“Purging the Elite” in Tyumen in 1937-1938

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2021, Vol. 7. № 2 (26)

“Purging the Elite” in Tyumen in 1937-1938

For citation: Kononenko A. A., Kononenko A. A. 2021. “‘Purging the Elite’ in Tyumen in 1937-1938”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 7, no. 2 (26), pp. 182-192. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2021-7-2-182-192

About the authors:

Anatoly A. Kononenko, Dr. Sci. (Hist.), Professor, Department of Russian History, University of Tyumen; a.a.kononenko@utmn.ru

Artem A. Kononenko, Master Student, Department of Criminal Law and Procedure, University of Tyumen; stud003944328@study.utmn.ru


The political repressions of the 1930s in the USSR have repeatedly been the subject of interest of historians. Nevertheless, there are practically no studies of political repressions of the 1930s in relation to nomenklatura workers at the level of the provincial Siberian city of Tyumen. This article aims to reveal the cause-and-effect relationship in the issue of physical liquidation of the thinnest layer of the party-economic nomenklatura, using the case of the city party organization of the CPSU(b) of Tyumen in 1937-1938. We have restricted ourselves to one of the components of the “Great Terror”, namely to “purging the elite”.

The research was conducted using the documents from two regional departments of the USSR Federal Security Service (FSB), former party archives of the Tyumen and Omsk regions, and periodicals. This required employing prosopographic, comparative-historical, problem-chronological, and system-structural methods. Such approach allowed clarifying the biographical data of the leaders of the city in 1936-1938 and classifying the criminal acts, incriminated to the accused.

The results of a comprehensive analysis of the sources show that the cause of the personnel purge should be considered a violation of the imbalance between the limited collective leadership and the still limited one-man dictatorship of I. V. Stalin’s dictatorship. The limited collective leadership was no longer in line with the reality of one man’s increasing power. Rotation of undesirable workers as an alternative to personnel cleansing proved to be unsuccessful. The motive for repressions against workers who had never participated in the opposition was their casual contacts and acquaintances with former opposition figures described as “spies and terrorists” in 1937-1938. The party, Soviet, and Komsomol workers who had no such contacts, though subjected to repression, were rehabilitated. Finally, in terms of their educational and professional level, the new generation of city party workers did not differ from the previous one.


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