UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


NKVD & Industry - Mass Repressions

Preparations for mass repressions against the leading personnel of the military industry began several months before the February-March 1937 plenary session of the Central Committee of the CPSU (B.). On October 14, 1936, the head of the CPC Military and Maritime Affairs Group at the Central Committee of the CPSU (b), N.V. Kuibyshev (V. Kuibyshev's brother), sent to the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) a note “On the unhappy state of mobilization work in the People's Commissariat Department ".

The note stated the following: “The mobilization work of the NKTP apparatus is extremely important and secret. The provision of the Red Army's needs in conditions of mobilization and during the war depends on its proper organization. In the mobilization department of the NKTP, all the secret materials are concentrated on providing the army, the knowledge of which opens the military secret of preparing the country for war. Meanwhile, this secret and most important work is in the hands of people who are clearly not relevant and seriously doubted, since Pyatakov stood at the head of NKTP, now exposed as a Trotskyist, counterrevolutionary and pests.

"Mobotdel NKTP employs 49 workers. Of these, 14 people are members of the CPSU (b), which is clearly not enough for such an institution. In addition, 8 workers are former officers of the tsarist army, 11 workers have relatives abroad, 6 people come from an alien social environment. Perhaps, each of them individually is an honest and good worker. But why do we need such a “bouquet” in the mobilization body of the Soviet industry?”.

In January 1937, at the indicative trial of the accused in the case of the “reserve (parallel) terrorist center” G.L.Pyatakov confirmed the evidence that he had previously been tortured under the torture that he was “a Trotskyist, a counterrevolutionary and a pest”, after which the mobil department of the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry was completely “cleared”. On February 18, 1937, Stalin got rid of G.K. Ordzhonikidze (according to the official version, committed suicide; according to the unofficial version, he was shot by the KGB officer in the office of the Kremlin apartment), who defended his last deputy, G.L.Pyatakov. One can suggest that Sergo, guessing about the sinister plans of Stalin and Yezhov, tried to save from defeat the cadres of the military industry, most closely associated with the Soviet military leaders from the Yakir-Tukhachevsky group who were hated by Stalin and his entourage.

After the February-March plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b), the party and Soviet control bodies together with the NKVD began to check the financial and economic activities and personnel of the Main Administrations of the People's Commissariat of the Defense Industry of the USSR. The People's Commissar of Defense Industry, MS Rukhimovich, was instructed to prepare by April 5, 1937, an action plan for “exposing and preventing sabotage and espionage”.

M.S.Rukhimovich did not give instructions to the headquarters to expose “sabotage” and “espionage”, but instead appointed an inspection of the execution of the mobilization plan, which is the most vulnerable to criticism of the activity section of the People's Commissariat. On the basis of the verification of the execution of the mobilization plan ["moblan"], Rukhimovich presented on May 17 to the SNK of the USSR and the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) an extensive report on the topic “On measures to eliminate and prevent sabotage in the defense industry,” in which he tried to move the threat of general pogrom of military personnel from the People's Commissariat of defense industry, writing off the shortcomings of its work on the activities of predecessors. The report, in a sharp form, criticized the former - the People's Commissariat of Industry - the management of the military industry, which, according to Rukhimovich, led to "a serious weakening of the defense capability of the country."

“The defense industry,” the report stated, “did not have a single plan and a single planned center. The People's Commissariat of Industry covered planning with only a part of the defense main boards. Production tasks for plants, as a rule, changed all the time and usually, by the end of the year, the tasks were not similar to the planned tasks that the plant had at the beginning of the year. Planned tasks were delayed and, thus, did not organize the work of the plants.

"Contracts with unprofitable organizations for the delivery of products to him did not coincide with either the annual or quarterly production plans, neither in quantity nor in terms of performance. This confused the work of the factories and complicated control over the implementation of the plan. The inter-factory, inter-branch and inter-cartel cooperation was not planned at all.

