Information about the parents of Nikolai Yezhov and the first years of his life are contradictory. In questionnaires and autobiographies, Yezhov claimed that he was born in 1895 in St. Petersburg in the family of the Russian working-class. In June 1915 he volunteered for the army. In early June 1916, Yezhov was recognized as unfit for military service because of very small stature (151 cm), sent to the rear artillery workshop in Vitebsk.
In April 1919, he was drafted into the Red Army. In October 1919, he was appointed Commissioner of the school which trained radio personnel in April 1921, became the base of the Commissioner, at the same time elected deputy head of agitation and propaganda department of the Tatar Regional Committee of the RCP(B).
In 1922 from March to October he was Secretary Mari Regional Committee of the RCP (b), after serving in October 1922 to leave, back Yezhov did not return. From 1923 to March 1924 he waw Executive Secretary of the Semipalatinsk provincial committee of the RCP (b). In 1924-1925 he was head of the organizational department of the Kyrgyz regional committee of the CPSU(b). And in 1925-1926 - deputy secretary Kazakskogo Regional Committee of the CPSU (b), working under the supervision of FI Goloschekin.
Having worked in the cadres office [Orgraspredotdele] until 1929, Yezhov during the year was the Deputy Commissar of Agriculture of the USSR, and in November 1930 he returned to head Orgraspredotdel, taking the place of his former boss, who was transferred to the post of deputy chairman of the Supreme Economic Council. In November 1930 Yezhov mad the acquaintance with Stalin.
Yezhov was in charge of Orgraspredotdelom until 1934, realizing in practice the personnel policies of Stalin. In 1933-1934, part of the Central Commission of the CPSU(b) began the "cleaning" of the party. In the January-February 1934, the XVII Congress Party credentials committee was led by Yezhov. In February 1934 he was elected member of the Central Committee, the Central Committee of the Organising Bureau and deputy chairman of the Party Control Commission under the Central Committee of the CPSU(b). Since February 1935, he was Chairman of the CPC, Secretary of the CPSU(b).
In 1934-1935 the head of the industrial department of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b), in 1935-1936 - department leading Party organs of the CPSU (b). For a while, acting head of the department of planning and trade and financial authorities of the CPSU (b) political and administrative department of the Central Committee of the CPSU(b).
In 1934-1935 Yezhov, with the support of Stalin, led the investigation into the murder of Kirov and the Kremlin's case, linking them with the activities of the former opposition - Zinoviev, Kamenev and Trotsky. Yezhov and Stalin gave an indication of the mistakes made ??by the result of the case of the Trotskyite center, and instructed to take steps to open the Trotskyist Center, to identify clearly and unopened terrorist gang personal Trotsky's role in this matter. Yezhov put the question in such a way that he wanted me to intervene in this case. Yezhov's instructions were specific and gave the initial thread to the disclosure of the case.
In the "Letter of an Old Bolshevik" (1936), written by Boris Nicolaevsky, there is this contemporary description of Yezhov: "In the whole of my long life, I have never met a more repellent personality than Yezhov's. 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."
On September 26, 1936 Yezhov was appointed People's Commissar of Internal Affairs. In his new position, Yezhov and coordinated the implementation of the repression against persons suspected of anti-Soviet activities, espionage (article 58 of the RSFSR Criminal Code), "cleansing" in the party, with mass arrests and deportations of social, organizational, and then a national basis. The systematic nature of these campaigns have taken since the summer of 1937, it was preceded by the preparatory bodies of the repression themselves state security who "cleaned" from the staff Berries. March 2, 1937 in a report to the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b), he sharply criticized his subordinates, pointing to gaps in intelligence and investigative work. Plenum approved the report and instructed Yezhov to restore order in the NKVD. From the security staff from 1 October 1936 to 15 August 1938 2273 people were arrested, 1862 of them for "counter-revolutionary crimes". "For outstanding achievements in the NKVD directives for the implementation of government jobs," on July 17, 1937 Yezhov was awarded the Order of Lenin.
On July 30, 1937, NKVD order number 00447 was issued "On the operations of repression of former kulaks, criminals and other anti-Soviet elements" For expedited review thousands of cases used extrajudicial repressive bodies, ie. "NKVD Commission and the Prosecutor of the USSR" (it included Yezhov) and tripled the NKVD of the USSR "at the level of the republics and regions.
From January 1937 to August 1938 Stalin sent Yezhov about 15,000 special reports with the reports about the arrests, carrying out punitive operations, requests for authorization those or other repressive actions, with the interrogation protocols. Thus, in a day he sent more than 20 documents, in many cases quite extensive. As the journal entries of visitors Stalin's cabinet in 1937-1938 Yezhov leader visited almost 290 times and held him for a total of more than 850 hours. It was a kind of a record: most Yezhov only Molotov appeared in Stalin's office.
