Talk:Great Purge/Archive 2

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This article is extremely thorough factually, but in terms of interpretation of those fact, I think it's extremely biased towards the 'totalitarianist' view of things (that of Robert Conquest et al). Even in the opening paragraph, this one, single viewpoint is espoused, without reference to any other: "The Great Purge (Russian: Большая чистка) is the name given to campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin during the late 1930s."

There is significant resistance to this supposition within academic circles. There isn't even a term in Russian for the purges as one whole concept, as we have in English, but rather its constituent 'phases' have different names - chistka, obmen, proverka, Ezhovschina... (It should be noted that the opening paragraph is incorrect, as Большая чистка refers specifically to the Ezhovshchina.) In addition, many respected Western historians - building especially on Getty and Fitzpatrick et al - take the 'revisionist' view that Stalin was not the only actor during the 'purges,' and that some parts of the purges did not have the aim of causing terror (though no-one denies that Stalin did have a part and that some parts of the purges did cause terror).

I propose that the article be rewritten to give the reader both the totalitarianist and revisionist views, for the sake of NPOV. I think it should also be stressed that the little available evidence does not support either of the views more than the other, and that it's really just a question of interpretation.

Kieron a m 14:02, 13 June 2006 (UTC)


"this period is sometimes referred to as the Yezhovshchina ("Yezhov era")" The article for dedovshchina claims that the -shchina suffix means 'retribution', not 'era' as this article says. Could a native Russian speaker ascertain what the suffix means and correct one or the other of these articles.

It is attribution, not retribution, i.e., something attributed to somebody. mikka (t) 20:14, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

Actually, my Russian textbook for school says his name is Ezhovshina, with no Y on the front. Error in the text book or information for this page?


Objection to deleted material

[Copied here from my talk page. Shorne 03:18, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)]

Shorne, you removed the following paragraph from the article, Great Purge:

"Among many western intellectuals there remained a favorable view towards the Soviet Union which persisted until definitive proof began to appear after Stalin's death with, first, the relevations of [[Khrushchev]], the writings of [[Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn]], the publication of ''The Great Terror: Stalin's Purge of the Thirties'' by [[Robert Conquest]] in the late 1960s, release of Soviet records during [[glasnost]] and finally, in France, where the intellectual climate was most sympathetic to Soviet communism, publication in 1997 of ''[[The Black Book of Communism]]''<!--Page 466,476-480,485-489 ''Great Terror'' ISBN 0195071328, ix-xx, Forward, Black Book of Communism, ISBN 0674076087-->. Resistance continues among [[historical revisionism|revisionist scholars]] in the United States who minimize the effects of the Great Terror<!--Pages 15 to 17, ''In Denial'', ISBN 1893554724-->."

Would you please look at the references provided in the comments? Fred Bauder 03:05, Oct 11, 2004 (UTC)

The references are irrelevant when the entire text is plainly POV. It is absurd to claim "definitive proof" from the likes of Khrushchev (built a career on anti-Stalinism, later pushed aside by the Soviet government), Solzhenitsyn (protégé of Khrushchev and proven liar who claimed an outlandish total of 110 million deaths), and Conquest (controversial at best, for reasons already discussed ad nauseam). The release of the Soviet records exposed Conquest's fabrications, much to his surprise (which is why he doesn't trumpet the opening of the Soviet archives, which he long expected to corroborate his claims). The Black Book of Communism is so tawdry as to be an embarrassment to its proponents.
Calling people "revisionist scholars" and saying that they "minimize the effects of the Great Terror" is obviously POV. The very term "Great Terror" is POV. Shorne 03:18, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

How can references in an encyclopedia to a generally accepted authority on a subject be irrelevant? While you may consider the book POV it is generally accepted among scholars as being authoritative. Can you see that is what allows it and material covered in it to be included in a reference work. The relevations of Khrushchev and Solzhenitsyn are also generally considered to be significant. You seem to feel that simply casting unverified aspersions on a source is sufficient to support exclusion of the material from Wikipedia. Don't you see that simply saying bad things doesn't change the underlying general acceptance by scholars of the material? As to Conquest's representations being exposed, it is generally accepted that in the main they were affirmed.

Simply labeling something POV does not justify its removal from a referance work which has a NPOV policy which contemplates inclusion of multiple points of view, see Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. Can't you see that inclusion of your point of view is dependant on allowing other points of view to also be included?

LIkewise describing the point of view of revisionist scholars of communism is simply a description of a tendency of scholars of a certain school of communist scholarship and is backed up by a specific reference which dicusses the subject at length. Could you please look at the book In Denial and verify the reference? Fred Bauder 03:38, Oct 11, 2004 (UTC)

Generally considered by whom? Just a heap of generalities. You didn't listen to a word I said.
NPOV is NOT ABOUT INCLUDING POINTS OF VIEW. Not yours, not mine, not anyone's. It's about BALANCE. How many times do I have to say it?
Will someone else please come and waste his time arguing with Fred Bauder? I can't bear it anymore. Shorne 03:53, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Dude, your profile is the Soviet flag, and you're whining about balance?

