Wendy Z. Goldman

Inventing the Enemy

Denunciation and Terror in Stalin's Russia

Cambridge University Press 2011

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A period of mass repression and terror swept through the Soviet Union between the years of 1936-39. Following the shocking Kirov assassination and show...

A period of mass repression and terror swept through the Soviet Union between the years of 1936-39. Following the shocking Kirov assassination and show trials of alleged factory saboteurs, paranoia gripped the nation and culminated in the execution and imprisonment of millions of Soviet citizens. The state’s and Stalin’s role in the terror cannot be understated. However, to pin the terror entirely on the state would be incorrect. In Inventing the Enemy: Denunciation and Terror in Stalin’s Russia (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Wendy Z. Goldman writes about the terror as carried out from below. While the support for mass purges came from above, its execution was often carried out by average citizens.

As news of domestic enemies dominated the press, workers on factory and textile shop floors increasingly began to see their co-workers as potential enemies, wreckers, spies, and faulty communists. Suspicion, and later formal denunciation of such workers, spiraled out of control. Any slip-up was subject to interpretation as an act against the state. Workers were on their toes as their actions, and even their past, came under intense scrutiny. Despite little-to-no evidence to support suspicions of wrong doing, paranoia prevailed. Dr. Goldman’s research takes us through the historiography of the subject and into the shop floors to show the terror in action which came to dominate worker and family relations. This is a powerful and marvelous addition to Soviet scholarship sure to revolutionize the way historians interpret Soviet power.

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