George Orwell devised the word ‘unperson’ to describe someone who had so offended official thought, he or she was vaporised — not just liquidated but wiped from the record for eternity.
That way the unperson couldn’t set a bad example. All memory of the impertinence would be forgotten, Comrades! Orwell was satirising Stalin’s Russia, where such practices were all too common.
When a Politburo member called Nikolai Yezhov, People’s Commissar for Water Transport, fell out of favour with Joseph Stalin in 1940, he was not just killed. He was not the only one.