NKVD

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NKVD (НКВД)
People's Commissariat
of Internal Affairs
Народный комиссариат внутренних дел
Naródny komissariát vnútryennikh dyél
NKVD Emblem (Gradient).svg
NKVD emblem
Agency overview
Formed1934
Preceding agencies
Dissolved1946
Superseding agencies
Type Secret police
Intelligence agency
Law enforcement
Gendarmerie
Border guard
Prison authority
other emergency services
Jurisdiction Soviet Union
Headquarters Lubyanka Building, Moscow, RSFSR, Soviet Union
Agency executives
Parent agency Council of the People's Commissars
Child agencies

The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (Народный комиссариат внутренних дел, Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del), abbreviated NKVD (НКВД Loudspeaker.svg listen  ), was the interior ministry of the Soviet Union.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union,, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 30 December 1922 to 26 December 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk.

Contents

Established in 1917 as NKVD of Russian SFSR, [1] the agency was originally tasked with conducting regular police work and overseeing the country's prisons and labor camps. [2] It was disbanded in 1930, with its functions being dispersed among other agencies, only to be reinstated as an all-union ministry in 1934. [3]

The functions of the OGPU (the secret police organization) were transferred to the NKVD in 1934, giving it a monopoly over law enforcement activities that lasted until the end of World War II. [2] During this period, the NKVD included both ordinary public order activities, as well as secret police activities. [4] The NKVD is known for its role in political repression and for carrying out the Great Purge under Joseph Stalin. It was led by Genrikh Yagoda, Nikolai Yezhov and Lavrentiy Beria [5] [6] [7]

The term secret police refers to intelligence, security or police agencies that engage in covert operations against a government's political opponents and dissidents. Secret police organizations are characteristic of totalitarian regimes. Used to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian regime, secret police often, but not always, operate outside the law and are used to repress dissidents and weaken the political opposition, frequently with violence, and torture.

Great Purge Soviet campaign of political repression, imprisonment, and execution

The Great Purge or the Great Terror was a campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union which occurred from 1936 to 1938. It involved a large-scale purge of the Communist Party and government officials, repression of wealthy landlords and the Red Army leadership, widespread police surveillance, suspicion of saboteurs, counter-revolutionaries, imprisonment, and arbitrary executions. In Russian historiography, the period of the most intense purge, 1937–1938, is called Yezhovshchina, after Nikolai Yezhov, the head of the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, who was executed a year after the purge. Modern historical studies estimate the total number of deaths due to Stalinist repression in 1937–38 to be between 681,692-1,200,000.

Joseph Stalin Soviet leader

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was a Georgian-born revolutionary and Soviet politician. He led the Soviet Union from the mid–1920s until 1953 as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–1952) and Premier (1941–1953). While initially presiding over a collective leadership as first among equals, he ultimately consolidated enough power to become the country's de facto dictator by the 1930s. A communist ideologically committed to the Leninist interpretation of Marxism, Stalin helped to formalise these ideas as Marxism–Leninism, while his own policies became known as Stalinism.

The NKVD undertook mass extrajudicial executions of untold numbers of citizens, and conceived, populated and administered the Gulag system of forced labour camps. Their agents were responsible for the repression of the wealthier peasantry, as well as the mass deportations of entire nationalities to uninhabited regions of the country. They oversaw the protection of Soviet borders and espionage (which included political assassinations), and enforced Soviet policy in communist movements and puppet governments in other countries, most notably the repression and massacres in Poland.

Gulag government agency in charge of the Soviet forced labor camp system

The Gulag was the government agency in charge of the Soviet forced-labor camp-system that was set up under Vladimir Lenin and reached its peak during Joseph Stalin's rule from the 1930s to the early 1950s. English-language speakers also use the word gulag to refer to any forced-labor camp in the Soviet Union, including camps which existed in post-Stalin times. The camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners. Large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as by NKVD troikas or by other instruments of extrajudicial punishment. The Gulag is recognized as a major instrument of political repression in the Soviet Union.

Population transfer in the Soviet Union

Population transfer in the Soviet Union refers to forced transfer of various groups from the 1930s up to the 1950s ordered by Joseph Stalin and may be classified into the following broad categories: deportations of "anti-Soviet" categories of population, deportations of entire nationalities, labor force transfer, and organized migrations in opposite directions to fill the ethnically cleansed territories.

