Nikolai Yezhov
Soviet politician
Nikolai Yezhov
Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov or Ezhov was the senior figure in the NKVD under Joseph Stalin during the period of the Great Purge. His reign is sometimes known as the "Yezhovshchina", "the Yezhov era", a term that began to be used during the de-Stalinization campaign of the 1950s. During the beginning of World War II his status within the USSR became that of a political unperson.
Nikolai Yezhov's personal information overview.
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Who's Afraid Of Hope Solo's Nipple? - Deadspin
Google News - over 5 years
But whether they merely messed with the contrast, or went over it with Photoshop's clone tool (and our resident photo expert guesses the latter), they made an attempt at erasing it from history, like some perky Nikolai Yezhov
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Within the Whirlwind: Stalin's Great Terror and a big question mark - World Socialist Web Site
Google News - over 5 years
Blame is levelled instead against people like Nikolai Yezhov, head of the secret police. Following his fall in 1939, hopes are placed in his successor Lavrenti Beria. There is also a long-time revolutionary, a member of the party years before the
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Google News - almost 6 years
Nikolai Yezhov aveva prestato servizio come soldato nella rivoluzione russa come membro del partito durante l'ascesa di Stalin, poi capeggiò la famigerata purga stalinista. Si dice che un documento politico firmato da Yezhov servì a giustificare
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Consequences of the Premature Socialization of Agriculture in the USSR - Political Affairs Magazine
Google News - almost 6 years
Nikolai Yezhov was put at the head of the NKVD by Stalin in 1936. Molotov states that Yezhov “set arrest quotas by region, on down to districts. No fewer than two thousand must be liquidated in such and such region, no fewer than fifty in such and such
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Path to Dissent
NYTimes - over 6 years
THE ROAD Stories, Journalism, and Essays By Vasily Grossman Translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler with Olga Mukovnikova Illustrated. 373 pp. New York Review Books. Paper, $15.95 ''So what's happened to our Jews?'' the agronomist Koryako asks his neighbors, grinning slyly. ''Children, old men -- I haven't glimpsed a Jew all day. It's as if
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ABROAD; When a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Debates
NYTimes - over 7 years
There is a civil contract implied by photographs. An Israeli writer, Ariella Azoulay, published a book making that point. Henri Cartier-Bresson made it too. He described shooting pictures of people as a ''sort of violation,'' adding, ''if sensitivity is lacking, there can be something barbaric about it.'' There can be, of course, and not just when
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BOOKS OF THE TIMES; His Cure-All Was Murder
NYTimes - almost 13 years
STALIN The Court of the Red Tsar By Simon Sebag Montefiore 786 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $30. During the height of the Stalinist terror, when even those closest to the dictator were in grave danger, members of the political elite lived in a state of perpetual dread, waiting each night for the groan of the elevators, the knock on the door, signaling
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Russia's Democratic Despot
NYTimes - almost 13 years
Vladimir Putin, who will be handily re-elected president of Russia today, is never going to become a Western-style, liberal-democratic politician, no matter how much we wish it. He is a quintessentially Russian leader, with very traditional aspirations and interests, and until the West gets used to it, he will continue to be a tantalizing source of
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A Bloody Job, but Someone's Got to Do It
NYTimes - over 24 years
FEAR By Anatoly Rybakov. Translated by Antonina W. Bouis. 686 pp. Boston: Little, Brown & Company. $24.95 THE example of Tolstoy's "War and Peace" has done irreparable damage to Russian literature in this century. Throughout the 1920's, 30's, 40's and into the 50's, Soviet writers labored mightily and mostly unsuccessfully (Mikhail Sholokhov and
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NYTimes - almost 27 years
LEAD: THE GREAT TERROR A Reassessment. By Robert Conquest. 570 pp. New York: Oxford University Press. $24.95. THE GREAT TERROR A Reassessment. By Robert Conquest. 570 pp. New York: Oxford University Press. $24.95. By early 1939, on the eve of World War II, at least one in 20 of the population of the Soviet Union had been arrested. Some eight
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Georgi Malenkov Dies at 86; Stalin Successor
NYTimes - about 29 years
LEAD: Georgi M. Malenkov, who was a leading political figure in the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin but who was ousted in a Kremlin power struggle and sent into political oblivion, died last month, a Soviet official said yesterday. He was 86 years old. Malenkov was Prime Minister for two years and, for a short time, head of the Communist
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NYTimes - about 34 years
MEMOIRS By Petro G. Grigorenko. Translated by Thomas P. Whitney. Illustrated. 462 pp. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. $19.95. THERE was very little in the life of the Soviet major general Petro G. Grigorenko before 1956 to indicate that he would subsequently become a leader of Russia's dissident movement. But his own moving and meaty account suggests
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Nikolai Yezhov
  • 1940
    Age 44
    On February 2, 1940, Yezhov was tried by the Military Collegium chaired by Soviet judge Vasili Ulrikh behind closed doors.
