Lenin orders the massacre of sex workers, 1918

Kaganovich, 1934

Lenin's letter to G. F. Fyodorov ordering "mass terror, shoot and deport the hundreds of prostitutes who are making drunkards of the soldiers, former officers and the like." in Nizhni, where the Czech white forces were amassing. Kaganovich implemented the terror although while there is some evidence of a sex industry operating in Nizhni (see comments) actual executions during the terror are estimated to be in the low hundreds and predominately men.

August 9, 1918

Comrade Fyodorov,

It is obvious that a whiteguard insurrection is being prepared in Nizhni. You must strain every effort, appoint three men with dictatorial powers (yourself, Markin and one other), organise immediately mass terror, shoot and deport the hundreds of prostitutes who are making drunkards of the soldiers, former officers and the like.

Not a minute of delay.

I can’t understand how Romanov could leave at a time like this!

I do not know the bearer. His name is Alexei Nikolayevich Bobrov. He says he worked in Vyborgskaya Storona District in Petrograd (from 1916).... Previously worked in Nizhni in 1905.

Judging by his credentials, he can be trusted. Check up on this and set him to work.

Peters, Chairman of the Extraordinary Commission, says that they also have reliable people in Nizhni.

You must act with all energy. Mass searches. Execution for concealing arms. Mass deportation of Mensheviks and unreliables. Change the guards at warehouses, put in reliable people.

They say Raskolnikov and Danishevsky are on their way to see you from Kazan.

Read this letter to the friends and reply by telegraph or telephone.

Yours,
Lenin

Reproduced from https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/aug/09gff.htm

Published: First published, but not in full, in 1938 in Bolshevik No. 2. Sent to Nizhni-Novgorod. Printed in full from a photo-copy of the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, page 349.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive. You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work, as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Posted By

Mike Harman
Feb 9 2018 22:59

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  • You must strain every effort, appoint three men will) dictatorial powers (yourself, Markin and one other), organise immediately mass terror, shoot and deport the hundreds of prostitutes who are making drunkards of the soldiers, former officers and the like.

    Lenin, 1918

Attached files

Comments

jura
Feb 9 2018 23:04

I think the title should say "sex workers".

Khawaga
Feb 10 2018 00:24

Well, the text itself refers to prostitutes so the title reflects that better, no? Through generally, I agree that sex workers should be used over prostitutes.

jura
Feb 10 2018 08:56

Yeah, I didn't mean it is a correction. I just think that a title stating that Lenin ordered a massacre of workers in 1918 is clearer in terms of where the regime was headed.

Noa Rodman
Feb 10 2018 09:49
Quote:
Kaganovich and Trotsky implemented the orders.

Ratkovskij's book on red terror in 1918 mentions (pp. 142–3) that for the month August the cheka in Nizhny Novgorod (Governorate/province), headed by Martin Latsis, executed 101 people, of whom 76 for political motives (whiteguard affairs) and 25 for various criminal offenses (speculators, etc.). Mind you, comparatively speaking, capital punishment was used most often in Nizhny Novgorod. The percentage of executions for criminal offenses here is somewhat below the national average, so I don't think Lenin's "order" to shoot prostitutes (how would he know about them?) was implemented. He often used hyperbolic expressions, but nevertheless it is true that he advocated terror.

Ратьковский И. С. Красный террор и деятельность ВЧК в 1918 году.— СПб.: Изд-во С.-Петерб. ун-та, 2006

radicalgraffiti
Feb 10 2018 10:15

i'm not sure on what basis you are assuming the couldn't have been included in the political category? they often gave misleading labels to people they wanted to execute

Serge Forward
Feb 10 2018 11:18
Quote:
76 for political motives (whiteguard affairs)

Also Noa mistakenly assumes that "political motives" were automatically counter-revolutionary.

Noa Rodman
Feb 10 2018 11:59
Quote:
According to Latsis, until August 30, 1918, in the course of the month 25 people were shot on whiteguard affairs. Another 10 people were shot by the Czechoslovak Front's Cheka and 41 people after August 30, 1918. The final figures are the same 76 political shootings per month in the Nizhny Novgorod province.

btw, Dzerzhinsky recalled that cheka in its publications often exaggerated the number of their executions in order to frighten the enemy. The above figures (of 101), although comparatively high, seem realistic though.

