Great Purge

The Great Purge or the Great Terror (Russian: Большой террор), also known as the Year of '37 (37-ой год, Tridtsat sedmoi god) and the Yezhovschina ('period of Yezhov'),[7] was Joseph Stalin's campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union that occurred from 1936 to 1938.[8] It involved large-scale repression of the peasantry; ethnic cleansing; purges of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, government officials, and the Red Army; widespread police surveillance, suspicion of saboteurs and counter-revolutionaries, imprisonment, and arbitrary executions.[9] Historians estimate the total number of deaths due to Stalinist repression in 1937–38 to be between 950,000 and 1.2 million.[1]

Great Purge
Part of Bolshevik Party purges
People of Vinnytsia searching for relatives among the exhumed victims of the Vinnytsia massacre, 1943
LocationSoviet Union
Date1936–1938
TargetPolitical opponents, Trotskyists, Red Army leadership, kulaks, ethnic minorities, religious activists and leaders
Attack type
Deaths950,000 to 1.2 million[1]
(higher estimates overlap with at least 136,520[2] deaths in the Gulag system)
PerpetratorsJoseph Stalin, the NKVD (Genrikh Yagoda, Nikolai Yezhov, Lavrentiy Beria, Ivan Serov and others), Vyacheslav Molotov, Andrey Vyshinsky, Lazar Kaganovich, Kliment Voroshilov, Robert Eikhe and others
MotiveElimination of political opponents,[3] consolidation of power,[4] fear of counterrevolution,[5] fear of party infiltration[6]

In the Western world, Robert Conquest's 1968 book The Great Terror popularized the phrase. Conquest's title itself was an allusion to the period from the French Revolution known as the Reign of Terror.[10]