In Chapter 3 of Bloodlands Snyder turns to the Ezhovshchina of 1937-1938 and specifically the "Polish Operation", Nikolai Ezhov's mass murders of Soviet citizens of Polish descent. Snyder also discusses the NKVD campaign against Polish espionage and the "Polish Military Organization."

Snyder's account is completely false. This is partly due to Snyder's deliberate falsifications and withholding of evidence from his readers. Without doubt, it is also due in part to Snyder's ignorance of Soviet history. It seems clear that Snyder has never devoted any serious study to the extremely important issue of the illegal mass murders called the Ezhovshchina.

A full history of the Ezhovshchina is beyond the scope of this book. We can state that all the evidence available to researchers today confirms that the mass murders, and especially the "national operations" against persons of various nationalities, were part of the conspiracy by Nikolai Ezhov to maximize discontent with the Soviet system and so facilitate uprisings in the wake of any invasion of the USSR by hostile powers such as Germany or Japan. (1)

This chapter of Bloodlands is of sufficient interest that we will deal with most of it in the body of this book. In the following chapter we'll discuss a few aspects of the Ezhovshchina in more depth, and also point out some falsifications in a few of Snyder's published articles.

Another Falsification by Snyder...

People belonging to national minorities "should be forced to their knees and shot like mad dogs." It was not an SS officer speaking but a communist party leader, in the spirit of the national operations of Stalin's Great Terror... (89)

(Emphasis added, GF)

Snyder's note to this passage (n. 1 p. 471):

* Martin, "Origins," which, Snyder claims "brings analytical rigor to the national operations." (2)

* "Quotation": Jansen, Executioner, 96;

* "See also" Baberowski, Terror, 198.

The quotation is actually in Jansen and Petrov, page 98 at note 96. It reads as follows:

In the words of the Krasnoiarsk province Party secretary, Sobolev: "Stop playing internationalism, all these Poles, Koreans, Latvians, Germans, etc. should be beaten, these are all mercenary nations, subject to termination... all nationals should be caught, forced to their knees, and exterminated like mad dogs." This may have been an exaggeration, but (after Ezhov's fall) he was accused of this by the Krasnoiarsk state security organs' Party organization: "By giving such instructions, Sobolev slandered the VKP(b) and comrade Stalin, in saying that he had such instructions from the Central Committee and comrade Stalin personally."

(Emphasis added, GF)

The revised and updated Russian version of 2007 reads similarly. (3) The words of the original edition, "this may have been an exaggeration," are omitted in the later Russian edition. No doubt this omission is intended to lend a more anticommunist flavor to the passage. Petrov is a leading figure in the "Memorial Society", a fervently anticommunist organization, and Petrov's publications on Soviet history, tendentious and full of vituperation, cannot be trusted.

Once again, Snyder is misleading his readers here. He claims that this statement was "in the spirit of the national operations of Stalin's Great Terror." But the very quotation he cites says precisely the opposite of this - that this statement was "slander" (see above).

Jansen and Petrov (henceforth J&P) inform us that this statement is an accusation made against Sobolev during the investigations, arrests, and prosecutions against Ezhov and his men (their footnote is to an archival document in Ezhov's files). In fact we only know about the statement at all because of this investigation - it is attributed to Sobolev by his accusers, Beria's men, who were working to investigate and prosecute Ezhov's massive crimes. They and Beria were of course doing so at the behest of Stalin and the Soviet leadership.

Jansen and Petrov, both extremely anticommunist and anti-Stalin writers, admit that the NKVD claim that Sobolev made this statement "may have been an exaggeration." But Snyder does not inform his readers of this fact. Nor was it, in Snyder's words, "Stalin's Great Terror." On the contrary: it was Ezhov's. Ezhov and hundreds of his men were investigated, prosecuted, and many of them executed, because the massacres they committed were not authorized by Stalin or the Soviet Party or government. Later in this chapter we cite some of the relevant evidence.

Another Lie by Jörg Baberowski

The second reference Snyder cites here - Baberowski, Terror, 198, - falsifies just as flagrantly as does Snyder. Baberowski claims that Ezhov said "The Poles must be completely annihilated" (Die Polen müssen vollständig vernichtet werden). Baberowski's own footnote to this paragraph gives two references:

Zitiert in Suvenirov, Tragedija, S. 208; Jansen/Petrov, Stalin's Loyal Executioner, S. 98.

Anyone who checks these sources will discover that the supposed "quote" from Ezhov is Baberowski's own creation - a fabrication. Neither Suvenirov nor J&P documents it. It would not be surprising if Ezhov did say it, or something like it, since it is consistent with his conspiracy. But Baberowski does not say that "it would be logical" for Ezhov to have said it - he says that Ezhov did say it. Therefore, he is lying.

Baberowski frequently falsifies as he does here. Several years ago I wrote an article about another example of his dishonesty: "Baberowski's Falsification." (4) But Snyder is responsible for this lie as well. It is a historian's duty to verify the fact-claims he cites, as we are doing in the case of Snyder's book. This is a "circular citation" - a reference that simply refers again to materials Snyder has already cited. The Jansen/Petrov reference is to the same passage Snyder has also cited dishonestly.

Suvenirov, Tragediia RKKA 1937-1938, p. 208, quotes from interrogations of Ezhov's men by Beria's men - in other words, the investigation of Ezhov's unauthorized mass murders, undertaken by Beria at the instigation of the Politburo and, of course, of Stalin.

Neither Snyder, nor any of the "sources" he cites here tell their readers that such evidence as they have comes from prosecutions of Ezhov's men, and Ezhov himself, for massive illegal repressions. All these authors - Snyder, Jansen/Petrov, Baberowski, and Suverinov - deliberately give the impression that this was official Soviet policy, sanctioned by Stalin and the Politburo when, in reality, the opposite was the case.

The Case of "The Polish Military Organization"

The "Polish operation" was a part of Ezhov's mass murder campaign. Snyder seriously falsifies it. He writes:

Stalin was a pioneer of national mass murder, and the Poles were the preeminent victim among the Soviet nationalities. (89)

This is false, the national mass murder was Ezhov's. Snyder continues:

The Polish national minority, like the kulaks, had to take the blame for the failures of collectivization. The rationale was invented during the famine itself in 1933, and then applied during the Great Terror in 1937 and 1938. In 1933, the NKVD chief for Ukraine, Vsevolod Balytskyi, had explained the mass starvation as a provocation of an espionage cabal that he called the "Polish Military Organization." According to Balytskyi, this "Polish Military Organization" had infiltrated the Ukrainian branch of the communist party, and backed Ukrainian and Polish nationalists who sabotaged the harvest and then used the starving bodies of Ukrainian peasants as anti-Soviet propaganda. It had supposedly inspired a nationalist "Ukrainian Military Organization," a doppelganger performing the same fell work and sharing responsibility for the famine. (89-90)

Source: (n. 2 p. 471): "For greater detail on the Polish line, see Snyder, Sketches, 115-132."

Snyder is wrong. We showed in the first chapter that Balitskii (5)did not "explain the mass starvation as a provocation" of Polish military intelligence or of any other organization - and, of course, Snyder does not cite any evidence that he did.

Snyder cites Chapter Six of his own book Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist's Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine, 115-132. In this work Snyder documents the fact that Polish espionage really did exist in the USSR during the 1930s!

(6) In Sketches, but not in Bloodlands, Snyder admits that Polish spies were active in the USSR in the 1930s - the hero of his book, Henryk Józefski, ran some of them - and that some of these spies were indeed active within the Polish Communist Party. For example, he writes:

These, and similar sources, such as the records of the counterintelligence sections of the Polish Army's field commands, can now be read in a different light. They suggest the degree of Polish penetration of the Soviet Union in the late 1920s and the early 1930s, and the political design that lay behind the border crossings, the sabotage, and the support of local nationalists. (Sketches, xviii)

Jozewski's Volhynia Experiment united these two goals, supporting Ukrainian culture in Poland while serving as a base for espionage operations within the Soviet Union. (xxi)

By 1932 the work of the Lwow command brought measurable results. In March it could boast sixty-one active agents, and missions in the GPU in Proskuriv, Iampol, Shepetivka, and Kam'iants' Podil's'kyi, in the Dniester fleet, and in the Kyiv and Kharkiv garrisons of the Red Army. (89; emphasis added.)

Many more such quotations from Snyder's Sketches could be cited.

In the one confession statement by Witold Wandurski now available to scholars and cited by Snyder in Sketches (but not in Bloodlands), Wandurski says concerning his Polish communist contacts working in the USSR:

W okresie moich kontaktów z wymienionymi osobami przekonałem się, że mam do czynienia z ludźmi, grającymi podwójną rolę: z jednej strony zajmowali wysokie stanowiska w partii, a z drugiej byli zagaorzałymi piłsudczykami. (504)


In the course of my contacts with these people I realized that I was dealing with people who were playing a double role: on the one hand they held high positions in the party, on the other, they were staunch Pilsudski supporters.

Wandurski outlines the way he himself was torn between his desire for social reform, which drew him towards the communist party and resulted in his being arrested several times in Poland, and his Polish nationalism. Due to his close relations with Polish nationalists he was finally drawn into subversive work in the USSR:

Jeśli chodzi o Granta, to po rozmowach i kontaktach z nim nie miałem nawet cienia wątpliwości, że zachował on przekonania peowiaka i wciaga mnie w szeregi POW, abym później pracował w ZSSR.

Tak więc, gdy w 1929 r. przyjechałem do ZSRR, byłem już w gruncie rzeczy, choć nie formalnie, członkiem POW. (504)


As for Grant, after my conversations and dealings with him I did not have even the shadow of a doubt that he retained the beliefs of a "Peowiak" (POW member) and he drew me into the ranks of the POW for later work in the USSR.

So when in 1929 I came to the USSR, I was already fundamentally, though not formally, a member of the POW.

As these passages prove, Snyder is perfectly aware that Polish espionage was a real threat in the USSR at this time. But he withholds this information from his readers and pretends that there was no such threat (see below).

Snyder gives no evidence at all that Balitskii "explained the mass starvation" as the result of espionage. This section of Snyder's paragraph appears to be a falsification of his own invention.

The Polish Military Organization (PMO)

(Note: The PMO is often referred to as the "POW" and "PVO", Polish and Russian abbreviations respectively for "Polish Military Organization")

Snyder's chief falsification in this section is his statement that this PMO no longer existed, and therefore was an invention by the Soviet NKVD. He states:

This was a historically inspired invention. There was no Polish Military Organization during the 1930s, in Soviet Ukraine or anywhere else. It had once existed, back during the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1919-1920, as a reconnaissance group for the Polish Army. The Polish Military Organization had been overmastered by the Cheka, and was dissolved in 1921. Balytskyi knew the history, since he had taken part in the deconspiracy and the destruction of the Polish Military Organization back then. (90)

This is a particularly bizarre falsehood by Snyder since many sources, including some Snyder himself cites in his book Sketches, document the continued existence of the PMO. We shall demonstrate this below.

Snyder then claims that during the 1930s Polish espionage in the USSR "played no political role" - i.e. was impotent.

In the 1930s Polish spies played no political role in Soviet Ukraine. They lacked the capacity to do so even in 1930 and 1931 when the USSR was most vulnerable, and they could still run agents across the border. They lacked the intention to intervene after the Soviet-Polish nonaggression pact was initialed in January 1932. After the famine, they generally lost any remaining confidence about their ability to understand the Soviet system, much less change it. Polish spies were shocked by the mass starvation when it came, and unable to formulate a response. Precisely because there was no real Polish threat in 1933, Balytskyi had been able to manipulate the symbols of Polish espionage as he wished. This was typical Stalinism: it was always easier to exploit the supposed actions of an "organization" that did not exist.


* Snyder, Sketches, 115-116.

* "The 'Polish Military Organization' idea seems to have originated in 1929, when a Soviet agent was placed in charge of the security commission of the Communist Party of Poland." (Snyder refers to Strónski, Represje, 210.)

Snyder's claims that "this was a historically inspired invention" and that "there was no Polish Military Organization" are false. Not only did the PMO exist during the 1930s; it continued to exist in the 1940s, under German occupation. In 1942 German intelligence considered the PMO to be the largest continuing Polish threat in Nazi-occupied Lithuania:

Из отчёта оперативной группы А полиции безопасности о положении в Прибалтике, Белоруссии, Ленинградской области, за период с 16 октобря 1941 г. по 31 января 1942 г. ...

3. Литва...

Из польских тайных организаций, действовавших еще в советское время, сегодня доказано существование следующих:

1. ПОВ - Польска организация войскова

2. Млода польска - Молодая Польша

3. ЦВП - Связь вольных поляков

4. Блок сражающейся Польши

Эти организации в большинстве своем возглавляются бывшими офицерами. Однако и польские священнослужители широко представлеиы в их руководстве. Главной организацией являестя ПОВ. Она обучает свои подразделения военному делу и готовит их к партизанской войне...