I know I could hit that respectfully presenting my meat. points of view, and I will try, but so must you. You have made your editing a focus of attention by very aggressive censorship of any information which deviates from yours. I believe you may misundersand Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, please review it and also please join me in a request for mediation. Fred Bauder 15:00, Oct 11, 2004 (UTC)

Well, maybe, just maybe, you're beginning to understand things. I have read Wikipedia:Neutral point of view more than once and have referred several people to it, including you and Boraczek. My becoming "a focus of attention" has only to do with the heavy right-wing bias that prevails in virtually any article here on a subject linked to history, politics, current events, countries (most of this crap is unabashedly taken from the CIA's publications), or non-Western culture. You don't have to agree with me; you do have to coöperate in creating NPOV. Shorne 20:57, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I agree with Shorne that this paragraph is POV. It is nothing but mud-slinging. Is this an article about the Great Purge, or an article about attitudes towards the Great Purge? You're putting a meta-discussion of the article within the article. I have no problem with the Conquest citation for the NKVD troikas in another paragraph. But in this paragraph you're basically telling people in the article who they must consider as authoritative, what the "definitive" work on this is, and saying anyone who disagrees with Conquest, the former hack for the British Foreign Office's anti-Soviet propaganda arm, is a "revisionist". It's fine to sort the "authoritative" "generally accepted authority" in reference to fact and events on the Great Purge, but their opinions of people who criticize them is certainly not authoritative. Ruy Lopez 19:13, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Agreed. The citations themselves were never an issue. I'm glad that at least one other person clearly sees the problems with the material that I deleted. Shorne 20:57, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

executions II

The numbers for arrests, sentences and executions is being conflated over and over again. There is absolutely no reason for them to be conflated. I am breaking arrests, convictions and executions into two sentences, one which refers to arrests and sentences to jail for a number of years, another for executions. I see a deliberate attempt here to conflate numbers and try to confuse arrests for common criminal charges (murder, burglary) with arrests for more political charges like treason. I also see an attempt to conflate and confuse arrests, sentences, executions and so forth. There is no reason for this to be conflated. It is being broken into different sentences. A sentence on criminal arrests. A sentence on more political arrests. A sentence on executions. Not all of it conflated together to try to trick people into thinking millions of people were killed because they had a portrait of Trotsky hanging in their dacha. Ruy Lopez 19:26, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I also want to note I pre-empted Fred Bauder and added the language about people being executed for "anti-social elements" as he mentioned. I will do some research on that. I am not saying it is so, I am just adding what Fred Bauder seems to have wanted me to add in an attempt to not have a revert war. Ruy Lopez 19:29, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

That's very accommodating of you. Would that the other side were so coöperative. Shorne 21:01, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I also want to say with the exception of VeryVerily, and one or two edits by TDC, everyone here has been pretty good at working on this article. I really don't mind negative information in the article if it is cited. Ridiculous sentences like "Anyone perceived as a potential threat to the regime's authority—including some of its strongest political supporters, and most senior army officers—were systematically identified and either executed, incarcerated in the Gulag prison system, or sent into forced labour or internal exile in Siberia and other remote regions." have been sent to the dustbin. I still don't get that one - the strongest supporters were executed? Now people can see the motivation behind the Great Purge, whether they agree with it or not. And negative charges actually have citations, which I think would make them stronger. So I think a good job has been done on this, although we can continue to work on it. It's unfortunate VeryVerily has to come in and try to make a calm discussion into an edit war embroiling everyone - I guess that's why he's been banned before and is about to go into arbitration. For everyone else involved I'd say looking at the article now I'm more pleased with it than I was before, and I think it's a better article now. Ruy Lopez 19:40, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I agree. Shorne 21:01, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

stalin killed off millions of people with his guns

The Great Terror article

Took up a suggestion above and started a Great Terror article. Still a stub. Included Fred Bauder's disputed text.Marlowe 20:46, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I have removed the "disputed" text, which is unquestionably POV, as irrefutably proven by Ruy Lopez, me, and others more times than should be necessary in a community of (presumed) adults. I have also added a link that discusses Conquest's work from a critical perspective. Shorne 20:53, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Heh, you haven't proven anything yet - doesn't even look like you've read the referenced literature on the subject, just some conspiracy-theory websites. Anybody who claims certainty about what did or did not happen just shows that they didn't comprehend the part where the serious researchers discuss the limitations of their methodology. Stan 21:19, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The only certainty claimed is that the comments are POV. Mikkalai spelled it out in short words at Talk:The Great Terror for the benefit of the intellectually self-deprived. Shorne 21:26, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
You really don't understand NPOV, do you? NPOV is "Neutral Point of View", not "No Point of View". Articles on controversial topics need to report all points of view, without themselves taking sides for or against. Your approach has been to delete instead of attribute, which is absolutely against policy. Stan 21:46, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Ok, I guess I am a "presumed adult" now, but let me just note that you (Shorne) are the one resorting to name calling. The reason I moved the disputed text to Great Terror article was because it clearly bore facts taken from that text. In other words, it should (and does now) read: "Conquest says", or "Conquest claims", which is perfectly legitimate for an article about a book. Anyway, enough of this arguing. You've already shut down one artcile. Might as well shut down Great Terror article as well.Marlowe 16:18, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)
See The Black Book of Communism for the way such claims should be handled. Shorne 19:19, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Ah, yes. Another article on your hitlist.Marlowe 19:24, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Latest version

