the highway and the residence”, or approximately 200m from the highway, the prisoners were unloaded. There awaited them the 30 members of the 537th in addition to the drivers and escorting soldiers. The prisoners were individually executed directly above their burial grounds and were thrown into their graves. This is a scene which can be seen many times in German footage of executions, where a German officer stands behind a kneeling prisoner, shoots him in the back of the head and throws him into an open grave. Following their work, all the German officers, soldiers and drivers went into the residence to clean off the blood or dirt and to celebrate with drinks. Now it was finally proven what had happened to the Polish officers.

The Burdenko Commission started excavation of the burial grounds in Katyn on January 16, 1944. The Commission dug up 925 bodies from those which had not already been examined by the Germans. There was a multitude of physical evidence on the bodies themselves. An obvious feature of the bodies was the heavy gray overcoat of the Polish officers. The question must then be asked, if the Polish officers were shot in the spring of 1940, as the Germans claim, why were they wearing coats? The only explanation for this is that they were not killed in the spring, but in a cold season, perhaps in autumn.

The hands of some Polish officers had been tied using a white braided cord. At the time, the USSR was the largest producer of hemp rope. In fact, the only kind of rope produced in the USSR in the pre-war years was hemp rope. Smolensk was one of the main centers of production. Therefore, the conclusion can be drawn that this was not rope produced in the USSR, but in some other foreign country.

The most obvious forensic evidence to look for in a murder case is the bullet and the bullet case. It was determined by the investigation on the 925 bodies, that most bullets had made an exit whole in the front of the head or in the face. In 27 cases, the bullet had remained inside the head. It was determined, the kills were made with low-velocity pistols. Many bullet cases were found in the graves. These were primarily of a 7.65mm caliber, but there were also a few 6.35mm caliber and even fewer 9mm bullets. The inscription on the 7.65mm bullets were “Genshov and K”, a German producer of cartridges known also as “Geko”. So the bullets were produced in Germany! The question must then be asked, did the USSR make use of such weapons? Perhaps there was some export of 7.65mm cartridges to the USSR from Germany? The truth is the USSR made no use of any kind of gun with a 7.65mm caliber. The standard bullet size for Soviet pistols, including the TT, was 7.62mm. The USSR did make use of several types of guns with a 6.35mm caliber, but Germany also produced 59 types of pistols with a 6.35mm caliber. Also, USSR did not have a 9mm pistol until after the war, the Makarov pistol. Therefore, it is proven beyond a doubt that the executions were carried out with bullets produced in Germany and with guns which the Soviet Union did not possess. The only explanation is of course that these were carried out by the Germans. As for the German claim of having found bullet cases with Soviet inscriptions on them, this can only be propaganda since no producer, caliber or type of case was mentioned (on all Soviet cartridges the name of the factory of production is mentioned).

The bodies were searched for documentation of any sort. Many documents and papers were recovered. Among them, were at least 9 documents with dates from 12 November 1940 to 20 June 1941. These included 2 letters, one received and another not sent out, one icon and a number of camp receipts. The existence of these papers is proof that the prisoners were still alive until at least the German invasion started.

And what about those leaves the Germans supposedly found in the graves? If these leaves had fallen into the graves, and 3 years later (the Germans claimed the Poles were killed in 1940) they were still distinguishable to be birch leaves, then they must have been dry at the time of their fall. A fresh leaf would decompose very quickly and there would be nothing left of it. A dry leaf, especially birch leaves, can maintain their form for a long time if buried. But even they, cannot maintain their shape after 3 years. So there must be a different explanation. If the murders happened in the spring of 1940, then there would have been no dry leaves. And as is known leaves fall from the trees in the fall. Perhaps in the fall of 1941, or one and a half years before they were exhumed.

Investigation of the PKK and International Commission

Even more physical evidence about the bodies in Katyn comes from the investigators of the International Commission itself, who examined the bodies in 1943 under German supervision. Two members of the forensic team of the International Commission, Czechoslovakian Professor of forensic medicine F.Gaek and Bulgarian forensic scientist Marko Marks, were questioned on the matter. Marks was arrested in 1944 by the Bulgarian People’s Government and accused of lying on his Katyn investigation. Instead, Marks told them he did not lie, but that his real report was never made public by the Germans (thus Marks was freed). According to his experience, on May 1 1943, the team was flown from Katyn to Berlin. On the way to Berlin, their plane landed in an isolated military airfield. There, the members of the commission ate dinner. They were then given a prepared report on what they saw, which they had to sign. According to Marks, the report the Germans made public was only signed by the members of the commission, but not written by them. Instead, as Marks accounts, the members wrote individual reports which the Germans did not make public. In these reports, the conclusion of the commission was that the bodies in Katyn were too well preserved to have been buried 3 years earlier. Instead the commission concluded the bodies had been killed one to one and a half year earlier, in late 1941 or early 1942.

The findings of the Polish Red Cross (PKK) were also the same. On the death certificates they made for the victims at Katyn, they specified no date of death. According to its members, who testified after the war, they could not agree on a conclusion. Most thought the killings had been carried out one to one and a half years earlier and not 3 years as the Germans claimed. However, they could not write such a thing. Therefore it was decided to leave the time of death simply blank.

The PKK and the International Commission, as well as experts invited from other countries, examined in detail the bodies the Germans had laid out for them. The way in which these examinations were carried out was bizarre. The PKK members were present in the exhuming of the 4143 bodies they examined. The Germans had rounded up people from the neighboring villages to dig out the bodies. Once the bodies were out, the peasants were forced to search their uniforms for documents and papers of any kind. Once these were found, they were placed in individual folders with a number. The same number was placed on the body with a metal tag. The documents found in the bodies were not given to the PKK. By order from Berlin, all diaries, letters, receipts and orders were to be sent to Germany immediately for translation into German. The PKK members were given only the passports and other identification papers of the prisoners. Now it becomes obvious why the investigators found no documents with dates after the spring of 1940. Any document which would have contained a date was taken to Germany for “translation”, and only then made public. The PKK and other commissions were given only documents which did not contain any dates or hints of when they were killed.

The examination of the bodies themselves was even more revealing as to their time of death. According to the pathologist and forensic experts, the bodies were in a good condition. The tissue on the bodies was still attached. The skin on the hands, face and neck had turned gray, and in some cases greenish brown. There was no complete decomposition of the bodies and no putrefaction. In the bodies, muscles and tendons were still visible. Limbs were also still attached. When the bodies were carried out by the peasants, no parts of the bodies came apart. The uniforms of the bodies was still in good condition and held together well. The metallic parts of their uniforms, such as belts, buttons and nails, was still metallic and shiny in some areas. They were not rusted completely.

Bodies decompose faster in the warm seasons of the year, spring and summer. In winter bodies decompose very little and are as if in refrigeration. If the German version of the story were true, and the officers were killed in the spring of 1940, then there would have been 3 summer seasons between that time and April 1943. However, if the bodies had been killed in the autumn and winter of 1941, as the Soviet version of events goes, then there would have been only 1 summer season between that time and April 1943. In 3 summer seasons, the bodies would have been in a far more advanced stage of decomposition than the commissions found. For this reason the conclusion of both PKK and International forensic experts was that the bodies were killed one to one and a half years earlier, during the German occupation of the area. However, such a conclusion could not be made public by Germany.

The decomposition of the bodies was also the reason for the German delay in excavating the area. According to them, the location of the graves was discovered in March 1942. Excavation of the bodies started more than 1 year later. The Germans knew that since the bodies had been buried in the autumn and winter of 1941, they were still not decomposing by March 1942. Therefore, it was necessary to wait at least one summer for the bodies to decompose, and then excavate them in the spring of 1943.

Revisionist Evidence Refuted

The two eyewitnesses presented by the Gorbachevites are indeed lying about what really occurred. But it is not them who are to be blamed. They had no other choice. Soprunenko refused to admit that he received such an order for several months. The daughter, fearing for her and her fathers safety, said it was true that her father had seen an order from Stalin to kill the prisoners. The old man denied it, until after months of intimidation and threats was forced to tell them what they wanted to hear. But the Gorbechevite inspectors had not taken into consideration one detail. Soprunenko had already been asked the question of what happened to the Polish officers. He was asked this by the Committee that Stalin organized in the fall of 1941 to find out what happened to the Polish officers (on behalf of Sikorsky). The documentation the general-major received and sent on this matter was found in the Archives of the USSR as “Top Secret” documents. The truth, that Soprunenko had said in the fall of 1941, was finally found out and shattered the lies of the revisionists. One of the first persons questioned in 1941 on what happened to the Polish officers was precisely General-Major Soprunenko. Soprunenko wrote several documents under the title “Top Secret”. In these documents Soprunenko says the UNKVD “is at a loss” about what happened to the Polish officers. It did not know! He also wrote a document about the release of prisoners of German origin to Germany in a prisoner exchange program. But his reply to the Commission was that the UNKVD did not know. If the general-major had indeed been ordered by Beria to execute the Polish officers, he would have replied “on the indication of Comrade Beria, the Polish officers were shot.” Remember that the documents were “Top Secret”. No one would have seen them, except for people who would have sent such on order themselves! Why hide an order of Stalin and Beria…from Stalin and Beria? Yet Soprunenko made no such comment. He never received or saw such an order. He placed the responsibility for the disappearance of the prisoners on himself and on the UNKVD. So the truth of what the old man knew became known in the “Top Secret” documents, and the testimony he was forced to give to the Gorbachevite inspectors was proven to be false.

The testimony of Tokarev was false as well. He knew the Gorbachev inspectors would not quit until they heard what they wanted to hear. So Tokarev, being smarter than these revisionists, told them exactly what they wanted to hear, and at the same time hinted in his testimony he was only pulling their tail. The whole story of how the executions were carried out makes absolutely no sense. Even according to the German investigation, the pistols used in executing the Poles were low-velocity pistols. Tokarev says the executioners used TT pistols. TT pistols are very high-velocity guns, with a muzzle velocity of 420m/s. It is very powerful, and at a point blank range, it would not have produced a simple entry and exit wound. At that range, it would have carried away with it half the head! To give an impression of its power, even today the only hand guns that compare to its power are magnum revolvers. Furthermore, when shooting indoors against brick or cement walls, it ricochets off the walls and hits the executioners themselves! Therefore, TT pistols are never used for executions at close range and inside buildings. TT pistols also have a caliber of 7.62mm. No such bullets were found in the Katyn graves. Of course, Tokarev was aware of this, but his questioners were not.

The most obvious aspect of Tokarev’s false testimonial is his description of the execution process. Tokarev says the executions were carried out in the UNKVD buidling in the middle of Smolensk. How can executions of 300 prisoners per day be kept secret in a large prison in the middle of a city? It cannot. The executions, if they were 6000 per month, went on for 2 months. If the executions were to be carried out in absolute secrecy, the building had to be emptied of personnel for 2 months. All the other prisoners, the guards, the office personnel, the telephone operators, the janitors, the cooks and storekeepers of the complex had to be sent home for 2 months and operations of the UNKVD had to be shut down for that period. Guards would have to be placed outside the building, indeed a long way out of the building, to keep people from coming near enough to hear the shooting. Could all this have been carried out in secret in the middle of a city? Of course not. It makes no sense, and Tokarev knew this. Furthermore, is it possible for 10 guards to execute 300-200 prisoners every day? According to Tokarev, they were executed in groups of 10-40 people. The entire process, according to Tokarev, was to take them out of their cells, take them to an office room to be identified and to complete necessary documentation, take them to special room to be executed. Afterwards, they were loaded into trucks from the back door of the building and taken to their burial sites. This entire process would have taken a very long time, especially for a small group of 10 guards. The prisoners would have been less than cooperative. It is hard to drag 10-40 men who know that they are going to be executed. So the time elapsed in this process is even longer. If there are 10 hours of daylight in April, and Tokarev said the executions were carried out during the daylight hours, then there was a 2 minute time period for the execution of every person in order to kill 300 persons per day. This is the time if the guards take no breaks and eat nothing during this process. Furthermore, if the prisoners were killed in the UNKVD building in the middle of the city, why were there bullet cases in the graves of the Polish officers? It is simply impossible. The Burdenko Commission already showed how the Germans, who were master executioners, carried out their actions.

Forged Documents

As a final chapter to the Katyn drama, the Gorbachevite “historians” announced in 1992 the discovery of three documents, undeniably proving Soviet guilt in Katyn. The first document was a request by Beria to the Political Bureau, to give the order to execute the Polish officers. The second document, is the protocol of the Political Bureau for its Session No.13, where the request of Beria is noted. The third document is a letter from Shepelin to Khrushchev dated March 3 1959, informing him that all documentation on Katyn would be destroyed.

All three of these documents are false, and this article shall prove so. The letter of Beria to the Politburo is of most importance. It is also the most obvious fake. In the letter dated March 5 1940, Beria says he thinks it necessary that “the NKVD” propose to “the NKVD” to transfer the cases for 14,700 prisoners of war and 11,000 arrested people. It asks the Politburo in request I, to order “the application to them of the highest measure of punishment – execution”. In request II, it asks that the sentences for the persons be carried out without their presence and without representation for them. In request III, it asks the Politburo to appoint this matter to a “troika” made up of Kabulov, Merkulov and Bashtakov. This letter is under the title “Top Secret”. On the first page of the document, it is signed by Stalin, Molotov, Mikoyan, Voroshilov. The names of Kaganovich and Kalinin are added under these, where they express “after”.

The mistakes and inconsistencies in this letter are many. To start, the letter is “Top Secret”. Standard procedure for a “Top Secret” letter were to write on the letter the name of the person who typed it, the names of all the persons who have seen the document, the names of all persons to whom this letter is to be sent, the number of copies made of this letter, the carbon paper used to make a copy of it and finally the tape of the typewriter used to make this paper. For the “Beria document”, none of these exist. Without these precautions, it is not a “Top Secret” letter. The forger of this document either was not aware of the requirements of a “Top Secret” paper, or such requirements could not be forged by them. Either way, this paper immediately looses its value, and furthermore shows it is a forgery.

But the mistakes do not stop here. The signatures of the members of the Politburo go against the form. In this letter, 4 members of the Politburo have simply signed their names. By this act, they have rejected the request of Beria. You see, if the members of the Politburo agreed to send out an order or to carry out a request, it was necessary for them to sign the document, and to write next to their signatures “agreed” or “after”. In order for the request to be agreed and the order to be sent out, the members had to express their agreement to the request or their agreement to an order being sent. If they simply signed the paper, it meant that the members had read the document, but had not agreed to it and had not sent out any orders. The forger was obviously not aware of this and has made the mistake. Even if this request is authentic, which it is not, it was not accepted by the Politburo.

On the first page of the document, along with the four signatures of Stalin, Molotov, Mikoyan and Voroshilov, the forger added the names of Kaganovich and Kalinin underneath these. What the forger was not aware of, is that both Kaganovich and Kalinin were absent from the 13th Session of the Politburo in March 1940. They could not have placed their signatures on this document.

Beria’s requests contain even more proof that it is a forgery. Beria’s requests that he finds it necessary for the NKVD to propose to the NKVD, makes no sense. Why would Beria find it necessary to propose to Beria? This is a mistake which the forger accidentally made. Why he made this mistake shall be discussed below.

In Beria’s third request, he asks for the creation of a “troika” of three individuals mentioned by name. This entire request makes no sense. When a troika is created, its members are never mentioned by name. They are mentioned by their post. What was to happen if one of the members died or was removed from his post? Was the troika destroyed or was this person, who was no longer in position, still in the troika? It could not have been done in this way. For an example, the reader should refer to the above decision of the Special Commission of the NKVD, where its members are identified only by their post. It is not important who the individuals are. The individuals in the posts may change, but the troika still stands.

Furthermore, this document gives no indication as to who should receive or should be informed of the decision of the Politburo. The only person mentioned is L. Beria. But in a document such as this, the names of the persons to receive it are also included. Otherwise, how is Kabulov to know he is a member of the “troika”? This document is “Top Secret”. It is given to him only by the Politburo. Furthermore, the persons in charge of carrying out the orders of the Politburo, in this case the people or organs to carry out the executions, must also be named. Otherwise, if it is simply announced to them by a second or third party, it is no longer a “Top Secret” decision, but something for the whole world to know. This document contains no such names.

The request for execution to the Politburo is a further mistake of the forger. Such a request would never have been made. The Politburo did not have the authority to make such an order. The only body capable of issuing an order for execution was the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, specifically the Supreme Court of the USSR. Only by decision of the Supreme Court could an execution be carried out. The Court also established special “troikas”, which by authority of the Court had the power to sentence to execution. In this document, Beria is asking the Politburo to create a “troika” to sentence people to death. It was impossible! Only a decision of the Supreme Court could have created such a “troika”. An example of how such a process was carried out, happened in 1941. The German advance was threatening to capture the prison at Orel, where important members of anti-Soviet groups were being held. It could not be allowed for them to fall into the hands of the Germans, who would use them against the USSR. Therefore, a meeting of the Supreme Court was called where it issued an order for execution, and only then were the prisoners executed. Even in the most pressing of times, 1941, the rule of Soviet law was not broken. So why was Beria asking the Politburo for such a decision?

The question must be asked, why did the forger make such mistakes? The reason for them is that the forger used an original document from Beria to the Politburo. The forger needed an original document to have a document number and to keep the same characteristic style of Beria. He did not change the first page, except for adding the names of Kaganovich and Kalinin (which the forger thought should have been there). However, the forger changed the second page, Beria’s requests. So in the original document of Beria it read “…the NKVD finds it necessary to propose to the Special Commission of the NKVD…” Then it would make sense. The forger however, removed the Special Commission, since its decision was to sentence the officers to a maximum of 5 years of imprisonment. Therefore, in the original document, Beria’s request was not to execute the prisoners, and thus disagree with the conclusion of the Special Commission. It was in agreement with the Special Commission. Instead of ordering an execution, the original document should have read ” with the application to them of the sentence of 5-8 years of imprisonment as specified by the Special Commission of the NKVD”. Also, in the original there was no request for the creation of a troika. Only then would this document make sense. It was only asking the members of the Politburo to agree to allow the NKVD to propose to the Special Commission of the NKVD the transfer of files to them and to allow the NKVD to propose to the Special Commission to carry out its investigation of individuals without their presence and without the presence of their representation. This original request of the document is supported in the fact that on March 16, 1940, the Special Commission started receiving personal information on the prisoners and began its individual sentencing. This is the exact request of Beria’s original letter to the Politburo.

If the original document had read as such, then the signatures on the first page are transformed into an agreement. This is not bizarre, but if the Politburo was not asked to carry out an order or to take any action, but only to agree, then a simple signature would have sufficed. If there were no orders or actions to be carried out, then none had to be specified next to the names. So by changing the requests of Beria, the forger also changed the decision of the Politburo. Nevertheless, this document so proudly displayed by the revisionists is no doubt a fake.

The second document is the protocol of the Politburo on the request of Beria. It confirms all the requests of Beria, the execution of the prisoners and the creation of the “troika” with the members Beria mentioned. This is the letter that is taken from the logs of the Politburo and sent to the persons specified in Beria’s request are to receive it. However, since no such persons were indicated on the letter of Beria, to whom was this protocol sent to? Furthermore, since by their simple signatures, the members of the Politburo did not agree to Beria’s request, why was a protocol of the Politburo made for it? Also, it does not contain the signature of the Secretary of the Politburo. Without the signature, it means nothing. This second document is simply a continuation of the first one, an attempt of the forgers to show the Politburo agreed and sent out an order. Just as the Korger changed the original Beria document to suggest execution, so was changed the original protocol of the Politburo.

The third document is very poorly made and seems to have the purpose of telling all other historians not to search documents on Katyn any more, Khrushchev has destroyed them all! On this letter of Shepelin to Khrushchev, there is no number at all and there is no signature. It follows no form. Nevertheless, in this letter Shepelin tells Khrushchev that all documents on Katyn will be destroyed since they have no “historical value” to anyone. How did Shepelin think that documents on executions of thousands of foreign nationals, had no value to anyone? Among the documents Shepelin mentions, are the stock-taking documents of the prisoners of war from their camps, mentioned among them is Starobelsk camp. As we have already seen, an order was sent from Beria to the commander of Starobelsk in September 1940, to destroy the stock-taking documents of the prisoners of war since criminal cases for them would be opened. How did these stock-taking documents reappear in 1959 for Shepelin to destroy? For the prisoners of war sentenced to prison by the Special Commission of the NKVD, criminal cases were opened and there existed no more documents of their prisoner of war status. Also, in this document, the protocol to execute the Poles is said to have come from the Politburo of the CPSU. Shepelin simply refers “to the protocol of the Politburo of the CPSU to execute…” The problem with this is that the CPSU did not exist until 1952. In 1940, there was no such government body! In 1940, it was called the Politburo of the AUCP(B) (All Union Communist Party – Bolshevik). Also, Shepelin cannot simply refer to such a “Top Secret” document without quoting it or without including a copy of it for Khrushchev. Otherwise, how would Khrushchev know what Shepelin was talking about. Yet all these simple mistakes are made by the forger.

All three documents are forgeries. There are only a few authentic documents recovered on Katyn (the resolution of the Special Commission, the orders to Starobelsk ext.) Any additional documents on Katyn, such as the criminal cases of the prisoners, were located in the Smolensk Archives. Unfortunately, the Smolensk Archives were captured by the Germans during WW2 and later by the Americans. If these documents exist anymore, they are in the hands of the Americans, and will thus never be revealed. Nevertheless, it is important to show that the revisionists have no documents implicating the USSR, but instead resort to forgeries and lies.

Conclusion

What conclusion can be drawn from the evidence, counter-evidence, documents, forgeries and heaps of propaganda on Katyn? For 60 years the anti-communist forces of the world have told us Katyn was a Soviet responsibility. The Nazis proclaimed this as a crime of the Jewish communists. They used it as one of the many pretexts for placing into concentration camps and slaughtering tens of millions of Soviet citizens and Jews. The western imperialists used the Nazi pretext in the 1950s, to place on trial communists. They used it to launch a crusade against communism, to protect their empires and colonies, slaughtering more millions. The anti-communists and scoundrels ruling the USSR in the 80s and 90s used Katyn as a pretext for destroying the USSR and throwing the Soviet people into the brutal exploitation of capitalist and Mafiosi gangsters. Millions more died. Today, the modern revisionist “historians” would like to exonerate the Nazis of any responsibility. Today they use Katyn as yet another pretext to show how the Soviets “fabricated” the Holocaust and how they “fabricated” Auschwitz and all the other unimaginable crimes of the Nazis. Katyn has always been used as a weapon of the fascists and imperialists for justifying their murderous campaigns. The truth on Katyn however is far from what these Nazi sympathizers and scoundrels would like us to believe. Katyn was the work of the Nazis. It is they who killed the Polish officers after capturing them from Soviet camps. The conclusion one should draw simply from the heaps of lies, propaganda and forgeries the imperialists and Nazi-sympathizers, is that Katyn is their responsibility. Otherwise, there would have been no reason for the Nazis to conduct their “international” investigation as they did and for the Gorbachevite revisionists to create fake documents. But beyond their lies and forgeries, one should look at the truth on Katyn. The truth stands that the Polish officers were sentenced to terms of prison for their various war crimes. To tell the truth, no one should feel sorry for these Polish officers. They were traitors and cowards in the face of their country and people. However, they did not deserve a German bullet in the back of their head. Only a Polish bullet would have sufficed for their crimes against the Polish people.
Mukhin, Y.I., Katyn Detective,1995

STALIN SEVERS TIES WITH POLISH GOVT BECAUSE IT SUPPORTS WITH HITLER ON KATYN

[Personal and secret message from Josef Stalin to Winston Churchill on April 21, 1943]
The behavior of the Polish government towards the USSR of late is, in the view of the Soviet Government, completely abnormal and contrary to all the rules and standards governing relations between two allied states.
The anti-Soviet slander campaign launched by the German fascists in connection with the Polish officers whom they themselves murdered in the Smolensk area, in German-occupied territory, was immediately seized upon by the Sikorski Government and is being fanned in every way by the Polish official press. Far from countering the infamous fascist slander against the USSR, the Sikorski Government has not found it necessary even to address questions to the Soviet Government or to request information on the matter.
The Hitler authorities, having perpetrated a monstrous crime against the Polish officers, are now staging a farcical investigation, using for the purpose certain pro-fascist Polish elements picked by themselves in occupied Poland, where everything is under Hitler’s heel and where no honest Pole can open his mouth.
Both the Sikorski and Hitler governments have enlisted for the “investigation” the head of the International Red Cross, which, under a terror regime of gallows and wholesale extermination of the civil population, is forced to take part in the investigation farce directed by Hitler. It is obvious that this “investigation,” which, moreover, is being carried out behind the Soviet Government’s back, cannot enjoy the confidence of anyone with a semblance of honesty.
The fact that the anti-Soviet campaign has been started simultaneously in the German and Polish press and follows identical lines is indubitable evidence of contact and collusion between Hitler,the Allies’ enemy,and the Sikorski Government in this hostile campaign.
At a time when the peoples of the Soviet Union are shedding their blood in a grim struggle against Hitler Germany and bending their energies to defeat the common foe of the freedom-loving democratic countries, the Sikorski Government is striking a treacherous blow at the Soviet Union to help Hitler tyranny.
These circumstances compel the Soviet Government to consider that the present Polish government, having descended to collusion with the Hitler Government, has, in practice, severed its relations of alliance with the USSR and adopted a hostile attitude to the Soviet Union.
For these reasons, the Soviet Government has decided to interrupt relations with that Government.
I think it necessary to inform you of the foregoing, and I trust that the British Government will appreciate the motives that necessitated this forced step on the part of the Soviet Government.
Richardson, S, Ed. The Secret History of World War II. NY: Richardson & Steirman, 1986, p. 91-93

49 SIGNS OF FALSIFICATION OF “CLOSED PACKAGE NO 1”

Part I. The storing place, the circumstances around the discovery and the release of these documents

1. It is unknown where the ”Closed package no. 1” was stored before December 1991. The circumstances around the “miraculous discovery” of these documents, which was made by the employees at the Soviet Presidential Archive, are also shrouded in mystery.

M. S. Gorbachev claimed that he, until December 1991 had not seen these documents, while in the two “Closed packages” of the Politburo regarding Katyn, were stored all other documents, which were dealing with the guilt of the German side in the Katyn massacre. Only a few days before Gorbachev’s resignation from office as the president of the Soviet Union, the archive employees delivered on December 24, 1991 (as implied at their own initiative) through Gorbachev’s chief of staff Grigory Revenko the package with the found documents (“Zhizn’ i reformy” (“The Life and the Reforms”), book 2, Moscow 1995, pp. 348-349).

A. N. Yakovlev claimed both in his book ”Sumerki” (”The Dawn”) and in several articles and appearances, that he up to December 24, 1991 had never seen these documents. In addition Yakovlev revealed an important detail, namely that in the package with the Katyn documents that was delivered to Gorbachev on that day also was a certain “Serov’s letter”. But in the archive list for the “Closed package no. 1” that was delivered from Gorbachev to Yeltsin that letter is missing.

A. Yu. Yablokov claims in his book ”Katynskij sindrom …” (“The Katyn syndrome”) on p. 386: ”In July 1992 the then head of the President’s Administration Yu. V. Petrov, the President adviser D. A. Volkogonov, the head of the Main Archives R. G. Pichoya and the manager of the Archive A. V. Korotkov went through the most secret materials in the Russian President Archive. On September 24, 1992 they opened the “Closed package no. 1”.

This means that somebody is lying – either Gorbachev and Yakovlev, who claim that these documents were stored by Gorbachev and that they in early winter of 1991 were delivered to Yeltsin in Yakovlev’s presence, or the archive employees who claim that they found this package themselves first in the fall of 1992. In this case, however, it is clear that both the former and the latter are lying. Those documents have not been found in any archives or packages. They have been forged but they have not been able to fabricate a coherent story and force everyone who is featured in this case to learn it by heart, especially not the senior managers, why each one has been forced to lie based on what he managed to remember.

2. The documents in question were made public for the first time in fall of 1992 during the meeting of the Constitution Court as evidence of the guilt of the Soviet Communist Party for the Katyn massacre, but already a cursory examination by the judges revealed their falseness, which resulted in the fact that the Constitution Court in its final verdict did not even mention these accusations.

3. That these are forgeries is attested by the fact that these indeed sensational ”documents” were not presented to the Russian public immediately after they have been discovered, despite the fact that the press had been filled with quotes from them. After the fiasco in the Constitution Court the text from some of these documents was published only after two years and then not in any known historical magazines but in so called “periodical edition”, the magazine “Voyennye arkhivy Rossii” (“Russia’s Military Archive”). After the release of no. 1 of the magazine, in which some of these forgeries were published along with other genuine documents from Russian archives, the magazine and its Editorial disappeared without a trace.

4. In this the first publishing of these ”documents” the publishers did not indicate the peculiarities of these documents from a case management point of view, which directly testified about their falseness, i.e. the publishers themselves realized that they were publishing forgeries.

5. In the magazine ”Voprosy istorii” (”Historical questions”) no. 1/1993, where these “documents” were described for the first time in Russia, they only described three of the five documents, but even despite such a shortening this issue was not sent to the subscribers and the libraries until 1995.

6. In Russia they have up to this day not yet officially published the most prominent (when it comes to the degree of falseness) documents from the “Closed package no. 1” – the so-called “print-out for Shelepin” (not to be confused with “Shelepin’s letter”!). This confirms once again that the publishers themselves were well aware of, and still are, the fact that these by them published documents are forged.

Part II. Information that does not go with real historical facts

7. In the documents from the ”Closed package no. 1” it talks about the formation of a certain “special NKVD troika”, which, as it says, had sentenced the Poles to execution. But in the large amount of real genuine archive documents from that period there is not the slightest hint of either the formation of any “troika” (as claimed in these documents) or that any Poles whatsoever had been executed in the Soviet Union in 1940 by any extrajudicial process. To use the words of the specialist in archive system, A. P. Kozlov, “these documents stand out because they run counter to other real indisputable facts from this time which are known from genuine sources”.

8. The real court troikas were provided during these years to sentence the accused, dependant on their guilt, and to acquit the innocent. In “Beria’s letter” the troika is not assigned any judicial rights, but provides to execute all Poles, i.e. the “troika” is not assigned any defined judicial work. Such a “troika” is directly embarrassing for the individual who made it up. The real Beria would never have suggested to the Politburo that they should pull up three senior NKVD employees (including him) from their usual work, in order to sit down and sign 22 000 pieces of paper, which no one other than themselves would read.

9. In the creation of the “troika” the key principle for the establishment of the court troikas which would consist of the top people from the NKVD (the Ministry of Interior) and the AUCP(b) (the Communist Party) and with the mandatory participation of a prosecutor.

10. In this “troika” they violated the principle of the members’ equal responsibility – to the two top NKVD officials (the People’s Commissar and his first deputy) they had added a third rank chief. In the real court troikas it was inconceivable with the participation of the subordinates to any of the members of the troika.

11. Beria could not suggest that they should create a “troika”, since all court troikas recently had been abolished by a joint decision of the Soviet government (Sovnarkom) and the Central Committee of the Communist Party (CC AUCP(b)), i.e. no “troika” was now possible seen from the legal law. After the joint decision had been made no decision executable could neither execute nor even arrest anyone at the orders from such an illegal “troika”, which had been officially forbidden in the Soviet Union by the government and the party.

12. If you assume that these documents from the “Closed package no. 1” are genuine, then it means that the Politburo at the Communist Party’s Central Committee had exceeded its powers – the Politburo took a decision to establish a “troika” despite the fact that the party’s leading agency – the Central Committee (CC) – had abolished them. Such is simply inconceivable. In a decision of November 17, 1938 from the Council of the People’s Commissars of the USSR (Sovnarkom, i.e. the government of the Soviet Union) and the CC AUCP (b) – the party’s leading agency, which is superior to the Politburo, ordered the following: “Liquidate the court troikas which have been created in accordance with orders from the NKVD of the USSR and the troikas at the militia’s oblast-, krai- and republic boards. From now on all cases shall in accordance with the prevailing legislation be forwarded for investigation to the courts or to the Special Council of the NKVD of the USSR.”

13. In the documents from the “Closed package no. 1” they have in no way included those 395 captured officers, policemen, and border guards, who – while the other POWs were sent to the correction- and labor camps at GUZhDS – were sent to the POW camps in Yukhnov and then to Gryazovets.

14. The “Politburo decision”, which was put into these “documents”, was impracticable for Beria: in pure self-preservation his surroundings would have found a way how to avoid to carry out such a criminal order from the People’s Commissar. It was a similar performance of their chief’s criminal orders that during 1937-38 had led to the execution of the closest collaborators to one of Beria’s predecessors Yagoda (who held the post as People’s Commissar of the NKVD until September 1936). And not long before these events, on February 4, 1940, they had for the same reason executed deputy assistants to Yezhov (who was succeeded by Beria as People’s Commissar and who was also executed on February 4, 1940). The whole world knew that the Poles were in captivity in the Soviet Union and no one in the top management of the NKVD would dare to take any risks by carrying out an illegal order of their execution issued by Beria, who had been working in the NKVD for only a year and a half and of which he had held the post as People’s Commissar only a little bit more than fifteen months.

Part III. Internal contradictions

15. ”Beria’s letter” contains a suggestion to execute 25 700 citizens from former Poland, while ”Shelepin’s letter” says that only 21 857 were actually executed. No explanations are given to on what ground another 3 843 Poles, who obviously were sentenced to execution, avoided being shot.

16. In “Beria’s letter” 14 736 officers and 18 632 inmates are declared as being “inveterate enemies of the Soviet power”, but it is suggested that they execute 14 700 of the former and 11 000 of the latter; this without any explanation about what to do with the remaining “inveterate” enemies and how they should separate the former from the latter. By such a decision the powers of the “troika” were delegated to the direct decision enforcers at spot and they were forced to decide themselves who should be sentenced to execution, which is inconceivable and something that could never exist in a real decision by Beria.

17. According to the notes at the back of the “print-out copy for Beria” they have during the period of March 5, 1940 to November 15, 1956 printed two extra copies of the “print-out copy for Beria” and that they had destroyed two copies on November 15, 1956. Given the strict confidentiality that surrounded the documents in the “Closed package no. 1” such manipulations with the print-out copies, which is unknown whom they were meant for, cannot be explained in a rational way.

