What is the significance of the Great Purge? 

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The Great Purge took place in the Soviet Union between 1936 and 1938.  In the Great Purge, Josef Stalin targeted rich peasants, entrepreneurs, clergy, military commanders and political rivals.  During the Purge, Stalin collectivized more of the farms in Ukraine and Kazakhstan and ordered show trails and executions for anyone...

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The Great Purge took place in the Soviet Union between 1936 and 1938.  In the Great Purge, Josef Stalin targeted rich peasants, entrepreneurs, clergy, military commanders and political rivals.  During the Purge, Stalin collectivized more of the farms in Ukraine and Kazakhstan and ordered show trails and executions for anyone who was not willing to give up everything and move to a collective.  Moscow exported food while the people who lived in these areas was starving--through collectivization, Stalin targeted any nationalists who were not loyal to Stalinism.  Entrepreneurs were seen as opportunists because they were not willing to give everything they had to the state.  This did not strengthen Stalin's Five Year Plan, but rather pushed the black market for goods further underground and it would remain a staple of Soviet life well after Stalin's death.  Stalin demolished any outward signs of religion in the Soviet Union and replaced them with monuments to himself and Communism.  After the purge Stalin bragged that the Soviet Union was the world's first atheistic state, but churches continued to meet in secret.  The most dramatic part of the Purge, however, was Stalin's willingness to kill his top generals and innovative military thinkers.  Stalin was a paranoid man who feared being replaced by a strong military leader.  He targeted these generals on the grounds that they were Western sympathizers.  Stalin's decision to kill his top military brass put his armed forces behind in terms of leadership and technology and early Soviet failures against Hitler would prove that this was a grave mistake.  

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