The Scapegoats: Hunting for Generals

The German attack on June 22, 1941 provoked total chaos in Red Army troops at the Soviet–German border. The Red Army appeared not to be ready for defense. Soon Stalin ordered that some generals be considered traitors, making them scapegoats for the defeat.

The War Begins

The Politburo meeting on June 21, 1941 ended at 11:00 p.m., but even after all preparations had been made Stalin was not psychologically ready for the German attack. Four and a half hours later, at 3:25 a.m., Zhukov woke Stalin up with a phone call and told him about the German invasion. As Zhukov recalled in 1956, ‘Stalin was breathing heavily into the receiver, but for a few minutes he couldn’t say a word. To our [Zhukov and Timoshenko’s] repeated questions he answered: “This is a provocation of the German military. Do not open fire to avoid giving them an opportunity to widen their activity.”… He did not give permission to open fire until 6:30 am.’1 Interestingly, this episode disappeared from Zhukov’s later published, refined and smoothed memoirs.

Three German army groups invaded the Soviet Union. Army Group North went through the Baltic region toward Leningrad, Army Group Center advanced toward Moscow, and Army Group South moved through Ukraine toward Kiev. The Soviet Union’s difficulty in the Winter War had convinced Hitler that the Soviet Union could be quickly conquered, and at first it seemed to be true. The German invaders moved rapidly forward, causing mass fear and chaos among the Soviet troops.

The German attack and the Soviet military disaster that followed deeply shocked the Soviet population. Almost all Soviet citizens had seen the propaganda movie If War Begins Tomorrow, filmed in 1938 at parades and military training exercises. In the movie, the Red Army destroys a military aggressor in four hours on the enemy’s soil by using all kinds of weapons, including poisonous gas, and the war triggers a rebellion of the proletariat at the enemy’s rear. The lyrics of an extremely popular song from the movie—‘We’ll destroy the enemy on the enemy’s soil / Shedding little of our blood, using a mighty blow’—gave voice to the widely held Soviet opinion that they would win a quick and relatively painless victory against Germany. Stalin was a big fan of this movie; he watched it during and after World War II, even inviting foreign guests to join him in the screening room.

On June 29, Stalin visited the general staff twice. Beria, Anastas Mikoyan, and Georgii Malenkov accompanied him. These visits were an unpleasant surprise for Georgii Zhukov, head of the General Staff, and Timoshenko, the Defense Commissar. After listening to Zhukov’s report, Stalin yelled at him: ‘What kind of a general staff is this? How is it that a head of the general staff has lost all self-control during the first day of the war, has no communication with the troops, doesn’t represent anybody, and doesn’t command anybody?’2 Stalin spent the next day at his dacha in what was generally believed to be a state of extreme frustration.

On June 30, the GKO, or State Defense Committee, was created to coordinate Soviet war efforts.3 It consisted of only five people: Stalin (chairman), Molotov (deputy chairman), Voroshilov, Malenkov, and Beria.4 This group, for all intents and purposes, replaced the Politburo during World War II and made all crucial defense-related decisions. Each GKO member was responsible for a particular group of industries or army supplies.

Additionally, the Stavka (Supreme High Command) was formed to coordinate the military planning of the Red Army, the Navy Commissariat, the NKVD border and interior troops, and the partisan movement.5 It was chaired by NKO Commissar Timoshenko, later Stalin, and included Chief of the General Staff Zhukov, Molotov, marshals Voroshilov and Budennyi, and Navy Commissar Kuznetsov; there was also a board of advisers.6 Formally, all military campaigns designed by the General Staff were approved by the Stavka. However, until mid-1942, Stalin actually made all military decisions alone.