Part IV. “Beria’s letter” no. 794/B (N. 794/Б)

18. Seen purely from a formal and legal point of view, “Beria’s letter” no. 794/B is a forgery because of the elementary fact that its key attributes – the date and the number – do not correspond to each other. Because according to the official registration the letter 794/b, which was sent to Stalin from the NKVD, was dated February 29, but in the archives they have found an entirely different letter with the same number – 794/B from the same March 1940 – but without a date indication. In order to understand the absurdity in the situation, imagine a person whose passport is full of errors and as date for its issuing is stated March but that later after a control of the Ministry of Interior it is found that this passport has been issued in February!

19. In “Beria’s letter” the resolution and the signatures of the Politburo members are written in a way that the lines of the “letter” during the signing must have been in a vertical position. No real right-handed leader signs that way. However, a specialist in forged signatures could write just like that – if he wanted to leave a hidden hint in the document that it was forged.

20. “Beria’s letter” has a number but no date. In a genuine document that is impossible since they are the one and the same note in the registration record, and then the date is more important than the number.

21. In “Beria’s letter” generals have been written on the same line as the lieutenant colonels, which was impossible for a genuine NKVD document. In all genuine NKVD documents the generals were written on a separate line and were never mixed even with the colonels.

22. According to a certificate from the Archive Board of the FSS, letter no. 794/b had been registered at the NKVD secretariat on February 29, 1940. In a genuine Beria letter from February 29 there could be no records from Soprunenko’s information from March 3, which appear in “Beria’s letter” from the “Closed package no. 1”. Consequently “Beria’s letter” no. 794/B with this information is a forgery.

23. The first three pages in “Beria’s letter” are not written on the same typewriter as page four (there is even an expert opinion available that proves that). A court would understand that such a thing was impossible for a genuine NKVD letter, because if you change the beginning of a document after the People’s Commissar has signed it, then it is the same thing as committing a crime.

24. Page four is written on a typewriter that has been used to type other recognized genuine Beria letters, while the three first pages are written on a typewriter whose font they still have not been able to trace in any of the fifteen Beria letters covering the period December 1939 to September 1940 that have been found in the archives and which they have up to date investigated.

This reveals the most probable way around the forgery of the letter.

The forgers probably took from the archive Beria’s genuine letter no. 794/b dated February 29, 1940 which contained a suggestion that the Poles would be sentenced by the Special Council of the NKVD (SC) to various fixed-penalties in prisons or labor camps. The forgers destroyed the first pages and instead printed three new ones which were converted in a way that it would like Beria was suggesting that the POWs should be shot. After that they added to these three forged pages a fourth one (the genuine) in which Beria suggested a quantitative (“troika”) and a personal (Beria, Merkulov, Bashtakov) composition for the Special Council. According to the “Regulation for the Special Council” its qualitative and personal composition would differ depending on the kind of matters that would be investigated. If the event occurred inside the borders of a union republic, then one of the members would be that republic’s People’s Commissar of the NKVD, if the matter was strictly criminal law then also the head of the militia’s (i.e. the police) board would be in it. In this particular case Beria suggested a special council with reduced staffing – consisting of three people – a troika. He suggested himself as chairman (he was the chairman of the SC according to the Regulation), his first deputy (also a member of the SC according to the Regulation) and the head of the department who prepared all cases regarding the POWs for the investigation in the Special Council – for the convenience of the organization and the implementation of meetings. Beria’s suggestion was logical, but still relinquished from what was provided in the “Regulation for the Special Council” – the head of the First Special Department, as a member of the SC, was not named which was the reason why Beria coordinated his suggestion with the Politburo.

But the Politburo did not share Beria’s view. They felt that they could not allow the People’s Commissar himself in this case to waste his time on a routine screening of up to 20 000 criminal law cases. That is why Stalin deleted Beria from the list and instead of him kept the Premier Deputy People’s Commissar of the NKVD Merkulov, as chairman of the Special Council and supplemented with Kobulov who was the head of the NKVD:s Main Department for Economy and by his employment dealt with investigation matters concerning the POWs and their use for labor. Worth noting is that Stalin did not write Kobulov’s last name above Beria’s deleted name (which would have meant that Kobulov had been appointed chairman) but wrote his name after Merkulov and before Bashtakov. That is, if you assume that the first three pages in “Beria’s letter” are forgeries and that the genuine letter was about the Special Council, then such a letter is completely consistent with all known historical facts.

Part V. The “print-out copy from the Politburo protocol” no. 1 (addressed to Beria)

25. The printed form begins with a warning: ”Must be returned within 24 hours to the 2nd Department at the Special Sector of the Central Committee”, and to the left there is another warning vertically written in the form: “The comrade who has received these documents do not have the right to forward them, nor to show them to anyone else, unless it is particularly admitted by the CC. Duplication of the said documents and production of prints from them is categorically forbidden. The note and the date for the superscription are to be made on each document personally by the comrade to whom it is addressed and shall contain his personal signature. Based on: the decision at the plenary meeting of the CC AUCP(b) on August 18, 1924.”

The “print-out copy for Beria” is the first copy (the original) unlike the “print-out copy for Shelepin” which is a re-print. It was precisely the original that in accordance with the delivery would be sent to Beria for superscription. This is witnessed, among other things, by the notes on the back, among them a hand-written note about another mailing to Beria which is supposed to have been done on December 4, 1941. But in the “print-out copy for Beria” there are no notes or signatures whatsoever from L. P. Beria that would confirm that he would have noted the print-out copy in 1940 and 1941.

26. In the “print-out copy for Beria” the for the genuine print-out copies mandatory facsimile signature from the Secretary of the Central Committee J. Stalin and the stamp with a relief of the CC AUCP(b) are missing.

27. The “print-out copy for Beria” is printed on a form that was not the standard form used by the Politburo in its case management. To date there are only two known copies of such a form – both are from the “Closed package no. 1” regarding Katyn.

28. On the form for the “print-out copy for Beria” the absolutely mandatory element for all official documents from the CC AUCP(b) is missing, namely the slogan: “Workers of the world, unite!” All the forms meant for documents that were sent to other agencies, always began with the Communist’s most important slogan: “Workers of the world, unite!”

Part VI. The “print-out copy from the Politburo protocol” no. 2 (addressed to Shelepin)

29. The document on this AUCP(b)-form is attested with a CPSU stamp. This constitutes such a climax of the forgers’ senile dementia that this one thing only was enough for the Constitution Court to realize that it was dealing with forged documents and not associate the Communist Party of the Soviet Union with the murder of the Polish officers.

30. In the “print-out copy for Shelepin” Stalin’s signature, the mailing date and the last name of the addressee have been typed with another typewriter.

31. The print-out copy is dated February 27, 1959 which would mean that the Poles continued to be in camps up to that date and that not before 1959 it was decided to shoot them.

32. The Politburo addressed the directive of the troika’s foundation and the execution to Shelepin but of the ”troika’s” original members, only Bashtakov was still alive.

33. In order to attest the signature Stalin in 1959 returned from the grave and arrived at the meeting of the Politburo.

34. Outwardly the ”print-out copy for Shelepin” is designed as an attested copy but is in reality not attested by any official at all at the CC CPSU. The forgers were not aware of the elementary, namely that the round stamp at any institution was stamped on top a signature. The purpose with the signature is to certify the genuineness of the signature.

35. On the front of the print-out copy there is a signature made with ink “Return. 27/II-59” which is a gross violation of the elementary rules for storing of documents under which it is strictly forbidden for the archive employees to make any notes whatsoever in the documents with the exception of cases when they are allowed to write a new page number with an ordinary pencil in the upper right corner when a case is being hardcovered again.

36. In the print-out copy they have erased the previous addressee’s name “Com. Beria” and the date “March 5, 1940”. Instead of them they have written a new surname “Com. Shelepin” and a new date “February 27, 1959”. Such changes in the text were also categorically forbidden according to the rules for archiving of documents.

37. In the same way as the ”print-out copy for Beria” the ”print-out copy for Shelepin” is printed on a form that was not used in the Politburo’s normal work and misses the mandatory slogan ”Workers of the world, unite!”.

Part VII. “Shelepin’s letter” N-632-sh (Н-632-ш)

38. “Shelepin’s letter” was sent to the CC CPSU through the KGB office since it has a mailing number (N-632-sh; Russian Н-632-ш) and the mailing date March 3, 1959 and from that follows that the absence of an inward registration at the CP CPSU in March 1959 is a sign of a forgery.

39. In the “letter” there are no notes or directives whatsoever from a single secretary at the CC CPSU – the forgers were unable to think of any, but then it seems that none of the secretaries at the Central Committee had ever seen Shelepin’s letter which is impossible when it comes to a letter from the chairman of the KGB.

40. When describing the “decision of the Politburo” which should have been in front of the person who issued “Shelepin’s letter”, that person wrote “decision of the CC” which could not occur – Shelepin did definitely know the difference between the Central Committee (CC) and the Politburo (PB).

41. When describing the ”decision of the Politburo at AUCP(b)”, someone wrote ”CC CPSU”. But neither Shelepin nor the person who issued the authentic letter that was addressed to the supreme leader of the country could have confused the name of the party in such an important document.

42. Already in the second sentence of “Shelepin’s letter” it says: “Altogether 21 857 people were executed after a decision from a special troika at the NKVD USSR, of them: in the Katyn forest (Smolensk oblast) 4 421 people, in the Starobelsk camp near Kharkov 3 820 people, in the Ostashkov camp (Kalinin oblast) 6 311 people and 7 305 people were executed in other camps and prisons in Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia.”

But with the help of thousands of documents they have identified, and also made it an integrated part of the version which condemns Russia, the fact that in April-May 1940 they had transported the Polish POWs from the camps in Starobelsk and Ostashkov and that they at that time were still alive! How could the real Shelepin, at the same time has he was looking at genuine documents, write that the Poles were shot in the Starobelsk and Ostashkov camps?

43. The real Shelepin could not have written that the Starobelsk camp is located “near Kharkov” at the same time he looked at genuine documents. Because in the genuine documents the real address to the Starobelsk was stated; it was certainly not located in the Kharkov oblast, but in the Voroshilovgrad oblast – almost 250 kilometers from Kharkov!

These are far from all signs that prove that the documents in the “Closed package no. 1” were forged.

The forged documents in the “Closed package no. 1” are all tightly linked to each other by their contents. This means that all signs of forgery in one of them constitute evidence that also the others are forged. This was the reason why the Constitution Court not only chose not to rely on this evidence but also chose not to publish these for Russia embarrassing documents in the final compilation.

The forgery specialist Kozlov claims that 7 signs of forgery are more than enough to reveal a false document. In this case we are dealing with three interrelated historical texts which contain at least 43 signs of forgery!

One can expand this list and add more signs of forgery, namely as follows:

44. The forgeries were introduced for the first time during one of the meetings of the Constitution Court in the “CPSU case” (an investigation of the past activities of the Soviet Communist Party) and in the first versions “Beria’s letter” not only contained the number 794/B but also the date “March 5”. During the meeting on October 16, 1992, Yu. M. Slobodkin (from the CPSU defense) was discussing this date with the chairman of the Constitution Court Zorkin and called the court’s attention to the fact that Beria’s letter was dated March 5 and that the Politburo meeting had also taken place on March 5. It had never happened before that a letter was treated on the same day as it was written. The discussion around that date remains in the protocols of the Constitution Court and the fact that the date has disappeared in later versions of the forgeries is another sign that indicates that these are false.

45. No official would have stamped “Shelepin’s letter” that was sent in 1959 with an ingoing registration number from 1965. Because from that follows that the office employee at the Public Sector of the Central Committee had withheld a top secret letter from the Secretary General of the Central Committee for 6 years and 6 days! And that office employee who had stamped it in that way would have been held responsible for illegally storing a secret letter in an unknown place. Who could guarantee that he had not delivered the letter to the American embassy in order to be photographed? For example, Voznesensky, chairman of the Gosplan and one of the highest deputies in the Soviet government, had been executed in 1950, accused of having both wasted documents and to have delivered them to other hostile states. Did really the office employee at the Central Committee have to induce such a charge against himself?

46. Even more amusing seems the fact that the letter contains another stamp with the date March 20, 1965. This means that the letter from the former and since long resigned KGB head Shelepin, really had been forwarded to the now retired Krushchev, who then would have read the letter and sent it to another department at the Central Committee, where the letter was received and registered.

Those who forged these documents, believed that the stamps in the letters were nothing more than decorations, but the forgers did not realize that these are notes from people that they have received the letters for storage from a person, from whom they are obligated to receive them, and that they bear the highest responsibility for these letters not being read by any outsiders.

47. The letter is handwritten, but not by Shelepin, and is registered in the KGB office and thus sent by ordinary mail. If one believes that the letter is genuine, then it means that in 1959 there was only one typewriter throughout the whole of KGB and also that one had broken before then.

48. In “Shelepin’s letter” it is said that the “case files for the POWs” from the Starobelsk camp still remain in 1959 and that they are stored in the archive, but these case files had been burned already on October 25, 1940 about which Inspector Pismennyj and the sergeant for state security, Gaydidey, had compiled a document which still today is stored in archives.

49. “Shelepin’s letter” is written with a thick Polish accent. Only foreigners could look at it in a way that if there was a state named the Soviet Union then there should also have been the “Soviet power agencies”. Inside the Soviet Union nobody would have said it in that way, since the word “Soviet” absolutely clearly and firmly belonged to the legislative branch of power inside the Soviet Union – Supreme Soviet (Verkhovnyj sovet), the Oblast council (oblastnoy sovet), the District council (rayonnyj sovet). But then it was not called the “Soviet power agencies” but the “agencies for the Soviet power”, and only that since “Soviet” in the latter case meant that it is not about the belonging to a state but is a proper name for a specific power agency. (By the way these “agencies for the Soviet power” had nothing at all to do with the Katyn case). And the names of these agencies were never confused even by the average citizens, even less by the KGB employees! Therefore it really sounds bad when it says in “Shelepin’s letter”: “For the Soviet agencies … at the initiative from the Soviet power agencies”. The words seem to have their origins from abroad much the same way as “mine, yours, not understand” (a Russian jocularity when describing someone who is not very knowjavascript:void(0)ledgeable in the Russian language).

Kozlov said that one of the signs of forgery in one of the documents that he had looked at was the full name “Central Committee of the Communist Party” instead of “CC CPSU”. Indeed, who inside the CC CPSU would have misunderstood what the CC CPSU meant? So also in this case: the real Shelepin or the KGB employee would never had written “Soviet power agencies”, in a similar case they would rather have used a more exact term like “party-state agencies” (partiyno-gosudarstvennyje organy).

Abbreviations:

AUCP(b) (All Union Communist Party (bolsheviks), Russian VKP(b) Vsesoyuznaya kommunisticheskaya partiya (bol’shevikov)) – the name of the Soviet Communist Party, the name AUCP(b) was used 1925-1952

CC (Central Committee, Russian: Tsentral’nyj komitet) – The Central Committee (i.e. the leading agency of the Communist Party)

CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Russian: KPSS, Kommunisticheskaya partiya Sovetskogo Soyuza) – The Soviet Communist Party (the name CPSU were used 1952-1991)

FSS (Federal Security Service, Russian: Federal’naya sluzhba bezopasnosti) – The Russian security service today

Gosplan (or Gosplan USSR, Russian: Gosudarstvennyj planovyj komitet soveta ministrov) – The State Plan Committee of the Soviet Ministerial Council (a central Soviet plan agency which among other things developed the so-called Five Year Plans)

GUZhDS (or GUZhDS NKVD USSR, Russian: Glavnoye upravleniye zheleznodorozhnogo stroitel’stva NKVD SSSR) – The main directory for the rail road building at the NKVD (formed in 1940, renamed GULZhDS NKVD USSR in February 1941)

KGB (Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti) – The Committee for State Security (KGB, earlier NKVD, nowadays FSS)

NKVD (Narodnyj komissariat vnutrennikh del) – The People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (then the name of the Soviet Ministry of Interior)

Sovnarkom (Sovet narodnykh komissarov) – The Council of the People’s Commissars (the government of the Soviet Union)

Troika (Russian: Troika, also Osobaya troika NKVD) – NKDV troika (an extrajudicial body which imposed sentences 1935-1938, usually on oblast level. The troikas consisted of the senior NKVD chief of the oblast in question, a secretary of the oblast committee and a prosecutor.)

USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Russian: Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik) – the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, i.e. the Soviet Union.

http://katynmassakern.blogspot.com/2010/07/katyn-49-signs-of-falsification-of.html

KATYN: LAZAR KAGANOVICH’S LAST TESTIMONY

The well known Russian military historian, doctor in history of science, A. N. Kolesnik has to the editorial staff of “The truth about Katyn” forwarded extracts of stenograph from his personal conversations with the former member of the Politburo of the Communist Party, L. M. Kaganovich.

Altogether A.N. Kolesnik conducted six conversations with L. M. Kaganovich between 1985 and 1991 around different historical subjects. Out of censorship reasons it is not possible to release the stenographs from these conversations without considerable cuts and edits, not even in small parts, since the direct speech from Kaganovich is full of ugly words and swearing which characterizes his attitude to the leadership of Hitlerite Germany, to the leading circles of bourgeois Poland and to the leaders of the “Gorbachovite” perestroika, and in particular in person to A. N. Yakovlev.

The dates for A. N. Kolesniks conversations with L. M. Kaganovich and their duration are documented by the employees of the KGB who guarded the stairwell where L. M. Kaganovich were living. If necessary the dates and the duration of the conversations can be established more thoroughly with the help of archival information, since the guards were obligated to register all the visitors in a special logbook. Apart from that all the visitors were photographed with a special camera which automatically fixed the date and the time for the film shooting.

The conversation about the Katyn issue, during which L. M. Kaganovich for the first time announced the information of the exact amount of citizens from former Poland that had really been executed on Soviet territory between November 1939 and July 1941, took place on November 6, 1985 in Moscow in L. M. Kaganovich’s apartment which was located at Frunzenskaya naberezhnaya, house 50 and lasted for 2 hours and 40 minutes, from 6.40 pm to 9.20 pm. Present at this conversation was also Lazar Moiseyevich’s daughter Maya Lazarevna, who stenographed everything that was said.

Later it turned out that the conversation also had been recorded with the help of special technical equipment by the employees of the KGB who in silence conducted reconnaissance of L. M. Kaganovich. That became obvious, when A. N. Kolesnik was called by the operative KGB employee Captain Ryazanov, who in a categorical form demanded that the content of the completed conversation could not be made public.

During the conversation on November 6, 1985, L. M. Kaganovich said that during the spring of 1940 the Soviet leadership was forced to make a very difficult decision to execute 3 196 criminals among those who were citizens of former Poland, but L. M. Kaganovich said that it was absolutely necessary in the then prevailing political situation. According to Kaganovich’s testimony, they had essentially sentenced to execution Polish criminals who had been involved in the mass extermination of captured Russian Red Guards 1920-1921, and employees of Polish punishment bodies who had compromised themselves with crimes committed against the USSR and the Polish working class during the 1920s and 1930s. Apart from them they had also executed criminals among the Polish POWs who had committed serious general crimes on Soviet territory after their internment in September-October 1939 – gang rapes, criminal assaults, murders and so on (L. M. Kaganovich said literally: “ …the fuckers, the bandits and the murderers …”).

Apart from Kaganovich, the former chairman of the Peoples Council of Commissars V. M. Molotov in a telephone conversation in 1986 estimated that the amount of executed citizens of former Poland 1939-1941 amounted to “about 3 000 people”.

The exact figure “3 196” Polish citizens who had been executed in the USSR in 1939-1941 was also decidedly confirmed by the former Soviet People’s Commissar for the Construction Industry, S. Z. Ginzburg, in a private conversation with A. N. Kolesnik.

S. Z. Ginzburg told A. N. Kolesnik little-known details of the Soviet excavation works in the Katyn forest. According to him the excavations of the graves with the Polish citizens were conducted in 1944 not only in Kozi Gory but also in at least two other places west of Smolensk. The excavations and the exhumations were conducted with the help of special construction- and assembly units, so-called OSMCh (in Russian osobye stroitelno-montazhnye chasti), which were under S. Z. Ginzburg’s operational management. Because of the period of time that had elapsed S. Z. Ginzburg could not remember the exact number of this OSMCh unit, but said that the unit in question had been formed shortly after the beginning of the war on the basis of one of the civilian building boards and that their staff in 1944 amounted to about 200 people. After the exhumation works they distributed to all the conscripts of the unit – at S. Z. Ginzburg’s request – one kilogram of chocolate as some kind of bonus.

A. N. Yakovlev, member of the Politburo of the Central Committee, started to earnestly interest himself in the contents of the conversations between A. N. Kolesnik and L. M. Kaganovich, and also showed great concern regarding a possible publication of Kaganovich’s testimony about the Katyn issue. At the end of 1989, right before his appearance in front of the 2nd Congress of People’s Deputies, A. N. Yakovlev turned, through A. N. Kolesnik, over a list of tendentiously selected questions about the Katyn issue with the suggestion of recording his answers at a tape recorder. The idea was to prepare Kaganovich’s answers in a proper way and confirm the version of the Soviet guilt in the Katyn massacre by his authoritative testimony. (Kaganovich said literally: “Tell this son of a bitch that I have had them spinning around my dick! I am from the family of a common meat pundit, but have been a member of the Central Committee and a minister, while they want us to fall back to 1914. The thing they have invented about Katyn – that will bounce back at them with bloody tears. They want us again to end up in a conflict with Europe. Because during the last war we indeed not only fought Hitler but with most other European countries!”

The perspective of a publication of the exact amount of Polish citizens that were executed in 1939-41 (3 196 people) and the true reasons for the executions, induced an extreme nervousness of Yakovlev and his surroundings. In exchange that A. N. Kolesnik should keep quiet about the information around the Katyn issue that he had received from L. M. Kaganovich, A. N. Yakovlev suggested that he could choose between six different senior posts.

When A. N. Kolesnik declined that offer, they arranged on directives from A. N. Yakovlev and D. A. Volkogonov a meeting between him and a representative for “competent bodies” who conducted a “preventive talk” with him in V. M. Falin’s (the head of the news agency APN) office. During the conversation threats were made to “bring him in on a long time”, if A. N. Kolesnik would go public on the facts about the Katyn issue that L. M. Kaganovich had told him.

When it became apparent that this measure had no effect, they brought prosecution on A. N. Kolesnik which ended with him being dismissed from the Military History Institute in 1993.

http://katynmassakern.blogspot.com/2010/07/katyn-lazar-kaganovichs-testimony.html

Katyn: “Beria’s letter” was written on two different typewriters

On March 31, 2009, Sergey Strygin (Russia’s leading Katyn-expert) turned to a licensed forensic expert, Eduard Petrovich Molokov with a request to analyse “Beria’s letter nr. 794/B” of “March __, 1940” in order to determine whether it was written on one or several typewriters.

Molokov has an expert diploma (issued in 1973 by the MVD, i.e. the Ministry of Interior of the USSR) and is entitled to conduct such investigations. He used a “MBS-10” microscope, which allows up to 32 times magnification, when analyzing the document. During the analysis of the “Beria letter” (which consists of four pages) he magnified the text 3 times and carefully compared the images.

Molokov found that pages 1, 2 and 3 are written on a different typewriter than page 4. He has, among other things, examined the letters’ distance from each other, their altitudinal and the clarity of the printing ink. His conclusion is that the pages 1, 2 and 3 are consistently equal. But page 4 (the one with Beria’s signature on) differs from the first three pages.

It should be added that the typewriter which was used to print page 4 has a font that is known to have been on one of the typewriters in Beria’s office, while the font from the typewriter that wrote pages 1-3 is unknown (it has not been found in any of the documents sent by Beria).

There is one other important detail. Molokov had only access to high definition digital colour copies that Strygin was allowed to do in the Russian archives some years ago. This means that Molokov did not have access to the physical letter, which in its turn means that such things as the age of the paper have not been possible to examine.

http://katynmassakern.blogspot.com/2010/07/katyn-berias-letter-was-written-on-two.html

The “Real Stalin” Series. Part Seventeen: Deportation of Nations

220px-Vlassof.Himmler

DEPORTATION OF NATIONALITIES DURING THE WAR WAS NECESSARY AND JUSTIFIED

CHUEV: How do you explain the forced resettlement of entire ethnic groups during the war?
MOLOTOV: …The fact is that during the war we received reports about mass treason. Battalions of Caucasians opposed us at the fronts and attacked us from the rear. It was a matter of life and death; there was no time to investigate the details. Of course innocents suffered. But I hold that given the circumstances, we acted correctly.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 195

CHUEV: Why were the Kalmyks deported during the war?
MOLOTOV: They helped the Germans.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 195

There have been many and varied oppositionist groupings. The first was that of Yenukidze, Sheboldayev and Metelyov…. In 1934 there was a plot to start a revolution by arresting the whole of the…17th Congress of the Party. In 1942 there was the armed uprising of the North Caucasian peoples, more especially of the Chechen nation, who tried to establish their independence against both Stalin and Hitler. These are representative instances of opposition.
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 37

By the autumn of 1942 the axis forces had reached those districts of the Northern Caucasus which were least loyal of all to Stalin–Checheno-Ingushetia, Dagestan, Dzaudzhikau and Grozny.
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 237

… A number of Caucasian and near-Caucasian people had shown themselves disloyal. The Chechens, Ingushes, the Balkarians, the people of Karachay, the Tatars of Crimea and the Kalmyks had indeed fought equally against the Nazis and the Soviet ‘imperialisms’. The Karachay people had openly welcomed the Germans under General Kleist and the prime mover in this astonishing act had been none other than the Chairman of the Provincial Executive Committee of the Soviets of the Karachay Autonomous Province. The Crimean Tatars were still working together with the Germans exterminating all the Russians they could, especially the Party members. There was an anti-Soviet partisan war in progress.
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 245

… It was not till June 28, 1946, nearly three years later, that they [the Russian people] learned about it…. The Secretary of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Socialist Federal Republic, then Bakhmurov, [made] the announcement.
“Comrades,” he said, “the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR places before you for confirmation the draft of a law to abolish the Chechen-Ingush ASSR and for the transformation of the Crimean ASSR into the Crimean province…. During the Great Fatherland War, when the peoples of the USSR were heroically defending the honor and independence of their Fatherland in the struggle against the German-Fascists conquerors, many Chechens and Crimean Tatars, giving ear to German agents, entered volunteer units organized by the Germans and together with the German armies fought against units of the Red Army. On German instructions, they set up saboteur bands for the struggle against the Soviet regime in the rear. The main body of the population of the Chechen-Ingush and Crimean Tatar ASSR’s offered no resistance to these traitors to the Fatherland. For this reason the Chechens and Crimean Tatars have been transported to other parts of the Soviet Union. In the new regions they have been given land as well as the requisite state assistance for their economic establishment….”
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 268

Towards the Moslem peoples, the Germans pursued a benign, almost paternalistic policy. The Karachai, Balkars, Ingush, Chechen, Kalmucks, and Tatars of the Crimea all displayed pro-German sympathies in some degree. It was only the hurried withdrawal of the Germans from the Caucasus after the battle of Stalingrad that prevented their organizing the Moslem people for effective anti-Soviet action. The Germans boasted loudly, however, that they had left a strong “fifth column” behind them in the Caucasus.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 373

Remembering the response of the Sudeten Germans to Nazi appeals, Stalin considered them [the Volga Germans] a risk and ordered their removal, but as a precaution rather than a punishment. They were nevertheless treated harshly. NKVD troops descended suddenly on the Volga German Republic, and gave the people only a few hours in which to get ready for the long journey by cattle truck. Many died of hunger and hardship on the way. On arrival at their destination in uninhabited regions of Kazakhstan in Siberia, the survivors were given agricultural tools and left to build a new life. [From Conquest]

After Stalin’s death five of the Moslem peoples were allowed to return to their homes. The Crimean Tatars and Volga Germans were not permitted to return. [Werth page 581]
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 504

As a result of these three operations, some 650,000 Chechens, Ingushes, Kalmucks and Karachays have been deported to the eastern regions of the USSR.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 445

Early in 1943 Stalin had taken a decision on an operation against a section of…his own citizens. In this case it was the smaller nationalities of the Caucasus and the Crimea who had, in Stalin’s view, either welcomed or not opposed the Germans.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 258

German attempts to play off Caucasian nationalities and tribes against one another and to recruit collaborators among them were not without success–the fact was to be officially admitted after the war, when several hundred thousand Chechens and Ingushes, as well as Crimean Tartars, charged with helping the enemy, were punished with deportation to Siberia.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 480

Others, such as mass collaboration with the enemy, especially in the Ukraine and Caucasus, resulted from grievances and resentments lingering on since the ’30s….
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 485

But the real story of Sevastopol was of how the Soviet authorities treated collaborators. The Crimean Tartars had welcomed the arrival of the Germans. They had hunted down Russian soldiers in disguise, had formed a police force under German control, had been active in the Gestapo, and had supplied the Wehrmacht with soldiers. Now the moment of reckoning had arrived. The whole Crimean tartar community of something between 300,000 and 500,000 men, women, and children was rounded up and sent into exile in Central Asia, and they have never been allowed to return.
Knightley, Phillip. The First Casualty. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975, p. 263

Only in the North Caucasus, in the Chechen-Ingush and Kabarda-Balkar “autonomous republics” did Hitler obtain some semblance of collaboration by exploiting the hatred of Moslems for Russians.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 481

During their occupation of the Caucasus the Germans had promised independence to the Chechens, the Ingush, the Balkars, and the Kalmyks. Members of these ethnic groups did sometimes collaborate with the Germans. The same was true of the Crimean Tartars.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 502

As regards collaborators sent to camps during and after the war, no reliable figures are available either. During the war, a number of “disloyal” nationalities– Volga Germans, Crimean Tartars, Kalmuks and several Caucasian Moslem nationalities–had been deported en masse to Siberia, including all the women, children and even communists and Komsomols. The operation was in the nature of a resettlement, and if some were sent to actual forced labor camps, they were in a small minority….
But the vast majority in the three Baltic States were bourgeois kulak and, therefore, pro-German and often pro-Nazi and savagely anti-Semitic….
Since the great majority of the population is [in the Baltics] (apart from the Jews) could be said to have “collaborated” in some measure with the Germans after having been re-incorporated by Russia for only a year, no particular loyalty to the latter could in fact have been expected, and the Baltic deportees, though numerous, did not apparently run into more than 10,000 or 20,000–fewer than had been deported during the first Russian takeover in 1940. Moreover, the most violently anti-Soviet people had fled in very large numbers to Germany when, in the summer and autumn of 1944, the Russians were about to overrun or had already overrun the Baltic states.
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.,1971, p. 26

Proportionately to their numbers, very many more people were deported from the Western Ukraine than from the Baltic states. Cities like Lvov were hotbeds of the most extreme Ukrainian nationalism, fascism, and anti-semitism ; and the Western Ukraine was by far the most pro-Nazi part of the Soviet Union to have been occupied by the Germans. For at least two years after the war a savage guerrilla war was waged by Ukrainian nationals, with Nazi officers, against the Russians.
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.,1971, p. 27

One disturbing fact revealed a new and terrible danger and threw a fresh light on the state of mind prevailing in the south: on 10 August 1942 Mannstein’s advanced guard of armored cars was welcomed with enthusiastic cheers from a portion of the inhabitants of Vorochilovsk, whose recollections of collectivization were only too painful. It was the same at Ordzhonikidze. This made it possible for the Germans to begin to form regiments from the Cossack’s of the Terek and the natives, who enlisted in their thousands. This was the prodrome of a separatist rot, although for the present it was local. In vain did Stalin send into the Caucasus plenipotentiaries whose duty it was to inquire into the situation.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 322

This danger was revealed in all its amplitude in the Northern Caucasus. Despite the capture of Rostov on the Don, Mannstein, cut off from the bulk of the Wehrmacht, was still holding the Northern Caucasus. His army was revictualled by way of the Straits of Kertch; and he was able to form more and more numerous detachments of Cossacks from Terek and Kuban, of Tartars from the Crimea, of native Caucasians and of volunteers. When these troops withdrew they were followed by a great proportion of the population.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 332

CHECHENS WOULD NOT COOPERATE WITH THE RED ARMY

Only in the Chechen area was the local population reluctant to cooperate with the Red Army.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 149

HUMANE RESETTLEMENT OF GERMANS FROM THE UKRAINE

[Resolution of the State Defense Committee, Sept. 22, 1941, on removal of Germans from certain areas of the Ukraine]

… 4. To allow the re-settled persons to bring with them their personal property and a supply of provisions for the journey in the amount of 200 kg for each member of the family.

5. Buildings, agricultural implements, livestock, and cereal/grain fodder belonging to the resettled persons will be handed over to the following commissioner representatives: the local executive committee, the People’s Commissariat for Agriculture, the People’s Commissariat for Meat and Dairy Production, and the People’s Commissariat for State Purchases, and will be restored at the place of settlement in accordance with confirmed instructions from the Council People’s Commissars, the People’s Commissariat for Agriculture, and the People’s Commissariat for Meat and Dairy Production.

Structures for kolkhozes and kolkhoz farm personnel will be provided at the place of settlement by delivery of prefabricated houses.

Those re-settled persons not provided homes at the place of supplement will be given loans for construction and, if necessary, repair of housing from the Agricultural Bank in the sum of up to 2000 rubles to be repaid in five years at 3% annual interest with amortization of the loans starting the second year after received.

… 7. To task the People’s Commissariat of Foreign and Domestic Trade with providing food to the resettled persons at locations as ordered by the NKVD.

8. To task the USSR People’s Commissariat for Health with providing medical service for the re-settled persons in transit, for which medical personnel, medicines, and first-aid supplies will be allocated as ordered by the NKVD.

9. To release from the reserve fund of the Council of People’s Commissars and the NKVD the sum of 15 million rubles for resettlement expenses.

10. To put the chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Kazakh SSR and the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan in charge of organizing the reception, settling, and household arrangements for the resettled persons.

Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 203

… The Volga Germans, whose position was similar to that of the Japanese Americans, became suspect owing to their particular language and culture, and were largely relocated to non-strategic areas but, unlike Japanese-Americans, without confinement.

Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 257

In fact, the resettled peoples were allotted land and given state assistance to build a new life in the areas in which they were resettled. The Volga Germans, for example, were resettled:

“with the promise that the migrants shall be allotted land and that they should be given assistance by the State in settling into new areas.”