Soviet Border Troops military border guard service of the Soviet Union

Soviet Border Troops were the militarized border guard of the Soviet Union, subordinated to its subsequently reorganized state security agency: first to Cheka/OGPU, then to NKVD/MGB and, finally, to KGB. Accordingly, they were known as NKVD Border Troops and KGB Border Troops. Unlike border guards of many other countries, Soviet Border Troops also included the maritime border guarding units.

In March 1946 all People's Commissariats were renamed to Ministries, and the NKVD became the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). [8]

Ministry of Internal Affairs (Soviet Union)

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) - Russian: Министерство внутренних дел СССР (МВД) - was a government ministry in the Soviet Union. The MVD, a successor agency to the NKVD, was established in March 1946. Unlike the NKVD, except for a period of about 12 months, from mid-March 1953 until mid-March 1954, the MVD did not include units (agencies) concerned with secret (political) activity, that function being assigned to the Ministry of State Security (MGB), and to the Committee for State Security (KGB).

History and structure

Chronology of Soviet
secret police agencies
Emblema KGB.svg
1917–1922 Cheka under SNK of the RSFSR
(All-Russian Extraordinary Commision)
1922–1923 GPU under NKVD of the RSFSR
(State Political Directorate)
1923–1934 OGPU under SNK of the USSR
(Joint State Political Directorate)
1934–1941 NKVD of the USSR
(People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs)
1941 MGB of the USSR
(Ministry of State Security)
1941–1943 GUGB of the NKVD of the USSR
(Main Directorate of State Security of People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs)
1943–1946 NKGB of the USSR
(People's Commissariat for State Security)
1946–1953 MGB of the USSR
(Ministry of State Securtiy)
1953–1954 MVD of the USSR
(Ministry of Internal Affairs)
1954–1978 KGB under SM of the USSR
(Committee for State Security)
1978–1991 KGB of the USSR
(Committee for State Security)
1991MSB of the USSR
(Interrepublican Security Service)
1991TsSB of the USSR
(Central Intelligence Service)
1991Committee of protection of the USSR state border
Early NKVD leaders Genrikh Yagoda, Vyacheslav Menzhinsky and Felix Dzerzhinsky, 1924 1924 yagoda menshinsky dsershinsky.jpg
Early NKVD leaders Genrikh Yagoda, Vyacheslav Menzhinsky and Felix Dzerzhinsky, 1924

After the Russian February Revolution of 1917, the Provisional Government dissolved the Tsarist police and set up the People's Militsiya . The subsequent Russian October Revolution of 1917 saw a seizure of state power led by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, who established a new Bolshevik regime, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). The Provisional Government's Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), formerly under Georgy Lvov (from March 1917) and then under Nikolai Avksentiev (from 6 August [ O.S. 24 July] 1917) and Alexei Nikitin (from 8 October [ O.S. 25 September] 1917), turned into NKVD (People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs) under a People's Commissar. However, the NKVD apparatus was overwhelmed by duties inherited from MVD, such as the supervision of the local governments and firefighting, and the Workers' and Peasants' Militsiya staffed by proletarians was largely inexperienced and unqualified. Realizing that it was left with no capable security force, the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR established (20 December [ O.S. 7 December] 1917) a secret political police, the Cheka , led by Felix Dzerzhinsky. It gained the right to undertake quick non-judicial trials and executions, if that was deemed necessary in order to "protect the Russian Socialist-Communist revolution".

February Revolution first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917

The February Revolution, known in Soviet historiography as the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution, was the first of two revolutions which took place in Russia in 1917.

Tsar title given to a male monarch in Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia

Tsar, also spelled czar, or tzar, is a title used to designate East and South Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers of Eastern Europe, originally Bulgarian monarchs from 10th century onwards. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism. The term is derived from the Latin word Caesar, which was intended to mean "Emperor" in the European medieval sense of the term—a ruler with the same rank as a Roman emperor, holding it by the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official —but was usually considered by western Europeans to be equivalent to king, or to be somewhat in between a royal and imperial rank.

