Our goal is to create an extensive information site about the crimes and victims of the NKVD regime. If you have questions, ideas or information regarding our project, please contact: admin@nkvd.org


The NKVD by Mesrob Vartavarian


There always was a state security service within the Soviet Union. From the very birth of the Soviet state. In December of 1917 the Cheka, an acronym for the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage, was established. By 1918 under the rule of die-hard Polish Bolshevik Felix Derzhinsky the Cheka became the most feared institution in the whole corse of the Russian Civil War. The Cheka executed men women and children under any suspicions whatsoever. Most estimates say that around three hundred thousand people perished under the Cheka, which was known as the avenging angel of the Revolution; however, it is quiet possible the actual number of deaths was over one million. The Cheka was made up of minorities a large number of Latvia's, Jews, and Finns. Ethnic tensions of minorities that had suffered under conservative czarist russification made the tasks all the easier.The Cheka was also head of large numbers of concentration camps in which thousands perished.
In 1922, The Cheka was reorganized under the apporatis of the GPU, soon to be known as the OGPU. The founding father Felix Derzhinsky died in 1926 of supposed natural causes. His statue was a common sight in Red Square until 1991. As the Soviet Union fell under the rule of Stalin the secret police gained unprecedented control.
By 1929 Stalin had decided to liquidate the kulak as a class and to once and for all destroy Ukrainian Nationalist feeling. Thus, collectivization and forced famine began. Million were deported by OGPU agents, hundreds of thousands executed for even the slightest resistance. In 1933, Stalin caused a forced famine that killed millions. It is said that 14.5 million died from 1929-1933 as a result of the collectivization polices. In 1934, the OGPU was reorganized under the acronym NKVD (People's Commissariat For Internal Affairs). Stalin gave it unrestricted control the organization was to be responsible only to himself. At its head was Genrik Yagoda a spiteful and evil man. In December 1934 the Terror that was unknown to the masses till then began.
Sergei Kirov, Stalin confidant and Leningrad part chief was assassinated, probably by Stalin. Stalin used Kirov death as a pretext to launch a reign of Terror in The Soviet Union that was to last until 1939. In the last month of 1934 nearly a thousand people who were thought to have a connection with the Kirov plot were shot by the NKVD thousands more were deported to the GULAG camps of Siberia also run by the NKVD. By 1936, the full horror of the Terror began.
Party comrades Zinovev, and Kamenev were the first to be executed. The NKVD targeted many other Party Members of upper echelons. Yagoda himself was purged for irrational reasons and replaced by a five foot Nikolai Yezhov, he would be known as the "bloody dwarf," his era would be called Yezhovschina, or time of Yezhov. Yagoda was executed and Yezhov given free reign by Stalin in 1937. The Terror reached its height. The NKVD arested and shot millions the whole upper officer corps was purged. In 1938 Yezhov himself was replaced by Laverti Beria, a close friend of Stalin. Beria purged the NKVD itself as had Yezhov and saw to it that Yezhov was executed. The Nazi-Soviet collaboration began and the NKVD and Gestapo worked together on many occasions in Occupied Polish zones.
The NKVD shot over 4000 Polish officer and enlisted men at Katyn forest near Smolensk. When the war with germany began any soldier not willing to fight or on the retreat was shot by NKVD troops. Some NKVD rifle units served with a degree of distinction during The Great Patriotic War namely at Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad. Most of the time they obliterated and executed whole villages that were suspected of German collaboration and deported many minorities to Siberian GULAGS. After the war the German occupied Zone underwent a reign of terror under the NKVD. Three and a half million German POWs were sent to the GULAG only a million were ever heard from again. By 1946, the NKVD was reorganized again and numerous times more until it was to be known under the all too familiar abbreviation KGB. Yet, its duties and methods were to remain much the same until the deaths of Beria and Stalin in 1953. Premier Nikita Khruschev deprived it of many of its privileges,and Terror was no longer used as a political method but, the memory of it would forever haunt the people.