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Stalin's Secret Police, Rupert Butler
Stalin's Secret Police, Rupert Butler
A history of the CHEKA, OGPU, NKVD, SMERSH & KGB: 1917-1991
I'm not sure I agree with the title of this book. The text actually covers the entire history of the Soviet Union, not just Stalin's period in power, so we get the rise to power, the Civil War and Lenin's own repressions, and the post-war and Cold War periods. I'm also not sure secret police is really the right name - it's quite clear that many of the activities of the organisations involved were fairly public, so political or ideological police might be a more accurate title.
What we end up with is a short history of the repressive elements of the Soviet regime, both within the Soviet Union and in the wider world (mainly the post-war Communist Block). The focus is more on what the various organisations did, and their position within the Soviet State, than on how they were organised or worked, perhaps inevitable in a book covering such a wide topic. Some of these organisations grew to vast size, especially during the Second World War, and inflicted misery on countless millions across the Communist Block. A focus on a shorter time span would probably have been a good idea, allowing for a more detailed analysis of some of the organisations involved, but this is still a useful but rather grim account of one of history's darker corners.
1 - Blueprint for Terror
2 - Downfall of a Dynasty
3 - Road to Total Power
4 - A Highly Convenient Murder
5 - Deportations at Daybreak
6 - Soviet Traitors
7 - Iron Empire
8 - The KGB
Author: Rupert Butler
Russia and the Cult of State Security
This book explores the mythology woven around the Soviet secret police and the Russian cult of state security that has emerged from it. Tracing the history of this mythology from the Soviet period through to its revival in contemporary post-Soviet Russia, the volume argues that successive Russian regimes have sponsored a ‘cult’ of state security, whereby security organs are held up as something to be worshipped. The book approaches the history of this cult as an ongoing struggle to legitimise and sacralise the Russian state security apparatus, and to negotiate its violent and dramatic past. It explores the ways in which, during the Soviet period, this mythology sought to make the existence of the most radically intrusive and powerful secret police in history appear ‘natural’. It also documents the contemporary post-Soviet re-emergence of the cult of state security, examining the ways in which elements of the old Soviet mythology have been revised and reclaimed as the cornerstone of a new state ideology. The Russian cult of state security is of ongoing contemporary relevance, and is crucial for understanding not only the tragedies of Russia’s twentieth-century history, but also the ambiguities of Russia’s post-Soviet transition, and the current struggle to define Russia’s national identity and future development. The book examines the ways in which contemporary Russian life continues to be shaped by the legacy of Soviet attitudes to state-society relations, as expressed in the reconstituted cult of state security. It investigates the shadow which the figure of the secret policeman continues to cast over Russia today. The book will be of great interest to students of modern Russian history and politics, intelligence studies and security studies, as well as readers with an interest in the KGB and its successors.
The Petrograd Cheka was now under the direction of Uritsky’s successor, Gleb Ivanov Bokii, a sexual pervert and sadist, notorious for arranging group sex sessions at his dacha (country villa) and forcing terrified female members of his staff to attend.
Military units under OGPU command threw up rings of steel around the villages. Crude watchtowers were erected above fields, from where guards armed with shotguns picked off those who were driven by hunger to cut off ears of corn.
The birth of Ivan on 24 August 1530 and his baptism at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity was, according to legend, marked by a roll of thunder that shook the heavens while lightning struck the Kremlin.
To make matters worse, Crimean Tartars took advantage of ongoing internal dissent to storm Moscow in 1571, ransacking and torching everything except the Kremlin. Surviving accounts claim that only 30,000 of the city’s 200,000 inhabitants survived.
Opposition was also mounted to Trotsky’s call for world revolution, with Stalin arguing instead that the priority must be to defend the communist system within the Soviet Union, a concept heralded as ‘Socialism In One Country’.
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Stalin’s Secret Police - Rupert Butler
BLUEPRINT FOR TERROR
Arrests, tortures and executions in Russia originated long before the advent of Stalin. The Tsars, notably Ivan IV (‘the Terrible’) and Peter I (‘the Great’) secured their supremacy by rooting out all opposition.