On July 3, Stalin opened a radio address to the nation with the words: ‘Comrades! Citizens! Brothers and Sisters!’7 This was the first time he had ever used the expression ‘brothers and sisters’. As a contemporary wrote, Stalin ‘may have been ill because he talked indistinctly and frequently drank water. It was terrifying to hear his hand trembling and the decanter hitting the edge of the glass’.8

Immediately after the German attack, martial law was declared in the country.9 Military tribunals were charged with hearing not only cases of servicemen, but also of civilians, if they involved threats to the defense of the Soviet Union or state security. Cases were prosecuted within twenty-four hours after the perpetrator was charged. Initially, tribunals were obliged to get Moscow’s approval for every death sentence, but on June 27, 1941, this requirement was abolished. By September 1941, commanders and political commissars of divisions were also given the right to confer the death sentence.10 Executions were carried out immediately.

The security services also reacted quickly to the German attack. On June 28, Abakumov, Merkulov, and Bochkov, representing the NKVD, NKGB, and the chief Prosecutor’s Office, signed a top-secret joint order putting the NKGB (civilian cases) and the two military counterintelligence directorates and the NKVD 3rd department (military cases) in charge of investigating traitors (Article 58-1) who went over to the German side and civilians who crossed the border in the hope of escaping the Soviet Union.11The three military counterintelligence organizations were also responsible for arresting and investigating the family members of these traitors (chsiry) under Article 19-58-1a (intention of committing an act of treason). The cases were heard by military tribunals or the OSO.

Boris Yefimov, a political caricaturist for Pravda and Izvestia, recalled the summer of 1941 in his memoirs: ‘Of course, Stalin did not think that the drastically worsening situation at the fronts was a result of his own mistakes and errors. His own infallible wisdom and categorical opinion were axiomatic. Only others could make mistakes.’12 The hunt for scapegoats had begun.

The Meretskov Case

On June 24, 1941, only two days after the German attack, the 3rd NKO Directorate arrested deputy defense Commissar Army General Kirill Meretskov. This arrest seems particularly bizarre because Meretskov had been appointed commander of the Northern Front and military adviser to the Stavka only three days earlier, but it makes more sense if you consider a story told by Vasilii Novobranets, at the time a member of the Razvedupr or RU (Intelligence Directorate) of the General Staff. According to Novobranets, in January 1941 Meretskov ‘was demoted to deputy NKO Commissar after telling Stalin that Germany was preparing for war and the Soviet Union should urgently begin defense preparations’.13 If this is true, the arrest was Stalin’s revenge for Meretskov’s accurate prediction.

Meretskov was accused of being a member of the alleged Rychagov air force plot, probably because he had also fought in the Spanish Civil War under the alias ‘Volunteer Petrovich’. Lev Schwartzman, deputy head of the NKGB Investigation Unit, testified in 1955 that investigators ‘beat [Meretskov] with rubber truncheons. Before Meretskov’s arrest, testimonies were extracted from forty witnesses attesting to his participation in a military plot… I had orders from the highest level, and one could not violate such orders’.14 Apparently even after Stalin’s death Schwartzman was afraid to name him as the one who had ordered the beatings.

Another former investigator added that Meretskov ‘confessed’ to ‘participating in a spy group and preparing a military coup against Stalin’.15 As yet another investigator recalled, Colonel General Aleksandr Loktionov, arrested just before the war, was mercilessly beaten in front of Meretskov, but refused to cooperate: ‘Loktionov was… covered with blood, and Meretskov could not stand seeing him because he had testified against [Loktionov]. Loktionov… roared in pain, rolled on the floor, but refused to sign [a confession].’ Merkulov also participated in beatings, which, astonishingly, he did not consider torture: ‘During interrogations, with or without my involvement, interrogators punched the faces of Meretskov and [Boris] Vannikov [Armaments Commissar, arrested on June 7, 1941] and beat their backs and buttocks with rubber truncheons, but these beatings did not turn into torture. I also beat up Meretskov and Vannikov, as well as the other arrestees, but did not torture them.’16

In September 1941, Stalin suddenly ordered the release of Meretskov, Vannikov, two of his deputies, and several subordinates who had been arrested before the war.17 However, many others arrested in connection with the Rychagov and Vannikov cases were soon executed (Appendix I, see In Lefortovo Prison, Meretskov was given a new military uniform and immediately brought to Stalin’s office in the Kremlin, where Stalin cynically asked him about his health (after three months of torture!).18 Then he ordered Meretskov to catch up with the Seventh Independent Army, his new command.