Khawaga
Feb 10 2018 16:48
Jura wrote:
Yeah, I didn't mean it is a correction. I just think that a title stating that Lenin ordered a massacre of workers in 1918 is clearer in terms of where the regime was headed.

Ah, yes, that actually makes sense. Shit, I guess I am just so used to people pointing out any language as "problematic" that that's what I thought you meant. My bad.

Noa Rodman
Feb 10 2018 20:52
Lenin wrote:
You must strain every effort, appoint three men with dictatorial powers (yourself, Markin and one other), organise immediately mass terror, shoot and deport the hundreds of prostitutes who are making drunkards of the soldiers, former officers and the like.

There might be a translation error. In Russian:

Lenin wrote:
Надо напрячь все силы, составить тройку диктаторов (Вас, Маркина и др.), навести тотчас массовый террор, расстрелять и вывезти сотни проституток, спаивающих солдат, бывших офицеров и т. п.

Perhaps the ambiguity lies in the word "спаивающих", does it mean: "making drunk, or "being drunk"?

The sentence is ambiguous, as mentioned (here) by (soviet dissident) Venedikt Yerofeyev in 1986:

Quote:
Не совсем понятно, кого же убивать. Проституток, спаивающих солдат и бывших офицеров? Или проституток, спаивающих солдат, а уже от ... будьте образцово — беспощадны».

I can't translate the last part of his sentence very good though:

"It is not clear who to kill. Prostitutes, drunken soldiers and former officers? Or prostitutes, drunken soldiers, and already from ... be exemplary - ruthless."

So if I understand this, the alternative reading is that Lenin is not saying that the prostitutes "are making drunkards of the soldiers", but he is listing unreliable people: prostitutes, drunken solders, and former officers.

So this would be the proper translation:

Lenin wrote:
organise immediately mass terror, shoot and deport the hundreds of prostitutes, drunk soldiers, former officers and the like.

And because Lenin put the word "deport" right before prostitutes, and it is hastily written, I would even go further and refer the "shoot" only to the drunken soldiers and former officers:

Lenin wrote:
organise immediately mass terror, deport the prostitutes and shoot the drunk soldiers, former officers and the like, who together number in the hundreds.
Steven.
Feb 10 2018 20:50

Good suggestion, jura, now amended. I wasn't really aware of it because in UK English it does not seem to be problematic to refer to sex workers who specifically sell sex as "prostitutes", however in American English apparently it is, so happy to amend on either basis.

Noa Rodman
Feb 10 2018 21:10

Seriously, the sentence is a mistranslation.

Battlescarred
Feb 10 2018 22:02

Oh yes, Noa, Lenin did nothing wrong.

Craftwork
Feb 10 2018 22:11
Noa Rodman wrote:
So this would be the proper translation:
Lenin wrote:
organise immediately mass terror, shoot and deport the hundreds of prostitutes, drunk soldiers, former officers and the like.

And because Lenin put the word "deport" right before prostitutes, and it is hastily written, I would even go further and refer the "shoot" only to the drunken soldiers and former officers:

Lenin wrote:
organise immediately mass terror, deport the prostitutes and shoot the drunk soldiers, former officers and the like, who together number in the hundreds.

Ah, that makes it alright then...

radicalgraffiti
Feb 10 2018 22:40

if it was actually mistranslated and should have been "organise immediately mass terror, shoot and deport the hundreds of prostitutes, drunk soldiers, former officers and the like." then it still appears that he's ordering shootings and deportations against all those listed. i'm not really familiar with Russian grammar, but it seems odd to me that the proximity of "prostitutes" to "deport" means that applies to them but the distance of "drunk soldiers" and "former solders" to "shoot" means that applies to them

jura
Feb 11 2018 08:34

Based on my very limited Russian, the sentence seems to say "...mass terror: shoot and deport hundreds of prostitutes, soliders (who are drinking themselves silly), former officers and similar".

