Moscow: Sovetskoe zakonodatel’stvo, 1932. Item #1453
104 pp. 14,5х11 cm. In original wrappers with letterpress design on front cover and two photos on back cover. Covers rubbed, with creases, small tears and creases of p. 25-28, otherwise very good.
First edition. Extremely rare.
Revolutionary legality meant the necessity to comply with the law in terms of revolutionary needs. The end justifies the means. According to this, the Soviet authorities had a right to extrajudicial executions in 1917-1953.
This book was written by Soviet official, lawyer and diplomat Andrei Vyshinskii (1883-1954). It is impossible to separate his name from the Red Terror. He was a professor of the MSU (Department of Criminal Procedure) and simultaneously acted as a public prosecutor in political trials; was one of key figures in regards to mass executions in the 1920s-1930s. He was a member of the secret commission of the Politburo that approved all death sentences in the USSR in 1935-1939.
In particular, he headed an important Shakhty Trial (1928) when fifty-three engineers and managers from the North Caucasus town were blamed for conspiring to sabotage the Soviet economy with the former owners of the coal mines. He urged the court to sentence all 11 prisoners to death, but only 5 cases received the ruthless judgment. Vyshinskii mentioned this case in the book as a classic example of bourgeois counter-revolution that was “successfully solved”.
It was Vyshinsky who came up with an idea of creating “NKVD troikas” that passed sentences on political matters without public trials. He himself, together with Nikolai Yezhov, made ‘the two’ which signed death sentences to many thousands of “enemies of the people” in 1937-1938.
The book was compiled after the Decree on Revolutionary Legality was accepted on June 25, 1932. It finished the route the Soviet justice had gone for the first fifteen years in from the first Decree on Courts (1917). Verso of the title page shows the first page of the newspaper of the Provisional Workers’ and Peasants’ Government, released on November 24, 1917 and announced the Decree on Courts. It crashed all pre-revolutionary legal institutions and fought against counter-revolutionaries while the Decree on Revolutionary Legality urged the whole state to finish off the rest of the enemies of socialism like kulaks. The photographs on the back cover feature a meeting of Baku workers dedicated to the new decree.
By the late 1930s, the system of human rights violations had been finally formed in the Soviet Union.
Worldcat shows copies located in Stanford and Washington Universities.