Wrecking (Soviet crime)
Wrecking was a crime specified in the criminal code of the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....
in the Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...
era. It is often translated as "sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...
"; however "wrecking" and "diversionist acts" and "counter-revolutionary sabotage" were distinct sub-articles of Article 58 (RSFSR Penal Code)
Article 58 (RSFSR Penal Code)
Article 58 of the Russian SFSR Penal Code was put in force on 25 February 1927 to arrest those suspected of counter-revolutionary activities. It was revised several times...
(58-7, 58-9, and 58-14 respectively), and the meaning of "wrecking" is closer to "undermining".
These three categories are distinguished in the following way.
- Diversions were acts of immediate infliction of physical damage on state and cooperative property.
- Wrecking was deliberate acts aimed against normal functioning of state and cooperative organisations, e.g., giving deliberately wrong commands.
- Sabotage was non-execution or careless execution of one's duties.
As applied in practice, "wrecking" and "sabotage" could refer to any actions which could be broadly construed to negatively affect the economy in some way, including failing to meet economic targets, causing poor morale among subordinates, lack of effort, or alleged or real incompetence. Thus, it referred to economic or industrial sabotage only in the very broadest sense. Many who were charged were merely scapegoats. In many cases, even those who were not engaged in industrial activity (including scientists) were charged with wrecking. Many of the victims of the Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...
were charged with wrecking.
Cultural depictionsAleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...
, in his historical account of the prison camps of the Soviet Union, The Gulag Archipelago
The Gulag Archipelago
The Gulag Archipelago is a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn based on the Soviet forced labor and concentration camp system. The three-volume book is a narrative relying on eyewitness testimony and primary research material, as well as the author's own experiences as a prisoner in a gulag labor camp...
, describes Nikolai Karlovich von Meck (son of Karl
Karl Otto Georg von Meck
Karl Otto Georg von Meck , was an important 19th century Russian businessman of German descent, one of the founders of Russian railways.-Family:...
and Nadezhda von Meck
Nadezhda von Meck
Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck was a Russian businesswoman, who is best known today for her artistic relationship with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. She supported him financially for 13 years, enabling him to devote himself full-time to composition, but she stipulated that they were never to meet. ...
, patroness of Tchaikovsky), an engineer who advised heavier-than-average loads being placed on freight trains for the betterment of the economy. He was accused of being a wrecker and shot, his crime being supposedly having overloaded the trains for the purpose of wearing out the rails faster.