Architect of Show Trials Blunders

Saturday 26th September 1936

Hot on the heels of the first batch of show trials of supposed opponents of Stalin's regime, the head of the OGPU, Genrhik Yagoda, who had worked closely with the chief prosecutor Andrei Vyshinsky in organizing these entertainments, was removed from his post.  As well as his contribution to protecting the Soviet state, he had masterminded the construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal, at huge cost in the lives of the slave labourers put to the task. Yagoda had made the mistake of warning Stalin that the trials had not be well received by the populace. He was given the job of Minister of Posts and Telecommunication, but this did not last long and in 1938 he was executed on the usual array of trumped-up charges.

He was replaced by Nikolai Yezhov, a figure of no particular note in the rogues' gallery of Soviet state security, although his name did provide the Russian shorthand term for the epic blood-letting of the great purges that were to come in the following years: the Yezhovkshchina.


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