Noa Rodman
Feb 11 2018 09:19
Quote:
Oh yes, Noa, Lenin did nothing wrong.
Quote:
Ah, that makes it alright then...

Snark, I see.

radicalgrafitti wrote:
then it still appears that he's ordering shootings and deportations against all those listed.

Yes, but you can't execute and remove someone at the same time.

Quote:
but it seems odd to me that the proximity of "prostitutes" to "deport" means that applies to them but the distance of "drunk soldiers" and "former solders" to "shoot" means that applies to them

That is admittedly just my added charitable reading of it.

Some even go so far as to doubt if Lenin meant literally "prostitutes", and not just in general wavering, opportunist elements (who whore themselves out to any side).

jura wrote:
Based on my very limited Russian, the sentence seems to say "...mass terror: shoot and deport hundreds of prostitutes, soliders (who are drinking themselves silly), former officers and similar".

Yes. "Shoot and deport" is a way of saying "repress" in ruthless fashion any suspect elements, which was an openly proclaimed policy with the civil war (quelle surprise).

Battlescarred
Feb 11 2018 11:23

That makes it all right then, doesn't it?
The leading Chekist Martin Latzis wrote in Izvestia on February 8th 1920 that the complete figure of those shot by the Cheka in 1918 was 6,185. However, this figure did not include the thousands executed in the same year in north east Russia in the Perm government, the 2,000 oficers shot at Kiev, the 400 navy officers shot at Odessa before the arrival of the Austrian army, the execution of officers at Sebatapol, the 1,342 people shot in January-February 1918 at Armavir.. For 1919 Latzis gave the figure of 3,456 shot by the Cheka in 1919. Of these 2,500 were not shot for "bourgeoisism" or for "counter-revolutiion, but for for common crimes, 632 for robbery, 217 for speculation and 1,204 for "criminal acts". It appears then that the Cheka directed its terror not just against the class enemy and counter-revolutionaries, but against the population in general. It should be noted that the first ever victims of the Cheka executions approved by the Cheka's College, was carried out on February 26, 1918, against two bandits - the self-styled Prince Eboli (Makovsky, Dolmatov) and his girlfriend Britt, who robbed the officers of the Cheka. This was followed by the shooting of the anarchists V. Smirnov and I. Zanoz, members of Petrograd Anarchist Communist Federation, for "banditry" two days later on the 28th February, well before the attacks on anarchist centres in major cities on April 12th 1918 onwards.

Battlescarred
Feb 11 2018 12:12

The Cheka arrested 900 striking workers at the famed Putilov factory on 16th March 1919. 200 were shot without any pretence at a trial within the next few days.
At Astrakhan, on 10th March 1918 an assembly of striking workers were attacked with machine guns and hand grenades by Bolshevik troops with an estimated 2,000 victims. Hundreds of strikers and Red Army soldiers of the 45th Infantry regiment who had joined them were drowned by the hundreds in the Volga with stones around their necks. Between 2,000 and 4,000 were shot or drowned betwen March and April1919, including several local leaders o the MetatWorkers Union.. In addition, the repression also claimed the lives of some 600 to 1,000 of the bourgeoisie. The massacre was authorised by the Bolshevik leader Konstantin Mekhonoshin and by the head of the local Cheka. Trotsky telegraphed his approval. Bolshevik leaders justified the killings by saying they were putting down a White Guard uprising. Kirov, in particular, said that is was a White Guard conspiracy funded by the British and that all means necessary to destroy it were necessary. Shliapnikov, who had recently been in Astrakhan,,disapproved of the massacre, to his credit. AN investigator appointed by the Metal Workers Union, Babitsyn, came to the conclusion that the majority of workers at Astrakhan had suppported Sovoet poweer, with the exception of a few anarchists, but were incensed by pay delays, reduced rations, and the arrogant and threatening attitude of local Bolshevik officials,

Noa Rodman
Feb 11 2018 12:33
Quote:
That makes it all right then, doesn't it?