Source: РГВА. Ф. 500к «Главное управление имперской безопасности (РСХА)» (г. Берлин). Оп. 4 Д. 92 Л. 120-147(7)


From the report of operative group A of the security police concerning the situation in the Baltics, Belorussia, and the Leningrad oblast' for the period from October 16, 1941 to January 31, 1942...

3. Lithuania ...

Of the Polish secret organizations still active during Soviet times today we have evidence of the existence of the following:

1. PMO - Polish Military Organization ("Polska Organizacja Wojskowa")

2. Młoda Polska - Young Poland.

3. TsVP - Union of Free Proles

4. The Bloc of Fighting Poland.

These organizations, for the most part, are led by former officers. However, Polish priests are widely represented in their leadership as well. The main organization is the PMO. It gives its units military training and prepares them for partisan warfare...

Source: RGVA, F. 500k "Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA)" (Berlin) Op. 4 D. 92. ll.120-147.

Snyder's bizarre claim that no PMO existed after the early 1920s can, I think, only by explained if we assume that Snyder believed (a) his readers will be too ignorant of the history of this period to realize how incompetent (or dishonest) his statement really is; and (b) those researchers who might know it will be too anticommunist to expose such a useful anticommunist falsehood.

Snyder cites his own book Sketches, pp. 115-116, where he describes the beginning of the "POV" (= PMO) case, evidently as outlined by his secondary sources. But Snyder presents no evidence that the PMO had ceased to exist in 1921, "was a historically inspired invention", no longer existed, etc., nor that "there was no real Polish threat."

In reality, there can be no such evidence in principle. Any country with a secret military espionage service in an enemy country would surely deny its existence. Therefore, such a denial would not constitute evidence worthy of attention that the group did not in fact exist. But Snyder does not even city any official Polish denial of the PMO's existence!

The reference Snyder cites here - "Strónski, Represje, 210" - states that the Polish Communist Party was riven by fights and splits. In 1929 Viktor Zytlowski, a Polish immigrant to the USSR and "an employee of the GPU" was appointed head of a "security commission" for the Party by its Politburo. In 1934 Zytlowski announced the discovery of a PMO cell in the Polish Party's leadership. Strónski cites no evidence that this charge was false.

In fact the evidence now available strongly suggests the contrary, as we shall see. We have a great deal of testimony concerning the existence and activities of the PMO.

The "Polish Military Organization," Balytskyi had argued back in summer 1933, had smuggled into the Soviet Union countless agents who pretended to be communists fleeing persecution in their Polish homeland. ...The arrests of Polish political émigrés in the Soviet Union began in July 1933. The Polish communist playwright Witold Wandurski was jailed in August 1933, and forced to confess to participation in the Polish Military Organization. With this link between Polish communism and Polish espionage documented in interrogation protocols, more Polish communists were arrested in the USSR. The Polish communist Jerzy Sochacki left a message in his own blood before jumping to his death from a Moscow prison in 1933: "I am faithful to the party to the end." (90)


* Strónski, Represje, 211-213.

* "On Sochacki, see Kieszczyński, "Represje," 202."

* For further details on Wandurski, see Shore, Caviar and Ashes."

* "At least one important Polish communist did return from the Soviet Union and work for the Poles: his book is Reguła, Historia."

Strónski, Represje, 211-213 simply summarizes the PMO conspiracy, especially in the Ukraine, that the NKVD had allegedly uncovered, including alleged contacts with Ukrainian nationalists. Strónski does not claim that the conspiracy was fabricated by the GPU, did not exist, etc.

Kieszczyński, "Represje," 202: This essay was published in 1989. It is basically a list of information that was known - or merely suspected, since little documentation is given - about the fates of the members of the Central Committee of the Polish Communist Party. At that time, in 1989, virtually none of the Soviet archival materials now available had been made public. Therefore, aside from a few bits of biographical information, the Kieszczyński article is outdated and useless. Snyder must have known this. But it is unlikely that his readers will know it.

Much more information about Sochacki is now available. We discuss it more fully below. As for Marci Shore, in Caviar and Ashes she simply assumes, without evidence, that Wandurski was innocent. This is an invalid assumption in principle: a scholar should always require evidence. Moreover, there is a lot of other evidence concerning Wandurski too. One confession of Wandurski's has been published. (8) Wandurski is also named by others who were arrested and confessed to espionage for Poland. (9)

In his earlier book Sketches Snyder cites the one published confession of Witold Wandurski, in which Wandurski states that he was indeed recruited to the POW:

Tak więc w 1929 r. wyjechałem do ZSRR będąc już przygotowany do praktycznej działalności w POW, chociaż ani Bratkowski, ani Wróblewski czy Wojewódzki nie używali tego terminu w rozmowach ze mną.


So, already in 1929 I left for the USSR, being prepared for practical work with the POW, although Bratkowski, Worblewski and Wojewodski did not use that term in their talks with me. ("Zezanania Wandurskiego," 493)

Snyder deceives his readers concerning "the Polish communist Jerzy Sochacki" by omitting the evidence that Sochacki really was a Polish spy. In Sketches Snyder writes:

In November 1933, a Polish officer in Kyiv implied in a report to his superior that the communist Jerzy Czeszejko-Sochacki, arrested that summer, was working for Polish intelligence. (123)

Snyder then adds the following remark:

Is is perhaps worthy of note that the Second Department's information about Jan Bielewski, the representative of the Polish Party in the Communist International, was much more precise. (123)

Snyder knows, but hides from his readers, that Sochacki was named as a leader of PMO work within the USSR in detailed confession statements by Wandurski. For example:

Przez cały okres naszych kontaktów Grant ostrożnie i stopniowo przygotowywał mnie do pracy na rzecz POW, co zakończyło się wciągnięciem mnie do działalności tej organizacji. Grant był jedną z osób najbliższych Bratkowskiemu i poinformował go o wciągnięciu mnie do POW. Stało się to dla mnie jasne po kilku spotkaniach z Bratkowskim, podczas których wieloznacznie podkreślał, że jest zadowolony z układu, jaki powstał między mną a Grantem. (508)


Throughout the period of our contacts Grant was cautiously and gradually preparing me to work for the POW, which ended up by my being drawn into the activities of this organization. Grant was one of the people closest to Bratkowski (= Sochacki) and told him about my being drawn into the POW. This became clear to me after several meetings with Bratkowski, during which ambiguously emphasized that he was satisfied with the arrangement between me and Grant.

In the recent document collection Sprava POV v Ukraini 1920-1938 rr (10) (The Case of the PMO in the Ukraine, 1920-1938) Sochacki is named by one of those arrested as a leader of the Moscow branch of the POW, along with Wandurskii and others.

Руководящий центр «Польской Военной Организации» на территории СССР находился в Москве (ранее он находился в Киеве, затем в Минске). В его состав входили:

СОХАЦКИЙ-БРАТКОВСКИЙ - б[ывший] секретарь ППС, агент 2-го отдела Польглавштаба, непосредственно был связан с начальником 2-го отделения военной контрразведки ВОЕВУДСКИМ, зав[едующим] пол[ьским] сектором в Институте Маркса-Энгельса-Ленина.


ВАНДУРСКИЙ - б[ывший] член КПП, писатель, б[ывший] директор поль[ского] театра в Киеве, и др. (197)


The leadership center of the "Polish Military Organization" on Soviet territory is situated in Moscow (formerly it was in Kiev, then in Minsk). Among its members:

Sochacki-Bratkowski - former secretary of the PPS {= Polish Socialist Party}, agent of the 2nd section of the Polish General Staff, was directly connected to the chief of the 2nd division of military counterintelligence WOJEWÓDSKI, head of the Polish sector in the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.


WANDURSKI - former member of the PKK {= Polish Communist Party}, writer, former director of the Polish theater in Kiev, and others (197)

Sochacki is named many times in the various interrogations. (11) In his published interrogation Wandurski nameds Sochaki as well (503). Both Sochacki and Wandurski, along with many others, are named in interrogations of others accused of PMO activities in 1933 published in 2010. (12)

The unavoidable implication of all this evidence is this: Sochacki was indeed a leader of Polish espionage for military intelligence. The name "PVO", the Russian abbreviation for PMO, is the one uniformly used in all these documents. Whether the "official" name for this service, if it had one at all, was still PMO or not would appear to make no difference.

As for Snyder's claim that the Polish Military Organization had been shut down in 1921, here is what Wandurski had to say in his confession (cited above):

Jednak również po drugim aresztowaniu Skarżyński nie został zdemaskowany i wyjechał do Polski, gdzie w 1922 r. przypadkowo spotkałem go w Waszawie w jednej z kawiarni. Ucieszył się z naszego spotkania i z pasją opowiadał mi o pracy w szeregach POW na Radzieckiej Ukrainie.


But even after his second arrest Skarzynski was not exposed and went to Poland, where in 1922, I accidentally met him in Warsaw in one of the cafés. He was pleased with our meeting and passionately told me about working in the ranks of the POW in the Soviet Ukraine.

The continued existence of the PMO is cited many times in the published interrogations and in NKVD reports now available. How likely is it that all of them could have been "forged" or otherwise faked? At any rate, as with any historical statement such a forgery cannot be simply assumed, as Snyder does - it would have to be supported with evidence. But it is very likely that a clandestine military intelligence - espionage - organization would keep its existence secret and "deniable." Therefore there is no reason to assert, as Snyder does, that the PMO no longer existed.

In his study of the Comintern (13) during the 1930s William Chase records Bielewski's report to the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) about the dangers of infiltration by Polish intelligence of the Polish Communist Party.

On 4 September, Bielewski wrote a "top secret" document entitled "On the Issue of the Crisis of the Leadership of the CPP" that focused on the dangers posed by fascists, reactionaries, and their agents, especially the Trotskyists. In light of the alleged dangers, he asserted that the destruction of these counterrevolutionary elements by the "NKVD under the direction of comrade Yezhov is a necessary act of self-defense." According to Bielewski, the arrested leaders of the CPP pursued an emigration policy designed to penetrate agents of the Polish Military Organization into the USSR. After listing and decrying the party leadership's errors, which dated back to 1919, and its repeated failure to promote workers' causes, he recommended that the "healthy elements" carry out a complete reorganization of the party and its leadership and enhance its ties to the masses.

Chase expresses skepticism about the charges in Bielewski's report, and suggests that Bielewski's arrest a week later was unfounded.

As fantastic as this conspiratorial explanation seems, it was the assumption upon which Yezhov's NKVD built its case against present and former leaders of the CPP, including Bielewski, who was arrested a week after writing his report. The NKVD's assumption became the ECCI's conclusion.

Evidently the NKVD's suspicions of Bielewski were correct. And Bielewski was on the ECCI (Executive Committee of the Communist International), the highest Comintern body. This is evidence of Polish espionage at the highest levels. Chase prints the notes ordered by Georgy Dimitrov, head of the Comintern, of the confession of Julian Lenski, another high-ranking Polish CP member, concerning the investigation of the Polish Communist Party. (266-273). Along with many others, Bielewski is named as a Polish spy:

{We} also agreed on using Cichowski, Bielewski, Redens {Mieczyslaw Bernstein}, and Maksymowski. We used the first three and planted {them} in the Comintern. (271)

I suggested appointing the following individuals, who were the POW members, to the verification commission: Próchniak, Skulski, Bielewski, Bortnowski, Krajewski. (272)

Snyder cites no evidence disproving the existence of the PMO. Soviet NKVD reports do document clandestine Polish spies, some of whom confessed to being members of the PMO.

Thus there is no evidence that Wandurski, Bielewski, or any of the others was forced to falsely confess, as implied by Snyder's phrase "forced to confess." (Bloodlands 90) Strónski too claims that Sochacki was "forced to confess" (Wymuszone na nim zeznania, p. 210). But Strónski also fails to cite any evidence that this was so. Shore, whose book Snyder cites here, also affirms that Wandurski was forced to make a false confession, and also without any evidence. Use of such language as "forced to confess" implies that the confession was a fabrication. In fact none of these authors has any evidence that Wandurski's confession was false.

According to William Chase, Sochacki was denounced as a police provocateur by the Politburo of the Polish Communist Party:

On 10 October, {Osip} Pyatnitsky sent to Lazar Kaganovich, a VKP Politburo member and one of Stalin's staunchest allies, a draft declaration by the Central Committee of the Polish CP asserting that Sochacki was a provocateur. Jan Bielewski {aka Jan Paszyn}, a member of the Politburo of the Polish CP, composed the declaration...(119)

Chase gives the political context for these suspicions on pages 118 ff. It was not a case of being suspicious of Poles, but of hte heterogenous origins and history of the Polish CP.

Snyder does mention the "Soviet agent" in the Polish CP. Chase has more to say about this man, Mitskevich-Kapsukas:

An early May 1929 report from Mitskevich-Kapsukas provided material to support that suspicion. Entitled "The Work of Polish Wreckers," the report expressed concern over the growth of factionalism and the increasing influence of former Mensheviks within the Polish CP. It asserted that a wide network of provocateurs had weakened the party's ability to function and that Polish police had hamstrung many organs of the CPWU and CPWB. (118) (14)

Even Snyder suggests that "at least one" Polish communist was, or became, a Polish spy. The Comintern suspected many more than this. At least some of them confessed. Chase's study provides much more evidence about these suspicions. As we have seen, those allegations that we can now check against published primary documents appears to be true.