I am amused to note that Shorne is correct regarding the proportion of prisoners who died in the Gulag. Many but not most. Fred Bauder 13:25, Oct 13, 2004 (UTC)

the paragraph

I've created a page called Talk:Great Purge/western reactions. Maybe we can rewrite it there? I don't even know what the hell the paragraph means, when exactly did western intellectuals turn against the Soviet Union? After Khrushchev's speech? After the publication of the Black Book of Communism? It's not a big deal, it's just one of the things that doesn't make sense. Perhaps we can edit the article there, although I think this paragraph should just be taken out and shot. At least Bauder has stopped calling certain works "definitive". That's a start, at least. The first version of Talk:Great Purge/western reactions in the history is the original, I will be editting it. Except as I said, the things like the above make little sense to me, so I don't even know how to rewrite it really. Ruy Lopez 21:54, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)

There must be some 100 word rule for sentences I don't know about because this first sentence by Fred Bauder is 99 words long. If Fred Bauder's sentences made any sense he could be the next William Faulkner. Please break that sentence up into 2, 3, 4 or 5 sentences with thoughts and statements that make sense and aren't a bunch of rambling clauses strung one after the other after the other? I don't even understand what this says, never mind try to rewrite it. At least the word definitive was taken out, that's a start. Ruy Lopez 22:09, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Shorne, how about some detail on what you object to? Fred Bauder 22:56, Oct 25, 2004 (UTC)

Sorry; our messages crossed paths. See below. Shorne 23:40, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Attack on "Stalinists"

Is there anyone who cares to defend the material that I deleted? It's nothing but a POV attack on alleged Stalinists. We don't need any grandstanding in these articles. Shorne 23:39, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

One thing I dislike is "Despite great scepticism regarding the show trials and occasional reports of Gulag survivors, many western intellectuals retained a favorable view towards the Soviet Union which persisted until evidence and the results of research began to appear after Stalin's death which revealed the full enormity of the Purges." This is stating as fact that western intellectuals views about the Soviet Union changed to the worse because of a speech by Khruschev, not because, say, they saw that people who supported the CPUSA were being thrown out of their jobs (or into jail, or executed, like Ethel Rosenberg). FB is stating as a fact what the cause of an effect was, but I dispute that that was the cause. FB seems to see western intellectuals as intellectual whores, what he probably doesn't know is I probably have an even lower esteem for them. Ruy Lopez 04:02, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

So do I, I'm willing to bet. In any case, even if that whole paragraph (you have quoted only part of it) were not blatantly biased, it would be out of place in this article. Anyone who thinks about it for a nanosecond or so will realise that an encyclopædia worthy of the name is not a bully pulpit from which to bash certain groups or ideas. Shorne 05:51, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I think where you are both missing the boat is to focus on the weaknesses rather than the strengths of your "groups and ideas". The Great Terror and ultimately Stalin's peculiarities were a great embarrassment to the communist movement, covering this and other atrocities up in the first place was dumb, trying to suppress them or minimize them in the 21st century is madness. My experience with people of your tendency is that they are great union organizers who are sincerely interested in workers' welfare as I believe Stalin was, however misguided he might have been about what that welfare might consist of. So look around for some opportunities to contribute in areas modern Marxist-Leninists find important now, not about the things that went wrong in the past. The field you are playing on here is full of buried bodies and the shattered dreams of millions. Fred Bauder 11:14, Oct 26, 2004 (UTC)

Your personal opinion of your perception (probably greatly distorted) of our opinions has nothing to do with the issue at hand, which is that a blatant POV attack on people is being made in this article. It simply has to go. Shorne 15:22, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Yes, if he wants to meet an orthodox Marxist-Leninist of this type he should go back in a time machine to around this period. No one in the US power structure really seemed to think much about the purge at the time, only with the beginning of the Cold War did history get rewritten and did this become an "embarrassment" or "atrocity". I guess it was just a coincidence that all of the so-called evidence of all of this stuff came to light the moment it was politically useful for it to. Who is being naive here? Ruy Lopez 07:46, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Yes, agreement of the "US power structure" is apparently very significant to you. They like the PRC too and the cheap products made in concentration camps there. They thought the Taliban was cool as long as they were killing Russian... Fred Bauder 11:27, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)

Poisoning the well

I have added a link to this sentence, "Robert Conquest, a former communist, British intelligence official and writer for the Foreign Office's Information Research Department, a department whose function was anti-communist propaganda, see poisoning the well, wrote the book The Great Terror in 1968." that pretty much sums up the problem. Fred Bauder 11:27, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)

A phrase unsupported by authority

I have remove the phrase "to remodel the Party into a disciplined managerial elite" from the sentence: "The background of the Great Purge was the Politburo's desire to eliminate all possible sources of opposition to its own dominant position in the Communist Party, to remodel the Party into a disciplined managerial elite, rather than the faction-ridden revolutionary party it had been in the 1920s, and to remove any possible "fifth column" in a possible war." which now reads, "The background of the Great Purge was the Politburo's desire to eliminate all possible sources of opposition to its own dominant position in the Communist Party, and to ensure that members of the Party would faithfully follow the orders of the centre, rather than continuing as the faction-ridden revolutionary party it had been in the 1920s, and to remove any possible "fifth column" in case of a war."

