Bernstein Faculty Seminar

Bernstein Faculty Seminar 2015-2016

"Laboratories of Terror:  Perpetrators of Stalin's Mass Repression in Ukraine, 1937-1943," Lynne Viola, Professor of History, University of Toronto

Stalin's mass terror of 1937-38 resulted in the arrest of approximately 1.6 million people and the execution of close to 700,000 people.  Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the partial opening of archives, historians made great progress in the study of what Robert Conquest labeled "The Great Terror," unearthing statistics on the number of victims of the terror, excavating the "mass operations" which netted the overwhelming majority  of the terror's victims, and expoliring Stalin's motivations in unleashing this massive wave of repression.  Missing from these new studies is the question of Soviet perpetrators of the terror, especially outside of Moscow.  Lynne Viola addresses this issue in a study of the secret trials of provincial- and district-level NKVD (political police) interrogators in Ukraine, who were scapegoated for the terror's "excesses."  These trials, stored in the archives of the former KGB in Kiev, shed new light on the question of the Soviet perpetrator and illuminate some of the darkest recesses of Stalinist repression- most notable, the interrogation room, the prison cells, and the places of execution.