It is clear from the documents Chase quotes that the initiative for such suspicions came from the Comintern leadership. Stalin was reacting to them, not initiating them.

More Falsehoods by Snyder about Polish Espionage

Yezhov followed Balystskyi's anti-Polish campaign in Soviet Ukraine, and then reconceptualized it. As the show trials began in Moscow in 1936, Yezhov drew his subordinate Balytskyi into a trap. While prominent communists confessed in Moscow, Balytskyi was reporting from Kiev that the "Polish Military Organization" had been re-created in Soviet Ukraine. No doubt he simply wished to claim attention and resources for himself and his local apparatus at a time of security panic. Yet now, in a turn of events that must have surprised Balytskyi, Yezhov declared that the "Polish Military Organization" was an even greater danger than Balytskyi claimed. It was a matter not for the regional NKVD in Kiev but for the central NKVD in Moscow. Balytskyi, who had invented the plot of the "Polish Military Organization," now lost control of the story. Soon a confession was extracted from the Polish communist Tomasz Dąbal, who claimed to have directed the "Polish Military Organization" in the entire Soviet Union. (91-2)

Sources (n. 7 p. 427):

* Strónski, Represje, 227;

* Snyder, Sketches, 119-120.

Neither of these sources provides any evidence for the statements in this paragraph. Strónski, Represje, 227 concerns events in 1938. None of the matters in this paragraph are discussed there. Snyder, Sketches, 119-120 outlines the investigation and suppression of the PMO espionage within the USSR during the mid-1930s.

Snyder has no evidence whatsoever to sustain his repeated claim that there was no such espionage and that those who were arrested, named by others, confessed, etc., as Polish spies were not guilty. But instead of acknowledging this fact Snyder uses "argument by quotation mark", putting "scare quotes" around everything he would like his readers to believe is false. This is a form of the logical fallacy of "begging the question" - assuming that which ought to be proven.

Snyder's claim that the PMO did not exist and was a falsification by the NKVD is itself a falsification, an attempt to mislead his readers. As we have shown above, Snyder himself, in his earlier book Sketches, acknowledges the seriousness of Polish espionage inside the USSR in the 1930s. Moreover, Snyder cites materials in that book that document Polish spies confessing to participation in the PMO. We have also cited the recent Ukrainian book about the PMO in the USSR and a German intelligence document of 1942 that states that the PMO was the most active Polish underground organization in Nazi-occupied Lithuania at the time.

Snyder, like Strónski, assume that Dombal (Russian spelling of Dąbal) was innocent, forced to confess. This is "begging the question" again - assuming that which should be proven. There is no evidence that Dombal was forced to falsely confess. We do have one confession of Dombal's, dated January 16, 1937 (Lubianka 1937-1938, No. 5). Dombal was arrested on December 29, 1936.

We also have two very detailed reports by Ezhov concerning the "Polish Operation" (Lubianka 1937-1938 Nos. 167, 200). Balitskii is not mentioned in any of them.

Snyder continues:

Thanks to Yezhov's initiative, the "Polish Military Organization" lost any residue of its historical and regional origins, and became simply a threat to the Soviet Union as such. On 16 January 1937 Yezhov presented his theory of a grand Polish conspiracy to Stalin, and then with Stalin's approval to a plenum of the central committee. In March Yezhov purged the NKVD of Polish officers. Although Balytskyi was not Polish but Ukrainian by nationality, he now found himself in a very awkward position. If the "Polish Military Organization" had been so important, asked Yezhov, why had Balytskyi not been more vigilant? Thus Balytskyi, who had summoned up the specter of the "Polish Military Organization" in the first place, became a victim of his own creation. He yielded his Ukrainian position in May to his former deputy, Izrail Leplevskii - the NKVD officer who carried out the kulak operation in the Soviet Ukraine with such vigor. On 7 July Balytskyi was arrested on charges of espionage for Poland; a week later his name was removed from the stadium where Dynamo Kiev played its soccer matches - to be replaced by Yezhov's. Balytskyi was executed that November. (92)

Snyder's sources (n. 8 p. 471):

* Nikol's'kyi, Represyvna, 337;

* Strónski, Represje, 227.

* "For details on Balyts'kyi, see Shapoval, "Balyts'kyi," 69-74."

Snyder is inventing stories again. There's nothing in any of his sources about Ezhov asking Balitskii why he had not been more vigilant or Balitskii "becoming a victim of his own creation."

Nikol's'kyi, Represyvna, 337 simply describes the beginning of the Ezhovshchina of July 1937 onwards, with quotations from a few of the central NKVD texts. There's nothing about the POW/PMO, Ezhov report, Balitskii, Leplevskii, or any of the matters specifically mentioned in this paragraph.

Strónski, Represje, 227 does discuss Ezhov and the PMO case. But it does not deal with any of the matters in this paragraph: Ezhov's January 1937 report, or Balitskii, or Leplevskii. Strónski does not mention Balitskii after 1936.

According to the Bibliography in Bloodlands Shapoval, "Balyts'kyi", is an article in a Ukrainian language collection. (15) The text of the article ends on p. 73, so the reference cannot be "69-74." Only pages 69-70 give relevant information about Balitskii, but that is interesting.

Балицького заарештували 7 липня 1937 р. у службовому вагонi за ордером № 15 без дати за пiдписом М. Єжова. Провели обшук, вiдiбрали урядовi нагороди: три ордени Червоного прапора, ордени Червоної Зiрки та Трудового Червоного Прапора УРСР, два знаки почесного чекiста. Вiн протримався недовго, i в заявi вiд 17 липня зiзнався, що був втягнуий И Якiром наприкiнцi 1935 р. у "вiйськово-фашистський заколот." А на допитi 26 липня, який провели заступник наркома внутрiшнiх справ СРСР Л. Бельський, начальник 5-го вiддiлу ГУДБ НКВД СРСР М Нiколаєв-Журiд та помiчник останнього Р. Лiстенгурт, Балицький засвiдчив, що особисто завербував своїх заступникiв М. Бачинського та В. Іванова, начальника 6-го вiддiлу УДБ НКВД УРСР Я. Письменного та начальникiв УНКВД по Харкiвськiй областi С. Мазо та по Воронезькiй областi О. Розанова.


Balitskii was arrested July 7, 1937 in his official car on the undated warrant number 15 signed by N. Ezhov. They searched him and took away his government awards: three Orders of the Red Banner, the Order of the Red Star and the Red Banner of Labor of the USSR, two awards "Honorable Chekist." He did not hold out long, and his statement of July 17 admitted that he was recruited by I. Yakir at the end of 1935 into the "military-fascist rebellion." And on July 26 interrogation, conducted by deputy People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the USSR L. Belsky, head of the 5th Division HUDB NKVD of the USSR N. Nikolayev-Zhurid and his assistant R. Listengurt, Balitskii testified that he personally recruited his deputies M. Bachinskii and B. Ivanov, chief of the 6th Division UDB NKVD USSR Ia. Pismennyi and heads UNKVD in the Kharkov region S. Mazo and in Voronezh region O. Rozanov. (69)

The dates of these interrogations may or may not be correct - Shapoval gives only an archival identifier that of course cannot be verified.

(Parenthetically, it would appear inexcusable in this day of the Internet for honest researchers to cite archival documents as evidence without either publishing them, perhaps online, or else stating plainly that archival authorities will not allow their publication.)

A statement summarizing Balitskii's confessions and including all the information Shapoval gives above is printed in Lubianka 1937-1938 No. 144, dated July 21, 1937. Snyder shows no familiarity with this vital and widely known collection of Soviet primary documents that bear directly upon his subject. Shapoval does not refer to it either.

Balitskii's other confessions have not been declassified. But his statements are corroborated in a very long and detailed confession of D.M. Dmitriev, another NKVD head (Sverdlovsk) of October 16, 1938, after Beria had effectively taken over the NKVD from Ezhov. (Lubianka 1937-1938 No. 356, pp. 577 ff.) Some of Dmitriev's confession can be verified by comparing it with other evidence we now have.

None of Snyder's sources document that "Balytskyi was arrested on charges of espionage for Poland." It appears that Snyder has invented this, or copied it from someone else who invented it first.

We now have overwhelming evidence, including evidence from beyond the borders of the USSR, that the conspiracy of Soviet military leaders against the Stalin regime, often called the "Tukhachevsky Affair", really did take place. (16) There has never been any evidence - as opposed to assertions by Soviet and Russian authorities - that this was a frameup of innocent men. In view of the evidence we now have, it could not have been.

Therefore there is no basis - no evidence - to sustain any doubt that Baliskii really was involved with the Tukhachevsky military conspiracy. Snyder could and should have used these primary sources instead of the older secondary source by Shapoval. As for Shapoval himself, we cannot accept his unsupported word. As we showed in Chapter One by examining one of his articles Shapoval cannot be trusted to quote his sources honestly.

There is some very interesting and important material about Balitskii in Shapoval's article, and in other documents not cited by Snyder but which he should have used. But Snyder ignores all these matters, perhaps because he doesn't know about them, perhaps because they do not support his conspiracy theories.

Even if the idea of a deep Polish penetration of Soviet institutions persuaded Yezhov and Stalin, it could not serve as the evidentiary basis for individual arrests. There simply was nothing resembling a vast Polish plot in the Soviet Union. ... Yezhov told Stalin that Polish political émigrés were major "supplier of spies and provocateur elements in the USSR." Leading Polish communists were often already in the Soviet Union, and sometimes already dead. Some sixty-nine of the hundred members of the central committee of the Polish party were executed in the USSR. Most of the rest were behind bars in Poland, and so were unavailable for execution. And in any case, these numbers were far too small. (94)

Source (n. 13 p. 472):

* "On the "suppliers," see Kuromiya, Stalin, 118."

* "On the Polish diplomats, see Snyder, Sketches, 121-127."

* For the data on the central committee, see Kieszczyński, "Represje," 198.

* "On the experiences of Polish communists in the USSR, Budzyńska's Strzępy is invaluable." (17)

In contrast to Snyder Kuromiya, Stalin 118 admits that "there may well have been assassination plans against Soviet leaders." Snyder chooses not to inform his readers that Kuromiya, who is extremely hostile to Stalin, considers the idea of conspiracies plausible. In fact we have a great deal of evidence concerning such plots.

As for Jansen and Petrov, on the pages cited by Kuromiya (J&P 40-1) they also assert that the "Polish Military Organization" (POW/POV/PMO) no longer existed. But this is a bluff. As we have explained above, they cannot possibly know whether a secret organization did or did not exist. All they, or Snyder, can in fact know is that it had been publicly disbanded - but they do not cite any evidence of that either. We have already shown that there is plenty of evidence that the "Polish Military Organization" continued to exist as late as 1942.

Jansen and Petrov also add:

In September 1935 a new wave of arrests started, with a view to end an alleged POV network. During the same month, the representative of the Polish Communist Party in the Comintern Executive Committee, B. Brondowski (Bortnowski), sent Ezhov a memorandum on deficiencies in the NKVD work concerning the exposure of the agent provocateur and espionage role of Polish agents.

In the more recent Russian edition of 2007 this passage is the same (page 54).

As head of the NKVD whose duties included state security Ezhov would have been a fool not to heed such a warning from one of the leaders of the Polish Communist Party. In note 87 Jansen and Petrov inform their readers that they "were not allowed to see the document." They repeated this note in the recent Russian language edition of this book (p. 54). But they believe it exists, or they would not have included this information in their book.

Snyder, Sketches, 121-127 documents the considerable network of spies that the Polish government did in fact have in the USSR. On pp. 125-6 Snyder quotes documents indicating that by November 1937 Polish intelligence had very little remaining of its network. Of course that means that Polish intelligence did have such a network prior to that date. By the evidence Snyder himself cites, that network was active earlier in the decade.

No "central committee" is mentioned by Kieszczyński, "Represje," 198. (18)

Snyder Falsifies a Quotation

In the following paragraph Snyder makes a dramatic charge:

One Moscow NKVD chief understood the gist of the order: his organization should "destroy the Poles entirely." His officers looked for Polish names in the telephone book. (94-95)

Snyder's sources are the following (n. 14 p. 472):

* "Quotation: Petrov, "Pol'skaia operatsiia," 23."

* "The phone book anecdote is in Brown, No Place, 158."

This is the passage in Petrov (really, Petrov and Roginskii, two leading researchers of the Moscow-based "Memorial" Society):

По признанию А.О. Постеля, сотрудника УНКВД по Московской области, «когда нам, начальникам отделний, был зачитан приказ Ежова об аресте абсолютно всех поляков (о всех поляках в приказе не говорилось, но характерно, что было услышано именно это. - Авт.), польских политэмигрантов, бывших военнопленных, членов польской коммунистической партии и др., это вызвало не только удивление, но и целый ряд кулуарных разговоров, которые были прекращены тем, что нам заявили, что этот приказ согласован со Сталиным и Политбюро ЦК ВКП(б) и что нужно поляков громить вовсю».