A figure of absolute power, Ivan IV, known as ‘Ivan the Terrible’, headed an army that secured both the safety of his realm and his rule over it.
The rule of Josef Stalin (1879–1953), and its grim legacy, will forever be central to the blood-stained saga of Russian political violence and terror. Following the death in January 1924 of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the architect of the Communist Party and of the Comintern (the Communist International, founded in March 1919), Stalin sought to extend his personal power by driving through a succession of Five Year Plans for enforced economic modernization. These were to bring about what amounted to a new Russian revolution, proving infinitely more brutal than the one which had brought down the Tsars.
Repression was engineered through show trials, tortures and executions. The most potent terror instruments used by Stalin were lethal state security agencies, notably the secret police known as the Cheka (Vserossiiskaya Chrezvychainaya Komissiya po Borbe s Kontr Revolyutsiyei i Sabotazhem – Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counterrevolution and Sabotage). Dating from the days of Lenin, the Cheka had unlimited powers to arrest, try, torture and execute. Its successor, one of many under different titles and acronyms, was the blandly titled OGPU (Obyedinennoye Gosudarstvennoye Politicheskoye Upravleniye – Joint State Political Administration), employed in the early 1930s to implement mass collectivization and consequent deportations of kulaks (wealthy peasants).
The film-maker Sergei Eisenstein envisaged Ivan the Terrible, made between 1944 and 1946, as a trilogy, but he died before starting Part III. The first part, depicting Ivan’s struggle to hold power, was a resounding success, featuring a stirring score by Sergei Prokofiev and winning a Stalin prize. But Part II met with the Kremlin’s disapproval and was banned until 1958.
IVAN THE TERRIBLE
Post-revolution Russia was not, of course, alone in the creation of secret police organizations. Previous repressive measures, instituted under a succession of Tsars, were closely studied by Stalin, keen on developing his own terror network. Particular respect was accorded to the legacy of Ivan IV (1530–84), dubbed ‘Groznyi’ (Dread or Terrible), a repellent mixture of sadist and mystic, and the first to bear the title Tsar. For all his absorption of Russian Orthodox tenets, he was every bit as cruel, ruthless and tyrannical as his sobriquet suggested.
Stalin set out to study Ivan’s considerable achievements in completing the construction of a ruthless, centrally administered and highly disciplined state, while securing unquestioning loyalty among his closest followers and near devotion from his subjects. Additionally, he was shrewd enough to recognize that the abolition of the Tsars and the suppression of the Orthodox Church had left a vacuum. Stalin, eventually to be characterized as ‘Our beloved leader’, went on to fill this void.
Among the most notorious forerunners of the Cheka were Ivan’s Oprichniki, the secret police developed over the course of seven years. Ivan inherited many of the characteristics of his father, Vasily III, Grand Prince of Moscow, who had his barren first wife, Salomonia Saburova, seized, beaten and incarcerated in a convent. Those who dared to side with her were summarily banished.
Murmurs of disapproval came with Vasily’s subsequent marriage to Helena Glinskaya, the daughter of a Catholic Lithuanian refugee family. To the boyars (the traditional aristocracy), this was tantamount to insulting the Orthodox faith. The birth of Ivan on 24 August 1530 and his baptism at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity was, according to legend, marked by a roll of thunder that shook the heavens while lightning struck the Kremlin.
‘I adopted the devious ways of the people around me. I learned to be crafty like them.’
—Attributed to Ivan IV
Three years later, on 24 December 1533, close on Vasily’s death, the three-year-old Ivan was proclaimed Grand Prince of Moscow, Helena Glinskaya ruling in his name as Regent. The next few years were periods of violent intrigue among the boyars, many of them keen to sideline Ivan and seize the reins of government. The Regent faced the threat with measures that were to become all too familiar. Vasily’s two brothers, Yuri and Andre, were seen as potential enemies and likely to appropriate the crown, in spite of their oath of loyalty to Ivan. Yuri was thrown into prison and died of starvation, while his brother was seized while trying to foment revolt, and reputedly poisoned. A bloodbath followed – mass hangings, lashings with the knout and the strangulation of those, including some royal princes, whose loyalty was in doubt. All of this did nothing to stem the discontent of the boyars, though the all too convenient death of Helena in April 1538 alleviated this somewhat.
