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The. Way. You are listening to people. Under communism a transcribed series of follow up programs based on documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union. We continue now with terror as a system of power. The first victims of the new terror were of course the assassin. And a group of his alleged confederates. So you know if you if in common your old Bolshevik leaders of the first rank were also arrested within a week the head of the Leningrad NKVD along with several subordinates followed common us into prison
allegedly for having known of the plot and having done nothing to prevent its outcome. By the spring of 1935 possibly tens of thousands of party and non party people were arrested and deported to Siberia. They became known among the prison population as assassins as the purge gathered momentum Stalin himself was heard from these comrades did not always confine themselves to criticism and passive resistance. They threatened to raise a revolt in the party against the Central Committee. Moreover they threatened some of us with bullets. We were obliged to handle some of these comrades roughly but that cannot be helped. In May 1935 the society of Old Bolsheviks was dissolved in the same month the party Central Committee ordered a cleansing from the party of all opposition elements. By the spring of 1936 25 percent of its members had disappeared from the
party rolls. What happened to them can only be guessed. The fact that the controlled press spoke of them as wreckers spies diversion ist's and murderous sheltering behind the party card gives a clue at least as to their fate. This purge was dramatized by a series of extraordinary trials which occurred during the period from 1930 six to nine hundred thirty eight. Three of these were public. One was secret. Its result alone was revealed. The trials represented the extermination of all intra party opposition. The roll call of the accused is like a who's who of the old party leadership. The accusations in these you know if you have come in you have trial were limited to charging the defendants with Q-tips assassination and plotting to assassinate other party leaders in the later trials. The net was cast wide connivance with the exiled Trotsky foreign powers or both. It was alleged in the public trials these charges involved assertions of the existence of what seem to have been
fantastic conspiracies and plots. Yet more astounding than these charges even with the public confessions. Only one man of this whole group denied his guilt. He was that same Nicholai Kristin Skee was we have heard subordinated the work of the courts to that of the chick in 1900 when he was Commissar of justice in the preliminary investigation before the public trial Kristin's admitted the charge that he had established espionage connections with the German general forms aked on the instructions of Trotsky. But at the trial you plead guilty to the charges brought against you. Yes I plead guilty to the charges brought against me accused Rick of you plead guilty to the charges brought against you. I do accused you plead guilty to the charges brought against you. I plead guilty. Accuse Christians.
Do you plead guilty to the charges brought against you. I plead not guilty. I'm not a Trotskyite. I was never a member of the block of right wing Trotskyites of whose existence I was not aware. Now have I committed any of the crimes with which I am presently charged. In particular I plead not guilty to the charge of having had any connections with the German intelligence service. Do you corroborate the confession you made at the preliminary investigation. Yes at the preliminary investigation I confessed. But I have never been a Trotskyite. I repeat the question do you plead guilty and later has the examination of the accused men was being conducted by on the ski. Then state prosecutor Christine tried to put in the record a letter he wrote in one thousand twenty seven dissociating himself from Trotsky. The records contain a letter dated July 11 from 1927 taken from you during the search. But there is another letter of November 27. There is no such letter. I cannot be a killer Strawson Goltz. Did you hear this dialogue.
Yes. Is Christian trying to get Egypt that's like your Christian ski mask you don't listen because you'll be saying that you do not hear. I don't feel well. And still later on the same day you told me about the people in the coming year to foreign affairs who helped him in his work and among them he mention you son of a Christian ski. Did you hear this testimony. I deny it absolutely absolutely. I have no further questions. But on the following day when once again Bush INSKEEP turned to the questioning of Christians a surprising change had taken place in the prison with regard to his relations with Trotsky and his guilt. Christian ski you have heard the detailed explanation Rick Konski has given of your so-called departure from Trotskyism. You'll consider explanation correct what he says is right.
