Stalin’s Great Terror and Espionage

Hiroaki Kuromiya, Indiana University


Espionage is a fact of life in international politics. No political leader lives without it. While astute political leaders know well the traps inherent in the mutual deception game of espionage, Stalin's Great Terror of 1937-38 illustrates the extraordinary reach of espionage. In this particular case, Stalin set traps for the world in order to prepare for a forthcoming showdown with his mortal enemies--Germany (and Poland as a corollary) and Japan. He took nearly a million lives of men and women of his own country in the process. Although this momentous event still remains an enigma, it appears that Stalin's traps still ensnare people. It offers lessons to be learned about politics in general.

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