*** war and social upheaval: Soviet Communism Lavrenity Beria

Soviet Communism: Lavrenity Beria (1899-1953)

Lavrenity Beria
Figure 1.--Lavrenty Beria was one of the truly evil persons of the 20th century. He was blunt with subordinates, but obsequious around Stalin. Here he is holding Svetlana at Stalin's dacha. We are not sure what the fellow with headphones is doing. Stalin's close assocites socialised with him. The other's around Stalin feared Beria and warned their children to be cautious around him. Stalin was prepaing to get rid of Beria at the time he died. He very well could have succeeded Stalin, but the one thing that Stalin's close associates vying for power agreed on when Stalin died was the need to eliminte Beria.

Lavrenty Beria was like Stalin not a Russin but Georgian. He was born in Merkheuli, near Sukhumi, in Georgia (1899). He grew up in a Georgian Orthodox family. His father was a landowner,which was not helpful in establishing his workingclass credentials. He has dome knowledge of the petroleim industry and became involved iwuth fighting in Azerbaijan. He becme involved in the security service, but was almpst executedfor bavking the ring side. It was a mistake he never made again. He soon joined the Chekka. He helped supress a Georgian national revolt (1924). He executed some 10,000 rebels, essentially making his career.Stalin noticed him and Beria becme a staunch spporter. And Stalin turned to him whn he launched the Freat Terror (1934). The terror ended as Stalin decided to scale it back (1938). Stalin finally decided to stop the mass killing operations. It is not clear just why. It may have gone beyond what he had planned. Or he may have decided that he had achieved his goals. He relieved the overseer of the purges, Yezhov, and then had him purged. This had two advantages for Stalin. It made it look like he was not resonsible and the execution of Yezhov destoyed much of the evidence of his envolvement. Stalin appointed Lavrenty Beria, a fellow Georgian and close confidant, as the new NKVD chief. This period is thus called the Beria thaw. Beria ordered mass operations ended. He abolished the units set up for extrajudicial executions. Stalin reduced the terror, although he never completely abandoned it. Beria along with Yagoda is one of the true evil figures in the history of the 20th century. Stalin appointed Beria head of the NKVD (1938). Beria as NKVD chief became Stalin's chief administrator to continue the Terror. Beria was involved in all aspects of the Terror. He is known to have even participated in the torturing of those arrested. He personally organized mass operations such as the murder of the Polish officers in the Katyn Forrest. Like Himmler, Beria was a gifted administrator and organizers. Stalin gave him other key assignments such as building an atomic bomb. By all accounts he was a loving father and granfather. His attributes as a husband, however, were very different. He is known to have kidnapped countless women off the streets of Moscow and raped them. In the end when he learned that Stalin was about to have him arrested, he poisoned Stalin. Beria was no fool. He knew what Stalin did with NKVD chiefs who possessed so much knowledge of his apalling acts. His Politboro colleagues knowing him all to well, before he could effectively use the NKVD to place himself in power, had him tried and executed for actions comitted while head of the KNVD. Beria was the most feared man in the soviet Union, including by those in Stalin's inner circle. They warned their children to be careful around him. He was blunt with subordinates, but obsequious around Stalin. A Russian reader writes, "Somehow western historians often think that Beria was a kind of monster, but Khruschev was white and fluffy angel. Yes, after Stalin's death Khruschev began to soften Soviet totalitarism. But Beria too planned to soften it - and even he succeed to make some important steps, for example, a 'great amnesty' of summer 1953 when more than 1.2 million prisoners of the Gulag were released. All Stalin's servants after 'the Master's' death made some steps to lesser their part in repressions and, well, "to rebrand" themselves." This reflects the line after Khruschev replacement to demomnize him and to rehabilitate Stalin and Beria.


Khrushchev, Nikita. Edward Crankshaw, intro, commentary, and notes. Strobe Talbott, trans. and ed. Khrushchev Remembers (Little Brown: Boston, 1970), 639p.


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Created: 9:44 AM 10/25/2015
Last updated: 9:44 AM 10/25/2015