The Great Terror refers to the bloodshed that overwhelmed the Communist Party and Soviet society during the years 1936-1938. The victims ranged from Internal Affairs Commissar Nikolai Ezhov, Lev Kamenev, Grigorii Zinoviev, and fourteen others were convicted of having organized a Trotskyite-Zinovievite terrorist center that allegedly had been formed in 1932 and was held responsible for the assassination of Sergei Kirov in December 1934. All together there were three show trials that executed high ranking Soviets. The trials caused frenzy in Russia that made Soviet turn against Soviet in a kind of second civil war. The trials were shams that led to millions of deaths. Today I want to examine the address that Stalin made in response to these trials and how that way of thinking caused them to be justified.
Stalin had three basic facts that he stated in his March 29, 1937 address on the deficiencies in party work and how he thought they should handle it. All of this was surrounded by Trotskyites and how they had played a role in this deceit to the Soviet Party. The first fact dealt with espionage work of the agents of foreign states, second that the agents of foreign states had penetrated not only into our lower organizations but also into some of the responsible positions. The third fact was that leading comrades both at the center and in outlying regions have not only been unable to see the real face of these wreckers, diversionists, spies, and murderers but have proven to be careless, indifferent, and naive about it. Stalin called them, “The wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Stalin goes on to say that, “These party comrades were just wholly absorbed in the economic campaigns and the colossal successes on the economic construction front, and simply forgot some very important facts that Bolsheviks have no right to forget.” This is such a great line by Stalin because he basically said that because Russia was doing so well that these certain members forgot what the party is really about, they lost their way. This however, is not the case but Stalin used this perfectly against them.
Stalin in this address laid out what he thinks they should do. Stalin kept saying you have to smash and throw out the rotten theory, do not fall into the capitalist encirclement. This thought showcased his ideas of how the Soviet state should think and act. In not allowing yourself to fall into that rotten theory of thinking, you then can liquidate these deficiencies in the party. This was the point of the address to highlight what the party at this time was facing.
Stalin went after his political opposition in cold blood. He decided to cut out every voice that was against him and he did with the justification that there were terrorist plots against the people and he had to stop them. Stalin used Sergei Kirov death as a reason to go after Trotskyites. In his address he masterfully examined the problem and basically reasoned why these former members had to go. Stalin also highlighted what went wrong and how they fell. This deceit that Stalin does himself only strengthens his position and ends up costing millions of Russians lives. This address changed the view in which Stalin was looked at. You see the true man he was, a power hungry and manipulative person that would do anything to keep his power, a contradiction to a stateless society.