Militsiya police force in USSR and some other countries

Militsiya, was the name of the police forces in the Soviet Union and in several Soviet bloc countries (1945-1991), as well as in the non-aligned SFR Yugoslavia of 1945-1992; the term continues in common and sometimes official usage in some of the individual former Soviet republics such as Belarus, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, as well as in the unrecognized republics of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria.

The Cheka was reorganized in 1922 as the State Political Directorate, or GPU, of the NKVD of the RSFSR. [9] In 1922 the USSR formed, with the RSFSR as its largest member. The GPU became the OGPU (Joint State Political Directorate), under the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR. The NKVD of the RSFSR retained control of the militsiya, and various other responsibilities.

In 1934 the NKVD of the RSFSR was transformed into an all-union security force, the NKVD (which the Communist Party of the Soviet Union leaders soon came to call "the leading detachment of our party"), and the OGPU was incorporated into the NKVD as the Main Directorate for State Security (GUGB); the separate NKVD of the RSFSR was not resurrected until 1946 (as the MVD of the RSFSR). As a result, the NKVD also took over control of all detention facilities (including the forced labor camps, known as the GULag) as well as the regular police. At various times, the NKVD had the following Chief Directorates, abbreviated as "ГУ"– Главное управление, Glavnoye upravleniye.

ГУГБ – государственной безопасности, of State Security (GUGB, Glavnoye upravleniye gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti)
ГУРКМ– рабоче-крестьянской милиции, of Workers and Peasants Militsiya (GURKM, Glavnoye upravleniye raboče-krest'yanskoi militsyi)
ГУПВО– пограничной и внутренней охраны, of Border and Internal Guards (GUPVO, GU pograničnoi i vnytrennei okhrany)
ГУПО– пожарной охраны, of Firefighting Services (GUPO, GU požarnoi okhrany)
ГУШосДор– шоссейных дорог, of Highways(GUŠD, GU šosseynykh dorog)
ГУЖД– железных дорог, of Railways (GUŽD, GU železnykh dorog)
ГУЛаг– Главное управление исправительно-трудовых лагерей и колоний, (GULag, Glavnoye upravleniye ispravitelno-trudovykh lagerey i kolonii)
ГЭУ – экономическое, of Economics (GEU, Glavnoye ekonomičeskoie upravleniye)
ГТУ – транспортное, of Transport (GTU, Glavnoye transportnoie upravleniye)
ГУВПИ – военнопленных и интернированных, of POWs and interned persons (GUVPI, Glavnoye upravleniye voyennoplennikh i internirovannikh)

Yezhov era

Nikolai Yezhov, head of the NKVD from 1936–1939 Ezhov.PNG
Nikolai Yezhov, head of the NKVD from 1936–1939

Until the reorganization begun by Nikolai Yezhov with a purge of the regional political police in the autumn of 1936 and formalized by a May 1939 directive of the All-Union NKVD by which all appointments to the local political police were controlled from the center, there was frequent tension between centralized control of local units and the collusion of those units with local and regional party elements, frequently resulting in the thwarting of Moscow's plans. [10]

Following its establishment in 1934, the NKVD underwent many organizational changes; between 1938 and 1939 alone, the NKVD's structure and leadership changed three times.[ citation needed ]

During Yezhov's time in office, the Great Purge reached its height from the years 1937 and 1938 alone, at least 1.3 million were arrested and 681,692 were executed for 'crimes against the state'. The Gulag population swelled by 685,201 under Yezhov, nearly tripling in size in just two years, with at least 140,000 of these prisoners (and likely many more) dying of malnutrition, exhaustion and the elements in the camps (or during transport to them). [11]