There are different ways to criticise the Bolsheviks, as even Kautsky pointed out. The claim that they carried out a massacre of sex workers, or that Lenin's letter singled them, has no ground. It's a popular quote (mostly for rightwing anti-communists) so I think it's important to set the record straight, for the sake of your own credibility as anarchist critics of the Bolsheviks.

Thanks for copying a list of red terror outrages. For the sake of balance, I refer to the historian Ratkovskij (no bolshevik friend), who take it upon himself to compose a chronicle of White Terror massacres: Илья Ратьковский - Хроника белого террора в России. Репрессии и самосуды (1917–1920 гг.).

And further, as a general point, let me quote Lincoln Steffens (who asked Lenin about the terror):

The horrors of a revolution are never singular; they are the ever-recurring symptoms and signs of the natural phenomenon they accompany always. This one can see by observing that they occur regularly in all revolutions, some of them in all social crises. There are killings and terrors, loot and destruction, in a war or a strike. The side or the leaders blamed for them do not always wish for and command them. They also deplore them. When I asked Lenin officially about the terror, he whirled on me fiercely.

"Who wants to ask us about our killings?" he demanded.

"Paris," I said, meaning, as he well understood, the Peace Conference.

"Do you mean to tell me that those men who have just generaled the slaughter of seventeen millions of men in a purposeless war are concerned over the few thousands that have been killed in a revolution which has a conscious aim to get out of the necessity of war and – and armed peace?"

He stood a moment facing me with his blazing eyes, then quieting down, he said:

"But never mind, do not deny the terror. Don't minimize any of the evils of a revolution. They occur. They must be counted upon. If we have to have a revolution, we have to pay the price of it."

That is the point. The evils of revolution happen in a revolution. They have to be studied, therefore; not merely shied at, but examined and then, perhaps, when they are understood scientifically, they can be avoided or used.

Battlescarred
Feb 11 2018 12:47

The White Terror outrages do not in the least justify the Red Terror outrages, in particular as they were directed against the working class and the peasantry. I didn't "copy" the list by the way, a snarky way of trying to devalue what I wrote. Oh I see, these massacres have to be examined "scientifically", whatever the fuck that means.Pay the price of a revolution? Yes, when that revolution turns into its antithesis, counter-revolution, directed by the Bolsheviks, summed up by Trotsky in his telegram to the Astrakhan Bolsheviks in their crimes against the working class:"Execute mercilessly".

Battlescarred
Feb 11 2018 13:21

"The horrors of a revolution are never singular; they are the ever-recurring symptoms and signs of the natural phenomenon they accompany always. This one can see by observing that they occur regularly in all revolutions, some of them in all social crises. There are killings and terrors, loot and destruction, in a war or a strike. The side or the leaders blamed for them do not always wish for and command them. They also deplore them". Except that Lenin and his associates specifically commanded the Terror, it wasn't a case of unfortunate happenstance as Lincoln Steffens, at the time an apologist for the Bolsheviks, states. After his attempted assasination Lenin issued the order "“It is necessary – secretly and urgently to prepare the terror”.And just before the attempted assasination he had sent the famous Hanging Order:
“(Send this to Penza – to Comrades Kuraev, Bosh, Minkin and other Penza communists.)

Comrades! The revolt by the five kulak volosts [regions] must be suppressed without mercy. The interest of the entire revolution demands this, because we have now before us our final decisive battle with the kulaks.
We need to set an example. You need to hang – hang without fail, and do it so that the public sees – at least 100 notorious kulaks, the rich, and the bloodsuckers. Publish their names. Take away all of their grain. Execute the hostages – in accordance with yesterday’s telegram.
This needs to be accomplished in such a way that people for hundreds of miles around will see, tremble, know and scream out: let’s choke and strangle those blood-sucking kulaks. Telegraph us acknowledging receipt and execution of this.
Lenin
P.S. Use your toughest people for this.”
So a quota system was assigned to punish people for their class background, whatever their personal views and innocence.A disastrous policy that fueled the later crimes of Stalin.

