Mihai Țurcanu: Great Terror occurred because Stalin needed an obedient army of slaves

The Great Terror was planned by Stalin with the aim of eliminating the opponents and the persons who had prestige and authority in society and could doubt the dictator’s policy, historian Mihai Țurcanu stated in IPN’s public debate “Stalinist repression in MASSR and memory of victims of totalitarian communist regime. He noted that the Soviets treated the people as an amorphous mass that can be modified depending on the conditions in which it is placed.

According to Mihai Țurcanu, the Great Terror ordered by Stalin took place in 1936-1938 and over 1.2 million people became victims of this barbarous policy. One of the goals of the Great Purge was to clear the state system of persons who were unable to obediently fulfill Stalin’s order.

The anti-kulak operation, which is another component of the Great Terror, was a reiteration of the repression of the peasants who had been already subject to repression during the years of forced collectivization and the Holodomor, when thousands of families were deported from the MASSR. Article 58 of the Penal Code of the USSR defined the counterrevolutionary activities as a crime and this was a very general notion. Absolutely anyone could be classed by the Soviet authorities as participants in counterrevolutionary activities, including those who were late for work, who could be deported and sent to the Gulag under Stalin,” stated Mihai Țurcanu.

The victims of the Great Terror were shot dead or sent to camps as a result of summary procedures. If evidence was absent, proofs were fabricated and the persons were forced to accept these when being interrogated under torture.

“Stalin did this to substantiate the socioeconomic transformations of the Soviet society, the passing to the economic model of collectivism. For the purpose, he needed an obedient army of slaves. By the Great Tenor, Stalin eliminated the Bolsheviks of the first generation, who enjoyed prestige and authority and who could have eventually doubted the policies he wanted to implement. The places of these were to be occupied by young, educated elites raised in the Stalinist spirit, who didn’t bring Stalin’s decisions into question,” said the historian.

According to him, through the agency of this brutal political campaign initiated by dictator Stalin, they aimed to bring up an obedient and docile political elite.

“The way in which so many generations were raised and educated surely had an impact on the next generations. This is now seen in the relations between Ukrainians and Russians. What happened during the 1930s to the Ukrainians, the sufferings they experienced are felt now too. The Soviets, the Communists treated the people as a mass that can be modified depending on the conditions in which it is placed,” explained the Doctor of History.

The public debate entitled “Stalinist repression in MASSR and memory of victims of totalitarian communist regime” was the 25th installment of IPN’s project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” which is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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