On 3 February 1941, the 4th Department (Special Section, OO) of GUGB NKVD security service responsible for the Soviet Armed Forces military counter-intelligence, [12] consisting of 12 Sections and one Investigation Unit, was separated from GUGB NKVD USSR.
The official liquidation of OO GUGB within NKVD was announced on 12 February by a joint order № 00151/003 of NKVD and NKGB USSR. The rest of GUGB was abolished and staff was moved to newly created People's Commissariat for State Security (NKGB). Departments of former GUGB were renamed Directorates. For example, foreign intelligence unit known as Foreign Department (shortcut- INO) became Foreign Directorate (INU); GUGB political police unit represented by Secret Political Department (SPO) became Secret Political Directorate (SPU), and so on. The former GUGB 4th Department (OO) was split into three sections. One section, which handled military counter-intelligence in NKVD troops (former 11th Section of GUGB 4th Department OO) become 3rd NKVD Department or OKR (Otdel KontrRazvedki), the chief of OKR NKVD was Aleksander Belyanov. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union (June 1941),the NKGB USSR was abolished and on July 20, 1941 the units that formed NKGB becomes part of NKVD USSR. The military CI was also upgraded from department to directorate and pot in NKVD organization as (Directorate of Special Departments or UOO NKVD USSR). The only section did not return to UOO NKVD till 11 of January 1942 was one responsible for counterintelligence in NKVMF (Navy). It returned to NKVD control in January 11 1942 as UOO 9th Department controlled by P. Gladkov. In April 1943 Directorate of Special Departments was transformed in to SMERSH and transferred to People's Defense and Commissariates. At the same time, the NKVD was reduced in size and duties again by creating NKGB as independent State Security Commissariate. In 1946, all Soviet Commissariats were renamed "ministries". Accordingly, the Peoples Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) of the USSR became the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), while the NKGB was renamed as the Ministry of State Security (MGB). In 1953, after the arrest of Lavrenty Beria, the MGB merged back into the MVD. The police and security services finally split in 1954 to become:

Main Directorates (Departments)

Ranking system (State Security)

In 1935–1945 Main Directorate of State Security of NKVD had its own ranking system before it was merged in the Soviet military standardized ranking system.

Top-level commanding staff
Senior commanding staff
Mid-level commanding staff
Junior commanding staff

Rank insignia 1935–1937

Commissioner General of State SecurityCommissioner of State Security 1st ClassCommissioner of State Security 2nd ClassCommissioner of State Security 3rd ClassSenior Major of State SecurityMajor of State SecurityCaptain of State SecuritySenior Lieutenant of State SecurityLieutenant of State SecurityJunior Lieutenant of State SecuritySergeant of State Security
Нквд1936вс.png Нквд1936вс4.png Нквд1936вс41.png Нквд1936вс3.png Нквд1936вс2.png Нквд1936вс1.png Нквд1936сс3.png Нквд1936сс2.png Нквд1936сс1.png Нквд1936мс3.png Нквд1936мс2.png
Нквд1936нзвс.png Нквд1936нзвс4.png Нквд1936нзвс41.png Нквд1936нзвс3.png Нквд1936нзвс2.png Нквд1936нзвс1.png Нквд1936нзсс3.png Нквд1936нзсс2.png Нквд1936нзсс.png Нквд1936нзмс3.png Нквд1936нзмс2.png
Source: [13]

Rank insignia 1937–1943

Commissioner General of State SecurityCommissioner of State Security 1st ClassCommissioner of State Security 2nd ClassCommissioner of State Security 3rd ClassSenior Major of State SecurityMajor of State Security
Гб1937гк.png Нквд1936вс5.png Нквд1937швс5.png Нквд1937вс4.png Нквд1937швс4.png Нквд1937вс3.png Нквд1937швс3.png Нквд1937вс2.png Нквд1937швс2.png Нквд1937вс1.png Нквд1937швс1.png
Source: [14]
Captain of State SecuritySenior Lieutenant of State SecurityLieutenant of State SecurityJunior Lieutenant of State SecuritySergeant of State Security
Нквд1937сс3.png Нквд1937стс3.png Нквд1937сс2.png Нквд1937стс2.png Нквд1937сс1.png Нквд1937стс1.png Нквд1937срс3.png Нквд1937мс3.png Нквд1937срс2.png Нквд1937мс2.png
Source: [14]

Rank insignia 1943–1945

Commissioner General of State SecurityCommissioner of State Security 1st ClassCommissioner of State Security 2nd ClassCommissioner of State Security 3rd ClassCommissioner of State Security
Source: [14] Гб1943гкв.png Гб1943гк.png Мгб1943вс4в.png Мгб1943вс4.png Мгб1943вс3в.png Мгб1943вс3.png Мгб1943вс2в.png Мгб1943вс2.png Мгб1943вс1в.png Мгб1943вс1.png
1212121212

1 – 1943; 2 – 1943–1945.