As A.O. Postel', UNKVD officer in Moscow oblast', admitted: "When we, heads of departments, heard Ezhov's order to arrest absolutely all Poles (the order did not say "all Poles", but it was characteristic that it was heard that way - Authors), Polish political emigres, former POWs, members of the Polish Communist Party, et al., this caused not just amazement but a number of unofficial conversations that only ceased when we were told that this order had been approved by Stalin and the Politburo of the CC VKP(b) and that it was necessary to smash the Poles completely.

Snyder does not inform us, as Petrov and Roginskii do, of the source of this statement:

n. 3 - Архив УФСБ по Москве и Московской области. Следственное дело А.О. Постеля № 52668. Допрос от 11 декабря 1939 г.


"Archive of the UFSB for Moscow and Moscow oblast'. Investigative file of A.O. Postel' No. 52668. Interrogation of December 11, 1939.

Postel' was being interrogated in 1939 in the case of the mass murders carried out by Ezhov and his men. We have further evidence of this fact in Suvenirov's work:

Бывший начальник 3-го отделения 3-го отдела по УНКВД Московской области лейтенант госбезоnасности А. О. Постель за грубые нарушения законности (необоснованные аресты, nрименение физических методов и т. n.) был в аnреле 1940 г. осужден к 15 годам лишения свободы. (207)


Former chief of the 3rd division of the 3rd department of the UNKVD of Moscow oblast', Lieutenant of State Security A.O. Postel', was sentenced in April 1940 to 15 years deprivation of freedom for serious violation of the law (arrests without foundation, application of physical force, etc.).

Postel', that is, was arrested on January 9, 1939 (19) , shortly after Beria had replaced Ezhov, and investigated for the crimes he had committed as an NKVD man. He was punished with a long sentence. This is further evidence of Beria's - and, therefore, Stalin's - prosecution of Ezhov's men for participation in Ezhov's conspiracy against the Soviet government.

Brown, No Place, 158 (actually 158-159) writes:

{NKVD agent Stanislav} Redens confessed that agents hunted down Polish spies by looking through the Moscow phone book for Polish last names. (19)

Brown's source for this is a 1993 article in a rare Ukrainian journal by Ukrainian nationalist historian Serhii Bilokin'.(21) This interrogation of Redens is also reprinted in a book by Leonid Naumov that Snyder cites three times in his footnotes, including on the very next page of his book! (22) Why didn't he tell his readers that they can find it there? Evidently he did not know this because he had not taken the trouble to check the original source.

Here is the passage Snyder and Brown refer to:

После моего отъезда в Казахстан Заковский провел явно преступную деятельность по этим делам, он за 2 месяца арестовал 12500 человек, причем аресты проводились по телефонной книжке, лишь бы фамилия была похожа на польскую, латышскую, болгарскую и т.д. (Bilokin', 41; Naumov, 526)


After my departure to Kazakhstan Zakovskii carried out obviously criminal activity in these cases. In two months he arrested 12,500 persons and arrests were made by consulting a telephone book, as long as the name seemed Polish, Latvian, Bulgarian, etc.

Both Snyder and Brown have interpreted this passage incorrectly.

Redens testified that he had heard that Zakovskii's men used the telephone book to look for Polish last names. This happened after he had left for Kazakhstan, so Redens did not know this at first hand. Rather, Redens accused Zakovskii and his men of doing so after he, Redens, left to become Commissar of the Kazakhstan NKVD. This was in January 1938, when Zakovskii had just been appointed head of the UNKVD in Moscow oblast' (the Commissar was, of course, Ezhov).

Snyder compounds this error by misreading what Brown wrote. Snyder claims that the officers who used the telephone book were under the command of the "NKVD chief" who thought Ezhov said to "destroy the Poles entirely." The NKVD man who understood Ezhov's order in this way - Petrov and Roginskii add that Ezhov did not actually say this - was Postel', not Zakovskii. Zakovskii was the "NKVD chief", not Postel'.

Redens made this statement under arrest, while he was being investigated for helping Ezhov in mass murder. Redens was arrested on November 22, 1938, virtually as soon as Beria took Ezhov's place as the head of the NKVD. According to Bilokin' (40) Redens was tried, convicted, and executed in January 1940, at the same time as many other top Ezhov NKVD leaders.

Snyder omits all the facts above and the entire context in which these statements were made. The result is that Snyder gives the impression that these tactics were Soviet, and therefore Stalin's, policies. In fact the opposite was the case: these men were arrested, and being investigated, for flagrant violations of Soviet law by Ezhov and his cronies. The context, which Snyder completely omits, is crucial, as it is part of the vast amount of evidence we now have that Ezhov carried out these "national operations" independently, without the knowledge of the Stalin government and in an attempt to further its overthrow.

Snyder Claims That Stalin Hated All Poles

Snyder claims that Stalin made a racist anti-Polish statement:

Yezhov reported to Stalin that 23,216 arrests had already been made in the Polish operation. Stalin expressed his delight: "Very good! Keep on digging up and cleaning out this Polish filth. Eliminate it in the interests of the Soviet Union. (96)

Sources (n. 17 p. 472):

* "Quotation and number: Naumov, NKVD, 299-300."

* "For examples, see Stroński, Represje, 223, 246."

Snyder's statement is false. According to Naumov, Snyder's own source, Stalin wrote "pol'sko-shpionskuiu griaz'" - "Polish spy filth" or "the filth of Polish spies" (this sounds wrong in English but is correct in Russian). That is, the "filth" were spies who happened in this case to be Polish. The Stalin quotation is indeed in Naumov. (23) The original source - a note by Stalin on a report sent to him by Ezhov dated September 14, 1937, is at the foot of page 359 of the important document collection we have noted before (Lubianka 1937-1938). (24)

Here is Stalin's remark on Ezhov's report:

«*Т. Ежову*. Очень хорошо! Копайте и вычищайте и впредь эту польско-шпионскую грязь. Крушите ее в *интересах СССР*.» И. Сталин. 14.1Х-37 г.


"Com. Ezhov. Very good! Dig up and clean out in the future too this Polish spy filth. Smash it in [u]the interests of the USSR[/u]. I. Stalin 14/IX/-37"

To be able to discern Snyder's falsehood you have to read Russian and to know where to look. Snyder's readers will believe - falsely - that "Stalin called Poles 'filth'!" - as Snyder intends they should.

Snyder tries to make it seem as though Stalin hated all Poles. Later on the same page (96) Snyder says:

People such as the Juriewiczes, who had nothing to do with Polish espionage of any kind, were the "filth" to which Stalin was referring.

He also repeated this same falsehood in one of his essays

...Stalin spoke of "Polish filth." (2010-4)

Evidently Snyder thinks that none of his readers will bother to check the dramatic allegation that Stalin made such a racist statement. Snyder uses this phony quotation in his standard "talk" on his book as well. (25) Later in this same chapter Snyder repeats the same accusation that Stalin hated Poles and deliberately set out to murder them:

Although Stalin, Yezhov, Balystkyi, Leplevskii, Berman, and others linked Polish ethnicity to Soviet security... (104)

This is yet another falsehood. Snyder has no evidence that Stalin ever did anything of the kind; no such evidence exists.

But perhaps, Stalin reasoned, killing Poles could do no harm. (105)

The breathtaking dishonesty of such a statement hardly needs to be pointed out. Stalin never supported "killing Poles", and of course Snyder has no evidence that he did. Those responsible for the mass murders of the Ezhov period, including of Poles, were arrested, tried, convicted, and in many cases executed for these immense crimes.

Snyder Falsifies Yet Another Citation

On the next page - this whole chapter concerns the period 1937-1938 - Snyder writes the following:

Leningraders and Poles had little idea of these proportions at the time. There was only the fear of the knock on the door in the early morning, and the sight of the prison truck: called the black maria, or the soul destroyer, or by Poles the black raven (nevermore). As one Pole remembered, people went to bed each night not knowing whether they would be awakened by the sun or by the black raven... (97-8)

His source (n. 21 p. 472) is:

* "Awakened: Dzwonkowski, Głód, 236. Black raven appears in Polish and Russian, black maria in Russian...."

Snyder cites no evidence at all to support his claim about the "fear" of Leningraders. He has only one anecdotal story about the "fear" of Poles - and this is about a period a few years earlier (the Dzwonkowski passage).

(26) Without evidence to support his claim about the "fear" of "Leningraders and Poles" it is misleading and dishonest for Snyder to insert these claims into his book.

Was the "Belorussian Intelligentsia" the Special Target of the NKVD?

Snyder makes the following dramatic accusation:

The mass killing in Soviet Belarus included the deliberate destruction of the educated representatives of Belarusian national culture.

Snyder gives the following details:

As one of Berman's colleagues later put it, he "destroyed the flower of the Belarusian intelligentsia." No fewer than 218 of the country's leading writers were killed. Berman told his subordinates that their careers depended upon their rapid fulfillment of Order 00485: "the speed and quality of the work in discovering and arresting Polish spies will be the main consideration taken into account in the evaluation of each leader." (98)

Source (n. 23 p. 472):

* "On the national purge, see Naumov, NKVD, 262-266; flower quotation at 266."

* "Berman quotation: Michniuk, "Przeciwko Polakow," 115." {This should be "Polakom" - GF}

* "On the 218 writers, see Mironowicz, Białoruś, 88-89."

* "See also Junge, Vertikal', 624.

As is almost always the case, a check of Snyder's sources reveals quite a different story.

Junge, Vertikal', 624 is only a very short list of the NKVD "troikas" in Belorussia of 1937-1938. It adds nothing to any understanding of what happened. It appears that Snyder added it to "pad" his footnote, make it look more thoroughly researched. Meanwhile, as we demonstrate, Snyder omitted crucial information that his sources do supply.

Mironowicz, Białoruś, 88-89: I had access to the 2004 Belarusian (27) and 2007 Polish editions. The figure of 218 writers killed is in both of them (Polish 2007 edition on p. 94): "Of 238 Belorussian literary figures of the Stalin period only some 20 survived." ("Spośród 238 literatów białoruskich epokę Stalina przeżylo jedynie dwudziestu"; (Belarusian edition: (CYRILLIC NEEDED)) But no evidence or source for this information is cited.

Nor is "the Stalin period" defined. But Mironowicz certainly means the period of the Ezhovshchina, 1937-1938, when Ezhov was killing as many Soviet citizens as he could in order to sow discontent with the USSR among the population and facilitate an uprising to coincide with an invasion by one or more imperialist countries. (28)

As we shall see, Belarussian historian Shybeka (Polish spelling Szybieka), whom Snyder cites elsewhere, claimed that the anticommunist Polish AK (Armia Krajowa, Home Army) killed thousands of Belorussian teachers and intellectuals - a fact Snyder omits.

In my 2010 edition of Naumov, NKVD, the national operation is covered not on pp. 262-266 but on pp. 207 and following. The "flower of the Belarusian intelligentsia" quotation is indeed in Naumov. Its origin is a quotation from the book by famed Soviet spy D.A. Bystrioletov (sometimes spelled Bystroliotov), Pir Bessmertnykh. (The Feast of the Immortals). This is a quotation at third hand. Bystroliotov claimed that these were the words of A.A. Nasedkin, Boris Berman's successor as NKVD chief of Belorussia.

- Слушайте: Борис расстрелял в Минске за неполный год работы больше восьмидесяти тысяч человек. Слышите?

- Слышу.

- Он убил всех лучших коммунистов республики. Обезглавил советский аппарат. Истребил цвет национальной белорусской интеллигенции. Тщательно выискивал, находил, выдёргивал и уничтожал всех маломальски выделявшихся умом или преданностью людей из трудового народа - стахановцев на заводах, председателей в колхозах, лучших бригадиров, писателей, учёных, художников. Воспитанные партией национальные кадры советских работников. Восемьдесят тысяч невинных жертвю... Гора залитых кровью трупов до небес...


- Listen: in Minsk during less than one year of work Boris shot more than eighty thousand people. Do you understand me?

- I understand you.

- He killed all the best communists in the {Belorussian} republic. He decapitated the Soviet apparatus. He destroyed the flower of the national Belorussian intelligentsia. He carefully sought out, found, pulled up and destroyed every one of the working people who stood out in terms of intelligence or dedication - Stakhanovite workers in factories, chairmen of collective farms, the best team leaders, writers, scholars, and artists. The national cadres of Soviet workers who had been trained by the Party. Eight thousand innocent victims... A sky-high mountain of blood-soaked corpses...

Third-hand quotations - Nasedkin to Bystroliotov to us, over a period of many years - are notoriously subject to distortion or even invention. However, we should note what Snyder does not mention in this quotation. Nasedkin allegedly told Bystroliotov that Berman had killed:

* the best communists in Belorussia;

* government officials ("the Soviet apparatus");

* "the flower of the national Belorussian intelligentsia";

* Stakhanovite workers;

* chairmen of collective farms;

* team leaders;

* writers, scholars, artists.

But Snyder mentions only the "Belorussian intelligentsia." This implies that they were Berman's special target. But Bystroliotov mentions them third of seven or eight groups of people that he says were targeted by Berman.

