The Kirov Murder
The turning point of Soviet history occurred when a young party functionary allegedly aimed and fired a round from his Nagan revolver into the back of the neck of one Sergei Kirov. Kirov was a rising star in the Communist Party of the 1930s. Although he was no capitalist, he surreptitiously opposed the extreme measures Stalin was forcing upon the Soviet peoples. His popularity in Leningrad (Petersburg) coupled with some speeches he gave at party congresses would make him appear to be a rival to Stalin. Rivals were something Stalin could not tolerate.
A biography of Kirov tells the story of a man who struggled with his loyalty to the man who had risen him from the ranks. His conscience and common sense were moving him to oppose Stalin's policies, however surreptitiously. But if Kirov was intending to act in dealing with Stalin, he waited too long. He was murdered on a cold December day in 1934.
In a scene stranger than the assassination of John F. Kennedy The murder of Sergei Kirov was both brutal and amateurish. Its very sloppiness would make it one of the more researched incidents in Soviet history.
The aftermath of Kirov's death is more important than the death itself. It would effect the life of a nation for more than three generations. Kirov's death would trigger show trials, purges, and the ultimate demise of thousands and perhaps millions of people. In a classic move of blaming others for his own crime, Stalin would conjure gigantic plots tied to the death of Kirov. Eventually the purges would destroy the infrastructure of the Soviet Union, while decimating the ranks of workers, professionals, and military men.
Interestingly enough, after Kirov's death, Stalin would laud him to the skies, even naming a class of battleship after him.
The best book, by far on the Kirov Murder was written by Amy Knight. Read our review of her book.
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A Biography of Sergei Kirov -->