If what he said is true we'll continue to deceive the court and to deny that the testimony you gave in the preliminary investigation was true. I fully confirm the testimony I gave in the preliminary investigation. What then is the meaning of the statement you made yesterday which cannot be regarded otherwise than as a piece of Trotskyite provocation and caught yesterday under the influence of a momentary feeling of false shame evoked by the atmosphere of the dock and the painful impression created by the public reading of the indictment which was aggravated by my poor health. I could not bring myself to tell the truth. I could not bring myself to say that I was guilty in the face of world public opinion. I had not the strength to admit the truth that I had been conducting a Trotskyite struggle all along. I request the court to register my statement that I fully and completely admit that I am guilty
of all the gravest charges brought against yours. What explanation can be given of this double reversal of testimony. It was Christine's kid tortured overnight by the examiners of the NKVD. We do not know. Whatever the reason and whatever the reasons for the confessions of the others true for us in whole or in part one fact these trials did demonstrate Stalin could move ruthlessly to stamp out any possibility of challenge to his own power coming from within the party. During this period the terror was sweeping over the whole country on an unprecedented scale. You will recall that one of the accused in the second show trial was Henry himself once head of the NKVD when you're going to fell possibly because of Stalin's fear of his control of the NKVD apparatus. He was replaced by New York in September 1036 and it was under good direction that the terror
reached its peak. Arrests ran into the hundreds of thousands of squads of examiners concentrated on a single prisoner with only one object in view to extract a confession. True or False fantastical plausible but in any case a confession once a confession was extracted the prisoner was returned to his overcrowded cell and waited usually for the decision of an NKVD Administrative Tribunal announced to him by a prison official. The common run of prisoners received sentences of three five or ten years in correctional labor camps had not. These people all signed confessions admitting they had participated in treasonable schemes and plots to overthrow the Soviet power. Leading communists some of them fanatical supporters of Stalin ironically enough were caught up in this indiscriminate purge. The leadership of the Red Army was decimated. Bureaucrats from every department of the Soviet government diplomats trade union officials come some
leaders trust directors along with writers and scientists vanished behind the walls of the NKVD prisons and were followed by their friends colleagues and subordinates. A mere denunciation was frequently sufficient to start the process that ended in a prison camp or often enough. The execution Sela this the great purge represents terror gone berserk indiscriminate. But in its special way grimly efficient it has come to be called the Jena. In 1938 as the years just you know a shot out of control the dictatorship became alarmed by party resolution in newspaper articles it sought to dissociate itself from responsibility for what was taking place party careerists were blamed for injustices. And then the last extraordinary twist of the terror was applied the purges themselves were purged the prisons now began to fill up with NKVD
examiners who the year before had been busy extracting confessions. It was now their turn to confess. Some prisoners had the dubious satisfaction of meeting their own torturers in their cells. The purge of the purges did not spare off removed as head of the NKVD in July 1938. He disappeared soon after. We do not know his ultimate fate. In 1939 under-age Dunn of police member publicly made what verbal amends the dictatorship deemed necessary. Quoting the words of his master Stalin he said some of our party leaders suffer from a lack of concern for people. Members of the party for workers as a result of this heartless attitude towards people discontent and bitterness are artificially created among a section of the party and the Trotskyite double dealing artfully hooked onto such embittered comrades and skillfully decoy them into the bog of Trotskyite wrecking. We must
have a change in party rules which can ensure an attentive approach and careful investigation of accusations brought against party members which will protect their rights from all arbitrary procedures. We must abolish the resort to expulsion from the party for trifling misdemeanor stollen in the words of Professor Fein Saad had once more demonstrated his remarkable instinct for stopping short and reversing course at the brink of catastrophe. And finally the dictatorship displaces the Central Committee. Under the new head of the NKVD Levy anti Beriah the great purge was gradually brought under control. Many prisoners were released restored to their old positions and even promoted with a Stalinist clique in absolute control of the government of the Soviet
Union. The NKVD attention was now directed toward possible sources of danger in the event of war. The victims of past purges who treasured thoughts of vengeance and the peoples of the regions occupied by the Red Army after the signing of the pact with Hitler in the occupied region of Poland hundreds of thousands were swept up into the NKVD net when the Baltic states were taken over in 1040 the same process was repeated the pattern of coercion and terror which had worked so well within the Soviet Union was applied anew with methodical regularity and after the German invasion and certain elements within the union like the Germans of the Volga region experienced the same treatment of arrest interrogation and administrative sentence to the penal camps after the defeat of the Nazis. The millions of Soviet nationals prisoners of war or deported laborers who found themselves in Germany what assembled into camps and screened by means of intensive interrogations to determine the degree of their contamination by the
