Mass Repressions

Nikolai Ezhov, Operational Order. July 30, 1937


Original Source: E. Al’bats, Mina zamedlennogo deistviia: Politicheskii portret KGB (Moscow, 1992), pp. 319-20, 322-6.

Evidence from the investigation of anti-Soviet groupings is establishing that a significant number of former kulaks, formerly repressed people, escaped prisoners from camps, exile and labor colonies are lying low in the countryside. Lying low are formerly repressed church activists, former active participants of armed anti-Soviet uprisings. A significant number of cadres of anti-Soviet political parties (Socialist-Revolutionaries and {non-Russian nationalists}), and also cadres of former active participants of bandit uprisings, of the Whites, of punitive detachments, of repatriated people, etc., remain almost untouched in the countryside.

Part of those elements enumerated above, moving from the countryside to the towns, have wormed their way into enterprises involved with industry, transport, and construction.

Besides this, significant cadres of criminals – horse thieves, recidivist thieves, looters, etc. having avoided punishment, have made nests in the countryside and the towns, having escaped from prison and hidden from repression. Inadequate struggle with this criminal contingent has created conditions of lawlessness for them, facilitating their criminal activity.

It has been established that all these anti-Soviet elements have been the main instigators of all sorts of anti-Soviet crimes and acts of sabotage, both in the collective and state farms, and in the transport system and in several sectors of industry.

The task of the organs of state security is mercilessly to destroy all this band of anti-Soviet elements, to protect the toiling Soviet people from their counter-revolutionary raids, and once and for all, to finish with their subversive work to undermine the foundations of the Soviet state.

Therefore I order the beginning from 5 August 1937 of an operation in all regions for the repression of former kulaks, active anti-soviet elements, and criminals.

II. On Means of Punishment of Those to be Repressed, and the Number of Those Subject to Repression

1. All repressed kulak, criminals, and other anti-Soviet elements are to be divided into two categories:

a) The first category are the most hostile of the enumerated elements. They are subject to immediate arrest, and after their cases have been considered by a three-person tribunal [troika] they are TO BE SHOT.

b) In the second category are the other less active though also hostile element. They are subject to arrest and imprisonment in a camp for 8 to 10 years, and the most evil and socially dangerous of these, to incarceration for the same period in prison, as determined by the three-person tribunal.

2. In accordance with data determined by the peoples commissars of the republics NKVDs and the heads of regional administrations of the NKVD, the following numbers of individuals are subject to repression.

First Category Second Category Total
1. Azerbaijan SSR 1,500 3,750 5,250
2. Armenian SSR 500 1,000 1,500
3. Belorussian SSR 2,000 10,000 12,000
{… }
39. Leningrad region 4,000 10,000 14,000
40. Moscow region 5,000 30,000 35,000
{ … }
NKVD camps 10,000 10,000
{ … }
Total 72,950 177,500 250,4501

{III} 1. The operation is to begin on 5 August 1937 and to be completed in four months.

Source: Evan Mawdsley, The Stalin Years: The Soviet Union, 1929-1953 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), pp. 131-133.

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