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


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


Death Penalty Foreign Affair Central Committee Party Line European History 
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Copyright information

© Derek Watson 2005

Authors and Affiliations

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

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