Stalin offered the following apology to Vannikov: ‘We made a mistake… Some scoundrels slandered you!’19 Vannikov, appointed deputy Armaments Commissar and later Munitions Commissar, was a ruthless manager who liked to tell his subordinates: ‘Once when I was the Munitions Commissar, my chief engineer changed a [technical] decision on his own to a more economical one. I ordered that he be shot.’20 And then, to illustrate his point, he would take a gun from his pocket and put it in front of him.

In Stalin’s circle, Vannikov was considered ‘an outstanding organizer of the armament industry, a good friend, an easy and responsive man’, as well as a mischievous joker.21 Even if Vannikov thought of his trick with the handgun as a joke, his subordinates took the threat seriously.

General Dmitrii Pavlov

Colonel General Dmitrii Pavlov had the misfortune of commanding the embattled Western Front while Meretskov was in prison. On July 4, 1941, Pavlov was arrested by an NKVD special group and brought to Moscow. Two days later Lev Mekhlis, the Politburo-appointed member of the Military Council of Pavlov’s front and, in fact, Stalin’s representative, cabled Stalin that Pavlov’s six closest subordinates, all generals, should also be arrested. Stalin agreed.22 Mekhlis also reported that an additional number of low-level commanders had already been arrested and detained. Stalin was so impressed by Mekhlis’s activity that on July 10 the GKO appointed Mekhlis deputy NKO Commissar.

Pavlov and three other generals under his command (Appendix I, see were accused of failing to follow Stalin’s orders to attack the Germans.23 They were unable to do so simply because their own troops had already been virtually wiped out by the advancing Germans after a previous order from Moscow to resist them. Pavlov was also accused of being a plotter: ‘While part of an anti-Soviet plot and a commander of the troops of the Western Front, [Pavlov] betrayed the interests of the Motherland by opening the front to the fascists.’ Pavlov was interrogated about Meretskov, and Meretskov was interrogated about him.24 Evidently, the investigators were trying to connect the Pavlov and Meretskov cases.

The investigation of the 3rd NKO Directorate proceeded with lightning speed. In two weeks a draft verdict was on Stalin’s desk. Stalin ordered that the charge of ‘an anti-Soviet military conspiracy’ be dropped; no doubt he had reconsidered the wisdom of publicizing such a conspiracy at a time when the Party most needed the Red Army. 25 The charges instead emphasized the generals’ alleged cowardice.

During the night of July 22, 1941, at a session of the Military Collegium in Lefortovo Prison in Moscow, Pavlov explained that the new Soviet western border established after the acquisition of Polish territory in 1939 was not properly fortified: ‘At the time of military actions, of 600 artillery fortifications planned, only 169 were equipped with cannons, but even they were not in working condition.’26 Pavlov also stated that ‘the basic reason for the rapid movement of the German troops… was the enemy’s obvious superiority in aviation and tanks. Besides that, Lithuanian troops… did not want to fight… The Lithuanian units shot their commanders. That gave German tank units the possibility of striking us.’27 Given their country’s recent takeover by the Soviets, it is no surprise that some Lithuanian divisions revolted.

