Mass operations of the NKVD

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Mass operations of the People's Comissariate of Internal Affairs (NKVD)[1] were carried out during the Great Purge and targeted specific categories of people. As a rule, they were carried out according to the corresponding order of the People's Commissar of Internal Affairs Nikolai Yezhov.


National operations of the NKVD[edit]

The operations of this type in this period targeted "foreign" ethnicities (ethnicities with cross-border ties to foreign nation-states), unlike nationally targeted repressions during World War II. According to historian Oleg Khlevniuk, Stalin became concerned about rearguard uprisings that were seen in the Spanish Civil War and believed that "nationalities of foreign governments" posed a threat in border regions, even if they were Soviet citizens whose ancestors had sometimes lived decades or centuries in the areas controlled by the Soviet Union.[4]

From August 1937 to October 1938, 353,513 people were arrested and 247,157 were shot in the national operations of NKVD. It is estimated that this would make up 34% of the total victims of the Great Purge.[5]


On November 17, 1938 a joint decree No. 81 of Sovnarkom USSR and Central Committee of Communist Party of the Soviet Union Decree about Arrests, Prosecutor Supervision and Course of Investigation and the subsequent order of the NKVD undersigned by Lavrentiy Beria cancelled most of NKVD orders of mass type (but not all, see, e.g., NKVD Order No. 00689) and suspended implementation of death sentences, signifying the end of the Great Purge ("Yezhovshchina").

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vadim Rogovin "The Party of the Executed" (1997) ISBN 5-85272-026-7, Chapter 1: "Mass Operations" (in Russian)
  2. ^ Snyder, Timothy (2012). Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. Basic Books. p. 81. ISBN 978-0465002399.
  3. ^ "Ukraine: Secret service publishes Stalin files". BBC News. August 2014.
  4. ^ Werth, Nicolas (2010). "The NKVD Mass Secret National Operations (August 1937 - November 1938)". Mass Violence & Résistance. ISSN 1961-9898.
  5. ^ Sundström, Olle; Kotljarchuk, Andrej (2017). "Introduction: the problem of ethnic and religious minorities in Stalin's Soviet Union". Ethnic and Religious Minorities in Stalin's Soviet Union: New Dimensions of Research (PDF). Södertörn Academic Studies. p. 16. ISBN 9789176017777.
  6. ^ Eric J. Schmaltz. "Soviet "Paradise" Revisited: Genocide, Dissent, Memory and Denial" (PDF). GRHS Heritage Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 18, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  7. ^ Н.Охотин, А.Рогинский, Москва. Из истории "немецкой операции" НКВД 1937-1938 гг.Chapter 2
  8. ^ Will Englund (November 12, 2012). "Greeks of the steppe". Washington Post. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  9. ^ Agtzidis 1991, p. 372—382.
  10. ^ Björn M. Felder: Lettland im Zweiten Weltkrieg. p. 72.
  11. ^ Pohl, J. Otto (1999), Ethnic Cleansing in the USSR, 1937-1949, Greenwood, page 13-14
  12. ^ Werth, Nicolas (2010-05-20). "The NKVD Mass Secret National Operations (August 1937 - November 1938)". Sciences Po. Retrieved 2022-01-06.
  13. ^ Torvinen, Pekka (2021-01-27). "Stalinin vainoissa kuolleiden tai kadonneiden suomalaisten vaiheiden selvittämistä jatketaan". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Retrieved 2022-01-06.