The first and by far the most famous security service award is the so-called "egg" badge of the NKVD. These were awarded to top officers and service personnel for outstanding accomplishments or completion of extremely important/dangerous assignments. The basic design of the badge is not new. The oval with the sword and the hammer and sickle and the ribbon/banner were used from the beginning of the Cheka and the GPU with anniversary badges awarded for the fifth, tenth and fifteenth years of its existence.
The "sword and shield" symbol of the Cheka, NKVD, MVD and KGB in various
forms as it was carried in parade along with a portrait of founder Felix Dzerzhinsky.
Click on YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QtILBeOMYI for
complete color footage of the above parade from 1938.
The design of this early badge became famous throughout the Soviet Union as representing far more than the simple motif of an oval "shield" with a red enamel scallop shell design in the background and a sword pointing downward laid across the top of the shield. On top of the sword was a hammer and sickle (H&S) making the whole badge engaging to the eye because of the multiple-level three dimensional effect. There was also a flowing "ribbon" filled with red enamel and the letters "NKVD" rising up through the enamel of the horizontal portion of that ribbon.
When the NKVD was broken back up after the war into the MVD and MGB, the former kept the badge design with the use of "MVD" in place of "NKVD" and picked up the serial numbers from where they left off so that serial numbers on these badges - which continued to be awarded until 1991 and a few "catch-up" awards well into the mid 1990s.
The NKVD advanced a culture of fear begun by the Cheka that had only been enhanced by the fear and propaganda campaign launched by Stalin's regime to frighten the citizens and/or foreigners (always potential spies) even as the Germans retreated together with anyone who thought, and rightly so, that they might be persecuted and/or executed by the members of the NKVD, SMERSH or the newly formed, post-war MGB. One of the most famous images and only one of many posters warning against the dangers of idle gossip eventually became synonymous with a warning from the KGB, though it was originally created as propaganda against speaking carelessly when foreign (especially German and later American) spies were thought to be everywhere. The text roughly translates to: "Be quiet! Watch that what you say isn't treasonous." [Literally, не болтай means "Do not talk" but in the sense of spreading idle rumors. "No gossiping" is often used as the translation.] Modern T-shirt designers for tourists often put this poster image on the reverse of shirts with a KGB sword and shield motif. With people "disappearing" in the night after NKVD agents would show up at an apartment door, and later when resistance groups in Ukraine and the Baltic States, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and just about any place where there was a Soviet "Sphere of Influence," an entire generation of people were made to feel afraid in their own homes. This often justified paranoia was passed from one generation to the next so that remnants of it are still present in Russia and Former Soviet Union (FSU) republics and socialist regions. Many people who emigrate from one of these areas to Western countries, especially the US, find it difficult to let go of the notion that they are being watched and their actions being recorded.
|"Be quiet! Always be careful what you say."