Ivan, just eight years old and already developing a quick intelligence, was at the mercy of the boyars, treated either with contempt or ignored altogether. He recalled some years later: ‘Our boyars governed the country as they pleased, for no one opposed their power … I grew up … I adopted the devious ways of the people around me. I learned to be crafty like them’.
Moreover, from a young age he learnt to deal with opposition without mercy. On the occasion of a banquet at which he was expected to deliver a mere formal address, he went on the attack, accusing the boyars of taking advantage of his youth, pillaging his family’s possessions and persecuting opponents. In particular, he blamed Prince Andrei, a member of the Shuisky family, who had seized one of Ivan’s confidants, Fyodor Mishurin, skinning him alive and dragging him to the executioner’s block.
A majority of the boyars, sensing a strong leader in the making, rallied to Ivan. Shuisky was seized, then flung into the street, where he was pursued and torn to pieces by hunting dogs. Ivan had tasted power and did not intend to relinquish it.
Instances of Ivan’s cruelty and sadism increased, inflamed by bouts of heavy drinking. He was known to amuse himself by throwing cats and dogs from the Kremlin walls, tearing feathers off birds, piercing their eyes and slitting open their bodies. Treachery was seen everywhere. The most spectacular move towards securing still further power was a lavish coronation in which he was crowned ‘Tsar and Grand Prince of All’, a title derived from the Latin ‘Caesar’, translated by his contemporaries as ‘emperor’. With his new office came a belief that he ruled by divine right. This was emphasized during the ceremony by Metropolitan Macarius, the senior bishop who was also his religious mentor and theology instructor. Invoking the strength of the Holy Spirit, he prayed: ‘Grant him long days. Place upon him the seat of justice, strengthen his arm, and make all the barbarous people subject to him.’
The influence of the Metropolitan was considerable, encouraging the Tsar to make up for his earlier scant education at the whim of palace scribes. Urged on by Macarius, he devoured historical and spiritual texts with feverish impatience, seeing himself as a devout churchman, scrupulously observing the complex rituals of Russian Orthodox services. None of this, however, stood in the way of his urge to create what he intended to be a lasting dynasty. Within a month of his coronation, he married Anastasiya Romanovna, whose Prussian family had long settled in Russia, and who coincidentally was to become a great aunt of the first of the Romanov tsars. It was a marriage that lasted 13 years and was one of many – the exact number has never been established.
Muscovite archers formed the main defence against the threat of mass cavalry. Additional protection was provided by Russian armourers, who were foremost in developing the protective visor.
Following his coronation in 1547, Ivan IV set out to remove a hitherto powerful hereditary aristocracy. A special police force undertook a terror campaign, resulting in the arrest and slaughter of hundreds. To replace the aristocratic system, estates were handed over as payment to landowners who were serving in the army or in government. Ivan, who could appropriate the rich estates at any time, was careful to ensure that they retained their value. Local peasants – known as serfs – had to remain on and farm the land.
This was possible by strengthening a legal code originally devised by Ivan III (1440–1506), to ensure the dependency of the peasants and restrict their mobility. Flight became a criminal offence. Furthermore, serfs, possessing virtually no rights, were placed on the same level as goods and chattels. A landowner had the right to transfer a serf to a fellow landowner, while keeping the serf’s personal property and family.
Except for the Baltic provinces, serfdom was not abolished until 1861 when revolt was already stirring, encouraging the view of Tsar Alexander II (1818–81) that it was better ‘to liberate the peasants from above’ rather than wait until they won their freedom by risings ‘from below’.
