The Great Terror, 1937-1938

Yezhov’s initial quotas for 1st and 2nd category arrests, July 1937

Area / Source1st category
(To be shot)
2nd category
(To the camps)
Azerbaijan SSR1,5003,750
Armenian SSR5001,000
Belorussian SSR2,00010,000
Georgian SSR2,0003,000
Кirghiz SSR250500
Tajik SSR5001,300
Turkmen SSR5001,500
Uzbek SSR7504,000
RSFSR [Russia]47,450142,150
Ukraine SSR 8,00020,800
Kazakh SSR 2,5005,000
NKVD labour camps10,000

Increased quotas and final totals

Regional Party and NKVD officials kept asking Moscow to increase their “quotas”, however.

As a result, the “initial objectives” were multiplied by two for “2nd category arrests (to the camps)” and by five for “1st category arrests (for execution)” during a sixteen-month operation initially planned to last four months.

From August 1937 to November 1938, a total of 767,000 people were sentenced under “operation 00447” alone; 387,000 of them were shot. The numbers imprisoned or executed were further swelled by a succession of additional campaigns: against Germans (25 July), Poles (11 August), wives of “traitors” (15 August), former employees of the Far Eastern Railroad (20 September) and Latvians (30 November).

In total, some 800,000 men and women were executed within a period of 16 months.

Source: Nicolas Werth, “Mass crimes under Stalin”