1659: The first two Boston Martyrs 1268: Conradin of Swabia

1941: Twenty Red Army officers

October 28th, 2010 Headsman




Top to bottom: Proskurov, Rychagov, Shtern, and Smushkevich.

“Quantity has a quality all its own.”

-Stalin

The aphoristic Uncle Joe doomed Soviet officers in both quantity and quality on this date in 1941, shooting 20 Soviet officers at the very moment when Mother Russia could have used them most.

This wouldn’t seem like the ideal time for a purge, but old habits are hard to break.

As the Wehrmacht closed in on Moscow, these prisoners had been evacuated to the Volga city of Kuybyshev (today, Samara). In this, they were already treated more courteously than some.

But any semblance of consideration for these fallen brass — to say nothing of bourgeois indulgences like due process — went out the window when an order arrived from Lavrenty Beria:

“Investigation to be stopped, all to be executed by firing squad without delay.”

They were.

Those “all” included:

Many of this day’s victims were rehabilitated after Stalin fell.

Cold comfort, perhaps, but for their survivors there was bloodier satisfaction: the personal order Beria gave to execute them was in turn used against Beria when he was purged.

It’s a bit tangential, but here‘s an interesting interview with one of their contemporaries in Soviet combat aviation, who managed to survive those terrible years (despite being “taken out to be shot on three occasions” while a POW in Spain). There are some pictures of the planes these men would have used in this thread of a Spanish-language military forum.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Mass Executions,No Formal Charge,Notable Participants,Posthumous Exonerations,Russia,Shot,Soldiers,Summary Executions,Torture,USSR,Wartime Executions,Wrongful Executions

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