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The Purges and Moscow Trials

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Oct 2004, 02:34
Komsomol
Post 15 Feb 2008, 12:41
I am having a difficult time finding an accurate and balanced account of the purges in the Soviet Union during the 1930s (often referred to as the 'Great Purge', though in fact a convergence of separate phenomena). Was there any genuine reason for these historic events? Was it nothing more than a cynical power grab by Stalin, who sought to eliminate the opposition? I am currently of the opinion that these events were in part an effort by Stalin to consolidate power, but that there were genuine concerns and that Stalin wasn't merely seizing power for power's sake. One thing that I still don't know is why, if the trials were staged, did international lawyers deem them fair? Did Stalin actually become personally involved in the trials? To what extent were ordinary people, not just higher officials, affected? I would appreciate it if anyone who knows more about this period in Soviet history could shed light on the true nature of the purges and trials.
"Unpolitisch sein heißt: politisch sein, ohne es zu merken." - Rosa Luxemburg
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jun 2004, 17:30
Politburo
Post 15 Feb 2008, 14:08
Rabble Rouser wrote:
One thing that I still don't know is why, if the trials were staged, did international lawyers deem them fair?


The Nation, February 1, 1928 wrote:
'This action brings to the front the question: Who represents the continuation of the Bolshevik programme in Russia and who the inevitable reaction from it? To the American readers it has seemed as if Lenin and Trotsky represented the same thing and the conservative press and statesmen have arrived at the same conclusion. Thus, the New York Times found a chief cause for rejoicing on New Year's Day in the successful elimination of Trotsky from the Communist Party, declaring flatly that "the ousted opposition stood for the perpetuation of the ideas and conditions that have cut off Russia from Western civilization." Most of the great European newspapers wrote similarly. Sir Austin Chamberlain during the Geneva Conference was quoted as saying that England could not enter into conversations with Russia for the simple reason that "Trotsky had not yet been shot against a wall"- he must be pleased by Trotsky's banishment.. .. At any rate, the mouthpieces of reaction in Europe are one in their conclusion that Trotsky, and not Stalin, is their chief Communist enemy.


And, at any rate, after a portion of the revolutionaries were out of the way it was easy to point the finger at those running the trials. It serves as propaganda against both sides to give it the thumbs up at the time and then revise it as villainy when it's over.
Alis Volat Propriis; Tiocfaidh Ar La; Proletarier Aller Länder, Vereinigt Euch!
Soviet cogitations: 6887
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Nov 2007, 08:37
Unperson
Post 16 Feb 2008, 05:41
The purge was the killing off of corrupt, and often trotskyist, administrative and military leaders. In most cases they were well justified. The actual extent of the purges (1921-1953) numbers around 600 000 - 700 000.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Sep 2007, 23:24
Pioneer
Post 17 Feb 2008, 00:15
Quote:
The purge was the killing off of corrupt, and often trotskyist, administrative and military leaders. In most cases they were well justified. The actual extent of the purges (1921-1953) numbers around 600 000 - 700 000.

What about all the old Bolsheviks executed by Stalin, who were vital in the success of the revolution in 1917 and the continuation of Soviet rule during and following the civil war?

IMO the purges were Stalins way of eliminating both Capitalist and Socialist opposition to his grab for power.

I dont care about those executed for oppossing him on Capitalist grounds, but there was absolutely no reasonable excuse for having genuine Socialists, like the old Bolsheviks, executed.

The fact that one man can have that amount of power to do such things, says alot about Soviet style Socialism at the time.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Nov 2007, 08:37
Unperson
Post 17 Feb 2008, 03:47
Quote:
What about all the old Bolsheviks executed by Stalin, who were vital in the success of the revolution in 1917 and the continuation of Soviet rule during and following the civil war?


What old Bolsheviks? You mean figures like Yakir? Bloody butchers without the lest of bit of talent in the area they served in.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 17 Jan 2005, 07:15
Unperson
Post 17 Feb 2008, 15:38
Basically the whole ordeal comes down on how you choose to view Stalin.

There are no actual facts that can accurately prove or disprove any side here. You can choose to think, based on his earlier and following actions, that the Great Purge was a necessity to keep the union in balance and on course. Or you could choose to think that Stalin was a madman seeking power, thus eliminating everyone who had the capability to think theoretically or even oppose him.

