The Secret History of Stalin’s Purges (1)


I do not belong to any party, nor am I writing this book to achieve any narrow political goals. My only intention is to make public the secret history of the Stalinist “purges”. For this purpose, I will reproduce a series of key links in this great event, without which this great tragedy would remain an eternal mystery.

Until July 12, 1938, I was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Soviet government had given me a series of important posts. I had been actively involved at home, fighting bravely in Red Army units in the southwest theater, where I also commanded guerrilla units behind enemy lines and was in charge of anti-Soviet work.

After the end of the Civil War. The Party Central Committee appointed me deputy attorney general of the Supreme Court. By the way. I participated at that time in the development of the first criminal code of the Soviet Union.

In 1934, I was appointed Deputy Head of the Economic Department of the State Political Security General Directorate of the People’s Commissariat of the USSR (later renamed the Ministry of People’s Commissars of Internal Affairs). The task was to oversee the transformation of Soviet industry and fight corruption and bribery on behalf of the state. Later, I was sent to Transcaucasia, where I commanded a border guard unit responsible for defending the borders with Iran and Turkey.

  1. I was appointed head of the Economic Division of the Foreign Affairs Department of the General Directorate of State Political Security, and was also plenipotentiary of the State Supervisory Commission, in charge of foreign trade.

In 1936, the famous Spanish Civil War broke out. The Political Bureau sent me there as an advisor to the Government of the Republic, to organize counter-espionage work and to develop guerrilla warfare behind enemy lines. I arrived in Spain in September 1936 and stayed there until July 12, 1938 – the day I broke with the Stalinist regime.

During my time in the General Directorate of State Political Security and the Ministry of the People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs, I managed to collect a lot of top secret material, which I later took abroad. This material concerned Stalin’s crimes in order to seize power on his own; the series of trials he organized to purge the leaders of the October Revolution; and his relations with those whom he had persecuted and killed.

I have also recorded many materials: Stalin’s verbal instructions to the leaders of the Ministry of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs at Kremlin meetings; instructions to the interrogators on crushing the resistance of Lenin’s old comrades and forcing them to make false confessions; Stalin’s conversations with individual victims of his crimes, as well as the words of these mortal men within the walls of Lubyanka. These top-secret materials, which were strictly forbidden to be circulated, were obtained by me from a number of interrogators of the Ministry of the Interior, many of whom had worked under me. Among them were Mironov, who had been my assistant (later head of the Economic Department of the Ministry of the Interior and one of the main helpers in the preparation of the so-called Moscow trials for Stalin), and Berman, deputy head of the Foreign Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of the Interior.

Throughout his illegal activities, Stalin could not have been without his faithful aides in the Interior Ministry. As his atrocities increased, so did the number of his co-conspirators. Fearing disgrace in the eyes of the world, Stalin was determined to eliminate all of his close associates in 1937 so that they would never be witnesses to his crimes, and in the spring of 1937, the vast majority of the leaders in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as those interrogators who, on his direct instructions, had tortured the founders of the Bolshevik Party and leaders of the October Revolution to extract confessions, were all executed without investigation or trial, and thereafter, the top Thousands of Ministry of the Interior staff disappeared one after another: these people had worked in the Ministry of the Interior and knew more or less top secret material about Stalin’s crimes.

It was in Spain that I learned of the arrest of People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs Yagoda. Immediately afterwards, the news of the murder of my old friend and the same year, one by one, reached me, and it seemed that soon it would be my turn. However, I could not make an open break with the Stalinist system. My mother was still living in Moscow, and according to Stalin’s barbaric laws, she was practically a hostage taken by those in power. If I refuse to return to the Soviet Union, she could be executed. She could be executed, and my wife’s mother would be in the same situation.

On the Spanish front, especially when organizing Republican army attacks in the firing line, I was often subjected to heavy enemy artillery fire. Many times at such times, the thought occurred to me that if I were killed in the line of duty, the threat to my family and to my close friends who remained in Moscow would be immediately lifted. This longing was for me. Far more attractive than a public break with Moscow.

But it was a sign of weakness. I continued to work among the Spaniards, whose gallantry had often impressed me with admiration. At the same time, there was a fantasy in my mind that, perhaps, Stalin would die at the hands of some co-conspirator. Or maybe the nightmarish “purges” in Moscow would suddenly stop of their own accord.

In August 1937, I received a telegram from Slutsky, head of the Foreign Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of the Interior. The telegram said that plans were being made by Franco and Hitler’s secret service in Germany to kidnap me from Spain in order to extract from me information on the scale of Soviet aid to Spain.

Slutsky also informed me that the Ministry of the Interior intended to send a guard of twelve men for my protection, who would be at my side at all times, and I realized that the first task of this “private guard” would be to get rid of me. So I told Sluzki that I didn’t need a private guard. My headquarters was guarded day and night by the Spanish “Guardia Civil”, and I was escorted by armed plainclothes agents of the Spanish secret police as soon as I left the headquarters. This was true.

Thus, the Ministry of the Interior did not assign me any personal guards, but the incident made me wary. I began to suspect that Yezhov, the new People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs, had given orders to his own secret “Rangers” to kill me in Spain. Anticipating this, I sent one of my staff officers to the German international detachment fighting at the front and asked them to select ten reliable, battle-experienced Communists and send them to me. From then on, these soldiers, armed with automatic rifles and grenades at their waists, followed me every inch of the way.