Noa Rodman
Feb 11 2018 15:26
Quote:
Oh I see, these massacres have to be examined "scientifically", whatever the fuck that means.

For example Kautsky's 1919: Terrorism and Communism: A Contribution to the Natural History of Revolution, to which Trotsky famously wrote a reply (which also discussed terror in historical contexts).

Quote:
I didn't "copy" the list by the way, a snarky way of trying to devalue what I wrote

Some passages struck me as familiar (perhaps seen it in Ellen's Shlyapnikov book).

Quote:
Except that Lenin and his associates specifically commanded the Terror,

Yes, that's generally know to be the case (Trotsky's book was translated in English). However, if the "disastrous policy" is to be documented, a certain care is required, so as not to mix the real and fictional.

Serge Forward
Feb 11 2018 16:20

Noa, I think I preferred it when you were talking about men's waistlines rather than your current Leninist horseshit.

Noa Rodman
Feb 11 2018 17:16

I'm not the one who thought it was necessary to post a letter from Lenin in the libcom library with such a provocative title.

But now that we're speaking of terror outrages, based on wiki, it seems the Red Terror in Spain made more victims than the Russian one. Probably killed some nuns as well, alongside those thousands of clergymen. Perhaps Battlescared cares to comment on those outrages? Durruti himself being a murder.

Quote:
Seeing the famed anarchist Durruti execute a young Falangist soldier, who had been conscripted against his will, never stopped weighing on her conscience. What Weil objected to was the relentless pleasure in murder that occurred on all sides. Killing "Fascists" and seeing them as beasts made the Republicans, in Weil's view, no better than the enemy; they too were excluding "a category of human beings from among those whose lives have worth."
Steven.
Feb 11 2018 17:58
Noa Rodman wrote:
But now that we're speaking of terror outrages, based on wiki, it seems the Red Terror in Spain made more victims than the Russian one. Probably killed some nuns as well, alongside those thousands of clergymen. Perhaps Battlescared cares to comment on those outrages? Durruti himself being a murder.
Quote:
Seeing the famed anarchist Durruti execute a young Falangist soldier, who had been conscripted against his will, never stopped weighing on her conscience. What Weil objected to was the relentless pleasure in murder that occurred on all sides. Killing "Fascists" and seeing them as beasts made the Republicans, in Weil's view, no better than the enemy; they too were excluding "a category of human beings from among those whose lives have worth."

Noa I'm quite disappointed with your terrible logic here.

In general terms with the Spanish Red Terror, the role of the anarchist organisations in this is in no way comparable with the Bolshevik Red Terror, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the Bolshevik terror was specifically ordered by the leadership of the Communist Party.

In terms of the Spanish red terror, this was primarily orchestrated either by the Spanish Communist Party, or revolutionary workers and peasants taking revenge on class enemies: not acting on the orders of the CNT or FAI.

With Durruti, again that's ridiculous comparison. It may be sad that he executed a conscripted fascist soldier, but that is not comparable to the actions of, say, Lenin and Trotsky, who ordered others to massacre striking workers.

Durruti never "murdered", or ordered the murders of striking workers.

Pennoid
Feb 11 2018 20:46
Quote:
The Cheka arrested 900 striking workers at the famed Putilov factory on 16th March 1919. 200 were shot without any pretence at a trial within the next few days.
At Astrakhan, on 10th March 1918 an assembly of striking workers were attacked with machine guns and hand grenades by Bolshevik troops with an estimated 2,000 victims. Hundreds of strikers and Red Army soldiers of the 45th Infantry regiment who had joined them were drowned by the hundreds in the Volga with stones around their necks. Between 2,000 and 4,000 were shot or drowned betwen March and April1919, including several local leaders o the MetatWorkers Union.. In addition, the repression also claimed the lives of some 600 to 1,000 of the bourgeoisie. The massacre was authorised by the Bolshevik leader Konstantin Mekhonoshin and by the head of the local Cheka. Trotsky telegraphed his approval. Bolshevik leaders justified the killings by saying they were putting down a White Guard uprising. Kirov, in particular, said that is was a White Guard conspiracy funded by the British and that all means necessary to destroy it were necessary. Shliapnikov, who had recently been in Astrakhan,,disapproved of the massacre, to his credit. AN investigator appointed by the Metal Workers Union, Babitsyn, came to the conclusion that the majority of workers at Astrakhan had suppported Sovoet poweer, with the exception of a few anarchists, but were incensed by pay delays, reduced rations, and the arrogant and threatening attitude of local Bolshevik officials,

Where can I read more about this? All I find is this excerpt on Wikipedia with citations only for "The Black Book of Communism."