What Stalin was disturbed about was that he would give orders and bureaucrats, as is their nature, would kind of follow them, but apply their own interpretation to the matter. The most disturbing to Stalin was the 1937 census which Soviet statisticians refused to change to reflect his wishes. The Black Book of Communism at page 201, quotes Kaganovich saying at the Seventeenth Party Congress that the new officials "would accept without question any task assigned to them by Comrade Stalin." This is very different from the notion of a "managerial elite". In fact, that phrase introduces an anachronistic element into the article. Fred Bauder 10:50, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)

Agreed. I also added there a reminder about the democratic centralism principle, which explains much. Mikkalai

article consensus

I would like to reach a consensus on this article. The vandal VeryVerily, who has been banned before, and is in arbitration for his current breaking of the three revert rule, is coming in and simply rv'ing this article (and virtually any article I, Shorne or others edit). Of course, this makes it harder, perhaps impossible to build a consensus as he just wants to have a revert war. I see Mikkalai and Fred Bauder editting this article and I really would like to work this out amiably with both of you. Last time when a paragraph was contentious I just put it in the discussion page and editted it there. Hopefully this can be worked out now despite VeryVerily, if not, I guess I will just have to wait for a judgement or temporary injunction against him by the arbitrators. I will try anyhow. I don't really expect VeryVerily to change soon, being as he broke the three revert rule within the past 24 hours, but if he does, fine. Ruy Lopez 07:36, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I am also eager to reach a consensus. If Fred Bauder and Mikkalai are willing to discuss issues here, let us begin. I suppose that VeryVerily will revert any changes agreed upon, as is his wont, but we serious people shouldn't let that stop us from trying. Eventually he'll be given the boot. Shorne 15:40, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)


The background of the Great Purge was the Politburo's desire to eliminate all possible sources of opposition in the face of a potential invasion of Nazi Germany.

I don't think the sentence above is accurate. The main reason of the Great Purge was Stalin's desire to consolidate his power. The argument of a potential invasion of Nazi Germany is a made-up post factum justification. We can't present it as if it had been the real reason, we can only present it as a justification (BTW the Great Purge weakened the SU in the face of the invasion). I think this sentence should be removed or changed. Boraczek 13:38, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

What was Stalin going to do with "his power" once it was consolidated? And why did the Politburo back this sort of one-man man?uvre?
Stalin wanted to eliminate all people that could be dangerous to his power, for example old communists who had some prestige and could form a nucleus of opposition inside the communist party. And the Politburo was subordinate to Stalin. Boraczek 15:50, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Please answer the question. What was Stalin going to do with that power once it was consolidated? Shorne 16:58, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
To exercise it. Boraczek 19:33, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
FOR WHAT? Shorne 05:06, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
LOL. Maybe you didn't notice, but many people love to hold and exercise power. How do you think, did Bush run for office because he wanted to eventually give security and democracy to Iraq, or was it because he loves power? Boraczek 08:56, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I'm STILL waiting for you to answer the question. Shorne 13:19, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
"And the Politburo was subordinate to Stalin": If so, then his power was already consolidated. If not, then the Politburo could have resisted the alleged personal power ploy. Either way, your story doesn't hold water. Shorne 17:00, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
You're simply playing with words. As I said, Stalin wanted to eliminate the potential nuclei of opposition and his control over the Politburo is not inconsistent with that. Boraczek 19:33, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I am amazed that you stand around spouting rubbish about "Stalin's desire to consolidate his power" when his repeated warnings, over a period of years, that the Soviet Union would be invaded all turned out to be true. The USSR lost more than twenty million people—more than any other country has lost in a war. And you think his warnings were just idle talk? Give me a break!
It is well documented that Stalin was completely surprised by the German invasion of 1941. Boraczek 15:50, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
He didn't know the very date when Germany would invade, of course, but he did know that an invasion was coming. Around 1930, Stalin said that the USSR had at most ten years to catch up to the West if it was not to be destroyed. That was an accurate prediction. Shorne 16:58, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

If he knew, why did he dismantle the defenses on the Western front? Fred Bauder 18:24, Nov 11, 2004 (UTC)

In any case, you can't put this POV nonsense into the article. Wikipedia is not the place for expounding personal theories. Shorne 15:34, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
This is not a personal theory, this is a generally accepted theory. Anyway, at the moment I'm only questioning the quoted sentence. It is not accurate and as such it should be changed or removed. Boraczek 15:50, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The statement is accurate. Your stuff is nothing but opinion—rather silly opinion at that. Shorne 16:58, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I have to agree here. The phrase "stalin's desire to consolidate" is speculation. All what we have right to say is something like "as a result, Stalin consolidated the power in his hands". But again, you canno say that it was a result of purge. It was a compound result. Stalin was a great manipulator of people. And because of the democratic centralism and "revolutionary conspiracy" carried over to post-revolution times (and hence control of information released to wide masses) all what he had to do is to manipulate within politburo only. Mikkalai 17:34, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

To establish that the Great Terror was conducted in anticipation of an invasion by the Nazis you would have to have some reference to an expression of that motivation that was dated during the time of the Terror. Fred Bauder 18:33, Nov 11, 2004 (UTC)

