Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


I welcome your comments, so do please write. Please note however that all comments are moderated prior to publication. Whilst I fully appreciate that life can be frustrating, nevertheless, abuse, SMS language and illiteracy will not be tolerated!

Sunday 10 February 2008

The NKVD - Stalin's SS Part II


We left with the "ethnic cleansing" of various territories of the Soviet Empire; you should by now (if you have read this far) know who expertly managed these operations.

Source: here

The USSR supported the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil war. Whilst officially in league with Spanish left-wing groups opposing Franco’s Falangists, the reality was somewhat different. There was a substantial contingent of the NKVD in Spain controlled by Alexander Orlov and part of their mission was to ensure that the Republican movement was conforming to Stalinist orthodoxy. The Spanish groups on the Republican side such as POUM were opposed to Stalin’s model of communism and so were therefore considered to be ideologically unsound: POUM’s leader, Andres Nin was horribly tortured and subsequently executed, as were many hundreds of others – many on farcical charges of spying for the Falangists. Other organisations suffered similarly – Orlov had built up an organisation numbering 14,000. When Orlov discovered in 1938 that he was likely to be “purged” he was more fortunate than his victims and those who had been executed in the USSR: with his family he escaped to France and then to the USA, where he lived until his death in 1970.

Yezhov, in his turn was found to be suspect and in 1939 was replaced by the sinister Lavrenty Beria; Yezhov was shot in 1940. This was the period of the Nazi –Soviet pact, when following the German invasion of September 1939, Poland had been divided between the Third Reich and the USSR. Officials from the NKVD met with their opposite numbers in the Gestapo. There were four conferences and it was agreed that by 1975 the entire Polish population should be moved to North Eastern Siberia. Meanwhile, mass executions of Polish prisoners of war were carried out, including of course the well-known murders of 4000 Polish officers at Katyn.

Following the outbreak of war between Germany and Russia, the NKVD had an additional role: they would follow behind the Russian troops shooting any who refused to advance or attempted to retreat.

The NKVD had great success with its espionage activities, notably the “Red Orchestra” in Europe and with the spy, Richard Sorge in Japan; it was an operative of the counter-espionage directorate SMERSH who killed Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1941. It was Soviet espionage carried out during the Manhattan Project that resulted in Stalin showing no surprise when informed by President Truman about the atom bomb during the Potsdam Conference; the Soviets had their own atomic bomb soon after, the project being run by Beria.

There were further reorganisations during the war and then in 1946, the NKVD was renamed MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) whilst there was also at the same time the MGB (Ministry of State Security). In 1954 there was yet another change with the MVD becoming responsible for the regular police, the prisons and camps, and the KGB, responsible for the secret and political police, intelligence and counter-intelligence, protection of the leadership etc.

In the years following Stalin’s death, here were virtually no trials of NKVD personnel for abuse, murder or “crimes against humanity” and indeed they were able to live into old age on generous pensions, still maintained to this day in modern Russia.

Studying reports and accounts of NKVD activities it may be seen that at many times the various protagonists were communicating in Soviet slogans: “enemies of the people”, “Trotskyites”, “Fascist wreckers” and so on, as though each official was doing his best to prove his credentials at all times. It is especially sad to read trial statements from the old Bolsheviks who were executed in the purges, where they admit to all sorts of improbable offences, again in these sloganeering terms. Much fun has been made of the 1950s McCarthyite “reds under the beds” obsession, but driven from above by Stalin’s paranoia, the NKVD was infinitely worse, as were the outcomes of their activities.

A few minutes spent on the Internet reveals that today there is a Californian record label named NKVD and one can even buy a T-shirt with “NKVD” emblazoned on it. “Soviet Chic” it is supposed; the millions abused, tortured and murdered would not agree and it is most unlikely that there is a record label called “SS” or that one could purchase an SS T-shirt. Double standards in history continue to shock and surprise.


  1. http://www.projectinposterum.org/docs/chodakiewicz1.htm Most interesting but very distressing reading

  1. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUSnkvd.htm

  1. http://www.nkvd.org/en/index.html

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NKVD

  1. http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/pages/Pamph/NKVD.html

  1. http://www.internationalliving.com/countries/other_countries__1/europe/estonia/country_archive/01_17_06

  1. http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/pages/N/K/NKVD.htm

  1. http://www.warsawuprising.com/paper/nkvd.htm

  1. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SPorlov.htm

  1. Yezhov’s progress: http://media.hoover.org/documents/0817929029_21.pdf

  1. Bukharin’s Show Trial: http://www.art-bin.com/art/obukharin.html

  1. http://www.cyberussr.com/rus/yezhov.html Many useful links here

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergey_Kirov

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestapo-NKVD_Conferences

  1. http://www.biocrawler.com/encyclopedia/NKVD_Order_no._00486

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potsdam_Conference

Autobiography: The Nights are Longest There, by “A.I.Romanov” (actually B.I.Baklanov) a NKVD operative during the war years, who defected to the West in 1945. (Pub: Hutchinson 1972)


Until the next time...

No comments: