Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Aaron B. Retish


“The Great Terror: Violence, Ideology, and the Building of Stalin’s Soviet Empire” is a study of the confluence of terror and ideology in the Soviet Union during the 1930s. I argue that an intersection of Soviet ideology and geopolitical circumstances caused the Great Terror. The Stalinist variant of Soviet ideology evolved from Leninism and Marxism. It consisted of both a vision of an ideal socialist society and explicit practices and policies designed to realize the vision. It was the geopolitical circumstances, both foreign and domestic, that activated this ideology, compelling Stalin and his inner circle to initiate and employ practices and policies that became increasingly radicalized and militarized throughout the 1930s.

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