Despite the emancipation, peasants who had originally run away from their masters could be arrested and punished for a decade beyond the year of abolition.
Ivan then lost no time in embarking on the sort of measures that have characterized tyrants down the generations. Essentially, these were either the removal or emasculation of the slightest vestige of opposition. Prominent in his sights were the detested boyars. A so-called ‘Chosen Council’ of selected favourites set in train moves to limit the powers of the hereditary aristocracy, in favour of a class of gentry who held their estates as compensation for service to the government and who owed their survival and privileges to the Tsar. This means of ensuring loyalty also had another motive: the estates had to be kept in good order. For this purpose, there was a convenient workforce to hand. These were the peasants who, already having their homes there, were obliged now to work for the new gentry and, of course, for the Tsar himself. It was a further consolidation of power.
Another source of anxiety for Ivan were the Tartars, originally Asiatic Mongols, who made frequent forays into his territory. The threat was met by reorganization of the army, including the formation of six regiments of foot soldiers, or Streltsy (‘shooters’). These were recruited for life, armed and equipped in European style and in some splendour. And the achievements of the Muscovite cavalry – men charging on wiry, unshod horses attacking with arrows, sabres and lances – were to become legendary.
When encamped in the meadows of the banks of the Volga near the strongly fortified city of Kazan, Ivan remarked on the ‘unusual beauty of the walls of the fortress of the city’. Nevertheless, he proceeded to destroy them, along with mosques and palaces, in his ‘holy war’ against the Tartars. Most of the Tartars were killed, repressed or forcibly Christianized.
In 1552, Ivan and his forces set out for the town of Kazan the fighting was marked by slaughter and butchery. Four years later, the Khanate of Astrakan, situated at the mouth of the Volga, was annexed without a fight. The coup was significant the Volga from then on became a Russian river and the trade route to the Caspian was rendered safe.
This success was not enough for Ivan. Now that he had both banks of the Volga secured, he prepared a campaign designed to win access to the sea, something that had long been the aim of landlocked Russia. For all his obsession with grasping power in his own country, the Tsar was keen to establish trade with Europe, but this would be possible only with unrestricted access to the Baltic. Inevitably, he turned his attention westward and in 1558 went to war in a bid to establish Russian rule over Livonia (an area that includes present-day Latvia and Estonia). But Livonia’s ally, Lithuania, proved a stumbling block, acting with Poland to gain the support of Sweden against Russia. For Ivan, the course of the Livonian war brought keen disappointment, and on a personal level too. Prince Andrey Kurbsky, one of his outstanding field commanders and a member of the Chosen Council, defected to Poland.
Ivan’s reaction was predictable. Plainly, the humiliation over Livonia could be traced to either treachery or incompetence by the boyars and the field commanders. As became only too common, the methods of revenge exacted were a mixture of the cruel and the bizarre, designed in many instances to humiliate the object of the Tsar’s wrath. The death of Tsaritsa Anastasiya, the mother of Ivan’s six children, in August 1560 triggered the introduction of increasingly harsh measures since she had been able to exercise a moderating influence on her husband. This removed, Ivan accelerated his programme of repression, fuelled by fear that he could be the victim of a conspiracy to overthrow him.
Ivan accelerated his programme of repression, fearful he could be the victim of a conspiracy.
Not for the first time, he decided on a particularly daring gamble. He announced that, in view of the extent of the boyar betrayal, he would abdicate as Tsar. With his new Tsaritsa, Maria, the daughter of Prince Temriak, a Circassian prince, he quit Moscow for an unspecified destination, later revealed as Alexandrovskaya Sloboda, some 47km (75 miles) north of the capital. There for a month he played a waiting game before finally sending off two letters. The first, directed to the boyars, consisted of accusations of crimes, betrayals and ill-treatment of the peasantry. No branch of the administration escaped. The army was to blame for the lack of defence from Tartar, Polish and German enemies. Not even the bishops escaped Ivan’s wrath, accused of siding with ‘the guilty’. In the letter, he wrote, ‘Therefore, with a heart filled with sorrow, no longer wishing to endure your perfidies, we have given up governing the country and have left to settle in whatever place God may lead us to.’
