Left to the Wolves: Irish Victims of Stalinist Terror

29.9557.50

Barry McLoughlin

Between the end of the Russian Civil War in 1921 and Stalin’s death in 1953, the Soviet secret police sentenced over 4 million persons on political grounds. Over 800,000 were shot and millions died in the slave camps of the Gulag system.  At the height of the mass-repression – the Great Terror of 1937/38 – foreigners were in great jeopardy. Knowing that a major war was coming, Josif Stalin and his cohorts decided to rid Soviet society of all perceived or potential ‘enemies’.  Among the putative ‘Fifth Columnists’ were non-Russian ethnic minorities, political refugees from fascism and foreign-born Communists. At least three of these countless victims were of Irish nationality. This book describes their social background, how and why they entered the semi-clandestine world of Communism and the reasons for their residence in the USSR.

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Between the end of the Russian Civil War in 1921 and Stalin’s death in 1953, the Soviet secret police sentenced over 4 million persons on political grounds. Over 800,000 were shot and millions died in the slave camps of the Gulag system.  At the height of the mass-repression – the Great Terror of 1937/38 – foreigners were in great jeopardy. Knowing that a major war was coming, Josif Stalin and his cohorts decided to rid Soviet society of all perceived or potential ‘enemies’.  Among the putative ‘Fifth Columnists’ were non-Russian ethnic minorities, political refugees from fascism and foreign-born Communists. At least three of these countless victims were of Irish nationality. This book describes their social background, how and why they entered the semi-clandestine world of Communism and the reasons for their residence in the USSR. Patrick Breslin was a graduate of the International Lenin School who turned to journalism and translating. Brian Goold-Verschoyle’s visits to Moscow were periodic until his masters in the Soviet espionage service sent him to the Spanish cockpit in 1937. Finally, Seán McAteer was given political refugee status in the new Russia in 1923 after his flight from Scotland Yard. He used his language skills to proselytize sailors for the world revolution or to teach students the rudiments of English in exotic Odessa. Each man in turn knew by time of arrest that the secret police NKVD rarely released or acquitted anybody; and the fabricated charges they were faced with increased their sense of isolation and hopelessness. This realisation was all the more bitter considering the faith they had placed in the Soviet experiment.

Table of Contents

Part I: Patrick Breslin

  1. Youth in Dublin
  2. The International Lenin School, 1928-30
  3. Life with Katya
  4. Life with Daisy
  5. Patrick Alone
  6. Interrogation
  7. Transit and Terminus

Part II: Brian Goold-Verschoyle

  1. Youngest Son of the Manor House
  2. Insistent Recruit
  3. With Lotte in Moscow
  4. Spanish Imbroglio
  5. Prisoner No. 500
  6. Lotte in Trouble

Part Three: Seán McAteer

  1. Border Man
  2. ‘Going Up’ in Liverpool
  3. Sailor’s Friend
  4. Last Twist

About the Author 

Barry McLoughlin was born in Limerick in 1949. As a mature student he studied German and History at UCD, graduating with an MA in Irish-German relations during the Second World War. He has been living in Vienna since 1979 and he completed a doctorate there in 1990. Since then his main field of research has been the Stalinist system and the mass-repression during the ‘Great Terror’ of the 1930s. He was the scriptwriter and associate producer of the life of Patrick Breslin, who died in a Soviet prison in 1942. This film, Amongst Wolves, was broadcast by Irish television in 2001. Dr McLoughlin co-edited Stalin’s Terror: High Politics and Mass Repression in the Soviet Union (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, 2004).

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