Nikolai Yezhov and the purge of the NKVD

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Nikolai Yezhov

  • Had been a Political Commissar during the Civil War and afterwards worked for the Party at Komsomol
  • Joined the OGPU and replaced Yagoda as Head of the NKVD in 1936
  • During his time as Head of the NKVD (September 1938-December 1938) he was responsible for Yezhovschina, a period of purges and terror
  • He was affectionately referred to as 'my blackberry' by Stalin
  • He had a more sinister side: he was a drug-addicted deviant who personally supervised torture
  • In 1939, when Stalin wished to end the terror, Yezhov was quietly removed from office and shot, being made a scapegoat for the excesses of the purges
  • 'Better that ten innocent people should suffer than one spy get away. When you chop, chips fly'

Purge of the NKVD
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