Pavlov’s last words were: ‘There was no treason at the Special Western Front… We are defendants… because we failed to prepare sufficiently for this war during peacetime.’28 Following Stalin’s pretrial instructions, the Military Collegium sentenced the generals to death for cowardice and they were executed immediately after the trial.29 Of course, Stalin knew very well that the poorly trained troops were not psychologically ready for a defensive war. For instance, the deputy artillery commander of the Red Army, Colonel General (later Marshal) Nikolai Voronov, reported to Stalin on August 15, 1941: ‘Our infantry reacts painfully to the appearance of enemy airplanes, to shelling by enemy artillery, and to the explosions of enemy shells and mines, even in small numbers. Soldiers are convinced that we have the right to shoot and throw bombs, but the enemy doesn’t have the right to shoot at and bomb us.’30

But Stalin needed scapegoats. Six days after Pavlov’s execution Stalin warned:

I urge everyone to understand that in the future anyone who violates the military oath and forgets his duty toward the Motherland, who discredits the high rank of a Red Army military man, every coward and panicking person who leaves his position without an order and surrenders his arms to the enemy without a fight, will be punished without mercy according to the wartime law.

All commanders… of regiments and above should be aware of this order.

Defense Commissar of the USSR

J. Stalin.31

Members of the generals’ families were also persecuted.32 Sewage worker was the only employment permitted to General Pavlov’s widow in exile in Siberia. The case foreshadowed later purges of high-ranking officers.33

After Pavlov’s dismissal, Stalin appointed Lieutenant General Andrei Yeremenko Commander of the Western Front, but Yeremenko soon became commander of the newly created Bryansk Front. This general was infamous for his outrageous behavior. Kombrig Ivan Ganenko, a secretary of the Central Committee of Belorussia and a member of the Military Council of the 13th Army of the Bryansk Front, cabled to Stalin:

Yeremenko, without asking me about anything [Ganenko had just come from the front line], began accusing the Military Council of cowardice and treason against the Motherland. After I said that one must not lodge such strong accusations [without a reason], Yeremenko attacked me with his fists and hit me in the face a few times, and also threatened to execute me. I told him that he could shoot me, but he had no right to humiliate my dignity as a communist…

Yeremenko pulled out his Mauser, but [Lt. Gen. Mikhail] Yefremov [Yeremenko’s deputy] prevented him from shooting. Then Yeremenko began to threaten Yefremov. During this disgusting scene, Yeremenko was using foul language hysterically the entire time.

After cooling off a little bit, Yeremenko began to boast that, supposedly with Stalin’s support, he had beaten up a few corps commanders and had smashed one commander’s head.34

In fact, Yeremenko’s behavior was not unique. Beating of subordinates became so common in the troops that in October 1941 Stalin even signed a special order trying to stop this practice.35

Stalin did not respond to Ganenko’s telegram. Interestingly, when Yeremenko and his troops were surrounded near Moscow, Stalin sent a special plane to save him. Yefremov, on the other hand, fought in encirclement in April 1942 until he was wounded, then shot himself in order to avoid being taken a prisoner. Later Yeremenko became one of the key commanders during the Stalingrad Battle. After the war and Stalin’s death he was even promoted to the rank of marshal.

Background of the Pavlov Case

The accusations directed at Pavlov were totally false. Stalin and his pre war military leaders were responsible for the complete disorganization of the army. In an interview given in the 1990s, Vladimir Novikov, former deputy Armaments Commissar, described the situation of June 1941:

Within two weeks after the Fascists attacked the Soviet Union it appeared that there were no guns [in the Red Army]… This was… because stocks of guns were kept in the regions near the [Western] border. According to the Armaments Commissariat’s information, there was a reserve of approximately 8 million guns, but I think there were as many as 10 million guns. However, almost all the guns were kept in storage facilities in the territory that was soon taken by the enemy. In addition, the loss of guns by our retreating army was also enormous.