Colonel of State SecurityLieutenant Colonel of

State Security

Major of State SecurityCaptain of State SecuritySenior Lieutenant of

State Security

Lieutenant of State

Security

Junior Lieutenant of

State Security

1943

Source: [14]

Гб1943стс3в.png Гб1943псс3в.png Гб1943стс2в.png Гб1943псс2в.png Гб1943стс1в.png Гб1943псс1в.png Мгб1943срс4в.png Гб1943пстс4в.png Мгб1943срс3в.png Гб1943Упстс2в.png Мгб1943срс2в.png Гб1943Упстс1в.png Мгб1943срс1в.png Гб1943пстс1в.png
1943–1946

Source: [14]

Гб1943стс3.png Гб1943псс3.png Гб1943стс2.png Гб1943псс2.png Гб1943стс1.png Гб1943псс1.png Мгб1943срс4.png Гб1943псрс4.png Мгб1943срс3.png Гб1943псрс3.png Мгб1943срс2.png Гб1943псрс2.png Мгб1943срс1.png Гб1943псрс1.png
Master SergeantSenior SergeantSergeantJunior Sergeant
Source: [14] Мгб1943стар.png Гб1943пмс5.png Мгб1943сс.png Гб1943пмс4.png Мгб1943с.png Гб1943пмс3.png Мгб1943мс.png Гб1943пмс2.png

NKVD activities

The main function of the NKVD was to protect the state security of the Soviet Union. This role was accomplished through massive political repression, including authorised murders of many thousands of politicians and citizens, as well as kidnappings, assassinations and mass deportations.

Domestic repressions

NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda (middle) inspecting the construction of the Moscow-Volga canal, 1935 Yagoda kanal Moskva Volga.jpg
NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda (middle) inspecting the construction of the Moscow-Volga canal, 1935

In implementing Soviet internal policy towards perceived enemies of the Soviet state ("enemies of the people"), untold multitudes of people were sent to GULAG camps and hundreds of thousands were executed by the NKVD. Formally, most of these people were convicted by NKVD troikas ("triplets")– special courts martial. Evidential standards were very low: a tip-off by an anonymous informer was considered sufficient grounds for arrest. Use of "physical means of persuasion" (torture) was sanctioned by a special decree of the state, which opened the door to numerous abuses, documented in recollections of victims and members of the NKVD itself. Hundreds of mass graves resulting from such operations were later discovered throughout the country. Documented evidence exists that the NKVD committed mass extrajudicial executions, guided by secret "plans". Those plans established the number and proportion of victims (officially "public enemies") in a given region (e.g. the quotas for clergy, former nobles etc., regardless of identity). The families of the repressed, including children, were also automatically repressed according to NKVD Order no. 00486.

The purges were organized in a number of waves according to the decisions of the Politburo of the Communist Party. Some examples are the campaigns among engineers (Shakhty Trial), party and military elite plots (Great Purge with Order 00447), and medical staff ("Doctors' Plot"). One case of gas van usage was documented in the Soviet Union during the Great Purge [15]

A number of mass operations of the NKVD were related to the prosecution of whole ethnic categories. For example, the Polish Operation of the NKVD in 1937–1938 resulted in the execution of 111,091 Poles. [16] Whole populations of certain ethnicities were forcibly resettled. Foreigners living in the Soviet Union were given particular attention. When disillusioned American citizens living in the Soviet Union thronged the gates of the U.S. embassy in Moscow to plead for new U.S. passports to leave USSR (their original U.S. passports had been taken for 'registration' purposes years before), none were issued. Instead, the NKVD promptly arrested all of the Americans, who were taken to Lubyanka Prison and later shot. [17] American factory workers at the Soviet Ford GAZ plant, suspected by Stalin of being 'poisoned' by Western influences, were dragged off with the others to Lubyanka by the NKVD in the very same Ford Model A cars they had helped build, where they were tortured; nearly all were executed or died in labor camps. Many of the slain Americans were dumped in the mass grave at Yuzhnoye Butovo District near Moscow. [18] Even so, the people of the Soviet Republics still formed the majority of NKVD victims[*17][*18].

