Talk:Great Purge/Archive 1

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Shouldn't the name really be "Great Purges"?

No, it is vastly more commonly known as the Great Purge, and therefore trumps accuracy. Kent Wang 05:18, 28 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I think it is more commonly known as The Great Terror. Perhaps this page should be renamed as such.Marlowe 19:23, 25 Jun 2004 (UTC)
There is no reason to propagate ignorance, even it is widespread. The article is about the Great Purge. If you want the article The Great Terror, you are welcome to write it. Mikkalai 18:27, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Whatever. I take you up on the offer. Though I still think this article should be titled The Great Terror.Marlowe 20:46, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)


According to a contemporary joke, "there are three kinds of people in the Soviet Union: those that were in prison camps, those that are in prison camps, and those that will be in prison camps."

This joke is well-known indeed, but it is not from these early times. Mikkalai 04:47, 28 Apr 2004 (UTC)

this article

That the Nazis were about to invade is not mentioned in this article at all. France was run by a left-wing government and what happened there? The Nazi-friendly army high command surrendered immediately (quite unlike WWI) and quickly helped set up Vichy France with Petain and other high French military and political officials. This did not happen in the USSR obviously. If the Russians had rolled over for the Nazis like the French did due to leaving traitors in high positions, I guess everyone here would be much happier.

Executions are mentioned over and over and over, and of course, the person writing this tries to conflate executions, people who died in prison and people imprisoned, and why wouldn't they? Only people charged with treachery were executed and the number was not large. By 1938 there had been some excesses, which the Politburo had not wanted, but this was inflated during the Cold War as it is here.

Some of this is flat-out nonsense - "Some of its strongest political supporters, and most senior army officers were systematically identified and either executed". Does this make any sense - the USSR and government would execute its strongest political supporters? This doesn't even make any sense from an anti-Soviet perspective.

I agree. This article is heavily biased and distorted. Shorne 19:33, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)
There's a difference between "those who support Stalin" and "those who Stalin thinks support him". The latter group had only a few people, the former most of the population of the USSR at the time. Anyway, go read Khruschev's speech to the 20th Party Congress, which if anything is biased in support of Stalin, because Khruschev supported terror against the enemies, he merely didn't like the terror against loyal communists. Note for instance that of the 1900 delegates to the 17th party congress, elected under the Stalin's rule, which had 100% of the loyal Stalinists, 1100 were arrested. Insane? Yes, he was. Ornil 00:23, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
My understanding is that the purge of general officers just before World War II was a successful Nazi counterintelligence operation designed to weaken the Soviet army. Another little known fact is that the Soviets dismantled their extensive defenses on their western frontier after the treaty with the Nazis. Fred Bauder 22:54, Sep 24, 2004 (UTC)
And the latter would mean what?... Mikkalai 20:18, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)

And on and on...where did this article come from, the New American? -- Ruy Lopez 18:20, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

  • Some excesses??? All of the most senior officials (Politburo members) executed were subsequently rehabilitated (recognized innocent) by Soviet government. I don't immediately have data on lower level officials but I believe an overwhelming majority of those were recognized innocent as well. Soviet government itself has recognized that those people were not guilty. Given that, saying "potential traitors and those whose loyalty to the USSR was in doubt" is very dubious. Andris 19:08, Sep 24, 2004 (UTC)
Ruy, it's good that you want to edit the article—articles on the USSR, and particularly the Stalin era, generally are a bit skewed, in my opinion (take a look at Robert Conquest if you really want to get worked up). But you should be cautious in editing, and work incrementally so that people don't have to deal with a ton of important changes at once. Everyking 20:19, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Please do work on the article, Ruy, I am especially interested in seeing some citations to contemporary explanations by Communist organizations which attempt to explain, or deny, this event or its details. My experience is that they simply don't believe it, think it is made up propaganda. I wonder for example, how Jack Shulman explained this to himself. Fred Bauder 13:01, Sep 25, 2004 (UTC)

Ruy Lopez's edits

Consider the first of Ruy's edits ([1]) in which this language:

The Great Purge was a period of mass repression in the Soviet Union in the late 1930s, during which the Communist Party leadership under Joseph Stalin used execution and mass imprisonment to eliminate existing and potential political opposition among its members.

Is replaced by this language:

The Great Purge was a period of Soviet history in the late 1930s during which the Communist Party purged itself of potential traitors and those whose loyalty to the USSR was in doubt by mass imprisonment and sometimes execution in preparation for the coming Nazi invasion.

Note first the removal of the general language, "period of mass repression" A good thing to get a link in to the Soviet Union, but it weakens the accuracy of the article. Most of the victims of that time were not party members. One can call the period "The Great Terror" as Robert Conquest does more appropriately than the "Great Purge" as Great Purge implies that it concerned only Party members. Kulaks who were imprisoned or killed could not be considered "purged" as they were not Party members, but "class enemies". Both versions of the first paragraph continue with that error, the first refering to "during which the Communist Party leadership under Joseph Stalin used execution and mass imprisonment to eliminate existing and potential political opposition among its members"; the replacement to "the Communist Party purged itself of potential traitors and those whose loyalty to the USSR was in doubt".

The bulk of Conquest's book, by the way, a revised edition was published in 1990, "The Great Terror: A Reassessment", concerns the purge of party members with a great deal of attention to the show trials, but he does discuss the widening of the terror to include other elements, see page 256 and thereafter of the trade paperback edition, ISBN 0195071328. A more clearly understandable source is the chapter, "The Great Terror (1936-1938), pages 184 to 202, in The Black Book of Communism", ISBN 0674076087.

The language in the replacement introduction, "in preparation for the coming Nazi invasion" is simply anachronistic. Basically it ascribes prescience to Stalin while simultaneously assuming the purges strengthend the Soviet Union rather than weakening it, which is the usual interpretation of the effect of the purges. While Stalin did not sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact until the summer of 1939 he does not seem to have anticipated the Nazi attack in 1941. This is evidenced by the dismantling of the extensive bunker system on the western borders of the Soviet Union.

perhaps the language indicates prescience, that does not mean that Stalin did not know very well that the Nazis were going to be invading. As far whether the purges strengthened or weakened the Soviet Union, that is a debate left to historians, who are usually heavily biased with regards to the USSR anyway. It's not as if the US did not lock up people whose loyalty was in doubt in the US during WWII for the "crime" of being Japanese or German (and US soil was never invaded, and the US involvement in WWII was more peripheral than the USSR certainly). The notion that the Russian leadership were surprised by the invasion is ludicrous. Of course they did not know the exact day and hour they would be attacked, but they knew sooner or later the Nazis would attack them. They were trying to buy as much time as possible and putting the Russian army on the border would not been too antagonistic. Ruy Lopez 06:36, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Actualy, Stalin was personal informed through NKVD contacts in Germany of the exact date and time of operation by Richard Sorge, a Soviet agent working for the Nazi's in Berlin. TDC 06:41, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)
I should also note that even Nicholas Werth you refer to in the BBBoC ridiculed Conquest's Great Purge numbers, and of course, Conquest revised his numbers downwards in the 1990s - why not, the damage had already been done. Ruy Lopez 01:31, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Name and scope of article

Some conclusions: We should change the name of the article to The Great Terror and expand its coverage to cover suppression of the other groups such as the kulaks and other social and ethnic groups considered class enemies. Fred Bauder 21:27, Sep 25, 2004 (UTC)

The period between 1936-1937 is often called the Great Terror
and a few other sources that I found also use "Great Terror" for this period only. What is the most commonly accepted meaning? Does "Great Terror" include all of Stalin's era or just late 1930s? Any other term we could use (since we should certainly include everything)? Andris 22:43, Sep 25, 2004 (UTC)

Definitely not Stalin's entire era, after collectivization and the accompaning famine there was a quite period and after 1938 while killing and imprisonment still went on it was at a much slower pace. Then they invaded the Baltic States and Finland, the Germany invade them. There was a period after the war when all who had been taken prisoner by the Nazi's was put into the camps as well as all German prisoners of war, but there was no mass killing on the scale of the great terror. I don't think it can reasonably be termed Conquest's pet term. I think most historys use "Great Terror". Fred Bauder 00:06, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)

No, we definitely do not need to change the name of the article from the commonly recognized name to Conquest's pet term. That title should be used for an article on his book. Everyking 22:50, 25 Sep 2004 (UTC)

A google search for soviet stalin "great terror" returns about 5,000 hits, a search for soviet stalin "great purge" only returns about 2,600. Fred Bauder 00:10, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)

  • I did a similar search, adding -Conquest to search terms and "great terror" still had more hits than "great purge". Since I am a non-native English speaker and have read most of material in other languages with different terminology, I can't judge the terms myself. But google-search does not confirm that "great terror" is Conquest's pet term. Andris 00:21, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)
That's because there are variations. A search for Soviet + Stalin + purges turns up 24,000 hits, Soviet + Stalin + purge 15,000, Soviet + Stalin + "Great Purges" 3,000. Soviet + Stalin + terror gets 79,500, but even among the initial results it's clear many don't refer to just this period, but are using the word generally. "Great Terror" is too closely associated with Conquest, and consequently it would be radically POV to use that as the title. Everyking 01:12, 26 Sep 2004 (UTC)
No name change: (1) the term was in use before Conquest. (2) Conquest himself uses the term "purge", even in the title. (3) Be it party or kulaks, it was still "purge" of the society. BTW, there indeed was a period called Red Terror, and it indeed corresponds to the period: the goal was terror. And during the Great Purge the goal was not terror: it was purge. Also, the latter period was not perceived as "terror" by contemporaries. The feeling of terror came later. Mikkalai 02:50, 26 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Not perceived as "terror" by contemporaries? Have you read any memoirs from the 1930's? The Great Terror was absolutely felt as both a terror and terrible by the contemporaneous Soviet population. Hence, this article's title should be changed. Marlowe 15:55, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)
From the point of view of statistics, those who can write personal memoirs are a highly biased cross-section of population. And those who read these memoirs introduce still larger bias by selectively reading them. One of the major reasons why Great Terror happened was that any take person fom the vast majority of population was not threatened, until the very moment he was hit. And even at this moment he was sure that it was a mistake. But what did a random worker at a Red Banner teakettle plant feel? Mikkalai 16:37, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)
You are right that the arrested thought their arrest was a mistake. But, that is a far cry from suggesting they did not know what was going on or were not terrorized by it. The general population knew that people were being arrested, and even executed. Even the "random worker at a Red Banner tea kettle plant" knew this. He just thought that it would never happen to him...

The Red Terror is another period associated with the civil war, 1919-1921. Wikipedia has no article by that name either but it is another issue. I prefer the title Great Terror as it is the term most often used, but the real issue is the content of the article which if it uses the title Great Purge needs to overcome the restrictive nature of the title and include the entire scope of the "anti-Soviet elements" which were arrested, tried, imprisoned and executed. Fred Bauder 12:57, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)

There is Red Terror. And there is no reason to rename the article in order to extend its scope. There was no period of "Great Terror" in Russian history. There is a term invented by Conuqest for his own historiographical purposes. The article is about the "Great Purge". If you want the article "Great Terror", you are welcome to write it, but please leave this one alone. "Entire scope of anti-Soviet elements" was arrested, tried, etc., since the very 1917. The discussed period characterised by the immense surge of executions among the commusist themselves. And this is the most notable trait of the period: communists are killing communists! That's why it got its name. If in adition to Conquest you bother to read Solzhenitsyn, you'll know that there was no big difference as to political persecution of the rest of population. Statistcis shows that the stream to Gulag was flowing basically with the same speed. Killing class enemies was something natural. It was a sudden surge of the enemies "discovered" among communists themselves that marked this period and attracted atention to it. Solzhenitsyn says that the 1937 timemark was totally arbitrary from Gulag point of view. Mikkalai 17:34, 26 Sep 2004 (UTC)


Removed from the article.

The bureaucracy of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party itself contained many individuals who were not enthusiastic regarding Stalin's policies. This was apparent to Stalin by sluggishness in the carrying out of his orders: for example, the campaign to verify Party cards in 1935, and resistance by statisticians to his requests that the 1937 census present more positive statistics. Part of the Great Terror was a purge of the Party and the bureaucracy in an effort to put personnel in place who would follow orders without question.

This is guesswork. If you want it here, please mention the sources of the conclusion. Otherwise it is "original research" at better.

The second goal was to eliminate "social dangerous elements", ex-kulaks, former members of opposing political parties such as the Social Revolutionaries, criminals and former Czarist officials. This group formed the bulk of those caught up in the Terror. Another issue was the Soviet concern with spies which Stalin felt were being infiltrated into the Soviet Union by neighboring countries.

This is anachronism. Kulaks and esers were fiercely persecuted much earlier. "ex-kulaks", "spies" are from propaganda lexicon of purgers. Was Bukharin a spy, really?