(Decree of the presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, 28 August 1941).

while the resettled Chechens and Crimean Tatars

” were given land, together with the necessary governmental assistance for their economic establishment.”

(Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, 25 June 1946)

The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

HUMANE RESETTLEMENT OF CRIMEAN TATARS

[Decree of the State Defense Committee, May 11, 1944, signed by Stalin, on deportation of Crimean Tatars to Uzbekistan]

During the Patriotic War many Crimean Tatars betrayed the Motherland, deserted Red Army units that defended the Crimea, and sided with the enemy, joining volunteer army units formed by the Germans to fight against the Red Army. As members of German punitive detachments during the occupation of the Crimea by German fascist troops, the Crimean Tatars particularly were noted for their savage reprisals against Soviet partisans, and also helped the German invaders to organize the violent roundup of Soviet citizens for German enslavement and the mass extermination of the Soviet people.

The Crimean Tatars actively collaborated with the German occupation authorities, participating in the so-called Tatar national committees, organized by the German intelligence organs, and were often used by the Germans to infiltrate the rear of the Red Army with spies and saboteurs. With the support of the Crimean Tatars, the “Tatar national committees,” in which the leading role was played by White Guard-Tatar emigrants, directed their activity at the persecution and oppression of the non-Tatar population of the Crimea and were engaged in preparatory efforts to separate the Crimea from the Soviet Union by force, with the help of the German armed forces.

Taking into account the fact cited above, the State Defense Committee decrees that:

1. All Tatars are to be banished from the territory of the Crimea and re-settled permanently as special settlers in regions of the Uzbek SSR….

The following procedure and conditions of resettlement are to be established:

a) The special settlers will be allowed to take with them personal items, clothing, household objects, dishes and utensils, and up to 500 kilograms of food per family.

… Exchange receipts will be issued in every populated place and every farm for the receipt of livestock, grain, vegetables, and for other types of agricultural products.

By July 1 of this year, the NKVD, People’s Commissariat of Agriculture, People’s Commissariat of the Meat and Dairy Industries, People’s Commissariat of State Farms, and People’s Commissariat of Procurement are to submit to the USSR Council of People’s Commissars a proposal on the procedure for repaying the special settlers, on the basis of exchange receipts, for livestock, poultry, and agricultural products received from them.

… d) To each convoy of special settlers, the People’s Commissariat of Public Health is to assign, within a time frame to be coordinated with the NKVD, one physician and two nurses, as well as an appropriate supply of medicines, and to provide medical and first-aid care to special settlers in transit;

e) The People’s Commissariat of Trade will provide all convoys caring special settlers with hot food and boiling water on a daily basis….

… e) To grant plots of farm land to the newly arrived settlers and to help them build homes by providing construction materials;…

… 4. Seven-year loans of up to 5000 rubles per family, for the construction and setting up of homes, are to be extended by the Agricultural Bank to special settlers sent to the Uzbek SSR, in their places of settlement.

5. Every month during the June-August 1944 period, equal quantities of flour, groats, and vegetables will be allocated by the USSR People’s Commissariat of Procurement to the Uzbek SSR Council of People’s Commissars for distribution to the special settlers.

Flour, groats, and vegetables are to be distributed free of charge to the special settlers during the June-August period, as re-payment for the agricultural products and livestock received from them in the areas from which they were evicted.

Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 205-207

HUMANE RESETTLEMENT OF CRIMEAN TATARS, BULGARIANS, GREEKS, & ARMENIANS

[State Defense Committee resolution, June 2, 1944, to evict from the Crimean Republic 37,000 Bulgarians, Greeks, and Armenians, cited as German collaborators]

The State Defense Committee resolves to:…

3. … Direct the People’s Commissar of Agriculture, the People’s Commissar of the Meat and Dairy Industry, the People’s Commissar of Procurement, and the People’s Commissar of State Farms to ensure that the evicted Crimean Greeks, Bulgarians, and Armenians receive livestock, grain, and collective farm products using exchange receipts….

5. Direct the People’s Commissar of Trade to provide food for 37,000 people during the convoy of special settlers from the Crimea in accordance with the schedule set by the NKVD….

8. Direct the People’s Commissar of procurement to determine the methods to be used by the oblast executive committees… in distributing provisions to the special re-settlers during the first three months after resettlement (July-September) in equal monthly portions…. The distribution of foodstuffs to the special re-settlers during July-September will be free of charge taking into account the collective farm foodstuffs and livestock received at the place of eviction.

Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 209

BERIA SAYS THE RESETTLED PEOPLE FOUND GOOD LIVING CONDITIONS AT THEIR DESTINATION

[Report from Beria to Stalin, July 4, 1944, stating that re-settlement of Tatars, Bulgarians, Greeks, Armenians, and others from the Crimea has been completed]

… All of the special settlers who have reached their destination have found satisfactory living conditions. A significant number of the resettled, able-bodied Tatars special settlers have been engaged in agricultural work on collective and state farms, in logging, in industry, and in construction. There were no incidents during the resettlement operation on site or during transit.

Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 211

US ALSO DEPORTED NATIONALITIES WHEN DEEMED NECESSARY

One of the most massive repressions of civil liberties in American history occurred during the war in respect of those of Japanese descent. All Japanese living West of the Mississippi, regardless of the degree of Japanese blood, whether are not they were citizens, or how many years they, or their ancestors, had been in the U.S., were forcibly removed to isolated relocation camps. The 85 percent of Japanese Americans who lived West of the Mississippi, a total of 112,000 persons, were given between 48 hours and two weeks to prepare for evacuation to camps in the barren areas of the West. They were allowed to take with them only what they could carry, thus being forced to dispose of their houses, cars, appliances, and other possessions–typically to unscrupulous buyers who offered extremely low prices for Japanese possessions, knowing that they had to sell immediately. The Japanese Americans lost hundreds of millions of dollars in this period.
The West Coast Japanese were put under the authority of the U.S. Army. Relocation (concentration) camps were opened in the most desolate areas of California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Arkansas. Until the relocation camps were ready, the Japanese were put into 15 temporary assembly centers, usually race tracks or fairgrounds. The camps were enclosed by barbed wire, with military sentinels stationed in towers to prevent escape. Families were crowded into single rooms. Employment was offered at the rate of $16 a month (which often, although promised, failed to materialize). Strikes against labor conditions in the camp were systematically repressed by the army, which confined strike leaders, isolating them from the rest of the population, for the duration of the war. The celebration of Japanese culture and the use of the Japanese language were strongly discouraged, and Japanese schools were forbidden.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 175

VOLGA GERMANS WORKED WITH THE NAZIS

The measures of enforced resettlements in these cases were presented not as a mass punishment, but as a Preventive measure to avoid the necessity of mass punishment:
“According to trustworthy information received by the military authorities, there are among the German population living in the Volga area thousands and tens of thousands of diversionists and spies, who, on a signal being given from Germany, are to carry out sabotage in the area inhabited by the Germans of the Volga.
None of the Germans living in the Volga area has reported to the Soviet authorities the existence of such a large number of diversionists and spies among the Germans; consequently, the German population of the Volga conceals enemies of the Soviet people and of Soviet authority in its midst.
In case of diversionists acts being carried out at a signal from Germany by German diversionists and spies in the Volga-German Republic or in the adjacent areas and bloodshed taking place, the Soviet government will be obliged, according to the laws in force during the war period, to take punitive measures against the whole of the German population of the Volga.
In order to avoid undesirable events of this nature and to prevent serious bloodshed, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR have found it necessary to transfer the whole of the German population living in the Volga area into other areas.”
(Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR: Decree of 28 August 1941).
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

Adam Geisinger wrote From Catherine to Khrushchev: The Story of Russia’s Germans; Battleford (Canada); 1974; and on pages 304, 313 said:
“As German troops overran western Russia in July and August 1941, they came across German villages
When German (or Romanian) soldiers arrived in such a village, they were greeted as liberators
Some of them (the Soviet Germans,Ed.) volunteered to work in the Reich during the war. Some of these defected fully to the Nazis and served in the German armed forces.”
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

TARTARS AND CHECHENS WORKED WITH THE NAZIS

“During the Great Patriotic War many Chechens and Crimean Tatars, at the instigation of German agents, joined volunteer units organized by the Germans and, together with German troops, engaged in armed struggle against units of the Red Army; also at the bidding of the Germans they formed diversionary bands for the struggle against Soviet authority in the rear; meanwhile, the main mass of the population of the Chechen-Ingush and Crimean ASSRs took no counter-action against these betrayers of the Fatherland.
In connection with this, the Chechens and the Crimean Tatars were resettled in other regions of the USSR.”
(Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR: decree to 25 June 1946).
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

Alexander Werth said in Russia at War: 1941-1945; London; 1964; pages 579-80, 838:
Altogether the Tatars’ record was as bad as could be. They had formed a police force under German control and had been highly active in the Gestapo.”
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

Alan W. Fisher said in The Crimean Tatars; Stanford; 1987; on pages 153, 155, 159:
“In most Crimean cities, the German advancing army was met with jubilation and calls of ‘liberators’ from the local Tatar population
Manstein was relatively successful in his attempts to gain active support from the Tatars. According to both German and Tatar evidence, the Germans persuaded between 15,000 and 20,000 Tatars to form self-defense battalions that were partially armed by the Germans and sent into the mountains to hunt down partisan units From the various Caucasian peoples over 110,000 volunteers were recruited; and the Kalmyks provided about 5000 volunteers
Large numbers of Tatar villagers as well as six organized Tatar self-defense battalions fought hard against the Soviet partisans.
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

Alan W. Fisher: The Crimean Tatars, the USSR and Turkey, in: William O. McCagg and Brian Silver (Eds.): Soviet Asian Ethnic Frontiers; New York; 1979; page 12:
“A large part of the Crimean Tatar population did not consider the government in Moscow to be their ‘sovereign’ nor the USSR to be their country
“Tatar collaboration; with the Germans took the following forms
First, early in 1942, the Germans encouraged the creation of ‘self-defense’ battalions of Tatars to ‘defend’ their villages against the activities of Soviet partisans in the Crimea. According to German records, between 15,000 and 20,000 Crimean Tatars formed these military units. Second, with German aid, Tatars established local ‘Muslim Committees’ to take over the responsibility for most non-political and non-military affairs.”
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

Walter Kolarz stated in Russia and her Colonies; London; 1952; on pages 185, and 187:
“When the German armies occupied the Northern Caucasus region many mountaineers manifested their hostility towards the Soviet regime. They attempted to use the retreat of the Red Army to free themselves from what they considered the ‘Russian yolk.’ Over 20 years of Soviet rule had not altered their imagined conviction that Russia’s foes were their friends….
In Chechnya, it would seem that Muslim opposition to the Soviet regime was never quite suppressed. The mullahs, who were powerful opponents of the Soviet regime, even managed to keep alive the illegal Sharia courts.
The hostile attitude of the Chechens toward the Soviet Russian regime was often manifested
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

DEPORTATIONS AND RESETTLEMENTS WERE LEGALLY JUSTIFIED

While there were individual traitors among all the nations of the Soviet Union, a few small nations were guilty of mass treachery.
An authoritative textbook of Soviet law (Ilya D. Levin [Ed.]. Soviet State Law; Moscow; 1947) tells us:
“In the background of patriotic enthusiasm which inflamed the nations of the Soviet country united against the common enemy… there stand out strangely the monstrous, criminal and treacherous acts of some small, backward nations which gave support to the enemy in the expectation of receiving ‘privileges’ from him at the expense of the other nations of the Soviet Union. These acts called for necessary and extraordinary measures by the Soviet state in the interests of the USSR as a whole.”
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

“But an authoritative book on Soviet law (Administrative Law of the USSR ; Moscow; 1950) sets out the circumstances in which groups of citizens may legally be resettled in other parts of the Soviet Union:”
‘Resettlement is carried out by the state organs of the USSR:
1) for the purpose of realizing measures connected with state security and defense of state frontiers;
2) for the purpose of acquiring lands for agricultural production.’
The first function is carried out by the organs of state security.”
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

Anti-historians often describe the enforced resettlements as acts of ‘genocide.’… But enforced resettlement of national groups can in no way be identified with intent to destroy them. Indeed, even such a hostile commentator as Conquest is compelled to admit:
“Nothing here matches the horror of the Nazi gas chambers. These nations were not physically annihilated.”
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

KARACHAI PEOPLE IN CAUCASUS WORKED WITH THE NAZIS

Alexander Dallin recounts in German Rule in Russia: 1941-1945: A Study of Occupation Policies; London; 1981; pages 244, 246, 258 that early in the Soviet-German war:
“…Revolts broke out among some of the Caucasian Mountaineers. Most widespread in the Muslim areas, particularly among the Chechens and Karachai, these rebellions prepared the ground for a change of regime…. Faced with a concentrated German onslaught and a lack of support from the indigenous population, the Red Army retreated from Rostov to the Greater Caucasus Mountains without giving battle….
In the Karachai region the bulk of the Muslim Mountaineers accorded the Germans a more genuine welcome than in most other occupied areas.
The Germans…announced the formation of a Karachai voluntary squadron of horsemen to fight with the German army
During the entire occupation, there was no evidence of anti-German activity in the Karachai area”
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

THE BALKARS WORKED WITH THE NAZIS

Robert Magidoff said in, The Kremlin Versus the People: The Story of the Cold Civil War in Stalin’s Russia; New York; 1953; pages, 20, 22,
“The Germans were welcomed by practically the entire population of the Crimea and the Muslim areas of the Northern Caucasus
The Balkars were Muslims and unlike the Christian Kabardinians, collaborated en masse with the enemy.”
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

Alexander Werth said in Russia at War: 1941-1945; London; 1964; pages 579-80, 838:
“The Muslim Balkars were more outspokenly pro-German than the mostly non-Muslim. Kabardinians. Although the Germans did not penetrate far into the Chechen-Ingush ASSR (south of Grozny), these two peoples appear to have made no secret of their sympathy for the Germans
The Enforced Resettlements Speech to the Stalin Society by Bill Bland, 1993.

The “Real Stalin” Series. Part Sixteen: GULAG.

Gulag graph

SU HAS A PROGRESSIVE PRISON AND EXILE SYSTEM

The Soviet prison system, as applied to ordinary criminals, embodies a number of progressive penological ideas. Educational and manual training instruction courses exist in the more advanced prisons; prisoners are not required to wear uniforms; and the well-behaved prisoner receives a vacation of two weeks every year, which is certainly a unique Russian institution.
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 124

In the 1930s, as we have seen, the spread of industrialization and collectivization brought about a socialist state with a broad spectrum of social and political rights. As we would expect from such a state, the legal and prison systems that it established were essentially just and nonpunitive. In fact, they were praised and admired by liberal attorneys and penologists throughout the world. People’s courts, in which ordinary citizens sat with a professional judge on the bench, tried 80 percent of all cases, and legal services could be obtained free of charge. As a desirable alternative to prisons, “agricultural and industrial labor colonies” were established where some prisoners brought their families and where they were allowed to marry. The basic objective of the system was rehabilitation, not just in words, as in capitalist states, but in reality, as was dramatically shown, for instance, in the film Road to Life, depicting the regeneration of teenage criminals. One of the most extensive industrial camp projects was the building of the Baltic-White Sea Canal by prisoners, a vast enterprise whose three chief engineers were former “wreckers.” At the completion of the project, 300 prisoners received scholarships, 12,000 were freed, and 59,000 had their sentences reduced. Such was the normal course of working class justice in the USSR. Therefore, if changes were made in some aspects of the system, there must have been reasons for it.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 128

We built the Moscow-Volga Canal for the most part with convict labor. Back then, convicts were real criminals and were treated accordingly. Actually, I’d say that on the whole our convicts received fairly humane treatment. They were considered to be the products of capitalist society. Therefore, it was felt that our socialist society should re-educate them rather than punish them.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 99

Ordinary criminals, such as murderers and thieves, are mixed up indiscriminately in forced labor camps with members of the various disfavored groups such as the kulaks, nomads, ex-priests, and the like. In fact, the authorities seem to have a more friendly feeling for ordinary criminals than for social groups which have opposed their various reforms. They treat a brutal murderer, as a rule, with more consideration than a small farmer who didn’t want to turn his domestic animals and house and garden into a common pool with his neighbors to make a collective farm.
In the winter of 1936, when my wife and I were making a trip by automobile into Yakutsk, the great northeastern province of Russia, our car ran into a ditch soon after crossing the trans-Siberian railway. We had observed large groups of men under guard working on the double-tracking of the Railway, and decided to go back to ask some of them to help us put our automobile back on the road. We had run across many such groups in our travels through the Far East; great gangs of these laborers have been working on the railways being built out there for many years.
When we got back to the railway, there was no guard in sight anywhere; in this isolated country, prisoners could hardly get far off if they wanted to. These men were dressed in ordinary Soviet working clothes, and there was nothing to show they were prisoners, except that they were perhaps a little more ragged than the average worker. We asked them if they would help us out, and they readily agreed.
What struck as most about these people, and those like them whom we had seen elsewhere, was that they did not appear to be what we would call criminal types. It is probable that most of them were not criminals, in our sense of that word; they were rather members of social groups who had failed to co-operate with the authorities in their various schemes for reform.
I was told that political prisoners, including members of other revolutionary groups and disgruntled or disgraced Communists, are seldom if ever put into such prison camps or gangs. If they are considered dangerous, they are confined in concentration camps or isolated prisons. If they are considered merely a nuisance, they are given what is called free exile.
The “free exile” system is uniquely Russian; it is practiced today in very much the same forms as before the Revolution. I encountered free exiles almost everywhere I worked in Siberia, Kazakhstan, and the Far East. I have heard it said that one can meet more former aristocrats and well-to-do people in the Central Asian cities than in Leningrad, the former capital of the Tsars.
Free exile is a comparatively mild punishment. These people can hardly be distinguished from other residents; they move about as they please within certain limits, and usually have regular work. They have been given a “minus,” to use the Russian description. Say, for example, that some petty political offender is given a “minus six.” This is a very common penalty; the political police seem to give it out to anyone even faintly suspected of disloyalty to the regime. The man or woman with a “minus six” cannot live in or visit the six principal cities of European Russia for a number of years.
I came across some fairly distinguished exiles working in remote mining towns in Asiatic Russia. Usually they were doing routine work, such as bookkeeping; it is not easy for them to get responsible work, and most of them would not take it even if it were offered to them, since they would be held to account if anything went wrong. The Soviet police, like police in other countries, round up the most obvious suspects whenever anything goes wrong, and exiles are pretty obvious. Those I knew were very quiet and inoffensive; they usually had a melancholy air, being separated usually from the people and kind of life they had known before.
BUT IN GENERAL I BELIEVE THE HORRORS OF THE EXILE SYSTEM HAVE BEEN EXAGGERATED. BEFORE THE REVOLUTION, ACCORDING TO ALL ACCOUNTS, IT WAS PRETTY TERRIBLE. FORCED LABORERS IN THOSE DAYS, INCLUDING EXILES, WERE KEPT IN LEG -IRONS, WHICH IS NEVER THE CASE TODAY. THE PRESENT AUTHORITIES DO NOT USE LEG-IRONS, HANDCUFFS, OR UNIFORMS FOR PRISONERS IN ANY CASE WHICH IS KNOWN TO ME. But even before the Revolution, according to the books which I have read on the subject, most political exiles were allowed a considerable degree of freedom, similar to that of the free exiles today. If they proved tractable, even in Tsarist days they were allowed to take jobs to eke out their pittance from the Government, and they boarded with small farmers in the cities, towns, or villages of Siberia, and visited among themselves. Some of them even were friendly with Tsarist officials and paid visits back and forth, according to the accounts of those days which seem to be reliable. I have never seen evidence of any friendliness between Soviet officials and exiles.
However, when one reads books written by exiles either before or since the Revolution it becomes apparent that exile is a terrible ordeal to the persons concerned. Why is this? Well, in the first place, no human being enjoys being sent off in disgrace, separated from his family, friends, and old associations, compelled to live for years in some distant part of the country during routine work for a bare pittance. And that is a fair description of the life of an average free exile in Russia today.
There is another reason, too, it seems to me. Exiles for the most part are city people; the dispossessed small farmers were not exiled but put to forced labor. These city dwellers, not being accustomed to existence in undeveloped, isolated country, are naturally unhappy. When I read Leon Trotsky’s description of his periods of exile, for example, I didn’t feel any sympathy for him, although it was clear that he felt very much abused because he missed the cities bright lights and political maneuvers. For myself, I would rather live in the places he was living in than modern cities, and for that reason I couldn’t feel sorry for him.
The word “exile,” and all its implications, arouse a sense of horror in the minds of Americans which I am convinced is seldom felt so keenly by Soviet citizens. The latter are so accustomed to being knocked about by their own authorities, under this as well as previous regimes, that they accept as a matter of course treatment which Americans would heartily resent. A friend of mind had an experience with a Russian family which throws light on this state of mind. The family had a daughter about 19 years old, who sometimes spoke out rather critically about the Government. An old lady who posed as a friend of the family one-day heard her talking, and reported her to the police. The police visited the family’s apartment in the middle of the night, as they usually do in such cases, and took away the girl and a diary she had kept from the age of 15.
The girl was kept for two months in the Moscow prison for political suspects, during which time her family was not permitted to communicate with her. At the end of that period, the mother was called in and told she could talk with her daughter for 20 minutes. The girl told her the police had decided she had “counter-revolutionary moods,” and would therefore be exiled for two years. My friend, talking to the mother, asked: “And what do you think of such treatment?” The mother replied earnestly: “Oh, we are very much pleased because our daughter received only two years of free exile; she might have been sent to a concentration camp.”
As a matter of fact, there is not a great deal of difference, so far as I could observe, between the treatment accorded to those in free exile and those who are presumably entirely free. FROM THE AMERICAN VIEWPOINT, ALL SOVIET CITIZENS ARE TREATED VERY MUCH LIKE PRISONERS ON PAROLE, ESPECIALLY SINCE THE OLD TSARIST PASSPORT SYSTEM WAS REVIVED IN 1932. Every citizen must have a passport and register it with the police at regular intervals; the must show his “documents” whenever he turns around. He has to get special permission to travel from one part of the country to another, and register with the police wherever he goes. He must have a very special standing with the authorities to get permission to leave his country; only a few hundred get such permission every year.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 135-139

Practically speaking, there’s not much difference between the Soviet citizen sentenced to free exile and the citizen who is refused a residence permit in the larger cities of European Russia. The former knows that he cannot visit or live in certain cities, and this may be a very severe hardship upon him if his family lives in one of these cities. Husbands and wives, parents and children, are often separated for years as a result of this system. But the same is true, to a lesser degree, by the working at the passport system, which enables the authorities to refuse permission to any citizen to live in overcrowded cities. I have known them to refuse permission to a husband or wife to join the rest of the family in a city on the grounds that there was no more room.
In any case, if family ties are strong enough, a husband or wife will follow the other into exile or will rejoin each other in the provinces if it is impossible for both to get permission to live in some desirable city. The authorities never refuse permission to leave cities, although an official might lose standing in the bureaucracy if he left responsible work where he could not easily be replaced merely for the sake of having his family with him.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 141

The officials have become callous in this respect, at least from our viewpoint. A friend of mine told me about a former aristocrat who was arrested during a general roundup of suspects at Leningrad in 1934. He was held in prison for a couple of months, and then the police said they could find nothing against him, and let him go. He returned to his apartment, looking for his wife, from whom he had heard nothing all this time.
The apartment was empty, and his wife was nowhere to be found. Someone had broken into his apartment while he was in prison and taken off most of his personal possessions. That didn’t bother him so much, but he was very fond of his wife and gave up his whole time to the search for her. He could get no clue in Leningrad, and finally came to Moscow, where he learned that she had been exiled to Central Asia. He immediately telegraphed to her that he was joining her as soon as possible, and started making preparations for the trip.
A Soviet official heard somehow what this man was planning to do, and called him into his office. “Apparently you have misunderstood the situation,” said the official. “The police have cleared you, and you’ll have no further trouble. You have a good job waiting for you either at Leningrad or here in Moscow. You have done good work for us in the past, and we will see that you get ahead. Under the circumstances there is no need for you to go to Central Asia.”
“But my wife is there,” replied the Leningrad resident. “She was exiled, and cannot get permission to return to European Russia for several years. She is not in good health, and I am concerned about her. She needs someone to look after her, and I will have to go to her.”
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 142

The Soviet official shook his head. “In my opinion, you are very foolish, my friend,” he said. “Your wife has been branded with the mark of an exile, while you have been entirely cleared. You will lose your own favorable position with the authorities if you rejoin her now, and will never get ahead so long as you stick to her. It is better for you to break with the past once and for all.”
The Leningrad man replied quietly: “My wife means more to me than my career, or a favorable status with the authorities.”
The official shrugged his shoulders. “In that case, you are not the man we had believed,” he said. “Go to central Asia, by all means.”
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 143

Persecution of prisoners already in the gulag took place under Yezhov; such reports cease after Beria took charge of the NKVD in late 1938.
Different kinds of camps and exile with widely varying features and regimens existed, indicating that gulag practice was not simply to hold or destroy innocent people. Prisoners were treated according to the nature and degree of the crimes for which they had been convicted. The NKVD colonel Almazov reported that inmates sentenced to administrative exile were often hired by the camps as free workers. The gulag administration did not need to house, guard, or feed such people, whose productivity was higher than that of the regular prisoners. And Avar man arrested in 1937 went to a state farm in Kazakhstan, part of a colony of such NKVD facilities. “We all worked very hard in the hope of eventual freedom.” He recalled. Nor did he report any starvation at his site. A young Russian man arrested in the same year was sent to a factory in Archangel. Not kept under guard, he was taught how to use a powersaw for wood. “I learned and worked hard on this machine,” he said later. This man was not a political prisoner; people in that category worked in the forests under guard and had a high mortality rate. Instead of being used for economic gain, politicals were typically given the worst work or were dumped into the less productive parts of the gulag.
The difference in treatment for the two categories of prisoners is also illustrated in the memoirs of Victor Herman. He contrasted the camps Burepolom and Nuksha 2, both near Viatka, in the north of Russia. In Burepolom there were about 3000 prisoners, all nonpolitical, in the central compound. They could walk around at will, were lightly guarded, had unlocked barracks with mattresses and pillows, and watched western movies. But Nuksha 2, which housed serious criminals and politicals, featured guard towers with machine guns and locked barracks and allowed no correspondence….
Earlier in the decade [the 1930s], prisoners and exiles more often worked at their specialties, as did a Russian man who lived near the Usbirlag after his arrest in 1933. At that time prisoners could shorten their sentences by overfulfilling the work norms. The newspaper Perekovka of the White Sea-Baltic Combine, marked “not for distribution beyond the boundaries of the camp,” lists 10 prisoners released early in 1936 for good performance. Here were powerful incentives to work hard.
Other productive options were open to inmates at this point. In early 1935, the same paper mentioned a course in livestock raising held for prisoners at a nearby state farm; those who took it had their workday reduced to four hours. During that year the professional theater group in the camp complex gave 230 performances of plays and concerts to over 115,000 spectators.
Up to 1937 free men and inmates, though never politicals, were used as armed guards. Camp newspapers and bond drives existed until then; although it is ironic and cruel to collect money for the state from prisoners, it is at least an indication that they were still regarded as participants in society to some degree.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 102-104

It [the Baltic-White Sea Canal] was finished, as far as it ever was to be, in May 1933. In July Stalin himself, with Kirov, Yagoda, Voroshilov and others, visited the canal and went on a short boat trip. This was the occasion for a vast public build-up of the project as not merely an industrial but also a moral triumph, in that the Soviet penal system was born humane and rehabilitatory. Many prisoners were quoted as expressing their joy at having been saved and turned into decent citizens. A group of writers, including Gorky, was sent to the canal, and a ludicrous book emerged. Gorky seems to have been genuinely taken in. [Conquest has the ludicrous book]
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 186

In May 1934 civil rights were restored to labor deportees, and from January 1935 the right to vote.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism as a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 97

But the prison administration was held strictly responsible for the actual life of every prisoner. This was taken to such paradoxical lengths that “in the same cell you would find prisoners suffering severely from the effects of interrogation about which nobody bothered, while every conceivable medicine for the prevention and cure of colds, coughs, and headaches were regularly distributed.” And great precautions were taken against suicide.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 265

In the village of Palatka [north of Magadan on the Pacific Coast] I spoke to Boris Sulim, who had worked in one of the camps when he was a teenager and was now serving on the local raikom, the Party committee….
Under Stalin, Sulim worked in the Omsuchkan camp, about 400 miles from Magadan. “I was 18 years old and Magadan seemed a very romantic place to me. I got 880 rubles a month and a 3000 ruble installation grant, which was a hell of a lot of money for a kid like me. I was able to give my mother some of it. They even gave me membership in the Komsomol. There was a mining and ore-processing plant which sent out parties to dig for tin. I worked at the radio station which kept contact with the parties.
“If the inmates were good and disciplined they had almost the same rights as the free workers. They were trusted and they even went to the movies. As for the reason they were in the camps, well, I never poked my nose into details. We all thought the people were there because they were guilty.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb. New York: Random House, c1993, p. 425

From 1947 to the mid-1950s numerous individuals were denied the right to leave the U.S. on the grounds of their leftist political associations or beliefs, while blanket prohibitions were applied to travel to certain socialist countries. The U.S. State Department’s policy of denying exit from the country to those whose overseas activities might not be in the ‘best interests of the United States’ was incorporated into the 1950 McCarran act, which forbade the issue of passports to members of the Communist Party, and the 1954 Internal Security Act, which gave the Secretary of State discretionary powers to refuse to issue an individual a passport. At this time, individuals who left the U.S. without a valid passport (even to go to Mexico or Canada) were subject to criminal penalties on their return. As the Cold War diminished in the late 1950s the Secretary of State’s discretionary powers withered away. However, restrictions remained on travel to some countries, for political reasons (for example, Cuba, China, Vietnam, Albania) throughout the mid-1970s, and Iran in 1980, and were reinforced by the threat of criminal action. In 1981, the Reagan Administration once again restricted travel to certain countries–for example, to Cuba and Vietnam.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 21

…virtually all states, almost throughout history, have put serious difficulties in the way of those members of their populations who wished to leave their territory.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 23

According to Wheatcroft:
“The category of forced labor without confinement had existed from the 1920s. By the mid-1930s about half of all those sentenced to forced labor served this sentence without confinement, generally at their normal place of work. The sentences were normally for periods of up to six months or in some cases a year. Up to 25 percent of the normal pay was deducted from wages.”
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 246

Russia’s pre-revolutionary prison system was probably the most backward in Europe. Today Russia has the most advanced penal code in the world….
On must understand the underlying ideology of Marxism if one would comprehend the prison system of the USSR. With the Revolution the old penological theories were junked along with all the rest of the prevailing cultural bases. According to Marx, Engels, and their modern interpreter, Lenin, crime is the product of the capitalistic economic system. Change the economic order and the fountainhead of all crime dries up. Since, however, the revolution cannot accomplish the change from a capitalist to a communist society at once, there are forms of anti-social activity due to the transitional stage through which Russia is now passing.
Davis, Jerome. The New Russia. New York: The John Day company, c1933, p. 219

Russia’s penal code is based upon no sentimental humanitarianism. Like her other laws it is the outcome of cold logic working from certain premises looked upon as self-evident with the same assurance as that of the mathematician who accepts the axioms of geometry. These axioms are the fundamental Marxian and Leninist principles. From these grow the fundamental penological principles. These principles may be summarized as follows:
1. “Wrongs” are the results of long centuries of acculturation in a capitalistic society.
2. Some individuals are unable to adapt their habits to a new social order.
3. Others can more easily form a new habit pattern and thus can adapt themselves to a new order of things.
4. The purpose of “punishment” is to protect society.
5. Society should attempt to change the attitude of “wrong-doers” by every method known to modern pedagogical and medical science.
6. Those who cannot be “reformed” should be eliminated from society for its protection.
No sentimentality here; just cold logic. No tears over the possible mistakes made in selecting those to be eliminated; some risk must be taken for social protection. However, every effort must first be made to correct the wrong-doer….
The Soviet leaders recognize that a capitalistic society cannot at once be transformed culturally into a communistic one. Socialism is the intermediate stage….
During this period of restraint society has a chance to order the life of these persons most closely and if possible convert them into good members of society. The first task is to train them in industry. So the prisons are great trade schools. Recognizing that in the transition period of socialism the economic motive must be kept alive for the individual, the Soviet authorities provide that the prisoner must be paid practically the same wage as the free man, consideration being given to the cost of his maintenance….
More interesting still, instead of conducting their prisons on the theory that prison labor and free labor are in inevitable conflict, Russia arranges the closest connection between prison labor and free labor. The prisoner must be brought to realize the solidarity of all labor. He is not an outcast, but a part of the labor-force of the nation. If he is a member of a trade union upon being sent to prison he does not lose that connection. In fact the prisoner who shows by his industry and conduct that he is one with the great body of free workers may be sent from the prison during the later stages of his sentence to work in a factory….
In accordance with their theory of the purpose of confinement the Soviet authorities have done away with life sentences; the longest sentence is 10 years. If a man cannot be changed in that time he cannot be changed at all….
As indicated above, capital punishment is reserved for incorrigible criminals….
It is clear that the system is devised to correct the offender and return him to society. The means employed are associated labor, social pressure, education for a trade, education in Sovietism and in certain stubborn cases disciplinary treatment. In all these institutions the Code provides that there shall be no brutality, no use of chains, no deprivation of food, no use of solitary confinement, and no such degrading devices as interviewing visitors through screens. Prisoners are transferred from one institution to another as the authorities see improvement in attitude and conduct. Work for all is compulsory. Two days of labor counts as three days of the sentence for those who make good progress. Labor conditions in the prisons are controlled by the same labor code as governs free laborers. Those condemned to labor in these institutions are entitled to two weeks’ furlough each year after the first 5 1/2 months. If they belong to the working class, this furlough is deducted from the sentence. The wages paid the prisoners are about the same as those paid free labor less the cost of maintenance. Those condemned to forced labor receive about 25% less. The prisoner may spend a greater proportion of his wages as he advances in grade. The institutions must be self-supporting, so careful management is required….
The educational work in the prisons is a unique feature. There is regular class work, recreation with an educational aim, wall-and printed newspapers, clubs, theatrical performances, sports, musical activities, and self-government in the most advanced grades. Every sort of stimulus and pressure is brought to bear to socialize (” sovietize”) the inmates. In the institutions I visited, including old Czarist buildings and modern farm industrial colonies, I saw these activities carried on with great enthusiasm and earnestness. Perhaps the most interesting of all I saw was the GPU industrial colony outside a Moscow, called Bolshevo. Founded by the GPU for homeless children, it has become one of the most progressive correctional institutions for young offenders, both male and female, I have ever seen. With 2000 inmates, without walls and with very few guards, it appears to be a great industrial village….
The disciplinary measures are limited to reduction in grade with loss of privileges, limitation of the use of personal funds, isolation of the individual up to 14 days and in removal to an isolator where harsher treatment prevails. However, solitary confinement in Russia does not exist in our sense of the word. It is prohibited by Paragraph 49 of the Code. It consists of a stricter separation from the outer world, disbarment from outdoor work and from furlough.
Davis, Jerome. The New Russia. New York: The John Day company, c1933, p. 221-229

