Cockburn’s personal history links him to the politics of the Communist Party, and there are still moments in his writing – debating the number of people estimated to have perished in Stalin’s gulags, claiming that ‘the Brezhnev years were a Golden Age for the Soviet working class’, when aspects of his father’s convictions can be glimpsed.
In the NKVD as it was now [in 1936], Stalin had a powerful and experienced instrument. At its head stood Yagoda. His deputy in security matters was Stalin’s crony Agranov, who had finished his special operations at Leningrad and handed over that city to the dreadful Sakovsky, who is said to have boasted that if he had Karl Marx to interrogate he would soon make him confess that he was agent of Bismark.Robert Conquest
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