Exactly. If you can prove that the underlying motivation of the purges had something to do with Nazi Germany, please prove it. And if you don't, you can't claim that the questioned sentence is accurate.
BTW, the "Nazi justification" is in fact nonsensical. How could killing Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin, Radek and many other prominent communists and high officers help to fight against Germany? The only reasonable explanation of the purges is that Stalin wanted to secure his power. And the fact that he used the principle of democratic centralism to accomplish that is another matter. Boraczek 19:33, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Are you two serious? Christ be damned! Many high-ranking officials were accused of conspiring with Germany and Japan during the trials themselves. You can claim that the accusations were unjust, but you cannot deny that they were made. I'm restoring the article. Shorne 05:36, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
People were accused of whatever the oppressors could invent. As Slavoj Zizek put it, the biggest surprise for the investigating magistrate was when he discovered that the accused really took part in some kind of conspiration. Zizek sees a difference between fascism and stalinism in the fact that fascists tried to find some real evidence of being guilty (in their sense of being guilty, for example of having Jewish ancestors) and stalinists tried to fabricate the evidence. Of course, the stalinist accusations were unjust.
You were able to prove that conspiring with Germany was a justification of purges, but so far I haven't seen any single piece of evidence in support of the thesis that the danger of Nazi Germany played any role in launching the purges. Do you know any document confirming that? If so, please mention that. If no, please stop inserting a statement you were not able to substantiate. Boraczek 08:56, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The statement says that the Politburo sought to eliminate opposition in anticipation of an invasion by Germany. I've substantiated that here. Shorne 13:19, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
When? Boraczek 07:10, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

How do you explain the dismantling of the defenses at Minsk? Fred Bauder 22:51, Nov 12, 2004 (UTC)

Shorne wrote: "retrospective justification" is just silly, as has been discussed on the talk page

Yes, I agree that the statement that the purge and imprisonment of those whose loyalty was suspect was a protection of the country in the face of a potential invasion of Nazi Germany is just silly. Boraczek 09:18, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Boraczek asked me what source I had for the reason given for the Purge, it was Molotov Remembers. I'm sure I could find other sources as well. The center-left French government never had a purge of its army and unlike World War I, it surrendered to the Nazis almost immediately. I inserted the source in quotes like Fred Bauder does. (post by Shorne)

Thanks for your answer. Molotov's statement was already mentioned in the article. There is no reason to mention that 2 times, one time as an attributed statement and one time disguised as an objective fact, so I will modify the paragraph a little bit.
The Soviet Union had a purge in its army and it was not even able to subdue tiny Finland. In six months the SU lost a huge territory to the Germans, a territory which was 3-4 times bigger than the territory of France in Europe. The purge in the army made the Soviet Union very weak and it encouraged Hitler to attack it. Boraczek 07:03, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Molotov's memoirs are still a retrospective source. What we would need is a substantial reference which originates before the German invasion which analyzed the need for the campaigns in terms of a potential invasion by the Nazis. You still have not made any explanation for the dismantling of the defenses on the western perimeter of the Soviet Union. Fred Bauder 14:01, Nov 13, 2004 (UTC)

There can be no explanation because defences on the western perimeter of USSR were not dismantled. When the Eastern Poland (or Western Belarus/Ukraine) was annexed, a new fortification line (known as Molotov Line in the West) was started on the new border. Defensive line on the old border was conservated as USSR simply did not have the industrial capacity required to maintain two constructions of such scale. It was planned to resume some works on the old defensive line somewhere in Autumn 1941. Meanwhile, lots of artillery and other equipment from Stalin's Line was used to equip the newly constructed fortifications on the new border. Eleyvie 12:09, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

death estimate

Boraczek claims that "The best current estimate is that during the period 1934 to 1939 about 12 million people were sentenced to terms in the labour camps, where the harsh conditions in the Gulag caused the death of many prisoners within a few years." I ask you to substantiate this, where does this estimate come from (The Memorial human rights group? It's not made clear)? And why is it the "best" estimate...that seems way over the top, its AN estimate, not the BEST estimate. Ruy Lopez 00:22, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I didn't write that sentence. Boraczek 07:03, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)
According to NKVD statistics, a total of 2,541,892 cases were processed by NKVD and related agencies within the 1934-39 period (inclusive). This number includes the Great Purge of 1937/38. Statistical data for 1921-53 period has been compiled in 2004 by Oleg B. Mozohin (candidate of jurisprudence, if I'm not mistaken). It is available for download from FSB site (, though only period 1921-1940 is currently online and I'm not sure when and if we should expect the rest.
This number includes the cases which never resulted in arrest (quite a few in 1937/38, but a noticeable percent in other years), prison sentences, executions, trials by "troikas", et cetera. Eleyvie 12:01, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

REGARDING THE OFFICIAL NKVD FIGURES - this is the link to the MOST IMPORTANT official source document [[1]]. It was published by Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev's foundation, it is a report of 11 December 1953 prepared by MVD archive department on the numbers of victims of political repressions in 1921-1953 by year and category of repression. It was probably prepared beacuse Khruchev himself wanted to know the real numbers (there is a note that the report was sent to Khruchev and Malenkov in January 1954). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Olegwiki (talkcontribs) 15:46, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Removal of information from the section "Western Reactions"

Shorne, you have removed the italicized sections from the following:

"Finally, in France, where the intellectual climate was most sympathetic to Soviet communism,''[[The Black Book of Communism]]'' (1997), relying in part on revelations of the Great Purge, compared communism unfavorably to [[Nazism]]<!--Page 466,476-480,485-489 ''Great Terror'' ISBN 0195071328, ix-xx, Forward, Black Book of Communism, ISBN 0674076087-->. Nevertheless minimizations of the Great Purge continues among revisionist scholars in the United States<!--Pages 15 to 17, ''In Denial'', ISBN 1893554724--> and small but passionate groups of modern day Marxist-Leninists []."

