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Stalin and His Hangmen by Donald Rayfield
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Stalin and His Hangmen

by Donald Rayfield

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126795,586 (4.02)1
Recently added byJNSelko, private library, gerdor, Artymedon, FranVW, mathgeek, clarkland, Luchtpint, Polaris-, Hauge
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Inconceivable ( )
  gerdor | Jun 29, 2014 |
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who typically is in lockstep with McCain on national security matters, on Sunday, though, likened it to the U.S. aligning with Stalin during World War II, because he "was not as bad as Hitler."

"The Iranians can provide some assets to make sure Baghdad doesn't fall," Graham said.
  Artymedon | Jun 16, 2014 |
excellent, but one of the most disturbing books I have ever read. ( )
  clarkland | Feb 9, 2014 |
An impressive grasp of narrative skillfully handled stops the continuity that runs through the various manifestations of the Cheka/KGB, up to the present day Russian security services & Putin, from becoming monotonous. The author has a literary background & there is some fascinating stuff on writers & intellectuals, esp Georgian thinkers. It is depressing to read that Stalin was no simple thug, but an intelligent & well read man.
The style occasionally reads quite strangely, with the odd misjudged simile & metaphor, but Rayfield brings more to the subject than just the cold eye of the archivist. ( )
  mareki | May 2, 2008 |
Despite my familiarity with reading about the horrors of Stalin's rule, I found this a more than usually deeply depressing read, though interesting in shedding light on the background of some of the less well known horrible personalities in the history of Cheka-OGPU-NKVD. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the continuing high esteem in which some of these characters are held in Putin's Russia, witnessed by the issuing of Cheka anniversary postage stamps depicting Artuzov and Balitsky, not two of the highest leaders but nevertheless deeply horrible and murderous characters; and the continued existence of the Belomorkanal cigarette brand, equivalent to an Auschwitz cigarette brand subsisting in Germany. ( )
  john257hopper | Dec 21, 2007 |
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Ein Genozid unvorstellbaren Ausmaßes nachdem vor einigen Jahren Archive des Politbüros, des KGB und anderer Institutionen des untergegangenen Sowjetreichs für Wissenschaftler geöffnet wurden, konnte Donald Rayfield neue Erkenntnisse über Stalin und seine Henker Dserschinski, Menschinski, Jagoda, Jeschow, Berija und ihre wichtigsten Komplizen gewinnen. So entstand das beklemmende Porträt einer Epoche vom Vorabend der Oktoberrevolution bis zur Exekution Berijas im Dezember 1953 , in der ein skrupelloses Regime gegen das eigene Volk wütete. Auf dem 20. Parteitag der KPdSU im Februar 1956 verblüffte Nikita Chruschtschow die Weltöffentlichkeit durch seine radikale Abrechnung mit Stalin und dem Stalinismus. Die Enthüllungen über grausame Willkürakte und die Massenmorde des sowjetischen Diktators waren damals noch lückenhaft. Das ganze Ausmaß der Gräuel wurde erst sichtbar, nachdem man Archive in Russland Historikern aus aller Welt zugänglich gemacht hatte. Einer von ihnen, der LondonerProfessor Donald Rayfield, porträtiert nun nach intensiven Studien eines der düstersten Kapitel in der Geschichte der Sowjetunion. Stalin und seine Henker werden mit kurzen, prägnanten Biographien vorgestellt eine Chronologie des Terrors. Der Autor aber beschreibt nicht nur das brutale wie banale, das ausschweifende wie zwielichtige Leben der Täter, sondern bringt immer wieder auch ausführliche Exkurse zur Geschichte der UdSSR. Dabei werden die Hungersnöte, die Zerschlagung des Bauernstandes, die Ermordung der alten Herrscherschicht, die Schauprozesse, die Enthauptung der Roten Armee (34000 Offiziere wurden erschossen), die Deportation von Dissidenten und die Ausrottung ethnischer Minderheiten mit einer Fülle konkreten Materials geschildert. Rayfield musste bei den Recherchen für dieses Buch bestürzt registrieren, dass der Terror dieser barbarischen Zeit in den Ländern der ehemaligen Sowjetunion verdrängt, häufig sogar geleugnet wird. ( [3400])
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375757716, Paperback)

Stalin did not act alone. The mass executions, the mock trials, the betrayals and purges, the jailings and secret torture that ravaged the Soviet Union during the three decades of Stalin’s dictatorship, were the result of a tight network of trusted henchmen (and women), spies, psychopaths, and thugs. At the top of this pyramid of terror sat five indispensable hangmen who presided over the various incarnations of Stalin’s secret police. Now, in his harrowing new book, Donald Rayfield probes the lives, the minds, the twisted careers, and the unpunished crimes of Stalin’s loyal assassins.

Founded by Feliks Dzierzynski, the Cheka–the Extraordinary Commission–came to life in the first years of the Russian Revolution. Spreading fear in a time of chaos, the Cheka proved a perfect instrument for Stalin’s ruthless consolidation of power. But brutal as it was, the Cheka under Dzierzynski was amateurish compared to the well-oiled killing machines that succeeded it. Genrikh Iagoda’s OGPU specialized in political assassination, propaganda, and the manipulation of foreign intellectuals. Later, the NKVD recruited a new generation of torturers. Starting in 1938, terror mastermind Lavrenti Beria brought violent repression to a new height of ingenuity and sadism.

As Rayfield shows, Stalin and his henchmen worked relentlessly to coerce and suborn leading Soviet intellectuals, artists, writers, lawyers, and scientists. Maxim Gorky, Aleksandr Fadeev, Alexei Tolstoi, Isaak Babel, and Osip Mandelstam were all caught in Stalin’s web–courted, toyed with, betrayed, and then ruthlessly destroyed. In bringing to light the careers, personalities, relationships, and “accomplishments” of Stalin’s key henchmen and their most prominent victims, Rayfield creates a chilling drama of the intersection of political fanaticism, personal vulnerability, and blind lust for power spanning half a century.

Though Beria lost his power–and his life–after Stalin’s death in 1953, the fundamental methods of the hangmen maintained their grip into the second half of the twentieth century. Indeed, Rayfield argues, the tradition of terror, far from disappearing, has emerged with renewed vitality under Vladimir Putin. Written with grace, passion, and a dazzling command of the intricacies of Soviet politics and society, Stalin and the Hangmen is a devastating indictment of the individuals and ideology that kept Stalin in power.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:49 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Founded by Feliks Dzierzynski, the Cheka-the Extraordinary Commission-came to life in the first years of the Russian Revolution. Spreading fear in a time of chaos, the Cheka proved a perfect instrument for Stalin's ruthless consolidation of power. But brutal as it was, the Cheka under Dzierzynski was amateurish compared to the well-oiled killing machines that succeeded it. Genrikh Iagoda's OGPU specialized in political assassination, propaganda, and the manipulation of foreign intellectuals. Later, the NKVD recruited a new generation of torturers. Starting in 1938, terror mastermind Lavrenti Beria brought violent repression to a new height of ingenuity and sadism.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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