In fact, the missive was a shrewdly calculated political move Ivan had no intention whatever of abdicating. The second letter, addressed to the citizens of Moscow, over the head of the boyars, made it clear that his anger was directed not to them but to the treacherous boyars. The letters were read to an assembled crowd the results were electric. Widespread fury was directed against the boyars, now held responsible for the Tsar’s decision to step down. There was also a deep-seated fear that, without a firm leader, the entire country could dissolve into anarchy. Faced with the threat of widespread civic violence, the current Metropolitan, Athanasius, assembled a delegation of princes, bishops, officers and merchants, and set out for Alexandrovskaya Sloboda to plead with the Tsar to return. They did not, however, receive a cordial welcome.
Fearful that they might include assassins, Ivan’s guards closed in. Ivan, seizing the initiative, addressed the party by repeating his allegations against the boyars. Nevertheless, he declared, he was ‘graciously’ prepared to return to the throne.
During the reign of Ivan the Terrible, torture was the accepted and regularly used method of punishment. In fact, it became a spectator sport. To be torn to pieces by an animal was a penalty meted out to traitors, starkly shown in this painting by Vasily Surikov.
Any relief that the suppliants might have felt was short-lived. He went on to set out his conditions: he demanded complete control over the punishment to be meted out to ‘traitors’ – a deliberately vague word that came to mean in practice the elimination of anyone who opposed his rule. Furthermore, dissidents would have their property confiscated, and punishment was to be extended to the families of ‘traitors’. Once his demands had been made clear, Ivan prepared for his return to Moscow.
The Russian capital lay deep in snow, which in no way deterred the crowds. Gathering since dawn, they now fell to their knees in gratitude, weeping as their saviour passed. But if Ivan felt triumphant, he did not show it. The strain of the events that led to his return to power had clearly taken its toll. According to two Livonian noblemen, Johann Taube and Elert Kruse, who witnessed his return, Ivan was unrecognizable. Only 34 years old, he was wrinkled and grey, his brow furrowed: ‘He had lost all the hair from his head and his beard’.
Despite the delirious reception he had received, he remained intensely anxious about the safety of his realm, his rule over it and even the institution of Tsardom itself. He reasoned that the only way to assure this was by the creation of a personal guard and of a heavily fortified headquarters within the Kremlin, from where he could operate.
This was designated the Oprichnina, a word derived from oprich (separate or apart). This was to amount to a virtual state within the state, ruled by Ivan alone, not as Tsar but as ‘proprietor’. Its domain was vast: as well as the environs of the capital, it went on to swallow up 27 cities, 18 districts and all major routes of communication. The rest of the territory, the Zemshchina, was left to the boyars and former functionaries, but they were shorn of their previous powers and privileges.
Overall power was vested in the Oprichniki, the militia, the security force and secret police that soon became a byword for terror. Here was a highly efficient security machine, a blueprint for terror. Characteristically, these powers were never spelt out they could be interpreted in any way their enforcer intended.
An increase in numbers came by stealth. A force of 1000 picked men swelled to 6000, each of them characterized by a propensity for ruthlessness and cruelty. Its operatives were black-uniformed men astride black horses, on saddles that carried the insignia of a dog’s head, representing traitors to be removed, and a broom, for sweeping them out. A day’s plundering, looting and raping was often followed by Ivan’s invitation to dinner, followed by a mandatory visit to the torture chambers.
TORTURE AND EXECUTIONS
Executions by beheading were carried out in the Kremlin square next to the Church of the Intercession of the Virgin. Six boyars were among the first to fall to the axe, but a special fate was reserved for a seventh, Prince Dimitri Shevirev, who was impaled and reportedly took 24 hours to die.