Moreover, by omitting the essential context of this statement, Snyder leaves the impression that this mass murder was not just Berman's and Ezhov's aim, but also that of Stalin and the Soviet government. In reality, it was just the opposite: Ezhov, Berman, Nasedkin, and others were being prosecuted, for their mass murders.

Berman was arrested in September, 1938. At this time Ezhov was still the head (People's Commissar) of the NKVD. But Lavrentii Beria had been appointed as his deputy in August 1938, unquestionably to oversee Ezhov's activities, which had finally aroused the suspicions of Stalin and the Soviet leadership. Berman's arrest must reflect Beria's involvement.

Of equal interest is this: a study of the pages from Naumov's book that Snyder cites, 262-266, reveals some important information that Snyder withheld from his readers.

For example:

Интересно, что в январе 1939 г. был арестован С. Н. Миронов-Король и почти сразу он дал показания, что еще в июле 1937 г. Фриновский в частной беседе сказал ему о намерении Ежова придти к власти, опираясь на своих соратников в НКВД. Конечно, это можно было бы списать на фантазии бериевских следователей. Но вот интересная деталь. Жена Миронова - Агнесса Миронова в своих мемуарах говорит практически то же самое: «Нам казалось, что Ежов поднялся даже выше Сталина» 365. Мысли эти, судя по тексту мемуаров, относятся где-то к середине 1938 г. А вот кто это «мы», у которых такие мысли? Судя по тексту мемуаров Мироновой, общалась она тогда только с членами своей семьи, с братом С. Миронова - разведчиком Давидом Король и его семьей, и с семьей Фриновских... (209)


Interestingly, in January 1939, S. Mironov-Korol' was arrested, and almost immediately testified that in July 1937 in a private conversation Frinovsky told him of Ezhov's intention to come to power on the basis of their group in the NKVD. Of course, one might attribute this to the imagination of Beria's investigators. But here's an interesting detail: Mironov's wife Agnes Mironov in her memoirs says almost the same thing: "We thought that Ezhov had risen even higher than Stalin." These thoughts, according to the text of the memoirs, are from some time in mid-1938. But who is this "we" who were thinking such thoughts? Judging by the text of Mironova's memoirs, she was then talking only with the members of her family, with Mironov's brother, the intelligence official David Korol' and his family, and with the Frinovsky family. (209)

(Emphasis added)

We have a great deal of other documentary evidence that Ezhov led a conspiracy of his own that was linked to other Right conspiracies, including that of Bukharin and Rykov and that of Tukhachevsky. For example, we have confessions by Frinovsky, Ezhov himself, and other which I have made available online in Russian and in English translation. (29)

Once again Snyder has deliberately deceived his readers. This passage from Naumov's book, which Snyder cites several times, is the proof that he knows about it. Jansen and Petrov also discuss Ezhov's conspiracy. The more recent Russian-language edition of their book, Petrov and Jansen (the author's names are reversed for the Russian edition) discusses it in even more detail. But Snyder fails to tell his readers about it. No doubt this is because it reveals that Stalin and the Soviet state had not ordered the Ezhov mass murders.

Michniuk, "Przeciwko Polakow," 115 does record the statement quoted by Snyder:

Po raz drugi uprzedzam, ze tempo i jakość pracy dotyczącej wykrywania i aresztowania polskich szpiegów będą przede wszystkim brane pod uwagę przy ocenianiu pracy każdego naczelnika. - Berman 22 pażdziernika 1937 r. (30)


Once again I warn you that the pace and quality of work on the detection and arrest of Polish spies will first of all be taken into account when evaluating the work of each director. - Berman, 22 October 1937

In order to evaluate this statement we need to know more about Berman. Snyder has failed to inform us that Berman was part of Ezhov's conspiracy against Stalin and the Soviet government.

On August 4, 1939 Ezhov gave a lengthy and very important confession about his anti-Soviet conspiracy, during which he questioned Berman's role in the "National Campaign." This confession is printed for the first time in Petrov and Jansen. In it Ezhov describes his plan, which included massive illegal repressions so as to sow dissent among the Soviet population and facilitate an anti-Soviet uprising.

Question: Are you aware of the facts concerning how the dissatisfaction of the population was concretely expressed?

Answer: ... From what Uspensky said I know that flight through the border posts into Poland increased as a result of the provocational conduct of the mass operations, especially in the border regions of the Ukraine. The families of those repressed began to be expelled from kolkhozes, and in connection with that, robberies, arson, and thefts began. There were even a few examples of terrorist acts against workers of the village soviets and kolkhozes. Not only families of the repressed, but rank-and-file kolkhoz members and even Party members began to write complaints.

Dissatisfaction with the punitive policy was so great that local party organizations began to insist that all the family members of persons who had been repressed be resettled from the Ukraine to other regions.

Such in general terms were the results of the provocational conduct of the mass operations in the Ukraine.

We were successful in achieving about the same results in Belorussia too.

At the time the mass operations were taking place B. Berman was in charge of the NKVD of Belorussia.

Question: Was Berman a member of the conspiratorial organization in the NKVD?

Answer: Berman was not a member of our conspiratorial organization. However, Frinovsky, Bel'sky, and I knew by the beginning of 1938 that he was an active member of Yagoda's anti-Soviet conspiratorial group.

We did not plan to draw Berman into our conspiratorial organization. Already at that time he was sufficiently compromised and was subject to arrest. However, we delayed his arrest. In turn Berman, who feared arrest, worked very hard. I only had to give him general directives that Belorussia was badly infested and that it was necessary to purge it in a thoroughgoing way, and he carried out the mass operations with the same result as Uspensky.

Question: With what result specifically?

Answer: He incessantly demanded an increase of "limits" and, following Uspensky's example, put "nationalists" into the category of persons subject to repression, carried out completely unfounded arrests, created exactly the same kind of dissatisfaction in the border regions of Belorussia, and left the families of those repressed where they were.

There were even more warnings sent to the NKVD and the Procuracy concerning dissatisfaction among the population of the border regions of Belorussia than in the Ukraine. We left all these too without investigating them and hid them from the Central Committee of the Party and the government. (31)

Two days earlier, on August 2, 1939, Ezhov had testified as follows concerning Berman:

In Belorussia you sent Boris Berman? Did you know that he was an old German agent?

Yes. Artnau told me that Berman was working for German intelligence as soon as I became Commissar of Internal Affairs.
He had been recruited at the beginning of the 'thirties, when he was {Soviet} resident in Germany. I immediately established espionage contacts with him, then he was the assistant chief of the INO {Foreign Department}. In 1937 I specially sent him from our organization to Belorussia and made him Commissar of Internal Affairs. There he met with German agents and received assignments and instructions.

That means your widespread espionage organization in the case of an attack on the USSR by Japan and Germany could seize power not only in Moscow but in border areas, opening the road to the invaders. Do I understand this correctly from your confessions?

Yes. That was exactly what we had planned. It's useless to deny such things. (32)

(Emphasis added, GF)

Berman was tried, convicted, and executed in February, 1939, after Beria had replaced Ezhov. According to Ezhov Berman was really a "Iagoda" man. A.A. Nasedkin, on the other hand, was one of the Ezhov's men, tried and sentenced to death in January 1940 with many other of Ezhov's closest NKVD collaborators (Ezhov himself was tried and executed in early February, 1940). As one of Ezhov's chief henchmen it is hard to imagine Nasedkin claiming somebody else was "bloody." It would be "the pot calling the kettle black."

Snyder has omitted all the evidence long available that Berman, along with Ezhov, were conspiring against Stalin and the Soviet government. The effect is to create the false impression that Berman and Ezhov were carrying out the orders of the Soviet government. This is in fact what Snyder states. Once again Snyder has deceived his readers.

There is no hint of all these important details in Snyder's account, and that account is false to boot. Either Snyder knows virtually nothing about the Ezhovshchina - i.e. he has not studied the scholarship from it - or he does know something but has concealed it from his readers in order to give his book a suitably "anti-Stalin" and anti-Soviet bias.

According to Jansen and Petrov:

Aleksei Nasedkin, the former Smolensk NKVD chief and from May 1938 on Interior People's Commissar (33) of Belorussia, described the situation at the conference this way: Ezhov approved of the activity of thsoe NKVD chiefs, who cited "astronomic" numbers of persons repressed, such as, for instance, the NKVD chief of Western Siberia, citing a number of 55,000 people arrested, Dmitriev of Sverdlovsk province - 40,000, Berman of Belorussia - 60,000, Uspenskii of Orenburg - 40,000, Liushkov of the Far East - 70,000, Redens of Moscow province - 50,000. The Ukrainian NKVD chiefs each cited numbers of people arrested from 30,000 to 40,000. Having listened to the numbers, Ezhov in his concluding remarks praised those who had "excelled" and announced that, undoubtedly, excesses had taken place here and there, such as, for instance, in Kuibyshev, where on Postyshev's instruction Zhuravlev had transplanted all active Party members of the province. But he immediately added that "in such a large-scale operation mistakes are inevitable."

(J&P 131; same quotation in Russian, P&J 146).

Nasedkin made this statement on July 16, 1939, under arrest and during the investigation of his case by Beria's men. Having regained control of the NKVD from Ezhov Stalin and his forces were investigating the enormous atrocities committed by Ezhov and his men and punishing the guilty parties. It is this that the ideological anticommunists like Snyder wish to conceal from their readers.

Snyder Claims That Japan Did Not Move Against the USSR After Mid-1937

The Japanese leadership had decided upon a southern strategy, toward China and then the Pacific. Japan intervened in China in July 1937, right when the Great Terror began, and would move further southward only thereafter. (105)

It is hard to imagine how anyone could make such an ignorant statement and think it would not be noticed. In reality Japan attacked the USSR twice after 1937. In the "Lake Khasan" or "Changkufeng" incident of July-August 1938 the Red Army lost about 236 killed, the Japanese Army perhaps twice that number.

But from May to mid-September 1939 a real war was fought between the USSR and Japan. This was the "Battles of Khalkhin Gol" or "Nomonhan Incident." The Soviet Union and Japan each lost about 8,000 soldiers. It played an important part in Soviet negotiations with the UK and France, since the USSR was determined not to fight two wars at the same time, one in Europe against Germany, and the second in Asia against Japan. The Soviet victory at Khalkhin Gol convinced the Japanese not to attack the USSR.

Snyder has to know about this. Evidently he thinks his readers are so ignorant that they would accept his statement here at face value.

Snyder Invents “Stalin’s Theory of Interrogation”

Stalin had brought to life his theory that the enemy could be unmasked only by interrogation. (107)

Where did this “theory” come from? Snyder has no documentation for this statement, not even false “documentation.” There is no evidence that Stalin had any such “theory.” This is yet another falsehood.

Snyder Reads Stalin’s Mood

It is evidently important to Snyder’s project that Stalin be personally responsible for the mass murder of the Ezhovshchina. The problem is that all the evidence now available points in the opposite direction. Presumably this is why Snyder, like other ideologically-motivated writers, repeatedly invents his "facts."

For example, Snyder claims that Stalin was made happier, or something like that, by all the mass murders:

Yet the conversion of columns of peasants into columns of figures seemed to lift Stalin's mood... (107)

Snyder has fabricated this weird factoid. How can Snyder know "Stalin's mood" anyway? Its purpose, evidently, is to portray Stalin as some kind of bloodthirsty monster. Once again, there is no evidence to support it. Historians have no business engaging in this cheap psychologizing, propaganda disguised as history.

The Ezhovshchina as "Stalin's policy"

At this point in Chapter 4 Snyder inserts the quotation with which we open our discussion of the Ezhovshchina (see the following chapter).

...and the course of the Great Terror certainly confirmed Stalin's position of power. Having called a halt to the mass operations in November 1938, Stalin once again replaced his NKVD chief. Lavrenty Beria succeeded Yezhov, who was later executed. The same fate awaited many of the highest officers of the NKVD, blamed for the supposed excesses, which were in fact the substance of Stalin's policy. (107-8)

For ideologically anticommunist researchers it is important that these mass murders be Stalin's plan and intention. But this is false. When Stalin acted he did so on the basis of reports sent to him through Ezhov. According to V.N. Khaustov, a very anti-Stalin researcher and one of the compilers of several of these invaluable document collections, these reports were falsified.



And the most frightening thing was that Stalin made his decisions on the basis of confessions that were the result of the inventions of certain employees of the organs of state security. Stalin's reactions attest to the fact that he took these confessions completely seriously.

Snyder: Stalin Didn't Lose, Therefore He Was Always In Control

Snyder then says:

Because Stalin had been able to replace Yagoda with Yezhov, and then Yezhov with Beria, he showed himself to be at the top of the security apparatus. Because he was able to use the NKVD against the party, but also the party against the NKVD, he showed himself to be the unchallengeable leader of the Soviet Union. Soviet socialism had become a tyranny where the tyrant's power was demonstrated by the mastery of the politics of his own court. (107-8)

Source (n. 43 p. 474):

* "Khlevniuk, "Party and NKVD," 23, 28;"

* Binner, "Massenmord," 591-593.

