Molotov pp 128-145 | Cite as

Molotov and the Terror 1934–1938

  • Derek Watson
Part of the Studies in Russian and East European History and Society book series

Abstract

Amongst Stalin’s lieutenants Molotov is conspicuous for his commitment to and consistent support of the Terror. He not only supported it during the 1930s, but convinced of its necessity, he sought to justify it even in old age. In 1982 he told Chuev:

I consider that we had to go through a period of terror, because we had conducted a struggle for more than ten years. This cost us dearly, but without it things would have been worse.… I believe the terror carried out towards the end of the 1930s was essential. Of course, there would have been fewer victims if we had operated more cautiously. But Stalin insisted on playing safe: spare no one but guarantee absolute stability in the country for a long period of time — through the war and post-war years which was certainly achieved. I don’t deny I supported that line.1

Molotov saw the origins of the Terror of the 1930s in Lenin’s call for a merciless struggle against the opposition at the XI Congress and argued that, with Lenin removed from the scene, Stalin had to take the lead.2 At another time, he said that the policy of repression was the only policy in accordance with the basic principles of Leninism.3

Keywords

Europe Propa Black Ball Smoke Defend 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 5.
    Mandelstam, N.Y., Hope Against Hope, New York: 1970, p. 13.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    See for instance Conquest, R., The Great Terror: a Reassessment, London: 1990, p. 37.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    Chuev, Molotov, p. 373. More than a hundred delegates allegedly did not vote for Molotov and Kaganovich, 125 or 126 refrained from voting for Stalin, i.e. their names were deleted from the ballot paper, ‘V komissii Politbyuro TsK KPSS’, Izvestiya TsK, no 7, 1989, p. 114.Google Scholar
  4. 13.
    Chuev, Molotov, p. 374. Cf. Davies, R. W., Soviet History in the Gorbachev Revolution, Basingstoke: 1989, p. 85.Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    Brackman, R. The Secret File on Joseph Stalin, p. 233; Basseches, N. trans. Dicker, E. W., Stalin, London: 1952, p. 188. Other possibilities for this incident are in 1932, after the death of Stalin’s wife; or in connection with repression in the countryside; or in connection with the Ryutin affair.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    Knight, A., Who Killed Kirov? The Kremlins GreatestMystery, New York: 1999, pp.176–8.Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    See Benvenuti, F., ‘The Reform of the NKVD, 1934’, Europe—Asia Studies, vol. 49, no. 6, 1997, p. 1046, quoting RGAS-PI, 17/165/47, 154–64.Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    Report of Court Proceedings m the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre, Moscow: 1937, p. 17; Pravda, 26 October 1961. In his Memoirs Molotov ascribed this to 1932, Chuev, Molotov, p. 452.Google Scholar
  9. 24.
    Korotkov, A. V. and Chernobaev, A. A., eds, ‘Posetiteli kremlevskogo kabineta I.V. Stalina’, (hereinafter ‘Stalin’s Office Diary’) IA, no. 3, 1995, p. 144; Knight, Who Killed Kirov, p. 197. Conquest, R., Stalin and the Kirov Murder, London: 1989, p. 38, makes no mention of Kaganovich. In his memoirs, Molotov claimed that it was Medved, head of the Leningrad NKVD, who telephoned, Chuev, Molotov, p. 376.Google Scholar
  10. 34.
    Kurtsov, V. I. ed., Stranitsy istorii KPSS. Fakty, problemy, uroki, Moscow: 1989, vol. 2, pp. 647–50; ‘Poshchadite zhe rodinu i nas’, Istochnik, no. 1., 1995, pp. 138–45.Google Scholar
  11. 54.
    Rittersporn, G. T., ‘The State against Itself: Social Tension and Political Conflicts in the USSR, 1936–1938’, Telos, no. 41, Fall 1979, p. 90; Siegelbaum, L. H., Stakhanovism and thePolitics of Productivity in the USSR, 1935–1941, Cambridge: 1988, pp. 127–35; Khlevnyuk, O., Stalin i Ordzhonikidze, pp. 63, 65–6; Rees, E. A., The Purge on the Soviet Railways 1937, unpublished paper, CREES, University of Birmingham: 1992, p. 2; Rees, E. A., Stalinism and Soviet Rail Transport, 1928–1941, pp. 138–9.Google Scholar
  12. 55.
    Pravda, 21, June 1936. Molotov may have accompanied Stalin twice to see the dying Gorky, see Spiridonova, L., ‘Gorky and Stalin (According to New Materials from A.M. Gorky’s Archive)’, The Russian Review, vol. 54, no. 3, 1995, p. 423.Google Scholar
  13. 61.
