Enemies of the People

   The term “enemies of the people” was employed by the Jacobins during the French Revolution for those they wished to kill with a minimum of judicial process. Vladimir Lenin and other Bolsheviks were attracted to the term and began using it in 1918. The Soviet press during the rule of Joseph Stalin used the term to dehumanize opponents of the regime. When Helen Bonner, Andrei Sakharov’s wife, and her little brother saw their father arrested, the boy said: “Imagine, some enemies of the people masquerade as fathers!” During the Yezhovshchina, women and children classified as members of the family of enemies of the people were subject to arrest and exile. Children were sent to special orphanages established by the security services. When a writer asked Stalin’s foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov why it had been necessary to punish the wives of political prisoners, he casually replied “people would have talked.”

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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