Public enemy

​Category of enemies created in the Soviet Union on political grounds, which was not precisely determined

The concept public enemy originates from the French Revolution. The term was introduced in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist era when those opposing the Soviet regime (‘people’s power’) were seen as enemies. The term was mostly used for propagandist purposes, pillorying people or groups of people who were persecuted for political reasons. According to Stalin, public enemies were both those who committed acts of sabotage, and those who doubted the rightfulness of the Communist Party line. Groups such as counter-revolutionaries, parasites, spies, saboteurs, kulaks, opponents of the Party and others were classified as public enemies by the party leadership and derived from the need to remove unsuitable people, rather than their real actions.

In Soviet Estonia, other concepts were used during the Stalinist era, such as class enemy (a person in opposition to the ‘ruling working class’), elements hostile to the Soviet Union (a person who actively worked or works against the Soviet Union), and bourgeois nationalist (considered an enemy both from the class position and due to a national anti-Soviet mentality). Boundaries between different categories of enemies were not clear. It did not actually matter, as they all could be successfully employed in eliminating people undesirable to the Soviet authorities.

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