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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.
his childhood, the patterned floor of the study, and the weeds in the garden of the family house. He was dismayed: ‘The past … Once upon a time … A vanished world … But can’t it be rebuilt?’ And, in fact, he meets a young lad who has been billeted in the room that used ‘to belong to Mama’ and tells him that order would be restored. ‘Yes, yes, there is new life stirring in the ruins’ (10 July 1935; in German in the original). He went on excursions to Sergiev Posad and Novyi Ierusalim, whose
‘espionage’, and execution, any more than did the distinctions they had been awarded for their war service. The mortal remains of a grandson of General Kutuzov lie in Butovo, as well as those of the relatives of the Red Army Marshal Tukhachevskii. One astonishing fact is the large number of mountaineers and Alpinists executed in Butovo, a number of whom had given their names to mountains in the Tien-Shan range, which they had been the first to conquer. Mountaineers roamed in frontier
entries in the section on ‘Clubs and Houses of Culture’ alone. Under ‘Publishers’ we find 138 organizations. In 1936 there were close on sixty central and regional newspapers appearing in Moscow – and that did not include the company newspapers that were published by the large enterprises. The editorial offices of over 540 magazines were based in Moscow. The range of magazines covers almost every aspect of human activity: there is an Archive of Pathological Anatomy and the Architecture of the
Moscow was such a triumph that it is difficult not to get a swollen head.’4 He imposed a regime of self-restraint upon himself and confined himself to listening, observing, and learning. So I arrived at the Soviet frontier, sympathetic, curious, and doubting. The honours with which I was received in Moscow served to increase my insecurity. Good friends of mine, and, moreover, quite intelligent individuals, had had their judgement clouded by the effusiveness of the German Fascists, and I
suddenly approaches you, pointing a finger of his beautiful hand, expounding, didactic; or whilst he is forming his considered sentences, draws arabesques and figures on a sheet of paper with a blue and red pencil. No arrangement had been made as to what I was to discuss with Stalin. I had prepared no subjects of conversation of any sort: I wanted to leave it to the impression of the man and the inspiration of the moment to determine what I should talk about. I was rather afraid that it might