Stalin's Great Terror Dbq

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Research question: "Was Stalin's Great Terror in the late 1930s driven by a fear of foreign infiltration?" This investigation focuses on the late 1930s when the state-orchestrated purges were most intense. This investigation studies the purge of foreign elements who might betray the state during war. The purge of the Red Army and the intelligence apparatus is analysed in relation to the threat of these organisations being penetrated by foreign countries. The Kulak Operation is analysed in relation to the threat of foreign countries encouraging rebellion amongst kulaks. Primary sources such as interviews with Molotov and secondary sources by historians e.g. Conquest are used to evaluate if the Terror was motivated by the fear of foreign infiltration…show more content…
The purpose of Molotov's memoirs is to reveal the inner workings of the Soviet regime from the perspective of a leading Soviet figure. Molotov's insight is valuable because he played a vital role in the Terror; he authorized the deportation of German and Polish families, kulaks and other "anti-Soviet elements". Furthermore, Molotov was close to Stalin, who treated him as his deputy and corresponded with him frequently about issues such as the threat posed by the Polish diaspora in the USSR. Therefore Document 5.10 has value in showing the regime's true intention to eliminate potential traitors during war. Molotov explains the need to eliminate a "fifth column" whose loyalties would falter during war. This explains the purge of foreign elements, army officials allegedly conspiring with Nazi Germany, and exiled kulaks who would launch an insurgency with the backing of a foreign-directed organisation. The source is also valuable because it demonstrates that the regime was aware of the existence of disillusioned Soviet citizens who might be motivated to betray the state in the event of a war. The limitation of this source is that it does not show Molotov's fully developed thoughts. Chuev the interviewer has been criticized for failing to "press Molotov for more details" or point out…show more content…
The origin of this secondary source is the extensive research done by historian Conquest. He had previously written the only full account of the purges entitled The Great Terror. Conquest's purpose was to reappraise the Terror in greater detail, since new evidence had been revealed since his first account. Therefore The Great Terror: A Reassessment is valuable because its research is extremely comprehensive, ranging from anecdotes to statistics, and covering several aspects of the Terror. Because Conquest has the benefit of hindsight, this source is also valuable in demonstrating a compelling link between the Nazi fabrication of Tukhachevsky's betrayal and the subsequent purge of the army. Stalin's purge of the army after Tukhachevsky's apparent correspondence with the Nazis shows that Stalin feared his military leaders would conspire with external forces to destroy his regime. The limitation of this source is in that it does not fully examine Stalin's psyche when he orchestrated the purge of the army. The source does not make clear if Stalin was opportunistic and took advantage of Tukhachevsky's alleged betrayal to justify existing plans to purge the army, or if Stalin truly felt threatened by the risk of his army conspiring with the Nazis. Another limitation of the source is that it was published prior to opening of the Soviet archives in 1991, thus the evidence presented is likely to have been
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