However, as the writer visited prisons, especially the farm and industrial colonies, he was shown the pictures of many graduating classes and was told of many who had become agronomists and technicians on Russian state farms and collectives and in Russian industrial establishments….
The following appraisal is a summary of the writer’s judgment of the Russian experiment in dealing with offenders. Space does not permit justification of his opinion. He can say only that these judgments are based upon what he was able to learn from those in Russia in a position to know what are the results of the system and upon his long and rather extensive observations in the prisons of a large part of the world….
For those who show by their conduct that they are amenable to correction every effort is made to prevent the development of a sense of social isolation; solidarity with the dominant group is cultivated in every possible way….
For those who show that they are incorrigible there is only one end — elimination. Before that end is reached every effort is made to correct them. From the Soviet point of view that is the purpose of the colonies of kulaks and other “enemies of the public” at Archangel and in Siberia….
The emphasis upon the role of economic opportunity and industrial and social training in correction is found nowhere else. Even negative disciplinary measures are conceived as reformative in purpose. There is no punishment for retribution.
Davis, Jerome. The New Russia. New York: The John Day company, c1933, p. 236

The introduction of a kind of self-government into the Russian institutions is the most thorough-going attempt to apply this principle [the principle of involving prisoners in prison governance] ever attempted. It seems rather complicated, but those with whom the writer talked about it said that it works remarkably well. It attempts to do away with some of the abuses found in the American experiments and yet brings to the prisoner a sense of participating responsibility.
Davis, Jerome. The New Russia. New York: The John Day company, c1933, p. 238

The farms and industrial colonies without walls and with a minimum of guards is an experiment worth watching. So far as the writer could learn, it works well, if proper personnel is in charge and if careful attention is given to the selection of the inmates….
The method used to keep intact the economic and social ties are unique and effective. The periodical furloughs with the family is a step forward. The prison wage is wholly commendable. The effort to keep in close touch the prisoner and free laborers and employers is most commendable.
Davis, Jerome. The New Russia. New York: The John Day company, c1933, p. 239

We were taken aback by the liberty that prevailed among the prisoners. In our previous prisons we had seen nothing like it. But greater surprises lay in store for us.
The following day comrades showed us papers published in the prison. What a diversity of opinion there was, what freedom in every article! What passion and what candor, not only in the approach to theoretical and abstract questions, but even in matters of the greatest actuality. Was it still possible to reform the system by peaceful means, or was an armed rising, a new revolution required? Was Stalin a conscious or merely an unconscious traitor? Did his policy amount to reaction or to counter-revolution? Could he be eliminated by merely removing the directing personnel, or was a proper revolution necessary? All the news-sheets were written with the greatest freedom, without any reticence, dotting i’s and crossing t’s and–supreme horror–every article signed with the writer’s full name.
Our liberty was not limited to that. During the walk which brought several wards together, the prisoners were in the habit of holding regular meetings in a corner of the yard, with chairman, secretary and orators speaking in proper order. When the order of the day could not cope with all the business, debates were postponed until the next recreation-time. At these meetings the most dangerous and forbidden subjects were discussed without the least restraint and without any fear whatsoever. The invigilating inspector would sit down somewhere or walk to and fro. He no doubt made his reports in the proper quarters, but nobody seemed to be in the least concerned with that. At these meetings Stalin came off very badly, being called all sorts of names. I have seen many things in the USSR but none so bewildering as this isle of liberty, lost in an ocean of slavery–or was it merely a madhouse? So great was the contrast between the humiliated, terrified country and the freedom of mind that reigned in this prison that one was first inclined toward the madhouse theory. How was one to admit that in the immensity of silence-stricken Russia the two or three small islands of liberty where men still had the right to think and speak freely were… the prisons?
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 199

The Amnesty Commissions periodically visited the prisons and the prison administrations prepared list of those recommended for amnesty. Candidates for amnesty came firstly from among the “activists,” the so-called “enthusiasts for socialism” re-educated in prison; secondly from those obviously sentenced in error; thirdly from the gravely ill whose upkeep cost far more than could be covered by any possible unpaid labor they might be able to do.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 365

PRISONS IN SU REHABILITATE PEOPLE VERY WELL

Many former prisoners from the Baltic-White Sea Canal, after receiving freedom together with special prizes and high honors for their good work, went of free choice to help build the Moscow-Volga Canal, another convict-labor job. Here they were especially valued because through their own experience they understood the process through which new prisoners had to go and were especially skilled in helping them make themselves over….
So well known and effective is the Soviet method of remaking human beings that criminals occasionally now apply to be admitted. I met one such man in Gulin village. Notorious locally as a thief and drunkard, he had a dozen convictions to his discredit, till at last he went to the authorities saying: “I’m a man destroyed, but I want to be made over.” They sent him to a labor camp whence he returned a qualified worker. Bolshevo Commune, the most famous “cure” for criminals, can be entered only by application approved by the general meeting of members. It’s waiting list is so long that it accepts only the most hardened cases, priding itself on being able to make over persons who cannot become cured in any other institution. Its strength lies in its large membership of intelligent former criminals, who apply to new entrants their intimate knowledge of the criminal mind.
Crime today is rapidly diminishing in the Soviet Union. From 1929 to 1934 sentences for murder decreased by 1/2 while sex crimes fell off to 1/4. The cause is found in the growing strength of the Soviet environment to remake human beings; the penal policy is only a supplementary force. A striking example of the play of both causes may be found in the figures of prostitution. Pre-war Moscow had 25,000 to 30,000 prostitutes; these sank by 1928 to about 3000, a diminution clearly due to economic causes.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 261

Kulaks committed arson, cattle-killing, murder, and were exiled in large numbers; anti-Soviet engineers and officials sabotaged and were sent to labor camps. Today the kulaks have been amnestied, not only because many of them have recovered their civil status by honest labor, but also because the collective farms in the villages are strong enough to withstand their attack and absorb them. The labor camps which supplanted prisons are themselves diminishing, partly because they have “cured” their inmates, and still more because the normal free life of Soviet society is becoming strong and prosperous enough to have a direct regenerative influence on those social misfits that remain.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 264

I had received my background on the Polish question from members of the Polish government-in-exile when I was in London in 1943. I was entertained at dinner by the Minister of Information of the London group. Present at the dinner were some Poles who had been imprisoned in Russia. They told me what they considered worst in their prison experiences. It so happened that I had for a time been Director of prisoner of war work in Canada for the World Committee of the YMCA and their description of conditions did not show the Russian camps to contrast unfavorably with those of Canada. They had been put to work, but that was a policy I had continually urged upon the Canadian government.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 99

Sentences to prison are limited to 10 years, even for the most serious offenses, including murder. Up to 1921 the maximum was only five years. In practice, time off for good conduct cuts the ten-year sentence to five or six. The theory of this limited prison sentence is that Soviet prisons are intended to reform, not punish, and that if a man can’t be reformed in 10 years, he can’t be reformed at all. The death penalty, applied to a long list of crimes and rather commonly resorted to up to 1927, was abolished on the 10th anniversary of the Revolution for all cases except political crimes and armed robbery.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 65

The maximum prison sentence in Russia for any offense, criminal or political, is 10 years. The theory as applied to criminals is that if they cannot be reformed in that period they cannot be reformed at all, and so a longer time is useless. In political cases 10 years is evidently regarded as long enough for any offense not punished by death. The 10 years is, in practice, often reduced to six or seven by good behavior.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 203

[Jan. 27, 1925 NKVD circular on measures for developing work in areas of labor camps]
The Corrective Labor Code defines our basic mission as assigning inmates to productive employment for the purpose of imparting the benefits of corrective labor to them.
In order to develop inmates employment, inmates should be organized as self-supporting work units exempt from all national and local taxes and levies….
According to our information, it is obvious that work programs for inmates have not been organized at any large number of places of incarceration, thus depriving the inmates of the benefits of corrective labor, i.e., the places of incarceration are failing to accomplish their primary mission as defined by the Corrective Labor Code.
Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 141

… This book [a volume on the construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal], with contributions by Gorky… and other notable writers, extolled the rehabilitative benefits of the prison labor project; many of those who worked on the canal were rewarded subsequently with pardons.
Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 153

The Governor came to see me in prison at 10:00….
“You see, Kleist, the essential difference between investigation and punishment in the USSR and in your capitalist countries is that with us the investigatory period is one of rigid discipline and inquiry, and the so-called ‘punishment’ period is a reformatory one in which we make it as easy as possible for the prisoner to adjust himself to normal society. With you, the investigatory period is one of leniency and the punishment period is one of savage reprisal of society against one whom in practice it henceforward rejects.”
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 192

In August 1935 Pravda added a weighty editorial voice to this campaign when it announced that “to punish for mistakes–this is the last resort. It is necessary to teach how to avoid mistakes…. It’s necessary to remember a basic rule: persuade, teach, help.” Repression was to be used only in “extreme cases,” but even then it should also educate.
Thus, during 1935 Party organs and the central authorities of the judicial system issued a series of strong warnings to lower courts and prosecutors alike that petty problems and infractions were not to be considered crimes, that cases of counter-revolution were not to be pressed unless serious, and that careful attention to evidence was the order of the day. Krylenko’s and Vyshinsky’s protests against NKVD behavior and the wide application of Article 58 had a similar thrust.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 14

All inmates of the institution have a classification. The citizens who have “gone wrong” and are sent to prison are at the beginning placed in the first category. They are left there until the observation committee approves of them being promoted to the second category. While they are under this first classification each is allowed three days’ vacation a year–to go home or anywhere they please, but must report back to the prison on the assigned day. Those deserving a promotion are raised to the second category which gives them seven days a year vacation in addition to other privileges. When promoted to the third category they receive one month. These vacations are counted in each case as a part of their sentence.
If a prisoner is released on good behavior he is given a job. But if convicted of a crime again, the new sentence, plus the remaining part of the old sentence, is added to the time he must serve. Every prisoner is allowed to go anywhere in the prison he pleases and the trusted ones are given the right to be guards. If on account of bad behavior, a prisoner is punished by isolation in a cell and only allowed to walk around where there are no other inmates, this punishment the prison warden said is to remind him of his misbehavior and has produced good results.
The institution contained a factory where every prisoner had to work if able. The inmate who did not already know a trade is taught one, both by theory and practice, so when released he is much abler to find employment. Each is paid a wage for his work and allowed to spend a certain amount for incidentals at the prison store, the remaining part is put in a bank account; and when released, each one has his savings account money returned so that he can care for himself and therefore would not be so apt to commit another crime. The wage ranges from 50 to 60 rubles a month. This is thought to be low enough so as not to compete with other labor, for if wages were equal or better the workers might have a tendency to commit crime to take advantage of it as the wage is a clear one, the prisoners being free of the expenses of food, clothes, and shelter.
All prisons are considered open prisons, the only isolated ones being in north Siberia and they are isolated only in the sense that prisoners are kept in a prison community. Only exceptionally bad prisoners are sent there and the repeaters who have a long list of crimes. These, however, are those classed as “incurables.”
This prison contained no confinement cells–I had the privilege of going anywhere I wished here and found nothing of this sort. The number of inmates in each cell were three. The condition of the cells would be classified as average, each having a good sized window which let in sufficient light. As for the food and clothes, these items, too, may be said to be average.
The Soviet idea of treating a criminal is not to beat and punish him by physical force, but to consider him as a citizen “gone to wrong” and help train him to be a law-abiding citizen. If a person has a prison record it does not in any way hinder him from getting employment. Quite different from our prison system!
There are only two things which every prisoner is forced to do and that is, learn to read and write while in confinement.
Sometime later I saw a group of prisoners doing harvest work with machinery on one of the government farms. There were only a few guards on hand and no evidence whatever of exploitation.
Wright, Russell. One-Sixth of the World’s Surface. Hammond, Ind., The Author, c1932, p. 33-34

The state proclaimed a policy of “reformation through forced labor.” Those who actively showed their worth in “the building of socialism” had a good chance of being pardoned, rewarded, even allowed to continue their careers. In the 1930s a highly popular film “Prisoners” depicted the rapid reeducation at the Baltic-White Sea Canal Construction Camp of both criminals and political prisoners, transformed into active participants in building socialism.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 89

Forced labor, in the strict sense, was imposed on peasants who had resorted to violence in resisting collectivization. They were treated like criminals and were subject to imprisonment. Here history played one of its malignant and gloomy jokes. Soviet penitentiary reforms of earlier years, inspired by humanitarian motives, viewed the imprisonment of criminals as a means to their re-education, not punishment. They provided for the employment of criminals in useful work. The criminals were to be under the protection of trade unions; and their work was to be paid at trade-union rates. As the number of rebellious peasants grew, they were organized in mammoth labor camps and employed in the building of canals and railways, in timber felling, and so on.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 336

QUESTION: Is the 0GPU under another name employing two or 3 million political prisoners in carrying out a program of forced labor?

ANSWER: The picture that these words aroused for the average American–of idealistic intellectuals condemned to heavy, unpaid, chain-gang work–does not exist in the USSR.
There are, however, “labor camps” in many parts of the country, as part of the Soviet method of reclaiming anti-social elements by useful, collective work. They replace prisons, which have been steadily closing; I have found old prison buildings remodeled as schools. Men in the labor camps draw wages, have vacations in which they leave the camp, and rise in their profession like free workers. They work at their specialty; engineers do large-scale engineering, intellectuals do cultural work, teaching and clerical work; actors put on plays, unskilled workers are trained in trades and illiterate men get schooling. Their wives and families are often allowed to visit them for extended periods.
These camps usually work on some nationally famous project which is intended to stir instincts of creative energy and collective pride. Men who respond to these motives may rise to the highest honors. The Baltic-White Sea Canal, for instance, was celebrated not only as an achievement in construction, but as a place where criminals “made themselves over.” Many former thieves, saboteurs, murderers, received the Order of Lenin, the highest honor in the country.
Strong, Anna Louise. “Searching Out the Soviets.” New Republic: August 7, 1935, p. 358\

Likewise, throughout [until] 1936, except in extraordinary conditions (such as the Civil War of 1918-1920, and the rural conflict of 1930-31) very few opponents were executed. The standard remedy for active opponents of the regime (as it was for common criminals) was socialist re-education, in good part through productive labor. This represented a humane and largely effective strategy…. Until 1937 the conditions applying to those actually confined for active opposition to the regime were considerably better than those for ordinary criminals; until 1937 torture was officially prohibited in the USSR (and, in fact, was rare). It was standard practice for those sentenced to a term in labor re-education camps in the remote region of the country to return to their old positions (as engineers, party leaders, etc.) after a relatively short time;…
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 228

SCOTT DESCRIBES TREATMENT OF MAGNITOGORSK PRISONERS

There were almost no acquittals in Magnitogorsk in 1937, nor were there more than half a dozen death sentences. After the trial, the operative department of the NKVD turned the convicts over to the ULAG (criminal camp administration), whose job it was to get certain construction work done, using the labor of the convicts, and also to carry on re-educational work. The ULAG was a completely separate and independent part of the NKVD organization. They received a prisoner accompanied by a frayed document stating that he had been convicted on such-and-such an article. Beyond this they knew nothing. Their job was to build dams and railroads, and in the interest of high productivity, if for no other reason, they treated the prisoners as well as possible.
Arrived at the construction job, the prisoners received better food than they had had since their arrests and warm, sturdy clothes, and were told that from then on the thing that counted was their work. Until 1938, twenty, forty, or sixty percent of their sentences were frequently commuted for good work….
Alexei Pushkov, the chief of the Magnitogorsk NKVD during 1937, was himself purged in 1939 for his excessive ardor in purging the people of Magnitogorsk.
Scott, John. Behind the Urals, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1942, p. 193

At the time of their arrest, “saboteur”-Communists apparently expected that they would suffer a relatively light punishment, much like the nonparty specialists at the beginning of the 1930s, who were given decent living and working conditions after their trial. John Scott tells how in 1932, the GPU sent to Magnitogorsk 20 to 30 engineers who had been convicted in the case of the “Industrial Party.” Upon arriving in Magnitogorsk with their families, they were given four-room cottages and automobiles. They worked under contracts according to which they were paid 3000 rubles per month (10 times more than the wage of an average worker). Although they were watched by the 0GPU, they were allowed to go hunting on holidays in the forests of the Urals located tens of kilometers from the city. “They were also given highly responsible positions and instructed to work hard in order to prove that they really intended to become good Soviet citizens.” One of the former “wreckers” worked as the chief electrician at the combinat, another as the main engineer at a chemical plant. Several of them were decorated with medals for labor achievements.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 269

SECRET POLICE ARE FAIR TOWARD PRISONERS

All the British subjects at the Metro Vickers trial, however, subsequently revealed that they had been treated with great politeness and consideration by the Soviet authorities. None of them had been subjected to any form of coercion, 3d agree methods or force.
Alan Monkhouse declared of his OGPU examiners in a statement in the London Dispatch on March 15th: “they were extraordinarily nice to me and exceedingly reasonable in their questioning. My examiners seemed first-rate men who knew their job. The OGPU prison is the last word in efficiency, entirely clean, orderly and well-organized. This is the first time that I have ever been arrested, but I have visited English prisons and can attest that the OGPU quarters are much superior. OGPU officials showed every concern for my comfort.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 175

But it is said by those who have dealt constantly with the GPU in behalf of prisoners, that the heads, when they can be reached, are solicitous to correct the injustices or abuses of their subordinates. Even Dzerzhinsky, head of the old Cheka, was scrupulous in such cases, though severe–and he was fairly accessible.
While the GPU is the strong arm of the Soviet state for the protection of the Revolution and to keep the way clear of obstructions to the State’s program, it is essentially an organ of the Communist Party under the control of the Central Committee, as its creator, Dzerzhinsky, insisted it should be. It does not get out of hand, as do the secret services in some other countries–as, for instance, in the United States under the Daugherty-Burns regime.
To the minds of opponents of the Soviet regime the GPU bulks big. It is to them the Red Terror, supreme, lawless, all-powerful, ruthless, shooting at will on suspicion. But to any sober student of the political phenomena of Soviet Russia the GPU must appear as an exceedingly well-organized and efficient military police, with the function of combating all opposition, but working within definite bounds under the central political authority–to all appearances quietly, almost invisibly.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 194

Concentration camps and temporary prisons for political prisoners or hostages were established in Soviet Russia during the civil war that followed the revolution. But it was not until the early 20s that a more or less regular penitentiary system began to be introduced and laws elaborated to apply to it. The regimen for political prisoners in the ’20s was relatively lenient. They received extra food, were exempt from forced labor, and were not subjected to humiliating inspections. In political jails self-government was allowed; the politicals elected “elders,” who dealt with the prison administration. They kept their clothes, books, writing materials, pocket knives; they could subscribe to newspapers and magazines. Their imprisonment was regarded as temporary isolation during a national emergency.
For example, on December 30, 1920, when the civil war had barely ended, the Cheka issued a special order;
“Information received by the Cheka establishes that members of various anti-Soviet parties arrested in political cases are being kept in very bad conditions…. The Cheka points out that the above-listed categories of people must not be regarded as undergoing punishment, but as temporarily isolated from society in the interests of the revolution. The conditions of their detention must not have a punitive character.”
One incident highlights the prison customs of the time. When Kropotkin, the Anarchist patriarch, died in his home near Moscow, hundreds of Anarchists who had been put in Butyrskaya prison for anti-Soviet activity demanded permission to attend the funeral of their teacher. Dzerzhinsky ordered that the Anarchists be let out on their honor. After the military funeral they all returned, to a man…?
Of course, in the early 20s there were quite a few instances that could be classified as insulting treatment of prisoners by the GPU. Still, this was the exception, not the rule. The Corrective Labor Code of 1924, which regulated conditions for all prisoners, including criminals and “counter-revolutionaries,” stated:
“The regimen should be devoid of any trace of cruel or abusive treatment, the following by no means being permitted: handcuffs, punishment cells, solitary confinement, denial of food, keeping prisoners behind bars during conversations with visitors.”
In most cases this code was observed at the time.
In the early 20s Commissar of Health Semashko pointed with pride to the establishment of a humane prison regime, which could not exist in capitalist countries. To be sure, some deterioration can be noted even in the ’20s. At the end of 1923, for example, the exercise period was cut down, which provoked a much publicized crash between Social Revolutionaries and guards at Solovketskaia prison. There were other “excesses,” but at the time they were exceptions rather than the rule.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 501-502

The difficulty of correctly appreciating the treatment of political prisoners in the Soviet Union, due primarily to the lack of factual evidence, is increased by those who, wishing to make obscurance doubly sure, have created OGPU legends which one could describe as entirely fictitious were they not sometimes based on the fiction of others. It is unnecessary to recapitulate them: they are widely held as the truth about the GPU.
The narrative which follows, written from the notes of Peter Kleist, a German engineer accused of espionage and held in prison by the GPU for examination, should destroy at least the more fantastic of these inventions and illuminate the obscurities of the remand period before the “Moscow Trials.” Kleist, whom I know intimately, is a person whose profoundest interests are his work and scientific truth. In the Lubyanka and Butirki prisons he observed the system and experienced the methods of the GPU; and without the passion either of resentment (he is disposed to objective thinking) or of partisanship (he is by no means a Communist) he has noted his experiences and observations. Apart from the changing of some names, necessary in order not to compromise certain individuals, the narrative faithfully adheres to Kleist’s notes. If it is unsensational, it is because the truth of his imprisonment is unsensational. For that reason, I consider Kleist’s narrative an important testimony in judging the GPU even for those who without wishing to surrender their prejudices, may yet wish to correct their misconceptions.
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 7

The warders at the Lubyanka alternated constantly and it was never possible to enter into their intimacy. The precise routine regulations prevented any great variation in the way in which they treated the prisoners. For the most part the behavior of the guards was unobjectionable. Prison regulations required that they should treat the prisoners courteously although they were not allowed to enter into general conversation with them.
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 105

[As Kleist crossed the Soviet border into Poland he was met with] I’m a detective of the Polish police. We like to know something of the intentions of our visitors from the USSR. Well, Kleist–and how do you feel?”
“I’m quite well.”
“I understand that you didn’t confess.”
“No. I had nothing to confess.”
“Tell that to your grandmother. Did they torture you?”
“No,” I snapped at him. “It was a Russian prison not a Polish one.”
He was unruffled. “Our prisons are quite humane,” he said. “Were you brutally treated?”
“No. I was treated as considerately as prison existence permits.”
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 199

[When I got off the train in Poland] One of the young men dashed up with a camera and said, “Look this way!” There was a flash and immediately the photographer dashed away with his camera.
“Polska Gazeta!” the other young man introduced himself briefly, speaking German. “Largest circulation in Warsaw. Offer you 500 zloty for your story.”
“What do you want to know?” I asked, looking over his head for my mother.
“Well, for a start– what tortures did they give you?”
“None.”
“Oh, come on, what tortures did they give you–did they keep you on bread and water, did they have a tom-tom beating day and night outside your cell, was your cell so small that you couldn’t stretch your legs out, did they shoot Trotskyists in front of your eyes? That’s the sort of stuff we want. Let it rip!”
He waited with his pencil poised.
“There’s nothing haggard I can tell you,” I answered, “that will interest you in that way. I was examined under as good circumstances as the situation allowed. I admitted anything that I had done and denied what I hadn’t done.”
He looked disappointed.
“H’m! What about your talking drug? Were you drugged at all?”
“Not to my knowledge.”
“Well, you’d know if you were drugged.”
“Exactly.”
“Well, I’m afraid your story’s not much use. Have to do something about it. Let’s see.” He started writing rapidly in shorthand, muttering as he wrote: “Kleist looked haggard and worn after his three months’ imprisonment in the Lubyanka…refused to speak. His senses seemed to have been numbed by his experiences. He could not remember his sufferings and seemed unable to think coherently. He refused to speak of the tortures of the GPU and cast hunted looks about the platform. Apparently he had friends still in the Lubyanka held as hostages for his silence. How’s that?”
I shrugged my shoulders.
“You’re a lickspittle, my dear fellow. Your bosses ask you for this. You’ve got to give it. Don’t expect any from me.”
Unabashed he folded his pocket-book, raised his fawn hat, and rushed away.
APPENDIX I
(Kleist on the Moscow Trials)
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 203

The NKVD hit lists [in the Baltic states] were very similar to those of the SS and the Gestapo: all members of parliament and senators, local mayors and heads of district administrations, landowners and businessmen, lawyers, priests, policemen, non-Marxist intellectuals and so on. In short, anyone who might possibly cause trouble was arrested and shipped out to the wastes of Kazakhstan or Siberia. Unlike the Nazis, however, the Soviet authorities could claim quite truthfully that their victims were not being treated any differently from their fellow citizens of the Soviet Union.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 360

Surprisingly, I was never actually beaten….
Kuusinen, Aino. The Rings of Destiny. New York: Morrow, 1974, p. 147

I should also record that, long and exhausting as the interrogations were, I myself was never treated with physical cruelty, though I had to listen to plenty of threats and insults during both periods of questioning, month after month.
Kuusinen, Aino. The Rings of Destiny. New York: Morrow, 1974, p. 197

My experience was not really one of a “police state.” The GPU was as much respected and trusted as feared, in my time. The ordinary urban police was neither respected nor feared, but rather pitied. Twice I witnessed the same scene: a civilian knocked down a policeman; bystanders came to his aid and held the attacker until a second policeman showed up; the two law officers then took the culprit to the station, without twisting his arms. Another time when a policeman admonished two young drunks, one of them, imitating the gestures of regulating traffic, shouted, “You, comrade regulator, just regulate traffic, and don’t hassle us!” The cop just replied, amid general laughter, “All right, boys, go home and sleep it off.”
…Subsequently, however, I was shocked on occasion to see large groups of men and women being roughly herded through the streets by soldiers. I found it hard to believe that they were all criminals. But I could not then, and for many years thereafter, believe that people were physically mistreated, beaten, or tortured in the Soviet Union. It was contrary to the profound and general condemnation of physical violence which I had found prevalent everywhere. Verbal quarrels were often harsh enough, but they never came to blows; this was considered “uncultured.” In Makeyevka, where it cannot have been easy to maintain school discipline among tough kids, it was a great public scandal when a teacher ordered a boy To kneel in a corner of the classroom. When I lived and worked in the “East” I perceived a human face behind the mask.
Blumenfeld, Hans. Life Begins at 65. Montreal, Canada: Harvest House, c1987, p. 167

SOVIET PRISONS ARE DECENT FOR LIVING

Some of the bitterest stories of prison experiences under the Soviets have been written about these preliminary detention prisons. While these stories constitute a fair indictment of certain methods of the GPU, they are not a fair basis for judging the Russian political prison system. All such temporary jails the world over tend to be far below the average prison standard.
Even the larger detention prisons in Moscow and Leningrad, the Butirki and the Spalerna, are much better. Indeed, the Spalerna, built as a political prison by the czar, compares favorably with the “world’s best jails,” though it is often badly overcrowded. I do not recollect seeing a better jail, from a physical standpoint, anywhere in the United States.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 241

I went into about a dozen prisons of all types, from Georgia to Leningrad, and had no difficulty getting in–and out–except for the political isolators and the detention prisons in Moscow, all of which were closed to foreign visitors because of the excitement at the time over the break with England. They differed greatly in cleanliness and arrangement, just as they do in the United States. I saw none worse than some I have seen in the United States, and two were as clean and well ordered as America’s best. The average, however, is lower; but so is the whole Russian standard of living.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 244

…The whole system is operated on elastic lines in order to move prisoners about easily from one type of institution to another according to the authorities’ judgment of their ability to stand more or less liberty. A prisoner may progress from an isolator–the severest type, where the regime is like that of prisons anywhere–to a house of correction, where he is freer. That freer regime is marked by one of the most amazing privileges of Soviet prisons, a two-weeks’ vacation each year with pay for every well-behaved prisoner, and for those whose conduct is not first-class, proportionately less time off. Prisoners may take their two weeks all at one time, or divide it into short periods, or even into “weekends in town.”
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 245

Peasant prisoners get three months’ vacation in the summer–without prison pay–to help with the crops if their village Soviet does not object to their return home. The approval of the home-town soviet is now required in order to avoid trouble with the neighbors, following early incidents in which some prisoners were beaten, even killed, by indignant villagers. The officials say that very few prisoners fail to return from vacation. Those who do not return and who are caught suffer no additions to their sentences, but they get no more vacations and may be sent back to prisons of more restricted liberty.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 246

In “intermediate” houses of correction located usually in cities, prisoners have still more liberty, as they are free to go to work outside, only coming back to sleep in them. Some work in the shops inside; but even they are allowed to go out. I heard envious comment in Leningrad from unemployed workers who thought these prisoners better off than they–with secure jobs and a comfortable home! Farm colonies, in which liberty is least restricted, are connected with most of the large prisons. One I visited near Leningrad was an old estate, surrounded by barbed wire in order to check up at the entrances on the comings and goings of prisoners to the fields and forests–and even to the railroad station a mile away, where they were allowed to see off their visitors. The whole atmosphere was natural and unrestrained. The warden and guards played games with the men, and worked and slept out with them in field and forest. Those who prove unfit for this increased liberty of farm colonies are sent back to the more restricted prisons.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 246

Within the prisons the relations between the keepers and inmates are unusually democratic, as prisons go. The prisoners share actively in running prison life, though thorough-going self government experiments are still in their infancy. The prisoners share in self government is so far confined to organizing education and recreation and conducting the prison cooperative stores.
…Most of the wardens struck me as more alert, less officious, and with a closer man-to-man relation to the prisoners, than any wardens I have had the privilege of meeting elsewhere–and I have met a good many, in one capacity or another.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 247

One of the great improvements in Russian prisons is that work is available to almost all prisoners. There is no forced labor, no contract labor, as in the United States. All prisoners are free not to work if they choose. But great inducements to work lie in the payment of wages and in the deduction of one-third time off the sentences of working prisoners. The wages are usually low, but enough to help support the prisoners’ families, to take care of their needs for tobacco, sweets, stationery, and toilet articles at prison stores, and to give them some money on release. In all but a few prisons there is plenty of work in the shops, making textiles, harnesses, shoes, furniture, wagons–and in printing. The goods not purchased by a government department are sold on the market, and the profits go to prison maintenance.
In several prisons where the men–common offenders–crowded around me with curiosity as to my mission, I asked for those who had served time also in Czarist prisons. Each time a few spoke up. In response to inquiry as to what improvements they noted, if any, under the Soviets, they usually laughed at the idea of asking such a question. “Of course this regime is better,” said one, “we can smoke, we don’t have to go to church, we can see the warden any time we ask, and we get pay and vacations.”
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 248

…There is, however, no solitary confinement in Russia, except temporarily for offenses committed in prison.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 249

The Soviet regime, while pursuing its policy of severity toward political or economic opposition, has made marked advances over the Czarist system in abolishing solitary confinement in single cells, the dungeons of military fortresses, and the brutalities of flogging and forced labor…. While the exile system remains quite as bad, possibly even worse, than under the Czar, the lot of political prisoners, bad as it is, has undoubtedly improved. In comparison with other countries, it is in many respects better–better, for instance, in relation to the lot of ordinary criminals than in the United States, which makes no distinction between political and other offenders, though physically American prisons average higher. But in relation to the standard of living of the people, Russian prisons are on quite as high a level as ours. I have seen far worse political prisons in other parts of Europe where political prisoners are presumed to enjoy a privileged status.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 252

[March 3, 1937 resolution of the February-March 1937 Central Committee Plenum on “Lessons of the wrecking, diversionary, and espionage activities of the Japanese-German-Trotskyist agents”]
Even more intolerable are the prison procedures established by the NKVD of the USSR as it pertains to Trotskyists, Zinovievists, rightists, Socialist-Revolutionaries, and other thoroughly vicious enemies of Soviet power who have been convicted.
All of these enemies of the people were as a rule assigned to so-called political isolation prisons, which were placed under the command of the NKVD of the USSR. Conditions in these political isolation prisons were particularly favorable. The prisons resembled forced vacation homes more than prisons.
In these political isolation prisons, inmates were afforded the opportunity of associating closely with each other, of discussing all political matters taking place in the country, of working out plans for anti-Soviet operations to be carried out by their organizations, and of maintaining relationships with people on the outside. The convicts were granted the right to unrestricted use of literature, paper, and writing instruments, the right to receive an unlimited number of letters and telegrams, to acquire their own personal effects and keep them in their cells, and to receive, along with their official rations, packages from the outside in any number and containing any type of goods.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 423

[Extract from protocol #3 of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of June 10, 1939 regarding NKVD camps]
2. The main incentives for increasing productivity in the camps shall be an improvement in provisions and nutrition for good production workers who demonstrate high productivity, financial bonuses for this category of prisoners, and a lightened camp regime, with general improvement in their living conditions.
Probationary release may be granted by the Collegium of the NKVD or the Special Board of the NKVD at the special petition of the camp supervisor and the supervisor of the political department of the camp to certain prisoners who have proven themselves to be exemplary workers and who have shown, over a long period of time, a high level of work….
4. The work force at camp should be equipped with foodstuffs and work clothes calculated in such a way that the physical strength of the camp work force may be utilized to the maximum at any productive task.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 549

Harsh as nature was in the Kolyma region, few people died in the Dalstroi camps in the years 1932-1937. There existed a system of examinations which allowed 10-year sentences to be reduced to two or three years, excellent food and clothing, a workday of four to six hours in winter and 10 in summer, and good pay, which enabled prisoners to help their families and to return home with funds. These facts may be found not only in the book by Vyaktin, a former head of one of the Kolyma camps, but also in Shalamov’s Tales of the Kolyma Camps.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 508

