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The Anatomy of TerrorPolitical Violence under Stalin$
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James Harris

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199655663

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199655663.001.0001

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Scapegoating One's Comrades in the USSR, 1934–1937 *

Scapegoating One's Comrades in the USSR, 1934–1937 *

(p.263) 14 Scapegoating One's Comrades in the USSR, 1934–1937*
The Anatomy of Terror

William Chase

Oxford University Press

This chapter analysis of the Comintern's party organization centres on ‘snapshots’ of two men, Ludwig Magyar and Gevork Alikhanov, who were deemed to be enemies of the party and expelled in December 1934 and June 1937 respectively. The chapter's approach highlights the changes that occurred as the mass repressions developed. Magyar, an early victim who admitted his alleged guilt, was pilloried for helping former comrades and friends who had been arrested. The chapter's case was a lesson in the new, proper attitude towards enemies. The discussion of Alikhanov, who had already been arrested, unleashed rank-and-file resentment legitimized by the February–March 1937 Central Committee Plenum, which encouraged ‘little people’ to attack reigning officials. The chapter draws on theories of scapegoating by social psychologists to place the Stalinist repressions of the 1930s in comparative perspective, showing that the sacrifice of individuals to the needs of the group has a long and time-honoured tradition in many societies.

Keywords:   mass participation, denunciation, victim, perpetrator, scapegoating, local dynamics

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