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Nikolai Yezhov

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Yezhov along Moscow-Volga channel. He was later removed from official photographs
Yezhov along Moscow-Volga channel. He was later removed from official photographs

Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov (Николай́ Ива́нович Ежов́) (May 1, 1895February 4?, 1940) was a head of the Soviet secret police, the NKVD (19361938), during the Great Purge. His reign is sometimes known as the "Yezhovschina" ("Yezhovshchina", Ежо́вщина, Yezhov era) after him.

Yezhov was born in St. Petersburg. He only completed elementary education. From 1909 to 1915 he worked as a tailor's assistant and factory worker. From 1915 to 1917, Yezhov served in the Czarist Russian army. He joined the Bolsheviks on May 5, 1917 in Vitebsk, a few months before the October Revolution. During the Russian Civil War 1919–1921 he fought in the Red Army. After February 1922, he worked in the political system, mostly as a secretary of various regional committees of the Communist Party. In 1927 he was transferred to the Accounting and Distribution Department of the Communist Party where he worked as an instructor and acting head of the department. From 1929 to 1930 he was the Deputy of the People's Commissar for Agriculture. 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. In 1934 he was elected to the Central Committee of the Communist Party; in the next year he became the secretary of the Central Committee. From February 1935 to March 1939 he was also the Chairman of the Central Commission for Party Control.

He was known as a determined loyalist of Joseph Stalin, and in 1935 he wrote a paper in which he argued that political opposition must eventually lead to violence and terrorism; this became in part the ideological basis of the Purges. He became People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (head of the NKVD) and a member of the Presidium Central Executive Committee on September 26, 1936, following the dismissal of Genrikh Yagoda. Under Yezhov, the purges reached their height, with roughly half of the Soviet political and military establishment being imprisoned or shot, along with hundreds of thousands of others, suspected of disloyalty or "wrecking".

Although he was also appointed to the post of People's Commissar for Water Transport on April 8, 1938, maintaining his other posts, his role was gradually diminishing. On August 22, 1938, Lavrenty Beria became the deputy to Yezhov and took over the governance of the Commissariat. When Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov criticized heavily the work and methods of the NKVD in their writing of November 11, 1938, he was relieved of his post as the People's Commissar for Internal Affairs at his own request on November 25, 1938, and Beria succeeded him.

On March 3, 1939 Yezhov was relieved of all his posts in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. On April 10, 1939 he was arrested and put on trial for espionage and treason that included a plan to kill Stalin. He was also accused of homosexuality. He was found guilty and probably shot on February 4, 1940.

Yezhov has never been rehabilitated because of his leading role in the purges.

External link

es:Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov pl:Nikołaj Jeżow fi:Nikolai Ježov it:Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov

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