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1948 - The Leningrad Affair

The year 1948 was a critical year in Moscow. A year of deep suspicion and dark plots in the Soviet capital - the year of the break with Tito, the start of the offensive against the Jews, of the stlll obscure but terrible "Leningrad affair" in which many leading Communists lost their lives.

The Nazi siege of Leningrad from 1941 to 1943, during which time the city was cut off from the rest of the world, was one of the most gruesome episodes of World War II. In scale, the tragedy of Leningrad dwarfs even the Warsaw ghetto or Hiroshima. Nearly three million people endured it; just under half of them died, starving or freezing to death, most in the six months from October 1941 to April 1942 when the temperature often stayed at 30 degrees below zero. The city had as much to fear from Stalin as from Hitler. The culminating disaster waf the Leningrad Affair, a plot hatched by Stalin three years after the war had ended. Almost every official who had been instrumental in the citys survival was implicated, convicted, and executed.

Writing about the "Leningrad case" too often reduced the entire fabric of these events to a "squabble for power" between the various factions under the Stalinist power sheet. But in the last year of the war, part of the leadership of the USSR, which came to power not from the Union republics, but from the central regions of Russia, proposed, at the end of hostilities, change priorities in the development of the country's economy and move to a preferential growth not of the means of production, but of food and items widespread consumption.

But in the top leadership of the country there was a group of people who held different views, and this group had a more powerful influence on the mindset of the Secretary General, because they relied on the Stalinist thesis that the USSR, existing in the hostile environment of the imperialist states, it should give primary attention not to an immediate improvement in the life of the population, but to an increase in defense spending, including the nuclear component.

In mid-1948, the leader removed A. Zhdanov from political activities and sent him on two-month leave with uncertain prospects for returning to political life. In August, Zhdanov suddenly died of a heart attack, and after a few months G. Malenkov goes on to a decisive attack on the Leningraders. The draft secret letter of the Politburo to the members of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) called "On the anti-party hostile group of Kuznetsov, Popkov, Rodionov, Kapustin, Solovyov and others" dated October 12, 1949, sponsored by Malenkov and Beria, and also presented to the Minister of State Security of the USSR V. Abakumov, presented on January 18, 1950 to I. Stalin by the USSR Minister of State Security.

On September 30, 1950, a trial was held in Leningrad, which it would be more correct to call the trial, over the central group of defendants in the "Leningrad case": in addition to those already mentioned above N.A. Voznesensky and A.A. Kuznetsov condemned to the highest degree were M.I. Rodionov, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR, PS Popkov, First Secretary of the Leningrad Regional Committee and the City Committee of the CPSU (b), Ya.F. Kapustin, Second Secretary of the Leningrad City Committee of the CPSU (b), P.G. Lazutin, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Leningrad City Council of Workers' Deputies. All are deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR and the USSR. An hour after the announcement of the verdict, they were shot, their bodies buried in the Levashovskoy wasteland near Leningrad. Turko, T.V. Zakrzhevskaya and F.E. Mikheev was sentenced to a long prison term.

Then, at the Moscow process on the "Leningrad case", another 20 people were sentenced to death, including the brother of the Chairman of the USSR State Planning Committee AA Voznesensky, Minister of Education of the RSFSR. After the immediate execution, their bodies were taken to the cemetery of the Donskoy Monastery, cremated, thrown into a hole and thrown into the ground.

Thus, 26 leaders of the RSFSR were subjected to execution, 6 people died during interrogations. Members of their families were also repressed. Trials, moral and political reprisals against the Russian leaders in the "Leningrad Case" continued throughout the country until the death of Stalin. In Leningrad, more than 50 people who worked as secretaries of the district party committees and chairmen of district executive committees were sentenced to long prison sentences. Over 2 thousand people were excluded from the CPSU (b) and released from work. Thousands of executives were repressed in Novgorod, Yaroslavl, Murmansk, Saratov, Ryazan, Kaluga, Gorky, Pskov, Vladimir, Tula and Kalinin regions, in the Crimea and Ukraine, in the Central Asian republics. More than 2 thousand military commanders throughout the country were dismissed and demoted.

In the "Secret Speech" of First Party Secretary N.S.Khrushchev, at a session of the 20th party congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, on 25 February 1956, he noted " this case was fabricated. Those who innocently lost their lives included Comrades Voznesensky, Kuznetsov, Rodionov, Popkov, and others. As is known, Voznesensky and Kuznetsov were talented and eminent leaders. Once they stood very close to Stalin. It is sufficient to mention that Stalin made Voznesensky first deputy to the chairman of the council of ministers, and Kuznetsov was elected secretary of the Central Committee. The very fact that Stalin entrusted Kuznetsov with the supervision of the state security organs shows the trust which he enjoyed. How did it happen that these persons were branded as enemies of the people and liquidated?

" ... after the war the situation became even more complicated. Stalin became even more capricious, irritable, and brutal; in particular his suspicion grew. His persecution mania reached unbelievable dimensions. Many workers were becoming ene- mies before his very eyes. After the war Stalin separated himself from the collective even more. Everything was decided by him alone without any consideration for anyone or anything.

"This unbelievable suspicion was cleverly taken advantage of by the abject provocateur and vile enemy, Beriya, who had murdered thousands of Communists and loyal Soviet people. The elevation of Voznesensky and Kuznetsov alarmed Beriya. As we have now proven, it had been precisely Beriya who had suggested to Stalin the fabrication by him and by his confidants of materials in the form of declarations and anonymous letters, and in the form of various rumors and talks. The party's central committee has examined this so-called Leningrad affair; persons who innocently suffered are now rehabilitated and honor has been restored to the glorious Leningrad party organization...




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