I choose to think that the purge was a necessity, and it certainly was in my opinion. The best way in my opinion to "justify" it would be to mention Kruschev. If Stalin truly was seeking to destroy all his opponents, he would have executed Kruschev long time ago. But he didn't. Hence how Kruschev later on messed things up.
In my opinion, Stalin was to leanient. I would have shot many more.
banistansig2
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Mar 2008, 15:45
Pioneer
Post 13 Mar 2008, 16:01
To the OP, I would suggest studying the information by yourself until you can arrive independently at your own conclusion. Normally, a viable conclusion can be arrived at after revisionism of current accounts and a detailed examination of whether the USSR would have been viable if he did not do it.

I personally am against the elimination of genuine communists and the perpetual terror which Stalinism promulgates. Hardline Stalinism proved to be insustainable in the long run.
Soviet cogitations: 6887
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Nov 2007, 08:37
Unperson
Post 14 Mar 2008, 03:55
How has long-term stalinism proved unsustainable in the long run, and why are you separating stalinism from communism?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Mar 2008, 15:45
Pioneer
Post 14 Mar 2008, 06:34
The way I see it, the cult of personality propagated under Stalin proved to be counter-effective after the personality died.

Perhaps it was because insufficient arrangements were made, but the system became too rigid when the eastern european satellites wanted change. These weren't change from without, but change within. Since the system was unable to provide this change, it is not surprising that people sought alternatives apart from communism. A sustainable regime does not depend on the police apparatus to maintain its power, but rather has sufficient legitimacy. The perpetuation of terror after it is long due, the subsequent destalinization and the flux bewtween liberalisation and hardline conservatism in terms of Stalinist attitudes caused a great loss of legitimacy.
Soviet cogitations: 6887
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Nov 2007, 08:37
Unperson
Post 14 Mar 2008, 08:32
You're making very little sense. I'm getting a strong feeling that behind flowery sentences you don't have any hard facts to back it up. Please give me examples of what you're talking about.

Oh and by the way on the perpetuation of terror, lets see some numbers and dates.
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Soviet cogitations: 49
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Mar 2008, 15:45
Pioneer
Post 14 Mar 2008, 08:58
An example would be Prague Spring. Novotny was a hardliner Stalinist, while Dubcek enjoyed genuine legitimacy amongst the people. However, potential for reforms were put down. Another was the Hungarian Crisis, in which Rakosi was deposed. Imre Nagy, too, enjoyed popular sovereignty and both required military forces to be put down.

With regards to "perpetual terror", I was referring to the use of military and police apparatus. More importantly, with regards to Stalinist purges, the show trials immediately after the consolidation of communist parties were proof enough. There was significant decline in the party membership, trials were held with people like Nagy , Rajk, Kostov etc.

If you would like to show that there has been no terror, by all means, do so. I am merely voicing my interpretation of history and am learning as I go along.
"In communist society there will be absolute freedom of the 'personality'[...] self-activity without compulsion will therefore exist."
-- Nikolai Bukharin, The Economics of the Transitional Period
Soviet cogitations: 6887
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Nov 2007, 08:37
Unperson
Post 15 Mar 2008, 05:56
Stalinist-era purges were neither gratuitous, nor nearly as extensive as you seem to assume. As for other points you mean the Khruschev-era WarPac problems? Well I guess smacking his shoe on the table might not have been the smartest thing to do
.....that f*cking moron.......
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Mar 2008, 15:45
Pioneer
Post 16 Mar 2008, 08:26
Please explain to me as to why Stalinist era purges were necessary.

Killing of old bolsheviks was absolutely unecessary when they have already recanted. Reinstatement of purges among top army ranks goes to show much of the process.* At least one in four communists in Stalinist Eastern Europe were affected by the purge in terms of party membership, which ranged from a depreciation by 25% to 40% in terms of numbers. "More communists died in the hands of communist governments of Eastern Europe than under their pre-war predecessors."**

Loss of legitimacy on part of Kruschev does not explain why Kruschev rose to the top over the apparatchiks in the first place.


The Russian Lord is right in terms of numbers of those EXECUTED. The actual number of people who were thrown into gulags ranges from 6-12 mil. You don't need to be killed to be purged.


*Routledge: Lee, European Dictatorships, 1918-45
**Figures & quote from Routledge: Crampton, Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century
"In communist society there will be absolute freedom of the 'personality'[...] self-activity without compulsion will therefore exist."
-- Nikolai Bukharin, The Economics of the Transitional Period
Soviet cogitations: 6887
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Nov 2007, 08:37
Unperson
Post 16 Mar 2008, 20:53
6-12 million? Can you cite documents on that please?

