According to The Black Book of Communism:

 All documents that are now available (protocols from the Politburo, Stalin's diary,
and the list of visitors he received at the Kremlin) demonstrate that Stalin meticulously controlled
and directed Ezhov's every move. He corrected instructions to the NKVD, masterminded the big
public trials, and even wrote scripts for them. During the preparations for the trial of Marshall
Tukhachevsky and other Red Army leaders for their participation in a "military conspiracy," Stalin
saw Ezhov every day. At each stage of the Ezovshchina, Stalin retained political control
of events. It was he who decided the nomination of Ezhov to the post of people's commissar of
internal affairs, sending the famous telegram from Sochi to the Politburo on 25 September 1936:
"It is absolutely necessary and extremely urgent that Comrade Ezhov be nominated to the post of
People's Commissar of Internal Affairs. Yagoda is plainly not up to the task of unmasking the
Trotskyite and Zinovievite coalition. The GPU is now four years behind in this business." It was
also Stalin who decided to put a stop to the "excesses of the NKVD." On 17 November 1938 a
decreee form the Central Committee put a (provisional) stop to the organization of "large-scale
arrest and deportation procedures." One week later Ezhov was dismissed from the Post of
People's Commissar and replaced by Beria. The Great Terror thus ended as it had
begun, on Stalin's orders.

(p. 190.)

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