"where the intellectual climate was most sympathetic to Soviet communism," seems well established to me, both in terms of general knowledge, but is referenced to specific language written by the editor at Harvard University Press. What reference could you refer to which would show it is not true or even disputed?

"Nevertheless minimizations of the Great Purge continues among revisionist scholars in the United States" again is well established to those familiar with the field of communist studies and is referenced to specific language in a source which addresses the history of communist studies. Do you have available any reference which would show that there are no recognized communist scholars whose work purports to show that Stalin's crimes are exagerated in works such as The Great Terror and The Black Book of Communism and that the evidence of refugees from the Soviet Union and survivors of the Gulag is to be discounted or that they are not generally referred to in the field of communist studies as the revisionist school?

"and small but passionate groups of modern day Marxist-Leninists" again seems well established to those familiar with communist splinter groups and with Maoist and Stalinist political movements. Again reference is made to an example of minimization on a site which is both Maoist and Stalinist. Could you reasonably make a case that the Martens does not minimize the crimes of Stalin or that the Progessive Labor party is not fairly characterised as small, passionate and Marxist-Leninist (at least according to their interpretation of it)? Fred Bauder 14:01, Nov 13, 2004 (UTC)

Do you seriously think that framing the entire opposition to YOUR opinion as one monolith of commie pinko bastards is appropriate in this article? And do you think that calling people "revisionist scholars" and accusing them of "minimizations" constitutes neutrality? And do you honestly think that I should WASTE my time explaining things ten and twenty times to POV-pushing people who won't listen? Shorne 19:36, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Yup, we're supposed to believe one book by one obscure nonspecialist outweighs the shelves of research by Dallin, Manning, Viola, etc. And of course if we don't agree with Shorne, then that's clear evidence we're not listening, so there's no need to respond point by point. It seems not to occur to Shorne that we might have listened and simply found him unpersuasive! BTW Fred, we really need to create the article on Martens' book. It's got a lot of amusing bits worth holding up for examination, and because it's the only book on the subject online, I think there are a lot of people who've come to think that it somehow represents the current state of Soviet historiography. Stan 22:06, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Yes, someone must work on that... Fred Bauder 22:09, Nov 13, 2004 (UTC)

Request for temporary injunction

Please join my request for a temporary injunction regarding Shorne and VeryVerily at Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Gzornenplatz,_Kevin_Baas,_Shorne,_VeryVerily#Request_for_temporary_injunction. Even if you feel only VeryVerily should be enjoined, please join this. I have also requested page protection pending resolution of the arbitration case. Fred Bauder 14:50, Nov 13, 2004 (UTC)

A temporary injunction was issued against both Shorne and VeryVerily. They may not revert more than twice in any 24 hour period and the page is now unprotected. I will not take advantage of their disablilty. I suggest that others similarly restrain themselves and focus on discussion and location of authoritative references which relate to disputed information rather than using reversions. Fred Bauder 12:57, Nov 15, 2004 (UTC)

User Shorne rejoices in the temporary injunction restricting both him and VeryVerily to two reverts per day of any page. User Shorne originally proposed something quite similar to (but better than) said injunction himself in order to accelerate the dreadful pace of arbitration. User Shorne thanks the arbitration committee for finally getting around to taking action, however inadequate, that will control VeryVerily.
User Shorne would also like to point out that the arbitration committee, a kangaroo court with no legitimacy, voted unanimously (six out of six) to ban user Shorne from altering any article on a German or Polish subject, obviously without even bothering to check that user Shorne has not even touched any such articles for ages and certainly has not been involved in edit wars over them. When user Shorne protested and demanded the resignations or expulsion of the derelict arbitrators, corrupt arbitrator mav unilaterally rewrote the measure that had already been voted upon and vindictively instituted a new measure that would "temporarily" ban user Shorne from editing any articles on anything to do with communism or the Cold War, subject to the broad interpretation of any arbitrary administrator, for the duration of the arbitration procedure (which is likely to be months and months). Curious readers are invited to review the evidence at Wikipedia talk:Requests for arbitration/Gzornenplatz, Kevin Baas, Shorne, VeryVerily and to post their own comments, which, I'm afraid, will probably be ignored by the kangaroo court known as the arbitration committee, if their history is a reliable indicator of their future behaviour. Shorne 13:16, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

first paragraph

Whenever seeking NPOV I think of the hypocrisy between what something is called when the USSR and US do the same thing. The Japanese internment was far less necessary for national survival than the USSR's great purge - a nation divided and soon to be attacked by Nazi Germany. Yet in the Japanese internment article, this is called "exclusion", which I feel is a good replacement for the POV "repression" in the opening sentence. Of course, the notion that the US and USSR should be held to the same set of standards bothers some people considerably. In fact the whole opening paragraph is a POV mess. I am editting it.Ruy Lopez 03:07, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It is called "repression" in Soviet state's terminology, and we have no reason to change it. Plenty of authentic documents are avalable online now. I suggest you to learn Russian and take a look. Mikkalai 03:41, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Товарищ Ruy Lopez знает русский язык, и я тоже знаю. Товарищ Лопез переводил русские тексты за Википедию. Шорн (Shorne 04:52, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC))
Nice, Ruy and Shorne. How about reading what Russians write about their history instead of describing every anti-Soviet opinion as "Western propaganda"? Russia is not a Western country, is it? Boraczek 15:25, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Now that I've answered the suggestion that Ruy Lopez "learn Russian", let me address the other issue. Since most readers will not be familiar with the honest Soviet use of the term, it should be pointed out and explained; otherwise it will give an incorrect impression of outside assessment. Shorne 04:59, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