I do not exaggerate if I say that my cell in the Lubyanka was one of the cleanest and freshest rooms that I lived in during my whole stay in the USSR.
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 73

We rarely complained of the treatment re-received. The food was monotonous–a rotation of peas and cabbage, or potatoes, meatloaf or fishloaf–but there was always enough to satisfy one’s hunger. The tea was sometimes not hot but this was remedied on our objecting. The cell was adequately warm and in addition we were supplied with four thinnish blankets.
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 106

Medical inspection in the Butirki was as systematic as in the Lubyanka. Each day at about 9:30, the doctor went the rounds of the cells with two orderlies, prisoners from the penal section of the prison who were training as male nurses. The doctor’s stock question was, “Any patients?” There would be an immediate rush from all sides of the cell. Some prisoners complained of headaches, others of constipation; some of diarrhea and a dozen valetudinarian afflictions. The doctor, who wore civilian clothes, took it all good-humouredly, never charged anybody with malingering, although would-be malingerers were habitual, and rapidly and accurately dispensed diagnosis and advice. He was never deceived by malingerers nor did he ever reject a complaint of anybody genuinely ill.
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 163

…It is curious that despite the relative amount of freedom allowed within the prison, attempts to escape were negligible. A more effective deterrent than bars is the certainty of apprehension. There is also in Soviet prisons a sense of being on parole. This discourages that resentment which drives prisoners elsewhere to escape at any cost.
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 165

The company [in prison], apart from a plague of stool pigeons, was usually good, especially in Moscow, and innumerable cases are given of kindness and self-sacrifice–as when (a Hungarian Communist reports) a prisoner, back from even worse conditions, was allowed a bed to himself for a whole day by the 275 men crammed into a 25-man cell, and was given extra sugar from their rations….
All prisoners report cases of Party officials who remained loyal, and held either that Stalin and the Politburo knew nothing of what was happening or, alternatively, that they themselves were not qualified to judge these decisions, and simply had the duty of obeying Party rules, including confession….
Smoking was permitted. All games were forbidden….
Books are reported as available in two Moscow prisons, the Lubyanka & the Butyrka (though at the height of Yezhov’s power, they seem to have been prohibited). These libraries were good, containing the classics, translations, histories, and scientific works–sounding much better than those of British prisons or, indeed, hospitals or cruise liners. The Butyrka was particularly fine. The reason was that it had been used for political prisoners in Tsarist times, and the big liberal publishing houses had always given free copies of their books to these jails. That of the Lubyanka was largely of books confiscated from prisoners.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 266

A special category of prison consisted of the half-dozen “political isolators,” notably those at Suzdal, Verkhne-Uralsk, Yaroslavl, and Alexandrovsk. These dated from earlier days of the regime, when they had been thought of as a comparatively humane method of removing fractious Communists and other left-wing “politicals” from public life. Even in the early 1930s, treatment in these prisons was comparatively humane.
The Lubyanka was free of bugs, and the same is reported of some of the Kiev prisons, though bugs usually abounded….
The corridors of the Lubyanka were clean, smelling of carbolic and disinfectant.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 268

And, indeed, there had long been an alternative Soviet story. There were, it is true, corrective labor establishments of a highly beneficent type. Their operation could be seen in such works as Pogodin’s play The Aristocrats, which showed how prisoners were reclaimed at labor on the White Sea Canal and elsewhere. Pogodin represents bandits, thieves, and even “wrecker” engineers being reformed by labor. A re-generated engineer, now working enthusiastically at a project, has his old mother visit him. The kindly camp chief puts his car at her disposal, and she is delighted at her son’s healthy physical appearance. “How beautifully you have re-educated me,” a thief remarks, while another sings, “I am reborn, I want to live and sing.”
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 308

In the penal camps proper, however, there was considerable freedom of speech:
[A prisoner in Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich says, “…The great thing about a penal camp was you had a hell of a lot of freedom. Back in Ust-Izhma if you said they couldn’t get matches “outside” they put you in the can and slapped on another 10 years. But here you could yell your head off about anything you liked and the squealers didn’t even bother to tell on you. The security fellows couldn’t care less.
The only trouble was you didn’t have much time to talk about anything.”
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 318

A meeting [during glasnost] took place between members of the local branch of Memorial [a group collecting signatures to establish a monument to honor the victims of Stalinism] and veteran members of the organs of the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs), who had done guard duty in the camps in the 1930s and 1940s. One of the latter shouted that writers of defamatory articles on the camps should be shot, and there was some applause. Others claimed that the inmates of the camps had been criminals and not political victims. No one remembered cases of inhumane treatment, food had been plentiful, medical care excellent. If one believed these witnesses, conditions had been similar to those of a holiday resort. True, some people had died, but then, others had died outside the camps.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 269

[On May 6, 1936 Zinoviev said in prison] I am treated humanely in prison here. I get medical attention etc. But I am old and badly shaken.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 339

Thus, those who, in the late 1930s, actually died in the camps of various causes were very few, probably a matter of not more than 10,000. According to the great anti-Soviet mythology especially after the war, the Soviet labor camps were almost exactly the same as Hitler’s extermination camps: in the Soviet camps people “died like flies.” In reality they were like the camp described by Solzhenitsyn in Ivan Denisovich. This, in recent years (when one could, at last, at least privately talk to those who had been in camps), was confirmed to me by a very large number of Russians…. In addition, most, though not all of the people I interviewed confirmed that until the war prisoners could–and did–receive letters and food-parcels from home.
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.,1971, p. 30

The prisoners went for their walks twice daily and these lasted one hour in winter, an hour and a half in summer. Four to five wards, that is to say from 25 to 35 prisoners, went at a time, and were allowed to do what they liked: walk, hold meetings, take exercise (football, tennis or gorodki, a Russian game of ninepins). In summer they were allowed to grow flowers or vegetables. Twice a month the prisoners went to the baths, and on those occasions sheets would be changed and body linen taken to the laundry.
The prison possessed a considerable library, the nucleus of which consisted of the books inherited from the Czarist prison (works from Russian, German, French and English literature). Many volumes, especially works on sociology, politics and history, were gifts made by prisoners at the time of their release; moreover, the administration would occasionally buy books. Thus I was able to read some very new books: Andre Gide’s Voyage au Congo and Traven’s Coton. On the whole the library was not at all bad. Apart from that, some of the prisoners brought with them an excellent choice of personal books, often as many as a hundred or even two or 300 volumes. A certain number of prisoners had new publications sent them by relatives. The use of these particular volumes was not limited to their owners, but all the owners ward-mates and the occupants of neighboring wards shared them alike. The prisoners, moreover, had the right to subscribe to any of the periodicals appearing in the USSR. As to the foreign papers, we were allowed only the central organs of the Communist Party, the Rote Fahne, l’ Humanite and the Daily Worker, and then only one copy per floor of the prison….
Under such conditions, having enough reading material was not much physical occupation, the prisoners, who were mainly educated people, spent all their energy on the political life of the prison: the editing and publishing of news sheets, articles, the holding of meetings and debates. It is no exaggeration to say that the political isolator of Verkhne-Uralsk, with its 250 political prisoners, constituted a veritable university of social and political sciences–the only independent university in the USSR.
An important question was that of the communications between the prisoners. These communications, though prohibited, were actually tolerated to a certain extent by the prison authorities. There was a constant struggle concerning the “internal postal service,” but both parties played this game according to certain accepted rules. Communications between the four or five wards of each floor were naturally easy. Less easy were “vertical” relations between wards on different floors. But they took place all the same: at a given signal a bag would be lowered from the higher floor in which the “mail” was placed. The warders had long polls with which they tried to intercept the bags. They succeeded on very rare occasions only, for it was impossible constantly to watch all windows, especially as there were prisoners brave enough to fend off the warders’ poles with sticks. The rules of the game demanded that a victory was won as soon as the bag had been taken or raised again. The bars, with which the windows were provided, were far enough apart to allow all of these manifestations.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 202-203

A peculiarity of our barrack-prison was the fact that one could sit for hours at a time with a considerable number of the inmates of the various blocks, talking as though one were at liberty–no, even more frankly than one would have done if free, since in the USSR free men are more afraid of frankness. Our talks took place in the two gardens and the 3 yards. One could also drop into a neighboring cell, visit the hospital, the rooms housing the cultural institutions, and stroll through the various coridors.
Looking into the prison library one was sure to encounter from five to ten readers and two or three assistants, all “our” people, that is, prisoners. There one could stay and browse….
Library regulations allowed two books a week to each cell. During the week books could be exchanged between cells. Those who were at liberty to circulate within the prison could go to the library and take out books….
Several courses were organized in the library. The illiterate were taught to read and write, and for the literate there were courses in arithmetic, geography, the natural sciences. Textbooks especially published for this purpose were used. I had a look at them. Some were graphically and interestingly written. Both pupils and teachers were prisoners. Arithmetic was taught by a little old man, a former merchant from the Ukraine who after the Revolution had worked as a book-keeper in Soviet enterprises….
We had also a drama circle, an orchestra, and a weekly cinema show. For all these “cultural activities,” as one calls them in the Soviet Union, a whole block was allocated, taking up the space of six to eight large cells. Half of them were occupied by the “cultural workers” and the musicians. They were the best cells in the prison.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 353

My many meetings and long talks in Irkutsk prison were for me a return to the realities of Soviet life…. I felt much more free, here in prison, than I was later to feel at liberty, in deportation. This sensation arose not only from my freedom of movement within the prison, but also from my free contact with the outside world through the continual flow of thousands of prisoners bringing with them the living spirit of the country.
Even direct contact with the outside world was not lacking. There were among us not a few who worked individually in some outside institution or who were permitted visits from relatives. Since they were subjected to hardly any searching when they returned to prison, it was possible to receive and send letters. There was also an authorized correspondence. There was even a post office within the prison, next to the administration office, and it was open to all of us for normal postal transactions. Censorship was more a matter of form than of reality. This was not a GPU prison, that is, a political prison with its draconic severity, but a common “criminal” prison belonging to the People’s Commissariat of Justice, with almost the atmosphere of 1917….
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 357

But during my time in this “blessed” criminal prison one could write openly to friends abroad, just as one could from any part of Russia. I then and there wrote several letters to my friends in Russia and to relatives abroad. This for the first time in three years, since throughout that time the GPU had forbidden me to correspond with anyone.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 358

In spite of hunger and overcrowding, the prison was a beehive of activity: courses, lectures and propaganda. The illiterate were taught the alphabet; courses in mathematics, geography, physics and so on were organized for those who had a modicum of instruction. There were orchestras and a theater, the musicians and actors being recruited from among the prisoners. Films were shown. The prison library provided books and newspapers for every cell. I was asked to give a course of Latin classes to the infirmary staff. The young people followed all these classes with avidity and showed no despair at all.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 312

“For the moment you will go into the political section, corridor nine; you’ll find a couple of your comrades there. Your cell will be open all day. You will be able to walk around freely and do some sunbathing. You’ll receive “political’ rations; you’ve got nothing to complain about. Better than in Italy,” concluded the clerk, with a slightly mocking smile.
I did indeed find two political prisoners there…. They took me for a walk in the garden and acquainted me with the general lay-out of the prison. We politicals were given free run of the yards and some of the buildings. The same privilege was also permitted those who “worked” and in general to all who were well-dressed and looked like “intelligentsia.”
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 338

The organization of the Trotskyist prisoners called itself the “Collective of the Verkhne-Uralsk Leninist Bolsheviks.” It was divided into Left-wing, Center, and Right-wing. This division into three sections persisted during the three years of my stay, although the composition of the sections and even their ideologies were subject to certain fluctuations.
Upon my arrival at Verkhne-Uralsk I found three programs and two Trotskyist newspapers….
Right-wing and Center, between them, published Pravda in Prison (Truth in Prison), the Left-wing The Militant Bolshevik. These newspapers appeared either once a month or every two months. Each copy contained 10 to 20 articles in the form of separate writing books. The “copy”, ’.e. the packet of 10 to 20 writing books, circulated from ward to ward and the prisoners read the notebooks in turn. The papers appeared in three copies, one copy for each prison-wing.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 211

All these preoccupations of the Trotskyist majority left me indifferent. Their outlook was not very different from that of the Stalinist bureaucracy; they were slightly more polite and human, that was all.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 263

It should also be mentioned that all of Trotsky’s works, and those of socialists and anarchists that had lawfully been published in the USSR before the groups that produced them had been forbidden, were in no way subjected to a GPU ban and were therefore not confiscated when in the possession of prisoners. We could lawfully read the works of Trotsky, Plekhanov, Martov, Kropotkin and Bakunin. But from 1934 onwards all these books, though lawfully published, were beginning to be confiscated.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 231

The great mass of the prison population, the plebians as it were of that world, was made up of the most varied categories. In the first place there was a group of 200 employed on all sorts of work inside the prison; attending to and supervising the other prisoners, looking after the bath-house, working in the hospital, running the ambulance service, working in the kitchen, the store-rooms, the barbershop, in the prison office and the various “cultural” departments, cleaning the cells and doing internal guard duties. There were only a very few paid workers from the outside–in fact, only the Governor, the heads of the various departments, and the doctors.
Ciliga, Ante, The Russian Enigma. London: Ink Links, 1979, p. 347

One of the big differences between the Hitler and the Stalin systems was the treatment of the weak and sick. A man who fell sick in Auschwitz was at once gassed or shot. But in Stalin’s camps, for all their cruelty, the attitude to the sick prescribed from above was, if such a word can be used in this context, almost humane… The deaths were not planned. Those who were meant to die were killed outright, but a great number of others died through disorganization and neglect. As I mentioned earlier, daily reports had to go to the central administration of the camps and if the mortality rate surpassed a given level, something was done. Eighty per cent was too much. The camp commandant, Razin, and his whole staff were dismissed; the commandant was tried and condemned either to death or to a long term of imprisonment. The camp system was able to provide workers for remote regions and at the same time isolate those considered dangerous to the State, but it was not intended to kill them off. The corrective was the medical department. The doctors recruited from among the prisoners were good and devoted men who at great sacrifice saved many people from death. True, there were some monsters among them as well, but on the whole the hospitals were islands of humanity.
Berger, Joseph. Nothing but the Truth. New York, John Day Co. 1971, p. 197

LARGE NUMBERS OF IMPRISONED PEOPLE CONTINUED TO SUPPORT STALIN & STRONG METHODS

Why did large numbers of regime supporters continue to believe in Stalin, the Bolshevik Party, and the necessity for repression even after they themselves had spent years in labor camps as victims of that very system?
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 9

In the face of Hitler’s all too real conspiracy, the bogus conspiracies of previous years were as if forgotten. Survivors of the crushed oppositions, who could be useful in the war effort, were brought out of concentration camps and assigned to important national work. Tukhachevsky’s disciples, who had been cashiered and deported, were rushed back to military headquarters. Among them, according to one reliable report, was Rokossovsky, the victor of Stalingrad, a former Polish Communist, who had served as liaison officer between Tukhachevsky’s staff and the Comintern. Professor Ramzin, the head of the ‘Industrial Party’, who, in the early 30s had been charged with conspiracy and compact with a foreign power, was released, acclaimed for his services, and awarded the highest prizes and metals. Professor Ustrialov, who had in fact advocated the transformation of the Soviets into a nationalist-bourgeois republic, reappeared as a contributor to leading Moscow newspapers.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 486

Galina Serebryakova, who spent nearly 20 years in Siberia from this time, had been married to two leading victims, Serebryakov and Sokolnikov. Through all this, she retained her Party-mindedness, and after her rehabilitation spoke up warmly at writers meetings in 1962 and 1963 against the liberalizing trends.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 165

Most of the close relations of those accused had been arrested, but more of the descendants of the second and third trial survived than had been assumed. The most prominent of the survivors was Galina Serebryakova, who was best known as an author of children’s books and who had been married first to Serebryakov later to Sokolnikov; she had returned to Moscow under Khrushchev. Like some other prominent figures, such as Mrs. Karp-Molotov, her faith in the party was unbroken; she remained a conservative figure opposed to the anti-Stalinist thaw.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 81

No wonder so many people were delighted at the harsh sentences passed on most of the Old Bolsheviks. One sometimes heard a prisoner say that he would now willingly accept whatever fate was in store for him-it was enough for him to have lived to see this day.
Berger, Joseph. Nothing but the Truth. New York, John Day Co. 1971, p. 157

One day a very young, disheveled man was dragged in, resisting violently; he started hammering on the cell door as soon as it closed. and walked straight up to Dubinsky and Ivanov… He sat down on Ivanov’s bed, and began to curse as I had rarely heard anyone curse before.
The terrifying thing was that he cursed the Government, the leaders and even Stalin himself by name. It was dangerous for all who listened. Ivanov reminded him that he might be overheard by spies.
‘Let them listen,’ said the boy. ‘What have I got to lose?’ He told us that he too had belonged to the Opposition-‘and don’t we see just how right we were!’…
We listened, too astonished to say anything. Then the door opened, the boy was removed and we never heard of him again.
The reaction of the prisoners was characteristic. Some remained silent. Others whispered: ‘Poor chap! What he must have been through!’ But nearly all said loudly: ‘There’s a really dangerous counter-revolutionary for you.’ A former lawyer even made a speech, justifying the Government’s repressive measures by its need to ‘defend itself against such desperate criminals.’ Had the unfortunate stranger been tried, not by a special court but by the inmates of this cell, all of them accused of counter-revolutionary activity, they would undoubtedly have condemned him to be shot. In other words, they might well have judged him more severely than the court.
Berger, Joseph. Nothing but the Truth. New York, John Day Co. 1971, p. 158

EXILES COULD WORK IN THEIR TRADE IN EXILE AREAS

[December 23rd 1935 NKVD/Procuracy circular on employment of exiles]
1. Persons exiled or deported administratively on the basis of a decision by the Special Board of the NKVD of the USSR as, for instance, engineers, technicians, physicians, agronomists, bookkeepers, and skilled laborers, may be employed in their specialties in institutions and enterprises in those localities where they have been permitted to reside, with the exception of those persons who have been deprived, by the decision of the special board, of the right to engage in their occupation in their places of exile or deportation.
NOTE: Persons mentioned in the Item #1 above may not be employed in work of a secret character or in institutions and enterprises pertaining to defense. Exceptions to this rule may be made in individual cases with the permission of the NKVD of the USSR.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 185

4. The children of persons mentioned in item #1 above, deported or exiled as dependents of their parents, are permitted to transfer to educational institutions in their places of exile or deportation.
5. In delivering the NKVD special board’s decision to exiles or deportees, the organs of the NKVD are obligated to explain to them their right to work in their professional specialty in places of exile or deportation and to issue them the appropriate certificates.
Signed: NKVD Commissar, Yagoda and Procurator of the USSR, Vyshinsky
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 186

[Supplement to protocol #36]
1. Restrictions based on the social origin of the applicant or on the disfranchisement of the applicant’s parents as they pertain to admission to institutions of higher education and technical colleges are to be abolished….
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 186

VYSHINSKY ARGUES FOR JUST TREATMENT OF PRISONERS

In February 1936 USSR Procurator Vyshinsky had complained to Stalin that NKVD officials were refusing to release prisoners whom procurators had ordered freed for lack of evidence. NKVD chief Yagoda had replied that procurators and courts were incompetent; procurators could “suggest” release of prisoners, but the decision should remain in the hands of the NKVD. On February 16th, Stalin wrote to Molotov, “Comrade Molotov: it seems to me that Vyshinsky is right.”
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 219

Between 1932 in 1936, Vyshinsky stood for the opposite on each of these points, advocating instead due process, careful judgments on the basis of evidence, a strong role for defense lawyers in all cases, firm legal codes that applied equally to the entire population, and a strengthening of law.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 6

In February 1936 Vyshinsky wrote to Molotov, Stalin’s right-hand man in the Politburo and chairman of the Sovnarkom (Council of Ministers), to call for a reduction of the NKVD’s administrative powers. The commissariat’s Special Session, its internal tribunal, deliberated without calling witnesses or the accused, especially in cases of counter-revolutionary agitation and “expression of terrorist intentions.” In the process, serious mistakes could occur. Vyshinsky wanted the “maximum limitation” placed on the Special Session’s right to hear cases; he believed they should go instead through the regular courts, following normal judicial procedure. For cases that continued in the Special Session, the Procuracy should be allowed to make a “most careful check of investigative materials” and to obtain the release of prisoners if it found no basis for further action.
… Instead he believed that attention should be paid to objective evidence. He publicly attacked the NKVD’s secret procedures, because, unlike open show trials, they “served no educative or legitimating functions.” In an article published shortly thereafter, one of many similar pieces, he warned against violations of law and poor investigative procedures. He gave several examples of how not to operate,…
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 7

In discussing Yezhov’s report, only two contributions struck a highly discordant note. One of them, no matter how strange this might seem at first glance, belonged to Vyshinsky, who spoke about actual shortcomings in the activity of the NKVD. First of all, he read several transcripts of interrogations which were filled with vulgar abuse from the investigators and which testified to their unconcealed application of pressure on the people under arrest. After citing the words of one peripheral investigator which were directed at a person under arrest: “Do not remain silent and do not play games…. Prove that this is not so,” Vyshinsky explained to the plenum’s participants that the accused should not have to prove his innocence, but, on the contrary, the investigator has to prove the guilt of the accused.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 278

In July 1934, Vyshinsky, as Deputy State Prosecutor, even issued an order to local prosecutors to cease making engineers and directors scapegoats for administrative failures. He strongly deprecated indiscriminate prosecutions. He stated that he had lately had to quash a large number of sentences wrongly pronounced by Siberian courts. He definitely forbade any further arrests of this kind.
Webb, S. Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation. London, NY: Longmans, Green, 1947, p. 363

NUMBERS GIVEN FOR THOSE IN PRISON ARE FAR TOO HIGH

Until the Soviet government releases figures–if it has them–the controversy on numbers will continue. All that we can say on the present evidence is that an unusually large number of men–very few women seem to have been involved–appear to have been in labor camps at the time for one reason or another, and that an unknown number of those arrested were executed.
In addition to those executed, a large number were said to have died in the labor camps from malnutrition and ill-treatment. Conquest argues that 90 percent of those imprisoned in the labor camps perished. But this does not make any sense, for the camps were, after all, labor camps–lumbering, road building, Canal construction, mining, farming, and so on–and there would be no point in having 90 percent of the workers perish if the state wanted to get the work done. No doubt some people died in the camps, as in any prison camp, but again, the numbers will remain speculative unless statistics become available.
But the question of numbers, however, of imprisonments or debts, is not the essential question. The basic issues are those of motivation and guilt. Why were these people arrested? What had they done? Why was the penal code amended to secure swift arrest and imprisonment? The underlying, indeed sometimes outspoken thesis of Khrushchev, Medvedev, Conquest, and others is that of a sadistic persecution of innocent people by an insane dictator. But this view smacks more of sensationalist journalism than of social analysis. Moreover, Stalin alone could not have initiated the prosecutions. Even if the whole Party leadership was not involved, the central leadership certainly was. At the time, this inner core of leaders included Molotov, Kaganovich, Zhdanov, Voroshilov, and Manuilsky. Thus, if the professional anti-Stalinists are to be believed, we are confronted with not one insane dictator but a group of insane dictators. When we consider the records of these men, their years of heroic revolutionary work, and their determined struggle for socialist industrialization, it is clear that, mistaken or not, they must have believed they were acting in the face of a threat to socialism. They were all responsible and serious men, not men who would persecute for the sake of persecution or who would lightly endorse executions.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 128

(Sheila Fitzpatrick)
From the recent researches of Zemskov and Dugin in the NKVD archives, it appears that the highest Western estimates on the size and mortality rate of the GULAG’S convict population were substantially exaggerated.
[Footnote: Conquest’s estimate of 8 million political prisoners (not including common criminals) in labor camps at the end of 1938 is almost 20 times greater than the figure of under half a million “politicals” in the GULAG cited by Dugin from the NKVD archives, and four times as great as the total GULAG and prison population cited by Zemskov from the same source. According to Zemskov’s figures, the entire convict population (including both “politicals” and “criminals”) of the GULAG’S labor camps and labor colonies on January 1, 1939, numbered 1,672,438, with an additional 350,538 prisoners held in jails in mid-January of the same year–a total of a little over 2 million.]
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 248

(Alec Nove)
Figures purporting to represent the number of victims of “Stalinist repression” are also subject to definitional ambiguity. This particularly affects exiles. These range from those who were given a minus (i.e., could live anywhere “minus” a list of forbidden cities) through to those exiled to remote areas often under harsh conditions, but not kept behind wire.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 262

In 1937, the average number detained in the GULAG was given by the Soviet historian Zemskov as 994,000, the total rising to a maximum of 1,360,019 in 1939. It follows that the larger part of the detainees were not “technically” in the Gulag, but rather in prison, “colonies,” and [special settlements]. The same conclusion is suggested by the evidence for 1939 (unless we suppose all the evidence to be faked in the archives).
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 269

Dugin has studied tables showing numbers “in” and “out” of detention for the period 1930-53, and comes to the conclusion that the probable total number passing through camps, colonies, and prisons in the whole period came to 11.8 million or 8,803,000 for the period 1937-50. He also reproduces a table showing numbers in [camps and colonies] on Jan. 1, 1946, to be 1,371,986 of which 516,592 were condemned for counter-revolutionary activities (203,607 for “treason to the Motherland,” 15,499 for “spying,” etc.). These figures naturally exclude exiles and possibly also the prison population. He criticizes those (including Roy Medvedev & Solzhenitsyn, as well as Conquest) who persist in citing much higher figures that cannot be supported by evidence….
Another source gives the following figures: Emelin, a military historian, states that in June 1941 there were 2.3 million [detainees], which may be the total for the Gulag, colonies, and prisons, excluding [special settlements]. By the end of 1941, 420,000 of these detainees were serving in the Red Army. In 1941-43 a million “previously sentenced” persons were serving.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 271

The new material on labor camps and other repressed groups has tended to confirm my arguments that the level of population in the Gulag system in the late 1930s was below 4 to 5 million. Zemskov’s figures indicate that the Gulag population (excluding colonies) reached an early peak of 1.5 million in January 1941, and this can be reconciled with Nekrasov’s figures of 2.3 million at the beginning of the war, if we include prisoners in labor colonies and jail. There were also at this time a large number of [special settlements]: By 1939, according to both Ivnitsky & Zemskov, there were only 0.9 million of the original five or so million former kulaks in their place of exile. Even if we allow another 1.5 million for Baltic and other mass groups in [special re-settlements], there would still be in the order of about 4 million. Although this represents to my mind a sufficiently large and disgraceful scale of inhumanity, these are very much smaller figures than have been proposed by Conquest and Rosefielde in the West and by Medvedev & Ovseenko in the USSR.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 290

The question of how many [deaths of prisoners] will not be settled by this or any other discussion. In the former USSR claims continue to appear that high totals are correct, though they are not supported by substantial documentation. Those who see more deaths of prisoners than are indicated by existing data are abandoning the best kinds of evidence used in any other field in favor of speculation.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 140

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s numerous people were arrested and sent to the labor re-education camps which, after their transformation in 1937, became penal colonies, functioning to aid the construction of the virgin regions. The number of people so confined has been subject to wild speculation in the extensive anti-Soviet literature that developed with the onset of the cold war. Estimates in these sources for those interned in 1938 range from 2 to 12 million; many such estimates are based on the self-interested speculation and rumors of those once assigned to the camps. Others are based on such factors as alleged discrepancies in Soviet census data, where it is assumed that apparent discrepancies between different grand totals are equal to the number of people in (or on the pay-roll of) the labor camps, discrepancies between projections of populations assuming a particular ‘normal’ birth and death rate and the number of people actually reported in a census; the number of newspaper subscriptions (multiplied by the alleged number of people who read a paper) etc.. These highly speculative estimates have been subject to a careful review and criticism by British Soviet expert, Wheatcroft (1981). After examining the statistical discrepancies, population projections, etc. on which estimates in the Western literature are based, Wheatcroft argues as follows about the logical maximum of the number that could have been in the labor camps in 1939:
[In 1938 one of the 38 labor camp clusters, Vorkuta, was known to have 15,000 people under detention. To quote Wheatcroft], ” Vorkuta was certainly one of the better-known camps, and there is no indication that it was smaller than average. Assuming the Vorkuta population to be typical gives an estimate of less than 600,000 for the total of those confined in 1938.”
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 245

… The coincidence of the figures based on known information about the Vorkuta administration and the number of camp administrations, together with a reasonable ratio applied to the disenfranchisement data gives great credibility to an estimate of roughly one million people working in the labor camps in the 1937-38 period, or about .5% of the Soviet population.
For a sense of the significance of this figure it can be pointed out that in 1978, out of a total U.S. black population of 23 million, about 200,000 (roughly 1%) were incarcerated.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 246

To look a little further ahead, “forced labor” in the Soviet Union was to be used, especially after 1947, as the most potent weapon of anti-Soviet propaganda. The most fraudulent figures, bearing no relation whatsoever to the real facts, were produced by “Russian experts,” the biggest fraud of all being the seemingly academic and scholarly work by two old Mensheviks, David Dallin and Boris Nicolaevsky. Anyone who dared challenge their assertion in their Forced Labor in Russia that the camp population was around 10 or 12 million people was treated ipso facto as a communist or Soviet agent, though even the most elementary study of the problem would have shown up the utter absurdity of the Dallin-Nicolaevsky figures.”
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.,1971, p. 34

It must be acknowledged that none of the data that we yet possess will allow us to arrive at an entirely reliable estimate of the number of arrests in those years.
The more so, since data that became available on the population in Soviet concentration camps are far from confirming traditional assessments.
… the fact that apparently 3,378,234 people had been sentenced “for counter-revolutionary and state crimes”… by courts and extra-judicial bodies during the whole period between 1930 and 1953, does not seem to signal anything near the order of magnitude of the estimates authors usually advance for the number of arrests in 1936-38…. Nevertheless, all the indications are that the figures quoted by the traditional literature are incompatible with the available evidence….
It seems very likely that a less tendentious selection in a more systematic reading of the source material than those made by the authors of the traditional version would alter our view of this crucial period in Soviet history. Seeing how inadequate the literature is which provides our knowledge, it is unlikely that any researcher who devotes himself to the considerable task of sifting through such a vast and unexplored wealth of source material would be motivated merely by perversity. But of course it all depends on the sources which he analyzes and the problems with which he tries to come to grips.
Thus even if there is no reason to question the sincerity of most of the authors of those memoirs, on which most of the “classical” literature is based, the frequent occurrence in their accounts of themes like the role of Kirov as an opponent of Stalin as shown at the 17th Congress, or the systematic extermination of the old guard of the Party, is such as to throw a degree of doubt on the accuracy of the information that they give, and the relevance of their explanations of the whys and wherefores of historical events across the country at large.
Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 13-15

In 1993, for the first time, several historians gained access to previously secret Soviet police archives and were able to establish well-documented estimates of prison and labor camp populations. They found that the total population of the entire gulags as of January 1939, near the end of the Great Purges, was 2,022,976. At about that time, there began a purge of the purgers, including many intelligence and secret police (NKVD) officials and members of the judiciary and other investigative committees, who were suddenly held responsible for the excesses of the terror despite their protestations of fidelity to the regime.
…Despite harsh conditions, the great majority of gulag inmates survived and eventually returned to society when granted amnesty or when their terms were finished. In any given year, 20 to 40% of the inmates were released, according to archive records .
Almost a million Gulag prisoners were released during World War II to serve in the military. The archives reveal that more than half of all gulag deaths for the 1934-53 period occurred during the war years (1941-45), mostly from malnutrition, when severe privatization was the common lot of the entire Soviet population. (Some 22 million Soviet citizens perished in the war.) In 1944, for instance, the labor-camp death rate was 92 per 1000. By 1953, with the postwar recovery, camp deaths had declined to three per 1000.
Parenti, Michael. Blackshirts and Reds, San Francisco: City Light Books, 1997, p. 79

As to the dismal swamp of the aggregate numbers directly involved in the Terror, I did not write much about them, nor did I offer my own estimate. I simply said that my findings tend to support the lower of the available calculations, and they do. As for Weissberg’s and Beck and Godin’s estimates, I believe they are fraught with uncertainties.
First, as Weissberg admitted, he may have counted many prisoners twice; how many, he did not know. I have found numerous cases of prisoners transferred from prison to prison, from camp to camp, from camp to prison, and the like.
Second, as I have shown, there is serious reason to challenge his idea on prisoner turnover.
Third, his account does not make clear how he knew that all he counted came only from Kharkov and vicinity; any number may have come from much farther away [which would raise the total number], which would require lowering the percentage arrested.
Fourth, we simply do not know how typical Kharkov or any other place was. Moscow, Leningrad, and other large cities certainly had substantial prisons and inmate populations; but did Omsk, Vologda, and Kursk have them? I do not know, and I will wait for evidence.
Fifth, at least one of these careful calculations of a camp’s size has been seriously undermined in light of more specific evidence: two Poles who were not in the Vorkutstroi system estimated that it contained 250,000 prisoners by 1938. Since they wrote, an actual inmate has published the figures of just over 15,000 in 1938 and 19,000 in 1941.
Sixth, I am not convinced that we should take the word of NKVD officers on the aggregate figures. They may have tried to protect themselves by arguing that they were part of some massive process that overwhelmed them along with everyone else; this impression is left by remarks one of them made to Weissberg. It is hard for me to believe that anyone much below Ezhov and Stalin could ever have learned hard information on the grand totals.
Finally, prisoners made their estimates of the numbers in all sorts of unscientific ways. Gustav Herling remembered that the amateur statisticians he knew in the cells based their estimates on “stories, scraps of conversation overheard in corridors, old newspapers found in the latrine, administrative orders, movements of vehicles in the courtyards, and even the sound of advancing and receding footsteps in front of the gate. Clearly, he and his fellow prisoners did not have numbered receipts at their disposal, and I have not seen them mentioned in this fashion in any other account. No prisoner was in a position to have firsthand knowledge of the total number of prisoners on any scale larger than a small quantity of cells or camps.
I am not saying that Weissberg’s or any other estimate is wrong, merely that I have much less confidence in any method of calculation than Conquest does. To repeat a point made in my article, available evidence is so fragmentary that it must be interpreted with great caution.
Thurston, Robert W. “On Desk-Bound Parochialism, Commonsense Perspectives, and Lousy Evidence: A Reply to Robert Conquest.” Slavic Review 45 (1986), 242-243.