The NKVD also served as arm of the Russian Soviet communist government for the lethal mass persecution and destruction of ethnic minorities and religious beliefs, such as the Russian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [ disambiguation needed ], the Roman Catholic Church, Greek Catholics, Islam, Judaism and other religious organizations, an operation headed by Yevgeny Tuchkov.

International operations

Lavrentiy Beria with Stalin (in background) and Stalin's daughter Svetlana Lavrenti Beria Stalins family.jpg
Lavrentiy Beria with Stalin (in background) and Stalin's daughter Svetlana

During the 1930s, the NKVD was responsible for political murders of those Stalin believed to oppose him. Espionage networks headed by experienced multilingual NKVD officers such as Pavel Sudoplatov and Iskhak Akhmerov were established in nearly every major Western country, including the United States. The NKVD recruited agents for its espionage efforts from all walks of life, from unemployed intellectuals such as Mark Zborowski to aristocrats such as Martha Dodd. Besides the gathering of intelligence, these networks provided organizational assistance for so-called wet business, [19] where enemies of the USSR either disappeared or were openly liquidated. [20]

The NKVD's intelligence and special operations (Inostranny Otdel) unit organized overseas assassinations of political enemies of the USSR, such as leaders of nationalist movements, former Tsarist officials, and personal rivals of Joseph Stalin. Among the officially confirmed victims of such plots were:

Prominent political dissidents were also found dead under highly suspicious circumstances, including Walter Krivitsky, Lev Sedov, Ignace Reiss and former German Communist Party (KPD) member Willi Münzenberg. [21] [22] [23] [24] [25]

The pro-Soviet leader Sheng Shicai in Xinjiang received NKVD assistance in conducting a purge to coincide with Stalin's Great Purge in 1937. Sheng and the Soviets alleged a massive Trotskyist conspiracy and a "Fascist Trotskyite plot" to destroy the Soviet Union. The Soviet Consul General Garegin Apresoff, General Ma Hushan, Ma Shaowu, Mahmud Sijan, the official leader of the Xinjiang province Huang Han-chang and Hoja-Niyaz were among the 435 alleged conspirators in the plot. Xinjiang came under virtual Soviet control. Stalin opposed the Chinese Communist Party. [26]

Spanish Civil War

During the Spanish Civil War, NKVD agents, acting in conjunction with the Communist Party of Spain, exercised substantial control over the Republican government, using Soviet military aid to help further Soviet influence. [27] The NKVD established numerous secret prisons around the capital Madrid, which were used to detain, torture, and kill hundreds of the NKVD's enemies, at first focusing on Spanish Nationalists and Spanish Catholics, while from late 1938 increasingly anarchists and Trotskyists were the objects of persecution. [28] In 1937 Andrés Nin, the secretary of the Trotskyist POUM and his colleagues were tortured and killed in an NKVD prison in Barcelona. [29]

World War II operations

The corpses of victims of the NKVD murdered in last days of June 1941, in one of the NKVD prisoner massacres just after outbreak of the German-Soviet War. Victims of Soviet NKVD in Lvov, June 1941.jpg
The corpses of victims of the NKVD murdered in last days of June 1941, in one of the NKVD prisoner massacres just after outbreak of the German-Soviet War.

Prior to the German invasion, in order to accomplish its own goals, the NKVD was prepared to cooperate even with such organizations as the German Gestapo. In March 1940 representatives of the NKVD and the Gestapo met for one week in Zakopane, to coordinate the pacification of Poland; see Gestapo–NKVD Conferences . For its part, the Soviet Union delivered hundreds of German and Austrian Communists to the Gestapo, as unwanted foreigners, together with their documents. However, many NKVD units were later to fight the Wehrmacht, for example the 10th Rifle Division NKVD, which fought at the Battle of Stalingrad.

After the German invasion the NKVD evacuated and killed prisoners.

