main events of the purges

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  • main events of the purges
    • a faltering start
      • after the murder of Kirov, many arrests were made.
        • those arrested refused to implicate Zinoviev and Kamenev- but were shot anyway
          • the arrests of people accused of involvement in the murder stopped, but flared up again in 1936
      • the head of the NKVD- Yagoda- was arrested, and later shot for being slow to track down enemies of the USSR
        • his replacement- Yezhov- was told by Stalin that the NKVD was four years behind in unmasking 'enemies'
    • attacking the Communist Party and 'wreckers'
      • arrests first targeted local Communist Party bosses and party members who were accused of opposing government orders.
        • this accompanied the first 'Show Trials' in Moscow
        • arrests of factory managers who were accused of 'wrecking' (deliberately damaging the USSR) followed
          • this soon expanded to drag in ordinary people too
    • mass arrests
      • the Secret Police were given targets of how many 'enemies' they should 'discover'. This led to large numbers being arrested.
        • as people were interrogated (usually for imaginary crimes or just accidents) they confessed and named others involved in their 'crimes'.
          • these too were arrested, confessed, and named others.
    • the 'Time of Yezhov'
      • the worst time of mass arrests and shootings was in 1937-38- which became known as the Yezhovschina
        • Yezhov was head of the Secret Police, until he, himself, was finally arrested in 1938- and later shot.
          • the fact that this period was named after Yezhov reveals a russian tradition of blaming the person who carried out government policy, rather than the leader who was truly responsible
      • there was also a strong sense that what people in power did was not the concern of ordinary people


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