BOLSHEVIKS TRY TO RE-EDUCATE PRISONERS FIGHTING AGAINST THEIR OWN INTERESTS

Menzhinsky, head of the OGPU, who died recently, once explained to me at length how absurd it was in principle to tax the political Party which directs the Soviet Union with cruelty or indifference to human life, since its ultimate aim is to bring everyone in the world together and to work for universal peace. And, in fact, he pointed out to me that the revolutionary police, brothers of the great mass of workers, are constantly on the lookout for any opportunity for “setting right” or “curing” not only common law prisoners (on this side of prison organization the Bolsheviks have carried patience and indulgence to an almost paradoxical point), but also political prisoners. Communists start from the double principle that transgressors of the common law are people who do not understand their own interests and are ruining their own lives, and that the best thing to do is to impress this upon them, and that the enemies of the proletarian revolution, the forerunner of universal Revolution, are equally (if they are sincere) people who are mistaken, and that the best thing is to prove it to them. Hence the constant effort to turn every kind of prison into a place of education.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 84

EXILED PEOPLE WERE ALLOWED TO RETURN

… he (Generalov) was sent to an obscure job in Siberia. Allowed to return at the end of 1933 and reinstated in the Party, he was, however, relegated to Dniepropetrovsk, again on low-level routine work under bureaucratic bosses of the new order, who treated him as an inferior creature. It was then that he married Shura.

Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 9

CC PLENUM COMPLAINS THAT PRISONS ARE TOO COMFORTABLE AND LIKE REST HOMES

[Resolution of the Plenum the Central Committee, March 3, 1937, on Yezhov’s report of what was learned from the sabotage, subversion, and espionage committed by Japanese and German Trotskyite agents]

The major defects in the work of state security agencies that have decisively contributed to the delay in unmasking the Trotskyite anti-Soviet organization continue to be:

… d) Even more intolerable is the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs prison policy for the most vile convicted enemies of the Soviet government, the Trotskyites, Zinovievites, Rightists, Socialist-Revolutionaries, and others.

As a rule these enemies of the people have been sent to so-called political isolation facilities supervised by the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. The political isolation facilities have been quite comfortable, resembling involuntary rest homes more than prisons.

Inmates in the isolated political prisons have had the opportunity to talk to each other, to discuss all political events in the country, to elaborate political plans of anti-Soviet activity for their organizations, and to establish contacts outside of prison. The prisoners have enjoyed access to literature, paper, and writing tools in unlimited quantity, and the right to receive unlimited numbers of letters and telegrams, to acquire their own equipment in their cells, and to receive along with prison food parcels from outside prison in any quantity or assortment.

Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 114

During the purges of the 1930s, he [Stalin] would support a proposal by Yezhov that the system for holding political prisoners be altered. At Stalin’s instigation, the February-March 1937 Central Committee plenum introduced a special point into the decree on Yezhov’s report, namely, that ‘the prison regime for enemies of Soviet power (Trotskyites, Zinovievites, SR’s, etc.) is intolerable. The prisons resemble nothing so much as compulsory rest homes. [The prisoners] are allowed to socialize, they can write letters to each other at will, receive parcels and so on. Steps were taken, of course. There was to be no question of ‘universities’ for these unfortunates.

Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 9

Neither orally nor in writing did Stalin ever call publicly for the repressions of 1937-38 to be intensified. Even the speech he gave at the February-March 1937 plenum, published in abridged form in Pravda, amounted only to a call for greater vigilance against the danger of Trotskyism and so on…. he edited [rewrote] the resolution on Yezhov’s report to the February-March 1937 plenum, including the following points:

…c. The system that has been created for enemies of the Soviet regime is intolerable. Their accommodation often resembles compulsory nursing homes more than prison (they write letters, receive parcels and so on).

Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991 , p. 336

The resolution [of late Feb. 1937] on Yezhov’s report repeated the formulation of the September telegram from Stalin and Zhdanov about being late in exposing the Trotskyists. It indicated that the NKVD “already in 1932-1933 had all the necessary threads in its hands to completely expose the monstrous conspiracy of the Trotskyists against the Soviet regime.”

… It [the resolution] said that the previous leadership of the NKVD, having carried out “an incorrect correctional policy, particularly with regard to Trotskyists,” had established “an intolerable…prison regime when it came to the convicts who were the most vicious enemies of the Soviet regime–Trotskyists, Zinovievists, Rightists, SR’s, and others. As a rule, all these enemies of the people had been sent to so-called political isolators, which…provided beneficial conditions and were more apt to resemble mandatory rest homes than prisons…. Those under arrest were given the right to enjoy literature, paper and writing utensils in an unlimited quantity, to receive an unlimited number of letters and telegrams, to outfit their cells with personal effects, and to receive, along with official nourishment, packages from outside the prison in any quantity and assortment.”

Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 280

Still, compared with the camps of later years, Solovki was almost a luxury resort. It had a theater (” Paris of the North”), a newspaper, and visits from close relatives were occasionally permitted. The number of political prisoners counted in the tens of thousands rather than millions. According to official reports, there were 800,000 inmates in the labor camps all over the Soviet Union in 1934, but this figure may have included criminals. There were few Communists among the inmates; instead, the inmates were mainly people deemed to be “class enemies,” that is to say, of “bourgeois” origin, rather liberally interpreted.

Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner’s, c1990, p. 72

PRISONERS WHO HELPED CONSTRUCT THE BALTIC-WHITE SEA CANAL GET REDUCED TERMS

[Resolution of the USSR Central Executive Committee, Sept. 1, 1932, on privileges for convict-workers at the White Sea-Baltic Canal construction site]

… In connection with the successful completion of the basic work on the White Sea-Baltic Waterway, this great new accomplishment of the Soviet regime, the USSR Central Executive Committee resolves:

1. To give the Unified State Political Directorate [OGPU] the right to free those prisoners who distinguished themselves on the construction project from serving the remainder of their sentences, and where needed, from serving supplementary sentences.

2. To instruct the OGPU to grant to all other prisoners (participants who worked conscientiously in the construction of the White Sea-Baltic Waterway), in addition to existing ordinary privileges in the corrective labor camps, a reduction in the term of measures taken to insure the defense of society.

3. To instruct the OGPU to present for review by the USSR Central Executive Committee the expunging of the convictions of those freed in accordance with paragraph 1 of this resolution.

Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 153

To trace down all the criminals, old and new types, is a big enough job, and requires a large police force. But the Soviet police also have many constructive tasks, as I have already suggested. Because they are in charge of all the men and women put at forced labor, and because tens of thousands of people have been sentenced to such labor, the police operate some of the greatest construction and industrial enterprises in Russia. They have built such great public works as the Baltic-White Sea canal and the Moscow-Volga canal; they have double-tracked the trans-Siberian Railway for 2200 miles, using an army of at least 100,000 men and women prisoners for this purpose, who labored without any pause during three of the severe Siberian winters. The police also construct many of the main highways of Russia, especially the great new strategic motor roads.

Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 202

[In 1931] at first specialists were returned to their former places under the supervision of OGPU bodies, then a “pardon” was declared for a number of individuals previously labeled “saboteurs” in view of their readiness to work for the good of socialism.

Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 98

Being human, the prisoners whose labour brought Norilsk into being naturally hoped their work and their devotion to their country would be recognized, and that their sentences would be shortened, but I can testify that their primary motive was to defeat Hitler.

At the end of the war what happened was that the free salaried men, who directed the work, received decorations and promotion while some prisoners who had overfulfilled their norms, even some held under Article 58, were let off one, two, three or four years of their sentence. Of course, if they were serving a sentence of twenty or twenty-five years this did not mean very much, but at least it was taken as a good omen.

Berger, Joseph. Nothing but the Truth. New York, John Day Co. 1971, p. 206

THOSE PRISONERS WHO FOUGHT FOR THE POLES IN SEPT 1939 RECEIVE FAIR TREATMENT

[NKVD order, Oct. 3, 1939, on disposition of prisoners of war in Soviet camps]

The following resolution of the Central Committee of the all Russian Communist Party dated October 2 concerning prisoners of war is reproduced below for your information and guidance:

Approve the following proposals of comrades Beria and Mekhlis:

… 1. Prisoners of war of Ukrainian, Byelorussians, and other nationalities whose homes are located in the western Ukraine and western Byelorussia will be allowed to go home.

2. 25,000 prisoners of war will be kept to build the Novograd-Volynskii-Korets-Lvov Road until the end of December.

3. Prisoners of war whose homes are located in the German part of Poland will be assigned to a separate category and will be detained in the camps until negotiations with the Germans begin and the issue of their repatriation is resolved.

… 6. The Czech detainees (approximately 800 individuals) will be released after they have signed a pledge not to fight against the USSR.

… 8. Officer prisoners of war will receive better rations than enlisted prisoners of war.

… 10. All prisoners of war, including officers and enlisted men, will be required to surrender all valuables and any money over the limit established by the POW Affairs Administration to the administrations of the camps for safekeeping in exchange for a receipt.

… 3. All POWs whose homes are located in the German part of Poland will be temporarily confined to camps. We must explain to them that they will be repatriated in an orderly manner after our negotiations with the Germans on this issue.

4. All other enlisted POWs, including Ukrainians, Byelorussians, and other nationalities whose homes are located in our territory, should be immediately sent home. They should be given all possible assistance, including advice, in getting home. Major political indoctrination efforts should be initiated for these POWs to remind them that they will soon be citizens of the USSR. The soldiers should be informed of the forthcoming sessions of the two popular assemblies and the issues they will decide. The platform we are using in the election campaign should be explained to the soldiers. The indoctrinators should try to get the soldiers to become activists and advocates for our platform.

Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 163

VYSHINKY DEMANDS FAIRER AND MORE JUST TREATMENT OF PRISONERS

With the object of “overinsuring” themselves, procurators were wrongly classifying cases under Article 58. Clearly trying to slow the momentum of the Terror, [in February 1938] Vyshinsky now stipulated that procurators at each level had to have approval from a superior procurator to bring counter-revolutionary charges.
In mid-March [1938] Vyshinsky continued to work against mass political arrests when he complained to Stalin and Molotov about improper counterrevolutionary charges against railroad personnel. He noted that during 1937, procurators took cases to the courts and obtained convictions with ten-year sentences for mere “formal violations of the rules of technical exploitation, in the absence of harmful consequences and evil intentions.” Vyshinsky proposed that all such cases be reviewed in the four months following….
In early February Vyshinsky also began to condemn the use of torture. He informed Yezhov’s assistant Frinovsky that, according to a military procurator in Kiev, prisoners there had been beaten and forced to stand for long periods. Vyshinsky’s concern was partly practical: the ill treatment had become widely known in the area after some of the abused had been released “owing to the complete groundlessness of their cases.” Yet Vyshinsky appeared to be genuinely angry; he referred to “direct fabrication of cases” and demanded that the guilty NKVDisty be arrested. “Slanderers,” or false denouncers, were convicted of wrongdoing by July 1938 at the latest and were sent to prison.
In late March the Procuracy Council referred in general to the “beating of honest Soviet people,” which it ascribed to penetration of its own agency by enemies. All procurators were now instructed to “strengthen the principles of judicial Soviet democracy” and to oppose sentences they disagreed with. At the same time Vyshinsky wrote to Yezhov to protest sleep deprivation and threats against a prisoner, which induced him to sign a statement that he was in an anti-Soviet group. The procurator-general planned to investigate and bring the guilty to justice.
Two days later Vyshinsky wrote to Malenkov, again mentioning enemies within the Procuracy. “In a number of places,” he indicated, citizens had been prosecuted without cause. As a result, higher levels of the Procuracy and judiciary had quashed many cases. Within weeks Vyshinsky’s officials were busy across the country investigating charges against prisoners and cases already decided, with an eye to weeding out the groundless ones. In June he ordered procurators to refer all cases involving the death penalty to him personally or, in his absence, to a deputy. Then on July 25 the Procuracy Council required all counterrevolutionary cases to be cleared by the procurator-general’s office in Moscow; a staff of 12 people would be assigned to review them. As of August 1, no new cases were to go to the troiki, though in fact some did. These changes represented further major steps toward halting the Terror.
By early August an oblast-level prosecutor had been tried, on Vyshinsky’s initiative, for bringing political charges without sufficient evidence. The accused had also classified some ordinary crimes, for example, malfeasance, as counter-revolutionary. Pravda announced that this “overinsurer,” who had carried out orders of enemies of the people, had received a 5-year sentence. In October the former prosecutor of the city of Omsk was sentenced to two years for sanctioning illegal arrests without “penetrating the essence of the case.” These reports were powerful indications to the justice system about how not to operate.
… By this time the judiciary had switched almost completely from facilitating the Terror to opposing it.
Vyshinsky, never a hero but brave enough to criticize the NKVD while Yezhov ran it, remained in important positions for the rest of Stalin’s life. Without the Gensec’s approval, the Procuracy would never have taken the steps it did to protest and curb the Terror.
… But by this point, or earlier, the NKVD had relinquished a great deal of power; conscientious party officials could thwart the agency, while Vyshinsky repeatedly challenged its practices.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 109-112

SCIENTISTS WHO CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIETY FROM PRISON HAVE THEIR SENTENCES REDUCED

Scientists whose lives were spared were put to work in camp and prison laboratories under the supervision of the 4th special section of the Ministry of the Interior…. Quick results were what mattered, and when they were achieved, Stalin could even show a little kindness, sometimes reducing a sentence or even releasing a prisoner. Beria’a agency kept Stalin constantly informed of the work of the scientists in the prisons and camps….
And on February 1951 Kruglov reported that:
“in 1947 prisoner-specialist Abramson (sentenced to 10 years) proposed a new and original system for an economic automobile carburetor. Tests on a ZIS-150 produced a fuel saving of 10.9%. It is proposed that Abramson, mechanical engineer Ardzhevanidze and engine-builder Tsvetkov have their sentences reduced by two years.
I request your decision.
Stalin gave his consent.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 556

PRISONERS CHANGED THEIR VIEWS OF MARXISM IN PRISON

There is no doubt that not only nonpolitical defendants, but even strong political opponents can be broken by the “Yezhov method.” In this connection the statements of the Bulgarian Protestant pastors in their February 1949 Trial are the most relevant, since no one could possibly argue that loyalty to Party or creed induced them. In their confessions, they all remarked that they now saw Communist rule of their country “in a new light.” In their final pleas, Pastor Naumov thanked the police for their “kindness and consideration” and said, “I have sinned against my people and against the whole world. This is my resurrection”; Pastor Diapkov was in tears as he admitted his guilt and said, “Do not make of me a useless martyr by giving me the death sentence. Help me to become a useful citizen and a hero of the Fatherland Front”; Pastor Bezlov, who had earlier stated that he had read 12,000 pages of Marxist literature while in prison and that this had entirely changed his outlook, declared, “I have now an intellectual appreciation of what the new life means and I want to play my part in it.”
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 126

LENIN WANTED THE PENAL CODE TO GIVE A BROAD DEFINITION OF COUNTER-REV. ACTIVITY

In his [Lenin] amendments to the project for the penal code, he insisted that the notion of “counter-revolutionary activity” should be given the widest possible interpretation. This definition was to be linked with the “international bourgeoisie” in such a way that this kind of crime became quite imprecise from a juridical point of view and thus left the way wide open for every kind of arbitrary action. Among other things, the crime would cover “propaganda and agitation” and “participation in or aid to an organization” which might benefit that part of the international bourgeoisie that does not recognize the Soviet regime’s equal rights with capitalist states and seeks to overthrow it by force. This definition was already broad enough, but what was worse, in view of the fact that the crime could carry capital punishment, was that it could be extended by analogy. Whoever “gave help objectively to that part of the international bourgeoisie” (which actively opposed the regime), and similarly whoever belonged to an organization within the country whose activities “might assist or be capable of assisting” this bourgeoisie, will also be guilty! This case shows that at this time Lenin was anxious to leave room for the use of terror or the threat of its use (not through the Cheka alone but through tribunals and a regular procedure) as long as the big capitalist countries continued to threaten the USSR.
Lenin, then, was very far from being a weak liberal, incapable of taking resolute action when necessary.
Lewin, Moshe. Lenin’s Last Struggle. New York: Pantheon Books. C1968, p. 133

GOOD PRISON ADMINISTRATORS WITH A GOOD KNOWLEDGE OF MARXISM WERE HARD TO FIND

One of the major difficulties in Russia, as everywhere else, is the matter of proper personnel. With the emphasis upon loyalty to Marxian and Leninist doctrine it is difficult to get men who are good Communists and at the same time have those personal qualities which make them good prison administrators and subtle molders of anti-social personalities. Here is where most of the departures from the ideals occur. Doubtless they happen in Russia as elsewhere. While the usual prison cruelties are forbidden by the Code, it is probable that they occur, due to this difficulty.
Davis, Jerome. The New Russia. New York: The John Day company, c1933, p. 238

WHICH COUNTRY HAS THE MOST PEOPLE IN PRISON

Countries with the most people in prison, 2004 (in thousands):
United States 2,079
China 1,549
Russia 847
India 314
Brazil 308
Thailand 214
Ukraine 198
South Africa 181
Mexico 175
Iran 164
Source: Newsweek International, January 2005

From Hitler to Hearst, from Conquest to Solzhenitsyn
In the United States of America, for example, a country of 252 million inhabitants (in 1996), the richest country in the world, which consumes 60% of the world’s resources, how many people are in prison? What is the situation in the US, a country not threatened by any war and where there are no deep social changes affecting economic stability?
In a rather small news item appearing in the newspapers of August 1997, the FLT-AP news agency reported that in the US there had never previously been so many people in the prison system as the 5.5 million held in 1996. This represents an increase of 200,000 people since 1995 and means that the number of criminals in the US equals 2.8% of the adult population. These data are available to all those who are part of the North American Department of Justice. The number of convicts in the US today is 3 million higher than the maximum number ever held in the Soviet Union! In the Soviet Union there was a maximum of 2.4% of the adult population in prison for their crimes – in the US the figure is 2.8%, and rising! According to a press release put out by the US Department of Justice on 18 January 1998, the number of convicts in the US in 1997 rose by 96,100.
As far as the Soviet labour camps were concerned, it is true that the regime was harsh and difficult for the prisoners, but what is the situation today in the prisons of the US, which are rife with violence, drugs, prostitution, sexual slavery (290,000 rapes a year in US prisons). Nobody fees safe in US prisons! And this today, and in a society richer than ever before!
Sousa, Mario. Lies Concerning the History of the Soviet Union, 15 June 1998.

The “Real Stalin” Series. Part Fifteen: Yezhovshshina

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NO RED TERROR

March 1, 1933–the outer world is beginning to talk about a new red terror in Russia, but, as explained previously, neither the Bolsheviks themselves nor leading sections of the Russian people consider it anything but “repressive measures” against class enemies and opponents of the socialization program.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 309

CLASS ENEMIES ARE NOT KILLED BUT RELOCATED

They [those opposing collectivization] are class enemies, and anyway we [the Bolsheviks] do not kill them; we take and put them to work somewhere else because their opposition where they are hampers the development of our socialist system.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 310

STALIN ARGUED WITH SECRET POLICE OVER THEM HAVING MORE POWERS

Not all the details are yet known of the strange struggle which Stalin carried on for years against his own secret police….
The leading members of the secret police, which had become a separate caste, were bound neither to any ideology nor to any party policy. What they wanted–in the name, of course, and for the benefit of, the party–was far-reaching powers and also certain material advantages. They wanted to remain what they had been in the civil war, a privileged class in the matter of power and of material conditions. They therefore kept up a continual struggle against any limitation of their authority. When Stalin sought to impose certain restrictions on their right to pronounce death sentences, they simply secured that the new courts which were to hear certain cases with the public excluded, should be formed from their own members, that is to say members of the police caste. Stalin’s continual pressure for more rigid supervision by organs of the party was just what drove Yagoda and his colleagues into opposition and later into conspiracy.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 236

PEOPLE UNJUSTLY ACCUSED AND DENOUNCED OTHERS TO GET AHEAD

In the capitals of almost all the federal republics there were further trials, but in the inverse direction. Everywhere now there were prosecutions of people who during the purge had denounced other people, traducing them out of excess of zeal or in order to advance themselves.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 312

Unbalanced by the relentless propaganda and by exhortations to show vigilance and fearing for their own safety, people denounced neighbors, colleagues, even members of their own families. Lines formed outside NKVD offices, as people waited patiently to file their denunciations. Terror degraded the whole nation.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 272

… various kinds of careerists and adventurers took advantage of the spy-and wrecker-phobia.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 437

Of course different prisoners behaved in different wayss. Some immediately complied with the desires of the investigators; without any sort of resistance they gave false testimony not only about themselves but about dozens and hundreds of their comrades…. Some of these weak-willed people went even further than the investigators demanded; they gained cruel satisfaction out of voluntarily denouncing co-workers and friends, demanding their arrest, though they had no doubt about their innocence.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 493

A denunciation to the NKVD was an easy way to get rid of athletic rivals.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 611

Under these conditions all sorts of careerists and scoundrels tried to use slander to destroy their enemies, to get a good job, an apartment or a neighbor’s room, or simply to get revenge for an insult. Some pathological types crawled out of their holes to write hundreds of denunciations…. The usual NKVD response to a denunciation was to arrest the victim and only later to bother about “checking” the charges made against him.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 612

The assertion is sometimes made that people denounced others to settle personal scores, to advance in their careers, or to gain their apartments. Inevitably such behavior did take place. But the evidence presented here, and a good deal more besides, shows that much more commonly people acted to denounce others because they believed in danger from saboteurs.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 151

“I have seen,” says Ehrenburg, “how in a progressive society people allegedly dedicated to moral ideas committed desirable acts for personal advantage, betrayed comrades and friends, how wives disavowed their husbands and resourceful sons heaped abuse upon hapless fathers.”…
Individual denouncers operated on an extraordinary scale. In one district in Kiev, 69 persons were dennounced by one man; in another, over 100. In Odessa, a single Communist denounced 230 people. In Poltava, a Party member denounced his entire organization.
At the 18th Party Congress, when the “excesses” of the Purge period were being belatedly and peripherally criticized, one was now made to confess his methods, which had involved removing 15 local Party Secretaries.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 253

Such prodigious denouncers must have been a rarity compared to the far larger number who denounced but not in a wholesale way. Among these, motives varied widely. Some denounced for fear of being denounced if they failed to turn in someone who had told a political anecdote in a group conversation. Some denounced persons they disliked. Some wanted to gain possession of the room or apartment of the person they denounced, whose family would likely be evicted once he was arrested. Some wanted to eliminate rivals for athletic glory or other desired goals. And not a few were actuated by career ambition to denounce persons senior to them who stood in their way.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 460

Beck and Godin note the zeal with which many students denounced their professors, junior officials those higher up, rank-and-file party members those in responsible posts; and describe this ambition-driven “revolt of subordinates” as a most significant feature of the period.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 461

STALIN WAS TOLERANT AND NOT BLOODTHIRSTILY ELIMINATING HIS ENEMIES

The animosity of the world press has created a picture of a ruthless and bloodthirsty Stalin murdering his erstwhile colleagues, presumably for no better reason than to strengthen his own personal power….
In reality, Stalin hesitated for many months before embarking on the famous “Purges.” He was too deeply conscious of the seriousness of Lenin’s deathbed warning as to the dangers which would arise if one section of the Party condemned its opponents to death. Even when Zinoviev had whispered his plan to assassinate Trotsky, Stalin had refused to embark on that fatal policy of self-murder which had destroyed the French revolutionary Jacobins….
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 98

Many embittered attacks have been made against Stalin for his treatment of the Opposition leaders and the blood-letting which followed the treason trials. He has been accused of seeking personal aggrandizement by eliminating his colleagues in the Bolshevik Central Committee and of treachery towards those who gave him their support in his campaign against Trotsky.
Impartial study of the years 1936 to 1938, however, disproves this thesis. Stalin was never the friend of Zinoviev, Kamenev, and the others. He worked with them for his own purposes and because they shared his views on the danger of Trotskyism. He did so with full knowledge that they were planning to turn against him when he had served their purpose. He regarded them as they regarded him and dealt with them as they would have dealt with him in different circumstances.
Whenever the Opposition confined its activity to attacks upon the views of the majority, Stalin permitted them to do so. They brought destruction upon themselves when they passed from attacks on Stalin to subversive maneuverings against the foundations of Soviet rule.
To those who have served Russia faithfully, Stalin has always been a loyal friend and generous colleague. He does not remove a man at the first sign of heterodoxy like Hitler did Roehm nor does he kill by stealth as Mussolini destroyed Balbo.
Kalinin still stands beside Stalin though he supported the pro-kulak theories of Bukharin in 1936. Voroshilov was in error on the question of Army discipline in 1937, but he lives in freedom and devotes his life to the defense of Russia. Ordjonikidze opposed Stalin on several occasions and did not hesitate to say so, but he occupied high office in the Government until Yagoda’s poisoners murdered him.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 128-129

GOLOVANOV: Some people believe he [Stalin] was a sadist.
But I knew him well. He was no bloodthirsty tyrant. A struggle was raging. There were various political currents and deviations. The building of socialism required firmness. Stalin had more of this firmness than anyone else. Was there a fifth column? There was no question about that. And they were prominent leaders, not underlings….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 295

The most common explanation of the police atrocities in that infamous year [1937] points to a well-planned action by the NKVD, at the instigation of Stalin who wanted to eliminate all his real, potential, or imagined opponents on a national scale, whatever their position in the socio-political hierarchy. But having examined the decidedly tortuous meanderings of political maneuvers and counter-maneuvers during 1936, we must conclude that the likelihood of such an undertaking is very low….
In the last chapter we saw how improbable it is that the political moves which ushered in the crescendo of terror could have been the product of a single strategy put into effect by an absolute controlling and decision-making centralized power. Similarly, the fact that the police action of 1937 continued for so long, in company with equally self-contradictory political acts, makes it unlikely that we are dealing here with a victorious punitive expedition being carried through by the praetorian guard of an all-powerful dictator.
Rittersporn, Gabor. Stalinist Simplifications and Soviet Complications, 1933-1953. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, c1991, p. 113

STALIN WAS FAIR IN CHECKING CHARGES AGAINST PEOPLE

It speaks highly of Stalin’s sense of justice that he did not hesitate to double check the charges made against the accused, lest place-seeking politicians should seek advancement by falsely informing against an inconvenient superior.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 101

CHUEV: So Stalin treated people altogether mercilessly?
MOLOTOV: What do you mean, mercilessly? He got reports; they had to be checked out.
CHUEV: People would slander one another….
MOLOTOV: We would have been complete idiots if we had taken the reports at their face value. We were not idiots. We could not entrust accused individuals with jobs of responsibility, because they could have reverted to type any time.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 276

CHUEV: If Stalin knew everything and did not rely on bad advice, he bears direct responsibility for the executions of the innocent.
MOLOTOV: That conclusion is not entirely correct. Understanding the idea is one thing, applying it is something else. The rightists had to be beaten, the Trotskyists had to be beaten, so the order came down: punish the vigorously. Yezhov was executed for that. If tough measures are rejected, the great risk is always that at the critical moment the nation may be torn apart and the devil knows how it may end–leading only to greater losses. Millions may die, and that may mean total collapse or at least a very deep crisis.
CHUEV: That’s true. Yezhov was executed, but the innocent were not released.
MOLOTOV: But, when all is said, many of the verdicts were justified. The cases were reviewed and some people were released….
MOLOTOV: A commission on Tevosian was set up after he was arrested. Mikoyan, Beria, myself, and someone else worked on that commission. Tevosian was a Central Committee member, a most upright man, an excellent specialist in metallurgy. An extremely competent man. A report came in that he was a saboteur and that he was working to damage our steel industry. He had intensive training in Germany with the Krupp works, and upon returning home he most perseveringly and effectively worked in our steel industry. But soon a lot of evidence given by specialists and managers was received. At Stalin’s initiative, a special commission was set up to review his case thoroughly. We went to the NKVD building to examine the evidence. We heard out one engineer, two, three. Each one insisted Tevosian was a wrecker because he had issued such and such instructions. Tevosian was in the same room and listened to all those accusations. He easily exposed and rejected all the charges. We compared the evidence with the facts and concluded that the charges were absurd. Sheer slander. Tevosian was acquitted. He remained a member of the Central Committee, and then he continued to do his job. We reported to Stalin, and he agreed with our conclusion.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 294

GOLOVANOV: Stalin also tried to find out from me who had me expelled from the party. I realized that if I indicated that person to him, the next day the man would be out of the Politburo. I never divulged the name to him….
MOLOTOV: Khrushchev brought his lists of enemies of the people to Stalin. Stalin doubted the numbers reported–“They can’t be so many!” “They are–in fact, many more, Comrade Stalin. You can’t imagine how many they are!”
GOLOVANOV: I have a friend who used to work with me as a flight engineer when I was a pilot in civil aviation. He studied at the political academy, switched to research work, and taught at the general staff academy. As the campaign of exposures and denunciations was launched, he was transferred to the Institute of Marxism-Leninism to pour over documents in search of execution orders and so forth signed by Stalin. He did not find a single paper of that kind bearing Stalin’s signature.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 296

MOLOTOV: The Central Committee was also to blame for running careless checks on some of the accused. But no one can prove to me that all those actions should never have been undertaken. That claim could only come from someone who had never been a Bolshevik with prerevolutionary experience….
…Not all the lists were signed by the Politburo members. In many cases the verdicts arrived at by the security agencies were taken on trust.
GOLOVANOV: On trust, of course.
MOLOTOV: Not all the cases could be checked out….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 297

Wholesale expulsions based on this “heartless attitude” alienated party members and therefore served the needs of the party’s enemies. According to Stalin, such embittered comrades could provide addit___Yional reserves for the Trotskyists “because the incorrect policy of some of our comrades on the question of expulsion from the party and reinstatement of expelled people… creates these reserves.”
Large numbers of members have been incorrectly expelled “for so-called passivity.” Such passives were expelled because they hadn’t mastered the party program. “If we were to go further on this path, we should have to leave only intellectuals and learned people in general in our party.” Acceptance of the program is sufficient, especially for those working on mastering the program.
Stalin stated, “It is necessary to put an end to the present blockheaded interpretation of the question of passivity…. The fact is that our comrades do not recognize the mean between two extremes. It is sufficient for a worker, a party member, to commit some small offense…and in a flash he is thrown out of the party.
No interest is taken in the degree of his offense, the cause of his non-appearance at the meeting…the bureaucratism of this is simply unparalleled…. And was it impossible, before expelling them from the party, to give them, or administer a reprimand…or in the extreme case to reduce to the position of candidate, but not to expel them with a sweep of a hand from the party?
“Of course it was possible.
But this requires an attentive attitude toward people…. And this is exactly what some of our comrades lack.
It is high time to put a stop to this outrageous practice, comrades.”
Getty, A. Origins of the Great Purges. Cambridge, N. Y.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, p. 147

Lastly, one more question. I have in mind the question of the formal and heartlessly bureaucratic attitude of some of our Party comrades towards the fate of individual members of the Party, to the question of expelling members from the Party, or the question of reinstating expelled members of the Party. The point is that some of our Party leaders suffer from a lack of concern for people, for members of the Party, for workers. More than that, they do not study members of the Party, do not know what interests they have, how they are developing; generally, they do not know the workers. That is why they have no individual approach to Party members and Party workers. And because they have no individual approach in appraising Party members and Party workers they usually act in a haphazard way: either they praise them wholesale, without measure, or roundly abuse them, also wholesale and without measure, and expel thousands and tens of thousands of members from the Party. Such leaders generally try to think in tens of thousands, not caring about “units,” about individual members of the Party, about their fate. They regard the expulsion of thousands and tens of thousands of people from the Party as a mere trifle and console themselves with the thought that our Party has two million members and that the expulsion of tens of thousands cannot in any way affect the Party’s position. But only those who are in fact profoundly anti-Party can have such an approach to members of the Party.
As a result of this heartless attitude towards people, towards members of the Party and Party workers, discontent and bitterness is artificially created among a section of the Party, and the Trotskyite double-dealers cunningly hook onto such embittered comrades and skilfully drag them into the bog of Trotskyite wrecking.
Stalin, Joseph. Works, Vol. 14, Speech in Reply to Debate, 1 April 1937, Red Star Press, London, Pravda 1978, pp. 292-296.

Taken by themselves, the Trotskyites never represented a big force in our Party. Recall the last discussion in our Party in 1927. That was a real Party referendum. Of a total of 854,000 members of the Party, 730,000 took part in the voting. Of these, 724,000 members of the Party voted for the Bolsheviks, for the Central Committee of the Party and against the Trotskyites, while 4,000 members of the Party, i.e., about one-half per cent, voted for the Trotskyites, and 2,600 members of the Party abstained from voting. One hundred and twenty-three thousand members of the Party did not take part in the voting. They did not take part in the voting either because they were away, or because they were working on night shift. If to the 4,000 who voted for the Trotskyites we add all those who abstained from voting on the assumption that they, too, sympathised with the Trotskyites, and if to this number we add, not half per cent of those who did not take part in the voting, as we should do by right, but five per cent, i.e., about 6,000 Party members, we will get about 12,000 Party members who, in one way or another, sympathised with Trotskyism. This is the whole strength of Messieurs the Trotskyites. Add to this the fact that many of them became disillusioned with Trotskyism and left it, and you will get an idea of the insignificance of the Trotskyite forces. And if in spite of this the Trotskyite wreckers have some reserves around our Party it is because the wrong policy of some of our comrades on the question of expelling and reinstating members of the Party, the heartless attitude of some of our comrades towards the fate of individual members of the Party and individual workers, artificially creates a number of discontented and embittered people, and thus creates these reserves for the Trotskyites.
For the most part people are expelled for so-called passivity. What is passivity? It transpires that if a member of the Party has not thoroughly mastered the Party program he is regarded as passive and subject to expulsion. But that is wrong, comrades. You cannot interpret the rules of our Party in such a pedantic fashion. In order to thoroughly master the Party program one must be a real Marxist, a tried and theoretically trained Marxist. I do not know whether we have many members of our Party who have thoroughly mastered our program, who have become real Marxists, theoretically trained and tried. If we continued further along this path we would have to leave only intellectuals and learned people generally in our Party. Who wants such a Party? We have Lenin’s thoroughly tried and tested formula defining a member of the Party. According to this formula a member of the Party is one who accepts the program of the Party, pays membership dues and works in one of its organizations. Please note: Lenin’ s formula does not speak about thoroughly mastering the program, but about accepting the program. These are two very different things. It is not necessary to prove that Lenin is right here and not our Party comrades who chatter idly about thoroughly mastering the program. That should be clear. If the Party had proceeded from the assumption that only those comrades who have thoroughly mastered the program and have become theoretically trained Marxists could be members of the Party it would not have created thousands of Party circles, hundreds of Party schools where the members of the Party are taught Marxism, and where they are assisted to master our program. It is quite clear that if our Party organizes such schools and circles for the members of the Party it is because it knows that the members of the Party have not yet thoroughly mastered the Party program, have not yet become theoretically trained Marxists.
Consequently, in order to rectify our policy on the question of Party membership and on expulsion from the Party we must put a stop to the present blockhead interpretation of the question of passivity.
But there is another error in this sphere. It is that our comrades recognise no mean between two extremes. It is enough for a worker, a member of the Party, to commit a slight offence, to come late to a Party meeting once or twice, or to fail to pay membership dues for some reason or other, to be kicked out of the Party in a trice. No interest is taken in the degree to which he is to blame, the reason why he failed to attend a meeting, the reason why he did not pay membership dues. The bureaucratic approach displayed on these questions is positively unprecedented. It is not difficult to understand that it is precisely the result of this heartless policy that excellent, skilled workers, excellent Stakhanovites, found themselves expelled from the Party. Was it not possible to caution them before expelling them from the Party, or if that had no effect, to reprove or reprimand them, and if that had no effect, to put them on probation for a certain period, or, as an extreme measure, to reduce them to the position of candidates¸ but not expel them from the Party at one stroke? Of course it was. But this calls for concern for people, for the members of the Party, for the fate of members of the Party. And this is what some of our comrades lack.
It is time, comrades, high time, to put a stop to this disgraceful state of affairs. (Applause.)
Stalin, Joseph. Works, Vol. 14, Speech in Reply to Debate, 1 April 1937, Red Star Press, London, Pravda 1978, pp. 292-296.