True, both social groups were persecuted earlier, but during the Great Terror there was a second run at them. Kulaks often were not liquidated or imprisoned the first time around, rather they were not allowed to join kolkhoz and given poor land to farm or deported to the east or north. However, experience showed that former kulaks often were able to find good jobs and enter the work force. Many of them and other socially dangerous elements had also moved away from the north and east and were mingling with the general population. A decision was made to imprison or liquidate them. Pages 166, 167, Black Book of Communism. Fred Bauder 21:00, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)

Bukharin was a special case, simply a political opponent tried on trumped up charges. Fred Bauder 21:00, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)

He was not. He was a general case. See, e.g., Moscow show trials. Mikkalai 00:34, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)

The whole section is right from the pages of Pravda newspaper, i.e., it is POV of a certain political position.

No it is from page 201 of The Black Book of Communism. Fred Bauder 21:00, Sep 26, 2004 (UTC)

If it is so, it undermines the credibility of the book. You should read minutes of show trials. They are available on internet. YOu would see how ridiculous the accusations typically were. Mikkalai 00:37, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Bukharin was at least an actual political opponent of Stalin, most of the people swept up during the Great Terror, for example, his wife, and the thousands of others whose only crime was that they had a bad background had done nothing at all. Fred Bauder 13:09, Sep 27, 2004 (UTC)

Before making cardinal changes' I'd suggest to read the whole body of wikipedia article on the subject, starting from enemy of the people. Mikkalai 19:43, 26 Sep 2004 (UTC)

An alternative explanation, which also applies to Hitler, is that Stalin was crazy. It's kind of hard to get at this in an objective way. The categories of pathology do not apply well to men of this nature. There were objective dangers posed by his opponents and people with anti-Soviet social background or history, but he both exaggerated and fabricated. One question which is I suppose is unanswerable, Did he believe the confessions which the NKVD extracted meant anything? Who did? Fred Bauder 14:51, Sep 27, 2004 (UTC)

There are two main problems with the history of Stalin era.

  • First, Stalin left no memoirs, hence all phrases of kind "Stalin felt...", "Stalin decided" are logical conclusions, based on his actions. THese conclusions are subject to reassessment. They also depend on the background of the author. Therefore in encyclopedia we cannot write "Stalin thought". It is clear-cut POV. One can write "Stalin did" and "Historiand and contemporaries present the following reasons why he did so..." including "stalin was crazy", since the latter opinion is in circulation.
  • The role of Stalin is central, but not all what happened may be blamed solely on Stalin. Hence the analysis of what really happened cannot be restricted to "Stalin decided..", "Stalin thought..". Stalin's decisions and thoughts avalanched into an enormous mass of actions all over the country by more than willing executives. Unfortunately wikipedia articles fail to address this issue, too locked on Stalin. Mikkalai 16:25, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)
First, most of the major communists left no memoirs - neither Marx, nor Lenin, nor Stalin. They considered it vanity, and Molotov said as much. Second, I concur this artcile and other articles are too Stalin-centric. I find this a generic problem on Wikipedia, people seem to want to whittle history down to a handful of people - Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt. That makes for a good play or movie, but not for a good history. Ruy Lopez 01:39, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)


It's funny to see people who are obviously hostile to the Soviet Union cite the Khrushchevite rehabilitation of purged people as an argument against the purges. Of course Khrushchev rehabilitated his fellow anti-Stalinists. What do you expect? Shorne 19:33, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)

It's not funny to see this level of misunderstanding of what happened in the USSR. It was not like Khruschev rehabilitated a couple of his party buddies. And hostility towards Soviet Union does not automatically means hostility to Russian people. (If better "dead than red" then purges are a good thing.) What's wrong and funny with rehabilitation of a person whose only guilt was that his farm had two horses and he hired a helper during harvest, and thusly was declared kulak? Go laugh somewhere else, e.g., at Homophobia. Much funnier. Mikkalai 20:15, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Khruschev did not rehabilitate a couple of his party buddies, but that does not mean what he was doing can't be perceived as politically expedient. He was in a political battle with what he termed the Anti-Party Group, and throwing mud on Stalin (and thus indirectly, them) helped weaken their position and strengthen his in their internal party battles. Ruy Lopez 01:46, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
There seems to have been a misunderstanding. What I found funny was the citation of the Khrushchevites by people who, in any other case, would not have had a good word for Khrushchev.
But, now that we're on the subject, what's so shocking about declaring someone a kulak who hired workers? That seems accurate enough to me. Whether you approve of socialism or not, you have to admit that the hiring of employees for private gain is a non-socialist practice—one that a socialist government will naturally wish to abolish. Shorne 21:54, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)
And the best way being sending them and their wives and children to Siberian labor camps. And not letting their children to enter university. And declaring some persons kulaks only because the regional party committee received a plan to "de-kulak", say, 600 persons, and unanimously voted to over-execute the plan and to deliver 650 of them, only to find out that there are only 400 real kulaks, but the promise already went up the command. And load them into a carriage with max. 50 kilogram luggage per person and drop in the middle of Kazakhstan steppe with 100 km to the nearest population centre.
And what exactly non-socialist in this practice? It peacefully existed in later times and in many socialist countries. And btw., which brand of socialism do you have in mind? Mikkalai 22:17, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)
You mean like how the US sent the wives and children of Japanese men to internment camps around the time of WWII as well? And the US faces nowhere near the threat that the USSR did. Ruy Lopez 01:49, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
That rant has absolutely nothing to do with what I said. Shorne 07:28, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
You said "Of course Khrushchev rehabilitated his fellow anti-Stalinists". I said he rehabilitated men whose engagement in politics didn't go further than having two horses. There is nothing shocking declaring someone kulak. Shocking is how kulaks were treated. And your notion of "socialism" seems narrow. That's why wy last question. Mikkalai 14:56, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Someone rich enough to hire workers was not engaged in politics in a socialist society? As I said above, private employment is antisocialist. It is also an impediment to collectivisation. Never mind whether you or I or anyone else considers the USSR of the 1930s socialist: the fact remains that the country was pursuing a policy of agricultural collectivisation, and the kulaks were hostile to that, for the obvious reason that they wanted to retain their relatively high status at the expense of others. Vast numbers of kulaks in the Ukraine and elsewhere actively resisted collectivisation, to the point of destroying collective property, attacking those who joined the collectives, refusing to work (while occupying some of the most productive land in the entire USSR), and attempting to sabotage the movement. It's no surprise that these people were not received graciously.
No one argues tghat there were enemies. I am talking about overshooting. If you don't believe me, may be you will believe Stalin himself. His Pravda article "Dizziness because of Successes" ("Golovokruzhenie ot uspekhov") basically says what I say here: overkill, to be backed off. It was greatly cheered, thought as a sign of democratization. But after a brief recoil, everything went the same way: there were vastly more innocents than real enemies who got punished. And that is the point. No one argues that kulaks were enemies of Soviets, but the trouble was that Soviets sought for much more enemies than it was. And these enemies were punished much more severely than "revolutionaries" and "bombists" during "bloody tsarist" times. Mikkalai 00:12, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Yes, Stalin admitted that mistakes were made and that excesses were committed. I agree. My beef with this article is that it is overwhelmingly slanted. Of course it should mention that a lot of people were wrongly killed, imprisoned, or disgraced. But the suggestion that everyone was an innocent victim is a distortion. People who have tried to put the facts (as well as they are known—and let's not pretend that we have rock-solid data on thousands of individual cases) in a more neutral light have seen their changes silently reverted. That is wrong.
By the way, I'm glad that I can at least discuss this rationally with you. I shall not waste any more of my time on the revisionists here who seem hellbent on censoring any hint that their "truth" is not universally accepted as fact. Shorne 00:53, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The sob story about being kept out of university sells well in the West, where most people can attend university if they want to (except in the US, where some people cannot afford it). It is less convincing when one considers how very uncommon university education was in the USSR in those days. You complain that the children of some kulaks were kept out of university. How about the children of those kulaks' hired hands—would they have been able to go to university twenty years earlier? They would have been lucky to attend school for a few years.
It might be a surprise for you, but university and higher technical education was very common at "these" times (1935-1955). What is more, all students who studied reasonably well got stipends, so there was no question about affordability. The "20 years earlier" argument does not apply here. You cannot justify a wrong by a previous wrong. Mikkalai 00:12, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I wasn't trying to justify any wrongs. I was simply pointing out the existence of inequalities. It reminds me of the debates over so-called affirmative action (giving slight preference to Blacks and others in such things as university admission) in the United States: many white people don't mind the systemic inequality that favours them but cry foul over any inequality in the opposite direction. Shorne 00:53, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
As for getting deported to Kazakhstan, I'm sure that there were there were many excesses and that numerous people were mistreated. That said, very often the people deported were those who simply sat on their land, refusing to work. They were trying to starve the USSR into abandoning collectivisation. Again, it's hardly surprising that the government removed the idle from the land and replaced them with people willing to work it. Shorne 16:45, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
"Sitting on the land", "starving the USSR"... USSR was relatively well fed shortly after the end of the Civil War. Early 1930s was happy and optimistic time. Where did you get your ideas from? Mikkalai 00:12, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Resistance to collectivisation. Do you deny that some people in the Ukraine simply refused to work the land? Shorne 00:53, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Actually, what's so shocking in killing and enslaving people? Take Nero, Ivan the Terrible, slaves caught in Africa and brought to America.... It is our modern reevaluation that makes it shocking. At these times it was a common, non-notable thing for most of populatiion. Mikkalai 15:00, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
You have a point. Most people lack the perspective to understand their own era. The events of today will certainly be seen differently fifty years hence. Shorne 16:45, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Did Stalin do this alone?

Stalin's name is mentioned in this article *twelve* times. Yezhov's name is mentioned three times. Eisenhower's name is mentioned 0 times in the Red Scare article, McCarthy's name is used in some context four times. The purge was no more an act of will of Stalin in his country of millions than the Red Scare was an act of will of Eisenhower or McCarthy. Stalin's name does not have to be mentioned twelve times to note that he approved of the party purges, even having a hand in them (and later reigning in excesses). In reading the history of the USSR on Wikipedia from the mid 1920's to mid 1950's, it's almost as if no one else exists except Stalin. Ruy Lopez 06:21, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I agree. There's a heavy bias.
I would also appreciate it if people would not revert changes without comment. Ruy Lopez just corrected an exaggerated statement of executions, and someone silently reverted it. I restored it, albeit in a slightly different form. Shorne 07:41, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I agree as well and noted this earlier, somewhat above. In addition to "individuals who were not enthusiastic" there were millions who were more that eager to purge, deport, confisacte, incarcerate, cheer, etc. in every district of Russia. Mikkalai 14:42, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Yezhov served in a top position for one or two years, before being removed, and was not even there for the entire period of Purges. Stalin was the leader for thirty years. This clearly shows that Stalin's role was more significant. Andris 03:36, Oct 1, 2004 (UTC)

Controversy over Conquest's book

Why do you two insist on denying the controversy over Conquest's book? This is absolutely no place for a long paragraph of pæans to that book, which can in any case be found at the article on Conquest. It is, however, entirely appropriate to mention that some people do question Conquest's received wisdom.

Facts and references, please, welcome. Mikkalai 00:25, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC).
Just for starters, see the article on Robert Conquest. Shorne 01:03, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I'll put it bluntly: this entire article is a hatchet job of one-sided reporting of a period for which balanced information is hard to find in the West. It reads like something from the pen of J Edgar Hoover. I call for a complete rewrite. In the meantime, I am marking this article as {{Long NPOV}}. Shorne 20:40, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Do you have any "balanced information" from the East? How about Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Stalin himself? Available on internet, BTW..
Oh, yes, Solzhenitsyn, with his famous claim of 66 million people in the gulags. More than the entire population of Byelorussia and the Ukraine put together. Do you really expect me to waste my time responding to such a whopping lie? Shorne 01:03, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Stop whinning and report a different position on the subject. Mikkalai 00:25, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I'm going to wait until the censors and propagandists crawl back into their holes. I'm tired of writing things only to see them silently deleted and replaced with still more one-sided commentary. Shorne 01:03, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

This entire debate is ridiculous, and I would strongly oppose any re write in the name of "fairness". Can a reasonably objective historian be cited to rebuke Conquest's work? TDC 21:16, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)

Even the page on Robert Conquest mentions his work as highly controversial and alludes, albeit inadequately, to the controversy. Presumably those statements will also vanish as soon as the friendly neighbourhood censors get their hands on them. And then we'll be treated to more citations from the Black Book of Anticommunist Bullshit, which, though touted as the very bible on the subject of deaths attributable to communism, has been widely exposed as inaccurate and propagandistic, even in the mainstream media of some First World countries. Shorne 01:38, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
First of all, Conquest was not a historian, he was a British intelligence officer, then he worked for the British Foreign office in anti-Soviet propaganda. Second of all, Conquest's work was repudiated by Conquest himself in the 1990's. Ruy Lopez 01:18, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Correct on both counts. But you can seldom persuade true believers. For them, Conquest's reputation trumps any amount of factual evidence, such as the numbers he confronted when the Soviet archives were opened to the world. He rushed in to find "proof" of his earlier claims. Inconveniently for him and his acolytes, the facts contradicted his vaunted "history". Shorne 01:38, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I am not going to waste my time arguing with people who, by their own admission, cannot write objectively on a subject on which opinions differ. Shorne 00:53, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Exactly, what other authority is there? And do any of them actually differ on some important point? Fred Bauder 21:46, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)

Urg! Have any of you people actually fucking read Conquest's work? Here is a hint, go to the god damned library and check out a copy, and stop relying on PLP literature to make a case that you cannot make on your own. The Great Terror: A Reassessment does not focus solely on the Purges but also covers collectivization, forced labor projects and ethnic cleansing/relocation campaigns. Conquest did not, as a prior post claims, repudiate his 1968 work when it was republished in 1990 (?), it simply refined his work on the subject as he now had access to information previously classified by the Soviets. His total estimates actually increased once he had access to better documentation. And please don’t even try to argue this one if you are too ignorant or lazy to actually read his material.

