The First Stalin Mass Operation (1927)

in The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


This article based on new archival documents introduces a new episode of mass operations, which took place in June and July of 1927 and was directed against the broad group of “anti-Soviet” forces. It preceded many practices of mass terror of the 1930s with judicial and extra-legal mechanisms. The goal of this article is to explain motivations, justifications, and mechanisms of this repressive campaign and to put this episode in the wider context of Soviet terror. Facing the combination of a perceived danger of war and real internal social hostility expressed in broad defeatism, both threatening the perpetuation of their governmental powers, authorities resorted to repressions. The 1927 episode highlights the factor of a perceived threat of war as a crucial motivating element in Soviet repressive tactics.

The First Stalin Mass Operation (1927)

in The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review




Paul HagenlohStalin’s Police. Public Order and Mass Repressions in the USSR 1926-1941 (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press2009) and David R. Shearer Policing Stalin’s Socialism: Repression and Social Order in the Soviet Union 1924-1953 (New Haven: Yale University Press 2009) study repressions not solely against political enemies but also criminals and speculators.


Nicolas Werth“A State against Its People” in The Black Book of Communism. Crimes Terror RepressionStephane Courtois Nicholas Werth et al. (Cambridge MA 1999) 132-145; Stephen G. Wheatcroft “Agency and Terror: Evdokimov and Mass Killing in Stalin’s Great Terror” in Australian Journal of Politics and History 53 no. 1 (2007); S. A. Krassil’nikov A. S. Zuev “Ssylka v Sibir’ v XVII – pervoi polovine ХХ v.” Istoricheskaia Entsiklopedia Sibiri vol. 3 (Novosibirsk 2009); Stuart Finkel “An Intensification of Vigilance. Recent Perspectives on the Institutional History of the Soviet Security Apparatus in the 1920s” Kritika 5 2 (Spring 2004) and others expand it to the post-revolutionary decade.


Peter Holquist“‘Information is the Alpha and Omega of Our Work’: Bolshevik Surveillance in its Pan-European Perspective,” Journal of Modern History 69 no. 3 (1997).


A. Y. Livshin I. B. OrlovVlast’ i obschestvo: Dialog v pis’mah (Moscow: ROSSPEN2002) 180; Idem. Pis’ma vo vlast’ 1917-1927 (Moscow: ROSSPEN 1998); Svetlana Kriukova Krestianskie Istorii. Rossiiskaia derevnia 1920-kh godov v pis’makh i documentakh (Moscow: ROSSPEN 2001).


TsGAIPD SPb f. 24 op. 2v d. 2486l. 83 [1937]; d. 2500 l. 7 182 [1937]; f. 24 op. 1b d .367 l.64 [1931]; GARF f. 374 op. 27 d. 1211 ll. 13 33 41 43 137 [1927]; d. 1210 l. 9; d. 2079 l. 28; RGASPI f. 17 op. 85 d. 289 ll. 57 60 65 66.


RGASPI f. 17 op. 21 d. 3075l. 21.


GARF f. 374 op. 27 d. 1215l. 37 [March 15 1927].


Lazar’ FleishmanV tiskakh provokatsii. Operatsija “Trest” i russkaia zarubezhnaia pechat’ (Moscow: NLO2003) 178.


B. S. Koverda“Pokushenie na polpreda Voikova,” Monarkhist Accessed March 22 2012.


Just one example: on June 25 1920F. E. Dzerzhinsky’s circular to all local ChKs stated that the war with Poland and General Wrangel justified the need to intensify the struggle against an internal counterrevolution. SD 1079.


Hageloh 45; Anne E. GorsuchYouth in Revolutionary Russia. Enthusiasts Bohemians Delinquents (Bloomington: Indiana University Press2000) 167-76; Plekhanov 513.


HoffmannCultivating the Masses263-4; Lubianka 109-10 119-21.


Michael ReimanThe Birth of Stalinism. The USSR on the Eve of the “Second Revolution” (Bloomington: Indiana University Press1987) 15-17.


Wheatcroft“Evdokimov” 30.


Roberta T. Manning“The Rise and Fall of ‘the Extraordinary Measures,’ January-June 1928: Towards a Reexamination of the Onset of the Stalin Revolution,” The Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East-European Studies# 1504 (January 2001): 4-5 8-9 13.


Stalin to Molotov June 15 18 1927. RGASPI f. 558 op. 11 d. 767 ll. 40 41.


I. V. Stalin“Zametki na sovremennye temy,” Sochinenia(Moscow 1953) vol. 9 327-330; Pravda July 28 1927. Translation see in Documents of Soviet History vol. 4 211-28.


V. K. Vinogradov“Zelenaia lampa,” Nezavisimaia GazetaApril 20 1994 p. 5.


A. Yu. Epikhin O. B. MozokhinVChK-OGPU v bor’be s korruptsiei v gody novoi ėkonomicheskoi politiki 1921-28 (Moscow: Kuchkovo Pole2007) 274-301.


British Foreign Office 1927F.O. 371 vol. 12593 p. 71.


Wheatrcroft“Evdokimov” 30.


G. T. Rittersporn“The Catastrophe, the Millennium, and Popular Mood in the USSR,” in The Soviet Union – a Popular State? Studies on Popular Opinion in the USSR (St. Petersburg: Evropeiskii Dom2003) 56.


HoffmannCultivating the Masses207.


Holquist“State Violence”154.


TsGA SPb f. 4370op. 5 d. 4 l. 314.


Iorg BaberovskyKrasnyi terror. Istoria stalinisma (Moscow: ROSSPEN2007); The Black Book of Communism.


Robert ThurstonLife and Terror in Stalin’s Russia. 1934-1941 (New Haven: Yale University Press1996) 223; Hoffmann Stalinism 86; Theodore von Laue Why Lenin? Why Stalin? Why Gorbachev? The Rise and Fall of the Soviet System (New York 1993); V. Khaustov and L. Samuelson Stalin NKVD i repressii 1936-1938 gg. (Moscow: ROSSPEN 2010).


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 32 32 9
Full Text Views 28 28 15
PDF Downloads 3 3 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0