Yezhov played an important role in the political and physical destruction of the old "Leninist Guard." He persecuted former members of the Politburo of the CPSU(b), Stanislav Kosior, Vlas Chubar, Paul Postyshev, Robert Eiche, and held a number of high-profile cases against former members of the country's leadership that ended death sentences, especially the Second Moscow Trial (January 1937) and the third Moscow trial (March 1938). In its desktop Yezhov kept the bullets that were shot Zinoviev, Kamenev and the others; These bullets were seized during a search later from him. During the persecution he was personally involved in the torture.
He admitted that innocents were being falsely accused, but dismissed their lives as unimportant so long as the purge was successful: "There will be some innocent victims in this fight against Fascist agents. 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."
Data on Yezhov's activities in the field of intelligence and counterintelligence are ambiguous. We know that General Eugene Miller (1937) was kidnapped by the NKVD in Paris, and that it carried out a series of operations against Japan and abroad, where a series of murders were organized.
There spread a kind of cult of Yezhov as a man, ruthlessly destroying "the enemy." Portraits of Yezhov were published in newspapers and attended the rallies. The fame got both versions of Boris Yefimov poster "steel rod of iron", where Commissar takes a tight rein on the many-headed serpent, symbolizing the Trotskyites and Bukharinites. There was published "The Ballad of the People's Commissar Yezhov," signed by the Kazakh bard Jambul Dzhabayev (according to some sources, composed by "translator" Constantine Altai). Constant epithets were "Stalin's Commissar", "a favorite of the people."
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. April 8, 1938, he was appointed part-time People's Commissar of Water Transport, indicating impending disgrace. On August 22, 1938, Georgian NKVD leader Lavrenty Beria was named first deputy at the NKVD, Yezhov's deputy.
Yezhov recognized that Beria's increasing influence with Stalin was a sign that his downfall was imminent; and he plunged into alcohol 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.
On 23 November 1938, Yezhov wrote to the Politburo and Stalin personally in his resignation, which pleaded responsible for wrecking activities of the various "enemies", inadvertently penetrated the NKVD and prosecutor's office. He took the blame for the escape of a number of spies abroad (in 1938 the envoy of the NKVD in the Far Eastern edge of Henry Liushkov fled to Japan, at the same time the chief of the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR A.Uspensky fled in an unknown direction, and so on....). In anticipation of the imminent arrest, Yezhov asked Stalin "do not touch my 70-year-old mother."
December 9, 1938 "Pravda" and "Izvestia" published the following message: "Comrade. NI Yezhov released, according to his request, on obligations Commissar of Internal Affairs of leaving his People's Commissar of Water Transport ". Yezhov's successor was appointed to the NKVD from the post of first secretary of the Communist Party of the Georgian SSR, Lavrenty Beria, who from the end of September 1938 to January 1939 held a large-scale arrests of people Yezhov to the NKVD, the prosecutor's office and courts.
April 10, 1939 Yezhov was arrested with the assistance of Beria and Malenkov, in the office of the latter. On April 24, 1939 he had written a note with a declaration of his homosexuality, which he treated like a vice.
According to the indictment, "preparing a coup, Yezhov, prepared by their fellow conspirators terrorist cadres, suggesting to put them into action at the first opportunity. Yezhov and his accomplices Frinovsky, Evdokimov and Dagin practically prepared on November 7, 1938 coup, which, according to its masterminds, was put in the commission of terrorist acts against the leaders of the party and government during a demonstration in Red Square in Moscow. " Besides, Yezhov accused already prosecuted for sodomy Soviet laws (the indictment was told that Yezhov commit acts of sodomy, "acting in the anti-Soviet and personal gain»).
February 3, 1940, Nikolai Yezhov, the verdict of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR sentenced to "capital punishment" - death; the sentence was executed the next day, February 4 at the building of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR. When he was finally taken away to be shot, in a building in Varsonofevski Lane, not far from Kuznetsky Most metro station — it was daid that he collapsed completely. His legs gave way and he had to be dragged screaming, crying and hiccupping uncontrollably to the execution room, with its sloping floor (to ease the task of washing the blood away) and wall of pine logs (to absorb the bullets).
But according to the statement of Sudoplatov, "When he was led out to be shot, he sang "The Internationale"." The corpse cremated at the Donskoy crematorium.
Nothing of the arrest and execution of Yezhov was reported. He just disappeared without any explanation. One of the outward signs of the fall of Yezhov was the city Yezhovo-Cherkessia in Cherkessk recently named in his honor was renamed in 1939, and the disappearance of his image with some "historical" photos.
In 1998, the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court recognized that Nikolai Yezhov was not subject to rehabilitation.
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