On a side note, I love how people assassinate Conquest's character but cannot assassinate the accuracy of his work. do if you want to regurgitate the PLP's hit piece on Conquest, by all means do so, but I will make it very clear to the reader who the PLP are and what they stand for.

Toodles.TDC 02:04, Oct 1, 2004 (UTC)

You're completely off the beam. I don't know anything about any "PLP's hit piece".
Now I see what is meant: "the PLP's hit piece" is the link that got posted. Sorry, but it stays unless you have a damn good argument for its removal (which you coyly effected with a silent roll-back of someone's changes). Anyway, that article is not only "on Conquest". It deals with numerous other issues, which you'd know if you had bothered to look at it. Shorne 03:10, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
As for Conquest's triumphalist screed, yes, I've seen it. Deaths on every street corner. Can't inflate the "Great Terror" enough, even by your own low standards of integrity? Just expand it to cover other aspects of Soviet history, then boast of higher figures without revealing the bait-and-switch ploy. Oh, yes, and any errors are the fault of those nasty Soviet bastards who didn't throw their archives open to a British propagandist in the middle of the Cold War. Shorne 02:25, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

TDC silently reverted a number of changes

Everyone should be advised that TDC just now silently reverted a large number of changes, including the addition of a link that he presumably didn't like (can't stand to have even one word from the other side) and various corrections of punctuation and such that could hardly be considered controversial.

I have restored the most recent version, which was the best of a bad lot. If any juvenile here persists in rolling changes back wholesale, I shall request that the article be protected. Shorne 02:40, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I agree that a wholesale reversion was out of order. For example the excellent link to "Another view of Stalin" by Ludo Martens was removed. However time-consuming and difficult it may be to consider each change independently may be, that is the work we have undertaken. Fred Bauder 02:50, Oct 1, 2004 (UTC)
Thank you for these comments. Someone named Andris just now rolled back a huge batch of changes (under the pretext that one short phrase was not to his liking), and again I restored them. Shorne 03:32, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Dubious comparison

I removed this text, because of finding it dubious.

Vyacheslav Molotov said later that the purge and imprisonment of those whose loyalty was suspect, similar to the US's Japanese internment, was as protection of the country during the World War they perceived was about to erupt.

No people were executed in Japanese internment. There is quite a big difference between the two. Andris 03:26, Oct 1, 2004 (UTC)

Hmm, when I use the language called English to read this sentence, it says, "Vyacheslav Molotov said later that the purge and imprisonment of those whose loyalty was suspect, similar to the US's Japanese internment, was as protection of the country during the World War they perceived was about to erupt." How Molotov's reference to someone being purged from the Party or imprisoned turns into a reference to someone being executed is beyond me. Ruy Lopez 09:43, 3 Oct 2004 (UTC)
True. And people were killed in the Japanese internment. The page Japanese internment acknowledges this. Shorne 18:38, 3 Oct 2004 (UTC)
First of all, you did not remove that text; you rolled back multiple changes by various people, evidently without even examining them.
Second, if you wish to dispute the bit about the US's concentration camps for people of Japanese ancestry, you can edit that one phrase. Deleting the entire sentence is excessive.
I consider the comment about Japanese internment apropos and believe that it should be retained. Shorne 03:30, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
OK, I am restoring it without Japanese internment part. Andris 03:38, Oct 1, 2004 (UTC)
Thank you. Shorne 04:51, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Assuming it is correctly attributed the questions are not whether it is true but did it in context refer to the subject of this article and fairly reflect the outlook of Molotov and other supporters of the purge. If Molotov referred to the Japanese internment the reference should remain, if that comparison was only made by some other commentator it probably should not be in the article. It is rather similar to the comparison some Chinese make of the Chinese occupation of Tibet with the US annexation of Hawaii. They are comparable, but the comparison is very much the product of modern thought, having originated on the New York Times China forum. Fred Bauder 12:25, Oct 3, 2004 (UTC)

The alleged "Chinese occupation of Tibet" is in no way comparable to the US's occupation and conquest of Hawai`i. Tibet has been part of China for hundreds of years; it certainly is not under "occupation". This is not, however, the place for this discussion. Shorne 18:38, 3 Oct 2004 (UTC)

How to disprove "20 million dead"

Andris's request for proof that the absurd overstatements of 20 million dead (to say nothing of 66 million) are impossible is perfectly fair. I shall be happy to refute those "estimates" once and for all. I don't have the data to hand, but here is the procedure:

Subtract 20 million from the number of deaths from all causes for the period. Divide by the number of years to get an average number of deaths per year that were not related to the purges. Divide by the population at the end of the period to get the crude death rate per year. Compare this rate to published crude death rates. You get something like 2 per thousand per year, which is far lower than the crude death rates of the most prosperous countries in 2004, not to mention the Soviet Union in the 1930s. In other words, you get an impossible conclusion that utterly shatters those wild claims of 20 million dead.

Again, I'll try to dig up the data. It will mean a trip to a library or two, however, so you'll have to wait a few days or so. Anyone who has access to the relevant figures in seventy-year-old almanacs or whatever is welcome to post them, preferably with a reference. Shorne 04:51, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

"20 million" removed

I have removed the irresponsible reference to a death toll "as high as 20 million". It is completely wrong to lend credibility to the most extreme figure; we might as well say "Estimates as low as two hundred have been made". I should have insisted sooner that this number be removed.

Any figure that gets cited will need to be backed up with a reference and a rationale. Shorne 05:16, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

20 million sounds more like a total figure for the period from 1919 to 1989. Our article covers deaths from executions only; the total includes deaths from famine and those which occurred after imprisonment, including those that occurred during transportation. Fred Bauder 11:18, Oct 1, 2004 (UTC)

Stalinist apologists at work again

I see the well-known Stalinist apologist now calling himself Shorne has been at work on this article. Here as elsewhere he will be vigorously resisted. Adam 05:51, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Grow up. Shorne 14:19, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Shorne, As far as I'm concerned you are welcome to present the perspective that the purges were justified, if that is indeed your position, just clearly reference those who say so and allow opposing persectives, also appropriately referenced, to remain in the article. Fred Bauder 15:02, Oct 6, 2004 (UTC)

Unlike some people here, I'm not trying to present any perspective. I'm trying to bring balance to articles that are heavily slanted. If the article praised the purges and sang pæans to Stalin, I would make changes in the opposite direction.
Thank you also for acknowledging indirectly that people here do not know what my position is. It is reassuring to see that some people have more decency and sense than to go around blackening others with the label "Stalinist apologist" and reverting all their changes. Shorne 15:45, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)

"By their deeds ye shall know them." Adam 00:09, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Please substantiate the reasons and the duration of protection. Otherwise it will be unprotected on 10:46, 8 Oct 2004 . Mikkalai 15:10, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I just did what i was asked to do - protect the page. im not getting involved in this right vs left mess. PMA 15:42, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
More of a left-left mess. Fred Bauder 16:28, Oct 7, 2004 (UTC)
You didn't answer my question. I was asking about reason and duration. Your comment is impolite and disgusting. Mikkalai 17:04, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I didn't mean to be impolite or disgusting. Please remember i have an autism spectrum disorder before condemming me. i merely dislike the fights that Hanpuk/Shorne on the left and others on the right seem to enjoy picking on topics like this. PMA 18:00, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Sorry for harsh words. I intended to say that such expressions are inappropriate when executing admin's powers. I myself have a habit of word abuse and misuse. I totally support your dislike. In addition I dislike newbies who fail to do decent research before editing and then stubbornly stick to theirs. I hope that unlike inherently politicized articles, such as Communism, this particular one may be defended by factual data. Mikkalai 18:14, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Shorne does not enjoy picking fights with right-wingers on these things. Shorne would be content never to meet another right-winger again. Shorne 21:58, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Show Trials

While these are often called "show trials" in the West, the Western observers who attended the trials—most of whom were hostile to communism—found them to be fair.

To be fair, this should really be sourced, because it reeks of BS. So, you know the deal, source it or remove it. TDC 22:05, Oct 7, 2004 (UTC)

I don't mind citing a source. How about a Trotskyist one, just for starters? (So as to remove any allegation of selectively choosing a Stalinist source.) Here you go:
The article cites several Westerners, including a Tory in the British government, as endorsing the trials. Shorne 01:12, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The article does cite Westerners, but they never attest to the fairness of the trials, the article just shows they supported them.
*Sixty years ago at the Moscow Trials, when many of the most outstanding leaders of the revolution were condemned on the basis of false charges and then executed, several democratic governments sent their own observers to the trials. The German writer Lion Feuchtwanger and the theoretician Ernst Bloch supported Stalin's show trials, as well as the British King's Counsel and member of the conservative Tory Party D.N. Pritt. The French writer Romain Rolland and the French League for the Rights of Man also supported Stalin and sanitised the trials in the interests of a Franco-Soviet pact. Even then a patriotic end justified any means.
I would also like to point (after a quick google on each of the above mentioned) out that all the above people were extremely sympathetic to Stalin and the Soviet Union. TDC 05:13, Oct 8, 2004 (UTC)
Oh, sure, a Tory in the King's Counsel sent by his own government was "extremely sympathetic to Stalin and the Soviet Union". And you know that from "a quick google search". Pfffffft. Shorne 07:19, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Well, one of the chapters of the "Another View of Stalin" external link quotes the US ambassador Joseph Davies saying that he thought there really was a conspiracy of some sort. [2] Perhaps it should just mention that instead of being such a sweeping claim. Everyking 23:09, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Many Western observers did indeed feel that a conspiracy had been well established. Shorne 01:12, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • That was the whole idea of show trials. Examples are known of cancelled show trials because accused were not sufficiently broken. Or take a lokk into the Nikolai Krestinsky article. Mikkalai 23:52, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
This is gossip. Which "cancelled show trials"? Shorne 01:12, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • In fact, the majority of population at these times thought that true enemies were punished. How could they know otherwise? All mass media was state-controlled. there was no Voice of America, nor internet. When Stalin died 80% of population cried heavy tears; read the memoires. Those who were in gulag knew. But they served long years, terms periodically extended. When they were out, they were smart enough to keep the mouth shut. Relatives (if not incarcerated themselves) thought it was terrible mistake. . Still other thought it was an indispensable evil: "You cut forest – splinters fly", a Russian proverb says. Persecution of Yezhov didn't result in significant rehabilitation. Only 20 years later all suddenly smartened. Mikkalai 23:33, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Well, I wasn't endorsing anything, I was just pointing out a way they could specifically attribute the claim. Everyking 00:13, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Sorry shorne, but this is one of the worst edits I have seen, and I honestly dont know why we are even debating it. TDC 05:57, Oct 8, 2004 (UTC)

I don't know why I'm debating anything with you. You're simply impossible. Shorne 06:08, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Shorne, you have not provided on scrap of evidence to back up your contribution. I have pointed out that your WSWS article does not even suggest that the show trials were fair. Cite it properly, or it goes.

