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Stalin and the Lubianka

Stalin and the Lubianka: A Documentary History of the Political Police and Security Organs in the Soviet Union, 1922–1953

David R. Shearer
Vladimir Khaustov
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Stalin and the Lubianka
    Book Description:

    This fascinating documentary history is the first English-language exploration of Joseph Stalin's relationship with, and manipulation of, the Soviet political police. The story follows the changing functions, organization, and fortunes of the political police and security organs from the early 1920s until Stalin's death in 1953, and it provides documented detail about how Stalin used these organs to achieve and maintain undisputed power. Although written as a narrative, it includes translations of more than 170 documents from Soviet archives.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-21071-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xi)
    David R. Shearer and Vladimir Khaustov
  4. Note on Translation, Document Presentation, Transliteration, and Abbreviations
    (pp. xii-xiii)
    Marina Dobronovskaya and David R. Shearer
  5. List of Abbreviations and Glossary of Frequently Used Terms
    (pp. xiv-xx)
  6. Introduction: Stalin and the Lubianka
    (pp. 1-16)

    On 20 December 1917 , the revolutionary Bolshevik government of Russia created the Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counterrevolution and Sabotage. This political police became known by its Russian initials, ChK, or Cheka. It was created as a temporary agency in the exigencies of a brutal revolutionary war, but it grew into one of the most enduring and powerful institutions of the Soviet state. Originally subordinated to the executive council of the government, its power grew as its functions expanded. At its height, the political and security police was responsible for the protection of the country’s leaders and the fight against...

  7. CHAPTER ONE Expanding Power, Infiltrating the State 1922–1927
    (pp. 17-55)

    Late in the evening of 24 October 1917, detachments of armed revolutionaries seized key points in Russia’s capital city, Petrograd. The detachments operated under the authority of the Socialist Revolutionary Council of Workers, Soldiers, and Peasants. In fact, these revolutionary guards took orders from leaders of the major faction in the Council, the Bolshevik faction, especially Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. The actions of the guards on that October night deposed the weak provisional government, and Lenin and the Bolsheviks moved quickly to consolidate governmental power in their hands. The next day, Lenin announced the formation of an almost exclusively...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Threats from Abroad, Infiltrating the Economy 1927–1930
    (pp. 56-88)

    In the early and mid–1920s, Stalin played a moderating role within the Politburo among other and sometimes more senior members. His position as general secretary gave him influence, and he certainly saw potential in using the GPU, but he did not try to overstep the limits of his power. By the late 1920s, however, Stalin had maneuvered himself into a position of clear leadership of the Communist Party and the Soviet state. Lenin had died in 1924 and, as general secretary, Stalin used his position in an alliance with other Politburo members to isolate and then exile Trotsky. Dzerzhinsky...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Subduing the Countryside 1928–1933
    (pp. 89-121)

    By the end of 1930 , Stalin’s group was fully in power, having defeated, with the help of the OGPU, Trotsky and the so-called Left Opposition, and then the Party moderates of the so-called Right Deviation. Having silenced potential opposition, Stalin’s group pushed industrialization and collectivization plans still further. In a period of a few short years, during the era of the first Five Year Plan, begun in 1928, Stalin’s revolution from above destroyed the remnants of NEP’s state capitalism, and collectivized the great majority of the country’s agrarian lands. Leaders forced the pace of industrial construction at the expense...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Ordering Society 1933–1937
    (pp. 122-169)

    Consolidation of Soviet power in the countryside, and the end of the first Five Year Plan, marked the high point of Stalin’s revolution, which the dictator noted in his famous declaration, in January 1933 , about the final victory of socialism. Addressing the plenary session, or plenum, of the Party’s Central Committee, Stalin declared to the jubilant attendees that despite hardships and skepticism from many, the Party and the Soviet people had accomplished the “historic” tasks of the plan. Great factories had been erected and vast socialist farms had been organized. Soviet power ruled indisputably across the Soviet Union. Organized...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE The Great Purges 1935–1939
    (pp. 170-192)

    In December 1934, Leonid Nikolaev, a disgruntled former Party member, shot and killed Sergei Kirov, the head of the Leningrad Party organization. Nikolaev shot Kirov inside the Party headquarters building. Remarkably, he entered the building without challenge, carrying a concealed gun. The breach in security was bad enough, and the assassination shocked Stalin and other leaders—that a Party official so high up, in fact, a close confidant of Stalin, could be so vulnerable, shot dead by a single individual inside one of the country’s centers of power.

    What Stalin may or may not have thought about Nikolaev’s motives is...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Social and Ethnic Cleansing: The Mass Operations, 1937–1938
    (pp. 193-227)

    The show trials were the most famous and most publicized of the purges conducted by the security police, but they were not the only purges to take place and, as important as they were, they did not match the “mass operations” of 1937 and 1938 for scale and social impact. These differed considerably from the political purges of Party, military, and state institutions, inasmuch as they did not target individuals so much as whole social and ethnic categories of the population. Leaders suspected these groups of potential disloyalty, and as a basis for insurgency in case of war and invasion....

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN The Security Organs at War 1939–1944
    (pp. 228-268)

    The Politburo decision of 17 November 1938 and the NKVD order that followed stopped the various mass operations. Beria’s purge of Yezhov’s leadership circle also went a long way to send the signal that the cycle of violence was to change. To repair the damage to the Party, state, and military institutions took longer and was more complicated. Stalin had to bring the political police once again under Party control, and this was difficult, given the power of the police during the previous two years, and the culture of fear that pervaded the political apparatus. The Politburo also had to...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT Border Wars, Plots, and Spy Mania 1945–1953
    (pp. 269-308)

    As Soviet armies pushed west, driving German forces out of the USSR, Stalin’s regime faced new challenges. These, in turn, created new tasks for the security organs. One of the most dangerous threats arose from a new kind of war that erupted in recently liberated or reoccupied territories, especially in the areas incorporated into the Soviet Union after 1939 . In many of these areas, armed resistance groups formed to fight Soviet occupation, from the Baltic states through Belorussia into Ukraine, and as far south as the former Bessarabian territories that had belonged to Romania. The effort to subdue and...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 309-314)

    After Stalin’s death and the reorganization of the MGB, the state’s security apparatus remained powerful, but never again reached the zenith that it had under Stalin. On the other hand, neither was it wracked by the convulsive purges and reorganizations to which Stalin had subjected it, nor did it ever again serve so completely the power fantasies of a single despotic leader. Stalin could not have ruled as he did without the police and security forces that he did so much to create. Certainly, different leaders of the “organs,” as they were called, influenced the institutional culture of the OGPU...

  16. Biographical Sketches
    (pp. 315-332)
  17. List of Documents
    (pp. 333-344)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 345-362)
  19. Index
    (pp. 363-368)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 369-370)