During World War II, NKVD Internal Troops units were used for rear area security, including preventing the retreat of Soviet Union army divisions. Though mainly intended for internal security, NKVD divisions were sometimes used at the front to stem the occurrence of desertion through Stalin's Order No. 270 and Order No. 227 decrees in 1941 and 1942, which aimed to raise troop morale via brutality and coercion. At the beginning of the war the NKVD formed 15 rifle divisions, which had expanded by 1945 to 53 divisions and 28 brigades. [30] A list of identified NKVD Internal Troops divisions can be seen at List of Soviet Union divisions. Though mainly intended for internal security, NKVD divisions were sometimes used in the front-lines, for example during the Battle of Stalingrad and the Crimean Offensive of 1944. [30] Unlike the Waffen-SS, the NKVD did not field any armored or mechanized units. [30]

In the enemy-held territories, the NKVD carried out numerous missions of sabotage. After fall of Kiev, NKVD agents set fire to the Nazi headquarters and various other targets, eventually burning down much of the city center. [31] Similar actions took place across the occupied Byelorussia and Ukraine.

The NKVD (later KGB) carried out mass arrests, deportations, and executions. The targets included both collaborators with Germany and non-Communist resistance movements such as the Polish Armia Krajowa and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army aiming to separate from the Soviet Union, among others. The NKVD also executed tens of thousands of Polish political prisoners in 1939–1941, including the Katyń massacre. [32] [33] NKVD units were also used to repress the prolonged partisan war in Ukraine and the Baltics, which lasted until the early 1950s.

Postwar operations

After the death of Stalin in 1953, the new Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev halted the NKVD purges. From the 1950s to the 1980s, thousands of victims were legally "rehabilitated" (i.e., acquitted and had their rights restored). Many of the victims and their relatives refused to apply for rehabilitation out of fear or lack of documents. The rehabilitation was not complete: in most cases the formulation was "due to lack of evidence of the case of crime". Only a limited number of persons were rehabilitated with the formulation "cleared of all charges".

Very few NKVD agents were ever officially convicted of the particular violation of anyone's rights. Legally, those agents executed in the 1930s were also "purged" without legitimate criminal investigations and court decisions. In the 1990s and 2000s (decade) a small number of ex-NKVD agents living in the Baltic states were convicted of crimes against the local population.

Intelligence activities

These included:

Soviet economy

Sergei Korolev shortly after his arrest, 1938 Korolev posle aresta 1938.jpg
Sergei Korolev shortly after his arrest, 1938

The extensive system of labor exploitation in the Gulag made a notable contribution to the Soviet economy and the development of remote areas. Colonization of Siberia, the North and Far East was among the explicitly stated goals in the very first laws concerning Soviet labor camps. Mining, construction works (roads, railways, canals, dams, and factories), logging, and other functions of the labor camps were part of the Soviet planned economy, and the NKVD had its own production plans.[ citation needed ]

The most unusual part of the NKVD's achievements was its role in Soviet science and arms development. Many scientists and engineers arrested for political crimes were placed in special prisons, much more comfortable than the Gulag, colloquially known as sharashkas . These prisoners continued their work in these prisons. When later released, some of them became world leaders in science and technology. Among such sharashka members were Sergey Korolev, the head designer of the Soviet rocket program and first human space flight mission in 1961, and Andrei Tupolev, the famous airplane designer. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was also imprisoned in a sharashka, and based his novel The First Circle on his experiences there.

After World War II, the NKVD coordinated work on Soviet nuclear weaponry, under the direction of General Pavel Sudoplatov. The scientists were not prisoners, but the project was supervised by the NKVD because of its great importance and the corresponding requirement for absolute security and secrecy. Also, the project used information obtained by the NKVD from the United States.

People's Commissars

The agency was headed by a people's commissar (minister). His first deputy was the director of State Security Service (GUGB).

Note: In the first half of 1941 Vsevolod Merkulov transformed his agency into separate commissariat (ministry), but it was merged back to the people's commissariat of Interior soon after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. In 1943 Merkulov once again split his agency this time for good.

Officers

Andrei Zhukov has singlehandedly identified every single NKVD officer involved in 1930s arrests and killings by researching a Moscow archive. There are just over 40,000 names on the list. [34]