It is in fact correct that most western observers of the trials believed that the trials were fair. This should be noted. It should also be noted that the trials were not in fact fair, as all reputable historians, Russian and foreign, now agree. This is a matter of fact, not opinion, since the defandants cannot possibly have been guitly of the acts they were charged with. The main factor that influenced foreign observers was the confessions of the defendants, which did not appear to be the result of drugs or torture and thus seemed inexplicable if they were not genuine. Our understanding of the techniques of psychological coercion which were used on these defendants is now much clearer, and have been well-documented. Bukharin, for example, confessed only after receiving a promise that his family would not be harmed. Adam 06:52, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)

… the implication being that the confession was false? Bit of a logical leap there.
I'd be glad to read the evidence that points to coercion. Possibly the people present were deceived, but this cannot simply be taken for granted because it is possible. I'd also like to see how Bukharin could not have been guilty of a conspiracy.
Anyway, thank you for having the integrity to acknowledge, while TDC stood by denying it on no grounds deeper than prejudice, that most Western observers believed that the trials were fair. Thank you also for agreeing that this fact should be noted, whatever you think of the trials themselves. Shorne 07:19, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)

In fact the despised Conquest devotes a whole chapter to documenting how most of the western observers were taken in by the trials, as part of his thesis that the western intelligentsia suffered a massive moral failure in their acceptance of Stalinism in the 1930s. Many of their accounts are quoted verbatim about how wonderfully fair the trials were and how conclusively the guilt of the defendants was proved. In fact almost no evidence apart from the confessions was produced, and many of the specific allegations made were literally impossible, as was documented by the Dewey Commission at the time. Adam 08:02, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Chapter 5 in Conquest, The Reassessment addresses "The Problem of Confession". I can't find a chapter devoted to "to documenting how most of the western observers were taken in by the trials". Perhaps the name of the chapter? Fred Bauder 11:52, Oct 8, 2004 (UTC)

I was thinking of the section Foreign Misapprehensions in the chapter Heritage of Terror, p665 in the Pelican edition. I wrote the above paragraph while at work without the book to refer to. Adam 11:59, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Irresponsible changes

Mikkalai, I thought you were above the vile propagandists here who insist on turning every word into a broadcast from Voice of America. Please do not delete pertinent links and add POV information to others. Shorne 00:04, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)

The sole piece relevant to the article from the webpage you included is a short section [3], which contains no reference to original facts; at least nothing else not covered in another reference, by Martens. It is not good to pollute encyclopedia by secondary sources that shed no additional light.I can add hundreds of them from internet. The goal of references is to present more facts. The book of Martens is in defense of Stalin; it is fact, not POV. Did you read it yourself? "It is very difficult to raise one's feeble voice against the torrents of anti-Stalin propaganda." Mikkalai 00:46, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I hardly consider two links to be overwhelming pollution of the encyclopædia. As for whether the book is POV, did you make the same objection about Conquest? or Black Book of Communism? Those are hardly going to win any awards for their neutrality. Sorry, but your complaint sounds like special pleading to me, and I'm afraid I cannot accept it. Shorne 04:49, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Pease read carefully what other's write. I didn't say that the book is POV. Mikkalai 16:32, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
And by the way, I don't classify in books as POV and not-POV. Unlike encyclopedia, whose main goal to present facts, authors of books are entitled to their POV. Books may contain facts and POV or lies and POV. Mikkalai 16:43, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Sorry. I had read "it is in fact POV". The effect of aging eyeballs.… Shorne 19:27, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)

You do know Mikkalai is Russian right Shorne? He knows what he is talking about - unlike you who despite your protestations of wanting 'balance' is merely a lefist with an axe to grind - ever since your first known incarnation as Eco. Since then, Adam, me, Mikkalai, VeryVerily, Robert Merkel and a bunch of others have tried to reason with you - and unlike you we don't create multiple accounts all the time, which suggests you don't have the courage or the decency to stand behind your convictions. If you want to be reasonable i will listen - but you have not yet shown me you wish to change. PMA 13:59, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I am not Russian. I am even not exactly Mikkalai :-) And BTW I think having leftists around here is good: they make us to write more argumentative texts, with more facts and less opinions. A shark in a sea for herring not to sleep. And such emotional outbursts against opponents are in best traditions of Lenin texts, by the way. So who is leftist here? :-) Mikkalai 16:32, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Somebody told me you were Russian sorry :( my bad. i got emotional cause im tired of being attacked by ideological fanatics - even Adam has said that even when he and i disagree on something i'm always try to do the right thing. Its hard living with an autistic disorder like Aspergers - its a very lonely road to walk. PMA 18:07, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I demand a retraction and an apology for the personal attack and, in particular, for the false accusation that I am some other user. Shorne 19:27, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Well, I must admit you do behave like an ideological fanatic. As for multiple names, I am curious what this conclusion is based on? Mikkalai 20:11, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Damned if I know. It sounds like the utterance of an ideological fanatic to me. Shorne 23:16, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I retract and apologise and hope you really aren't that user that keeps using multiple accounts (Eco, RichardChilton, Hanpuk etc etc). PMA 06:23, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)
My best guess is that Shorne is a reincarnation of GayCommunist rather than the Richardchilton series (who I suspect is now functioning as Ruy Lopez), but I'm not interested enough to investigate the matter so deeply. I advise, just revert his POV edits. VeryVerily 06:37, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I accept PMA's apology. In fact, I have no idea who those other people are; I haven't even run into them (except Hanpuk on Talk:Khmer Rouge—some stuff he posted there months ago). Shorne 06:51, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)


The issue of unfair trials is in progress of being exposed in the series of factual articles. Some of them are already in place: NKVD troika, Moscow Trials, Enemy of the people, Article 58 (RSFSR Penal Code), Secret Speech, Dewey Commission, Population transfer in the Soviet Union, as well as in the current article itself. Mikkalai 07:14, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Documentation, please

Mikkalai, I know that talking to VeryVerily is what the French call pisser dans un violon, but you seem to be far more reasonable. I'm concerned by your insistence on disputed claims in the face of my request for documentation. What is the issue? Shorne 07:16, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)

The issue is time. Mikkalai 15:23, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Meaning what? That your supposed lack of time to track down the references justifies dispensing with this requirement? Shorne 23:06, 10 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Meaning that unlike propaganda and counter-propaganda phraseology, I have to come up with statements that reflect reality and with means to support them. And this takes much more time than to simply write: "everybody knows that Stalin was tyrant, but he did this to destroy the enemies of the country." Mikkalai 19:05, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Referenced material

Shorne, in a few instances you have changed the content of the article in instances where the content was referenced to particular pages of Robert Conquest's book, The Great Terror: A Reassessment, see [4]. The problem is that the cited page will not support the statement which you insert. The effect is that a statement is in a Wikipedia article which is not supported by its cited reference. Fred Bauder 15:58, Oct 10, 2004 (UTC)

Do you understand the problem and that you cannot make such changes without removing the references also, and hopefully putting a reference which supports the change? To do this well you need to have a copy of the book for reference. Fred Bauder 15:58, Oct 10, 2004 (UTC)


I object that the opening of the article says one million were executed. I also object to the "estimates" of how many were killed being decided by whoever. Cite sources and let the reader decide. Im leaving the MVD and Memorial estimates since at least they're sourced. Ruy Lopez 02:10, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I support this objection. Shorne 02:50, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

A Larger Context

In The Gulag Archipelago by: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, he writes:

"When people today decry the buses of the cult, they keep getting hung up on those years which are stuck in our throats, '37 and '38. And memory begins to make it seem as though arrests were never made before or after, but only in those two years."

(Chapter 2: The History of Our Sewage Disposal System)

He goes on to say that the wave of '37 and '38 was not the only one, or even the largest but that others (for example 1929-30) are not widely known because "peasants are a silent people, without a literary voice". (Chapter 2)

I think that it's important to acknowledge that persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin did not begin and end with the Great Purge.

Padington (talk) 20:34, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

I completely agree; "Stalinist repressions" should not redirect here but should be an article of broader scope. Languagehat (talk) 22:23, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

Astonishing Death Toll

The number of people who perished in the purges is subject to hot disputes with death toll estimates ranging from 1 to '''100 million''' people, depending on who counts and what is counted as a purge.

This has got to be a joke. You couldn't convince a 10 year old that a median of 50 million would be executed out of a population of 160 million. Such is unfeasible. Demographic data does not remotely correspond to such allegations. Countless sources have correctly specified the death toll from executions to total 681,692 including the Russian Viktor Zemskov, J.Arch Getty, Robert Thurston and Stephen Wheatcroft. Archival data must be given priority over hearsay, rumours, and crude arithmetic.

Some sources place the number at about 20 million, which includes approximately 5 million kulaks and other peasants killed between 1929 and 1933; 5 million who died during the Ukrainian Holodomor, 5 million executed between 1933 and 1953 (including military personnel executions during the Great Patriotic War), and 5 million dead in gulag camps.

This has been debunked by archival material. It's been revealed that 150,000 kulaks died during 1930-1931; 3 million died during the rural famine of 1932-1933; 786,000 executions from 1930-1953; a 1 million deaths in the GULAG. The total figure is not quite 5 million. Again, we must give priority to archival sources over second-hand estimates. Sources include "Years of Hunger" by Stephen Wheatcroft and RW Davies and "Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-War Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence" by J.Arch Getty.

Then don't talk about it. Fix the article with your data, adding sources with every claim. Remember: be bold. -Kasreyn 22:02, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

"The main evidence for the gendercidal impact of the "Great Terror" lies in the Soviet census of 1959. In a fascinating addendum to the original edition of his work on the Purge period, The Great Terror, Robert Conquest uses the census figures to argue that the Soviet population "was some 20 million lower than Western observers had expected after making allowance for war losses." "But the main point," he notes, "arises from a consideration of the figures for males and females in the different age groups." He then unveils a striking table indicating that whereas age cohorts up to 25-29 displayed the usual 51-to-49 percent split of women to men, from 30-34 the gap widened to 55 to 45 percent. Thereafter, the disparity became massive, reflecting the generations of males caught up in the purges and the Great Patriotic War. From 35-39, women outnumbered men by 61 to 39 percent; from 40-54, the figure was 62 to 38 percent; in the 55-59 age group, 67 to 33 percent; from 60-69, 65 to 35 percent; and 70 or older, 68 to 32 percent. [...] [...] The estimates are "only approximations," Conquest notes, and "anything like complete accuracy on the casualty figures is probably unattainable." But "it now seems that further examination of the data will not go far from the estimates we now have except, perhaps, to show them to be understated"; and "in any case, the sheer magnitudes of the Stalin holocaust are now beyond doubt." He cites Joseph Berger's remark that the atrocities of Stalin's rule "left the Soviet Union in the condition of 'a country devastated by nuclear warfare.'" (All figures and quotes from Conquest, The Great Terror: A Reassessment, pp. 485-88.)" from Genocide Watch --Dwarf Kirlston 18:47, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

  • is there a Wikiproject Genocide?--Dwarf Kirlston 18:47, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

> "The main evidence for the gendercidal impact of the "Great Terror" lies in the Soviet census of 1959. In a fascinating addendum to the original edition of his work on the Purge period, The Great Terror, Robert Conquest uses the census figures to argue that the Soviet population "was some 20 million lower than Western observers had expected after making allowance for war losses."

This is pretty weak. For one thing, the opening of archives has revealed that the costs of war were worse than had been assumed previously. Once you begin making this type of alteration, everything else can be thrown out of kilter and it makes no sense to claim to know what the population of 1959 should have been then. This is why Conquest's tracts are pretty meaningless. The archives of the Gulag and the general demographical data have become available. This information can be found in Haynes & Husan, A CENTURY OF STATE MURDER? It does not support claims of "20 million." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:08, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

There are plenty of other reasons why this might have happened. It is a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument to say that the lower population was a result of genocide. To assume that it's related to genocide is drawing a pretty long bow. David Glantz has proposed, with some justification, that the real figure for Soviet war dead was closer to 40 million rather than the figure of 20 million which is usually quoted.Flanker235 (talk) 11:47, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

The Great Purge and Barbarossa

I have removed the following line from the end of the paragraph Purge of the Army: "However, this is untrue since Hitler had already stated a fight against communism in "My Struggle", and many times in his speeches during the 1930s." This line attempts to discount any link between Germany's assault on Russia due to the idiological position of the Nazis. That Hitler and the Nazis were completely opposed to Communism is clear from Mein Kampf and numerous other sources - however, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact also shows that the Nazis were very pragmatic about this opposition. The issue is not whether the Nazis were ideologically opposed to the Communists, but rather whether the purges helped contribute to the actual timing of Operation Barbarossa. --The Thieving Gypsy 17:32, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Russian to English Transliteration in intro

Большая чистка transliterates into (if I'm not incorrect) Bol'shaya Chistka; I'm going to put this into the parenthesis in the intro sentence next to the Russian. I hope this is ok? T. S. Rice 10:48, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

Mikkalai revert?

Hey Mikkalai, I can't see for the life of me why you reverted my changes to this article. Please let me know why you did it in the talk, or I'm going to re-post them. They seemed fairly uncontroversial. SparhawkWiki 22:57, 29 November 2006 (UTC) (signed after the fact because I forgot to sign it earlier)

Version 0.7 review

I've passed this for the Version 0.7 DVD release, as it seems (generally) pretty well done and complete, as far as I can tell. However, it does contain some shocking information, and as such it could benefit from some inline citations - an important topic like this deserves a good quality article. Thanks, Walkerma 02:53, 12 June 2007 (UTC)


There are thousands of books about stalinism, all from reputable scholars. It is not like some obscure topic you cannot find information. We have a specific topic here. Please explain which sections of the books in question deal specifically with the Great Purge. I have nothing against long list of references, but they must be reasonable. For example the article Joseph Stalin has like a hundred of them. But the topic "Stalin" is broad.

In our case, for example, "In Defense of the Russian Revolution: A Reply to the Post-Soviet School of Historical Falsification [David North." or "Was there an alternative to Stalinism? [David North." It is unclear from the titles how the are related to 1937.

