This volume examines the bloodiest period of the Stalinist repression of political opposition in the Soviet Union, debunking the myth that the Great Purges were merely the product of Stalin’s paranoia and had no overriding political logic. Through a meticulous examination of original sources, including archival documents only made available for research in the 1990s, Professor Vadim Rogovin argues that the ferocity of the mass repression was directly proportional to the intensity of resistance to Stalin within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), particularly the opposition inspired by and associated with the exiled Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky.
“Stalin’s Terror of 1937-1938: Political Genocide in the USSR” is the fifth volume of Rogovin’s monumental six-volume history of the political conflicts within the CPSU and the Communist International between 1922 and 1940. It is the second volume to be published in English, with a translation by Frederick S. Choate.
Rogovin bases his analysis on scrupulous research, quoting from newly translated or unpublished documents, including memoirs, meeting minutes, newspaper articles and trial transcripts. He documents the reaction of different social layers to the purges, including workers, peasants, non-party intellectuals and the CPSU rank-and-file. This book includes rarely published photographs of the prison camps, documenting the lives of those labeled by Stalin “enemies of the people.”
The volume analyzes such critical events as the Bukharin-Rykov trial, last of the infamous show trials; the massacre of Trotskyists in the Vorkuta slave-labor camp; and the assassination by Stalinist agents of Leon Sedov, Trotsky’s son, and other oppositionists outside the Soviet Union. It concludes with an examination of how the purges transformed the CPSU and Soviet society as a whole.
Book Review: Defending historical truth Stalin’s Terror of 1937-1938: Political Genocide in the USSR
Vadim Rogovin (1937-1998) was a Doctor of Philosophical Sciences at the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow from the late 1970s until his death. Prior to this he had worked in the field of literary and aesthetic criticism.
As a researcher at the Institute of Sociology, Rogovin studied and wrote about the existence and growth of social inequality in the USSR and its implications for social justice, labor productivity, and social morality in Soviet society. Rogovin’s interest in analyzing the allocation of wealth and privileges in the Soviet Union grew out of political conclusions he drew about the origins of the Soviet bureaucracy. After having quietly gained access to some of the writings of the Left Opposition during the 1960s and 1970s, Rogovin, whose own grandfather had died in the purges, became convinced of the correctness of Leon Trotsky’s opposition to Stalin.
In the late 1980s, he became an outspoken critic of Mikhail Gorbachev’s pro-market economic reforms and their negative impact on the living standards of the broad mass of the population. After writing articles in the popular Soviet press about the positions of the Left Opposition on major questions of politics and policy, Rogovin started publishing what would become a seven-volume series on the rise of Stalinism and the history of the socialist-based opposition to Stalin’s rule.
Before his untimely death due to cancer in 1998, he delivered lectures on this theme to audiences in Europe, the United States, Australia, and Latin America.
Additional biographical information about Rogovin and commentary about his contributions can be found here, in a tribute given to him on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday by David North, the Chairman of the international editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site.
Books by Vadim Rogovin