The absence of anti-tank weapons was also unexpected. As a result, usually only bottles filled with inflammatory liquid were used against enemy tanks during the first months of war. In peacetime, we produced an enormous quantity of anti-tank weaponry, including anti-tank rifles, but on the insistence of the Main Artillery Directorate of the Defense Commissariat (headed by Marshal G. I. Kulik, who was not a professional in this field), a year before the war the production of anti-tank rifles and 45- and 76-millimeter anti-tank cannons was terminated…

The number of produced anti-aircraft guns was also very low.36

Another reason Stalin may have decided to target Pavlov is that he had challenged Stalin’s authority three years before, and Stalin never forgot such personal offenses. In 1956 Pavlov’s wife, Aleksandra, wrote to Nikita Khrushchev requesting that he rehabilitate her dead husband. She mentioned an episode that clarifies Pavlov’s arrest:

In the summer of 1938, D. G. Pavlov, Pavel Sergeevich Alliluev (Commander of the Armored Vehicle Directorate), and G. I. Kulik (Commander of the Artillery Directorate) personally petitioned Comrade Stalin. They asked him to stop the arrests of the old cadre commanders. I do not know whether, of the three men, G. I. Kulik is still alive. As for Alliluev, he died suddenly the same year, a day after he returned from a resort. Possibly, K. Ye. Voroshilov is aware that the petition had been handed over to Stalin himself.37

It seems that Pavlov’s wife forgot that Kulik’s deputy, Grigorii Savchenko, had also signed the petition.38 The petitioners even prepared a draft decision for Stalin’s signature that would have put an end to the arrests. Stalin did not forget this challenge to his authority and eventually all four signatories vanished.

Pavel Alliluev was first. He was Stalin’s brother-in-law, the beloved brother of Stalin’s wife, Nadezhda, who had committed suicide six years earlier, on November 9, 1932. Alliluev died mysteriously ‘of a heart attack’ in his office on November 2, 1938, after he found out that literally all of his subordinates had been arrested. His daughter, son, and nephew suspect he was poisoned by the NKVD.39 Later, in 1946, after her arrest and conviction, Pavel’s wife Yevgenia spent ten years in Vladimir Prison in solitary confinement.40 The following year, their daughter Kira was arrested and then exiled for many years.

Possibly, Pavlov was next, because during interrogations in February– May 1939, investigators forced Mikhail Koltsov to testify that in Spain (where Pavlov commanded the tank forces of the Republican Army) Pavlov had been a defeatist, swindler, and drunkard.41 At that time Stalin did not give the order to pursue the issue of Pavlov’s conduct in Spain, but now, in 1941, he decided to get rid of Pavlov.

General Savchenko had also already been targeted. He was arrested three days before the war, in connection with the Rychagov Case (Appendix I, see On October 28, 1941, he was shot without trial.

In November 1941 Stalin went after Grigorii Kulik, who had been one of his trusted generals since the Civil War. In Spain his nom de guerre was ‘General Cooper’, and in 1940 he received a promotion to marshal. However, he did not entirely escape the Great Terror. In May 1939, his wife, Kira Simonich-Kulik, disappeared without a trace.43 Shortly before her disappearance, Stalin told Kulik that his wife was an Italian spy and said that he should divorce her, which Kulik declined to do. Stalin’s suspicion of Simonich-Kulik was likely prompted by her foreign contacts: one of her sisters was married to an Italian military attaché, and their mother also lived in Italy.

In 1953, the details of Simonich-Kulik’s murder came to light during the investigation of Beria and his accomplices, but this bizarre story was published only in the 1990s.44 Apparently, Beria ordered Merkulov and a group of NKVD operatives to kidnap Kulik’s wife on a Moscow street. After Beria and Merkulov interrogated her in the NKVD, she was executed without trial. During interrogations Beria and the others claimed that the operation was ordered ‘from above’, meaning by Stalin.

