Cynthia Hooper gave a fascinating talk titled “Terror from Within: Brotherhood and Betrayal in the NKVD” at UCLA in February. The Center for European and Eurasian Studies has kindly uploaded the podcast. I offer it here for readers’ intellectual enjoyment.
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- By Sean — 9 months ago
Guest: Richard Robbins on Overtaken by the Night: One Russian’s Journey through Peace, War, Revolution, and Terror published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.
- By Sean — 11 years ago
Part one of “A small piece of brown colored mass” can be read here.
Presidential Archive of the Russian Federation, f. 3, op. 3, d. 65, l. 29-31.
To the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs SSR Cde. Yagoda.
On 16 October a letter from another town addressed “Kremlin to Cde. Stalin” was received by the Special Department of the TsK VKP(b). The letter was dropped in a mailbox outside of Moscow on 13 October.
Cde. Sentaretskaya, a Party member and an employee in the 5th section of the special department of the VKP(b), who is charged with opening the mail and in particular opening this letter, found a substance wrapped in paper in the envelope, which she ascertained upon a closer look to be excrement. Since this substance emitted the smell of cloves, she showed it to the supervisor of the 5th section, Cde. Selitskii and his boss Kabashkin. Both of them looked at the substance, and smelled the scent of cloves, and Cde. Kabashkin ordered Sentaretskaya to throw the substance in the toilet. Sentaretskaya, returning from the toilet where she went to threw out the substance, went back to work, but after a few minutes said that she felt bad, attempted to get up from her chair, but fainted, hitting her head on the floor. When first aid returned Sentaretskaya to consciousness, she began to complain about blurry vision, and after that, of blindness.
Sentaretskaya was quickly sent to the Kremlin hospital, where she was given the necessary medical help and where she was subject to a thorough examination. Professor M. O. Averbakh, Privatdozent M. Iu. Rappoport, Deputy Head of the Kremlin Hospital B. E. Kogen and Doctor of Neuropathology E. V. Tepper conducted the examination and concluded that the sudden blindness was caused by hysterical episode and that there were no symptoms whatsoever of inborn illness of the ocular system and optic nerve [that could be given] as an explanation for the sudden development of blindness.
The Scientific Research Institute of Sanitation and the 13th Department of the Communist Hospital of the RKKA (Workers’ Peasants’ Red Army), where we went for confirmation of this conclusion, confirmed it and established that the sudden blindness could not have been the cause of an unknown chemical substance.
At the present moment, Sentaretskaya’s sight has gradually returned and is already close to normal.
Because the paper that the substance was wrapped in was thrown in the toilet, we only subjected the remaining envelope to a complete examination. The examination was conducted by Cde. Udris, the Captain of the 1st Department of the Scientific Research Chemical Institute of the RKKA, who spotted on the envelope the trace of some kind of poisonous substance.
Further investigation, which the Special Department will conduct, will be difficult because the postal stamp [showing] the point of origin is erased and it is difficult to establish from which town it originated.
Deputy Captain Operations of the GUGB NKVD (Main Department of State Security, People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs.)
27 October 1935
This document was published in Istochnik, 3, 1993.
- By Sean — 11 years ago
I have yet to read Simon Sebag Montefiore’s acclaimed Young Stalin. Now I might not have to. According to the Guardian, Montefiore has signed a contract with Miramax, producer Alison Owen of Elizabeth fame, and screenwriter John Hodge of Trainspotting to do a celluloid version of the book. Not a bad follow-up to receiving the Costa Book Award for Best Biography of 2007.
The real question is who should play the young Stalin? If it was up to Montefiore, Koba’s salad days in the revolutionary underground would be played by none other that Johnny Depp. “If it’s not done in Georgian, Johnny Depp would be perfect for the lead role,” he told reporters.
Given the supposed attention Montefiore gives to Koba’s many love affairs, Depp sounds like a perfect choice to play the Georgian Don Juan turned Communist dictator.