The Early Show Trials
The Congress of Victors
The XVIIth Russian Communist Party Congress, the "Congress of the Victors," assembled in January 1934 to celebrate the victories of the first five-year plan and the collectivization of agriculture. Few of those who attended were to survive the coming Stalinist terror: 110 members of the Central Committee (out of 139), and 1,108 delegates (out of 1,961) were shot or sent to the camps.
Sergei Kirov (born Sergei Mironovich Kostrikov, 1886-1934) was an Old Bolshevik of impeccable party standing, having joined the party in 1904, spent time in tsarist prisons, and then taken part in 1905, 1917 and the Civil War. He had supported Stalin in the party fights of the late 1920s and been rewarded with membership in the Politburo and the position as head of the Leningrad party organization, but in early 1930s Kirov had opposed some of Stalin's harsh polices in the Politburo, and it became clear to Stalin that he had lost the absolute loyalty of Kirov.
On 1 December 1934, Kirov was assassinated (See "A Tale for Our Times" for one account) in the Leningrad Party headquarters in the Smolny Institute. The assassin, Leonid Nikolaev, ostensibly a disgruntled communist job seeker, had been approached by senior officials of the secret police. It is pretty clear that Stalin ordered the murder. Stalin used the assassination to issue a decree establishing the summary trial of terrorists and the beginning of wholesale terror and executions in Russia. (see just above re the "Congress of Victors)
The Three Great Show Trials of Old Bolsheviks
The Military Purges
June 1937, purges of the Red Army began. Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevskii, head of the Red Army and the hero of the Civil War was arrested and shot. The purge of the military followed:
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