A quota for killings (1938)

Arrest 5,000 more, and shoot 60% of them

<< No. 24 (257), 19 June 2017 >>

Sandarmokh tablet

“1,111 prisoners from the Solovki Prison were shot here from 27 October to 4 November 1937 “

“These encrypted telegrams mostly contain statistics rather than specific names. There are no people, just numbers,” says ALEXANDER DANIEL in a recent comment about the DMITRIEV case. “Only in Karelia do we have everything at the level of individual people, and that is all thanks to Dmitriev.”

Daniel was referring to the telegrams that passed between Moscow and the Republics and Regions of the USSR during the Great Terror. On 4 February 1938, for example, local Party boss YULY KAGANOVICH sent a brief message to Moscow, to STALIN and to YEZHOV, the head of the NKVD. He requested an increase in the quota for executions and arrests in his region (and a corresponding extension in the deadline).




(to Central Committee Secretariat)

To Comrades Stalin, Yezhov and Sector 2



Sent: 10.11 pm, 4 February 1938. Reached VKP(b) Central Committee
on 4 February 1938, 11.50 pm

Ref. No. 95/III

To: Comrade STALIN, VKP (b) Central Committee, Moscow

The work of the troika is completed. Within the quota for this Region 9,600 kulaks, SRs, rebels and other anti-Soviet elements have been sentenced. In addition, some kulak and White Army elements conducting subversive activities have been discovered. In total, up to nine thousand kulak anti-Soviet elements are registered in the Region.

The regional Party committee requests additional quotas of 3,000 for 1st category arrests [executions] and 2,000 2nd category arrests, and to extend the deadline until 20 March.

Yu. Kaganovich,
secretary of the VKP(b) Regional committee


With arbitrary quotas handed down from Moscow, and the rapid “justice” dispensed by the extra-judicial troika (or the NKVD Special Board) there is every reason to doubt that those sent to the camps — or shot — were actually members of pre-Revolutionary parties, “wealthy” peasants, or that they had fought against the Bolsheviks during the Civil War.

This telegram and several more like it can be found in the online Bukovsky Archives, a selection of classified documents gathered in the early 1990s in the uncertain hope of holding a Nuremburg-style tribunal in Moscow.