The false logic in this paragraph of Snyder's is worth examining also because it is used by other anticommunist researchers as well. Snyder commits the logical fallacy of "post hoc ergo propter hoc." Because Iagoda and Ezhov both conspired to overthrow Stalin but both failed, Snyder concludes that Stalin was always in control.

Imagine applying this to football games: the team that won was always going to win, and the fact that they won proved that they were in control of the outcome the whole time! "Logic" like this is evidently intended to "absolve" anticommunist researchers of the normal scholarly trouble of having to find evidence to support their assumptions.

These are puzzling statements that require examination. Of course it has to be true that Stalin ended up "at the top of the security apparatus" after Ezhov's removal. But this does not address the main question here, which is: did Ezhov violate the Politburo's - "Stalin's" - orders in pursuing these mass executions of innocent persons, or not? And when did Stalin "use the party against the NKVD"?

Evidently Snyder is trying to imply that Stalin planned everything that Ezhov did because Stalin had succeeded in removing Ezhov. Of course the latter does not imply the former at all. If Stalin did not know about Ezhov's criminal mass murders and then found out about them, he would have wanted to remove him. From the evidence we have this appears to be what happened.

Once again Snyder appears to be trying to insinuate something that he cannot prove. Naturally Stalin did not have any "court." Nor was he a "tyrant" - whatever that means - or a dictator, one "whose word is law." Stalin had been openly challenged at the June 1937 Central Committee Plenum, and was to be decisively defeated in October 1937 in his desire to have competitive elections to the Soviets as stipulated by the new constitution. (35)

Turning for clarification to the sources Snyder cites here, we find that Khlevniuk, "Party and NKVD," 23, 28 contains no evidence to support any of the claims in this paragraph. It merely summarizes in very general terms the situation after Ezhov's resignation in late 1938.

Binner, "Massenmord" - actually Binner and Junge, and titled "Wie der Terror 'Gross' Wurde: Massenmord under Lagerhaft nach Befehl 00447" - also summarizes the events of September to November, 1938. While insinuating their conviction that Stalin was in control of what Ezhov was doing - this assumption is common to all anticommunist researchers - neither Binner and Junge nor any of the other anticommunist researchers have any evidence to support their conviction.

This is pure ideology, common to most if not all anticommunist writers. They "want" evidence that Stalin was "in charge" of Ezhov's mass murders. Unfortunately, all the evidence points in the opposite direction so they can just assert that Stalin was "really" in charge.

Binner and Junge do note that as early as 1993 Boris Starkov claimed that Ezhov "had not informed Stalin of his actions." Although Binner and Junge disagree with this statement of Starkov's they have no evidence to support their disagreement. It should not surprise us that Snyder fails to mention this. But we know now that Starkov was correct. In fact he did not go nearly far enough. We now have the evidence that Ezhov's mass murders were not authorized at all, and were part of Ezhov's conspiracy to overthrow the government and Party leadership.


Snyder: Noting A Person's Nationality Is "Not So Very Different From" Nazism

Germany's Nuremberg laws of 1935 excluded Jews from political participation in the German state and defined Jewishness according to descent. German officials were indeed using the records of synagogues to establish whose grandparents were Jews. Yet in the Soviet Union the situation was not so very different. The Soviet internal passports had a national category, so that every Soviet Jew, every Soviet Pole, and indeed every Soviet citizen had an officially recorded nationality. In principle Soviet citizens were allowed to choose their own nationality, but in practice this was not always so. In April 1938 the NKVD required that in certain cases information about the nationality of parents be entered. By the same order, Poles and other members of diaspora nationalities were expressly forbidden from changing their nationality..." (110)

n. 47 - Hirsch, Empire, 293-294.

This is another dishonest attempt by Snyder to bracket Soviet policy with Nazi racism.

Snyder has certainly not read the NKVD "requirement" he refers to. He does not even give a date for it. His source, Francine Hirsch, (37) discusses the fact that both the cancelled 1937 census and the subsequent 1938 census permitted all citizens to "declare their national identities 'according to their conscience and not their birth." Hirsch then cites, though without quoting it, an archival document according to which in April 1938 the NKVD began to require new passports to record the nationality of the holder's parents.

In later pages Hirsch goes on to discuss the struggle between census officials, who wanted to retain self-designation of nationality, and the NKVD, which was concerned about possible loyalty conflicts of persons with foreign roots. Hirsch explicitly disagrees with two other anticommunist researchers (Tony Martin and Eric Weitz) who she believes greatly exaggerate the significance of this NKVD directive.

Hirsch completely rejects any comparison of Soviet and German Nazi policies on nationality because, in fact, they were very different. In a very multinational state such as the USSR nationality was an important component of individual identity. It had nothing to do with Nazi notions of genetic superiority and inferiority.

However, there are some problems with Hirsch's analysis. For one thing, Hirsch interprets the new NKVD policy as indicative of Soviet policy, as she does "terror." She appears ignorant of the fact that in 1937-1938 the NKVD, under Nikolai Ezhov, was out of control.

We have taken the trouble to obtain the text of this document. It has never been reprinted since its first appearance in an obscure Memorial Society newsletter. Now that we have the text of the NKVD directive of April 1938 we can discern a more serious problem with Hirsch's discussion: she misrepresents what the NKVD directive actually says. She states:

The explicit aim {of the "NKVD passport decree of April 1938"} was to ferret out members of "suspect" nations who, the NKVD claimed, were "concealing" their true identities. (275)

The NKVD introduced this decree in April 1938, directing registrars to write the nationality of a passport recipient's parents - and not the self-defined nationality of the passport recipient - in newly-issued passports....If a person's parents belonged to two different nationalities and one "belonged to a foreign state," the registrar was to write the nationality of both parents in the passport. ... Even Poles and Germans who had lived in Russia for generations were designated as people who "belonged to" a foreign state... (294)

Hirsch cites archival documents, so we cannot be certain that she is referring to the April 1938 NKVD passport decree we quote below. But this document is the only one now available. It contains nothing about "suspect" nations and does not mention "foreign states" at all.

Hirsch spreads false information about this NKVD regulation, making it appear much more sinister than its text actually warrants. This is possible only because the document is so hard to locate. Petrov and Roginskii, both of "Memorial Society", refer to it and certainly read it since it is published in a "Memorial Society" publication. Hirsch must have read it too. But her description of it varies widely from the text we have.

Snyder fails to inform his readers that the NKVD order is discussed, and quoted in part, in Petrov and Roginskii, "'Pol'skaia operatsiia' NKVD 1937-1938 gg." Snyder is certainly aware of this fact, as he repeatedly cites this work.

Petrov and Roginskii mention two different NKVD documents of two different dates: "Circular No. 65 of April 2, 1938" and "Explanatory directive of the Department of Citizenship of the NKVD of the USSR No. 1486178 of April 29, 1938." Footnote 18 in Petrov/Roginskii states that the second of these documents was published in the very rare journal "Memorial-Aspekt" in 1994. They give no source at all for the first document.

18 Разъясняющее указание Отдела актов гражданского состояния НКВД СССР No 1486178 от 29 апреля 1938 г. см.: Мемориал-аспект. 1994. No 10.(38)

Here is the text of this document from the rare Memorial-Aspekt journal (no longer published): (39)





April 29, 1938

No 1486178

To All chiefs of the OAGS(40) of the NKVD and UNKVD

Circular NKVD number 65 of April 2, 1938 ... has established a new procedure for indicating nationality at the time of the issuance or exchange of passports, requiring that the nationality of the passport holder be based solely on birth nationality by birth (of the parents).

In this regard, the situation which has existed up to now when nationality of citizens in registering civil documents is recorded as that reported by the registrant - is changing.

In all cases of documentation that nationality should be indicated on the basis of the passports presented at registration.

Where no passport is present, the determination of the nationality of the registrant is to be done by questioning the individual present. Bear in mind that the notation of nationality must be carried out in conformity with actual national origin of the registrant's parent. If the parents were German, Poles, etc., regardless of their place of birth, length of time they have resided in the USSR, or change of citizenship, etc., the registrant must not be recorded as a Russian, a Belorussian, etc.

When the indicated nationality does not correspond to {the registrant's} native language or surname - for example: a registrant's surname is Popandopulo, Mueller, but {the registrant} calls himself Russian, Belorussian, etc., and if at the time of recording it is not possible to establish the actual nationality of the registrant - do not fill out the section on nationality until the individual has presented documentary proof that the registrant belongs to one or another nationality.

Explain to the employees of the ZAGS that failure to present documents about nationality can influence only the recording of nationality, but may not delay the registrant in general, which is guided in such cases by directives of chapter 3 22 of the instruction on recording documents.

Record the nationality of a baby at birth, if the parents are of different nationalities, according to the parents' wishes. In such cases indicate in the section "special remarks" that the baby's nationality has been recorded on the basis of the agreement of the parents, i.e. according to the nationality of the father or the mother. If they do not agree, the matter should be decided by the organs of guardianship (according to article 39 of the Code of Laws of the RSFSR and corresponding articles of the Codes of the union republics). Do not fill in the nationality until a decision has been reached.

Chief of the Bureau of regulations of civil status

Major of state security


A study of this document yields some important results.

* Although they do not admit as much, evidently even Petrov and Roginskii have not seen "NKVD USSR circular No. 65 of April 2, 1938." It is simply referred to at the beginning of the document above.

* The examples cited in the document make it clear that the aim of the new requirement - to determine a citizen's nationality on the basis of his parents' nationality or statement - is to avoid absurdities. The examples given are of persons surnamed "Popandopoulo" and "Müller" who claim that they are Russian by nationality.

* In such cases the directive requires officials to request documentary proof of nationality. It does not give officials the right to determine this themselves.

In the USSR nationality was an important marker of citizenship. Persons of certain nationalities had certain privileges in certain areas of the USSR where that nationality comprised a substantial part of the population. In Soviet institutions an attempt was made to have "affirmative action" - a proportion of citizens of minority nationalities that approximated their percentage of the Soviet population. Failure to do this would run the danger of the domination of all important posts by Russians, Ukrainians, or Jews, who usually did predominate unless affirmative steps were taken to promote persons of minority nationalities.

It is outrageous for Snyder to suggest that official registration of a citizen's nationality was "not so very different" from the Nazi practice of racial stigmatization, removal of civil and legal rights, repression, persecution, imprisonment and murder. Snyder's doing so demonstrates how desperately he strives to bracket Soviet actions with Nazism whatever the cost to the truth.

Snyder sums up his treatment of the Ezhovshchina as follows:

The Soviet Union benefited from the public violence in Nazi Germany. In this atmosphere, supporters of the Popular Front counted on the Soviet Union to protect Europe from the descent into ethnic violence. Yet the Soviet Union had just engaged in a campaign of ethnic murder on a far larger scale. It is probably fair to say that no one beyond the Soviet Union had any notion of this. A week after Kristallnacht, the Great Terror was brought to an end, after some 247,157 Soviet citizens had been shot in the national operations. As of the end of 1938, the USSR had killed about a thousand times more people on ethnic grounds than had Nazi Germany. The Soviets had, for that matter, killed far more Jews to that point than had the Nazis. The Jews were targeted in no national action, but they still died in the thousands in the Great Terror - and for that matter during the famine in Soviet Ukraine. They died not because they were Jews, but simply because they were citizens of the most murderous regime of the day. (111)

This is an important paragraph, in that it combines one truthful fact - the number of people killed in the Ezhovshchina - with a fallacious interpretation of that fact. The phrases "the Soviet Union had just engaged", "the USSR had killed", "the Soviet had...killed", and "the most murderous regime" are falsifications, in that they express the assumption that these killings were the policy of the Soviet government and the Politburo headed by Stalin.

It is a substitute for understanding what was going on. The 1932-1933 famine was not deliberate, so the USSR didn't "kill" anybody in it. Nor did "the regime" kill people on a national basis. It was Ezhov who did this, in pursuit of his own conspiracy to overthrow the Soviet government.

In the official sense the Soviet government, the Politburo, Stalin, all bore responsibility for Ezhov's mass murders in that they were, formally, in overall charge of the country and therefore were obliged to take steps to stop criminal activity and to punish those responsible. This is true of all governments and heads of state anywhere at any time.

However, no one holds a government morally responsible for illegal crimes and atrocities committed by government officials unless the government discovers those crimes and yet refuses to punish the perpetrators. The Stalin government did vigorously pursue, investigate, prosecute, and punish Ezhov and the NKVD men under him who were responsible for these atrocities.

Therefore it is not true that the Soviet government or "regime" was guilty of these mass murders or that Ezhov was some kind of "scapegoat." Ezhov's mass murders were a rebellion against the Soviet government, Party, and Stalin.

