The Great Terror Essay

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The Great Terror, an outbreak of organised bloodshed that infected the Communist Party and Soviet society in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), took place in the years 1934 to 1940. The Terror was created by the hegemonic figure, Joseph Stalin, one of the most powerful and lethal dictators in history. His paranoia and yearning to be a complete autocrat was enforced by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), the communist police. Stalin’s ambition saw his determination to eliminate rivals such as followers of Leon Trotsky, a political enemy. The overall concept and practices of the Terror impacted on the communist party, government officials and the peasants. The NKVD, Stalin’s instrument for carrying out the…show more content…
Stalin’s initial political purge occurred on December 1st 1934, when Sergey Kirov, secretary of the Leningrad Soviet, was assassinated by Leonid Nikolayev. Some soviets believed that Stalin ordered the assassination of Kirov; however Stalin used this event as an opportunity to arrest thousands of his opponents, whom he alleged may have been responsible for the murder. The NKVD were ordered to initiate the investigations of suspects in order to arrest them, send them to concentration camps and carry out death sentences and by the end of December 1934, numerous of Kirov’s followers in Leningrad, as well as the assassin Nikolaev, were all shot on the same night, December 29th. As a consequence, this impacted the public as society became terrified of saying the wrong thing and feared being prosecuted and executed. Stalin’s political opponents who avoided purges were presented at show trials, between 1936 and 1938, a judicial trial held in public with the intent of influencing public opinion rather than ensuring justice, where the accused pleaded guilty to charges of treason that he could not have committed. The NKVD had extracted the confessions, through various methods, from those arrested. These methods included bribery, with promises of freedom for themselves and their families, and the use of force and torture. Moreover it included the extraction of the accused’s commitment to the Communist Party as the NKVD would tell

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