Stalin Mass Murder Documentary: Joseph Stalin’s Regime – Communism’s Reign Of Terror – Russian Crimes Against Humanity
He used terror to mobilise the working population to fulfill his five-year plans for industrialising the economically backward USSR.
Every Russian knew that if he did not make his life a paying enterprise for his country … an agent of the Soviet secret police would conduct him to the cellar of this famous department and he would simply stop living.”
Stalin pursued genocide against the Soviet peasantry. He deprived peasants of their land, herding them into state-run collective farms, and empowering the state to seize all their agricultural produce.
There were millions of peasant smallholders called kulaks. Stalin’s called for the “liquidation of the kulaks as a class”. The reign of terror which descended on the Soviet countryside was probably the most massive warlike operation ever conducted by a state against its own citizens.
Special OGPU military units, armed with tanks and machine-guns, surrounded villages and fired indiscriminately into crowds of peasants. Mass arrests and executions followed.
Millions who escaped death in this way were rounded up, bundled into cattle trucks and deported to the notorious Gulag slave labour camps in Siberia or the Arctic where many perished.
In collectivising agriculture, Stalin met particular fierce resistance from Ukrainians, whose large population and sense of nationhood, he feared, could also prove a threat to Moscow’s rule.
During 1932-33 Stalin used unprecedented means to bring Ukraine to heel. He had all of Ukraine’s grain confiscated and her borders sealed so that no person could leave and no food could enter the country.
In what amounted to the first deliberately man-made famine in history, Stalin turned Ukraine – once the great breadbasket of Europe – into a vast wasteland. Millions died.
The writer Arthur Koestler was visiting Ukraine at the time. He described seeing from his train starving children who “looked like embryos out of alcohol bottles … the stations were lined with begging peasants with swollen hands and feet, the women holding up to the carriage windows horrible infants with enormous wobbling heads, stick-like limbs and swollen, pointed bellies.”
Years later, when discussing farm collectivisation with Winston Churchill in Moscow in August 1942, Stalin coolly admitted that the four-year ordeal of carrying through this policy had cost more Soviet lives and been more stressful to him than the first year of Hitler’s onslaught against the USSR.
Kirov’s murder and the purges
After the collectivisation-terror, Stalin sought to eliminate from the upper echelons of Soviet society anybody who could conceivably pose a threat to his rule.
In late 1934 he clandestinely arranged to have his main potential rival, Sergei Kirov – the popular secretary of the Leningrad Communist Party – assassinated. To conceal his own culpability, Stalin had the assassins themselves killed and then blamed others for the Kirov murder.
He cleverly turned the resulting political turmoil to his advantage by unleashing a political witch-hunt directed against Communist Party members who had been prominent during the time of his predecessor, Lenin.
Mass arrests followed. Once mighty revolutionaries were broken by months of interrogation, torture and threats to their families. When they were ready to confess to concocted criminal charges, they were brought before especially convened show-trials in Moscow.
There, in front of astonished foreign journalists and observers, they made self-abasing confessions that they had been lifelong traitors and agents of foreign powers.
At the end of such a trial, the Soviet chief state prosecutor Andrei Vyshinski would cry: “I demand that mad dogs be shot – every one of them!”, before the defendants were taken away to their deaths.
Stalin’s Purges spread to every level of Soviet society. Citizens were encouraged to denounce neighbours and workmates as spies or saboteurs. Regional police chiefs frantically vied with each other to fulfill or over-fulfill their arrest quotas of alleged “enemies of the people” – or else faced being shot themselves.
The Kremlin went to great lengths to cover up the magnitude of Soviet population losses resulting from Stalin’s reign of terror in the 1930s. It suppressed the results of the 1937 census because, according to an official statement, it contained “grave mistakes owing to the activities of enemies of the people”. The real reason, of course, was that the census would have revealed a massive population deficit. So rather than disclose the truth, the Soviet government had the entire census board staff shot as spies.
A “revised” census was published in 1939 – this time, with grossly inflated population figures. But even this revealed that 10% of the Soviet population was statistically missing, i.e. 15 million victims of Stalin’s reign of terror.