And the idea that hundreds of thousands were executed by firing squad is ridiculous. Ruy Lopez 03:10, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Not for those who were shot and not to those whose parents were shot. Of course, it would be ridiculous within normal legal system. the whole idea of NKVD troikas was to accomplish this "mission impossible".
Especially for those unbelievers like you I started putting original Soiet documents into wikipedia. Take a look into Category:Soviet official documents and into Category:Soviet political repressions for some starting points. Mikkalai 03:41, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
These orders talk mostly about imprisonment, not executions. Executions are mentioned on some of them, but not in the hundreds of thousands range. And I still don't see why locking up innocent Japanese-Americans is "exclusion" and locking up not necessarily so innocent kulak traitors and saboteurs is "repression". Ruy Lopez 03:49, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
What a quick reader you are! 101,000 of Poles alone were executed, accoridng to NKVD tallies. "Repression" was an official word. They were considered enemies of the state. While fortunately to japanese-americans, they were not. Mikkalai 04:52, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Poles were executed for what? Merely for being Polish? (The Japanese-Americans were repressed for nothing more than their ancestry.) Or maybe for helping their neighbours to the west invade the USSR? Shorne 04:59, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
They were executed for being Polish intelligentsia or simply for being Polish. The purpose of the Great Purge was to remove any potential nucleus of opposition. Poles could have been perceived as potential fifth column in case of conflict with Poland. The phrase "helping invade the USSR" is somewhat weird. Poland did not invade the USSR. In fact, the Soviet Union, having entered into the alliance with Nazi Germany, invaded Poland in 1939. Boraczek 15:19, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I was just reading articles linked to and from the orders you posted. There were only 600,000 ethnic Poles in the USSR in 1937-1938, so that would be an awful lot of Poles killed. I've also been reading web pages about the NKVD, the Great Purge and ethnic Poles. They say that all of the people executed were executed due to association with the Polish Military Organization (or at least Yezhov and the NKVD thinking they were associated with the PMO). Not all of them were ethnic Poles although the majority of them were.
Anyhow, I will leave this as you desire. Your documentation is usually much better than the Big Black Book of Nonsense. Ruy Lopez 05:47, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This is called campaigns of repression, and the entire first paragraph is negative mud-slinging against the USSR leadership, yet I put one lonely sentence in about why this happened and Wikipedia:weasel words are stuck all over it. No way - if that happens then it being called repression and so forth has to be qualified all over the place as well. I don't see how the things mentioned such as dealing with ethnic Poles on the Ukranian border is a consolidation of power anyhow, it seems more like (perhaps harsh) dealings one would do in the face of a potential invasion. Ruy Lopez 18:31, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I'm not sure who the "great many" who think the purges had nothing to do with the coming Nazi invasion are. Goebbels thought that the USSR was smart to purge some of its old pre-Bolshevik generals. France didn't, and the French high command of course capitulated immediately (which it didn't do in World War I). Ruy Lopez 00:49, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Rv Ruy's switch of sentenses

Espionage was not problem of Party. It was the reason of purge of whole population; party and non-party. Mikkalai 03:27, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Which purges were not explained away this way?

Counterrevolutionary propaganda, plots to overthrow the Soviet Government, anti-Soviet activities. These are not a simple criminal sabotage or espionage. These are political crimes, irrelevant to any war or else. Mikkalai 21:51, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

some people claim

Detractors of the USSR say the Purge was done because Stalin had a personal desire for power for himself. The other argument is that it had little to do with this, and that in preparation of the coming attack by Nazi Germany, factionalization would have to cease, militant Polish nationalists in territory recently ceded to the USSR would have to be dealt with and so forth. One can't go inside of Stalin's head so one does not know - I think it's of very little importance what Stalin thought anyhow, the motives of one man matter little in a historical article. Ruy Lopez 23:35, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)

We seem to have lost some ground with all the constant rewriting and reverting. The passage now reads, "The purge was motivated by the desire on the part of the leadership to remove dissident elements from the Party and what some people claim a desire to consolidate the authority of Joseph Stalin." At one point, I think, we had language which addressed Stalin's efforta to get the bureaucracy to actually carry out his orders, rather then second guess everything. This rings much more true. Fred Bauder 02:31, Dec 30, 2004 (UTC)

