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Victims of the Great Purge

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The Great Purge or the Great Terror was a campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union. It involved a large-scale purge of the Communist Party and government officials, repression of peasants and the Red Army leadership, widespread police surveillance, suspicion of "saboteurs", "counter-revolutionaries", imprisonment, and arbitrary executions.

In the 1920s and 1930s, 2,000 writers, intellectuals, and artists were imprisoned and 1,500 died in prisons and concentration camps.] But the toll was especially high among writers. Those who perished during the Great Purge include:
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Writer Isaac Babel was arrested in May 1939, and according to his confession paper (which contained a blood stain) he "confessed" to being a member of Trotskyist organization and being recruited by French writer André Malraux to spy for France. In the final interrogation, he retracted his confession and wrote letters to the prosecutor's office stating that he had implicated innocent people, but to no avail. Babel was tried before an NKVD troika and convicted of simultaneously spying for the French, Austrians, and Leon Trotsky, as well as "membership in a terrorist organization." On 27 January 1940, he was shot in Butyrka prison.

In 1933, Gayibova was arrested and incarcerated allegedly for espionage and counter-revolutionary activity. She was released three months later and the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. In the following year she was employed by the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire to research Azerbaijan's folk musical heritage.

Outgoing and social, the Gayibovins held musical "salons" for foreign visitors many from Turkey, also attracting musicians, poets, writers, academics, and artists to gather there. The salons began to come to the attention of Soviet authorities who viewed them in a political context, suspecting relations with the Turkish government.

On 17 March 1938, shortly after her husband's second arrest, Gayibova, now a target for spy allegations, was arrested once again and accused of maintaining links with the Musavat party. For the next five weeks, she was interrogated nine times, until found guilty on the charges of espionage. Gayibova did not plead guilty and according to her former fellow inmate Zivar Afandiyeva (wife of executed statesman Sultan Majid Afandiyev), while incarcerated, she believed that she would be exiled to Siberia at most and even expressed optimism concerning the continuation of her musical activity in exile.

However, on 19 October 1938, after a 15-minute final court hearing, Gayibova was sentenced to execution by firing squad. The sentence was carried out at Baku.
Poet Osip Mandelstam was arrested for reciting his famous anti-Stalin poem Stalin Epigram to his circle of friends in 1934. After intervention by Nikolai Bukharin and Boris Pasternak (Stalin jotted down in Bukharin's letter with feigned indignation: “Who gave them the right to arrest Mandelstam?”), Stalin instructed NKVD to "isolate but preserve" him, and Mandelstam was "merely" exiled to Cherdyn for three years. But this proved to be a temporary reprieve. In May 1938, he was promptly arrested again for "counter-revolutionary activities". On 2 August 1938, Mandelstam was sentenced to five years in correction camps and died on 27 December 1938 at a transit camp near Vladivostok.
Writer Boris Pilnyak was arrested on 28 October 1937 for counter-revolutionary activities, spying and terrorism. One report alleged that "he held secret meetings with (André) Gide, and supplied him with information about the situation in the USSR. There is no doubt that Gide used this information in his book attacking the USSR." Pilnyak was tried on 21 April 1938. In the proceeding that lasted 15 minutes, he was condemned to death and executed shortly afterward.
Theatre director Vsevolod Meyerhold was arrested in 1939 and shot in February 1940 for "spying" for Japanese and British intelligence. His wife, the actress Zinaida Raikh, was murdered in her apartment. In a letter to Vyacheslav Molotov dated 13 January 1940, Meyerhold wrote:

The investigators began to use force on me, a sick 65-year-old man. I was made to lie face down and beaten on the soles of my feet and my spine with a rubber strap ... For the next few days, when those parts of my legs were covered with extensive internal hemorrhaging, they again beat the red-blue-and-yellow bruises with the strap and the pain was so intense that it felt as if boiling water was being poured on these sensitive areas. I howled and wept from the pain. I incriminated myself in the hope that by telling them lies I could end the ordeal. When I lay down on the cot and fell asleep, after 18 hours of interrogation, in order to go back in an hour's time for more, I was woken up by my own groaning and because I was jerking about like a patient in the last stages of typhoid fever.
Georgian poet Titsian Tabidze was arrested on 10 October 1937 on a charge of treason and was tortured in prison. In a bitter humor, he named only the 18th-century Georgian poet Besiki as his accomplice in anti-Soviet activities. He was executed on 16 December 1937.
Paolo Iashvili, having earlier been forced to denounce several of his associates as the enemies of the people, shot himself with a hunting gun in the building of the Writers' Union. He witnessed and was even forced to participate in public trials that ousted many of his associates from the Writers' Union, effectively condemning them to death. When Lavrenty Beria, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus under Stalin and subsequently head of the NKVD, further pressured Iashvili with the alternatives of denouncing Tabidze or being arrested and tortured by the NKVD, Iashvili killed himself.
Poet Nikolai Klyuev was arrested in 1933 for contradicting Soviet ideology. He was shot in October 1937.
Russian linguist Nikolai Durnovo, born into the Durnovo noble family, was executed on 27 October 1937. He created a classification of Russian dialects that served as a base for modern scientific linguistic nomenclature.
Mari poet and playwright Sergei Chavain was executed in Yoshkar-Ola on 11 November 1937. The State prize of Mari El is named after Chavain.
Ukrainian theater and movie director Les Kurbas, considered by many to be the most important Ukrainian theater director of the 20th century, was shot on 3 November 1937.
Russian writer and explorer Maximilian Kravkov was arrested on a charge of his alleged participation in the "Japanese-SR Terrorist Subversive Espionage Organization". He was executed on 12 October 1937.
Playwright and avant-garde poet Nikolay Oleynikov was arrested and executed for "subversive writing" on 24 November 1937
Yakut writer Platon Oyunsky, seen as one of the founders of modern Yakut literature, died in prison in 1939.
Ukrainian drama writer Mykola Kulish was executed on 3 November 1937. He is considered to be one of the lead figures of Executed Renaissance.
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Záviš Kalandra (10 November 1902 - 27 June 1950) was a Czechoslovak historian and theorist of literature executed by communists on charges of conspiracy and treason.

He was born in Frenštát pod Radhoštěm. He studied philosophy at the Charles University in Prague and then in Berlin. In 1923 he joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, but he was expelled due to his criticism of Stalin's policy. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1939 and imprisoned until 1945 in various concentration camps. After the war he was branded as a Trotskyist and accused of being the member of the supposed plot to overthrow the Communist regime. He was sentenced to death along with his co-defendants, Milada Horáková, Jan Buchal and Oldřich Pecl, on 8 June 1950, and executed.

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