The Central Committee gathered in yet another plenum at the end of February 1937….
But once again Molotov specifically and firmly disdained a campaign aimed at everyone who had ever opposed the party line, including Trotskyites. He cited a telegram that Stalin had sent the previous December to the municipal party committee in Perm. There the director of an aviation motor factory, a former Trotskyite, was being persecuted “because of his former sins.” But in view of the fact that he and his subordinates, who were also suffering, “now work with a good conscience and enjoy the full confidence of the Central Committee,” Stalin asked the city secretary to protect them and “create around them an atmosphere of complete trust.” He requested the secretary to let the Central Committee know quickly of measures taken to help the group. It is hard to imagine a more direct and forceful statement that every oppositionist was to be evaluated on his or her merits and record; there was to be no witch-hunt.
Molotov’s recommendations for action were along the same lines. More Bolshevik tolerance for objections was needed: “We must prove our ability to cope with criticism,” even the unpleasant sort. The way to deal with enemies was through selection of employees, and methods of leadership. In short, Molotov did not assign a prominent role to the police.
Stalin was mild and supportive toward Kossior, first secretary of the party in Ukraine. Kossior admitted that in his area there had been a lot of “familyness,” meaning that he had created a network of people connected directly to himself and had sometimes resisted central directives. Such practices were now condemned as likely to let in enemies. Kossior regretted not having enough “Bolshevik sagacity and decisiveness.” Stalin interjected: “If you had told us, we would have helped.” When Kossior dwelled further on his errors, Stalin said, “No matter, people learn from mistakes.”
KOSSIOR: That’s true. But the price is too high.
STALIN: A good product is not bought cheaply. (General laughter).
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 43-44

At last Stalin took the floor. On March 3 he presented an address entitled “On Shortcomings of Party Work and Measures of Liquidation of Trotskyite and Other Double-Dealers.” He began by charging that sabotage and espionage, in which “Trotskyites have played a fairly active role,” had occurred in almost all government and party organizations. The agents of this nefarious work had reached not just lower levels but “some responsible posts” as well. Many leaders at the center and in the provinces had been “complacent, kindhearted, and naive” toward the wreckers, which had help them get into high positions. Often the enemies were masked as Bolsheviks.
Still, Stalin did not call for massive purges of the party, even for those guilty of complacency and indirect aid to the wreckers…. Stalin’s emphasis in coping with the danger was on reeducation, not on mass arrests. There was no point in retraining anyone not deemed basically trustworthy.
On the same day Stalin spoke, the central committee resolved that, at a minimum, Bukharin and Rykov knew of the terrorist activity of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite center and hid it from the party, thereby aiding terrorism. They also knew of other terrorist groups organized by their “pupils and followers.” Far from struggling with the terrorists, the two rightist leaders encouraged them. The Central Committee voted to expel Bukharin and Rykov from the party and to turn their case over to the NKVD.
Stalin now changed his tone, though why is not clear. His speech of March 5 was considerably milder than his first remarks,…
It was necessary to hunt down active Trotskyites but not everyone who had been casually involved with them, Stalin announced. In fact, such a crude approach could “only harm the cause of the struggle with the active Trotskyist wreckers and spies.” Even more surprising given his first set of remarks, but paralleling his December 1936 telegram in defense of a former Trotskyite, Stalin allowed that some people had long ago left their fellows and now “conduct the fight with Trotskyism no worse, but even better than some of our respected comrades…. It would be stupid to discredit such comrades.” Each case of expulsion from the party for connections with the former oppositions should be dealt with carefully.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 47-48

[At a January 1938 meaning of the Central Committee] Malenkov emphasized that the Commission of Party Control, still headed by Yezhov, had discovered that “very many” of the appeals for reinstatement “correctly objected” to expulsion. In the majority of cases the commission examined from 40 to 60 percent of those thrown out of the party had been reinstated. Malenkov reminded the Central Committee of Stalin’s objection in March 1937 to a “heartless bureaucratic” approach to communists.
Thurston, Robert. Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1996, p. 107

Several episodes recounted by Khrushchev show how the selection of candidates took place at the Moscow conferences. The first episode was connected with the head of one of the departments of the Moscow Committee, Brandt, who before the conference told Khrushchev that he always was having to explain whether he was the son of the colonel in the tsarist army named Brandt who headed the anti-Soviet uprising in Kaluga in 1918. Although Brandt would always say that his father had truly been a colonel, but another, who had never disgraced himself before the Soviet regime, he was sure that this time they would begin to slander him with particular cruelty, and therefore he was entertaining thoughts of suicide. Imagining all too well the atmosphere which would dominate at the conference, Khrushchev understood that it “might prove to be fatal for Brandt,” and decided to tell Stalin himself about this case, in order to save his comrade and colleague. After he had received assurances from Khrushchev that Brandt was “a person who had been tested,” Stalin ordered that “he not be subjected to insults.” As a result, Brandt was selected a member of the Moscow committee.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 300

After the break, Kaganovich delivered a brief but vicious speech. Evidently, he had “reconsidered” and begun to believe not only the “whore” Sokolnikov instead of Bukharin but also the forced testimony of Zinoviev and Kamenev. Molotov competed with Kaganovich in the ardor of his attacks on Rykov and Bukharin….
No one rose to defend the two. Ordzhonikidze did interrupt Yezhov to ask questions, trying to make sense out of the ongoing nightmare, thereby becoming the one person to indicate a certain distrust in the new people’s commissar [Yezhov]….
Finally, Stalin took the floor. I report from memory what Bukharin told me:
“No need to make a hasty decision, Comrades. Look, the investigative organs also had material against Tukhachevsky, but we sorted it out, and Comrade Tukhachevsky may now work in peace….
I think Rykov might have known something about the counterrevolutionary activity of the Trotskyists and did not inform the Party. But in respect to Bukharin, I still doubt this. [Here, he was purposely splitting Bukharin off from Rykov.] It is very painful for the Party to speak of the past crimes of comrades as authoritative as Bukharin and Rykov were. Therefore, we will not hurry with the decision, Comrades, but continue the investigation.
Larina, Anna. This I Cannot Forget. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993, p. 301

LEGAL SYSTEM OF THE SU IS JUST

The sharpest test of the conscience remaking of human character is found in the Soviet policy for handling law-breakers. The Soviet criminologist holds neither of the theories on which the prevalent systems of prison regime in capitalist countries are based. He does not believe in the existence of “born criminals” whose will must be broken by brutal suppression nor does he rely on emotional appeals to the “better nature” of the criminal, for he knows that this better nature exists as yet only in rudimentary form. “We don’t assume that a man of anti-social habits will be at once reclaimed by gifts of chocolate, nice bathrooms, and soft words,” a leading Soviet penologist told me. “Men are made over by a new social environment and especially by their work done collectively.”
Soviet law aims to make over social misfits while protecting society from their attacks. Punishment as vengeance has no place in such an aim: revenge merely incites revenge in return. To make prisoners sit in solitude and think of their sins produces a fixation on crime. To “break a man’s will” or lessen his human dignity in any way injures him as material for a creative socialist society. Soviet justice therefore aims to give the criminal a new environment in which he will begin to act in a normal way as a responsible Soviet citizen. The less confinement the better; the less he feels himself in prison the better…. “We have a double approach,” said Attorney-General Vyshinsky in an interview. “Active, confirmed enemies of our Soviet power who stick at nothing to injure us must be ruthlessly crushed…. But if we had tried to apply the idea of absolute humanitarianism to bitter enemies we wouldn’t be here today.”
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 254

The labor camp is the prevalent method for handling serious offenders of all kinds, whether criminal or political…. The labor camps have won high reputation throughout the Soviet Union as places where tens of thousands of men have been reclaimed. They have, however, been the center of some of the most spectacular attacks on the Soviet Union in recent years. Allegations of brutal treatment and even of torture have found their way widely into the foreign press. While it is clearly impossible to check every one of these accusations, they are contradicted by every competent observer who has ever seen the camps. Dr. Mary Stevens Callcott, the American penologist who has studied prisons all over the world, and who has had the unique experience of visiting the larger part of the Soviet camps, including those for the worst–and for political–offenders, has commented both in her book Soviet Justice and in conversations with me personally, on the “amazingly normal” life that differentiates these camps from prisons in any other part of the world.
She notes the freedom of movement over large areas of territory, the very small amount of guarding, the work done under normal conditions–7 hours for ordinary labor to 10 for men whose tasks, such as driving a truck, permitted frequent rests during work. She could find no speed up; laws of labor protection operated as in factories. Wages were the same as those outside, with deductions for living expenses; all above this could be sent by the prisoner to his family, saved, or spent as he chose. “No uniforms with their psychological implications, no physical abuse; isolation only in extreme instances. Privileges and special rewards replace the system of special penalties.” Among these special rewards are the two weeks’ vacation in which the prisoner may leave the camp, and the opportunities given for his family not only to visit him but even to live with him for extended periods. Normal human association goes on; men and women meet and may even marry while serving sentence, in which case they are given separate quarters.
What most impressed Dr. Callcott, however, was the type of men in charge of these camps, and the relation they had to the prisoners. She tells of going through the Moscow-Volga Canal camp with its director. Prisoners hailed him with obvious pleasure and informality. A girl rushed up to detain him by seizing the belt of his uniform lest he get away before she could tell him something. A teacher whose term was about to expire expressed a wish to stay on and work under him. There were only five officials in the central administration office of this camp of many thousand prisoners; all the work, including most of the guarding, was done by the convicted men themselves. “In fact,” said Dr. Callcott, “I can never see what kept men in this camp unless they wanted to stay there. No convicts I have known would have any difficulty if they wanted to break away.”
Both prisoners and officials, of whom Dr. Callcott asked this question–she talked with prisoners freely without the presence of officials–replied that they didn’t run away because it they did, “nobody in my working gang would speak to me when I came back. They would say I had disgraced them.” There are, however, a certain number of incorrigibles who run away repeatedly, and these are given somewhat closer guarding for a time. Political prisoners, she noted, were treated like everyone else, except that those who had been persistent and dangerous in their attacks on the government were sent away from the possibility of connection with their past associates. In all her conversations with these “politicals,” she was unable to find one who had been sentenced merely for expressing anti-Soviet views. All were charged with definite action against the government.
“I did everything I could to destroy this government,” one such man frankly told her, “sabotage of the most serious kind. But the way they have treated me here has convinced me that they are right.”
Another prisoner, who had been in Sing Sing, San Quentin, as well as in jails of England, Spain, and Germany, before he was picked up by the Soviets for grand larceny, had been reclaimed by the Baltic-White Sea Canal. He had done a bit of engineering in his youth, and was promptly given a chance to work at this specialty. He won a metal, pursued his studies further, and was doing brilliant work on the Moscow-Volga Canal when Dr. Callcott met him. To her query about his reformation he replied:
“in the other countries they treated me like a prisoner, clapped me in jail and taught me my place. Here they clapped me on the back and said “what can we do to make you into a useful citizen?” Dr. Callcott conversed with many men now high in Soviet industry who had previously been reclaimed by the labor camps. Nothing in their attitude or that of those about them showed any stigma remaining from their prison life. “Of course, when it’s over, it’s forgotten,” one of them said to her. “That,” says Dr. Callcott, “is real restoration.”
Information from many other sources and from my own observation corroborates Dr. Callcott.
Strong, Anna Louise. This Soviet World. New York, N. Y: H. Holt and company, c1936, p. 256

The Communists point out that in so-called democratic countries, while justice pretends to be impartial as between all citizens, and to guarantee individuals certain declared rights, in practice the propertied classes get the benefit of any doubt; private property has a superior claim.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 61

III. ON REDUCING THE POPULATION OF PLACES OF CONFINEMENT
1) the maximum number of persons that may be held in custody in places of confinement attached to the People’s Commissariat for Justice, the 0GPU, and the Chief Directorate of the Police, other than in camps and colonies, is not to exceed 400,000 persons for the entire Soviet Union.
The 0GPU, the People’s Commissariat for Justice of each of the Union republics, and the Procuracy of the USSR are to proceed immediately to reduce the population of places of confinement. The total number of those confined is to be reduced within the next two months from the current figure of 800,000 to 400,000 persons.
2… The superintendents of places of confinement are prohibited from taking prisoners in excess of the maximum number that has been established.
3… The maximum period for holding a person in custody in police lockups is to be three days. Those incarcerated are to be provided with bread rations without fail.
Signed: Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR, Molotov and Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, J. Stalin.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 117

…Moreover, according to the new regulations, the NKVD did not have the power to pass death sentences (as the 0GPU and its predecessors the GPU and Cheka had) or to inflict extralegal “administrative” punishments of more than five years. Treason cases, formerly under the purview of the secret police, were, along with other criminal matters, referred to the regular courts or to the Supreme Court.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 121

…A number of key events between 1934 and 1937, including the assassination of Politburo member Kirov, dramatically changed and hardened the political landscape.
…In September a memo from Stalin proposed the formation of a Politburo commission (chaired by Kuibyshev…) to look into 0GPU abuses. Stalin called the matter “serious, in my opinion,” and ordered the commission to “free the innocent” and purge the 0GPU of practitioners of specific “investigative tricks” and punish them regardless of their rank….
Thus, in response to Stalin’s recommendation, the Kuibyshev Commission prepared a draft resolution censuring the police for “illegal methods of investigation” and recommending punishment of several secret police officials.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 122

[June 17th, 1935 decree by the Council of People’s Commissar’s of the USSR in the Central Committee of the Communist Party]
1. In modification of instructions of May 8th, 1933, henceforth organs of the NKVD may make arrests only with the consent of the appropriate procurator. This applies to all cases without exception.
2. If arrests must be made at the site of the crime, officials of the NKVD authorized by law are obligated to report the arrest immediately to the appropriate procurator for his confirmation.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 188

[From Protocol # 38 of the Politburo on April 20th 1936]
Regarding: Dependents of persons deported from cities in the USSR subject to special measures.
…Residence in localities in the USSR subject to special measures is to be permitted to dependents of persons removed from these localities: to dependents whose family is engaged in socially useful work, or to students–that is to those people who are in no way personally to blame for anything.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 220

“Decree of the Narkomvnudel. Whereas Peter Kleist, engineer, age 29, and a former employee of the Cotton Trust, has been examined on the suspicion of engaging in political espionage and whereas the examination has shown that he did not knowingly engage in such activity, it is decided that he be acquitted of this charge.”
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 177

…whereas the aforesaid has been further examined on the suspicion of engaging in economic espionage by the sequestration of data and formulae, and whereas it has been established that secret technical data and formulae were in his possession at the time of his intended departure from the Soviet Union, it is decreed that the said Peter Kleist be forthwith expelled from the Soviet Union. It is further decreed that the charge of illegally exchanging Soviet currency for foreign currency shall not be proceeded with.
Signed. Tanev, Procurator.”
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 178

(Others Kleist met in prison). He was a Rumanian called Jonescu [who said],
“I wasn’t sorry to be in prison. I got regular food and something to occupy my mind– they gave me work and offered to teach me a trade. I had studied mathematics and so I asked permission to do the work of a planning statistician. I liked the work. It was interesting studying the work of men in relation to machines, output, and all the rest of it. They paid me a wage for my work and I wasn’t uncomfortable. I got there everything I wanted in the Lavka. (The Lavka is the prison shop where penal prisoners are allowed to buy from their wages things like tobacco, paper and pencil, newspapers and books.). I began to read again, to look forward to a settled life as a Soviet worker….
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 181

… in August 1936 he publicly rebuffed any idea that in Soviet circumstances children should answer for their parents’ sins.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 196

…the government’s edict “On Revolutionary Legality,” issued on June 25, 1932, swung Soviet jurisprudence decisively toward statutory stability, formality, and correspondingly the professionalization of jurists. The main spokesman for the new approach was Vyshinsky, whose appointment as procurator general of the USSR in 1935 symbolized the ascendance of that philosophy. Taking his cue from Stalin’s assertion that “the withering away of the state will come not through a weakening of state authority but through its maximum intensification,” Vyshinsky worked tirelessly to make law the cornerstone of the burgeoning bureaucratic apparatus. He clashed repeatedly with the commissar of justice, Krylenko, over what Krylenko considered excessive borrowing of forms and norms from bourgeois legal systems. Vyshinsky engaged in bureaucratic turf battles with both Krylenko’s commissariat and the NKVD.
The Constitution epitomized the new Soviet legal thinking. As one Western scholar has noted, it provided for “a strong and stable criminal law for the protection of public property, and a predictable and differentiated civil law for the protection of the…right of ‘personal property.’ Beyond this, the emphasis on stability and predictability was entirely consistent with a whole series of measures adopted by the regime in 1934 and 1935. These included reconciliation with former oppositionists at the 17th Party Congress, the issuing of a kolkhoz statute, the convocation of a Writer’s Union congress and its preaching of literary toleration, and the rejection of the Comintern’s “class-against-class” strategy in favor of the more ecumenical antifascist popular-frontism . Together, they constituted a strategy of political moderation that distinguishes the mid-1930s from both earlier and later in the decade.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 159

The authors of the telegram [a telegram sent by the Labor and Socialist International and the International Federation of Trade Unions to the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR just before the trial began] then proceed to demand that “judicial guarantees” or “legal guarantees” be given. The implication must be that unless some powerful outside influence is brought to bear, the trial will be an unjudicial and improper proceeding; and, indeed, one of the authors has since stated that the meaning was that the case “ought to be tried in accordance with the ordinary canons of justice and humanity.” I confess that I find this request, and the criticism implied in it, very difficult indeed to justify. The Soviet Union is a civilized country, with a developed legal system, and some very fine lawyers and jurists. Its criminal procedure is at least the equal of that of very many other countries. There was not and is not, in my humble opinion, the slightest ground for fearing that, in any public trial (and it was announced from the outset that this trial would be public), it would deviate from civilized procedure. I am aware that provisions exist in its procedure for secret trials, and for the withholding of counsel and witnesses for the defense in secret trials for counter-revolutionary offenses. I regret the existence of such provisions, and have never concealed my regret. Defenders of the Soviet system can, of course, urge in defense that every country in the world provides in greater or less degree for secret trials, and that the practice of depriving a prisoner, arraigned on charges of high treason or similar offenses, of the right to counsel or witnesses, has prevailed in a great many countries and a great many ages; they could even say that this practice lasted for some centuries in England. But in truth all that is not to the point; for in this public trial there was never any intention of depriving, and I think that there was not even any procedural opportunity to deprive the accused either of counsel or of the right to make their defense or to call witnesses if they desired.
Every foreign critic who has studied the Soviet legal system has reported that, taken as a whole, it is good and fair; everyone who studies it at all knows that year by year it progresses steadily towards greater facilities for the prisoner, greater independence of judges and counsel, and greater technical efficiency. Even with the difficulties which must always exist in securing a fair trial in political cases, where the feelings of everyone must be deeply engaged (difficulties which are, of course, far smaller when the jury system is not in vogue), why should it, once again, be assumed that everything is being and will be done wrong. Such an attitude from a Press lord suffering from acute CommunistPhobia, which is the modern equivalent of the horror felt by our respectable grandfathers in the 1880s when they heard of men who voted Radical, would be quite comprehensible; but it is regrettable to find anything like it in Socialist quarters. To put the matter at its lowest, the self-interest of the Soviet Government would surely insure that a public trial at this time on a charge of the greatest gravity, brought against old servants of the revolution, would be held with the fullest possible degree of fairness.
I must diverge for a moment here to point out that the statement that the defendants were not allowed counsel appeared in several English newspapers, including the one that was obviously the fairest of all in its attitude, whilst the statement also appeared in reputable papers that they were not allowed to make a defense. These two statements, or rather misstatements (for there is clearly no foundation for them), must plainly be bona fide errors, and I can well imagine that they may have colored the whole feelings and attitude of commentators; so, perhaps, once again in journalistic history, a pure error has led people, acting in the utmost good faith, to a line of criticism which they would never otherwise have adopted. In truth, of course, the accused were at liberty to make any defense they liked; two of them did make or attempt a defense as to part of the charges, as I have already stated, and otherwise they all elected not to do so. They all expressly renounced counsel; and I do not think that counsel, however eminent, could have done more for them than they did for themselves….
Returning to this not unimportant telegram, we find next a request that the accused shall be allowed counsel who shall be “independent of the Government.” We are entitled to assume knowledge in the authors that the accused were entitled to counsel, so that the whole emphasis of the request obviously falls on the point of “being independent of the Government.” Counsel in the USSR are not government servants, but one must obviously look to substance and not to form, and I take it that the implied or hinted meaning is that, unless some special precautions are taken, any counsel whom the accused might select would, either out of fear of the Government or out of deference to popular feeling, not “pull his weight” for his clients. That suspicion of my much-maligned profession is entertained, I suppose, in every country in every political case, and perhaps in non-political cases too. There is never as much in it as laymen suspect; there is perhaps more in it than honest lawyers believe. Whether there is anything in it in the USSR or not is, of course, not easy to say; all that I can contribute to its elucidation is that I investigated it with care four years ago and came to the conclusion that a political defendant had as good a chance of getting reliable counsel in the USSR as anywhere else.
Pritt, Denis Nowell. At the Moscow Trial, New York City: International Publishers, 1937, p. 23-25

The next request to be found in the telegram is that no death sentences be “promulgated.”… But this request is made in a world where most, States still retain the death penalty for some offenses; and if there ever were a case in which any State which still kept upon its statute book provision for inflicting such a penalty would be likely to inflict it, it is a case of treasonable conspiracy to murder the half-dozen principal leaders of the Government. And the regrettable probability, or virtual certainty, that most States would inflict the penalty in such a case would only be increased by the circumstances that most of the men involved were men who had been forgiven and reinstated in the Party and in important posts once, twice, thrice, after expressing regret for past disloyalty and offering the most sweeping assurances as to their future conduct, intending all the time to use the opportunities thus secured to continue terrorist conspiracies against the State.
Pritt, Denis Nowell. At the Moscow Trial, New York City: International Publishers, 1937, p. 27

Now, the critic inquires why the opposition was brutally crushed just at this moment. I have already stated at length the grounds, to my mind overwhelming, for holding that the proceedings can only have been launched for the most genuine and cogent reasons; but I do not understand why the detection and punishment of a conspiracy for multiple assassination should be described as the brutal crushing of the opposition, merely because the conspiracy was opposed to the Government and several of the conspirators had in the past been among the leaders of the opposition. Why are we to assume that men guilty of conspiracy to murder are shot because they are or were in opposition rather than because they are guilty of conspiracy to murder?… It should not be overlooked, either, that if the more important of these men were regarded as “the opposition” which is not unreasonable, they are rather the opposition of the past than of the future. They had been definitely proved to be wrong in the controversy which had made them into an opposition; they had been, instead of being crushed, forgiven over and over again, as if no one wanted to be harsh to them; and as an opposition they were perhaps less to be feared than at any previous time.
Pritt, Denis Nowell. At the Moscow Trial, New York City: International Publishers, 1937, p. 29

In England, our friend remarks, a prisoner indicted for treason is practically forced to go through a legal routine of defense. He pleads Not Guilty; and his counsel assumes for him an attitude of injured innocence, refusing to admit any evidence that is not within certain rules, demanding legitimate proof of every statement and setting up a hypothesis as to what actually happened which is consistent with the prisoner’s innocence. He cross-examines the Crown witnesses mercilessly. He puts the prisoner into the witness-box and asks him questions so framed that by simple affirmative answers or indignant denials or at worst by flat perjury (which is considered allowable on such occasions) he may seem to support the hypothesis. The judge compliments the counsel on the brilliant ability with which he has conducted his case. He points out to the jury that the hypothesis is manifestly fictitious and the prisoner obviously guilty. The jury finds the necessary verdict. The judge then, congratulating the prisoner on having been so ably defended and fairly tried, sentences him to death and commends him to the mercy of his God.
May not this procedure, which seems so natural and inevitable to us, very intelligently strike a Russian as a farce tolerated because our rules of evidence and forms of trial have never been systematically revised on rational lines. Why should a conspirator who is caught out by the Government, and he knows that he is caught out and that no denials or hypothetical fairy tales will help him to escape–why should he degrade himself uselessly by a mock defense instead of at once facing the facts and discussing his part in them quite candidly with his captors? There is a possibility of moving them by such a friendly course: in a mock defense there is none. Our candid friend submits that the Russian prisoners simply behave naturally and sensibly, as Englishmen would were they not virtually compelled by their highly artificial legal system to go through a routine which is useful to the accused only when there is some doubt as to the facts or as to the guilt or innocence of the conduct in question. What possible good could it do them to behave otherwise? Why should they waste the time of the court and disgrace themselves by prevaricating like pickpockets merely to employ the barristers? Our friend suggests that some of us are so obsessed with our national routine that the candor of the Russian conspirators seems grotesque and insane. Which of the two courses, viewed by an impartial visitor from Mars, would appear the saner?
Webb, S. Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation. London, NY: Longmans, Green, 1947, p. 923-924

FIFTH COLUMN CAUSES INSECURITY AND ARRESTS IN 1930S

A sense of insecurity spread among the Soviet people, replacing that exultant sense of progress they had felt in 1934. It was not due alone, and not even primarily, to personal fear of arrest or to concern for friends. It was due to the knowledge that the enemy had penetrated high into the citadel of leadership, that nobody knew who was loyal. This was the first time any nation came to grips with the deadly efficiency of the Hitler Fifth Column. They felt it as a fight for the nation’s survival, but a fight in the dark. This nightmare quality of the struggle affected not only the people, but also, I think, Stalin. He produced the theory that the nearer a country got to socialism the more enemies it would have.
… Those years, and especially 1937, are recalled by all Soviet citizens as a time of great mental distress…. People were taken away at night and never seen afterward. Sometimes they re-appeared. George Andreichine was twice exiled to Siberia and each time came back fairly soon to a better job. Most people thus arrested were not executed but sent either to a convict labor camp or to residence in a distant place….
My closest woman friend, who had lived with me several years before she married and moved to Leningrad, was exiled with a ten-year sentence. Nine years later, I again met her in Moscow and learned what had happened. Her husband had been arrested; she never learned the details of the charge against him. Believing him innocent, she pestered the offices of the GPU and was herself arrested, charged with being “the wife of an enemy of the people.” She was sent, not to a camp but to a small town in Kazakhstan where she got a job as a teacher in the high school. Once a month she had to report to a local GPU official, an intelligent man with whom she had “many interesting discussions.” Several times he questioned her about her view of her own arrest and the many other arrests that she knew occurred.
“The way I have figured it,” she replied on one occasion, “is that the Nazi Fifth Column penetrated the GPU and got high in it and has been arresting the wrong people.” Her questioner replied: “Many people have that view.”
… Of the 134 persons [the 1934 Party Congress] elected to the Central Committee, 98–or 70 percent of all–were not only arrested but shot. Those who attribute this to a mad paranoia of Stalin have still to explain why even a paranoiac should eliminate his most successful and loyal supporters. The “Victory Congress” of 1934 was composed precisely of those who had stuck to Stalin’s line, and celebrated the triumph of socialism in both industry and farming. Their drastic elimination within three years becomes somewhat more credible as the successful attempt of a Nazi Fifth Column to get rid of the nation’s most efficient patriots.
Such cases as I myself knew would support the view that it was often “the wrong people” who were arrested, people who seemed almost picked out for the purpose of disorganizing. On our Moscow News staff, three people were suddenly taken. If I had to pick our three most useful, energetic workers, these would have been the ones. They were Party members, always working hard both for the paper and the trade union, always willing to work nights in emergencies.
… Let us now turn to the revelations of what was happening in the parties upper circles, as revealed by Khrushchev’s attack on Stalin in 1956…. He reveals that immediately after the Kirov murder, and on Stalin’s initiative, directions were issued to the courts to speed up investigations, sentences, and punishments. At that time, Yagoda was chief of the GPU. Stalin found him too dilatory and wired from Sochi on September 25, 1936, that Yezhov should be appointed Commissar of Internal Affairs, since Yagoda showed incompetence. Yezhov’s appointment and his plans were approved by the plenary session of the Central Committee in February 1937. The number of arrests at once multiplied….
… Suddenly, Yezhov disappeared from the scene; he was rumored to have been taken to a madhouse.
In fixing the blame for the criminal railroading of innocent people in 1937, Khrushchev makes several statements. “We are justly accusing Yezhov for the degenerate practices of 1937,” he says.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 65

I justify the repressions despite the grave mistakes committed in the process. Bear in mind it was not merely overdoing it–not with Yagoda heading state security. He explicitly told the court that the oppositionists had remained in high offices for so long only because he had assisted them.
I have the transcript of his trial. He said, “Indeed, the rightists and the Trotskyists sitting here in the dock were exposed so late because I was the one who prevented that. And now I am condemning them all! Can you guarantee life to me in exchange for that service?” What a skunk! A communist, a people’s commissar. And that scoundrel sat next to Dzerzhinsky! As Dzerzhinsky’s closest aide he was gradually, after Menzhinsky, moved up to take the job of people’s commissar for state security. What kind of man was this? What filth!
I used to know him well in those years, and I regret he was such a close aide to Dzerzhinsky. Dzerzhinsky was a radiant, spotless personality. Yagoda was a filthy nobody who wormed his way into the party and was only caught in 1937. We had to work with reptiles like that, but there were no others. No one! Now you understand why so many mistakes were made. They deceived us, and innocent people were sometimes incriminated. Obviously one or two out of 10 were wrongly sentenced, but the rest got their just desserts. It was extremely hard then to get at the truth! But any delay was out of the question. War preparations were under way. That’s how it was.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 257

STALIN DENOUNCES RULE BY TERROR

“This policy of cruelty.” I answered, “seems to have aroused a very widespread fear. In this country I have the impression that everybody is afraid and that your great experiment could succeed only among this long-suffering nation that has been trained to obedience.”
“You are mistaken,” said Stalin, “but your mistake is general. Do you think it possible to hold power for so long merely by intimidating the people? Impossible. The Czars knew best how to rule by intimidation. It is an old experiment in Europe and the French bourgeoisie supported the Czars in their policy of intimidation against the people. What came of it? Nothing.”
“But it maintained the Romanovs in power for 300 years.”
“Yes, but how many times was that power shaken by insurrections? To forget the older days, recall only the revolts of 1905. Fear is in the first instance a question of the mechanism of administration. You can arouse fear for one or two years and through it, or at least partly through it, you can rule for that time. But you cannot rule the peasants by fear. Secondly, the peasants and the working classes in the Soviet Union are by no means so timid and long-suffering as you think. You believe that our people are timid and lazy. That is an antiquated idea. It was believed in formerly, because the landed gentry used to go to Paris to spend their money there and do nothing. From this arose an impression of the so-called Russian laziness. People thought that the peasants were easily frightened and made obedient. That was a mistake. And it was a threefold mistake in regard to the workers. Never again will the workers endure the rule of one man. Men who have reached the highest pinnacles of fame were lost the moment they had got out of touch with the masses. Plehanov had great authority in his hands, but when he became mixed up in politics he quickly forgot the masses. Trotsky was a man of great authority, but not of such high standing as Plehanov, and now he is forgotten. If he is casually remembered, it is with a feeling of irritation.”
I did not intend to mention Trotsky to Stalin but since he himself had broached the subject, I asked: “Is the feeling against Trotsky general?”
“If you take the active workers, nine tenths speak bitterly of Trotsky.” (We spoke before the Moscow trials, in December 1931.)
… “You cannot maintain that people may be ruled for a long time merely by intimidation. I understand your skepticism. There is a small section of the people which is really afraid. It is an unimportant part of the peasant body. That is represented by the kulaks. They do not fear anything like the initiation of a reign of terror but they fear the other section of the peasant population.
“But if you take the progressive peasants and workers, not more than 15 percent are skeptical of the Soviet power, or are silent from fear or are waiting for the moment when they can undermine the Bolsheviks state. On the other hand, about 85 percent of the more or less active people would urge us further then we want to go. We often have to put on the brakes. They would like to stamp out the last remnants of the intelligentsia. But we would not permit that. In the whole history of the world there never was a power that was supported by nine tenths of the population as the Soviet power is supported.
That is the reason for our success in putting our ideas into practice. If we ruled only by fear, not a man would have stood by us. And the working classes would have destroyed any power that attempted to continue to rule by fear. Workers who have made three revolutions have had some practice in overthrowing governments. They would not endure such a mockery of government as one merely based on fear.”
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1942, p. 173-175