    More Details Hide Details Yezhov, like his predecessor Yagoda, maintained to the end his love for Stalin. Yezhov denied being a spy, a terrorist, or a conspirator, stating that he preferred "death to telling lies." He maintained that his previous confession had been obtained under torture, admitted that he purged 14,000 of his fellow Chekists, but said that he was surrounded by "enemies of the people." He also said that he would die with the name of Stalin on his lips. After the secret trial, Yezhov was allowed to return to his cell; half an hour later, he was called back and told that he had been condemned to death. On hearing the verdict, Yezhov became faint and began to collapse, but the guards caught him and removed him from the room. An immediate appeal for clemency was declined, and Yezhov became hysterical and weeping. This time he had to be dragged out of the room, struggling with the guards and screaming.
    He was arrested, confessed under torture to a range of anti-Soviet activity, and was executed in 1940.
    More Details Hide Details By the beginning of World War II, his status within the Soviet Union became that of a political unperson. Yezhov was born in Saint Petersburg, according to his official Soviet biography. (or in Suwałki Governorate) In a form filled out in 1921, Yezhov claimed some ability to speak Polish and Lithuanian.
  • 1939
    Age 43
    Among the many people dragged down in Yezhov's fall was Isaak Babel: "In May 1939 Yezhov confessed that Babel had committed espionage together with wife Yevgenia.
    More Details Hide Details Within a week the writer was arrested; during interrogation he in his turn testified against the Yezhovs." However, Yezhov's first wife, Antonina Titova, his sister, Evdokiya, and his mother all survived.
    Stalin was evidently content to ignore Yezhov for several months, finally ordering Beria to denounce him at the annual Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. On March 3, 1939, Yezhov was relieved of all his posts in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, but retained his post as People's Commissar of Water Transportation.
    More Details Hide Details His last working day was April 9, at which time the "People’s Commissariat was simply abolished by splitting it into two, the People’s Commissariats of the River Fleet and the Sea Fleet, with two new People’s Commissars, Z. A. Shashkov and S. S. Dukel’skii." On April 10, Yezhov was arrested and imprisoned at the Sukhanovka prison; the "arrest was painstakingly concealed, not only from the general public but also from most NKVD officers... It would not do to make a fuss about the arrest of 'the leader’s favourite,' and Stalin had no desire to arouse public interest in NKVD activity and the circumstances of the conduct of the Great Terror." Yezhov broke quickly under torture and confessed to the standard litany of state crimes necessary to mark him as an "enemy of the people" prior to execution, including "wrecking", official incompetence, theft of government funds, and treasonous collaboration with German spies and saboteurs, none of which were likely or supported by evidence. Apart from these unlikely political crimes, he was also accused of and confessed to a humiliating history of sexual promiscuity, including homosexuality, that was (unusually, in contrast with other condemned Bolshevik officials) later corroborated by witness reports and deemed true in some post-Soviet examinations of the case, though the most recent biography on Yezhov dismisses allegations of homosexuality and regards them as "based on the fantasies of the investigators."
    He attended his last Politburo meeting on January 29, 1939.