In November 1941 Stalin ordered Stavka member and deputy NKO Commissar Kulik to restore order in the Crimea—an impossible mission at the time.45 After Kulik’s predictable defeat in the Crimea, he reported to Stalin: ‘The army had turned into a gang! All they did was drink and rape women. I had no chance of defending Kerch with such an army. I arrived too late; it was impossible to save the situation.’46 Kulik was tried by a special session of the Supreme Court and demoted to major general, dismissed from the post of deputy NKO Commissar, and deprived of all military awards. In vain he appealed to Stalin in a long letter, saying: ‘If I am a wrecker [as accused under Article 58-7] and conducting underground work, I should be shot. If I am not, I ask you to punish the slanderers.’47 Stalin did not answer. Later Kulik commanded various formations and was promoted to lieutenant general, but then demoted to major general again. Finally, in 1947, after being arrested for anti-Soviet conversations, he was sentenced to death and executed in August 1950.

Other 1941 Cases

After the Pavlov Case, military counterintelligence seems to have gone somewhat out of control. Numerous arrests of commanders of all ranks, including generals, followed at the Western and other fronts. Many of them were sentenced under paragraphs 193-17b (abuse of power) and 193-20a (surrender of troops), and executed (Appendix I, see In Moscow, Mikheev’s deputy, A. N. Klykov, reported to Beria about one of Stalin’s favorites, Marshal Semyon Budennyi, commander of the Southwestern Front and Timoshenko’s deputy. 48 The report accused Budennyi of spying simultaneously for British, Polish, Italian, and German intelligence. These accusations were so obviously ridiculous that the report went no further. However, two months later Timoshenko was dismissed as deputy Commissar and appointed commander of the Southwestern Front instead of Budennyi, while Budennyi became commander of the Reserve Front (in existence only until October 1941).

Incredibly, on July 16, 1941, Mikheev even denounced NKO Commissar Timoshenko, pointing to Timoshenko’s connection with the previously executed military leaders.49 Timoshenko was not arrested, but on July 19, 1941, Stalin himself became NKO Commissar, while Timoshenko was demoted to a post as Stalin’s deputy. The same day Mikheev was made head of the 3rd Department of the Southwestern Front, and two months later he was killed in action while trying to break through a Nazi encirclement. He was one of 3,725 osobisty killed and 3,092 missing in action between June 22, 1941 and March 1, 1943.50

Later Abakumov’s investigators continued to collect compromising materials on Timoshenko. In 1953, General Boris Teplinsky wrote a letter from a labor camp to Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky: ‘While having been in prison [in Moscow]… [the investigators] offered me the chance to play a role of a provocateur against Marshal Timoshenko because I was a cell mate of his former deputy, Major General F. S. Ivanov [arrested in 1942, released in 1946]… After I refused, the investigation of my case stopped… For the next 9 years I had no idea about my future fate.’51


1. Text of Zhukov’s speech written on May 19, 1956 (Zhukov has never made the speech). Published in Vasilii Soima, Zapreshchennyi Stalin (Moscow: Olma-Press, 2005), 411–28 (in Russian).

2. A. I. Mikoyan, Tak bylo. Razmyshleniya o minuvshem (Moscow: Vagrius, 1999), 389–90 (in Russian).

3. Joint decree of the Sovnarkom’s Presidium and Central Committee, dated June 30, 1941. Details in Yurii Gor’kov, Gosudarstvennyi Komitet Oborony postanovlyaet (1941–1945). Tsifry, dokumenty (Moscow: Olma-Press, 2002), 30–41 (in Russian).

4. On February 3, 1942, Mikoyan and Voznesensky were added, and then Kaganovich (on February 20, 1942) and Nikolai Bulganin (on November 22, 1944). Voroshilov was expelled when Bulganin was included; Bulganin was also promoted to NKO deputy Commissar.

5. Politburo decision P34/99 and Joint decree of the Sovnarkom’s Presidium and Central Committee, both dated June 23, 1941. Document No. 175 in Lubyanka. Stalin i NKVD–NKGB–GUKR, 289, and Document No. 8 in Gor’kov, Gosudarstvennyi Komitet Oborony, 494. The function and coordination of the work of the Stavka, General Staff, GKO and Stalin’s control of the whole structure is described in detail in S. M. Shtemenko, General’nyi shtab v gody voiny (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1989), Part I, Chapter 7, and Part 2, Chapters 1 and 8 (in Russian).

