Stalin’s Purge: The Greater Holocaust

Joseph Stalin was ruler of the Soviet Union from 1929-1953. While he was in power the Great

Depression devastated the world economy, the Nazis invaded the U.S.S.R., Berlin was cut off from the rest

of the world, and the Cold War began. In many countries his philosophies were believed to be highly

effective, but some of his actions are just being uncovered , and denounced, in “Western” countries like the

United States. One part of Soviet history, only now being recognized for what it really was, is the “Great

Purge” Stalin initiated to rid the Stalin(Groilers-Communism)

country of all people who didn’t support him as “the supreme ruler of the Soviet Union”.

Stalin was born on December 21, 1827 in Gori, Georgia, and given the name Joseph

Vissarionovich Djugashvili. He adopted the name Joseph Stalin later in his lifetime. (World Book 825;

Groilers-Stalin,Joseph) His father was an alcoholic, beat his wife, as well as, Stalin. Stalin’s father died in a

fight when his child was only eleven. His mother wanted Stalin to become a priest, so she sent him to

seminary school when he was 14 years of age. (Groilers-Stalin,Joseph) At the school, Stalin learned about

revolutionaries and became one himself. Eventually he quit school and became “a full-time revolutionary”

against the Czar and the Russian monarchy. He was arrested in 1904 and joined the Bolsheviks. Stalin was

arrested and exiled four more times between 1906 and 1913. (World Book 825)

When Stalin escaped from exile he met Lenin and joined the Bolsheviks. In 1912 he was

appointed to the Bolshevik Central Committee. Arrested and exiled by the Czar in 1913, he returned in

1917 after the “November Revolution”. (Groilers-Stalin, Joseph) Stalin was appointed secretary of the

Central Committee in 1922 and became “power hungry”. Before his death, in 1924, Lenin wrote a not

saying that Stalin was reckless and needed to be removed from power. The leading Bolsheviks ignored the

note and continued increasing the amount of power Stalin had. Between 1924 and 1928, Stalin used his

position to remove his opposition from “the Party”; he was the unchallenged leader of the Soviet Union by

1929. (Groilers-Stalin, Joseph) As leader of the Soviet Union he ordered the creation of the collective farms

to aid in the rapid industrialization of the country. Poor management of the farms caused thousands of

people to die in a famine; Stalin continued collectivization at an increased r!

ate after the famine. (World Book 826)

Stalin’s purge began after the death of Sergei Kirov. It is believed that the “murder was probably

arranged by Stalin as a pretext for eliminating all opponents.” (Groilers-Great Purge) Stalin used Kirov’s

death as an excuse to charge Party members and Army generals with treason or conspiracy and sentence

them to death. Almost all of the members of the Central Committee and the 17th Congress were killed or

arrested; some were sent to labor camps known as Gulags. At first, the purge was secret; show trials in

Moscow were evidence of the purge’s existence, later on.

The purge spread from high-ranking officials to people associated with Lenin and then to common

workers and farmers. Anyone perceived as a threat to Stalin’s power was killed. The “officer-corps” were

so Stalin would have total support in the lower ranks of the armed forces. (Groilers-Great Purge) Everyone

was considered a suspect by the secret police. During this time Stalin began to produce his own personality

“cult”. Some people used this cult as a way to avoid being killed by the secret police. (Groilers-Stalin,


During the purge the secret police ordered spying on important industrialists. They also ordered

neighbors to spy on each other, children to report on heir parents, children to watch their siblings, and

adults to spy on their employers/employees. (World Book 826) With so may people being arrested or

killed, or just disappearing, many began to lose faith in Stalin’s leadership. Not many spoke openly spoke

out against Stalin for fear of their lives and Western nations did not find out the true extent of the purge

because it was not discussed in public. (Soviet Political System 28) One of the most adverse affects of the

purge was that when World War II began, many of the Soviet Union’s best generals had been killed