LUDWIG: It seems to me that a considerable part of the population of the Soviet Union stands in fear and trepidation of the Soviet power, and that the stability of the latter rests to a certain extent on that sense of fear….
STALIN: You are mistaken. Incidentally, your mistake is that of many people. Do you really believe that we could have retained power and have had the backing of the vast masses for 14 years by methods of intimidation and terrorisation? No, that is impossible. The czarist government excelled all others in knowing how to intimidate. It had long and vast experience in that sphere…. Yet, in spite of that experience and in spite of the help of the European bourgeoisie, the policy of intimidation led to the downfall of czarism.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 13, p. 110

Nevertheless, the specific remedies he [Stalin] proposed for the remaining “problems” were in the benign areas of party education and propaganda rather than repression.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 129

“But if in this building you are so democratic,” I objected, “why is your government so cruel at the end of 14 years that everybody in your country fears you?”
To this challenge–for I had made up my mind to be rough and discourteous in the Kremlin–Stalin made a long, quiet reply on the history of the Bolsheviks, whose beginnings were far too mild, and said, at the end of his discussion, that my mistake in this matter was a general one. “Do you really believe a man could maintain his position of power for 14 years merely by intimidation? Only by making people afraid? The Czars were past masters of that art and what has become of them? Fear is a question of the mechanics of administration. You can excite fear for a year or two. But not among our peasants! Our workmen and peasants are not so timid as you think.
You ask about fear? Well, a small part of the peasants, the kulaks, are afraid. They are afraid of the other peasant groups…. Of the adult peasants and workmen 15% at the most keep silence through fear. Besides, our workmen have three revolutions behind them, that is sufficient practice for them to destroy leaders they do not like.”
Ludwig, Emil. Three portraits: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. New York Toronto: Longmans, Green and Company, c1940, p. 118

ARRESTS IN THE 1930S WERE NOT NEARLY AS MANY AS FOREIGNERS THINK

Unfortunately, many foreigners left the Soviet Union during 1937 and 1938 for one reason or another, carrying away with them the impression that the purge ended everything, or at least ended something; an epoch, let us say. Everyone worthwhile had been arrested or shot, it seemed. This impression was basically incorrect. The purge caused many arrests, but the Soviet Union was large, and millions of Russians who had not been involved personally in the purge took it more or less as it came without allowing it permanently to influence their attitude toward the Soviet power. So that in the end of 1938 when the purge ended, when hundreds of arrested people were released with terse apologies for ‘mistakes’ of the investigators, when new arrests stopped or almost stopped, most of the workers in Magnitogorsk had an essentially cheerful and optimistic view of things.
Scott, John. Behind the Urals, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1942, p. 205

STALIN DID NOT SIGN SENTENCING ORDERS ALONE

I was never really in on the case [the Leningrad trial] myself, but I admit that I may have signed the sentencing order. In those days when a case was closed–and if Stalin thought it necessary–he would sign the sentencing order at a Politbureau session and then pass it around for the rest of us to sign. We would put our signatures on it without even looking at it. That’s what was meant by “collective sentencing.”
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 256

STALIN EXPLAINS WHY THE CHEKA IS NEEDED

His ideas are made even more explicit in an interview with the Foreign Workers’ Delegation on November 5, 1927. At that time he said:…
“The GPU or the Cheka is a punitive organ of the Soviet government…. It punishes primarily spies, plotters, terrorists, bandits, speculators, and forgers. The organ was created on the day after the October revolution, after all kinds of plots, terrorist and spying organizations financed by Russian and foreign capitalists were discovered. This organ developed and became consolidated after a series of terrorist acts had been perpetrated against leaders of the Soviet government, after the murder of Comrade Uritsky, member of the revolutionary committee of Leningrad, after the murder of Comrade Volodarsky, member of the revolutionary committee of Leningrad, and after the attempt on the life of Lenin. It must be admitted that the GPU still holds good. It has been, ever since, the terror of the bourgeoisie, the indefatigable guard of the Revolution, the unsheathed sword of the Proletariat.
“It is not surprising, therefore, that the bourgeoisie of all countries hate the GPU. All sorts of legends have been invented about the GPU…. The sworn enemies of the revolution curse the GPU. Hence it follows that the GPU is doing the right thing.
“But this is not how the workers regard the GPU. You can go to the workers’ districts and ask the workers what they think of it. You’ll find they regard it with respect. Why? Because they see in it a loyal defender of the Revolution….
“I do not mean to say by this that the internal situation of the country is such as makes it necessary to have punitive organs of the Revolution. From the point of view of the internal situation, the revolution is so firm and unshakeable that we could do without the GPU. But the trouble is that the enemies at home are not isolated individuals. They are all connected in a thousand ways with the capitalists of all countries who support them by every means and in every way. We are a country surrounded by capitalist states. The internal enemies of our Revolution are the agents of the capitalists of all countries. The capitalist states are the background and basis for our internal enemies. In fighting against the enemies at home we fight the counterrevolutionary elements of all countries. Judge for yourselves whether under such conditions we can do without such punitive organs as the GPU.”
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 29

This Organ (Cheka) was created on the day after the October Revolution, after all kinds of plots, terrorist and spying organizations financed by Russian and foreign capitalists were discovered. This organ developed and became consolidated after a series of terrorist acts had been perpetrated against the leaders of the Soviet government, after the murder of Comrade Uritsky, member of the Revolutionary Committee of Leningrad (he was killed by a Socialist-Revolutionary), after the murder of Comrade Volodarsky, member of the Revolutionary Committee of Leningrad (he was also killed by a Socialist-Revolutionary), after the attempt on the life of Lenin (he was wounded by a member of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party). It must be admitted that the GPU aimed at the enemies of the revolution without missing. By the way, this quality of the GPU still holds good. It has been, ever since, the terror of the bourgeoisie, the indefatigable guard of the revolution, the unsheathed sword of the proletariat.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the bourgeoisie of all countries hate the GPU. All sorts of legends have been invented about the GPU.
The slander which has been circulated about the GPU knows no bounds. And what does that mean? It means that the GPU is properly defending the interests of the Revolution. The sworn enemies of the Revolution curse the GPU. Hence, it follows that the GPU is doing the right thing.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 231

Stalin described the GPU’s functions as the Communist Party sees them, in response to an inquiry put to him by a visiting delegation in 1927. He said: “…No, comrades, we do not want to fall into the same error as the Parisian Communards fell into. They were all too mild toward the Versaillers, and Karl Marx has accused them of this since.
From the internal standpoint the situation of the Revolution is so absolutely firm and unshakeable that we could easily do without the State Political Administration, but what internal enemies do exist are not isolated individuals, they are connected with the capitalists abroad by a thousand threads, and the latter support them with all means…. We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the Parisian Communards. The State Political Administration is necessary for the Revolution and will continue to exist to the terror of the enemies of the proletariat.”
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 180

Notwithstanding all the horrors associated with the name Cheka during the first years of the Bolshevik Revolution, neither Dzerzhinsky himself nor the majority of his trusted assistants were motivated by anything except fanatical zeal to serve as the sword of the Revolution. Feared by people, the Secret Police were not then feared by those who worked loyally for the Soviet State.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 153

(Foreign Delegation’s Interview with Stalin on November 5, 1927)

QUESTION: Judicial powers of the GPU, trial without witness, without defenders, secret arrests. Considering that these measures are not approved of by French public opinion, it would be interesting to hear their justification. Is it intended to substitute or abolish them?

ANSWER: The GPU or the Cheka is a retributive organ of the Soviet Government. It is more or less similar to the Committee of Public Safety which existed during the Great French Revolution. It punishes primarily spies, plotters, terrorists, bandits, speculators, and forgers. It is something in the nature of a military-political tribunal set up for the purpose of protecting the interests of the Revolution from attacks on the part of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie and their agents.
This organ was created on the day after the October Revolution, after all kinds of plots, terrorist and spying organizations, financed by Russian and foreign capitalists were discovered. This organ developed and became consolidated after a series of terrorist acts perpetrated against the leaders of the Soviet Government, after the murder of Comrade Uritsky, member of the Revolutionary Committee of Leningrad (he was killed by a Social-Revolutionary), after the murder of Comrade Volodarsky, member of the Revolutionary Committee of Leningrad (he was also killed by a Social-Revolutionary), after the attempt on Lenin (he was wounded by a member of the Social-Revolutionary Party). It must be admitted that the GPU aimed at the enemies of the Revolution without missing. By the way, this quality of the GPU still holds good. It has become the scare of the bourgeoisie, the indefatigable guard of the Revolution, the unsheathed sword of the proletariat.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the bourgeoisie of all countries have such hatred for the GPU. There is no legend which has not been invented in connection with the GPU. There is no such slander which has not been circulated about the GPU. And what does that mean? It means that the GPU is properly defending the interests of the Revolution. The sworn enemies of the Revolution curse the GPU. Hence, it follows that the GPU is doing the right thing….
But this is not how the workers regard the GPU. You go to the workers’ quarters and ask the workers what they think of it. You’ll find that they regard it with great respect. Why? Because they see in it a loyal defender of the Revolution.
I understand the hatred and distrust of the bourgeoisie for the GPU. I understand the various bourgeois tourists who, on coming to the USSR inquire before anything else as to whether the GPU is still alive and whether the time has not yet come for its liquidation. This is comprehensible and not out of the ordinary. But I cannot understand some workers’ delegates who, on coming to the USSR, ask with alarm as to whether many counter-revolutionaries have been punished by the GPU and whether terrorists and plotters against the proletarian Government will still be punished by it and is it not time yet for its dissolution. Where does this concern of some workers’ delegates for the enemies of the proletarian revolution come from? How can it be explained? How can it be justified?
They advocate a maximum of leniency, they advise the dissolution of the GPU…. But can anyone guarantee that the capitalists of all countries will abandon the idea of organizing and financing counter-revolutionary plotters, terrorists, incendiaries, and bomb-throwers after the liquidation of the GPU? To disarm the Revolution without having any guarantees that the enemies of the Revolution will be disarmed–would not that be folly, would not that be a crime against the working class? No, comrades, we did not want to repeat the errors of the Paris Communards. The Communards of Paris were too lenient in dealing with Versailles, for which Marx rightly denounced them at the time. They had to pay for their leniency, and when Thiers came to Paris tens of thousands of workers were shot by the Versailles forces. Do the comrades think that the Russian bourgeoisie and nobility were less bloodthirsty than those of Versailles in France? We know, at any rate, how they behaved towards the workers when they occupied Siberia, the Ukraine, and North Caucasia in alliance with the French, British, Japanese, and American interventionists.
I do not mean to say by this that the internal situation of the country is such as makes it necessary to have a retributive organ of the Revolution. From the point of view of the internal situation, the Revolution is so firm and unshakable that we could do without the GPU. But the trouble is that the enemies at home are not isolated individuals. They are connected in a thousand ways with the capitalists of all countries who support them by every means and in every way. We are a country surrounded by capitalist states. The internal enemies of our Revolution are the agents of the capitalists of all countries. The capitalist states are the background and basis for the internal enemies of our Revolution. Fighting against the enemies at home we therefore fight the counter-revolutionary elements of all countries. Judge for yourselves whether under such conditions we can do without such retributive organs as the GPU.
No, comrades, we do not want to repeat the mistakes of the Paris Communards. The GPU is necessary for the Revolution and it will continue to live and strike terror into the heart of the enemies of the proletariat.
Stalin, Joseph. The Worker’s State. London: Communist Party of Great Britain. 1928, p. 23-26

TRIALS ACTUALLY INVOLVE ON A VERY SMALL PART OF THE PEOPLE

To the rest of the world it seemed at the time that Russia was enveloped in a smothering atmosphere of plots, murders, and purges. Actually this was a superficial view since, although the rest of the world was morbidly interested in the trials to the exclusion of anything else about Russia, only a tiny percentage of the population was involved and the same years which saw the treason trials saw some of the greatest triumphs of Soviet planning. While the screws tightened on a tiny minority the majority of Soviet people were enjoying greater prosperity and greater freedom.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 30

It was easy, reading our newspapers, to believe that the whole of Russia was in the throes of trials and executions. This was not a true picture. Russia was building during this period–industrializing, rearming, educating–faster perhaps that any other country.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 31

Reading this tedious catalog of never-ending arrests and trials, we are bound to imagine that the country’s state of mind in that terrible year 1937 was one of deep depression. Not a bit of it! The great majority of the population woke up happily to the relentless blare of loudspeakers, sped eagerly to work, participated enthusiastically in the daily public meetings at which their enemies were anathematized, and read skimpy newspaper reports of the trials which showed how very reliable the secret police were.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 386

In the so called Moscow trials 55 people got capital punishment and 7 imprisonment. Most of those prosecuted were persons in high positions in the party, the state apparatus and the army accused of treason, espionage, terrorism, sabotage, corruption or collaboration with the enemy, Nazi Germany. The Moscow trials were followed by trials in other parts of the country against companions of the traitors tried in Moscow, and hundreds of saboteurs, spies and all kinds of traitors were condemned to prison or death. The trials were public except trials against military personnel, which were held behind closed doors because of the secrecy in the defence preparations against Nazi Germany. In Moscow the trials were monitored by the international press and the accredited diplomatic corps, for which seats were reserved in the court room.
Sousa, Mario. The Class Struggle During the Thirties in the Soviet Union, 2001.

TORTURE NOT USED DURING QUESTIONING

…Reports of brutality by the GPU, particularly of beating and third-degree methods are current, but the evidence to sustain them seems mostly to date back to the days of the Cheka. I have talked with many ex-prisoners in Russia and abroad, and have read also all the published accounts of the prison experiences of others, and from all of them I gathered that police brutality such as we know it in America is now rare in Russia. Long-continued grillings, isolation, and wretched physical conditions are the worst of the evils of preliminary detention. Only in Tiflis did I hear, from what seemed credible sources, of beatings to extort information. One GPU practice, frequently noted because so public, lends color to charges of brutality: the transfer of groups of prisoners on foot through the streets under soldier guard with fixed bayonets. To Americans it should be said that the brutality appears to be insignificant compared with the routine cruelties of the third-degree practiced daily by every sizable police department in the United States.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 186

What than made the prisoners confess? The indictment says that they had long ago lost all shame and conscience, had become hired assassins and diversionists and could hope for no mercy. Almost all of them declared that they had not been tortured or coerced….
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 362

The first and most reasonable supposition is, of course, that the confessions were extracted from the prisoners by torture and by the threat of still worse tortures. Yet this first conjecture was refuted by the obvious freshness and vitality of the prisoners, by their whole physical and mental aspect. Thus in order to explain the “impossible” confessions, the skeptics had to grope around for other causes. The prisoners, they proclaimed, had been given all sorts of poisons; they had been hypnotized and drugged. If this be true, then no one else in the world has ever succeeded in obtaining such powerful and lasting results, and the scientist who did succeed would hardly be satisfied with acting as the mysterious handy-man of police forces. He would presumably use his methods with a view to increasing his scientific prestige. But those who take exception to the conduct of the trial prefer to clutch at the most absurd backstair hypotheses rather than believe what is under their noses–that the prisoners were properly convicted and that their confessions were founded on fact.
When one speaks to the Soviet people of hypotheses such is these, they merely shrug their shoulders and smile. Why should we, they say, if we wanted to falsify the facts, resort to such difficult and dangerous expedients as spurious confessions? Would it not have been simpler to forge documents? Do you think that, instead of letting Trotsky make highly treasonable speeches through the mouths of Pyatakov and Radek, we could not much more easily have brought before the eyes of the world highly treasonable letters of his and documents which would have proved his association with the Fascists much more directly? You have seen and heard the accused: did you get the impression that their confessions had been extorted?
Indeed I did not. The men who stood before the court were not tortured and desperate people before their executioner. There was no justification of any sort for imagining that there was anything manufactured, artificial, or even awe-inspiring or emotional about these proceedings.
Feuchtwanger, Lion. Moscow, 1937. New York: The Viking Press, 1937, p. 121-122

The stories that they [the defendants] were hypnotized or given mysterious drugs may be safely dismissed.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 374

But critics were right in saying that torture alone could probably not have produced the public self-humiliation of a whole series of Stalin’s enemies, when returned to health and given a platform.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 123

Please do not think that these confessions were taken under brutal force on the guilty persons. There was nothing of that sort at all. I myself was always present at these processes. Alexiev was also present, keeping a close watch on these culprits and every day, brought these people fresh newspapers. They were held in jail cells with all the necessary conveniences and got fed really well. Even Bukharin in his trial stated this, with foreign correspondents present.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 74

Let us dismiss at the outset some of the fairy tales. Stalin, some whisperers had it, was mortally ill, and was extirpating the last remnants of opposition while he was still alive; according to other “reports” he had suddenly gone “insane.” It was said that the prisoners were tortured, hypnotized, drugged (in order to make them give false confessions) and–a choice detail– impersonated by actors of the Moscow Art theater! But the trials occurred soon after the preliminary investigations were concluded, and they took place before hundreds of witnesses, many of them experienced correspondents, in open court. The prisoners testified that they were well-treated during the investigation. Radek, indeed, says that it was he who tortured the prosecutor, by refusing to confess month after month. Pressure there certainly was, in the manner of police investigation all over the world, but no evidence of torture.
The trials, the Trotskyists assert, were a colossal frame up. The prisoners were induced to confess, they say, on a promise of immunity and a pardon after the trial–if they talked freely–and then double-crossed and shot. This is hardly conceivable from a close reading of the testimony. It could not easily have occurred in the second trial, when the defendants must of known that the first batch, despite their confessions, were sentenced to death and duly executed.
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 552

In one of my articles I myself repeated the story that Zinoviev and Kamenev were tortured, and also that Stalin sent for them and used persuasion on them. I got one curious response: a letter amusingly signed NKVD: You are mistaken, Comrade. No torture was used on Zinoviev.
[the same letter says]…Zinoviev was, then, treated throughout with the greatest respect…. There was no torture. The setup was, I repeat, quite different. The prison was more like a clinic. The whole atmosphere suggested that they would surely be pardoned.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 339-340

For, unlike the soldiers, who were tried in camera, Bukharin was to be granted the favor of a magnificent public trial. There are many legends about the tortures which induced him to take part in this ignominious farce. It is a pity to debunk a good legend, but let Bukharin’s letters speak for themselves….
[His letter states] “As it is I am perishing here [in prison]. The rules are very strict, you can’t even talk loudly in your cell, or play checkers or chess, when you go out into the corridor you aren’t allowed to talk at all, you can’t feed the pigeons at your window, can’t do anything at all. On the other hand, the warders, even the very junior ones, are always polite, reserved, correct. We are well fed. But the cells are dark. Yet the lights are on day and night. I swab floors, clean my slop pail. Nothing new in that.”
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 374-375

So the prison regimen was strict, but they were perfectly polite, and the food was good. No, there was no torture. And it seems unlikely that the delicate and hysterical Bukharin would have written so many literary works in the intervals of torture. He tortured himself–with his despair, his fear of being shot, the anguish he felt for his family. He was too delicate an organism for prison life. He was a poet, not a politician.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 377

Even though they were not physically tortured [in prison], the regime of threats and sleeplessness demoralized Zinoviev, suffering from asthma, and Kamenev.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 185

On the question of whether torture was used to gain confessions, remarkably, Western diplomats and journalists attending the open trials, said of the prisoners that they saw no haggard faces, no twitching hands, no dazed expressions, and no bandaged heads.
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 205

POLICE HAVE BROAD POWERS AS IF IN WARTIME

To sum up, the whole system of dealing with political opposition in Russia rests on extraordinarily broad foundations–broader than elsewhere in the world. It rests first on the loose and inclusive legal definitions of political offenses, and second on the extraordinary powers of the GPU in arrests, prosecution, “trial,” imprisonment, and exile. Both the conception of political crime and the discretion of the political police are wider either than under the czar, or than in other countries. They are analogous to other countries in a state of war, in which Soviet Russia regards herself.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 208

Given the conditions out of which this stern discipline of the country grew, together with the inherited habits of government and the continuous struggle against enemies abroad and within, its excesses are understandable. They yield to a far more natural explanation than the romantic interpretation of “Asiatic cruelty” often attached to them.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 209

…The 20 members of the old bourgeoisie shot in June, 1927, in reprisal for the assassination of the Soviet ambassador at Warsaw, were condemned solely by administrative order of the GPU backed up by the Central Executive Committee.
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 213

The effect of these summary executions in arousing a storm of protest in the foreign press surprised the Soviet officials…. Even Russians used to the severity of the regime spoke bitterly of it. But the reaction probably typical of the masses was voiced by the peasant president of a village Soviet way out in Moscow province. When I asked him what he thought of such a proceeding, he said slowly, with the far-away philosophical gaze, “Well, if it is necessary to shoot 1000 of those fellows to save what we’ve got, I’m for it.”
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 215

PUNISHMENTS OF POLITICAL OPPONENTS ARE RELATIVELY LIGHT

By far the largest number of political opponents of the Soviet regime against whom action is taken are exiled. Comparatively few are shot; more are imprisoned; most exiled…
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 219

Until 1937, the regime in the labor re-education camps was, usually, relatively liberal and humane. Political prisoners had a privileged status with many special rights denied to ordinary criminals. The workday during the winter was from four to six hours, and in summer ten. Generous pay was provided which allowed prisoners to send money to their families and to return home with money. Goods and clothing was adequate and serious attempts were made to re-educate the prisoners.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 235

STALIN NOT TO BLAME FOR YAGODA AND YEZHOV CRIMES

The sadistic Yagoda and Yezhov, who for a time ruled a state within a state–the GPU, were chiefly responsible for these outrages. By Yagoda’s own account his hirelings faked thousands of documents and so mixed up the records that it was impossible to tell a genuine dossier from a bogus one. Curiously the public does not seem to blame Stalin for having permitted such a Frankenstein to develop, but instead gives him credit for having cleaned up the Yagoda gang and brought the secret police back under full control of the Politburo–which he did when the GPU was crushed.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 148

How can anyone now allow himself the stupidity of criticizing Stalin for repression and crimes? This was a psychosis that was cleverly instituted by Yezhov and other enemies of the State… this psychosis took over the minds of millions of people. Practically all were involved in looking for “enemies.” The Central Committee ACP[B] was against this, fought this tooth and nail—Stalin in particular. People got involved in this, and friends were “drowning” friends in the name of getting rid of “enemies.” Of course, this cannot all be explained as a mass psychosis! In all the examinations that were conducted into this period, we had 30-40 people going over the same documents, but NOWHERE did we EVER find the name of Stalin, or the command of Stalin, or the resolution to do these things which were undertaken by the REAL ENEMIES of the Soviet people. No directives either of Stalin, Molotov, or Voroshilov were to be found in all of these documents.
According to my way of thinking, Stalin also bears some blame because he was the Head of the Motherland. His fault was that he was always favoring “collective decisions” and thus was fooled by his “comrades-in-arms.” Yagoda, Malenkov, Khrushchev, Beria, and others. Yezhov, Stalin spotted from the start and took steps to stop him and get rid of him.
Rybin, Aleksei. Next to Stalin: Notes of a Bodyguard. Toronto: Northstar Compass Journal, 1996, p. 80

STALIN WAS NOT AS REPRESSIVE TOWARD SUBVERSIVES AS SOME OTHERS

At every step of the way, there were constituencies both within and outside the elite that supported repression of various groups, sometimes with greater vehemence than Stalin did. The terror was a series of group efforts (though the groups changed frequently) rather than a matter of one man intimidating everyone else. This finding by no means takes Stalin off the hook or lessens his guilt. But it does mean that the picture is more complex.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. xiv

[Footnote]: Even on the subject of repression, Stalin sometimes seemed unsure. Although he took a hard-line toward Trotskyists and Zinovievists, he was for a long time undecided on Bukharin and Pyatakov. In the summer of 1936, he actually appointed Pyatakov to be a witness at the first show trials. But less than two weeks before the trial, Pyatakov was removed and himself arrested based on evidence suddenly produced by Yezhov and Yagoda. After receiving for five months Yezhov’s written “evidence” denouncing Bukharin, Stalin declined to sanction his arrest. Even at the notorious February Plenum of 1937, photostatic evidence shows that Stalin’s first impulse was to simply exile Bukharin, without sending him to trial. Of course, in the end, both Pyatakov and Bukharin were killed, but the road to their demise was not a straight one.
Nove, Alec, Ed. The Stalin Phenomenon. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p. 150

On December 30, 1934, during the examination, Khriukin, a member of the Komsomol and a third-year student in the History Department at the Rostov Pedagogical Institute, openly defended Zinoviev and Kamenev. He declared that Zinoviev and Kamenev rendered enormous services to the revolution, were friends of Lenin, and that now all this was being obliterated. Khriukin further declared that Zinoviev had no tie with the terrorists who killed Comrade Kirov, that in general members of the opposition cannot be champions of terror, and that the judicial procedure used to establish an ideological tie between the terrorists and the Zinoviev-Kamenev group was improper.
On Jan. 3, 1935, a Komsomol meeting took place in which Khriukin was admitted even though he had already been expelled from the Komsomol and the institute. The meeting’s presidium afforded Khriukin the opportunity to present his counter-revolutionary views despite protests from the Komsomol members present.
After Khriukin’s arrest, in the process of the investigation, it was determined that Khriukin was closely connected with the following group of students at the pedagogical institute: Yelin, Chalov, Ustimenko, Gavrilov, and Khriukin. All these individuals (not bona fide party members), the investigation determined, got in the institute by means of forged documents. In 1932, on Elin’s and Khriukin’s initiative, the individuals named stole from the party committee of the “Comintern” Mine (Shakhty Raion) a large quality of blank associate party member and registration cards, filled them out in their own names and, having prepared false documents about graduating from nine-year schools, gained admission to the institute.
In the Rostov Financial and Economics Institute on January 1, 1935 at a conference of party and Komsomol organizers and individuals assigned by the party, student Kondeev (a Komsomol member) declared: “One must also pay attention to the contributions of Zinoviev and others. Why do you only consider their faults? Zinoviev is a great leader. He was president of the Comintern.” Having said this, he left the meeting. The same day Kondeev assembled groups of students and passionately defended Zinoviev, Nikolayev [assassin of Kirov, Leningrad party secretary, on December 1, 1934] and other counter-revolutionaries.
In the evening at a meeting of the Komsomol group the question of excluding Kondeev from the Komsomol in the Institute was raised. In spite of the fact that Kondeev’s counter-revolutionary position was quite clear, he was afforded the opportunity of delivering an unabashedly counter-revolutionary sermon. At the end he said straight out that the purpose of his remarks was “to show the students that the party and government and our party committee in particular had wrongly judged the members of the opposition.” After his expulsion from the Komsomol and from the Institute, Kondeev immediately when underground, disappeared. [Accounts follow of “counter-revolutionary agitation” at several Novocherkassk institutes.]
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 135

NUMBERS GIVEN FOR THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE REPRESSED ARE FAR TOO HIGH

…For one thing, the archival evidence from the secret police rejects the astronomically high estimates often given for the number of terror victims.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. xiv

In any event, the data available at this point make it clear that the number shot in the two worst purge years [1937-38] was more likely in the hundreds of thousands than in the millions.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 591

Because of these uncertainties, there is still controversy about the accuracy of these data, and no reason to believe them to be final or exact. One cannot stress enough that with our current documentation, we can posit little more than general, though narrow, ranges. Still, these are the only data currently available from police archives. Moreover, there are good reasons for assuming that they are not wildly wrong because of the consistent way numbers from different sources compare with one another.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 593

…That right-wing opposition was and is even today extremely hard to fight. But no one writes about this or tries to explain it.
Of course we committed a number of grave errors in the matter. But in fact those errors were many fewer in numbers than people think today.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 258

The charge against me [Molotov] is the same: abuse of power. The report written by that commission member…says that 1,370,000 arrests were made in the 1930s. That’s too many. I responded that the figures should be thoroughly reviewed and that unwarranted arrests did occur, but that we couldn’t have survived without resorting to stern measures.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 285

During the years 1930-1935, the Soviet Union was short of labor, especially in newly developed regions. The regime tried to use all available forces. It is difficult to see why it would have `killed’ men who had been working the land in Siberia or Kazakhstan for the previous year or two. Nevertheless, Merl estimates that the 100,000 heads of family of the first category, sent to the Gulag system, are all dead. But the Party only placed 63,000 kulaks in the first category and only those guilty of terrorist and counter-revolutionary acts should be executed. Merl continues:
`Another 100,000 persons probably lost their lives, at the beginning of 1930, due to expulsion from their houses, deportation towards the North and executions’. Then he adjusts the number by another 100,000 persons, `dead in the deportation regions at the end of the thirties’. Once again, no precision or indication.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 96-97 [pp. 80-81 on the NET]

(Arch Getty and William Chase)
In the former USSR, several new studies have sharply narrowed the range of estimates of the aggregate numbers of victims and generally invalidated the highest Western guesses.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 225

Without denying that many individual members of the Soviet elite were victims of the terror during the Ezhovshchina, the fact remains that to date no one has systematically studied the fate of the elite’s members; our understanding of the impact on the elite remains imprecise and anecdotal.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 228

The true number of those falsely accused of counter-revolutionary activities who were executed in the 1936-38 period, is probably between 20,000 and 100,000. Both George Kennan and Jerry Hough concur that the likely number of executions was closer to the former than the latter figure. During the French Revolution about 17,000 people were executed for counter-revolutionary activity in the 1793-94 period of Jacobin Terror, representing about .065% of the French population at the time. If the figure of 20,000 for the 1936-38 Red Terror is accurate, this represents .01% of the Soviet population; if the 100,000 figure is correct, this represents.05%. Any reasonable estimate of executions in the 1936-38 period of the Great Purge indicates that, in relative terms, at most they did not exceed those of the Jacobin Terror, and were probably fewer. Clearly the popular conception of the bloodiness of the Great Purge is a gross exaggeration cultivated by those concerned to discredit developments in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and since, as well as the contemporary or revolutionary process in other countries.
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 243

…To say that all the repressions were unwarranted is, I consider, incorrect. There was a sufficiently high number of enemies in the country after the revolution, dissatisfied people–political criminals as well as ordinary criminals. There was also a good deal of banditry going on in the country; on the collective farms they had to put up with murders of activists and people taking up arms. There were victims, of course. The repressions about which so much is written and talked about today were not at all on the scale that is stated now. “Hundreds of millions of repressed”, they say. Nonsense! All this idiotic propaganda has brought our country to where it is today, to the lowest level”
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 277

Some Russian anti-communist writers such as Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov, and many US anti-communist liberals, maintained that the gulag existed right down to the last days of communism. If so, where did it disappear to? After Stalin’s death in 1953, more than half of the gulag inmates were freed, according to the study of the NKVD files previously cited. But if so many others remained incarcerated, why have they not materialized? When the communist states were overthrown, where were the half-starved hordes pouring out of the internment camps with their tales of travail?…
What of the supposedly vast numbers of political prisoners said to exist in the other “communist totalitarian police states” of Eastern Europe? Why no evidence of their mass release in the postcommunist era? And where are the mass of political prisoners in Cuba?
If there were mass atrocities right down to the last days of communism, why did not the newly installed anti-communist regimes seize the opportunity to bring erstwhile communist rulers to justice? Why no Nuremberg-style public trials documenting widespread atrocities? Why were not hundreds of party leaders and security officials and thousands of camp guards rounded up and tried for the millions they supposedly exterminated? The best the West Germans could do was charge East German leader Eric Honecker, several other officials, and seven border guards with shooting people who tried to escape over the Berlin Wall, a serious charge but hardly indicative of a gulag….
Most of those incarcerated in the gulag were not political prisoners, and the same appears to be true of inmates in the other communist states.
Parenti, Michael. Blackshirts and Reds, San Francisco: City Light Books, 1997, p. 81-83

OTHER GROUPS SUPPORTED THE BOLSHEVIKS STRINGENT METHODS

Behind and around them [a small number of authoritative persons], though, were other groups and constituencies–among them, members of religious and political hierarchies, policeman of various kinds, and ordinary citizen-members of “the crowd”–who abetted the proceedings, acquiesced in the process, or simply looked on, conceding that such ruthlessness was necessary, reasonable, or at least acceptable.
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 7

ARRESTS BEING MADE BY PEOPLE UNQUALIFIED TO DO SO

Anyone who feels like arresting does so, including those who have, properly speaking, no right whatsoever to make arrests. It is no wonder, therefore, that with such an orgy of arrests, the organs [of state] having the right to make arrests, including the organs of the OGPU and especially of the police, have lost all sense of proportion–Central Committee circular, 1933
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 103

[May 8, 1933 Central Committee decree]
To all party-Soviet officials and to all organs of the OGPU, the courts, and the procuracy.
The desperate resistance of the kulaks in the kolkhoz movement and of the toiling peasants, already in full swing at the end of 1929 and taking the form of arson and terror against kolkhoz officials, has made it necessary for Soviet authorities to resort to mass arrests and harsh measures of repression in the form of mass expulsions of kulaks and their henchman to northern and remote regions.
The continued resistance by kulak elements–taking the form of sabotage within the kolkhozy and sovkhozy, a fact brought to light in 1932, the mass plundering of kolkhoz and sovkhoz property–have made necessary the further intensification of repressive measures against kulak elements, against thieves and saboteurs of every stripe.
True, demands for mass expulsions from the countryside and for the use of harsh forms of repression continue to come in from a number of regions, while petitions by others for the expulsions of 100,000 families from their regions and territories are presently in the possession of the Central Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars. Information has been received by the Central Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars that makes it evident that disorderly arrests on a massive scale are being carried out by our officials in the countryside. Arrests or being carried out by chairmen of kolkhozy, by members of the governing boards of kolkhozy, by chairmen of village soviets, by the secretaries of cells and by district and territorial commissioners. Anyone who feels like arresting does so, including those who have, properly speaking, no right whatsoever to make arrests. It is no wonder, therefore, that with such an orgy of arrests, the organs [of state] having the right to make arrests, including the organs of the OGPU and especially of the police, have lost all sense of proportion. More often than not, they will arrest people for no reason at all, acting in accordance with the principle: “Arrest first, ask questions later!”
Getty & Naumov, The Road to Terror. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, c1999, p. 114

These comrades apparently do not understand that these tactics of massive deportation of the peasants outside their region has, in the new circumstances, already outlived itself, that such deportation can only be applied on an individual and partial basis and then applied only to the leaders and organizers of the struggle against the kolkhozy.
These comrades do not understand that the method of mass, disorderly arrests–if this can be considered a method–represents, in light of the new situation, only liabilities, which diminish the authority of Soviet power. They do not understand that making arrests o