History and structure - NKVD (Soviet Union), People's Commisariat for Internal Affairs, Narodny Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del. - Dagger and Cloak

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

History and structure - NKVD (Soviet Union), People's Commisariat for Internal Affairs, Narodny Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del.

After the October Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks dissolved the old police and sought the creation of Workers and Peasants' Militsiya under the supervision of the NKVD of the RSFSR. However, the NKVD apparatus was overwhelmed by functions inherited directly from the Imperial MVD, such as the supervision of the local governments and firefighting, and the new proletarian workforce was largely inexperienced.

Realizing that it was left with no capable security force, the Council of People's Commissars of the Russian SFSR created 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 revolution".

The Cheka was reorganized in 1922 as the State Political Directorate or GPU of the NKVD of the Russian SFSR. Upon the formation of the Soviet Union in 1923, the GPU was transformed into 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, as well as various other responsibilities.

In 1934, the OGPU was incorporated into the newly-created NKVD of the USSR, becoming the Main Directorate for State Security; the NKVD of the Russian SFSR ceased to exist and was not resurrected until 1946 (as the MVD of the RSFSR). As a result, the NKVD also became responsible for all detention facilities (including the forced labor camps, known as the Gulag) as well as for the regular police.

Other NKVD departments dealt with:

  • general police functions and criminal investigations (militsiya);

  • intelligence and overseas special operations (Inostrannyi Otdel);

  • counter-intelligence;

  • personal security for high officials,

and other related tasks.

At various times, the NKVD had the following Chief Directorates, abbreviated as "ГУ" - главное управление:

  • ГУГБ - государственная безопасность, of State Security (GUGB)

  • ГУРКМ - рабоче-крестьянская милиция, of workers' and peasants' militsiya

  • ГУПВО - пограничная и внутренняя охрана, of border and internal guards

  • ГУПО - пожарная охрана, of fire guards

  • ГУШосдор - шоссейные дороги, of highways

  • ГУЖД, железные дороги, of railways


  • ГЭУ - экономика, of economics

  • ГТУ - транспорт, of transport

  • ГУВПИ - военнопленных и интернированных, of POWs and interned persons

On February 3, 1941, the Special Sections of the NKVD (responsible for counter-intelligence in the military) became part of the Army and Navy (RKKA and RKKF, respectively). The GUGB was removed from the NKVD and renamed the NKGB. Following the outbreak of World War II, the NKVD and NKGB were reunited on July 20, 1941 and counter-intelligence was returned to the NKVD in January 1942. In April 1943 it was again transferred to the Narkomat of Defence and Narkomat of the Navy, becoming SMERSH (from Smert' Shpionam or "Death to Spies"); at the same time, the NKVD was again separated from the NKGB.

In 1946, the NKVD was renamed the MVD and the NKGB was renamed the MGB. Following yet another merger with the MVD in 1953, after the arrest of Lavrenty Beria the Chekist forces were finally removed from the MVD in 1954 to finally become the KGB. According to the 1996 radio documentary by the Russian Service of the Radio Liberty the MGB was reduced in its role from ministry to committee because of the fear of the communist leaders of the role the MGB might play if the purges would resume. The police force was finally split into two independent agencies:

  • MVD (Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del; Ministry of the Interior), responsible for the criminal police, correctional facilities and fire rescue.

  • KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti; Committee of State Security) - responsible for the political police, counter-intelligence, intelligence, personal protection and confidential communications.

The 20th Communist Party of the Soviet Union Congress in 1956, and the "Personality Cult" speech, has finalized the role the two agencies would play until the breakup of the Soviet Union.

NKVD Organization in 1939

Since its creation in 1934, the People's Commisariat for Internal Affairs of the USSR underwent many organizational changes; between 1938 and 1989 alone, the NKVD's structure changed 3 times.

NKVD management

  • People's Commissar for Internal Affairs - Lavrenty Beria

  • First Deputy and the head of Main Directorate of State Security (GUGB) - Vsevolod Merkulov


  • for NKVD troops – Ivan Maslenikov

  • for Militsiya – Vasyli Chernyshov

  • for Staff - Sergei Kruglov

Secratariats and apparati

  • NKVD Secretariat - Stepan Mamulov

  • Secretariat of Special Council of the NKVD – Vladimir Ivanov

  • Special Technical Bureau - Valentin Kravchenko

  • Special Bureau – Pyotr Scharia

  • NKVD Inspection Group – Nikolai Pavlov

  • Special Plenipotentiary – Aleksei Stefanov

  • Secretariat of the First Deputy for GUGB Task - Vsevolod Merkulov

  • Inspection Group - Vsevolod Merkulov

  • Special Secretariat - Vasyli Chernyshov

  • Section for Organization of Labor Force - Vsevolod Merkulov

  • Permanent Technical Committee - ?

  • Section for Repair Work – Pyotr Vainschtein

  • Supply Section – M. Mituschyn

  • Department of Railroad Transportation and Water - ?

Directorates and departments

  • Main Directorate of State Security (GUGB) - Vsevolod Merkulov

  • 1st Special Department – Leonid Baschtakov

  • 2nd Special Department – Evgeny Lapishin

  • 3rd Special Department – Dmitry Shadrin

  • 4th Special Department – Mikhail Filimonov

  • 5th Special Department – Vladimir Vladimirov

  • Department of Mobilization – Ivan Scherediega

  • Department of Staff - Sergei Kruglov

  • The Chief Directorate of Economics (GEU) - Bogdan Kobulov

  • The Chief Directorate of Transportation (GTU) – Solomon Milshtein

  • The Chief Directorate of Prision (GTU) – Aleksandr Galkin

  • The Chief Directorate of Administration (AChU) – J.Schumbatov

  • The Chief Directorate of Archive (GAU) – Yosif Nikitynsky

  • The Chief Directorate of fire guards (GUPO) – Nikolay Istomin

  • The Chief Directorate of Militsiya (GURKM) – Pavel Zujev

  • The Chief Directorate [or Administration] of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies (GULAG) - Vasyli Chernyshov

  • The Chief Directorate of Highways (GUShOSDOR) - Vsevolod Fedotov

  • Directorate of Kremlin Commander - Nikolai Spyrydonov

  • The Chief Directorate of Border Troops (GUPW) - Grigori Sokolov

  • The Chief Directorate of NKVD Troops for Railroad Protection - Aleksandr Guliev

  • The Chief Directorate of NKVD Troops for Escort - Vladimir Sharapov

  • The Chief Directorate of NKVD Troops for Protection of Industrial Enterprise - I. Kozik

  • The Chief Directorate of NKVD Operative Troops - P. Ariemyev

  • The Chief Directorate of Military Provision - Aleksandr Wurgaft

  • The Chief Directorate of Military Construction - Ivan Luby

  • Directorate for Prisoners of War - Pyotr Soprunienko

  • Directorate for Construction in the Far East - Ivan Nikishev

  • Main Fanacial Department - Lazar Bierienzon

  • Main Department for Civil Status - Fyedor Sokolov

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