The best idea would be to write articles about important books or at least to add brief summaries in the current article, so that people will know why these books are listed here. `'Miikka 17:02, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

  • [Two Lectures] Stalin's Great Terror: Origins and Consequences Leon Trotsky and the Fate of Marxism in the USSR [Vadim Z. Rogovin. Mehring books,ISBN 0-929087-83-6] 1996
    • Added back. `'Miikka 17:07, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
  • 1937: Stalin's Year of Terror [Vadim Z. Rogovin. Mehring books, ISBN 0-929087-77-1] 1996.
    • Added back `'Miikka 17:07, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
  • The Red Book [Leon Sedov. Mehring books: New Park Publications, 1980 ISBN 0-86151-015-1] 1936
  • Documents of the 1923 Opposition [Mehring books: New Park Publications, ISBN 0-929087-9608] 1975.
  • The Revolution Betrayed [[Leon Trotsky. Mehring books, ISBN 0-929087-48-8 1936][The Leon Trotsky Internet archive,]]
  • The Stalin School of Falsification [Leon Trotsky. Mehring books: Labor Publications, ISBN 0-929087-92-5] 1974
  • In Defense of the Russian Revolution: A Reply to the Post-Soviet School of Historical Falsification [David North. Mehring books,ISBN 0-929087-72-0] 1995.
  • Trotskyism was the revolutionary alternative to Stalinism: A reply to the historical falsifiers [David North. Mehring books, ISBN 1-873045-07-7] 1995.
  • Was there an alternative to Stalinism? [David North.] 1995

No single word about Kirov?

What started the first wave of the great purge was the assasination of Sergei Kirov in Leningrad in 1934. Was it set by the party or not, but it was exploited widely by the party to begin a mass war of terror against their own people. Someone has to add this to the article.

Not exactly so, but I added the name. `'Míkka 18:36, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Also in Russian there is no term 'Great Purge', so the Russian translation seems pointless. In Russian they use two terms, 'Stalinist Repressions' or more narrowly 'Yezhovschnina' (i.e. covering only 1937-39, the peak of terror).--Klaus Bertow 08:54, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, mistaken. Please don't forget there are plenty of native russian speakers in wikipedia, who know which terms "they" use. If you don't believe them, try google. `'Míkka 18:36, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
True. Steveshelokhonov 20:13, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

Purges elsewhere?

Although the Purge in the Soviet Union was the biggest, shouldnt there be at least some informaion about the Purge in Mongolia, which happened at the same time as it did in the former? There isnt even one mentioning of the Purge in Mongolia here. --ChinneebMy talk 07:45, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Be bold and write an aricle about purges in Mongolia, rather than complain about lazy rest of us. Only pease use the correct title (how they were called there) and cite reputable sources. `'Míkka 15:12, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
OK. The name in Mongolia is the same as the one in the Soviet Union, so maybe the title should be Great Purge (Mongolia) or something like that?? --ChinneebMy talk 04:14, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
See Twentieth Century Mongolia `'Míkka 05:57, 16 August 2007 (UTC)


Could we make this a disambig page, as I would like to add Stalinist Purges in Mongolia. --ChinneebMy talk 09:21, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

Gulijan's addition

Editor C.J.Griffin, can you explain your deletions of Gulijan's referenced material? Binksternet (talk) 13:53, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm under the impression that this might be another sockpuppet of permabanned vandal Jacob Peters. This Gulijan is citing some of the same sources Peter's has cited in the past. I'll leave them for now but will keep an eye on further edits made by Gulijan. C.J. Griffin (talk) 01:32, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
We'll all keep an eye out. ;) Binksternet (talk) 08:42, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
It seems like I was right. Looking over Gulijan's recent edits there is no doubt in my mind that this is indeed another sockpuppet of vandal Jacob Peters. I've reported him and if it's confirmed, I'm removing his edits from this article and all the others as banned users cannot edit wikipedia. C.J. Griffin (talk) 03:14, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

What is wrong with the painting?

Do you expect anyone to take a picture under those circumstances? Bobanni (talk) 23:33, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Why do you think that this person "is about to be shot?" Nothing in the image implies this. Therefore it provides no encyclopedic information and does not belong to encyclopedia. And yes, picture were taken "under this" and similar circumstances. If you disagree, please provide proof that this painting is immediately related to Gerat Purge: people were executed many before and after. Detailed desription in image page does not show documentary relation to Great Purge period. Dzied Bulbash (talk) 23:42, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Please see this text.Biophys (talk) 01:49, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
The link just proves what the edit summary showed. The painting is motivated by some personal effect of the purge on the painter---and the text quite clearly states that the painter has an issue with the USSR/Russian government. The painting is therefore an expression of an opinion (which seems to be the case with all of Nikolai Getman's paintings). The problem with Jamestown Foundation "resources" is that the JF's main work is involved with anti-USSR/pro-USA/pro-West activity, and that it still exists doing the same work, so it promotes a current organization.
Under WP:IS the JF does not offer information on this topic from a disinterested pov; and also a Getman painting expresses opinions. This is why I will remove the painting. (talk) 03:04, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

The picture is just an illustration to the article, not a source. We happen to have the ability to use it. If you have a free art showing the opposite POV (brave NKVD persecuting capitalist spies?) you are welcome to insert it. In fact such a painting would benefit the article Alex Bakharev (talk) 03:43, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

about the army purge

The number of 30000 executed officers is only based on Khrushchov'e era propaganda. I have removed the number along with its reference that also proves nothing, only mentions again the 30000. In fact, the number 30000 refers to the officers FIRED or RETIRED from the army at that period, including some 12000 arrested (arrested is not necessary executed), but also some 15000 cases of people "wrongly accused" returned to service.) The actual blow was aimed towards the party and NKVD officials who wore military ranks

AbuAmir (talk) 05:18, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Background section

The background section in its current form seems rather weak. There is no discussion there of the role of the murder of Kirov, that certainly provided a crucial pretex for the start of the Great Purge, and nothing about the 17-th party congress. I also find it strage that the section says rather little about Stalin's personal role in starting the purge. The focus of the explanation of the purge given in the section as moitiavated by the need to eliminate right- and left-wing opposition within the party also seems somewhat misplaced. From everything that I read on the subject before, the main impetus for the purge came from Stalin himself and his principle motivation was to eliminate those among the perfectly loyal and ideologically correct members of the party who had significant independent popularity and moral authority and thus could represent a potential challenge to his hold on power. I don't have books on the subject at home (except for Geoffrey Hosking's Russia and the Russians, that touches on the topic briefly), but really, the background section needs a lot of work. Nsk92 (talk) 22:55, 25 December 2008 (UTC)

partially addressed re Kirov, my source is Conquest, but unfortunately only a 1989 edition.Mtsmallwood (talk) 07:36, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Misleading sentence

"Estimates of the number of deaths associated with the Great Purge run from the official figure of 681,692 to nearly 2,000,000."

The 681,692 figure is not an "official figure" but comes from documentary archives opened to historians after 1991. It refers to executions carried out in the two-year period of 1937-8. The range of 1.5-2 million is put forward by Getty & Naumov as a plausible estimate of the total numbers of not only executions but also deaths in labor camps from the beginning of collectivization up to the entry of the USSR into WWII. These numbers refer to different events and neither one was ever an official figure. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:00, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

Great terror redirect

I am curious why "great terror" redirects here. The term great terror was only 'coined' as a reference to Stalin's purges because a historian was trying to liken it to the "great terror" of the French Revolution and as a result, the, original term now seems to be 'written' out of history by wikipedia, an action I don't know if I agree with. I studied both the Russian and French revolutions in high school and at university and the great terror always referred to the period at the end of the Reign of Terror in 1790's France. Yet now, if someone searches for this term their first match will be Stalin's purges because a Western (see not Russian) historian seemed to think the term was catchy and reusable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Senor Freebie (talkcontribs) 11:40, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

You are absolutely right. This is wikipropaganda. Biophys (talk) 13:27, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Picture of Stalin 1938 - incorrect caption/image

If you look at the image captioned "Josef Stalin circa 1938", near the top of the page , you will see that it is in fact an image saved as "Portrait of Stalin in 1936". I'm afraid I can't recommend any resolution, not being involved at all in this article's creation. (talk) 20:15, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Portrait source confirms it is 1936. Fixed. Dzied Bulbash (talk) 15:59, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

External Links

Just a reminder to editors that external links are not to be used for secondary sources. Articles about the topic should be used as citations, or not at all. From WP:ELYES:

What should be linked (ELYES)

1. Wikipedia articles about any organization, person, web site, or other entity should link to the subject's official site, if any. See Official links below.
2. An article about a book, a musical score, or some other media should link to a site hosting a copy of the work, if none of the "Links normally to be avoided" criteria apply.
3. Sites that contain neutral and accurate material that cannot be integrated into the Wikipedia article due to copyright issues, amount of detail (such as professional athlete statistics, movie or television credits, interview transcripts, or online textbooks) or other reasons.

Links to be considered (ELMAYBE)

1. For albums, movies, books, and other creative works, links to professional reviews.
2. Very large pages, such as pages containing rich media files, should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Worldwide, many use Wikipedia with a low-speed connection. Unusually large pages should be annotated as such.
3. A well-chosen link to a directory of websites or organizations. Long lists of links are not acceptable. A directory link may be a permanent link or a temporary measure put in place while external links are being discussed on the article's talk page. The Open Directory Project is often a neutral candidate, and may be added using the Purge/Archive 1 Great Purge/Archive 1 at Curlie template.
4. Sites which fail to meet criteria for reliable sources yet still contain information about the subject of the article from knowledgeable sources.

Video from the show trial is fine (although not great); analysis is not fine. I hope that's clear.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 03:27, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

dispute with Kirov

In this article it says, 'Stalin received 292 negative votes' (second paragraph under Background), while in Stalin it says, 'Stalin received 1,108 negative votes' (second paragraph under Purges). Which is correct? Tyrannophobe (talk) 16:33, 11 May 2010 (UTC)


The Tsarist executions from 1825 to 1910 were in response to about 1,000 Tsarist officials' being killed by Leftists. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:59, 19 June 2010 (UTC)

"enhanced interrogation?"

"Enhanced interrogation" seems a rather Orwellian euphemism for torture. Shouldn't an encyclopedia just call torture "torture"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:14, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

Sources and Content

This article is entirely biased towards the observations and opinions of essentially two people: Orlando Figes and Robert Conquest. While neither of them are terrible historians, there are thousands of other historians/historical narratives/facts and figures concerning the Great Purge, while this article is limited in scope, due to poor research. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:30, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

Why is the work of Grover Furr not included?

Grover Furr's work is invaluable in giving a full account and any entry without reference to him can have no real value as a source about the Stalinist Soviet republic. (talk) 16:37, 17 August 2013 (UTC)

Comparisons with Tsarist regime

This edit is disputed. - Altenmann >t 04:45, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

Please don't include unmotivated numerical comparisons with the previous Tsarist regime. Unless this is explained by some type of context. Without reference to any historiographic context (like a wider political debate among historians), it's really just a gratuitous way of trivializing Russia under the tsars. It's also a very uninformative comparison since it somehow equates two very different regimes belonging to two very different eras.

If Pipes has a good reason for mentioning this, please include his reasoning instead of merely parroting him.

Peter Isotalo 01:13, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

On the contrary, I think It is directly relevant and natural to compare how many people killed by Bolsheviks and by Tsar. Especially in the view that Bolsheviks (and other contemporary revolutionaries) whined about the brutality of Tsarist regime. Especially that the comparison is referenced from relevant scholarly source. YOur opinions about "trivializing", "unmotivated" etc. is insufficient to remove directly related, valid and referenced text. If a serious historian makes such a compariosn in a book, it is not a job of a wikipedian to issue any denigrating judgements why he does this. We don't need any wider context than the context of the article. The book cited is exactly and directly within this context, not some random mention in passing. The comparison may be both between very similar and very different things. And the era was the same: 20th century. THe country was the same ; regime was different, hence comparison. - Altenmann >t 04:37, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

Uhm, it's not the same century, obviously since it refers to executions of the span of almost a century. The selection of time period for the Tsarist regime also appears to be rather strange, since it stops at 1910 (notably excluding the war).
Saying "Pipes writes it, so you can't remove it" is pretty spurious since authors includes tons of content that isn't automatically included in articles. The problem is, again, that this particular comparison doesn't attempt to say anything but "the Bolsheviks were worse than the Tsarist regime". How exactly does that make any of the death figures easier to understand? What perspective does it serve to shed light on?
Peter Isotalo 14:33, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
re:pretty spurious" Yes, books have tons of contents. We include content relevant to the topic. In our case the topic is the number of executions. Comparisons is a standard scientific way. 16:34, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
re: "the problem is again" You answer your question yourself: this particular comparison says "the Bolsheviks were worse than the Tsarist regime". If you don't understand the importance of this statement, then you probably don't understand the topic at all, which is about the brutality of Bolsheviks, which motivated the Russian Revolution by the brutality and other unfairness of Tsarist regime. The whole propaganda of Bolsheviks was "Life has become better, life has become merrier" (Stalin, 1935). - Altenmann >t 16:34, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
re: "not the same century: - Isn't it telling that bolsheviks executed orders of magnitude more people in two years than the "brutal Tsarist regime" (headed by "Nicholas the Bloody" and other "vicious" tsars) in the whole century. And we are not talking about weapons of mass destruction here. - Altenmann >t 16:42, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
re: 1910. Come on, you are nitpicking now. I'd guess this was gthe range he had statistics. It did exclude the war but it include the previous revolution of 1905-1907 - a good chance for "Nicholas the Bloody" to show his "bloodiness". - Altenmann >t 16:42, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
If you want the comparison from the same century, enjoy: Russian_Revolution_of_1905#Repression. - Altenmann >t 16:57, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
Heck, comparisons of Bolshevik regime and Tsarist regime is such a common thing that it is even the matter of school assignments and cheatsheets (blacklisted or something?):,d.cGU&cad=rja),
that's why I was utterly surprized with your objections. - Altenmann >t 17:12, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
(Comment from uninvolved editor) Whom, exactly, are you talking to? Erpert WHAT DO YOU WANT??? 06:42, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
I'd ask you the same, actually.
Peter Isotalo 14:33, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
<huh?>I am talking to wikipedia community, explaining my position on the issue. In fact I even requested Third Opinion. - Altenmann >t 16:34, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
P.S. Reminds me "Are you talking to me?", especially the part " Who the fuck do you think you're talking to?" :-) I am sure it was not the intention. I did answer the question, but now please explain the purpose of it, which evades me. - Altenmann >t 16:51, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

