The Great Purges and Power Vacuums

The purges were a horrible period in the Soviet Union, which caused the deaths and exiling of thousands of people who were more than likely to be innocent of any “crime against the state” or espionage. However, many people were able to take advantage of this situation as well. A prime example would be Leplevsky, who spread rumors and half-truths about Balytyski that eventually got him exiled and killed. When Leplevsky came into power at the NKVD, he arrested all of Balytyskis leading deputies and replaced them with young workers who would follow him blindly (pg 157). Under his power, almost 20,000 people were arrested in connection to a “polish conspiracy”. Some of these people included top party leaders who had otherwise good names among the people.

Given what we know about the purges and how they worked, do you think that it was inevitable that people like Leplevsky would come into power and abuse the state of the Union?

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