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Moscow under terror

March 2, 2013 - Harry Eagar
Allied to the previous post about murder in Germany, there is a stimulating review in the Atlantic of a bookbook about the murders in Moscow in 1937-8 -- murders that did not elicit much distress in the West.

As with RtO's previous post about the number of murder institutions in Germany about that time, the surprise is that it took so long for someone, in this case an Austrian, Kurt Schlogel, to make a comprehensive report.

Much of the material he used was public, like the 1936 Moscow city directory, so that it was not merely the secrecy of the USSR archives that prevented the investigation.

I have not read the book but intend to. Nut graf in Benjamin Schwartz's review:

"The result: Moscow 1937 is a layered, hallucinatory panorama of great precision and artifice that gives readers access to a most foreign place and time. Schlögel’s analysis of the 1936 Moscow Directory, for example, generates a portrait of the magnificently varied cultural and intellectual life of a great metropolis. The 680-page Directory devoted six of its triple-columned pages to the organizations of the Academy of Sciences alone; it listed 280 'Clubs and Houses of Culture,' 540 magazines, and at least three jazz bands; and it untangled the thick web of libraries that covered the city. 'This diversity of social and semi-governmental institutions and organizations gives us not merely an insight into the immense complexity of an urban society,' Schlögel notes with typical discernment, 'but also an inkling of the huge efforts and even violence required if they are to be disciplined, levelled down and made uniform.' ”

UPDATE: Book reviewers make a point of, at least, spelling the author's name right, but when I went to buy a copy of "Moscow 1937," the dust jacket indicated that the publisher believes the author's name is Schlogel. The Atlantic had it wrong. Accordingly, I have changed the spelling in my post to what, I hope, is the way the writer spells his name.


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