R. Binner, B. Bonwetsch, M. Junge, Massenmord und Lagerhaft (Hiroaki Kuromiya)
Rolf Binner, Bernd
Bonwetsch, Marc Junge, Massenmord und
Lagerhaft. Die andere Geschichte des Großen Terrors, Berlin
(Akademie Verlag) 2009, 821 S., ISBN 978-3-05-004662-4, EUR 39,80.
rezensiert von/compte rendu rédigé par
Hiroaki Kuromiya, Indiana
The editors of this hefty tome are among the most active Western scholars of the Great Terror, an event that took nearly one million lives in 1937–1938. The present volume is merely one of their many publications on the subject, all of which have been of much value to everyone interested in the subject of mass killings under Stalin.
The present volume is mainly a collection of documents concerning Order 00447 or the so-called »Kulak Operation« targeted at dispossessed »kulaks« (rich peasants), criminals, and other Soviet citizens who lived on the margin of society. This Operation was responsible for approximately half of all the executions of the Great Terror. Even though many of these documents have been published in various Russian-language books, as the editors state, it is important and useful to have them translated into a major Western language so that non-specialists can become acquainted with them. Their purpose is admirably achieved by the present publication. Given the purpose of the publication, the authors deliberately refrain from scholarly analyses of the documents and the Great Terror and from discussion of the motives for the Terror. (To this end, readers should turn to a companion volume published by the same editors1.
The present volume seeks to illuminate in detail the preparation, execution, and completion of the Terror operation on the basis of documents, and to elucidate the roles played by victims, perpetrators, and followers. This focus allows the reader to see clearly that Moscow, particularly the dictator of the Soviet Union, I. V. Stalin, was the initiator and the driver of the Terror and that the Terror was not arbitrary but focused by design on certain target groups. The documents produced here, in the view of the present reviewer, conclusively refute the views proposed by some scholars that the Terror was driven by local »satraps« and that it was arbitrary or »stochastic«, although it is unlikely that this tome can put scholarly controversy to rest.
By reading the documents in this volume one can follow step by step every stage of the Terror operation: the issuance of an arrest warrant, the arrest, the compilation of search records, the interrogation of the arrested, the collection of references from the residence or workplace of the arrested, the procurement of any compromising material and witnesses, the compilation of indictment, the sentencing by the extra-judiciary organ called »troika«, the execution of the arrested, and the post-Stalin »rehabilitation« (exoneration) of the executed. One can also understand how the center and provinces interacted in driving the target figures of the Terror operation upwards, how the troika operated and who staffed it in various levels of the hierarchy of the terror machine.
The documents are supplemented by what appear to be the most detailed statistical tables available. Republic by republic and region by region, the tables break down nation-wide data on the Terror. In the country as a while, approximately 350 000 executions based on the Kulak Operation have been documented. This accounts for 0,24% of the country's population. The Terror operation struck some regions much harder than others. The execution figure for Kirgiztan is small, about 0,05%, but the corresponding figure for Karelia bordering with Finland, for instance, is much higher: 0,77% (p. 592, 597). The figure for Kazakhstan, 1,95% (p. 655) which is very high, seems to be a calculation mistake: the figure should be much lower. As the editors note (p. 588), the data are still very preliminary: sometimes central and regional data are widely divergent, casting doubt upon the reliability of the data for some regions (such as Western Siberia and the Altai region). It is also known that approximately 30 000 people already incarcerated in the Gulag were executed by the Terror. Of them, as many as 12 000 executions were carried out in the Gulag in the Far East (p. 659).
One thing missing in the book is the link for this particular operation to the Great Terror as a whole. The Terror consisted of many similar operations, and the Kulak Operation has to be analyzed within the context of the Terror itself. Unfortunately, this context is largely absent in the present book and the companion volume.
All in all, however, this is an excellent volume on the Great Terror. For a very long time, it will serve as a reference book for anyone interested in the subject. One cannot overemphasize the importance of this publication.
Finally, one wishes to add that the subtitle of the volume is suggestive. Much of what one knows about Stalin's Terror is learned mainly from the deaths of well-known people (Stalin's political rivals, famous writers and poets, and the like). As the editors emphasize, in fact the vast majority of the victims of Stalin's terror were »ordinary« people – workers, peasants, and other »small people«. The present volume is about this »other« history of the Great Terror.
1 Rolf Binner, Bernd Bonwetsch, Marc Junge (ed.), Stalinismus in der sowjetischen Provinz 1937–1938. Die Massenaktion aufgrund des operativen Befehls Nr. 00447, Berlin 2010.
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Rezension von: Rolf Binner, Bernd Bonwetsch, Marc Junge, Massenmord und Lagerhaft. Die andere Geschichte des Großen Terrors, Berlin (Akademie Verlag) 2009, 821 S., ISBN 978-3-05-004662-4, EUR 39,80. In: Francia-Recensio 2011/1 | 19./20. Jahrhundert - Histoire contemporaine URL: http://www.perspectivia.net/content/publikationen/francia/francia-recensio/2011-1/ZG/binner_kuromiya Veröffentlicht am: Jun 19, 2013 Zugriff vom: Jun 19, 2013