(Comment from uninvolved editor)(Non expert!) It seems the statement "the NKVD detained 1,548,366 victims" is biased. A victim is someone harmed in violation of the law - were all 1,548,366 people detained in violation of the law? There are numerous other uses of the word victim, but the rest seem to be vague on subject (i.e. possibly only referring to actual victims), those who were exonerated, people who were actually killed, etc. Due to ignorance and dispute on the section, I'm not editing. In regards to conflict, as non-expert, it seems to be a non-arbitrary comparison, but it would be just as valid to compare to post-Stalin era, or even modern time. If the point is to state how terrible it was, making a comparison does not do that (1.5 million arrests and well over a half million shot tends to do that by itself, without specifying it's more than "1 per week"). If the point is to state that there was as increase in arrests and executions, then stating "compared with x executions in the year xxxx" without a specific comparison to Tsarists. Just my 2 cents.Roguetech (talk) 17:09, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

  • re: "victims" - fixed. I replaced with the neutral word "persons". However in the context of political repressions carried out by NKVD the term 'victim' is commonly accepted despite the fact that these 1.5 Million were actually detained according to the law. The whole point is that the law itself and its implementation were brutal. - Altenmann >t 02:57, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
  • re: "1 per week". That's what was in the source. And it was a correct mathematical way. You know the concept of 'speed', right? Comparison with year (and with modern times) is pointless: the regimes (both described as "brutal" by their respective opponents) are compared, not years. (Dis you read my explanations above?) That's why you will probably not find this in sources (and hence in wikipedia. I am sure you know the rule WP:CITE.) by the way, it is not simply "more than 1 per week". It is "1000 per day" for 2 years nonstop that is telling. - Altenmann >t 02:57, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
    I did see books and articles with tables of annual statistics of arrests, deportations and executions. But this historical material did not find place into some correspondingly detailed wikipedia sub-articles yet. - Altenmann >t 03:16, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

So many of the victims were Jews!

It's fair to say that Jewish members of the Party elite and intelligentsia were disproportionately affected by Stalin's purges. The anti-Jewish aspect of the purges goes unmentioned in the Western literature, but this was a watershed moment in history when the 'Jewish community' (at first - domestically, and later - internationally) began to turn against the Communist regime. Today you can still find Jewish marxists, who are very fond of Trotsky and Lenin, but none of them worship Stalin. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:58, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

Anatoly Wasserman is known Jewish Stalinist in Russia.


The earlier Tsarist executions were a reaction to the killing of about 1,000 Tsarist officials by Leftists. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:19, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

Tsar Alexander II was killed in 1881. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:52, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

МилыйДом (talk) 01:24, 25 May 2015 (UTC)


Just pointing out that "-shchina" suffix in Russian and other Eastern Slav languages does not by itself relate to a time period. Its historical value only comes from the reference root, not from the suffix itself. In fact, the roughly approximate translating would be "instigated by" in a negative sense. So, in present context, "Yezhovshchina" would mean "anything instigated by Yezhov" or "anything having to do with Yezhov". And since Yezhov is part of the Soviet history today, the term connotes chronologically. --Whydoesitfeelsogood (talk) 01:35, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

OK, thanks for explaining. I was going by past reading of books in which it was translated as "era". The memory of which led me to search for the pages that I linked. I think your explanation is interesting and helpful. I still suspect that "era of [mis]deeds" would not be a *wrong* translation, because the time component that is implicit in Russian is absent in English unless it's made explicit. But I defer to your preference. — ¾-10 02:04, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
"the doings of Yezhov" sounds dreadful in English, can't it be "the deeds of Yezhov"? Changes will also be required on Nikolai Yezhov, by the way. Emerald (talk) 07:37, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
Per wikipedia rules, once some statement in wikipedia is questioned, the only acceptable answers may come only from reliable sources. Not to say that there is may be several equally valid "literal" translations or even none. - üser:Altenmann >t 13:36, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

<sigh> A wikipedian in me won:

  • Т.Ф. Ефремова Новый словарь русского языка. Толково- словообразовательный:
    1.Словообразовательная единица, образующая имена существительные женского рода, которые обозначают бытовое или общественное явление, идейное или политическое течение, характеризующееся признаком, названным мотивирующим именем прилагательным, словосочетанием со структурно мотивирующим именем прилагательным в качестве определения, а также именами или фамилиями исторических деятелей и литературных персонажей (аракче́евщина, бана́льщина, достое́вщина, интеллиге́нтщина, литерату́рщина, мани́ловщина, нелега́льщина, обло́мовщина, подённая рабо́та - подёнщина, попо́вщина, сде́льная опла́та труда́ - сде́льщина, театра́льщина и т.п.); при этом некоторые имена существительные с данным суффиксом могут иметь вторичное собирательное значение (вое́нщина, иностра́нщина и т.п.), а также значение единичного лица - носителя признака (дереве́нщина).
    2.Словообразовательная единица, образующая имена существительные женского рода, которые являются обиходными названиями территорий (Влади́мирщина, Ки́евщина, Полта́вщина, Ряза́нщина, Тамбо́вщина и т.п.).
  • Sipko J. Etnopsyholingvisticke predpoklady slovensko-ruskych a rusko-slovenskych porovnavani //Этнопсихолингвистические предпосылки словацко-русских и русско-словацких сопоставлений. Presov, 2003.
    Sipko points out that in meaning 1 (Efremova) the suffix most commonly bears openly negative or derisive connotations.

In other words, "literally" it is neither "times" nor "deeds", nor "doings", but "явление (phenomenon) associated with Yezhov". The refs above can serve a basis for a footnote. The actual suggested "close to literal" translations (which replace the generic term "phenomenon" with more specific ("times", "deeds", "circle of buddies and toadies", etc.) must come from refs which discuss or at least provide these. - üser:Altenmann >t 14:04, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

As a hint of deciding what would be correct translation, please compare expressions "he suffered during Yezhovshina" (ref. to times), "he suffered from Yezhovshina"(ref. to politics) and "NKVD ranks were cleansed from Yezhovshina" (ref. to clique), and you will readily see that only the generic, "untranslatable" meaning may be universally correct. - üser:Altenmann >t 14:14, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

I'm inclined to agree on that. "phenomenon of Yezhov" then? --Whydoesitfeelsogood (talk) 15:20, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
See the modified article text. - üser:Altenmann >t 15:24, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

/* End of The Great Purge */

Uhhh, turns out you have to start a Talk section here for everything, because apparently you have tons of free time, while others are too busy and prefer spending 5 seconds to revert your edits...

Okay, the phrase By the summer of 1938, Stalin and his circle realized that the purges had gone too far; is incorrect a/p sources from the Russian Wikipedia. Here it is unsourced. The outcome makes you think that Stalin has decided single-handedly decided to start the Purge, and he himself, along with his executives, decided to end it. This is totally opposite as to what the sources state.

The Purge has ended in part because Stalin has conducted a reforming of the NKVD. However, the main cause was Yezhov's removal and his charging with culpability of several unlawful practices (which he did conduct without Stalin knowing on multiple occasions). When Stalin made Yezhov head of the Water Transport Committee (a position created in 1937 and abolished in 1939), it was only because of the latter's certifiable merits in terms of using prisoners to built the Moskva-Volga canal. However upon receiving that position, Yezhov was granted with even more authority, and was later deemed unstoppable in his goal to find "enemies of the people".

By the end of the summer of 1938, Beria was already Stalin's right hand in many affairs. He has persuaded the latter to remove Yezhov from the NKVD altogether. The reformation of the NKVD made it possible for Beria to take the chairmanship of the Committee and to push Yezhov out, who has then dismissed at his own request. With the abolition of his other position, Yezhov found himself jobless, was arrested two weeks later with incrimination of having protected Uspensky, one of the commissaries of the Ukrainian NKVD.

Subsequently, Yezhov has been blamed for multiple deeds related to his chairmanship, much of which he had to accept because the new apparatus has been infiltrated with Beria's men. He testified against Babel, and both of them were executed in 1940.

I don't see how this can be the fault of anyone else but Yezhov. I mean sure, the Purge was conducted by the whole NKVD, and even so after Beria's arrival, but Yezhov is definitely responsible for the 1936-1938 period of these events. You could even say that Stalin wasn't interested in Yezhov's future past 1938 because his inner circle of men was already reformed using the same committee. Most likely (and this is my deduction), Beria was charged with removing Yezhov as a first task, and he did what he could.
--Whydoesitfeelsogood (talk) 15:40, 28 August 2015 (UTC)

The current text certainly could be improved. Stalin was the ultimate guiding hand of the purges, and this article should try to convey that. One line saying that he "realized that they had gone too far" is so sparse as to be misleading to the reader. That's like saying that Beethoven realized that his piece had crescendoed enough and it was time for a decrescendo, so he reined in the violin player and signaled the piano player to eclipse. One can't present the violin and piano players as the prime agents, nor act like the conductor was unaware of what they were doing. It was still the conductor who was running the show. — ¾-10 22:42, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
Of course Stalin was behind the Purge, but he gave too much liberty to Yezhov, and eventually had to have him removed in fear of losing control over him like he did over Yagoda before Kirov's assassination. There is a reason why part of this period is called Yezhovshchina in Russian. Yezhov was single-handedly conducting torture and executions and his reports were overly scrumptious. --Whydoesitfeelsogood (talk) 06:01, 29 August 2015 (UTC)

Whatever you say in this talk page is irrelevant. You must provide references from reliable sources which explain why purges ended. Since nobody can read Stalin's mind, I am sure there are some plausible theories, but they must come from authorities, not from wikipedians. - üser:Altenmann >t 02:47, 29 August 2015 (UTC)

Um, you're asking me to do this. For free. As if I got time on my hands to burrow myself in home literature to find the exact historians I've read it from? I mean nobody's getting paid here, I could understand a little 5 to 10 minute edit here and there, but doing this? Sorry I've got my life to handle. Take what you want from my text. No hard feelings. --Whydoesitfeelsogood (talk) 05:53, 29 August 2015 (UTC)
Um, that's what we are doing here. For free. Infreakingbelievable. Stupid are we, no? In any case, thank you for bringing the attention to the issue. Your 5 minutes are appreciated: I deleted the claim you found dubious, i.e., the article was improved a bit. As for burrowing in home literature, some of y\us do just that. Me personally, I just edit wikipedia whenever I stumble upon an interesting fact while reading, so I have a reference at hand without wasting time on "burrowing". - üser:Altenmann >t 16:30, 29 August 2015 (UTC)
Take it easy, guys—valid points on all sides. What Altenmann said is often true ("edit wikipedia whenever I stumble upon an interesting fact while reading, so I have a reference at hand without wasting time on 'burrowing'"), but also, sometimes it happens the way it did for Whydoesitfeelsogood—you run across something while reading Wikipedia that makes you think, "Whoa, I know that's inaccurate/misleading/wrong, based on my own past reading of books, but I couldn't lay a finger on a citation without hunting for one." In this case it worked out OK for now. The current version removes the misleading phrase. No doubt it's true that additional citations could be added later (if/when people have time), but it's decent for now, too. Thanks to you both for the volunteer contributions that add up to improvement. At least each of us pecking away at improving Wikipedia is still better than with many people who never bother at all. I still feel like it's good dharma and karma after all these years, even though a part of me is always auditing the time expenditure. But another part of me just can't help "setting the record straight." Cheers. — ¾-10 22:37, 29 August 2015 (UTC)

A question

Years and years ago, I visited Moscow and went round the Metro with a group tour. Our guide pointed out a picture of Trotsky on the murals. Someone asked about that and she said that painting out Trotsky wasn't necessary - he just had to be made not too important. I've often wondered about this so thought I'd ask here - is this a myth or was she right? Blythwood (talk) 07:16, 15 December 2015 (UTC)

Article broken by somebody who knows shit

For sake of drama style of writing the article was noticeably corrupted.