    Montefiore, S. S., Stalin: the Court of the Red Tsar, London: 2003, p. 168.Google Scholar
  14. 77.
    Getty and Naumov, The Road to Terror, p. 303; ‘V komissii Politbyuro TsK KPSS’, Izvestiya TsK, 1989, no. 5, p. 71. The Politburo representatives consisted of Kaganovich, Ezhov and Vyshinskii.Google Scholar
  15. 78.
    Conquest, The Great Terror, p. 136; ‘V komissii Politbyuro TsK KPSS’, Izvestiya TsK, 1989, no. 8, p. 92.Google Scholar
  16. 82.
    Shearer, D. R., ‘Social Disorder, Mass Repression and the NKVD during the 1930s’, Cahiers du Monde Russe, vol. 42, 2001, pp. 523–4, 527–8; Shearer, D. R., ‘Crime and Social Disorder in Stalin’s Russia’, ibid., vol. 39, 1996, pp. 119–48.Google Scholar
  17. 92.
    See for instance Fischer, L., Men and Politics: an Autobiography, New York: 1946, p. 98 who quotes Bukharin as saying in the late 1920s ‘Molotov … is a fool. He tries to teach me Marxism’.Google Scholar
  18. 93.
    Medevedev, R., ‘The Murder of Bukharin’, in Medvedev, Z. A. and Medvedev, R. A., The Unknown Stalin, London: 2003, p. 277.Google Scholar
  19. 95.
    Marina, Yu., ‘Vse, chto govorit Radek, — eto absolyutno zlostnaya kleveta …’, Istochnik, no. 1, 2001, pp. 64–71.Google Scholar
  20. 97.
    Medvedev, R., Let History Judge: the Origins and Consequences of Stalinism, Manchester: 1976, p. 180.Google Scholar
  21. 107.
    Ibid. pp. 99, 112–13.Google Scholar
  22. 108.
    Khlevniuk, O., ‘The Reasons for the “Great Terror”: the Foreign Political Aspects’, in Pons, S. and Romano, A., eds, Russia in the Age of Wars, Milan: 2000, p. 165.Google Scholar
  23. 113.
    Starkov, B., ‘Narkom Ezhov’ in Getty, J. Arch and Manning, R. T., Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives, Cambridge: 1993, p. 27.Google Scholar
  24. 118.
    Ibid., p. 469; Kovaleva, N.V. et al. ‘Poslednyaya “antipartiinaya” gruppa: Stenograficheskii otchet iyun’skogo (1957g) plenuma TsK KPSS’, (hereinafter ‘Poslednyaya “antipartiinaya” gruppa …’) IA, no. 3, 1993, pp. 88–9.Google Scholar
  25. 123.
    Main, S. J., ‘The Arrest and Testimony of Marshal of the Soviet Union M. N. Tukhachevsky (May–June 1937)’, Journal of Slavic Military Studies, vol. 10, no. 1, 1997, p. 153.Google Scholar
  26. 126.
    Kumanev, G. A., ‘V ogne tyazhelykh ispytanii (iyun 1941—noyabr’ 1942g.)’, Istoriya SSSR, no. 2, 1991, p. 6.Google Scholar
  27. 127.
    Reese, R. A., ‘The Red Army and the Great Purges’, in Getty and Manning, Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives, p. 213.Google Scholar
  28. 129.
    See for instance Khlevnyuk, O., ‘The Objectives of the Great Terror, 1937–1938’, in Cooper, J., Perrie, M. and Rees E. A. eds, Soviet History 1917–1953: Essays in Honour of R.W. Davies, Basingstoke: 1995, pp. 172–3.Google Scholar
  29. 131.
    Starkov, B. A., ‘Ar’ergardnye boi staroi partiino gvardii’, in Afanas’ev, A. V. ed., Oni ne molchali, Moscow: 1991, p. 221; cf. Moscow News, no. 15, 1988, quoting Kaganovich’s account of this incident.Google Scholar
  30. 147.
    Uldricks, T. J., ‘The Impact of the Great Purges on the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs’, Slavic Review, vol. 36, 1977, pp. 188–92. A Soviet had replaced the kollegiya in each commissariat in 1934.Google Scholar
  31. 151.
    Martin, T., ‘The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing’, Journal of Modern History, vol. 70, no. 4, 1998, pp. 848–9.Google Scholar
  32. 153.
    Martin, ‘The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing’, p. 851. In the light of Stalin’s belief in the increased threat of war and the dangers of a ‘fifth column’, this swing in the later stages of the ‘mass operation’ against national groups is not surprising. See Petrov, N. and Roginskii A., ‘The “Polish Operation” of the NKVD, 1937–8’, in McLoughlin, B., and McDermott, K. eds, Stalins Terror: High Politics and Mass Repression in the Soviet Union, Basingstoke: 2003, pp. 163–5.Google Scholar
  33. 166.
    Jansen, M., and Petrov, N., Stalins Loyal Executioner: Peoples Commissar Nikolai Ezhov, 1895–1940, Stanford, CA: 2002, p. 146.Google Scholar
  34. 175.
    Chuev, Molotov, p. 465.Google Scholar
  35. 176.
    Aroseva, O. A., and Maksimova, V. A., Bez grima, Moscow: 1999, pp. 19–50.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Derek Watson 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derek Watson
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Russian and East European StudiesThe University of BirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations