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J.G. Wright

International Notes

Stalin’s Purge Extends into the Youth and Even Penetrates the “Politburo”

(27 November 1937)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 1 No. 16, 27 November 1937, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Stalin’s Purge of Blood, “At Home”

From day to day it become increasingly evident that a blood purge of unprecedented proportions is taking place in Russia, under the direct guidance of Stalin. All the proceeding purges pale to insignificance in comparison with the scope and depth of the current one. The chief target of the purge is once again the C.P.S.U., the Komsomol, and other organs of the “ruling party” and of the government. The purge extends not only to the G.P.U. and the Red Army, but even to the allegedly sacrosanct “Political Bureau.” So swift is the pace of the purge, that the purgers of yesterday are the “purged” of today, and the purgers of today – the “enemies of the people” on the morrow.

Neue Zuericher Zeitung computes that from the time of the Kamenev-Zinoviev trial in August 1936 up to the beginning of last October, that is, covering a period of more than 18 months, there was a public record of 808 executions in the USSR. The Havas agency computes on the basis of data from 20 provincial papers that 403 people have been executed by Stalin from September 5 to October 10 last.

That is to say, in a period of approximately one month as many have been shot as had been in the previous 17 months. The closer the “elections” the more ferocious the purge becomes! This “coincidence” imperiously poses the question as to the connection between the Moscow frame-ups and Stalin’s political goals within the USSR itself. In the recent period “public trials” of the Moscow variety have been taking place all over the Soviet territory. They receive no notice in Pravda, or other central publications of Stalin. Nor does the capitalist press devote much space to them, except to record them in the general tabulation of executions. They do receive notice in the Soviet provincial press.

Each province “has its own Piatakov” ... with the difference, that these “Piatakovs” are the very flower of Stalin’s supporters of yesterday: They are in effect the very men who helped Stalin “purge” the original “Piatakovs.” In many cases they were decorated only a short time ago for their “zeal” in rooting out the “enemies of the people”.

Baku “Kalinin” Liquidated

One such trial took place in Baku on October 31. Only three weeks before there had been a purge, the scope of which may be gleaned from the fact that the President of the Azarbeidjan Autonomous Republic (i.e. the Azarbeidjan “Kalinin’’) was “arrested” on the charge of “Trotskyism and Bukharinism.” Ten out of the fourteen accused in the Baku “trial” are prominent members of the C.P. Nine of them are over 40 – a significant item, indicating that these are not “recent” henchmen of Stalin. Among these ex-dignitaries was Muzabekov, Chairman of the CEC of the Soviets.

Almost simultaneously with the trial in Baku came news of an “Abkhasian plot” (November 9) involving the heads of the Abkhazian G.P.U., Mikeladze and Ampar; People’s Commissar of Agriculture, Chalmatz; Director of the Tobacco Administration, Mikhail Lakoba; Director of the Azneft, Vassilii Lakoba together with the secretary of the party organization, and the chairman of the party district committee. This trial was in every detail a replica of the Moscow frame-ups: “assassination plots,” sabotage, “link” with Trotsky-Serebriakov-Piatakov etc., and last but not least, “confessions” from all the accused.

“Suicides” Also Increase

On November 8 came a report in Krasnava Tataria of 14 “counter-revolutionists” shot – among them a secretary and chairman of the party committee, an editor of the newspaper, and several agronomists.

In Gomel on November 5, the military tribunal sentenced 8 to death, among them again high dignitaries; a former chairman of the Gomel Soviet; a high functionary in the People’s Commissariat of Health, etc.

This latest phase too has its “suicides”, most prominent among them being the suicide of Balitsky, head of the Ukrainian G.P.U. The “Yezhov” of the Ukraine figuring as a “Tomsky!” The pretexts for removal vary as they have in the past. Thus Rudzutak, a member of the Political Bureau whom we last reported as in “disgrace” has just been “arrested” on the charge – of “criminal negligence in the preparation of the Levanovsky flight.” Stalin still shies of accusing his closest henchmen of yesterday of – “Trotskyism.” In Ulan Ude, in Inner Mongolia – 16 have just been shot as “Japanese spies.”

The European capitalist press is extremely circumspect in dealing with these latest developments, which they are nevertheless following most closely. But occasionally the newspapers carry an item or two, revealing the actual tenor of the speculations of the bourgeoisie. Thus, Neue Zuericher Zeitung, in its October 19th issue, carries a long article on the coming Stalin elections which begins with the statement that the mere reading of the Soviet press “conveys the impression of extreme nervousness on the part of the manipulators of Russian home politics.” The writer even goes so far as to speculate whether the coming elections might not suffer the same fate as the widely publicized census of a short while ago, which, after a great deal of ballyhoo, was suddenly “postponed.” The internal difficulties Stalin is encountering on the path to his “coronation” are no secret to the ruling tops of the imperialist countries. And the latest maneuvers of English and French diplomacy with Hitler and Mussolini are undoubtedly closely linked with the latest developments in Stalin’s Russia.

Last updated: 29 July 2015