capitalistic West. Once more the labor camps were supplied with large fresh contingents of victims as a result. Those who had willfully taken up arms against the Soviet state were in most cases some really executed. What is it like to be a victim of the terror of some of those who suffered either a Soviet citizens or a citizens of one of the occupied countries have lived to report their stories. One of them missed again is the Glickman formerly a Polish citizen and now a citizen of the United States has set down the details of his own experience in his book tell the West published in English by the Gresham press in 1908. Mr. Blix Min's account is remarkable for the objectivity with which he was able to report the harrowing impact of the terror upon the mind and body of a victim. His story takes on added interest for many of us because Mr. Glickman was the half brother of victim one of the leaders of the socialist movement in Poland. It will be recalled that the
execution by the Soviet government along with that of his colleague Gandy Adelie he caused worldwide protests when it finally became known in 1983. Mr. Glickman was a lawyer in one thousand thirty nine and a member of the Warsaw city council. He holds degrees from the Sorbonne and the University of Warsaw and has taught at Roosevelt College Chicago. Mr. Glickman How did you come to be arrested. My story begins in 1939 when the Germans approached Warsaw. I was not yet mobilized but on September the 17th when I was already in the eastern part of Poland the Soviet army occupied half of Poland the eastern half of Poland. Now this time my brother Victor was arrested in Kabul. I tried to help him but I didn't manage. And later I was not asked that myself. The Soviet secret
police comes in and they for the first few weeks make use of local citizens former communists the present communist arm them and lets them do several services for them. And so the boy with a red armband stopped me and asked me. They worked under orders from the NKVD and I was brought immediately into the office and then later into the prison of the NKVD. Mr. Glickman was in a charge made against you for a long time no trial was made at all but right in the beginning I had to pass that experience that was and grieved in my memory more than any other experience. This was the target of this. You may translate it in English as a list. Is there really a Soviet institution that over and over again. I had to pass in all my wanderings oversight of prisons and camps but the first time was the most shocking because I expected
all of a sudden the men saw that officer of the NKVD simply without warning shouted an order under arrest. In the beginning I didn't understand what he meant. I looked around there was no place to put my cloth. No place to sit down I was standing in the middle of her on the grassy muddy floor dirty. Everybody was spitting on it and I began to undress I kept my suit of clothes in my hands and waited. The eye of the became angry. What are you waiting for. And this account completely and throw away what you have in your hands. I had no choice. With one kick of his feet he threw it into a corner and began the third was searching in on details. My buddy made me bent over and raised my hands
are all other kinds of exercises to find out whether nothing was hidden. But not this efficiency of the search but the way he did it the degrading words to you the insulting remarks and draw the something that it's difficult to forget. And he was through with me. He pushed me to leave and told me Don't turn back. Pushed me nearer closer to the wall so I touched my nose to the wall and then he began searching my cloth. Then all of a sudden he was in a hurry. He shouted be dressed. No. After this long examination was over. We were released. No. Then I was put into a prison cell. And then you can wait for a long long time before one night something happens. And this interrogation. I didn't have too many. But
this caught our soul and all of us at night but other people were taken day and night as most of the night for weeks and months on end. All of a sudden one day they gave back my belongings and told me that I'm free. What did you do then. I decided to try to reach you know do you know at the time belong to two Ania. And it was free. My wife was at this time afraid to expose the baby to the cold. So we agreed that I will make the attempt alone and then tried to arrange for her to get in a safer way to me. But I was caught on the demarkation line and put back to prison. I never saw them again. They're both assassinated by Germans. After you were arrested at the demarcation line what happened then Mr. Glickman
then began my longer prison experience. I spent many months in the Oceana prison and later in a shorter time in other prisons. Were you ever beaten during these interrogations. I personally was never beaten. But I have witnessed many of my colleagues inmates in the prison coming back from night interrogation bruised and beaten up badly. Mr. Glickman would you describe the conditions that you found when you were assigned to a cell. We were three of us brought into the cell number one man a prison. The prisoners were counting seventy seven seventy eight seventy nine. It meant that we were at least 77 78 79 prisoners coming to the cell and on the door. I have seen an old Polish sign because it was an old Polish prison saying cell number one.
