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Moscow, 1937: the soviet metropolis at the zenith of Stalin’s dictatorship. A society utterly wrecked by a hurricane of violence.
In this compelling book, the renowned historian Karl Schlögel reconstructs with meticulous care the process through which, month by month, the terrorism of a state-of-emergency regime spiraled into the ‘Great Terror’ during which 1 ½ million human beings lost their lives within a single year. He revisits the sites of show trials and executions and, by also consulting numerous sources from the time, he provides a masterful panorama of these key events in Russian history.
He shows how, in the shadow of the reign of terror, the regime around Stalin also aimed to construct a new society. Based on countless documents, Schlögel’s historical masterpiece vividly presents an age in which the boundaries separating the dream and the terror dissolve, and enables us to experience the fear that was felt by people subjected to totalitarian rule. This rich and absorbing account of the Soviet purges will be essential reading for all students of Russia and for any readers interested in one of the most dramatic and disturbing events of modern history.
prisoners. After a few years had passed the canal, filled with water, would become the last line of defence in the great battle for Moscow.35 The commandants of the individual sectors competed with one another to increase productivity, i.e. to exploit slave labour. New competitions in shock work and the Stakhanovite movement were constantly introduced. Those who suffered most were the intellectuals, who were unaccustomed to heavy manual work. Many prisoners, exhausted by the work, fell into the
paintings were evident in great profusion here. Huge lithographic mural oil paintings depicting historic scenes of the Revolution and portraits of the various government leaders were displayed attached to the sides of the buildings, and some of them were of a size of at least 30 by 20 feet. These were generally illumined at night by indirect lighting. These oil paintings were supplemented by innumerable lithographic posters, not printed but done in crayon either in colours or in black and white.
Frinovskii, the Deputy People’s Commissar of the NKVD, conjured up a vision of the ‘unshakeable union of the Chekists and the people’.11 Those who sat on the stage included some of those principally responsible for having set the mass operations in motion six months previously. They had gone out into the provinces to take charge of operations there and ensure they were carried out. On certain days in the past few months they had appended their signatures to the thousands of death sentences
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