Stalin, Propaganda, and Soviet Society during the Great Terror

Historian article

By Sarah Davies, published 1st December 1997

Sarah Davies explores the evidence that even in the most repressive phases of Stalin’s rule, there existed a flourishing ‘shadow culture’, a lively and efficient unofficial network of information and ideas. 'Today a man only talks freely with his wife — at night, with the blankets pulled over his head.’ This remark, allegedly made by the Russian writer, Isaac Babel, is often cited as ‘evidence’ of the climate of fear which prevailed the Soviet Union at the height of Stalin’s ‘Great Terror’. The terror swept through Soviet society in the second half of the 1930s, reaching a peak in 1937-38. Communist Party members, generals, writers, academics, engineers, ordinary workers and peasants were arrested as ‘enemies of the people’ on any pretext, and shot or sent to the Gulag. Despite the revelations from the former Soviet Union, there is still no consensus about the number of victims of the terror: figures range from tens of millions to several hundred thousand.

This resource is FREE for Historian HA Members.

Non HA Members can get instant access for £2.75

Add to Basket Join the HA