Fifteen men as you think back on that experience know what stands out in your mind as the worst features of your confinement is overcrowding. But the most horrible that stands out in my memory was this suffocating fall. There we had to live in. When this summer began even before spring when we were already almost 90 people in the same cell and the only windows two windows we had in our room but covered this planks so no fresh air could come in. It became really a hell and we all would be like as we would have asked. This is the most horrible thing. The people inside it didn't suffer I spend in prisons about eight months then what happened. Then one day I was called to the warden and I learned what the remains futile. He gave me a slip of paper on a beach it was said that the special counsel in Moscow the
so-called Tanya decided to imprison me for five years in a collective labor camp for tying to cross illegally border and as being a socially dangerous element. I asked the Borden is it a concentration get no he said. Concentration camps exist only in capitalist countries not in the Soviet Union the Soviet Union has corrective labor camps. After a few days they were finally taken to a train taking us to the corrective labor camps. All the time we never knew where we had taken to. But it turned out later that we were brought to task for a camp called cut glass which is a place to which day by day it's called of trains bring prisoners from all over Russia. It's a place where they are totally site the way to camp. Each of them is to be sent.
What experiences do you recall most vividly during this train ride Mr. Glickman. We were crowded in a cattle car we didn't under arrest. We didn't wash for all this three weeks on our way. We didn't get but twice any warm water or warm food. The most harrowing things that we experienced in our way was the lack of water. A bucket or water or two of most for the whole car was the most we could get. And then the water was given to the car. The criminals first took the water to their place and after they had as much as they could they gave the remaining water to us. The political the non-criminals and so thorough was the most horrible thing. After this three weeks of travelling in the train we were taken on food to our camp. And this is a very large area covered by bags. It is maybe
the greatest camp area I have seen in all my wanderings of Elizabeth camps because as I said this is a chance for camp. At first we were taken to a special zone surrounded by barbed wire fences. So for of several weeks we were in our own zone but occasionally the irrational criminals the so-called Awlaki did manage to penetrate to our zone and steal whatever they could and our belongings very very tempting for them. It turns out that our belonging was where in fact the greatest asset we could have shoe through clothing and all our other small of our things that are so precious in camp that we could exchange it for food. One day we were taken. Oh all the holes on one long long fall and pounds tens of thousands of us were
standing in the halls all day long in the frost waiting we didn't know for what purpose. And then several people some of the NKVD officers in fine first with word Valentin to meet felt boats began working amongst us looking at our faces trying to figure out our health our muscles to pick up the label for the needed. The problem was not to be cheated and not to get any sick invalid prisoners that they would have to feed even as little as they feed them. There was a kind of a slave market where you finally said Mr. Glickman I was sent to the boot camp. It is north east European Russia not far from the Arctic on the north and NE of the euro's on the east. This trip lasted only for 10
days and 10 and we could This time look out from the windows and what we saw was the picture that remained for ever in my memory. We could see only one side. But a bit wild and what dollars bought of the wild and watched dollar again and again. Kingdom of slave labor camps. No. Finally when you arrive at your destination what happened to you. I was assigned to the woodcuts the gate and in the morning at 5 o'clock we head either way. I jump into Russian. They come out from the barracks to go to the roll call to the gate. It doesn't take us long to be ready because nobody understands and he goes to sleep. So in one minute we already now we have to wash. But there is no
water and you take a little snow. If you are very fast you then use your sleeve to die yourself. You would enter the kitchen for the morning Kasha kind of gruel. A few spoonfuls and then you are ready for the roll call at the gate. From a distance you hear music band playing to cheer us up. We are waiting. And then the gate after brigade they are conducted into the vault for work at the still dark. We go under Gods and their dogs. How long was your working day. According to the regulations our work day was two hours longer than the normal work the officer would work at until the outbreak of the war. Our work they were supposed to be 10 hours after the outer world 12 hours a day but in fact they made us work sometimes an hour or sometimes longer in order to fulfill the
assignment of the day.
People under communism
Terror as a system of power, part two
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National Association of Educational Broadcasters
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Part two of this program discusses how fear and intimidation are powerful tools of control in the Soviet Union.
Series Description
A series of documentaries, interviews and talks based upon documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union.
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Politics and Government
Persecution--Soviet Union
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Advisor: Fainsod, Merle, 1907-1972
Narrator: Scourby, Alexander, 1913-1985
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Writer: Driscoll, David
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-38-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:02
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Chicago: “People under communism; Terror as a system of power, part two,” 1952-12-21, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
MLA: “People under communism; Terror as a system of power, part two.” 1952-12-21. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 28, 2024. <>.
APA: People under communism; Terror as a system of power, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from