Any criticism was interpreted by Ivan as an attack not simply on his honour but on the security of the state, an obsession which was soon to reach the level of paranoia. Under such circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising that historians have struggled to discover the first real example of protest. Most cite opposition in 1566 voiced from ranks within the Zemshchina, who pleaded with the Tsar to abolish the Oprichnina: ‘Our sovereign! Why do you order our innocent brothers to be killed? We all serve you faithfully and spill our blood for you. What kind of gratitude are you now showing us for our services? You have set your bodyguards on our necks, and they tear our brothers and kinsman from us. They insult us, beat us, stab us, strangle and kill us.’
Bribes and polite persuasion gave way to threats and arrests, followed by torture.
The result was the arrest of some 300 noblemen, followed by public floggings, the wrenching out of tongues and a large number of executions. However, not all opposition could be disposed of quite so easily. In what turned out to be a serious miscalculation, Ivan appointed Fillip Kolychev, abbot of the Solovetskii Monastery, as Metropolitan, following the resignation of Metropolitan Afanassi, who had previously been the Tsar’s confessor and who was a stern critic of the Oprichnina. Kolychev’s appointment was not unconnected with the fact that two of his cousins served in it. However, if the Tsar felt that this ensured the other man’s loyalty, he was soon disillusioned. Kolychev was prepared to use his position to speak out against an unceasing campaign of torture and murder carried out with not even the most peremptory of judicial processes. Moreover, he voiced condemnation during the course of his
Stalin S Secret War
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Stalin s Secret War
Stalin s Secret War
Stalin s Secret War
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In this book, Rupert Butler describes the actions of the Soviet secret police. The author starts from the origins and short characterization of the activities of the NKVD before World War II. According to me, this part could have more informations. Later it goes to describe the various activities of World War II, directed against all enemies of the revolution and socialism. At the end he shortly describes activities after war. In this book author described Katyn massacre, the great purge, fighti In this book, Rupert Butler describes the actions of the Soviet secret police. The author starts from the origins and short characterization of the activities of the NKVD before World War II. According to me, this part could have more informations. Later it goes to describe the various activities of World War II, directed against all enemies of the revolution and socialism. At the end he shortly describes activities after war. In this book author described Katyn massacre, the great purge, fighting in Leningrad, Stalingrad and several other cities. Described is also a career of Beria, Stalin panic against traitors and conspiracies and the fight for control of the secret police.
NKVD dealt with interviewing prisoners, arrests, tortures and the fight against external and internal enemies. Russian soldiers who deserted or were taken captive by the enemy, were killed on the spot or deported to labor camps. Anyone who was little suspected of treason was immediately removed. Even the soldiers complaints about lack of food or ammunition were perceived as a betrayal of the Soviet Union. NKVD troops protected the rear of the Red Army, and if anyone tried to retreat, he was killed. Millions of people were deported to Siberia for even the smallest offenses against authority. Especially they persecuted poles, because Stalin hated them for stopping the invasion in 1920. The NKVD dealt with espionage.
According to me, book is interesting and written in a good way. The big drawback is the lack of an index of places and names. There is also too short. But according to me it is worth to read.
W tej książce Rupert Butler opisuje działania radzieckiej bezpieki. Autor rozpoczyna od genezy powstania i krótkiego scharakteryzowania działalności NKWD przed II wojną światową. Według mnie na tą część mógł poświęcić więcej miejsca. Później przechodzi do opisu rożnych działań z okresu II wojny światowej, wymierzonej przeciwko wszystkim wrogom rewolucji i socjalizmu. Na końcu krótko porusza działania po wojnie. Opisana jest zbrodnia katyńska, wielka czystka, walki w Leningradzie, Stalingradzie i kilku innych miastach. Opisana jest także kariera Beria, paniczny lęk Stalina przed zdrajcami i spiskami oraz walki o władzę nad bezpieką.
