"Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial, Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine" is the title of the Lynne Viola book that narrates the terrors of the 1930s in the Soviet Union.
What is The Great Terror?
The Great Terror is a time in Soviet history that lasted for 16 months during 1937 and 1938. During this time, the Stalin Regime arrested around 1.5 million people, most of them under accusations of being "counterrevolutionary" or for "anti-Soviet activity".
Half of these prisoners would be executed and the other half were sent to the Gulag. The book by Lynne Viola includes testimonies of what some suffered during this dark part of history.
The focus of the book is to recount testimonies, anecdotes, and stories from the executioners' perspective. There are many stories from the victims of the great terror, but nothing from the executioners.
After the months of the great terror, almost 100,000 secret police officers were prosecuted by Soviet military courts due to violations of Soviet criminal procedure. Among the accusations of these officers, we can find falsification of interrogation protocols, fabrication of evidence, and use of torture to secure "confessions," and murders during the pre-trial detention of "suspects."
These trials took place with the strictest regulations of Soviet justice. Verdicts for these kinds of issues ranged from a reprimand to execution.
About Lynne Viola
Lynne Viola is a professor at the University of Toronto. She is a Soviet historian and is also author of The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin's Special Settlements, The Best Sons of the Fatherland, and Peasant Rebels under Stalin.
The war crimes committed by the NKVD (secret police) during these secret trials are the main topic of this book. It seeks to uncover the truth about the great terror from the perspective of those who executed citizens. The book reveals the terrors of how victims were tortured to get confessions. Viola also presents short stories from victims and witnesses.