44 Lenin Avenue

A researcher's journey to Siberia

‘Agents of Terror’

Filed under: Methodology,NKVD,Stalinist repression — Wilson Bell at 6:23 pm on Friday, December 6, 2019  Tagged , ,

In looking for an interesting angle to explore the history of 44 Lenin Avenue during the building’s time as OGPU/NKVD headquarters, one possible topic is that of the perpetrator.

In recent years, we’ve learned a lot more about the NKVD agents and bosses who carried out the Great Terror (1937-38), in part due to the crucially important scholarly work of Lynne Viola (Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial) and Alexander Vatlin (Agents of Terror).

I purchased Vatlin’s book at the recent ASEEES convention in San Francisco, so it is fresh on my mind. Translated and edited by Seth Bernstein, Vatlin’s book presents some fascinating stories, relying mostly on documents related to the arrests and investigations of NKVD agents and bosses arrested in the latter part of the Great Terror, after they themselves had presided over many arrests. Vatlin focuses on the small town of Kuntsevo, near Moscow, to recreate a picture of the mass operations and targeted arrests of this period. Some of the stories are clear corruption, for example Karetnikov’s securing of a central Moscow apartment by arresting the occupants. There are no doubt similar stories related to NKVD operatives in Tomsk (for some on the corrupt behaviour of Gulag personnel, see Chapter 4 of my book).

In any case, one encouraging aspect of Vatlin’s book is that he relies heavily on documents located at the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) collection (fond) 10035 («Управление Комитета государственной безопасности СССР по г. Москве и Московской области» … KGB Administration of the USSR for the city of Moscow and Moscow Province). This makes me wonder if there are similar collections for other local administrations. I’ve worked a lot, in the past, with GARF collections 9401 (which includes NKVD operational orders), 9479 (the special settlements), and 9414 (the Gulag), but a collection similar to 10035 (but for Tomsk) would likely include considerable documentation related to the building at 44 Lenin Ave. I’ll need to do a bit of digging.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>