NKWD zajmowała się przesłuchiwaniem więźniów, aresztowaniami, torturami oraz walką z wrogiem zewnętrznym i wewnętrznym. Rosyjscy żołnierze którzy dezerterowali lub zostali wzięci w niewolę przez wroga, byli zabijani na miejscu, albo zsyłani do obozów pracy. Jeśli na kogoś padł choć cień podejrzeń o zdradę, był od razu usuwany. Nawet skargi żołnierzy na brak jedzenia albo amunicji były odbierane jako zdrada ZSRR. Wojska NKWD zabezpieczały tyły armii czerwonej i jeśli ktoś próbował się wycofać, był zabijany. Wywieziono miliony ludzi na Syberię nawet za najmniejsze przewinienia. Szczególnie tępiono też polaków, ponieważ Stalin ich nienawidził za powstrzymanie inwazji w 1920. NKWD zajmowało się także szpiegostwem.
Według mnie książka jest ciekawa i napisana w dobry sposób. Dużą wadą jest brak indeksu miejsc i nazwisk. Jest też trochę za krótka. Jednak według mnie warto ją przeczytać.
Where to Download Hope and CourageFrom Red Engine Press
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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful. A Great Collection of Stories By Richard C. Geschke Being a member of the Military Writers Society of America, I always look forward to the MWSA annual anthology publication. This year&rsquos title is titled Hope and Courage. The stories contained herein are based on the theme of hope and courage. As always this group of military writers brings forward an electrical series of short stories which are meant to show hope and the courage which were observed and lived by these writers. If you don&rsquot watch out you will be mesmerized and highly entertained by these writing members of MWSA. Do yourself a favor and order this anthology, you won&rsquot regret it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful. The Courage to Write and Heal. you'll find it all here in this outstanding collection! By Kathleen M. Rodgers I have spent the better part of two days devouring the stories, essays, and poems in Hope and Courage, the 2015 anthology published by Red Engine Press for Military Writers Society of America. Brava to editor and Gold Star mother, Betsy Beard, and copy editor, Joyce M. Gilmour, for this outstanding collection.The contributors include active duty, veterans, civilians, and families of military members.A perfect book for anyone at anytime. Each entry runs approximately three pages and includes the author's photo and bio.Highly recommended. The courage to write and heal. you'll find it all here in this outstanding collection!Kathleen M. Rodgers, author of the award-winning novel, Johnnie Come Lately
See all 2 customer reviews. Hope and CourageFrom Red Engine Press
Stalin's Secret War
The use of terror has been a characteristic of Russia from the days of the Tsars. The Okhrana was the oppressive police force of the Romanovs. Then came the Cheka, the OGPU, SMERSH and the NKVD - organisations that used terror to control every aspect of military and civilian life. So, during the Great Patriotic War , Soviet soldiers and citizens feared not only the Germans but the tentacles of the secret police. To maintain iron discipline in the face of the German onslaught, to root out dissent and defeatism and to counter the threat of treachery and collaboration, the agents of the NKVD waged a merciless campaign against their own people. The full extent of this extraordinary wartime operation is told in Rupert Butler's compelling study.
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From its creation in 1933 until Hitler's death in May 1945, anyone living in Nazi-controlled territory lived in fear of a visit from the Gestapo – an abbreviation of Geheime Staatspolizei – or secret state police. Young or old, rich or poor, nobody was beyond the attentions of a brutally efficient organization that spread its malign influence into every corner of Europe in the wake of the all-conquering German armed forces.
The Gestapo offers a detailed history of this evil operation – commanded for much of its life by the SS chief Heinrich Himmler – whose 20,000 members were responsible for the internal security of the Reich. Under its auspices, hundreds of thousands of civilians, resistance fighters and spies in occupied Europe were brutalized, tortured and murdered, and many, many more were deported to almost certain death in concentration camps. Based upon the Gestapo's own archives and eye-witness accounts, the author charts the development of the organization, its key figures, such as Reinhard Heydrich, its brutal methods, and how the Gestapo dealt with internal security, including the various unsuccessful attempts to assassinate Hitler.
The book is a lively and expert account of this notorious but little-understood secret police that terrorized hundreds of thousands of people across Europe.
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