The Secret History of Stalin’s Purge (109)

In the fall of this year, I went to Paris on business. I decided to see one of the international exhibitions there, including the Soviet showroom inside. In the showroom, suddenly someone hugged me on the shoulder from behind. I turned around to see that it was Pavel Aliluyev, who was smiling at me.

“What are you doing here?” I asked in surprise. Of course, by “here” I didn’t mean the exhibition, but Paris in general.

“They sent me to work at the fair.” Pavel replied with a grim smile and a description of his insignificant position in the Soviet showroom.

I decided he was joking. I simply could not believe that the head of the political department of yesterday’s Red Army unit could have been sent to such an insignificant position that any non-party member of the masses in our commercial office in Paris could have filled? Moreover, it is even more implausible that such a thing happened to a relative of Stalin.

That evening I had something to do: the head and deputy head of the intelligence station of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in France invited me to dinner at a luxurious restaurant near the Place Saint-Michel, on the left bank of the Seine.

I carelessly wrote down the address of the restaurant on a piece of paper, asked someone to give it to Pavel, and asked him to go to the dinner together.

At the hotel, I was surprised to find that both the chief of the intelligence station and his assistant showed that they did not know Bavel. I introduced them to each other. After the meal, Pavel left for a few minutes. Taking advantage of his absence, the chief of the intelligence station leaned down close to my ear and whispered, “If I had known that you were going to invite him, I would have informed you in advance …… that we held orders from Yezhov concerning the surveillance of him.”

I was instantly stunned.

I walked out of the hotel with Pavel and strolled along the banks of the Seine. I asked him what had happened to send him to work at the fair. “Very simply,” he replied bitterly, “he needed to send me away, as far away from Moscow as possible.” He stopped talking, looked at me critically and asked, “What, you haven’t heard anything about me?”

We turned into a side alley and sat down at a table in a small cafe around the corner.

“There’s been a big change in the last few years ……,” Aliluyev spoke.

I waited in silence for his next words.

“You, you should know, how my sister died ……” He stopped making a sound and looked a little hesitant.

I nodded my head and waited for him to continue.

“Hey, from that Time on, he stopped talking to me.”

Once Aliluyev went to Stalin’s dacha as usual. The doorman on duty came up to him and told him, “There are orders that no one is allowed in.” The next day, Pavel made a phone call to the Kremlin. Stalin spoke to him in the same tone as usual and invited him to the dacha this Saturday. Pavel went on time, only to see that the dacha was being remodeled and that Stalin was not there …… Soon after, Pavel left Moscow on business. When he returned a few months later, one of Bokor’s men came to him and took away his pass to and from the Kremlin, saying that he had to renew it. The pass was never returned to him later.

“I know very well,” Pavel said, “that Yagoda and Pauker gave him a gluttonous advice that it would be better for me to stay away from him after what happened to Nadezhda.”

“What on earth were they thinking!” He suddenly snapped, “What do they think I am, an assassin? These bastards! How dare they spy on me!”

We talked for most of the night, and it was dawn when we parted. We agreed to see each other every other day. But I was suddenly called back to Spain in an emergency, and I never saw him again.

I realized that Aliluyev was in great danger. The day would come sooner or later, for Stalin would not tolerate for long an enemy whose sister he had driven to death wandering the streets of Moscow not far from him.

One day in 1939, as I passed a newsstand (I was in the United States by this time), I saw a Soviet newspaper. (It was either Kommersant or Pravda). I bought the paper and stood on the street and read it. Suddenly, an article with a black border jumped out at me. It was a tribute to Pavel Aliluyev. Without waiting to read the content, I thought: “He has cut him off too!” The memorial article announced “with great sadness” that Aliluyev, a political commissar of the Red Army’s armored corps, had died “in the line of duty”. Underneath the article were signed the names of Voroshilov and several military leaders, but not Stalin. Just like with Nadezhda Aliluyeva, the authorities carefully avoided the details in this obituary ……