Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)



Advisor/Committee Chair

Nadieszda Kizenko

Committee Member

Michitake Aso


The Soviet Union of the 1930s was marked by fearmongering, denunciations, and a series of show trials that rocked the Communist Party. The Great Terror started officially in late 1934 and continued until 1938, entangling millions within its web of imprisonment, forced labor, and executions. The general consensus has been that the Terror was a result of government influence and citizens’ actions. A lot of the research done on this era has focused on why the average citizen would willingly participate in the government’s reign of terror. By examining a series of memoirs written during and about this time and official speeches and publications from high-ranking Party members, this paper will show that the promised utopia was not enough to prevent discontent and the Soviet government turned to terror to consolidate its power further. In an attempt to fight the alleged class enemies within the Soviet society or to prevent themselves from being implicated, citizens wrote denunciations against family members, neighbors, bosses, etc. Doing so spread the purge into factories and small towns. By looking into the role of denunciations, in the Terror, this paper sheds light on the mechanisms of other campaigns of fear.

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