Quota system of arrests

Contrary to many anticommunist writings, the quotas for arrest were not produced by a rule of thumb. Yes, the quotas were mandated, but the numbers themselves were produced basing on the reports from locals to top. All this whinning "I arrested them because I was ordered to make a quota" is just one of attempts to remove the guilt: first they report that Semyon has two cows, and then they look surprised and play innocent when they are ordered to deport Semyon. mikka (t) 01:58, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Here is a report from U.S. Army (G-2) Intelligence 14 April 1941, in part says,
"If the amount of labor is insufficient to supply the need, it is a relatively easy matter to institute a reign of terror on any pretext to fill up labor colonies and meet requirements."[2]
Comlpete text available at: 5. Joseph A. Michela, Military Attache Moscow Report 1903, "N.K.V.D. of the U.S.S.R.," 14 April 1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Harry Hopkins Papers, "MID Reports--USSR--Volume V," box 190 (6 parts)
Significance: U.S. policy makers had full knowledge of Soviet conditions prior to 21 June 1941 or 7 December 1941. nobs 14:34, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
Yes, and that's why they let Stalin have half of Europe. The quoted phrase is so idiotic (not to say that it is a clear-cut POV; this does not diminish the value of the report in parts where it describes facts), I don't even want to discuss it. But let us start from the simplest nonsense. The phrase implies that in the Soviet Union there was a vast pool of tramps, sitting there in leisure, and once there is a good job for them in Siberia, they are snatched by NKVD and right into the Baikal-Amur Mainline construction, right?
On a serious note, the phrase is one of numerous attempts by western brains to figure out the rationale of all these purges and gulags.
Thanks for the links. Original documents are always very useful, to fill and cross-check the details, even if wikipedia is not the place for original research.mikka (t) 16:55, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
In particular, it reminded me of yet another peculiarity of mobilizing resources in the Soviet Union: that of finances: issuing of long-term state bonds, so-called "obligations", with terms of repurchase, say 20 years. Everyone was forced to buy the significant amount of them, often for a full months' salary. Eash time they were issued, it was a statewide campaign, and refusing to buy them was an anti-Soviet act. Clearly, in 20 years they were worthless paper. I remember these thick dusted rolls of paper. Periodically there were lotteries with their serial numbers... I will try to write an article about this. mikka (t) 17:13, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
Also, there were well-organized campaigns of "voluntary" donations towards construction of a dam, a plant, or a railroad. People were members of numerous "voluntary" societies, with membership dues. Komsomol alone (membership close to 100% of population of ages 14-28) collected a sizable sum. Remember this silly noise about the new Pope being a member of Hitlerjugend? Well, then, nearly each and every former Soviet citizen was a member of communist-related organization, and should not be admitted to the United States. I bet hardly any of them answered "Yes" to the related question in the immigration questionnaire. mikka (t) 17:24, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Memorial Society Figures

Since this paragraph certainly did not sound NPOV, I have reverted the changes made to this article by Paranoid. The paragraph in question is as follows:

Although one may incorrectly assume that this is a list of 1,345,796 people killed in repressions, in fact it includes every known case of accusation (starting from 1918, when Stalin was not even in power), such as the one of Ivan Abakumov [3] - accused of participating in a counter-revolutionary mutiny on January 25, 1919, released on February 6, 1919, two weeks later. But people who use Memorial figures usually assume that every one of those 1,345,796 people, including Ivan, was shot, and use this list as a justification for other ridiculous claims, such as the "100 million dead" claim.

Is it not unreasonable to assume that a very significant percentage, perhaps even a large majority, of those 1,345,796 people were unjustly executed?

The "'100 million dead' claim" referred to is evidently a reference to an apparently widely-cited estimate of the total number of people unjustly killed by various communist governments during the 20th century. Paranoid evidently believes this to be an unreasonable figure.

Please discuss. -- (Anonymous) 00:07, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

Of course, Paranoid could have used a more encyclopedic style. A wikipedia article is not an essay or a newspaper column. Nevertheless he has a point, and I fixed the text accordingly. It remains to figure out the statistics from this list.

  • How many were actually shot
  • How many were victims of Stalin purges and of Lenin purges.
  • Are there victims of Khrushchev and Brezhnev?
  • It should be kept in mind that some persons were repressed several times, both by Lenin and Stalin.

On the other hand, contrary to Paranoid opinion, this list is actually used against the 100 mln dead claim. Also, the memorial list does not include every known case of acusation. mikka (t) 00:44, 11 September 2005 (UTC)


I think that the article has been cleaned up pretty good, so have removed the cleanup tag. bjelleklang 23:33, 15 October 2005 (UTC)


I thought we should distinguish the difference between gulag and GULAG, that was the reason for my first edit. Also, sorry for the accidental "blanking", I was in the midst of making some changes..

With my changes to the introduction, I figured we should stop beating around the bush. (Yeah, the Holocaust was a "persecution" as well, wasn't it?) The socialists out there who want to escape into fantasyland about Communism may have good intentions like other anti-democrats (who may or may not). However, like Holocaust deniers, your opinions should not influence the reporting of what we now take as factual evidence. Perhaps what we assume to be "fact" will change at a point in time. Until then, lets be honest with relaying what we assume the Purges are about right from the start.-- 09:29, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

Preposterous skepticism of facts

The Soviet Union's archives have revealed that 680,000 were executed. There is not a single more reliable source. Spare us of this politically-motivated skepticism.


Translation of Yezhovshchina as "Yezhov era" is not correct. How will you translate Oprichnina?

  "Yezhov-style regime"? Lqp 07:41, 27 June 2007 (UTC)