Snyder Admits That Poland Was Anti-Semitic, Like Nazi Germany

Grand deportation schemes made a kind of sense in 1938, when leading Nazis could still delude themselves that Poland might become a German satellite and join in an invasion of the Soviet Union. More than three million Jews lived in Poland, and Polish authorities had also investigated Madagascar as a site for their resettlement. Although Polish leaders envisioned no policies toward their large national minorities (five million Ukrainians, three million Jews, one million Belarusians) that were remotely comparable to Soviet realities or Nazi plans, they did wish to reduce the size of the Jewish population by voluntary emigration. After the death of the Polish dictator Józef Piłsudski in 1935, his successors had taken on the position of the Polish nationalist right on this particular question, and had established a ruling party that was open only to ethnic Poles... (112)

Here Snyder finally admits the truth: it was prewar Poland that was racist like Nazi Germany. The USSR was not in the least.

Snyder Denies Poland Wanted to Invade the USSR Alongside Germany

Piłsudski's heirs in this respect followed Piłsudski's line: a policy of equal distance between Berlin and Moscow, with nonaggression pacts with both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, but no alliance with either. On 26 January 1939 in Warsaw, the Poles turned down the German foreign minister, Joachim van Ribbentrop, one last time. (113)

In one of his articles Snyder makes the same false claim:

Ribbentrop's master Adolf Hitler wanted a deal so that he could begin a war. For the Nazis, the Soviet Union was the main enemy, and its agriculture and oil the prize. But between Germany and the USSR lay Poland, and the Poles expressed no interest in being the junior partner in the adventure. (2009-4)

This is all false. Up till the beginning of 1939, when Hitler decided to turn against Poland before making the war on the USSR, the Polish government was maneuvering to join Nazi Germany in a war on the USSR in order to seize more territory.

Here is what really happened on January 26, 1939, the date Snyder mentions. Polish Foreign Minister Josef Beck was in negotiations with Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop in Warsaw. Ribbentrop wrote:

... 2. I then spoke to M. Beck once more about the policy to be pursued by Poland and Germany towards the Soviet Union and in this connection also spoke about the question of the Greater Ukraine and again proposed Polish-German collaboration in this field.

M. Beck made no secret of the fact that Poland had aspirations directed toward the Soviet Ukraine and a connection with the Black Sea... (41)

(Emphasis added.)

Beck told Ribbentrop that Poland would like to seize much of the Ukraine from the USSR, for that was the only way Poland could have had "a connection with the Black Sea." Such aspirations could not have been fulfilled without an invasion of the Ukraine. Poland could never have undertaken such an invasion by itself. Therefore Beck was stating his openness to a joint Polish-German invasion of the Ukraine, if the conditions became favorable.

This means that, far from "expressing no interest in being the junior partner" with the Nazis in carving up the USSR, Beck expressed considerable interest - but, given the current political situation, begged off. Snyder withholds this information from his readers.

Snyder Terms Stalin's Anti-Hitler Move a 'Pro'-Hitler Move

In spring 1939, Stalin made a striking gesture toward Hitler, the great ideological foe. Hitler had pledged not to make peace with Jewish communists; Nazi propaganda referred to the Soviet commissar for foreign affairs, Maxim Litvinov, as Finkelstein. Litvinov was indeed Jewish - his brother was a rabbi. Stalin obliged Hitler by firing Litvinov on 3 May 1939. Litvinov was replaced by Stalin's closest ally, Molotov, who was Russian. The indulgence of Hitler... (115)

Source (n. 56 p. 474):

* Haslam, Collective Security, 90, 153.

* "On Litvinov, see Herf, Jewish Enemy, 104; and Orwell, Orwell and Politics, 78."

That is completely wrong. Let's look at Snyder's sources.

Haslam, Collective Security, page 90 concerns Litvinov's gloomy conclusions in late 1935 that France was drifting in an anti-Soviet direction. Jakob Surits was sent to "activate contacts in Berlin", since the last thing the USSR wanted was any kind of Franco-German alliance against the Soviet Union. Surits, by the way, was Jewish. At page 163 Haslam outlines similar remarks by Litvinov to the effect that if France would not ally, or "have anything to do with" the USSR, then the Soviets would have to turn towards Germany.

Snyder's reference "On Litvinov, see Herf, Jewish Enemy, 104" is pure bluff. Page 104 of Herf's book discusses how satisfied Goebbels was to see Litvinov back in a prominent position after the Nazi invasion. This says the opposite of what Snyder states, so Snyder probably meant "Herf, 93." There Herf writes:

The replacement of the Jewish foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov by Vycheslav {sic} Molotov had signaled the end of Soviet support for popular-front antifascism. As the historians of the Soviet Union Mikhail Heller and Alexander Nekrich put it, "for the first time since the founding of the Soviet state anti-Semitism was becoming official policy."

Soviet policy was becoming "officially" anti-Semitic? What is Herf's evidence for such a serious accusation? Herf's footnote 2 is to Heller and Nekrich, Utopia in Power (NY, 1986), p. 364. But there the search for evidence ends, for Heller and Kerich, visceral haters of Stalin, have no evidence at all to support this statement.

Here is what Geoffrey Roberts, one of the best academic historians of the Stalin period in the West, says:

Why did Stalin choose to replace Litvinov at such a critical moment? A common interpretation is that it was a prelude to the pact with Nazi Germany signed in August 1939. The problem with this explanation is that far from abandoning the triple alliance negotiations with Britain and France, Molotov pursued them with even more vigor than Litvinov. The most likely explanation is that Molotov's appointment was connected to Litvinov's failure to make any headway in the negotiations. (Roberts, Molotov, p. 21.)

As Roberts concludes, Snyder, Herf, and Heller and Nekrich, are all wrong. In fact the opposite was the case. Molotov was the closest person to Stalin in the Soviet leadership. His appointment signaled redoubled efforts to get "collective security" - guarantees from Britain and France that they would fight Germany if the USSR did. These talks only failed in the end because the British envoy, Admiral Drax, arrived in the USSR by slow boat and without any authority to sign any agreement. There is no evidence that any desire to "indulge Hitler" had anything to do with Litvinov's replacement.

Snyder appears to recognize this, in a vague way, in the following paragraph:

The alternative to a German orientation, an alliance with Great Britain and France, seemed to offer little. London and Paris had granted security guarantees to Poland in March 1939 to try to deter a German attack, and tried thereafter to bring the Soviet Union into some kind of defensive coalition. But Stalin was quite aware that London and Paris were unlikely to intervene in eastern Europe if Germany attacked Poland or the Soviet Union.

(Emphasis added.)

Once again Snyder is completely wrong in claiming that London and Paris had "tried...to bring the Soviet Union into some kind of defensive coalition." In reality, just the opposite was the case. The USSR had tried to negotiate a mutual defense pact with the UK and France. This attempt foundered because the British did not want it, and the French went along with the UK. The transcript of the negotiations between the British, French, and Soviet representatives was published in the Soviet Union in 1959 in two successive issues of the Soviet journal Mezhdunarodnaia Zhizn' {= "International Life"}. (42) The texts are available online (in Russian), including:

* the August 12, 1939 session, during which British Admiral Drax admits that he has no powers to conclude any agreement; (43)

* the August 16 telegram from French Foreign Minister Bonnet to the French Ambassador to Poland Noel, insisting that he make clear to the Poles that their agreeing to allow Soviet troops to cross Polish territory to engage German forces is absolutely essential for any collective security agreement; (44)

* Polish Foreign Minister Josef Beck's August 20 telegram to Juliusz Łukasiewicz, Polish Ambassador to France, declaring that Poland refuses any military agreements with the Soviet Union. This is the document that definitively sabotaged any collective security agreement, thus guaranteeing both the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and Poland's defeat in September 1939. (45)


A Polish source states that this document was sent to Polish Ambassador to London Edward Raczynski rather than to Łukasiewicz and gives the Polish original as follows, of which the Russian text above is a faithful translation: (Polish) English translation: (46)

The French and English ambassadors have approached me as a result of negotiations of the Franco-Anglo-Soviet staffs, during which the Soviets demanded the possibility of entering into contact with the German army in the Pomorze, Suwalszczyna, and in eastern Little Poland {i.e. Western Belorussia and the Western Ukraine - GF}. This position is supported by an English and French demarche.

I responded that it is impermissable that these states discussed the question of the military use of the territory of another sovereign state. No military treaties bind Poland with the Soviets, and the Polish government does not intend to conclude a treaty of this kind.

The French ambassador said that in that case they will reply to the Soviets that the Polish government has refused any discussion or that the French government has not undertaken a formal demarche since it is certain of a negative reply.

I leave the question of a response to the Soviets to France and England, with the stipulation that the answer will not give any reason for misunderstanding.


(Emphasis added.)

This was the direct cause of the failure of collective security against German aggression. It was thereby also the direct cause of the German invasion of Poland. Hitler feared a two-front war; his general staff even more so. He would not have invaded had collective security been established. And it would have been established - except for England and Poland.

In his interviewin Isvestiia of August 27 1939 Marshal Voroshilov put it this way:



The Soviet military mission considered that the USSR, having no common frontier with an aggressor, can render assistance to France, Great Britain, and Poland only if its troops will be allowed to pass through Polish territory, because there is no other way for Soviet troops to establish contact with the aggressor's troops.

Just as the British and American troops in the past World War would have been unable to participate in military collaboration with the French armed forces if they had no possibility of operating in French territory, the Soviet armed forces could not participate in military collaboration with armed forces of France and Great Britain if they are not allowed access to Polish territory.

Despite the fact that this position is obviously correct, the French and English military missions did not agree with this position of the Soviet mission, and the Polish government openly declared that they did not need and would not accept military help from the USSR.

These circumstance made military collaboration between the USSR and these countries impossible.

This is the basis of the disagreements. Over this the negotiations have been broken off. (48)

(Emphasis added)

There is also good evidence that Beck had been well paid by the Germans to act in their interest - that he was, in fact, a German agent. (49)

Snyder Falsifies the "Molotov-Ribbentrop" Nonaggression Pact

Snyder states "{t}he two regimes immediately found common ground in their mutual aspiration to destroy Poland." (116)

In fact, the very opposite is the truth. Far from "destroying Poland", the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was intended to guarantee the continued existence of Poland in case the German Army overran it. Here is the text of the secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact: (50)

Article II. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish state, the spheres of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R. shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narev, Vistula and San.

The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish State and how such a state should be bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political developments.

By this secret protocol, as long as "an independent Polish State" continued to exist, it would be east of the Narev-Vistula-San line and Germany could not occupy it.

(51) That would be desirable for the USSR. Such a rump Polish state would (a) provide a buffer between German troops and the Soviet border; and (b) be hostile to Germany and more likely to agree to a mutual defense treaty with the USSR, something that, as we have seen, Poland rejected as late as August 1939, less than a month before the Polish-German war.

But no one had foreseen that the Polish government would abandon its country without appointing a successor government, thus leaving Poland without any government at all. Without any command for the military and without any entity with which to negotiate a surrender Hitler had the pretext - and, in fact, a good case in international law - to take the position that Poland as a state no longer existed.

German declaration that Poland as a state no longer existed amounted to a threat to repudiate the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which concerned "the Polish state." If Germany insisted there was no "Polish state" any longer it was free to send its troops hundreds of miles further to the East, to the borders of Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia. And this is exactly what happened. Hitler's government stopped referring to "Poland" and began referring to "in the area lying to the east of the German zone of influence."

The USSR could not stand by while Hitler's army rolled up to its pre-1939 borders. No state in the world would have acted this way. Nor did international law demand it. This compelled the USSR to enter "the former Polish state" in order to prevent the German army from marching up to the 1939 Soviet border.

Chapter Seven of the present book is devoted to a more detailed examination of the issue of the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact and questions related to it.

Snyder Fabricates a "Justification for Mass Murder" by Stalin

The irony was that Stalin had very recently justified the murder of more than one hundred thousand of his own citizens by the false claim that Poland had signed just such a secret codicil with Germany under the cover of a nonaggression pact. (116)

This statement is just another outright falsification by Snyder. Stalin never made any such statement, and - naturally - Snyder does not cite a shred of evidence that he did.

Snyder Begins His False Account of the "Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact"

Officially, the agreement signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939 was nothing more than a nonaggression pact. In fact, Ribbentrop and Molotov also agreed to a secret protocol, designating the areas of influence for Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union within eastern Europe: in what were still the independent states of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.... now the Soviet Union had agreed to attack Poland along with Germany. (116)

(Emphasis added, GF)

This is a lie. We have quoted the Secret Protocol above. It contains no agreement whatever to "attack Poland" at all, ever, much less "along with Germany." Of course Snyder cannot cite any evidence in support of his statement here.

Throughout the rest of his book, and in many of his articles, Snyder writes about the "alliance" between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. For example:

...the Nazi-Soviet alliance... ...the union between Moscow and Berlin... (116-7)

Two days after the Soviet military victory over Japan, on 17 September 1939, the Red Army invaded Poland from the east. The Red Army and the Wehrmacht met in the middle of the country and organized a joint victory parade. (117)

All these statements are false, and of course Snyder has no evidence to support any of them.

1. There was no "Nazi-Soviet alliance." Snyder repeats this over and over again. But it never existed, so of course he has no evidence that it did. Nor was there any "union between Moscow and Berlin."

