Stalin's Loyal Executioner

Stalin's Loyal Executioner

People's Commissar Nikolai Ezhov, 1895-1940

Authors: Marc Jansen, Nikita Petrov
ISBN: 978-0-8179-2902-2
Publication Date: 4/4/2002
Pages: 274

During the Great Terror (1937 to 1938), at least 1.5 million Soviet citizens were arrested for alleged crimes against the state. Some 700,000 of them were shot. A dozen years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, still-classified Soviet archives reveal for the first time the scope of communist terrorism under Joseph Stalin. This book illuminates the ongoing debate generated by our compelling need to understand how such horrors could unfold in modern history.

The gruesome facts in this story focus on one man. Nikolai Ezhov rose from obscurity to become Stalin's ruthless functionary in total charge of the era's massive purges. For fifteen months, Ezhov was a hero in the Politbureau. Less than three and a half years after his appointment, he was dead, his name obliterated from government files.

In 1998, the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court ruled that justice had been served by the secret trial and execution of Nikolai Ezhov, "enemy of the people." Using Ezhov's own papers meticulously documenting his loyalty to Stalin, the book reveals the full human tragedy encompassed in Ezhov's meteoric and bloody career. The following questions rivet our attention to an unprecedented era of bureaucratic madness.

  • Was Ezhov operating outside the scope of Stalin's authority or "just following orders"?
  • How were Stalin's "national operations" implemented?
  • How, in 1938, did Ezhov suddenly lose favor with Stalin?
  • What police actions were the aftermath of Ezhov's brief reign of terror?
  • How did Soviet national policies shift after 1938?

Marc Jansen teaches at Amsterdam University's Institute of Russian and East European Studies and has written numerous books and articles on Russian and Soviet history.

Nikita Vasil'evich Petrov, author of several books and numerous articles and an expert in Soviet terror history, is vice-chairman of Moscow's Memorial Scientific Research Center.


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Marc Jansen

Marc Jansen teaches at Amsterdam University's Institute of Russian and East European Studies and has written numerous books and articles on Russian and Soviet history.




Nikita Petrov

Nikita Vasil'evich Petrov, author of several books and numerous articles and an expert in Soviet terror history, is vice-chairman of Moscow's Memorial Scientific Research Center.




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Review by: O. Khlevniuk, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History - June 1, 2003
"...merits serious attention..."

TABLE OF CONTENTS


  List of Illustrations vii
  Preface ix
CHAPTER 1 Early Career 1
CHAPTER 2 Directing the Purges and Supervising the  
  NKVD 21
CHAPTER 3 State Security Chief 53
CHAPTER 4 The Great Terror 79
CHAPTER 5 Apogee 113
CHAPTER 6 Decline 139
CHAPTER 7 Fall 159
CHAPTER 8 Enemy of the People 181
CHAPTER 9 Concluding Remarks 195
     
  Notes 213
  Index 263

The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, founded at Stanford University in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, who went on to become the thirty-first president of the United States, is an interdisciplinary research center for advanced study on domestic and international affairs. The views expressed in its publications are entirely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the staff, officers, or Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution.

www.hoover.org

Hoover Institution Press Publication No. 502

Copyright © 2002 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher.

First printing 2002

Manufactured in the United States of America

07 06 05 04 03 02 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Jansen, Marc.
Stalin’s loyal executioner : People’s Commissar Nikolai Ezhov, 1895–1940 / Marc Jansen and Nikita Petrov.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 0-8179-2902-9
1. Ezhov, Nikolaæ Ivanovich, 1895–1940. 2. Soviet Union.
Narodnyæ komissariat vnutrennikh del—Officials and employees—Biography. 3. Kommunisticheskaëì partëì Sovetskogo Soëìza—Purges. 4. Political purges—Soviet Union—History. I. Petrov, N. V. (Nikita Vasil’evich). II. Title.
DK268.E93 J36 2002
363.28333092—dc21 [B]
2001039836

 



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