An order for the expansion of the Red Terror (1918)


In September 1918 the Soviet commissar for the interior, Grigori Petrovski, sent the following communication to local CHEKA units, ordering the expansion of the Red Terror:


“…The murder of Volodarski; the murder of Uritski; the attempt to murder and the wounding of the President of the Council of People’s Commissars, Lenin; the mass shooting of tens of thousands of our comrades in Finland, in Ukraine and, finally on the Don; and in Czechoslovakia the constant discovery of plots in the rear of our army; the implication of Right Socialist Revolutionaries and other counter-revolutionary scoundrels in these plots, and at the same time the extremely negligible number of serious repressions and mass shootings of the White Guards and the bourgeoisie by the Soviets…

All this shows that despite constant words about mass terror against the Socialist Revolutionaries, the White Guards and the bourgeoisie, this terror really does not exist. There must emphatically be an end of such a situation. There must be an immediate end of looseness and tenderness.

All Right Socialist Revolutionaries who are known to local Soviets must be arrested immediately. Considerable numbers of hostages must be taken from among the bourgeoisie and the officers. At the least attempt at resistance, or the least movement among the White Guards, mass shooting must be inflicted without hesitation. The local Provincial Executive Committees must display special initiative in this direction.

The departments of administration, through the militia and the Extraordinary Commissions, must take all measures to detect and arrest all persons who are hiding under assumed names and must shoot without fail all who are implicated in White Guard activity.

All the above mentioned measures must be carried out immediately… The rear of our armies must, at last, be finally cleared of all White Guard activity and of all vile plotters against the power of the working class and of the poorest peasantry. Not the least wavering, not the least indecision in the application of mass terror.

Confirm the receipt of this telegram.”