2. The Red Army did not "invade Poland." It sent troops into "the former Polish state" only after the Germans had informed the USSR that there was no longer any "Poland." This meant that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was no longer in effect, because it was a pact concerning Poland - and Germany considered that Poland no longer existed. Germany told the Soviets that if they did not send in troops, "new states" would be formed in Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine. That meant a pro-Nazi Ukrainian Nationalist state, as the Soviets no doubt knew. (52)

Given this situation the Soviets had no choice but to send in the Red Army. No state in the world would have permitted the German Wehrmacht to march right up to its borders without taking some kind of action to prevent it.

3. There was no "joint victory parade." In the next chapter we will expose, in detail, Snyder's lies about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and related issues.

By opening half of Poland to the Soviet Union, Hitler would allow Stalin's Terror, so murderous in the Polish operation, to recommence within Poland itself. Thanks to Stalin, Hitler was able, in occupied Poland, to undertake his first policies of mass killing. In the twenty-one months that followed the joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland, the Germans and the Soviets would kill Polish civilians in comparable numbers for similar reasons, as each ally mastered its half of occupied Poland. (117-118)

Every one of these statements is false. Naturally Snyder has no evidence for any of them.

* The "Polish operation" was not "Stalin's Terror." The many murders in the "Polish operation" were carried out by Ezhov in pursuit of his conspiracy against the Soviet government and Party. Stalin had nothing to do with them. This is well demonstrated by the evidence we have. At least one expert though highly anticommunist historian, Khaustov, has admitted that this is what happened.

* The USSR did not carry out any "terror" in Poland at all. As we shall see, Snyder is unable to find any evidence of such a "terror."

* To say that Hitler's "mass killing" was "thanks to Stalin" is the reverse of the truth. As though Hitler would not have killed Poles if he had occupied all of Poland instead of just the Western half! On the contrary: he would have killed many more Poles if he had had the whole country under his control.

* Hitler's conquest of Poland and the subsequent mass killings of Polish citizens were the direct result of the Polish government's rejection of collective security, and then of their abandonment of their own country, leaving it without any government. The Polish government must share with Hitler the responsibility for the immense death and destruction visited upon Poland by Hitler.

The Polish regime's refusal either to agree to collective security with the USSR or to avoid war with Germany by yielding to Hitler's demands (more German rights in Danzig and a "corridor" to it and to East Prussia) was suicidal. No one believed that the Polish army could stand up to the Germany army unaided. Yet the Polish regime flatly refused any alliance with the Red Army, the only military force that could have intervened in a timely manner if Germany should attack Poland, as in fact it did.

* The Polish government made the situation qualitatively worse by committing an unprecedented act of cowardice. The government, along with the military leaders, abandoned the country and crossed the border to internment in Rumania. Since Rumania was neutral in the war it had to "intern" the Polish government, rather than permit it to operate safely on Rumanian soil, or be guilty of a hostile act against Germany.

Moreover, the Polish government failed to appoint a successor government, either within Poland or in exile, before fleeing into Rumania and being interned. Once interned, the former Polish government figures could not perform and governmental functions. That meant that there was no Polish government and no one with whom Hitler could negotiate. It also meant that the Polish Army, parts of which were still fighting - Warsaw had not yet fallen to the Germans, for example - no longer had a legitimate commander. Therefore, as a state, Poland had ceased to exist. No other government in World War 2 acted in this manner.

Naturally, one could also blame the governments of Great Britain and France, who failed to honor their obligation to attack Germany if Germany attacked Poland. Their actions proved that Soviet suspicions were correct. The Western Allies were not inclined to hinder Hitler as long as he kept "moving East", towards the hated Soviet Union.

Even Winston Churchill acknowledged that the Soviet Union was correct to enter Poland rather than allow the German army to march right up to the pre-1939 Soviet border. In his radio speech of October 1, 1939, printed in the New York Times on October 2, 1939, p. 6, Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, said:

Russia has pursued a cold policy of self-interest. We could have wished that the Russian Armies should be standing on their present line as the friends and allies of Poland. But that the Russian Armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace.

Churchill also agreed that it was in the interest of the Allies to have the Red Army occupying these territories:

... here these interests of Russia fall into the same channel as the interests of Britain and France.

(Emphasis added, GF)

The Soviets declared their neutrality in the German-Polish war. Their neutrality was accepted by every state as well as by the League of Nations.

* The Soviets killed no "Polish civilians" in the following 21 months, let alone for "comparable reasons" to Hitler's. Hitler's reason was the extermination of Slavs!

* The part of Poland "occupied" by the Soviet Union had been seized by Poland in an imperialist war in 1919-1920. Poles were a minority among the population. The Western Allies immediately recognized that Poland had no claim to these territories and they would not be returned to Poland after the war ended.

Since 1939 these same lands have been part of Belarus and Ukraine and remain so today. The Polish government no longer claims that these lands are a part of Poland or should be returned to Poland.


(1) See Furr, "The Moscow Trials and the "Great Terror" of 1937-1938: What the Evidence Shows," cited in the last chapter.

(2) Martin, "Origins" is in fact an overview of Soviet ethnic policy. But it is composed from the materials available in the mid-1990s, when a great many important primary sources on the Ezhovshchina had not yes been published, and so is of limited usefulness today.


(4) Grover Furr, "Baberowski's Falsification." At: http://msuweb.montclair.edu/%7Efurrg/research/furr-baberowski10.html

(5) Snyder uses "Balytskyi:, a Ukrainian spelling (another, more accurate, transliteration of the Ukrainian would be "Balyts'kyy") though almost all the sources we have concerning him are in Russian. I will use the Russian spelling.

(6) It is possible that the Polish military intelligence no longer referred to itself as the POW, the Polish acronym for the "Polska Organizacja Wojskowa" or Polish Military Organization, although some of those arrested as Polish spies had been in the POW and referred to the Polish underground intelligence organization as the POW.

(7) At: http://9may.ru/unsecret/m10009059

(8) Maria Wosiek. "Zeznania Witolda Wandurskiego we wienzeniu GPU." Pamietnik Teatralny, Nos 3-4, 1996, pp. 487-510.

(9) Sprava 'Pol's'koi Orhanizatsii Viys'kovoi' v Ukraini 1920-38 rr. Kyiv, 2011, pp. 197, 198, 220, 299. See following footnote.


(11) See pages 198, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 209, 210, 216, 217, 218, 225, 241, 249, 268, 270, 271, 272, 286, 287, 288, 289, 290, 293, 296, 298, 308, 312, 316, 354, 408.

(12) (CYRILLIC NEEDED) (Natalia Tomazova. Oleksandr Skibnevs'kyy. Do istorii pol's'koi teatru v Kyevi. Pam'iatki, 2010):

(13) William Chase. Enemies Within the Gates? The Comintern and the Stalinist Repression, 1934-1939. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001, p. 264

(14) Communist Party of Western Ukraine and Communist Party of Western Belorussia.


(16) For example, see Grover Furr, The Murder of Sergei Kirov Chapter 17; Furr and Vladimir L. Bobrov, "Marshal S.M. Budiennyi on the Tukhachevsky Trial. Impressions of an Eye-Witness" (in Russian). Klio No. 2 (2012), pp. 8-24, available at: http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/budennyi_klio12.pdf

(17) Budzyńska, "Strzępy" is a book of personal memoirs, not relevant to any of the specific assertions Snyder makes here.

(18) If there were, why go to a Polish book published in the 1980s to find out about it? There has to be a great deal of detailed information in former communist archives.

(19) (CYRILLIC NEEDED) At: http://www.alexanderyakovlev.org/almanah/inside/almanah-doc/1012583, Title page at: http://www.alexanderyakovlev.org/almanah/inside/almanah-doc/1012214

(20) Kate Brown. A Biography of No Place. From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004 (2003).

(21) (CYRILLIC NEEDED) "Dokumenty z istorii NIVD URSR". Nashe Minule 1 (b) 1993, 39-41.

(22) Leonid Naumov. Stalin I NKVD. Moscow: Novyi Khronograf, 2010.

(23) In my edition of Naumov's book this quotation is on page 209 and 210.

(24) It is also online at the very bottom of the page at:

(25) Stronski, Represje, 223, 246: the former page recounts some sentences of terms in a camp or to death; the latter, of some persons whose bodies were found by the Germans in Vinnitsa in 1943, where they organized another mass exhumation for propaganda purposes and wrote a report along lines identical to their Katyn report. Stronski's point here is simply that some of these victims had Polish-sounding names.

(26) In Dzwonkowski, Głód, 236 the passage about the "czarny kruk", or "black raven" concerns 1933 and 1934, during the famine, while Snyder's text concerns the "Polish Operation" of 1937-1938.

(27) As a republic of the Soviet Union the country, now called Belarus after its name in its official language (Belarusian), was usually called "Belorussia" or "the Belorussian SSR." Between 1921 and 1939 Belorussia was divided between the USSR and Poland.

(28) See Furr, "The Moscow Trials and the Great Terror...", for the evidence for this statement.

(29) Grover Furr, "The Moscow Trials and the "Great Terror" of 1937-1938: What the Evidence Shows." (Written July 2010). At: http://msuweb.montclair.edu/%7Efurrg/research/trial_ezhovshchina_update0710.html

(30) If this document dated October 22, 1937 has been published, I can't find it.

(31) Nikita Petrov, Marc Jansen. "Stalinskii pitomets" - Nikolai Ezhov. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2008, pp. 367-379. At: Russian original at: http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/ezhov080439ru.html

(32) Ezhov interrogation 08.02.39 by Rodos, In Aleksei Polianskii, Ezhov. Istoriia «zheleznogo» stalinskogo narkoma. Moscow: «Veche», «Aria-AiF», 2001. 275-280. At: http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/ezhovinterrogs.html Russian original at: http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/ezhovpokazaniia.html

(33) Jansen and Petrov mean "People's Commissar of Internal Affairs"

(34) Lubianka Golgofa p. 6. Now online at: http://www.k2x2.info/politika/lubjanka_sovetskaja_yelita_na_stalinskoi_golgofe_1937_1938/p4.php

(35) See Grover Furr, "Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform. Part One." Cultural Logic 2005, paragraphs 112 ff., and the sources cited there. At: http://clogic.eserver.org/2005/furr.html

(36) Starkov's statement is in his essay "Narkom Ezhov", in J. Arch Getty and Roberta T. Manning, eds., Stalinist Terror. New Perspectives (Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 38.

(37) Empire of Nations. Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union (Cornell U.P. 2005), 293-4.

(38) This is confirmed in Ален Блюм, Мартина Меспуле. Бюрократичесиая анархия Статистика и власть при Сталине. Москва: РОССКЯН 2008, п. 223. At: http://burokraticheskaya-anarhiya.blogspot.com/2011/10/67.html ; note 52 to Chapter 10 at: http://burokraticheskaya-anarhiya.blogspot.com/2011/10/77.html : This is a translation of Alain Blum et Martine Mespoulet. L'anarchie bureaucratique. Statistique et pouvoir sous Staline. Paris, Éditions la Découverte 2003.

(39) The journal Memorial-Aspekt is apparently not held by any American library. I would like to thank my valued colleague Vladimir L. Bobrov of Moscow for obtaining this document for me.

(40) "Otdel aktov grazhdanskogo sostoiania" - Division of documents of civil status.

(41) Original in Akten zur deutschen auswärtigen Politik... Serie D. Bd. V. S. 139-140. English translation in Documents on German Foreign Policy. 1918-1945. Series D. Vol. V. The document in question is No. 126, pp. 167-168; this quotation on p. 168. Also in Russian in God Krizisa T. 1, Doc. No. 120.

(42) : "Peregovory voennykh missii SSSR, Anglii I Frantsii v Moskve v Avguste 1939 g." Mezhdunaronaia Zhizn' 2 (1959), 144-158; 3 (1959), 139-158.

(43) At: http://www.hrono.info/dokum/193_dok/19390812cccp.html

(44) At: http://www.hrono.info/dokum/193_dok/19390816bonne.html

(45) At: http://www.hrono.info/dokum/193_dok/19390820bek.html

(46) At: http://www.ibidem.com.pl/zrodla/1918-1939/polityka/miedzynarodowa/1939-08-20-telegram-beck-londyn.html

(47) (CYRILLIC NEEDED) At: http://www.hrono.ru/dokum/193_dok/19390827vorosh.html

(48) Translation of the first two paragraphs of Voroshilov's statement is taken from "Soviet 'Explains' Break with Allies", New York Times August 27 1939, p. 28

(49) See the document cited at: http://tinyurl.com/beck-german-agent-1 from a large collection of documents from Soviet archives. A discussion of this important document took place in 2011 on the H-RUSSIA mailing list. See the posts beginning June 29, 2011 at: http://tinyurl.com/beck-german-agent-1 and ending November 21, 2011 at: http://tinyurl.com/beck-german-agent-11

(50) From Paul Halsall's "Modern History Sourcebook", Fordham University. At: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1939pact.html

(51) See here for a map: http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/mlg09/m-rpact.html

(52) Some primary source documentation of these statements may be found in an appendix to my article on the M-R Pact at: http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/mlg09/no_partition.html See also Chapter Seven of the present work.