” ‘We will kill every enemy’, Stalin hat promised in a toast in November 1937; ‘if he is an Old Bolshevik, we will destroy his relatives, his family. We will destroy anyone who with his deeds or thoughts strikes a blow against the unity of the Soviet state.’ Of the small group of men who signed almost four hundred execution lists during the Great Terror, which lasted, at its peak, from the summer of 1937 with Politburo Order no. 00447 against ‘anti-Soviet elements’ until the early winter of 1938, Molotov signed the greatest number: 373 (eleven more lists than Stalin himself signed), bearing the names of 43,569 people. On one day in December 1937, Molotov, Stalin and Andrei Zhdanov signed away 2,274 lives. It was Molotov who had suggested sentencing by list. On some lists, he personally changed verdicts form imprisonment to death, but he made a habit of underlining numbers, not names.“

Molotov’s Magic Lantern – A Journey in Russian History, Rachel Polonsky, Faber and Faber 2010, p. 87/88