The Corner

You Need This Posting Like You Need a Hole in The Head

I am not going to take issue with Michael Ledeen’s military sources (quoted

in Michael’s piece on the site today) that a bullet passes straight through

the head without stopping. For high-speed, heavy, rifle or machine-gun

bullets, this is very likely true. That it is not the case with handgun

rounds is illustrated by a very grisly story in Simon Sebag Montefiore’s

book Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, which I have just been reading.

(And which David Pryce-Jones reviews in the new NRODT.) If you have a weak

stomach, or have just finished your Egg McMuffin, you might be wise to stop

reading this post now.

Stalin’s NKVD boss G.G. Yagoda, was personally present at the execution of

Old Bolsheviks Zinoview and Kamenev on August 25, 1936. It was the normal

style of Soviet execution — shooting through the back of the head with a

pistol. Then

“The bullets, with their noses crushed, were dug out of the skulls, wiped

clean of blood and pearly brain matter, and handed to Yagoda, probably still

warm. … Yagoda labeled the bullets ‘Zinoviev’ and ‘Kamenev’ and treasured

these macabre but sacred relics, taking them home to be kept proudly with

his collection of erotica and ladies’ stockings.”

Yagoda was himself shot two years later. The bullets were found among his

possessions and given to his successor, N.I. Yezhov. Yezhov was shot in his

turn (in 1940, after “confessing” to having been an English, Japanese and

Polish spy). I don’t know what happened to the bullets.


The Latest