The Purge of the Red Army and the Soviet Mass Operations 1937-1938

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Whitewood, Peter (2015)

This article explores the possible connections between Stalin's purge of the Red Army, sanctioned in June 1937, and the Soviet mass operations, launched just weeks later. It argues that Stalin ordered the military purge to combat a misperceived threat from foreign agents in the Red Army that had become a pressing issue in the early months of 1937. The article makes the case that, once launched, the military purge provided the catalyst for the mass operations as the regime sought not only to destroy a ‘fifth column’ in the Red Army, but soon turned attention to the wider population.
  • References (22)
    22 references, page 1 of 3

    2 Details of the first mass operation were first published inTrud on 4 June 1992. For the political context of the publication, see HagenlohS, talin's Police, p. 6ff.

    3 From a large body of work, see Robert Conquest,The Great Terror: Stalin's Purge of the Thirties, London, 1968, and Adam Ulam, Stalin: The Man and his Era, New York, 1974.

    4 See Oleg Khlevniuk,Master of the House: Stalin and His Inner Circle, New Haven, CT, 2009, p. 167. Khlevniuk, Master of the House. See also, Hiroaki Kuromiya, Voices of the Dead: Stalin's Great Terror in the 1930s, New Haven, CT, 2007, and 'Accounting for the Great Terror', Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, 53, 2005, 1, pp. 86-100.

    7 See Khlevniuk,Master of the House, esp. pp. 201-02.

    8 'Materialy fevral´skogo-martovskogo plenuma TsK VKP(b) 1937 goda', Voprosy istorii, 10, 1994, pp. 15-16.

    9 See David R. Shearer, 'Crime and Social Disorder in Stalin's Russia: A Reassessment of the Great Retreat and the Origins of the Mass Repression'C,ahiers du Monde russe, 39, 1998, 1-2, pp. 119-48, and Policing Stalin's Socialism: Repression and Social Order in the Soviet Union, 1924-1953, New Haven, CT, 2009; Paul Hagenloh, 'Socially Harmful Elements and the Great Terror', in Sheila Fitzpatrick (ed.),Stalinism: New Directions, London, 2000, pp. 286-308, and Stalin's Police.

    10 J. Arch Getty, '“Excesses Are Not Permitted”: Mass Terror and Stalinist Governance in the Late 1930s',Russian Review, 61, 2002, 1, pp. 113-38 (pp. 115-16).

    23 RGVA, f. 37837, op. 21, d. 99, l. 16; f. 33987, op. 3, d. 851, ll. 39-40, 134.

    24 Ibid., l. 50.

    25 March 1937 had also seen a significant increase in the number of counterreovlutionaries 'discovered' in the Leningrad Military District, including foreign agents. See V. S. Mil´bakh, A. M. Grigorian and A. N. Chernavskii, Politicheskie repressii komandnonachal´stvuiushchego sostava, 1937-1938: Leningradskii voennyi okrug, St Petersburg, 2013, pp. 82-83.

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