Sadist, bully Nikolai Yezhov: The system in a sense of ironic justice, cornered, tortured a false confession from, and executed the man who had so eagerly dealt out such a fate to so many others.
Bangkok, Thailand - Nikolai Yezhov served as a soldier in the Russian revolution, as a party member during Stalin's rise, then as a leading participant in Stalin's notorious purge. It is said that a policy paper penned by Yezhov served as the rhetorical justification for the arrest of 40 million Russians, 20 million of which would end up dead. He would lead the purging of not only the regime's opponents, but also the systematic purging of various military units and political supporters as well. For when the megalomaniacal tyrant looks across his dominion, all before him, both friend and foe, is but a sea of potential usurpers.
In the end, not even Nikolai Yezhov escaped the astronomical atrocity he had helped perpetuate. It is said he was dragged, weeping hysterically to the executioner's room. He then scurried about like a rat attempting to dodge the bullets he had once so eagerly dealt out. After his execution, Stalin would literally have his memory erased by having his image removed from photos taken together. Yezhov was not the only treacherous set of helping hands to be cut off by Stalin's regime. His predecessor and successor both met similar fates.
The moral of this story, beside the cost of allowing a degenerate elite to paralyze an entire nation of millions in fear for nearly a generation, is that those who help the elite do so, inevitably pay the price as well. They pay the price not at the hands of those they see as enemies, but at the very hands that feed them. While the story of the Russian people frozen in inaction is an instructive tale for most of us, the story of Nikolai Yezhov is for the pundits, the police, the military, the policy makers, and the bureaucrats who blindly serve a system, or worse yet, knowingly serve a system that preys on its own people. When the system is done consuming its enemies, it turns in upon itself. After it is done setting false pretenses to brutalize foreign and domestic enemies, it begins setting pretenses to brutalize its own allies. No one is safe at that point, and the system's brutes soon become the weeping, cowering victims themselves.