Josef Stalin and the Great Purges Term Paper by Winston

Josef Stalin and the Great Purges
A discussion on how and why Josef Stalin planned and supervised the terror and purges of the 1930s in the Soviet Union where over 10 million Soviet citizens were destroyed.
# 6617 | 1,790 words | 3 sources | MLA | 2002 | BE
Published on Feb 08, 2003 in History (Leaders) , History (European - 20th Century)

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This essay examines and analyzes the greatest tragedy of 20th century Russia: the show trials, purges, and terror of the 1930s. The essay asks the following question: How did the destruction of over 10 million innocent citizens by their own countrymen ever happen? Recent research proves the Stalin was the mastermind of this insane "witch-hunt," but Stalin was not insane: he had clear and practical motivations behind the slaughter. As unjustified as they are, they do exist and are the focus of discussion and analysis in this paper.

From the Paper:

"The Great Purges of the Soviet Union began in 1934 with Kirov's assassination and ended in late 1938. To this day, they remain "the greatest riddle of Stalin's reign." (Radzinsky 319). This self-inflicted mass murder and "witch-hunt" consumed at least 8 million victims, people from all walks of society who were either executed or sent to labor camps where the survival rate was less than ten percent. Beginning with the show trials of old Bolsheviks, the purges moved on through the ranks of industrial managers, military leaders, scientists, artists, cultural figures, and finally well into the mass of common people, thus terrorizing the entire country. The arrests and killings eventually started to paralyze the Soviet Union and were soon in no one's self-interest; they began to drain the USSR physically and economically. Engineers and managers were killed, slowing the economy. So many Red Army officers were killed that the Soviets were largely unprepared for World War II (Hochschild 96). By the end of 1938, the country was no longer ruled by the Party, nor even by Stalin. It was ruled by fear (Radzinsky 356). Only then did Stalin relax the purges and order the execution of the leader of the NKVD, Yezhov."

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