Now I'm not well versed in the party purges, but to be honest from the looks of it they simply got what until then they were planning for others.

As for the army purges they were not only necessary, they were vital. They removed a generation of incompetent and disconnected from reality commanders to open the way for younger men to rise through the ranks.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Sep 2007, 23:24
Pioneer
Post 17 Mar 2008, 00:18
Quote:
As for the army purges they were not only necessary, they were vital. They removed a generation of incompetent and disconnected from reality commanders to open the way for younger men to rise through the ranks.

I am not sure that i agree with you here as all you have to do is look at the Red Army's poor performance in the Winter War (1939-1940) and early stages of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1942) to understand that those commanders were sorely missed by the Red Army.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Nov 2007, 08:37
Unperson
Post 17 Mar 2008, 04:52
The poor performance was because while the old and incompetent commanders were removed, the retraining of the officer corps, and the creation of a professional officer corps had only begun. Until the purges the Soviet Army was not even capable of minor military engagements. Lake Hasan anyone?
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Soviet cogitations: 49
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Mar 2008, 15:45
Pioneer
Post 17 Mar 2008, 10:15
6-12 mil based on Lee. I just looked at Getty & Naumov, the numbers are less but there is still a significant rise in the number of political prisoners. The reason the numbers are supposed to be put in context is because "petty crime" which is supposed to be put under the civilian police were instead arrested by the NKVD as political victims, which I guess is an epitome of the chaos implicit in the 30s. This, however, doesn't mean that there wasn't political terror going on - when in fact these guys were petty criminals and not political criminals, yet treated like political criminals under the NKVD, goes to show much about the process.

They got what they were planning? Since you are making a positive claim, the burden of proof is on you. Most contemporary historians know that they are innocent without a doubt, For instance, with Bukharin - based on sheer logistical impossibility of the charges, it is impossible for him to be guilty of what the show trial was charging him of. He was a political scapegoat, pure and simple. But if you have proof, I will be very happy to hear them.

If the army purges were truly necessary, then why were there a large number of reinstatement? Until you can explain this, you cannot justify their necessity.
"In communist society there will be absolute freedom of the 'personality'[...] self-activity without compulsion will therefore exist."
-- Nikolai Bukharin, The Economics of the Transitional Period
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Feb 2008, 15:25
Ideology: Other Leftist
Politburo
Post 17 Mar 2008, 12:25
You sound like you know what you're talking about much more than I do comrade (the OP). Could you supply what sources you have for beginners like me? I've had much the same problem that you seem to be going through when researching Stalin.
Soviet cogitations: 6887
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Nov 2007, 08:37
Unperson
Post 18 Mar 2008, 01:31
When I say they got what tehy were planning, I mean that the communist party apparatus was itself satined with blood, including massive civilian, during the Russian Civil War, and the early 20's (Tambovschina anyone?) so their executions were simply the discarding of a revolutionary minded group of politicians that were obstacles to stability within the country.

As for army purges, please distinguish between those retiring from the army due to age, health or other concerns, and those being arrested. The numbers reinstated come primarily from those who retired rather then those who were arrested. Finally the incompetence of strategic level commanders had been proven many times and they were not reinstated. But the War Commissariat was Trotsky's child, and even mid to low level officers, who were no better or worse then the rest were purged because their political reliability in the event of a war with Germany was minimal. When the war did break out however necessity forced the Soviet government to put them back into the service. A decision that I personally think was a mistake. High rates of desertion and even cases of defection to the German side occured partially as a result of these unreliable figures being part of the military.

Finally if you want to defend the strategic talents of any of the purged figures, feel free to dazzle me with your knowledge (as well as your knowledge of military history and combat operations of the Russian Civil War
).
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Soviet cogitations: 166
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Apr 2007, 05:10
Pioneer
Post 18 Mar 2008, 02:13
It seems to me RussianLord that you will defend literally everything Stalin did. According to you half the red army were complete idiots that deserved death instead of simple discharge. Were Alksnis and Tuchachevsky really plotting the overthrow of the USSR. The Soviet Union lost 3 army marshals, 14 of the 16 army commanders, 65 of 67 corps commanders; 136 of 199 division commanders, 221 of 397 brigade commanders, and eight out of nine admirals. Those figures are all but astonishing. Are there valid explanations for all the above?
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