Mike Harman
Feb 11 2018 21:52

Putilov and Astrakhan are both covered by Brovkin's 'Behind the Front Lines of the Civil War' published 2015. I haven't read the book, I just found it on google books:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=A7p9BgAAQBAJ&pg=PT84&lpg=PT84&dq=putilov+1919&source=bl&ots=2tkayoLGNb&sig=SwYa3XYhuSDL-tEbGacBMs4iBIg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjCxr-z6J7ZAhVE_qQKHTnnAy0Q6AEISzAL#v=onepage&q=putilov%201919&f=false

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=A7p9BgAAQBAJ&pg=PT84&lpg=PT84&dq=putilov+1919&source=bl&ots=2tkayoLGNb&sig=SwYa3XYhuSDL-tEbGacBMs4iBIg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjCxr-z6J7ZAhVE_qQKHTnnAy0Q6AEISzAL#v=onepage&q=astrakhan&f=false

There are a few historians (Lynne Viola, Jeffrey Rossman, Brovkin, William Rosenburg) who have been doing mostly social history between about 1917 and 1935, based on primary sources from the declassified Russian archives (lots of checka/NKVD reports etc.).

Red Marriott
Feb 11 2018 21:56
Noa wrote:
There are different ways to criticise the Bolsheviks, as even Kautsky pointed out. The claim that they carried out a massacre of sex workers, or that Lenin's letter singled them, has no ground. It's a popular quote (mostly for rightwing anti-communists) so I think it's important to set the record straight, for the sake of your own credibility as anarchist critics of the Bolsheviks.

Nothing you’ve posted here has “set the record straight” or proven “no grounds”. Disputing one interpretation and offering another is not disproving. It’s true that Lenin often used “prostitutes” as a term of abuse for those he characterised as opportunist political opponents but in examples I’ve seen he always named the individuals or groups he meant – while this reads like a straightforward order to kill and deport; and if your convoluted interpretation that he didn’t literally mean prostitutes to be shot was true it would be incredibly careless to convey life & death orders by telegram in such an unclear ambiguous way – when even defenders like you have to split hairs over the order of words to claim your preferred meaning. But whatever else the order shows, it makes clear who was in control and whose ‘order’ was being imposed – ie, the new Bolshevik party state making top-down decisions imposed over the whole society including the working class and poor peasantry.

The following has about as much credibility and hard evidence as your preferred interpretation;

Quote:
Vladimir Lenin, the Russian revolutionary and architect of the Soviet Union, died from syphilis caught from a Parisian prostitute and not from a stroke as has always been believed, new research has claimed. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/6406447/Vladimir-Lenin-died-from-syphilis-new-research-claims.html

But, by the same burden of proof employed by Noa, it could be used to explain why Lenin so resented prostitutes.

According to another source the Nizni repression was led by Kaganovich to establish an overall tightening of Bolshevik political dominance in the region – which became the model for a wider nationwide dominance and gave good practice for later Stalinist methods;