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  • 1938
    Age 42
    On November 19, 1938, Yevgenia committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills.
    More Details Hide Details At his own request, Yezhov was officially relieved of his post as the People's Commissar for Internal Affairs on November 25, succeeded by Beria, who had been in complete control of the NKVD since the departure of Frinovsky on 8 September.
    Earlier in 1938, Yezhov had even ordered the arrest of Beria, who was party chief in Georgia.
    More Details Hide Details However, Georgian NKVD chief Sergei Goglidze warned Beria, who immediately flew to Moscow to see Stalin personally. Beria convinced Stalin to spare his life and reminded Stalin how efficiently he had carried out party orders in Georgia and Transcaucasia. In a twist of fate, it was Yezhov who eventually fell in the struggle for power, and Beria who became the new NKVD chief. Over the following months, Beria (with Stalin's approval) began increasingly to usurp Yezhov's governance of the Commissariat for Internal Affairs. As early as September 8, Mikhail Frinovsky, Yezhov's first deputy, was relocated from under his command into the Navy. Stalin's penchant for periodically executing and replacing his primary lieutenants was well known to Yezhov, as he had previously been the man most directly responsible for orchestrating such actions. Well acquainted with the typical Stalinist bureaucratic precursors to eventual dismissal and arrest, Yezhov recognized Beria's increasing influence with Stalin as a sign that his downfall was imminent; and he plunged headlong into alcoholism and despair. Already a heavy drinker, in the last weeks of his service, he reportedly was disconsolate, slovenly, and drunk nearly all of his waking hours, rarely bothering to show up to work. As anticipated, Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov, in a report dated November 11, sharply criticised the work and methods of the NKVD during Yezhov's tenure as chief, thus creating the bureaucratic pretense necessary to remove him from power.
    On August 22, 1938, Georgian NKVD leader Lavrenty Beria was named as Yezhov's deputy.
    More Details Hide Details Beria had managed to survive the Great Purge and the "Yezhovshchina" during the years 1936–1938, even though he had almost become one of its victims.
    The defection to Japan of the Far Eastern NKVD chief, Genrikh Lyushkov on June 13, 1938, rightly worried Yezhov, who had protected Lyushkov from the purges and feared he would be blamed.
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    Yezhov was appointed People's Commissar for Water Transport on April 6, 1938.
    More Details Hide Details Though he retained his other posts, his role as grand inquisitor and extractor of confessions gradually diminished as Stalin retreated from the worst excesses of the Great Purge. By saddling him with the extra job, Stalin killed two birds with one stone: Yezhov could correct the water transportation situation with tough Chekist methods, and his transfer to the terra incognita of economic tasks would leave him less time for the NKVD and weaken his position there, thus creating the possibility that in due course he could be removed from the leadership of the punitive apparatus and replaced by fresh people. Contrary to Stalin's expectations, the vast number of party officials and military officers lost during Yezhov's purges had been only partially made good by replacement with trusted Stalinist functionaries, and he eventually recognized that the disruption was severely affecting the country's ability to coordinate industrial production and defend its borders from the growing threat of Nazi Germany. Yezhov had accomplished Stalin's intended task for the Great Purge: the public liquidation of the last of his Old Bolshevik political rivals and the elimination of any possibility of "disloyal elements" or "fifth columnists" within the Soviet military and government prior to the onset of war with Germany. From Stalin's perspective, Yezhov (like Yagoda) had served his purpose but had seen too much and wielded too much power for Stalin to allow him to live.
  • 1937
    Age 41
    Yagoda was but the first of many to die by Yezhov's orders. Under Yezhov, the Great Purge reached its height during 1937–1938. 50-75% of the members of the Supreme Soviet and officers of the Soviet military were stripped of their positions and imprisoned, exiled to the Gulag's camps in Siberia or executed.