6. The board of Stavka’s advisers consisted of marshals Grigorii Kulik, Kirill Meretskov, Shaposhnikov, Commander of Air Forces Pavel Zhigarev, First Deputy Chief of Staff Nikolai Vatutin, Commander of Air Defense Nikolai Voronov, Mekhlis, and Politburo full and candidate members Beria, Kaganovich, Malenkov, Mikoyan, Voznesensky and Zhdanov.

7. Published in Pravda, July 3, 1941 (in Russian).

8. Yefimov, Desyat’ desyatiletii, 326.

9. Decrees of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council, dated June 22, 1941. Texts in Skrytaya pravda voiny: 1941 god. Neizvestnye documenty, edited by P. N. Knyshevsky et al. (Moscow: Russkaya kniga, 1992) (in Russian),, retrieved September 5, 2011.

10. Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council, dated June 27, 1941. Mozokhin, Pravo na repressii, 223.

11. Order No. 00246/00833/PR/59ss, dated June 28, 1941. Document No. 623, in 1941 god. Kniga vtoraya, 445–6.

12. Yefimov, Desyat’ desyatiletii, 350.

13. Novobranets, ‘Nakanune voiny.’

14. In Arkadii Vaksberg, ‘Taina oktyabrya 1941,’ Literaturnaya gazeta (April 20, 1988) (in Russian).

15. Ibid.

16. Excerpt from the interrogation transcript of Merkulov in 1953, in Nikita Petrov, ‘Samyi obrazovannyi palach’,’ Novaya Gazeta. ‘Pravda GULAGa’, no. 12, August 30, 2010 (in Russian),, retrieved September 5, 2011.

17. S. I. Vetoshkin, F. K. Charsky, V. I. Khokhlov, and Ye. A. Gul’yants were released. Vaksberg, Neraskrytye tainy, 57.

18. K. A. Meretskov, Na sluzhbe narodu (Moscow: Politizdat, 1968), 214 (in Russian).

19. Page 131 in B. L. Vannikov, ‘Zapiski narkoma,’ Znamya, no. 1 (1988), 130–60 (in Russian).

20. Memoirs by V. Filippov, quoted in Boris Sokolov, Beria. Sud’ba vsesil’nogo narkoma (Moscow: Veche, 2003), 214 (in Russian).

21. Page 521 in an interview with V. N. Novikov, former deputy armaments Commissar, in G. Kumanev, Govoryat stalinskie narkomy (Smolensk: Rusich, 2005), 512–49 (in Russian).

22. Text of Mekhlis’s cable to Stalin and Stalin’s answer, quoted in Vyacheslav Zvyagintsev, Voina na vesakh Femidy. Voina 1941–1945 gg. v materialakh sledsten-no-sudebnykh del (Moscow: Terra, 2006), 72–73 (in Russian). Also, Document Nos. 358–379, in Organy gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti, 2 (1), 210–7.

23. For a description of Pavlov’s case, see P. A. Pal’chikov, ‘On byl obrechen,’ Moskva, no. 5 (2006) (in Russian),, retrieved September 5, 2011.

24. Interrogations of Pavlov on July 11 and 21, 1941, and Meretskov on July 12, 1941, in A. Rzheshevsky, Pavlov. Taina rasstrelyannogo generala (Moscow: Veche, 2005), 306–12 (in Russian).

25. Dmitri Volkogonov, Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy, edited and translated by Harold Shukman (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1991), 423–4.

26. Transcript of the court session of the Military Collegium, dated July 22, 1941. Page 387 in Document No. 437, in Organy gosudarctvennoi bezopasnosti, 2 (1), 381–92.