Simple example: "Their children were put in orphanages to be brought up as Soviet, with no knowledge of their origins." That's bullshit. If you are puzzled, please be puzzled for a sec and then look here for a hint. I will review the whole article later. - üser:Altenmann >t 07:18, 17 May 2016 (UTC)

Another remark is indiscriminate reliance on Snyder. Let me recall three mayor criticisms of Snyder

  • Snyder basically said nothing new. He just rehashed what has already been said;
  • For the sake of neat picture he arbitrarily delineated "Bloodlands" both in space and in time, thus crippling historical and territorial context
  • His choice of language was excessively dramatic rather than scholarly. For example, he repeats "killings, killings, killings". Yes there were lots of Soviet killings. By this verbiage presents a distorted picture: there was much more deaths and drama and suffering besides immediate executions, and with longer lasting consequences. - üser:Altenmann >t 07:44, 17 May 2016 (UTC)

More of blunder: "Most victims of the NKVD shootings were men with families. Their wives and children were dealt with by the NKVD Order № 00486. " -- Of 140,000 arrested Poles over 110,000 were shot. In this math, no way most shootings were "men with families".

This is what I see quite often recently when wikipedia is edited by students who got an assignment to work on wikipedia, who care only of grades rather than connecting the dots and tying the knots. I am fixing here and there, but it seems that the dam is broken, horses are out of stable, and only a handful (hundreds) of GA and FA with staunch watchers will keep the shape. But topics about Soviet Union which nobody really cares about are in huge and increasing disarray. - üser:Altenmann >t 07:59, 17 May 2016 (UTC)

External links modified

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Governments can not murder

I noticed that the autoarchiver for the talk page on this article was set to two months. Vast numbers of persons are controlled by money, just as vast numbers of persons fear death, and so this will introduce intrinsic bias and censorship on Wikipedia for politics, economics, and religion related pages.

This article has a link to Moscow Trials and Article 58 and so it gives a good idea of what governments can and often do when they twist 'due process of law'.

Nonetheless I have one quibble with the article. It says in the opening paragraph, 'It has been estimated between 600,000 and 1.2 million people were murdered by the Soviet government'. A murder is an illegal homicide. Since governments determine what the law is, by definition they can not murder.

The 'Great Purge' was also not 'genocide' as defined by international treaties after WWII. This is because lobbying and veto power by the Soviet Union after WWII made explicitly sure that politics and economics as legal criteria for mass executions by the government were not included in the legal definition of genocide when it was created.

Therefore, the mass extermination of the Russian people by the government of the Soviet Union during the time of the 'Great Purge' was not 'murder', because it was completely legal under the laws and court procedures of the Soviet Union at the time. (talk) 10:12, 7 November 2016 (UTC)

The strict legal definition isn't the only definition of 'murder' available. See for example genocide or democide. The definition the article uses is not Wikipedia's own original definition, it is a definition already established by others, and it seems you're taking issue with that definition, not the article's use of the word "murder". --BurritoBazooka (talk) 15:15, 7 November 2016 (UTC)
If people can use shifting definitions for the meaning of words then nothing is true and nothing is false. Sometimes Wikipedia uses the term 'weasel words' to refer to unclear language, referencing an untalking animal with the term to promote the idea that using unclear language as a rhetorical device is a bad thing. People proclaiming themselves to be courts when they are not actually courts in order to issue pejoratives is also very common. As far as replacing the word with 'killing' it would at least slightly imply that the actions were unorganized or not done en masse. Using the term 'execution' might at least slightly imply a viable and due process of law in the court system. Perhaps failure to find a proper word is the result of Newspeak. (talk) 18:51, 7 November 2016 (UTC)
As definysjes nea feroare, dan elk fan ús soe noch wêze prate Frysk - or some other old European language. :) Wouldn't it be nice if English speakers could agree on some central authority? Though I agree to change the wording to something like "died at the hands of the Soviet government" because some of these deaths could possibly be described as manslaughter, as debated in one of the cited texts. --BurritoBazooka (talk) 23:38, 7 November 2016 (UTC)
Pretty sure that inventing evidence and then executing people on the most spurious of grounds counts as murder. Maybe I'm wrong though, and while we're here, let's replace all the instances of 'torture' in the article with 'enhanced interrogation'. BTW, invoking linguistic nihilism just because the Anglophone world doesn't all use the same legal definition of a word is rather melodramatic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:15, 7 December 2016 (UTC)


Missing Evgeny Bronislavovich Pashukanis (1891-1937), author of 'The General Theory of Law and Marxism' — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:12, 9 August 2017 (UTC)

Casualty figures

I have noticed that there is an edit war about the estimated casualty being before 200-600 thousands and 600-1750 thousands. The edit war does not change the cited sources so one of the sides is certainly wrong. I have not checked all the sources but e.g. Conquest "The Great Terror Reassesment" certainly gives much higher numbers. Check e.g. [5] pages 485-487. Thus, the version of 200-600 thousand is certainly misrepresenting sources. Alex Bakharev (talk) 07:08, 13 December 2017 (UTC)

Just thought I'd leave this here. Apparently the Russian Federation is still whitewashing the purges. Wolcott (talk) 06:15, 28 January 2018 (UTC)

Number of people executed

This section is a mess, it mixes old and new estimates, it presents a discussion that occurred between Conquest, Wheatcroft and Rosefielde, and which was summarised by Ellman, just as independent estimates. If we want to discuss a history of this question, let's do that, however, the consensus views have been summarised by ERllamn, so I would prefer to remove everything else.--Paul Siebert (talk) 22:15, 2 June 2018 (UTC)

Deleted part about Stalin personally torturing people.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

There was a poorly sourced claim about Stalin personally taking part in torture, and his hands "being bloody" afterwards on a regular basis.

How very dramatic! Stalin sitting there smoking a pipe, blood of tortured people literally dripping off his hands.

The problem is, that none of the best and most reputable sources about Stalin (Court of the Red Czar and the Stalin biography by same author.)

The only two sources given for this remarkabe claim, is page 111 in "Stalins Loyal Executioner" and a book by a Russian Marxist historian. I just looked up the first source, and there is nothing of the sort on page 111.

As for the second source, the author is a Trotskyist Marxist historian (pr his wikipedia page) and therefore can't be said to be unbiased.

Given that more reliable sources say nothing about Stalin personally taking part in torture (a claim that's rather dubious just considering his workload) I've deleted that part in the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:46, 4 November 2018 (UTC)

Beatrice and Sidney Webb

To give them their due, their book 'Soviet Communism: A New Civilization' was originally published with a question-mark after the title. Valetude (talk) 13:49, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

Gas vans?

I remove this text from the lead and put it:

"Mobile gas vans were used to execute people without trial.[1][2][3]"

I would like to see an evidence that the high scale usage of gas vans took place, otherwise this statement should be added to the article's body, not to the lead.--Paul Siebert (talk) 22:22, 2 June 2018 (UTC)

Gas vans were used throughout the Great Purge and should be mentioned in the lede as well as the main body of the article. The use of gas chambers in the Great Purge later inspired the Holocaust. ( (talk) 22:25, 7 June 2018 (UTC))Comment struck. Block evasion by banned User:HarveyCarter. Binksternet (talk) 22:32, 24 March 2019 (UTC)
Not "throughout". They were used by Isaj Berg's group, and only in a Butovo polygon (and it was his own initiative, not authorised by his supervisors). To put it into the lead means to mislead a reader, who may conclude it was a routine usage of gas vans (which was not the case).--Paul Siebert (talk) 21:01, 5 December 2018 (UTC)
Even if it were true that the Sovets used gas vans to any extent, a claim I have never seen before tonight here, the claim "The use of gas chambers in the Great Purge later inspired the Holocaust," above, would be, let me be delicate here, incorrect.
David Lloyd-Jones (talk) 11:38, 2 December 2018 (UTC)
I would like to see quotes demonstrating that the use of gas vans and gas chambers massive enough to mention them in the lead. I would like also see the evidences that Nazi gas chambers were inspired by NKVD gas chambers. --Paul Siebert (talk) 22:51, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
The use of gas vans during the Great Purge set a precedent before the Holocaust so it is definitely notable. ( (talk) 14:51, 13 June 2018 (UTC))
What is the evidence for gas vans being used by the Soviets? I've neither read nor heard this claim before seeing it here.
David Lloyd-Jones (talk) 11:38, 2 December 2018 (UTC)

How the killings were done is a morbid detail that would be better expressed in the main body .. if at all. Mikeroetto (talk) 02:44, 3 December 2018 (UTC)

Gas vans! I never heard this claim before. I need to verify the three sources that are cited. [6] My knowledge of the topic is a bit rusty, I read the Great terror back in 1968.--Woogie 10w (talk) 19:24, 5 December 2018 (UTC)
The sources cited are correct, I went to Amazon books and sure enough the gas vans are mentioned. I am still skepticital, emigres love to tell you stories if you have a bottle of good American wiskey. [7] Academics are a gullible lot.--Woogie 10w (talk) 19:41, 5 December 2018 (UTC)
Woogie, read the Gas van talk page. When I analyzed the sources, I found that all information comes from a single source, the 1990 article published in one Soviet tabloid newspaper. The author of this article claimed he "saw" Isaj Berg's dossier, where the usage of gas vans was described. More concretely, Isaj Berg was a medium rank NKVD officer whose taks was to organise mass execution in the Butovo firing range. Later (in 1937 or 38) he, as well as many other ezhovschina perpetrators, was arrested, and one of the accusations put forward against him was that he ordered to biuld gas vans and used them to transport victims from Moscow to Butovo (during that time a Moscow suburb). The victims were being killed in the process of transportation, and Berg explained to his prosecutors that that was the only technically possible way to perform killings in such a massive scale. According to the documents construction of gas vans was Berg's own initiative, not approved by his supervisors. It seems that this dossier became re-classified later, because, in the Kommersant article published by the same journalist later, he just reproduces this information from memory and provides no quotes or document number.
The 1990 Komsomolskaya pravda article was cited by Albats, Solzhenitsyn, Merridale, and other sources that have a reference list. Few other sources that tell the same story have no reference list, so it is not possible to tell for sure where did they take this information, however, the sources without a reference list are (by definition) less trustworthy, and, taking into account that they tell essentially the same story, we can conclude they reproduce the same story from the tabloid article. That means we are dealing here not with many independent sources that tell about independent events, but about a single story that describes a single event (a creation of a gas van by Isaj Berg, who was later executed, partially for this invention, and the usage of this gas van, or vans, to kill victims who were buried at the Butovo polygon).
With regard to a precedent, the documents describing that gas van were classified, they had been declassified in late 1980s only, so there is no evidence that Berg's van inspired Nazi vans.--Paul Siebert (talk) 20:39, 5 December 2018 (UTC)
Paul, be bold and delete it or just move it downstairs. The The 1990 Komsomolskaya pravda article should be mentioned as the source. Wikipedia looks foolish to publish this drivle--Woogie 10w (talk) 22:37, 5 December 2018 (UTC)
Already done.--Paul Siebert (talk) 02:58, 6 December 2018 (UTC)
Paul the gas vans were put in here by a banned editor on 7 July 2017. --Woogie 10w (talk) 21:14, 7 December 2018 (UTC)
If you believe this information is not notable enough to be included, feel free to remove it. I will not object (and another user seems to support removal).--Paul Siebert (talk) 23:02, 7 December 2018 (UTC)
The Soviets discussed their use of gas vans with the Germans during the German-Soviet Axis talks in 1940. There is no doubt that the use of gas vans in the Great Purge set the precedent and that it was then widely expanded by the Nazis for the Holocaust. ( (talk) 17:24, 18 January 2019 (UTC))Comment struck. Block evasion by banned User:HarveyCarter. Binksternet (talk) 22:32, 24 March 2019 (UTC)
If you have an evidence that Molotov shared this information with Hitler in November 1940, this information definitely worth mention. However, I doubt such an information exchange occurred: the two leaders were discussing much more important issues, and, taking into account that the overall atmosphere of those talks was by no means friendly (the failure of this talks lead to signing the Barbarossa directive), I cannot imagine Molotov could give this information to Hitler. Two more considerations have to be taken into account: since the only information about the usage of Soviet gas vans was found in the protocols of Berg's interrogations, and it was a part of Berg's accusations, it would be highly unlikely the information about gas vans was available to Molotov (I simply cannot understand how could he become familiar with it). Second, the very concept of mass killing of Untermench had not been properly formulated by Nazis in 1940, they initially spoke about expulsion of Jews, not their descruction. With regard to destruction of political opponents, it had much lower scale than during the Great Purge. That means the information about gas vans would be totally useless for Nazi.
On the other hand, by giving the information about gas vans (I am speaking about a hypothetical case if Molotov really knew about that), Molotov would provide Nazi with a powerful tool in a future information war.
To summarise: if you have a really reliable source that the information about gas vans was transferred to Nazi during the November talks, the material you added deserves inclusion. Otherwise, a consensus it that this material doers not beling to the article, because it describes some very non-typical case described only once in some obscure tabloid.--Paul Siebert (talk) 18:14, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
The Soviets had already given the Germans a vast amount of secret information as they attempted to join the Axis in 1940, so the gas vans were no major issue. The Nazis began killing Jews in Poland in the autumn of 1939. ( (talk) 20:11, 18 January 2019 (UTC))Comment struck. Block evasion by banned User:HarveyCarter. Binksternet (talk) 22:32, 24 March 2019 (UTC)
First, there is no evidence that the information about a gas van was a available to Molotov: the usage of a gas van was a single incident, and I have no idea why could NKVD pass this information to NKID, and for what reason.
Second, even if this information were available to Molotov, it looks highly unlikely that he considered is valuable enough to transfer it to Nazi, because there were absolutely no reason to expect they would be interested in it.
Third, the November meeting took place primarily because of Rosenberg's efforts, it was Germany who interested in the alliance, not the USSR, so your "Soviets already given a vast amount of secret information as they attempted to join the Axis in 1940" is incorrect.
Anyway, you either provide a reliable source that supports your claim, or we have no ground for futher discussion.--Paul Siebert (talk) 22:49, 18 January 2019 (UTC)


  1. ^ Yevgenia Albats, KGB: The State Within a State. 1995, page 101
  2. ^ Robert Gellately. Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe. Knopf, 2007 ISBN 1-4000-4005-1 p. 460
  3. ^ Catherine Merridale. Night of Stone: Death and Memory in Twentieth-Century Russia. Penguin Books, 2002 ISBN 0-14-200063-9 p. 200

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Historiographical debates

Should there not be some mention of the intentionalist and revisionist arguments concerning the reasons for the Purges. NMO

Related to this, I was thinking of adding the perspective of modern Socialist historians on the reasoning and conceptualizing of the Purges. Would this be a valuable addition to the article? TheRushingRussian (talk) 23:04, 17 November 2020 (UTC)
Adding more perspective using reliable non-fringe sources may be quite valuable. But that is hard to tell in advance. Let's try.--Paul Siebert (talk) 23:52, 17 November 2020 (UTC)

Replace severe famine to Holodomor

A severe famine and genocide of Ukrainians are two absolutely different things. Please, refer to Holodomor and its references in case of any hesitations. V9k8 (talk) 22:57, 30 November 2020 (UTC)


I am not sure Snyder provides an adequate summary for the great Purge as whole, because he focuses on what he calls "Bloodlands", not the whole USSR. A better source is needed.

