A Few Pictures of Older Chekist Materials Whilst Continuing Combing Through the Latest Data on SMERSH for Future Chapters
history of the
alike had an
finely - and
on - hand-crafted
badges of honor
both the public
and each other.
Granted, many of the highest ranking members of the Communist regime (generals, commissars and other political "elites" in the Kremlin) were given some of the later commemorative and/or anniversary badges as a token of homage or respect (or as a bribe) for who they were and for the positive influence they could bring to bear in favor of the organizations. This happened more often much after the KGB (Committee for State Security) and the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) came into being in 1954 as the final incarnation of all previous security agencies.
[Note: the badge above is a copy of a purportedly original OGPU brass honor badge. However, because of the near perfect enamel work without any hairline cracks or chips as is very common with nearly all enameled badges from before 1940 and a number of other details, this one is certainly a fake. In fact, I have neither seen one like this that I consider original nor, for that matter, have I encountered one in any reference book dealing with early Soviet State Security badges. From the first days of the Russian Revolution in 1917 until the late 1930s, many of the highest quality badges were made by hand from a single silversmith who left his/her unique "signature" stamp(s) on the reverse of the badge as seen below.]
|Photos by Robert S. Pandis
|Photos (above and below right) by
Robert S. Pandis
On the left is an ID cover for a five-year anniversary badge of the Cheka-GPU as pictured above. Unfortunately, a photo of the text/document inside was unavailable from the CD "book" by Commander Robert S. Pandis - Cheka: Distinguished Worker Awards of the Soviet Secret Police from which this, the previous two photos and the following two pictures were taken. However, the inner text and background design of the XV badge ID booklet below is likely a good indicator of how the V booklet's inner layout appeared.*
|Photo by Robert S. Pandis
The partial photo above depicts an OGPU agent wearing the 10th anniversary of the OGPU badge with a "rosette" or (typically) a deep red velvet cloth cut to fit behind the badge to prevent any damage to the uniform itself. What is barely visible on the left is a child sitting on the knee of the officer. It was common practice at the time for both military and Chekist officers to have family portraits taken with the officer in full dress uniform. This example photo is from "slava1stclass" whose photos have appeared elsewhere on this site. The right side shows a closeup of the OGPU 10th anniversary badge with the red enamel flag, lower banner and star at the top. It is difficult to tell which of the gold, silver or bronze background type badges this was from the photo. Note: The man pictured is wearing the famous "Budyonovka" cap that was worn by many non-officer ranking soldiers before and during WWII.
An NKGB/MGB dress or "parade"
tunic from the post WWII era.
Photo by "Richie C" (Soviet Military Awards Page
Regardless of their earlier reputation, the final versions of these agencies did not have nearly the same powers that their Cheka-GPU predecessors did - particularly when foreign and internal services (NKVD) were combined under Lavrenti Beria when even members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and government ministers lived in fear of him nearly as much as they did Stalin himself. Moreover, after Stalin died in 1953, Beria had his sights set on replacing him but was arrested by members of the faction supporting Nikita Krushchev as the new leader of the Soviet Union and subsequently executed. Once Beria's influence was essentially removed, attention was focused on the restructuring of the security services he had built up into organizations of terror. The title of "People's Commissariat" (or abbreviation "NK") had already been replaced with "Ministry" so that the NKVD became the MVD and the NKGB became the MGB. Though Beria sought to combine the two under the single department of the Ministry for Internal Affairs (MVD) with a branch designated for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence. Those who opposed him - which after the death of Stalin were numerous - not only maintained the separation, but also "demoted" the MGB to the status of "Committee" (or "комитет" in Russian) which resulted in the final name of KGB - subsequently requiring their leadership to report to the Central Committee of the Communist Party or State Duma rather than directly to whomever might be at the helm of the USSR at the time, as had been the case before.
Below is a photo of a group of OGPU personnel in 1924. The photo is cropped from a cardboard "frame" which lists the names of those pictured on the reverse (the entire ensemble is pictured below in smaller frames in the original cardboard "frame" in its current sepia colors).
|Photos provided by Richie C
Finally, a "colorized" photo of a group of NKVD class graduates.
|Photo provided by Richie C
* Robert Pandis has since published a paper bound edition of the CD with much more information and many more excellent photos of awards and associated documents from the Soviet security services. He envisions another three editions in addition to the current Cheka: Soviet Secret Police Awards 1917-1995. For more information about the book and others he has authored, see