"Stalin’s List" of November 22, 1937

News | Memory and Disinformation Studies | Article 22 November 2023

The "Stalin List" of November 22, 1937, is a unique document in the history of the "Great Terror", which was approved for the Georgian SSR. In terms of the number of convicts (439 people), the list of November 22 is only shorter than the list of August 10, 1937, in which 555 people were included. The list includes public figures, high officials, and ordinary people. This article presents a quantitative and content analysis of the list.


In the history of the "Great Terror", the list of Georgia dated November 22, 1937, is the first document on which the Politburo agreed to Lavrentiy Beria's proposal - the cases of convicts in Georgia should be judged by the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs’ (NKVD) so-called “Special Troika” (Тройка) where the three members were judge and jury and not by an external session of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR, since the arrest and the trial rates were lagging behind each other. Throughout the entire Soviet Union, Georgia was the only exception, where people included in the "Stalin’s list" were tried by the Special Troika.




The list of November 22, 1937, serves as a clear example of the term coined by Hannah Arendt — “the banality of evil”. The accusations against the individuals on the list are infused with “agentomania”, the fervent desire to search for and expose spies and collaborators in all sectors. This pursuit was unrealistic in Soviet Georgia due to closed borders and limited means of information transmission.


Among the real goals of the “Great Terror” of 1937-1938, experts single out the consolidation of the government, the complete neutralization of the alleged political opposition and old Bolsheviks, the silencing of opponents of industrialization and collectivization, and the establishment of ideological uniformity, among other reasons. If we judge directly by the examples of “Stalin lists”, we can add to this list the introduction of fear, terror, and general mistrust, the breaking of authorities, and the final solution to the process of the formation of the “Soviet man”. Stalin achieved all these goals through mass repressions.


Even after an era of intense repression, a legacy of fear and mistrust persisted in Soviet society. The trauma caused by repression has affected individuals and society for generations. Repressive policies shaped the political culture of the Soviet Union, fostering an environment of conformity and obedience to “authority” that had a lasting impact on the development of civil society and democratic values in the post-Soviet era.


Finding a correlation between the professions and accusations of some individuals included in the list of November 22, 1937, is challenging. For example, Dimitri Ghambashidze, a legal consultant of the medical and sanitary department, was accused of being an agent of the American and English intelligence services. The accountant Kharazov faced accusations of being a member of the American intelligence agency. Toma Tsertsvadze, the secretary of the party committee of the pasta factory and the manager of the canteen, was accused of being a Gestapo agent and an agitator of fascism. Even the brewer, Christopher Forer, was accused of being a Gestapo agent. Dozens of people were convicted of preparing a terrorist act against Stalin and Beria. 


...and some additional statistical information: Out of the 439 people, 62 were charged based on someone else's testimony. Among them, 46 were accused of preparing a terrorist attack against Lavrentiy Beria, and two, Vasil Zhuzhunava and Ivan Volkovsky (Fomichev), were accused of plotting against the leader himself, Stalin. Three individuals were repressed for spying for Japan… 


The Authors:

Giorgi Kldiashvili

Anton Vacharadze







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