Explain why the assassination of Kirov led to a period of great terror
In December 1934 Sergei Kirov, the boss of the Leningrad party was shot dead by a lone assassin, Leonid Nikolaev. His death shocked the Party and its leadership. Kirov's murder led to a period of great terror for several reasons including; Kirov's willingness to argue with Stalin in public, Stalin's paranoia, and the purges of the moderates.
After years of arranging for the removal of his opponents from the party, Joseph Stalin realized he still could not rely on the total support of the people whom he had replaced them with. Stalin no doubt began to wonder if Sergey Kirov was willing to wait for his mentor to die before becoming leader of the party. Stalin was particularly concerned by Kirov's willingness to argue with him in public. He feared that this would undermine his authority in the party. Stalin treated Kirov like a son, and when he asked him to move to Moscow to limit his power, Kirov refused, showing Stalin he had lost control over Kirov. Sergei Kirov was assassinated by a young party member, Leonid Nikolayev, on 1st December, 1934. Stalin claimed that Nikolayev was part of a larger conspiracy led by Leon Trotsky against the Soviet government. This resulted in the arrest and execution of Kamenev, Zinoviev, and fifteen other party members who had been critical of Stalin. However, it was Stalin's paranoia that led to such extreme actions.
When Kirov was assassinated in December 1934, Stalin used this as an excuse to purge the Soviet Union. When Kirov was shot, the majority of the Soviet Union believed there was no motive behind the shooting and that it was the act of a lone gunman. But Stalin accused his former party rivals – Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev and the exiled Leon Trotsky – of orchestrating the assassination. He also claimed that the conspiracy had spread deep into the Communist Party, and necessitated a massive purge of its leaders. Trotsky, the Mensheviks and other...