Joseph Stalin

Jamie Shults, Nathan Landry, James Crouch, Ryan

Facts about Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin was the former leader of the Soviet Union during the mid-1920's. During his reign over the Soviet Union the Union transformed from a peasant society into a industrial and military superpower. In 1936 Joseph Stalin created ,what is known now as the Great Terror.

The Great Terror or The Great Purge

The Great Terror ,or also known as the Great Purge, was a campaign of political repression In the Soviet Union which occurred from 1936 to 1938. It involved a large-scale purge of the Communist Party and Government officials, repression of peasants and the Red Army leadership, and widespread police surveillance.

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  • Mikhail Tukhachevsky was the most distinguished general in the Red army and was executed in 1937, because Stalin thought he was a threat to the mother land
  • 6 months later all 5 generals in the Defense Council were also executed after Tukhachevsky
  • 40,000 other Red Army personnel were eliminated during the Great Terror
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Stories and reports of the Great Purge

When Nina Kaminska was a teenager in Stalin's Moscow, she came home late after a party and discovered that she had forgotten her key. She rang her family's apartment doorbell and waited ... and waited. Her father finally answered the door in a full suit and tie. He had always expected his doorbell to ring in the middle of the night, and he had dressed to be taken away by the secret police. When he saw that it was only his daughter, he slapped her face.

The first of the three trials opened in August 1936, while Genrikh G. Yagoda was head of the secret police. The main defendants were Grigory Yevseyevich Zinovyev, Lev Borisovich Kamenev, and Ivan Smirnov, all of whom had been prominent Bolsheviks at the time of the October Revolution and during the early years of the Soviet regime. With 13 codefendants they were accused of having joined Leon Trotsky in 1932 to form a terrorist organization in order to remove Stalin from power. The prosecution blamed the group for the assassination of Sergey Mironovich Kirov (December 1934) and suggested that it planned to murder Stalin and his close political associates. On Aug. 24, 1936, the court found the defendants guilty and ordered their executions.

The second trial opened in January 1937, after N.I. Yezhov had replaced Yagoda as chief of the NKVD. The major defendants were G.L. Pyatakov, G.Y. Sokolnikov, L.P. Serebryakov, and Karl Radek, all prominent figures in the Soviet regime. They and their 17 codefendants were accused of forming an “anti-Soviet Trotskyite centre,” which had allegedly collaborated with Trotsky to conduct sabotage, wrecking, and terrorist activities that would ruin the Soviet economy and reduce the defensive capability of the Soviet Union. They were accused of working for Germany and Japan and of intending to overthrow the Soviet government and restore capitalism. They were found guilty on Jan. 30, 1937; Sokolnikov, Radek, and two others were given 10-year sentences, and the rest were executed.

At the third trial (March 1938), the prosecution suggested that the Zinovyev–Trotsky conspiracy also included Nikolay Ivanovich Bukharin and Aleksey Ivanovich Rykov, the leaders of the right-wing opposition to Stalin that had been prominent in the late 1920s. Yagoda was also accused of being a member of the conspiracy, as were three prominent doctors who had attended leading government officials. A total of 21 defendants were accused of performing numerous acts of sabotage and espionage with the intent to destroy the Soviet regime, dismember the Soviet Union, and restore the capitalist system. They were also charged with responsibility for Kirov’s death, and it was alleged that Yagoda had ordered the three doctors to murder the former secret police chief V.R. Menzhinsky, the author Maksim Gorky, and a member of the Politburo, V.V. Kuibyshev. Bukharin was accused of having plotted to murder Lenin in 1918. Although one defendant, N.N. Krestinsky, retracted his guilty plea, and Bukharin and Yagoda skillfully responded to the prosecutor Andrey Yanuaryevich Vishinsky's questions to demonstrate their innocence, all the defendants except three were sentenced to death on March 13, 1938.

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The Five Year Plan

The first five year plan was a list of economic goals, created by Joseph Stalin and based on his policy of Socialism in one country. It was implemented between 1928 and 1932. In 1929, Stalin edited the plan to include the creation of collective farming systems that stretched over thousands of acres of land and had hundreds of peasants working on them.To meet the goals of the first five-year plan the Soviet Union began using the labor of its growing prisoner population. Initially the soviet leaders sought to decrease the number of prisoners in the Soviet Union so that those resources could be rerouted to the five-year plan. Early in the plan, however, the Communist leaders realized the necessity and the benefit of prisoner labor to complete the five-year plan. At this time the Soviet leaders attempted to orchestrate an increase in prison population. This legislation led to many dangerous prisoners being released from prison into labor camps. The people of the Soviet Union began being sentenced to forced labor, even when they committed small offenses, or committed no crime.

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