"Major complications occurred due to the late receipt of technical conditions for products handed over to NPOs of the USSR and other consumers: the factories in the first months of the year lost time to clarify technical conditions and prepare production. The system of dual planning was widely used: the factories received tasks from the commander-in-chief other than those received from the Commissariat and the Government. As a rule, neither the factories, nor the headquarters' were engaged in cost analysis".

Putting this in line with the actual state of affairs, the prosecution, Rukhimovich, could not have been unaware that some of the enterprises of the former People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry, which had a defense order, were part of civilian industrial associations, that the production targets of plants were constantly changing, as the Commissariat of Defense clarified applications and technical conditions for military products, that part of the products were transferred to the customer in the form of debt according to plans for delivery of the previous year.

Further, in the report of Rukhimovich, attention was drawn to the numerous facts of bureaucracy and irresponsibility in the work of the Narkomtyazhproma apparatus, which, for example, in factories for the production of gunpowder and explosives led “to endless delays in repairs, to the launch of units with serious deficiencies, to the uncontrolled change of critical parts of units , the absence of drawings and instructions ", etc.

Bureaucracy and irresponsibility in the work of the apparatus of the People's Commissariat of Industry, indeed, was enough, but, obviously, no more than in any other Commissariat. Even the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) was not spared from this defect, including in relation to its own orders, for example, at the end of 1930. The Political Bureau obliged the All-Union Electrotechnical Association Narkomtyazhproma to make several copies of the encrypting equipment.

In response to this order, the union sent the following request to the Central Committee of the CPSU (B.): “We are informing you that we cannot fulfill any order; we cannot even proceed with the implementation, since we do not know what exactly is needed. Please oblige the relevant organizations to give us immediately samples of devices that we can consider to be our benchmarks”.

The exposure of the “people’s commissary industry” methods of military industry management did not save either Rukhimovich or his closest assistants from being shot. Virtually the entire management team of the main directorates, many directors and specialists (technicians, engineers, designers), heads of workshops and departments of the enterprises of the People's Commissariat of Defense industry were either arrested or convicted (who were shot, some were sentenced to different terms of imprisonment).

“In recent months,” notes the note of the Vice-Chairman of the Soviet Control Commission of July 10, 1937, “Many new appointments of plant directors have been made at the People's Commissariat of the Defense Industry. The absolute majority of these appointments took place due to the unfavorable state of the factories, with some of the old directors being arrested as enemies of the people (Syrtsov, Severny, Kozinitsky, etc.)”.

For accusations of acts of "sabotage", as a rule, mistakes were used in planning, marriage at work, equipment breakdowns, accidents, etc. Then the investigative brigades of the 1st NKVD Directorate began to check, which, as if competing with each other, put forward accusations against the suspects that were monstrous in their absurdity, up to “treason”. The growing atmosphere of suspicion and espionage tuned people to expose more and more new "enemies of the people." For example, only at Aviation Plant No. 24 in the second half of 1937, according to the official report of the Moscow Regional Department of the NKVD, 5 spy terrorist and sabotage and sabotage groups with a total of 50 people were opened and eliminated, including:

  1. Anti-Soviet Trotskyist right-wing group consisting of the former plant manager Marjamov and technical director Kolosov.
  2. Spy-sabotage group of Japanese intelligence consisting of 9 people.
  3. Spy-sabotage group of German intelligence consisting of 13 people.
  4. Spy-sabotage French intelligence group of 4 people.
  5. Terrorist and espionage and sabotage group of Latvian intelligence consisting of 15 people headed by the former deputy director of the plant Gelman.

The same report, signed by State Security Major Reichman, reported on the exposure of the "anti-Soviet terrorist subversive organization" at the aircraft engine plant number 19, which was headed by technical director Shvetsov, general dispatcher Basin, chief metallurgist Shumin and chief engineer Briskin. It took several months, and, behold, already the new leadership of the plant number 19 was subjected to repression on charges of participating in a "subversive, counter-revolutionary organization".

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list