Constructing the Past

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On December 1, 1934, Sergei Mironovich Kirov, head of the Leningrad party organization of the Soviet Union, was shot dead outside his office in the former Smolny Institute. Kirov’s murder would prove to be the catalyst that effectively launched General Secretary Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge of the Communist Party from 1936 to 1938. In this two year period hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens were executed and millions more were sentenced to exile. Though an earthshaking start to an inexplicably dark period of Soviet history, the real intrigue in Kirov’s assassination lies in the fact that, over 75 years later, the case remains inconclusive. This paper attempts to shed light on the various theories surrounding the possible culprits involved in the Kirov assassination as well as address the potential limitations involved in ultimately achieving the notion of historical truth.