See also

Notes

  1. Semukhina, Olga B.; Reynolds, Kenneth Michael (2013). Understanding the Modern Russian Police. CRC Press. p. 74. ISBN   9781482218879.
  2. 1 2 Huskey, Eugene (2014). Russian Lawyers and the Soviet State: The Origins and Development of the Soviet Bar, 1917-1939. Princeton University Press. p. 230. ISBN   9781400854516.
  3. Semukhina, Olga B.; Reynolds, Kenneth Michael (2013). Understanding the Modern Russian Police. CRC Press. p. 58. ISBN   9781439803493.
  4. Khlevniuk, Oleg V. (2015). Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator. Yale University Press. p. 125. ISBN   9780300166941.
  5. Yevgenia Albats, KGB: The State Within a State. 1995, page 101
  6. Robert Gellately. Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe. Knopf, 2007 ISBN   1-4000-4005-1 p. 460
  7. Catherine Merridale. Night of Stone: Death and Memory in Twentieth-Century Russia. Penguin Books, 2002 ISBN   0-14-200063-9 p. 200
  8. Statiev, Alexander (2010). The Soviet Counterinsurgency in the Western Borderlands. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   9780521768337.
  9. Blank Pages by G.C.Malcher ISBN   1-897984-00-6 Page 7
  10. James Harris, "Dual subordination ? The political police and the party in the Urals region, 1918–1953", Cahiers du monde russe 22 (2001):423–446.
  11. Figes, Orlando (2007) The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia ISBN   0-8050-7461-9, page 234.
  12. GUGB NKVD. DocumentsTalk.com, 2008.
  13. Звания и знаки различия органов госбезопасности (1935–1943 г.) Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Форма и знаки различия в органах госбезопасности 1922–1945 гг. Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  15. "Человек в кожаном фартуке". Новая газета - Novayagazeta.ru (in Russian). 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  16. Goldman, Wendy Z. (2011). Inventing the Enemy: Denunciation and Terror in Stalin's Russia. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-0-521-19196-8. p. 217.
  17. Tzouliadis, Tim, The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia Penguin Press (2008), ISBN   1-59420-168-4: Many of the Americans desiring to return home were communists who had voluntarily moved to the Soviet Union, while others moved to Soviet Union as skilled auto workers to help produce cars at the recently constructed GAZ automobile factory built by the Ford Motor Company. All were U.S. citizens.
  18. Tzouliadis, Tim, The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia Penguin Press (2008), ISBN   1-59420-168-4
  19. Barmine, Alexander, One Who Survived, New York: G.P. Putnam (1945), p. 18: NKVD expression for a political murder
  20. John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999)
  21. Barmine, Alexander, One Who Survived, New York: G.P. Putnam (1945), pp. 232–233
  22. Orlov, Alexander, The March of Time, St. Ermin's Press (2004), ISBN   1-903608-05-8
  23. Andrew, Christopher and Mitrokhin, Vasili, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, Basic Books (2000), ISBN   0-465-00312-5, ISBN   978-0-465-00312-9, p. 75
  24. Barmine, Alexander, One Who Survived, New York: G. P. Putnam (1945), pp. 17, 22
  25. Sean McMeekin, The Red Millionaire: A Political Biography of Willi Münzenberg, Moscow's Secret Propaganda Tsar in the West, 1917–1940, New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press (2004), pp. 304–305
  26. Andrew D. W. Forbes (1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: a political history of Republican Sinkiang 1911–1949. Cambridge, England: CUP Archive. p. 151. ISBN   978-0-521-25514-1 . Retrieved 2010-12-31.
  27. Robert W. Pringle (2015). Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 288–89. ISBN   9781442253186.
  28. Christopher Andrew (2000). The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. Basic Books. p. 73. ISBN   9780465003129.
  29. David Clay Large (1991). Between Two Fires: Europe's Path in the 1930s. W.W. Norton. p. 308. ISBN   9780393307573.
  30. 1 2 3 Zaloga, Steven J. The Red Army of the Great Patriotic War, 1941–45, Osprey Publishing, (1989), pp. 21–22
  31. Birstein, Vadim (2013). Smersh: Stalin's Secret Weapon. Biteback Publishing. ISBN   978-1849546898 . Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  32. Edvins Snore (2008). History Documentary film: The Soviet Story (PDF). Riga, Latvia: SIA Labvakar. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 24, 2014.
  33. Red Square (2014). History Documentary – A Must See For All Students of History. The Peoples Cube. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  34. Walker, Shaun (6 February 2017). "Stalin's secret police finally named but killings still not seen as crimes". The Guardian.

Further reading

Coordinates: 55°45′38″N37°37′41″E / 55.7606°N 37.6281°E / 55.7606; 37.6281

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