Quote:
“In May 1918 [Kaganovich] was sent by the Central Committee to Nizhny Novrogod, where he quickly established himself as head of the Bolshevik party organization. Nizhny was a frontline town, threatened directly by the advance of the Czechoslovak Legion, which in August 1918 overran Kazan. In 1918-19 the province experienced dozens of peasant risings, while, at the nearby giant Sormovo engineering complex, Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries led a number of major strikes against the Soviet authorities.
In August 1918 Lenin ordered the authorities in Nizhny Novgorod to immediately institute a “mass terror” to extinguish the threat of counterrevolution. Kaganovich as party boss, then just twenty-four years of age, oversaw this policy, which included the execution of bourgeois “hostages”. In this campaign he was assisted by the leadership of the Eastern Military Front, headed by Trotsky. Drawing on this experience, Kaganovich elaborated organizational proposals to dramatically tighten up political control in Nizhny and to galvanize the local party organization to ensure its survival.
... In 1919 Kaganovich advanced sweeping measures for the militarization of the Bolshevik party organization at the national level.
... Kaganovich’s experiences in Nizhny helped to shape his political development. ... In 1919 Kaganovich became the most vocal and articulate advocate of centralization in party and state management. ... The ideas which he advocated in 1918-19 were to become the prevailing orthodoxy of the Bolshevik party after Lenin’s death.” (P. 22 - The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-36; Ed. R.W. Davies & co)

Kaganovich had a long career, aiding Stalin’s rise to power and enthusiastically implementing his Purges & Terror. He died at age 97 as the last surviving veteran Stalinist.

jef costello
Feb 11 2018 21:59
Noa Rodman wrote:
And you are lynching blacks

or as you may prefer it using a tu quoque argument.
The only way white massacres justify this is if it prevents further white massacres. After taking power in a dictatorial way then treating disagreement as counter-revolutionary I don't think Lenin gets the benefit of the doubt.

Noa Rodman
Feb 11 2018 23:12
Steven wrote:
Noa I'm quite disappointed with your terrible logic here.

Steven, I said the amounts of victims, which you haven't bothered to address.

Quote:
Firstly, the Bolshevik terror was specifically ordered by the leadership of the Communist Party.

As a general policy of course, but local commanders could do their own thing.

Quote:
or revolutionary workers and peasants taking revenge on class enemies: not acting on the orders of the CNT or FAI.

In charge of the frontline milita and reargurad checas (yes, derived from the Russian) was the CNT-FAI Defence Committee headed by Eduardo Val Bescós and ran a daily basis by Amor Nuno Perez (mentioned in The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain, 2012, Paul Preston). I can't immediately find specific written orders for executions, if they were ever written down. Preston also mentions that many militias were launched by people who previously had not been members of the CNT-FAI, but they just faked membership card. These spontaneously started various outrages, mostly vying for local power, not really inspired revolutionaries.

Quite similar to the Russian events actually, since many places at first almost had no bolshevik members (as Biggart tells for the city of Astrakhan, see below), so to fix this, what happens immediately after/during the revolution is a huge influx of people into the party. If those new people (who are workers and peasants) abuse their power etc. then the Bolsheviks are blamed. (If the Bolsheviks then decide to purge the local party, you can accuse them of stifling democracy).

Pennoid wrote:
Where can I read more about this?

The most damning acount seems to be Sillin 1922 (an SR). For context see John Biggart, "The Astrakhan Rebellion: An Episode in the Career of Sergey Mironovich Kirov".

Steven wrote:
but that is not comparable to the actions of, say, Lenin and Trotsky, who ordered others to massacre striking workers.

"Striking workers" makes it sound like just a modern wage dispute between workers and boss. At the time it was more about rationing supplies, and a strike during the civil war near the frontline did pose the immediate political question of power.

In case of peasants, in Spain there were outrages committed against petty-owners of land, so there are similarities with suppression of Russian peasants.

Red Marriott wrote:
and if your convoluted interpretation that he didn’t literally mean prostitutes to be shot was true it would be incredibly careless to convey life & death orders by telegram in such an unclear ambiguous way – when even defenders like you have to split hairs over the order of words to claim your preferred meaning.

Luckily the letter further specifies:

Lenin wrote:
You must act with all energy. Mass searches. Execution for concealing arms. Mass deportation of Mensheviks and unreliables. Change the guards at warehouses, put in reliable people.

.

Jef Costello wrote:
The only way white massacres justify this is if it prevents further white massacres.

I didn't bring up the White massacre to justify, but only to drop my reference to the book on White Terror (for those interested), since it is relatively little investigated.