The Apparatus of Repression
Any deviations of opinion, any opposition (even Communist), is
branded as counter-revolutionary and as such is severely suppressed.
Whether of the right or the left, whether monarchists, fascists, Communist
oppositionists, Socialist-revolutionaries, syndicalists or anarchists, all who
do not agree with Stalin's orders, are "counter-revolutionaries."
The common criminal generally suffers a much lighter penalty than
the political delinquent. The first gets a public trial. He has the right to
defend himself. He can take advantage of amnesties, etc. The dictatorship
fears the free mind much more than the thief and murderer. That is
Yet, the reeducation of criminals, thieves and prostitutes, which was
one of the boldest ideas of the Revolution, has so degenerated that it is
now only a bluff destined for naive visitors. At the present time, criminals
and even petty thieves are shot. And according to the law of the 8th of
April, 1935, children of 12 are also punished by death.
The judges and public prosecutors are as usual people of career and
are appointed from above. Like the Soviet magistrature, so the Soviet
Since the 10th of July, 1934, the G.P.U. has borne the name of "Commissariat of the Interior." This "Commissariat of the Interior" can, in the
manner of a simple administrative measure, that is, without any trial, sentence any person to five years of forced labor or exile. This punishment
can be renewed indefinitely.
The forces of the G.P.U. are specially chosen. They comprise a mobile
guard of 100,000 men, forming the best trained and best treated military
group in the USSR. Its officers are educated in special schools. A member
of the G.P.U. may be permitted to retire, but he is then still attached to
the corps and undergoes periodic training and inspection.
The G.P.U. network of informers and spies spreads over all the factories, all establishments and even residential houses. Many persons in the
Soviet Union assume the role of informer voluntarily—either from ambition, or as a result of political conviction or from jealousy felt for their
neighbor. Anybody who has once supplied information to the G.P.U. has
his name, address and photo in the bureau, and finds it hard not to continue playing the part of the informer.
Denunciation and provocation have become an integral part of the
mores and civic virtues of the country, as a result of the prevalent ignoble
competition that goes on among citizens of all ranks to get on the good
side of the authorities and the Communist Party. Illegal action within such
a net is almost a total impossibility. The Soviet citizens must watch carefully his own correspondence, his private conversation, even with those
nearest to him. The least imprudence can bring grave consequences. Writing abroad, you must not forget the postal censorship.
Here is a classic case in the land of Soviet socialism:
Peter, a comrade in your shop or office, a neighbor, a friend, a native of your
village, or a relative, has uttered in the course of a little gathering of relatives or
friends, one evening over the samovar, some rather circumspect reflections on the
troubles of the time. Perhaps he expressed some doubt that such misery can bring
well-being and liberty to the workers. His opinion was reported. Three days pass, and
you don't see Peter in the shop. You never see him again. From his wife, you learn