One of the most tragic periods in the Soviet history started in the country seventy years ago. In response to the ulterior and intricate white terror the Bolsheviks were ready to launch large-scale repressions in 1937.
After the October Revolution in 1917, the Russian ex-elite made attempts to retrieve its former status and the riches expropriated by the Bolsheviks. And the elite organized an invisible front to gain revenge for the defeat in the 1918-1920 Сivil War. The Medical Sanitary Department of the Kremlin was one of the vanguards of the secret second civil war.
By the year of 1935, many of avengers that belonged to the pre-revolutionary elite already penetrated deep into the Kremlin medical wards to form a unified medical front and dispatch “the red atheists”, as they called Bolsheviks, to the next world.
And there is much documented evidence kept in the Kremlin archives that actually prove this fact.
March 27, 1935 Chairman of the Party Control Commission Nikolay Yezhov got a super secret report about negative episodes in the work of the Medical Sanitary Department of the Kremlin and some obstructionists working there. The report said that the laboratory, drugstore, dietary canteen and the hospital of the Department were functioning improperly and even violated some important regulations. The reporter insisted that the gross mistakes could entail lamentable consequences for the top revolutionists.
Several doctors of the Department believed that the laboratory purposefully produced distorted results of analyses or gave test results that absolutely disagreed with the disease patterns. They added that often the laboratory made mistakes even in determining blood coagulability.
The drugstore, the report said, sold wrong medications instead of those prescribed by doctors, caffeine instead of codeine, for instance. And it also marked some medications absolutely incorrectly.
Another scandalous mistake that the drugstore committed was that venoms and poisonous substances were kept not really safely, and the box where they were kept could be opened with any sharp thing. That was an absolute mystery why in 1934 the drugstore officially reported its spending of 64 kg of potassium cyanide while the registered receipt of the poisonous substance made up just 52 kg that year. Where did the 12 kg of the murderous substance come from? It seemed that spending of the poisonous substance went absolutely uncontrolled.
And the report particularly emphasized the mistakes committed by the dietary canteen of the Medical Sanitary Department of the Kremlin. The reporter was shocked that food meant for the top leaders of the country was cooked with no special medical control and prior testing. A cook diseased with flu was for some reasons allowed to cook meals for the Soviet leadership. It from time to time happened so that people could find pins in food. In a word, doctors who must control cooking meals at the canteen disregard their duty.
As for doctors treating high-ranking patients, the report said some of them were negligent and unprofessional. Some high-ranking patient got a second degree burn when having procedures in a physiotherapy room. Another high-ranking patient was diagnosed incorrectly and died as he was not given proper treatment.
The reporter arrived at a conclusion that the Department was swarming with anti-Soviet and alien people that must be liquidated. At that, it is known that the Department was regularly cleaned up. Starting from May 1934, about sixty people were reported as cleaned up at the Medical Sanitary Department of the Kremlin. Among the disagreeable were children of former proprietors, kulaks and merchants; many of the Department personnel had relatives for some reasons repressed by the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs. The laboratory was headed by Doctor Borovskaya who had allegedly been connected with a convicted English spy.
And this may seem really strange that people having no medical skills that formerly belonged to the well-off Russian elite decided to take up medicine. It is unlikely that a daughter of a former great merchant, the owner of several houses and a cinema, whose husbands were a White Guard officer and a landlord’s son could be a highly qualified masseuse. But the woman actually worked at the Medical Sanitary Department of the Kremlin as a masseuse. Daughters of former money-lenders and traders also became Kremlin nurses which looked really strange. Mrs. Larionova who used to be a landlady before the revolution and later was stripped of suffrage also worked as a Kremlin hospital nurse. How did the people having nothing to do with medicine get to the Medical Sanitary Department of the Kremlin at all? Many of them had their lives absolutely destroyed by the revolution. It is not ruled out that doctors of the Department who used to be the prosperous elite and noblemen before the revolution awfully hated the Soviet power and cherished their revengeful dreams. But they still had to work for the Soviet regime.
The secret medical front was obviously scheming a new white terror. But the Bolsheviks responded with the merciless red terror to this plan; and the period went down in history as the sweeping repressions of 1937.
Soviet Prosecutor A.Vyshinsky said at a trial on doctors in March 1938 that poisoning with the help of professional killers was no longer popular. Doctors were the key figures in premeditated killings by means of poisoning. He said that doctors employed their professional knowledge to commit killings so that such poisoning could be interpreted as a natural death as a result of some disease. It was stated during the trial in 1938 that doctors never used potassium cyanide or arsenic for poisoning. They just used medicines incorrectly or purposefully prescribed medications that could be lethal for some particular patients.
Translated by Maria Gousseva