Wright Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

John G. Wright

Soviet Union Notes

Stalin’s Bloody Purge Surpasses All Previous Bonapartist Excesses; Red Army Decimated; Soviet Transportation Disorganized

(9 April 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 15, 9 April 1938, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Purge in Progress

The current blood purge bids fair to surpass all those that preceded. Hardly an issue of Pravda appears without an attack on some department. The “criticism” of the Northern Sea Route Administration headed by Prof. Otto Schmidt has attracted most attention abroad. But it is only one of the departments under fire. In recent days the Soviet press has carried ominous charges against the Commissariat of Transportation, the People’s Commissar for Agriculture in White Russia, the Presidium of the Moscow Soviet, its Chairman, H. Sidorov, and its secretary, Dedkov, etc.

The appointment of two new deputy Commissars for Heavy Industry, M.I. Tselischev and P.P. Kucherenko, which is reported in Pravda for March 20, denotes still another purge in that department – for the third time since last October!

According to the leading article in the same issue of Pravda, 132,000 employees in the trade network have been “brought up on charges for alleged embezzlement and dissipation.”

The Purge in the Red Army

From top to bottom the Red Army has been decimated by the purge. As was to be expected, the Young Communist League in the army has been hardest hit. So many Y.C.L. units in the regiments have been left without bureau heads and secretaries that the Central Committee of the party and the Central Committee of the Komsomol have abolished the old restriction that only those who have been party members for at least two years were eligible for posts as secretaries of regimental bureaus of the Y.C.L. Says Pravda. “Members and candidates of the C.P.S.U., regardless of how long they have been in the party, are eligible for the post of secretary of the bureaus of the Y.C.L. and in exceptional cases, even those Y.C.L.ers who are not members of the party.” (Pravda, March 19.)

The same leading article goes on to add that another restriction has likewise been abolished. Hitherto “political representatives” in the Army had to be party members. “Henceforth, according to the decision of the C.C. of the C.P.S.U., the most tested and politically qualified Y.C.L.ers are to be drawn into the political organs of the Red Army as deputies or assistants of the political directors.”

The Crisis in Transportation

We have already reported the grave condition of Soviet railways. Numerous items in the official press indicate that thero has been no improvement in this field. Wte cite a few instances.

On Feb. 8, Pravda reported that 2,800 automobiles were left standing in the yard of the Gorki automobile plant. On March 17, in the Gorki yard 2,141 cars remained standing. “Some of them are becoming spoiled, others are half-covered with snow and ice ... The yard where the finished machines are left standing for months is guarded poorly. Various parts are being stolen from the machines.” (Pravda, March 18. Our emphasis)

Flood threatens on the shores of the rivers Volga, Kama, Viatka, Beloya and others in the Tartar Republic, where valuable freight has been stored: 128,000 tons of grain, 13,149 tons of hay belonging to the state and unspecified quantities of kolkhoz hay, together with car-loads of sugar, salt, lumber, cement, alabaster, brick, etc. At the single station of Sosnovka, on the shores of the Viatka river 1,960 cars of lumber are stranded. The same situation exists on the river Sura. Meanwhile the railways are unable to move this freight. Especially criticized for “inactivity” is the administration of the Kazan railway line. (Pravda, March 19)

Stalin’s remedy: more executions among the railway personnel.

Last updated: 30 July 2015