Rykov Foresees the Purge
PERHAPS THE STRANGEST THING about the Great Purge of 1936-37 was the advance knowledge of it possessed by some of its leading victims. On the first day of Passover, 1934, I came to former Premier Rykov to tell him of my intention to leave Russia. He spoke to me with solemn frankness then as he had years before on the Volga. And as I listened to this trusted man, calm and deliberate as usual, I suddenly became conscious of an impending doom. I sensed in his voice and language the pathos, pity, and dark foreboding that come over us as death approaches one whom we love.
He began by reminding me that he had been in the shadow lately. But that did not trouble him. In the long years of the Tsarist underground he learned to face personal good luck or adversity with an even mind. What saddened him was that he had lived to see so many of Lenin's worst fears come true.
The Revolution that was to end all social injustice had degenerated into a naked tyranny sustained by brutal violence and lies. The present lull in the terror, he believed, was only the calm before a more fearful storm. A drastic change in policy was coming, one calculated to prepare Russia for a two-front war. With the Japanese strongly entrenched in Manchuria and the Nazis eager to expand eastward, Soviet Russia was in con-