Brutal and without mercy, he instigated the greatest political repression campaign in the history of the Soviet Union. The Great Purge officially lasted from tobut its aftereffects included such actions as the mass murders of political prisoners by the Soviet secret political police, the NKVD, in
Bolshevik revolutionaries Leon TrotskyLev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev Between andthree very large Moscow Trials of former senior Communist Party leaders were held, in which they were accused of conspiring with fascist and capitalist powers to assassinate Stalin and other Soviet leaders, dismember the Soviet Union and restore capitalism.
The first trial was of 16 members of the so-called "Trotskyite-Kamenevite-Zinovievite-Leftist-Counter-Revolutionary Bloc",[ citation needed ] held in August at which the chief defendants were Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev Stalin and purges, two of the most prominent former Stalin and purges leaders.
Among other accusations, they were incriminated with the assassination of Kirov and plotting to kill Stalin. Thirteen of the defendants were eventually executed by shooting. The rest received sentences in labor camps where they soon died.
There was also a secret trial before a military tribunal of a group of Red Army commanders, including Mikhail Tukhachevsky, in June Prosecutor General Andrey Vyshinsky centrereading the indictment against Karl Radek during the 2nd Moscow Trial Some Western observers who attended the trials said that they were fair and that the guilt of the accused had been established.
They based this assessment on the confessions of the accused, which were freely given in open court, without any apparent evidence that they had been extracted by torture or drugging.
The British lawyer and Member of Parliament D. Prittfor example, wrote: It is now known that the confessions were given only after great psychological pressure and torture had been applied to the defendants.
From the accounts of former OGPU officer Alexander Orlov and others, the methods used to extract the confessions are known: After months of such interrogation, the defendants were driven to despair and exhaustion.
Zinoviev and Kamenev demanded, as a condition for "confessing", a direct guarantee from the Politburo that their lives and that of their families and followers would be spared.
This offer was accepted, but when they were taken to the alleged Politburo meeting, only Stalin, Kliment Voroshilovand Yezhov were present. Stalin claimed that they were the "commission" authorized by the Politburo and gave assurances that death sentences would not be carried out.
After the trial, Stalin not only broke his promise to spare the defendants, he had most of their relatives arrested and shot. The commission was headed by the noted American philosopher and educator John Dewey. The Dewey Commission established that no such flight had taken place.
The Dewey Commission later published its findings in a page book titled Not Guilty. Its conclusions asserted the innocence of all those condemned in the Moscow Trials. In its summary, the commission wrote: That the conduct of the Moscow Trials was such as to convince any unprejudiced person that no attempt was made to ascertain the truth.
That while confessions are necessarily entitled to the most serious consideration, the confessions themselves contain such inherent improbabilities as to convince the Commission that they do not represent the truth, irrespective of any means used to obtain them.
That Trotsky never instructed any of the accused or witnesses in the Moscow trials to enter into agreements with foreign powers against the Soviet Union [and] that Trotsky never recommended, plotted, or attempted the restoration of capitalism in the USSR. I feel guilty of one thing more: But we are close friends, and intellectual friendship is stronger than other friendships.
I knew that Bukharin was in the same state of upheaval as myself. Just as in relation to our other cadres, I wanted Bukharin himself to lay down his arms. All three were themselves eventually arrested and executed The third and final trial, in Marchknown as The Trial of the Twenty-Oneis the most famous of the Soviet show trials, because of persons involved and the scope of charges which tied together all loose threads from earlier trials.
Meant to be the culmination of previous trials, it included 21 defendants alleged to belong to the so-called "Bloc of Rightists and Trotskyites", led by Nikolai Bukharin, the former chairman of the Communist Internationalformer premier Alexei RykovChristian RakovskyNikolai Krestinsky and Genrikh Yagodarecently disgraced head of the NKVD.
The fact that Yagoda was one of the accused showed the speed at which the purges were consuming their own. It was now alleged that Bukharin and others sought to assassinate Lenin and Stalin frommurder Maxim Gorky by poison, partition the U.
R and hand her territories to Germany, Japan, and Great Britain, and other preposterous charges. Even previously sympathetic observers who had stomached the earlier trials found it harder to swallow these new allegations as they became ever more absurd, and the purge expanded to include almost every living Old Bolshevik leader except Stalin.
No other crime of the Stalin years so captivated Western intellectuals as the trial and execution of Bukharin, who was a Marxist theorist of international standing. It was at this time that Stalin personally intervened to speed up the process and replaced Yagoda with Yezhov.
Nikolai BukharinRussian Bolshevik revolutionary executed in On the first day of trial, Krestinsky caused a sensation when he repudiated his written confession and pleaded not guilty to all the charges.The Purges in the USSR The purges in the USSR started in the mid’s and continued throughout the late ’s.
Joseph Stalin had shared power with Zinoviev and Kamenev in the time after the death of Lenin () and he had no intention of ever being put in that position again. The Great Purge, also known as the Great Terror, was Stalin’s way of dealing with political opposition.
Brutal and without mercy, he instigated the greatest political repression campaign in . The Great Purge was denounced by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev following Stalin's death. In his secret speech to the 20th CPSU congress in February (which was made public a month later), Khrushchev referred to the purges as an "abuse of power" by Stalin which resulted in enormous harm to the country.
The Great Purge, also known as the Great Terror, was Stalin’s way of dealing with political opposition. Brutal and without mercy, he instigated the greatest political . Purges of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union (Russian: "Чистка партийных рядов", chistka partiynykh ryadov, "cleansing of the party ranks") were a Soviet ritual in which periodic reviews of members of the Communist Party were conducted by other members and .
Kirov was a staunch Stalin loyalist, but Stalin may have viewed him as a potential rival because of his emerging popularity among the moderates. The Party Congress elected Kirov to the central committee with only three votes against, the fewest of any .