27. Ibid., 467.

28. Document No. 437, in ibid., 391.

29. Verdict of the Military Collegium, dated July 22, 1941. Document No. 438, in ibid., 392–3.

30. Report of Col. General N. N. Voronov, dated August 15, 1941 (from the Presidential Archive), in Aleksandr Melenberg, ‘Podachka iz arkhiva,’ Novaya gazeta, No. 48, May 7, 2010 (in Russian),, retrieved September 5, 2011.

31. Order No. 0250, dated July 28, 1941, in Russkii arkhiv. Velikaya Otechestvennaya. Prikazy narodnogo komissara oborony SSSR 22 iyunya 1941 g.—1942 g., 13 (2-2) (Moscow: Terra, 1997), 192–3 (in Russian).

32. Politburo decision P23/152, dated December 7, 1940. Document No. 140, in Lubyanka. Stalin i NKVD, 201–4. On Pavlov’s wife, a report by Aleksandra Oseichuk (in Russian),, retrieved September 5, 2011.

33. Zvyagintsev, Voina na vesakh Femidy, 80–88.

34. Quoted in B. V. Sokolov, ‘Stalin i ego generally: pereklichka iz dvukh uglov,’ Znanie–sila, no. 12 (2000) (in Russian).

35. NKO Order No. 039, dated October 4, 1941, in Russkii Arkhiv. Velikaya Otechestvennaya. Prikazy, 13 (2-2) (1997), 108-9.

36. Pages 524–5 in an interview with V. N. Novikov in Kumanev, Govoryat stalinskie narkomy, 512–49.

37. A letter of A. F. Pavlova to Nikita Khrushchev, dated April 20, 1956. Quoted on page 96 in A. P. Pal’chikov, ‘On byl obrechen,’ Moskva 5 (2006), 50–98 (in Russian).

38. Suvenirov, Tragediya RKKA, 334.

39. Rosamond Richardson, Stalin’s Shadow: Inside the Family of One of the World’s Greatest Tyrants (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 149.

40. Vadim Birstein, The Perversion of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2001), 53–58, 434–5.

41. Excerpts from transcripts of interrogations in Boris Sopelnyak, Smert’ v rassrochku (Moscow: Olma-Press, 2004), 148–9 (in Russian).

42. Details in N. S. Cherushev, Udar po svoim. Krasnaya Armiya 1938–1941 (Moscow: Veche, 2003), 364–5 (in Russian).

43. Details in N. S. Cherushev, ‘Nevinovnykh ne byvaet…’ Chekisty protiv voennykh, 1918–1953 (Moscow: Veche, 2004), 421–2 (in Russian).

44. V. A. Bobrenev and V. B. Ryazantsev, Palachi i zhertvy (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1993), 211–3 (in Russian).

45. Details in N. A. Zen’kovich, Tainy kremleskikh smertei (Moscow: Nadezhda, 1995), 432–544 (in Russian).

46. Cited in Leonid Mlechin, ‘Taina mogily na Donskom kladbishche’ (in Russian), Vechernyaya Moskva, no. 100 (24145), May 7, 2005 (in Russian).

47. Quoted in Zen’kovich, Tainy kremlevskikh smertei, 500.

48. Text of Klykov’s report in L. Ye. Reshin and V. S. Stepanov, ‘Sud’by general’skie,’ VIZh, no. 1 (1994), 15–23 (in Russian).

49. Text of Mikheev’s report dated July 16, 1941, in L. Ye. Reshin and V. S. Stepanov, ‘Sud’by general’skie,’ VIZh, no. 12 (1993), 16–21 (in Russian).

50. SMERSH. Istoricheskie ocherki i arkhivnye materialy, edited by V. S. Khristoforov, et al. (Moscow: Glavarkhiv Moskvy, 2003), 57 (in Russian).

51. From Teplinsky’s archival file, quoted in Zvyagintsev, Voina na vesakh Femidy, 312–3.

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