    More Details Hide Details In addition, a much greater number of ordinary Soviet citizens were accused (usually on flimsy or nonexistent evidence) of disloyalty or "wrecking" by local Chekist troikas and similarly punished to satisfy Stalin and Yezhov's arbitrary quotas for arrests and executions. Yezhov also conducted a thorough purge of the security organs, both NKVD and GRU, removing and executing not only many officials who had been appointed by his predecessors Yagoda and Menzhinsky, but even his own appointees as well. We are launching a major attack on the Enemy; let there be no resentment if we bump someone with an elbow. Better that ten innocent people should suffer than one spy get away. When you chop wood, chips fly. In 1937 and 1938 alone at least 1.3 million were arrested and 681,692 were shot 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).
  • 1936
    Age 40
    He became People's Commissar for Internal Affairs (head of the NKVD) and a member of the Central Committee on September 26, 1936, following the dismissal of Genrikh Yagoda.
    More Details Hide Details This appointment did not at first seem to suggest an intensification of the terror: "Unlike Yagoda, Yezhov did not come out of the 'organs,' which was considered an advantage." Yagoda became a target because he had been too slow to eliminate the old Bolsheviks in the purges ordered by Stalin. Destruction of the old bolshevik cadres as well as Yagoda himself — all potential or imagined enemies of Stalin – was not a problem for Yezhov. As a devout Stalinist and not a member of the organs of state security, Yezhov was just the man Stalin needed to intensify the terror and rid Stalin of potential opponents. Yezhov's first task from Stalin was to personally investigate and conduct the prosecution of his long-time Chekist mentor Yagoda, which he did with remorseless zeal. Ordered by Stalin to create a suitably grandiose plot for Yagoda's show trial, Yezhov ordered the NKVD to sprinkle mercury on the curtains of his office so that the physical evidence could be collected and used to support the charge that Yagoda was a German spy, sent to assassinate Yezhov and Stalin with poison and restore capitalism. It's also claimed that he personally tortured both Yagoda and Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky to extract their confessions.
  • 1935
    Age 39
    From February 1935 to March 1939, he was also the Chairman of the Central Commission for Party Control.
    More Details Hide Details When I look at him I am reminded irresistibly of the wicked urchins of the courts in Rasterayeva Street, whose favorite occupation was to tie a piece of paper dipped in kerosene to a cat's tail, set fire to it, and then watch with delight how the terrified animal would tear down the street, trying desperately but in vain to escape the approaching flames. I do not doubt that in his childhood Yezhov amused himself in just such a manner and that he is now continuing to do so in different forms. Nadezhda Mandelstam, in contrast, who met Yezhov at Sukhum in the early thirties, did not perceive anything ominous in his manner or appearance; her impression of him was that of a 'modest and rather agreeable person'. Physically, Yezhov was short in stature, standing five feet (151 cm), and that, combined with his sadistic personality, led to his nickname 'The Poison Dwarf' or 'The Bloody Dwarf'.
  • 1934
    Age 38
    In 1934, he was elected to the Central Committee of the Communist Party; in the next year he became a secretary of the Central Committee.
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  • 1930
    Age 34
    In November 1930, he was appointed to the Head of several departments of the Communist Party: department of special affairs, department of personnel and department of industry.
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  • 1929
    Age 33
    From 1929 to 1930, he was the Deputy People's Commissar for Agriculture.
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  • 1927
    Age 31
    In 1927, he was transferred to the Accounting and Distribution Department of the Party where he worked as an instructor and acting head of the department.
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  • 1922
    Age 26
    After February 1922, he worked in the political system, mostly as a secretary of various regional committees of the Communist Party.
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  • 1919
    Age 23
    During the Russian Civil War, 1919 - 1921, he fought in the Red Army.
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  • 1917
    Age 21
    He joined the Bolsheviks on May 5, 1917 in Vitebsk, six months before the October Revolution.
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  • 1915
    Age 19
    From 1915 until 1917, Yezhov served in the Imperial Russian Army.
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  • 1909
    Age 13
    He completed only his elementary education. From 1909 to 1915, he worked as a tailor's assistant and factory worker.
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  • 1895
    Born on May 1, 1895.
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