The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Execution of North Korean leader's uncle smacks of 20th century-style purge by dictators

  • Print
FILE - In this Nov. 21, 1930, file photo, from left to right, former Russian leader Josef Stalin and Soviet politician Nikolai Bukharin are seen together, in Moscow. North Korea's execution of Kim Jong-Un's uncle, on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, reminds many of the ways in which 20th century dictators such as Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Mao Zedong methodically ousted their opponents. Stalin and his cronies set up show trials of the late 1930s to convict and execute potential rivals — often with trumped-up charges and forced confessions. Bukharin was shot for spying. (AP Photo/File)

Enlarge Image

FILE - In this Nov. 21, 1930, file photo, from left to right, former Russian leader Josef Stalin and Soviet politician Nikolai Bukharin are seen together, in Moscow. North Korea's execution of Kim Jong-Un's uncle, on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, reminds many of the ways in which 20th century dictators such as Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Mao Zedong methodically ousted their opponents. Stalin and his cronies set up show trials of the late 1930s to convict and execute potential rivals — often with trumped-up charges and forced confessions. Bukharin was shot for spying. (AP Photo/File)

PARIS - For people familiar with the way that dictators such as Stalin, Hitler and Mao methodically ousted their opponents, the purging and execution of the No. 2 official in North Korea is nothing new.

In recent history, Saddam Hussein also was skilled at such tactics to seize and consolidate his power in Iraq.

North Korea's execution of Kim Jong Un's uncle in the impoverished, closed and nuclear-armed country suggests that its leader has learned how to rule that way.

The execution of Jang Song Thaek, portrayed in North Korean state media as a morally corrupt traitor, rid Kim of one potential rival. It also may have been designed to sow fear among any others.

Here's a look at how some despots of yesteryear used purges to quash dissent and cement their lock-hold on power.

STALIN

Soviet leader Josef Stalin arguably set the bar on 20th-century totalitarianism. But it took him years to gain full control after the death of Bolshevik icon Vladimir Lenin. Stalin and his cronies set up show trials of the late 1930s to convict and execute potential rivals — often with trumped-up charges and forced confessions. Nikolai Bukharin was shot for spying. Two other Communist notables — Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev — were executed as alleged conspirators of Leon Trotsky, Stalin's last and best-known rival. Trotsky was assassinated by an icepick to the head while he was in exile in Mexico in 1940. Stalin died in power 13 years later.

MAO

In China, Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong led purges during the Cultural Revolution. Perhaps the highest-profile target was the longtime Chinese president and Communist revolutionary Liu Shaoqi. Young supporters of the Cultural Revolution known as Red Guards ransacked Liu's home, and he and his wife were dragged away for interrogation. Denied medical treatment as a "lackey of imperialism," Liu died in 1969 of pneumonia.

HITLER

In 1934, a year after the Nazis took power in Germany, Adolf Hitler carried out a purge of political and military rivals known as "The Night of the Long Knives." Among its victims was one of his top rivals, Ernst Roehm, the leader of the Sturmabteilung storm troopers, who was arrested and shot. A spinoff group, the SS became unchallenged and the most powerful instrument of Nazi power.

SADDAM

Saddam Hussein led at least two purges in Iraq. In 1968, the Baath Party regained power under the leadership of Gen. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, a distant cousin of Saddam. As his deputy, Saddam purged key party figures. Eleven years later, Saddam forced al-Bakr to resign — and hundreds of Baath and military officials were executed.

IDI AMIN

In the early 1970s, erratic Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, who liked to have political prisoners hammer each other to death, reportedly appointed former Prime Minister Benedicto Kiwanuka as the African country's chief justice. But after a falling-out between the two men over Amin's alleged disregard for the rule of law, Kiwanuka was arrested and killed in September 1972, according to Uganda's government-run New Vision newspaper.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

In the Key of Bart: Can’t It Be Nice This Time?

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google