USM Open Source History Text: The World at War: World History 1914-1945

Stalinist Terror

The Stalinist “Show Trials” of old Bolsheviks displayed the power of Stalin’s terror. One by one, former leaders of the Bolshevik Party, the former heroes of the revolution, confessed to trying to undermine the Soviet state, and of being disloyal or even treasonous. Leon Trotsky, the former head of the Red Army and the Comintern, fled abroad, where he was hunted down and assassinated by Stalinist agents in Mexico City. In the meantime, the system of the Gulag, the Soviet forced labor camps, processed millions of people, like the young Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who was literally taken from the front lines as a soldier in WWII and transported to the Gulag for expressing weariness about the Soviet military effort and the army’s commanding officers. He and millions of others were caught between two crushing stones, Hitler’s war machine in the west and the Gulags in the east. These stones decimated the eastern European and Russian populations in the 1930s and 1940s, resulting in around 40 million Russian deaths. These were truly desperate times for the Russian civilization population.

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