In addition, I fixed some edits that are too Polonicentric. --Paul Siebert (talk) 20:29, 4 December 2020 (UTC)

Irrelevant text

I Removed this recent addition [8] per WP:BRD. The reason. It tells: "J. Arch Getty has criticized the approach of some historians writing that "For no other period or topic have historians been so eager to write and accept history-by-anecdote" and that "as long as the unexplored classes of sources include archival and press material, it is neither safe nor necessary to rely on rumor and anecdote."

Nowhere this mentioned the subject of this page. If someone want to criticize historians (which historians? why?), pleas place such info to pages about such historians. My very best wishes (talk) 00:21, 2 February 2021 (UTC)

Undo edits

@TheTimesAreAChanging: Did I not give references to the works of the historian on the repressions of Zemskov? Why is this photo used (why didn't the corpses rot in 5‒6 years in the warm climate of Ukrainian SSR with black (chernozem) earth? what are people looking at there?)? Gnosandes (talk) 08:35, 1 May 2021 (UTC)

Gnosandes, in this edit you defended Stalin's purges by labeling the victims "convicted criminals" and asserted "that 97,5% [sic] of the population of the Soviet Union was not subjected to political repression in any form" because ostensibly that is the percentage that escaped formal conviction or execution. I'm sure you can understand, however, that there are many forms of political repression that fall short of outright imprisonment in a gulag or execution by firing squad, and that your edit bears no relationship to how literally anything works. Also pinging Volunteer Marek, who is involved in this dispute.TheTimesAreAChanging (talk) 19:55, 1 May 2021 (UTC)
Frankly, even the term “convicted criminals” is way over the top fringe POV in this context. Volunteer Marek 20:30, 1 May 2021 (UTC)
@TheTimesAreAChanging: It does not follow from this edit that I defended “Stalin's purges”. All that follows from this edit is what I have labeled the “victims” “convicted criminals”. This is where we need to finish. You probably did not notice, but the conclusion of that 97,5% of the population of the Soviet Union was not subjected to political repression in any form is given by Doctor of Historical Sciences Viktor Zemskov. I gave a link and pointed a page to his work. Zemskov pointed out that in 1937 and 1938, 353,074 and 353,074 people were sentenced to death by the courts. In total, this is 681,692 people. In 1937 and 1938, 437,591 and 225,640 people were sent to prison. In total, this is 663,231 people. A total of 1,344,923 people in 2 years. By the decision of the courts, they are criminals. After the arrest of Yezhov, the so-called “by Beria rehabilitation” began. 837 thousand people were rehabilitated by the courts. My edit is based on the research of Zemskov, who was the first to introduce these documents into historical science. Instead, the article uses the works of the pseudo-scientist and obscurantist Robert Conquest… This is very remarkable… Zemskov also showed that the Soviet people welcomed such repressions, especially against the kulaks (but this is a different topic). With the coming to power in 1991 of such people who were not repressed, an excess mortality of 23 million people appeared in post-Soviet countries. Therefore, one part of the repression was justified, and the other was criminal and was rehabilitated. An excess mortality of 23 million from 1991 to 2020 can be called a “capitalist's purges”? Gnosandes (talk) 21:41, 1 May 2021 (UTC)
I will also have to compare with the USA. According to Zemskov, American jurisprudence deliberately qualifies individual crimes with a political background as purely criminal. In the USSR, the murder of Sergei M. Kirov was considered a political offense, in the USA, the murder of John F. Kennedy is a criminal offense. In the USSR, identified spies were convicted under a political article, and in the USA a criminal article. Is this approach taken into account in this article? Gnosandes (talk) 22:18, 1 May 2021 (UTC)
WP:OR. Volunteer Marek 00:59, 2 May 2021 (UTC)
@Volunteer Marek: I repeat once again that Zemskov was the first to introduce these documents into scientific circulation. WP:OR has nothing to do with it. I will also say, if you are going to participate in a dispute, then please use the laws and logic of dispute. If you do not know how to do this, please leave this discussion, for it was not you who canceled my edit. Gnosandes (talk) 10:21, 2 May 2021 (UTC)
Does Zemskov compare the assassination of Kirov to that of Kennedy? Volunteer Marek 17:12, 2 May 2021 (UTC)
  • Wow. Labeling victims of Stalinst execution as “convicted criminals” is quite a POV by Gnosandes. I agree with TTAC.My very best wishes (talk) 14:48, 22 May 2021 (UTC)


I've identified a number of issues with this article, most of which I've tagged inline on the page. I intend to go through and fix them myself, but as these issues seem to be numerous and systemic this will take time. I wanted to identify them on the talk page for discussion to both enlist help and prevent any edit-warring.

  • Citations Needed - Much of this article needs proper citing. Entire paragraphs go without citations. In other cases, citations are sloppy. For example, it appears in some instances that a double citation at the end of a paragraph is intended to cover everything in the paragraph, and it is unclear which source is cited for which pieces of information.
  • Original Research - Due to the poor citations, much of the analysis appears to be original research. In the process of cleaning up the citations, we should go through and identify this analysis and determine if it is original or if it is supported by any of the surrounding sources.
  • Partial Tone - There are issues with tone throughout the article. The phrase "it is now known" pops up multiple times, and in my opinion should be removed entirely. Editors have also frequently characterized things themselves without attributing sources: "sympathetic observers who had stomached the earlier trials," or "These trials were highly publicized and extensively covered by the outside world, which was mesmerized by the spectacle of Lenin's closest associates confessing to most outrageous crimes and begging for death sentences." Sentences like these should either be attributed directly to sources or rewritten in a neutral tone.
  • Undue Weight in particular given to Robert Conquest who appears 22 times in the references section and is in many sections the sole reference. Historians who have criticized Conquest's numbers such as Getty and Rogovin receive comparatively little mention, and their direct criticisms of his estimates are omitted entirely from the article. Combefere ❯❯❯ Talk 15:15, 3 May 2021 (UTC)

Re:edit-warring, I see this took only a few hours to begin. @Volunteer Marek happy to discuss these issues here rather than in Edit Summaries, and I do appreciate the inline citations that you've added to the article. Combefere ❯❯❯ Talk 17:06, 3 May 2021 (UTC)

While Conquest's broader work on the USSR has been criticized by some scholars, I don't believe that his figure of around one million executions during the Great Purge is controversial at all. Bear in mind that adding irrelevant criticism of Conquest to this article in order to tar every mention of him could constitute WP:SYNTH.TheTimesAreAChanging (talk) 21:54, 3 May 2021 (UTC)
On the contrary, I believe we are required to include all points of view that have sufficient due weight. The idea that any viewpoints that conflict with Conquest are "irrelevant" or only exist to 'tar Conquest' is just silly. The viewpoints of revisionist historians like Wheatcroft, Getty, and Rogovin are notable and due - representing Conquest's "Cold Warrior" viewpoint as the only one breaks WP:NPOV. This is especially true given that their primary criticism is that Conquest's book - published in 1968 - was disputed by the information made available after the opening of the Soviet Archives in the 90's (see WP:OLDSOURCES). Combefere ❯❯❯ Talk 00:16, 4 May 2021 (UTC)
I don't see anyone saying that other views (non-fringe ones) are "irrelevant". What he's saying is that irrelevant criticism can be SYNTH. There's some Getty and Wheatcroft in there already.
On another note, a lot of the tag you added are to text which is cited, just at the end of the paragraph. This is actually standard practice and the tags are spurious.
However, there appears to be some close-paraphrasing of some of the sources (Werth). Volunteer Marek 00:21, 4 May 2021 (UTC)
I see, I'll be more careful with tagging in the future. Combefere ❯❯❯ Talk 19:19, 4 May 2021 (UTC)
Frankly, the condition article is an embarrassment considering the importance of the subject. I would add "encyclopedic tone" to the laundry list. For sourcing, Vol. 2 of Stephen Kotkin's Stalin has a thoroughly described and researched discussion of the purge. Maybe some forward progress can be made now that the article is protected. Mikeroetto (talk) 02:13, 6 May 2021 (UTC)
  • No, we are absolutely not required to include any fringe or revisionist views. My very best wishes (talk) 14:50, 22 May 2021 (UTC)

Naumov and Getty

  • Naumov and Getty - what exactly numbers did they suggest and why? It says: "the archival evidence from the secret police rejects the astronomically high estimates often given for the number of terror victims." Who and which exactly "astronomically high estimates" do they mean? As written, they seem to dispute numbers by Conquest, but these numbers by Conquest are in the same range as Naumov and Getty say. My very best wishes (talk) 15:18, 22 May 2021 (UTC)
The answer should be pretty obvious given the data already cited in the article. On page 243 they write that "According to the NKVD archival material currently available, 681,692 people were shot in 1937-38." They add two sentences later "in any event, the data available at this point make it clear that the number shot in the two worst purge years was more likely in the hundreds of thousands than in the millions." On page 590 they write "popular estimates of executions in the great purges vary from 500,000 to 7 million." So in that case they were right in their assertion that the lower estimates were closer to the current consensus now. On page xiv, they write "We should not need to artificially run up the score to tens of millions of victims to realize the horror of Stalinism."
There is nothing controversial or fringe about this, and reflects the current consensus on the numbers executed during the great purge. This reliably sourced material should be restored with a better citation. It certainly seems reasonable to include this if we are going to keep the paragraph from Conquest which directly precedes it.--C.J. Griffin (talk) 16:01, 22 May 2021 (UTC)
So the numbers they are trying to dispute vary from "vary from 500,000 to 7 million". OK. That should be said on the page. My very best wishes (talk) 18:15, 22 May 2021 (UTC)

Undue weight in introduction

As I understand the original concern was that half of the section belonged to the gas vans. Under the close review of the code it looks like most of the info belonged to a note that somehow lost its opening ref tag while the closing tag still present. After inserting the tag the section does not look very biased to me (although maybe the executioners and the execution methods belong to a separate section, not introduction?). I have removed the undue weight tag Alex Bakharev (talk) 00:47, 6 June 2021 (UTC)

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Rename and Reduce

This entry should be retitled "The Great Terror".

That is now the established and generally accepted title in Russia and elsewhere for the intense and indiscriminate period of arrests and executions between August 1937 and October 1938. The title "purge" is outdated and misleading. Evidence accumulated over the past 25 years and published in regional Books of Remembrance and online in Memorial's database of the "Victims of Political Terror in the USSR" shows that Party members were not the main targets of Yezhov and the NKVD during those 16 months.

The public aspect of the great Show Trials in Moscow overlaps chronologically with, but does not explain, the Great Terror. The two should be treated in separate articles. Arrests and executions after October 1938 should also not be described here -- that only confuses the specific nature of the Terror which culminated in Yezhov's own arrest and removal.

The figures cited in Conquest's original 1968 book and, even, in his 1990 revision are not realistic. Drawing on participant and eyewitness accounts, like Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago, he tells the truth of events but the statistical generalisations both classic accounts contain do not accord with the careful research of the past quarter century. In "Crimes against Humanity under Stalin, 1930-1953" (2009), French historian Nicolas Werth, an editor of The Black Book of Communism, has recently provided a clear overview of the events of 1937-1938, based on Western and Russian research since 1990.

An English summary of what Werth wrote about the Terror is available here -- -- with a link to his original French article online.

John Crowfoot

Rustat99 (talk) 09:22, 17 September 2021 (UTC)

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