Secret History of Stalin’s Purge (117)

I have had the opportunity to hear many of these stories, and here are just a few of the most representative ones.

In early July 1932, Stalin arrived at the Black Sea seaside villa near Sochi to recuperate, escorted by Pauker and a large group of guards. After staying with him for a few days, Paukel was sent to Gagra to inspect a new villa, a gift from the Georgian Republic to Stalin, which was built by order of Beria. Pauker was stranded there overnight. Immediately after his return to Sochi, he was informed that while he was away, something had happened here; in his opinion, it belonged to the category of “Ah, when he was furious ……”.

That night, Stalin was awakened by the sound of dogs barking somewhere nearby. He got up and went to the window and asked, “What are the dogs barking about, not letting anyone sleep?” The guard on duty outside replied that it was the dog of a dacha next door. “Find it and shoot it, it’s disturbing my sleep!” Stalin ordered gruffly, closing the window with a bang. When he woke up in the morning, he was in a pretty good mood and started with breakfast. While sitting at the table, he suddenly remembered the troublesome dog and asked one of the guards.

“Did you shoot the dog?”

“The dog ran away, Josef Visarionovich.” The guard replied.

“Did you kill the dog?” Stalin repeated.

“The dog was led to Gagra,” the guard replied, explaining that it was a shepherd specially trained to lead the way for the blind. It had been brought back from Germany by a staff member of the Ministry of Agriculture especially for his father, an old Bolshevik who was blind, and the dog was his guide. Now the old man had left the place with the dog.

Stalin spat the Food out of his mouth, threw it away from his hands again, and shouted like a madman. “Get them back to me immediately!” The panic-stricken guards rushed to contact the border posts along the way to Gagra by telephone and finally got the old man and the dog back to Stalin’s residence. Stalin got the report and went into the garden. Sure enough, not far away stood a blind heeled old man with a dog in his hand.

“Orders are given to carry out these orders,” Stalin pointed out. “Take the dog farther away and shoot it with a gun …….”

The guards went up to take the dog away, but it raised its back hair and growled. They had to ask the old man to go with them, so that the dog also went with them. Stalin did not enter the house until two shots were fired at the end of the garden.

There is another typical incident of this kind “Ah, when he was furious ……”, the full details of which one has heard Paul Kerr tell more than once.

Once Stalin, who was on leave in Sochi, made a short trip along the Black Coast to Batumi in the south and stayed for a few days at a government residence, because the Georgian authorities had given a big party there to welcome him. Among the many delicacies of the sea, there was a special dish, cooked by a Georgian chef who threw small fish, which were alive, into boiling oil. As a gourmet who is well versed in Georgian cuisine, Stalin praised this dish, but at the same Time he pointed out with regret that if this dish was made with another species of small fish, the taste would be more delicious.

Paul Kerr was pleased to hear this, because this is another opportunity to please Stalin. He immediately said that the dish will appear on the table tomorrow. But the fishing fans among the guests thought it might not be possible, because that kind of fish in this season are hiding at the bottom of the lake, will not come to the surface.

“Cheka should have the ability to get everything, including the fish at the bottom of the lake.” Stalin replied incendiary.

This statement sounded like a call to Cheka personnel to use their professional ingenuity. So that evening, a group of Stalin’s guards took a few Georgian guides into the mountains to a lake with lots of fish. They also brought a box of grenades with them. At dawn, the explosion of the grenade woke up the village not far from the lake. The villagers flocked to the lake. This was their only source of livelihood. But by now the lake was covered with thousands of dead and stunned fish. The people of Bokor were watching the water from their boats or from the shore, patiently looking for the kind of fish they needed.

The villagers protested and asked the marauders to leave before it was too late. But the Cheka men ignored this and continued to bomb the fish with grenades. In defense of their property, the villagers lunged at the unwanted visitors who had scattered along the lake shore. Some ran back to the village and brought pitchforks and shotguns. However, things did not go so far as to shoot each other. After a short clash, the Cheka people went back in disarray. During the clash, it was mainly women who “fought” on the villagers’ side.

When the guards returned to the villa, they all looked in a terrible state: some had scratched faces, some had swollen eyes, and some had dislocated their hands. But the baskets were full of the kind of fish Stalin was interested in ……