Eduard Berzin

Eduard Berzin

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Eduard Berzin was born in Latvia in 1894. As a young man he studied art in Berlin where he met his wife, Elza Mittenberg. In 1915 he joined the Russian Army and fought on the Eastern Front during the First World War.

After the Russian Revolution he joined the Bolsheviks and in 1918 he became a commander of the First Artillery Division of the Red Latvian Riflemen, that protected the Kremlin. He became friends with Felix Dzerzhinsky, the head of Cheka, and agreed to become involved in a conspiracy to infiltrate a MI6 unit based in Petrograd.

Jan Buikis, a Soviet agent, made contact with Francis Cromie, the naval attaché at the British Embassy, and requested a meeting with Robert Bruce Lockhart the Head of Special Mission to the Soviet Government with the rank of acting British Consul-General in Moscow. On 14th August, 1918, Buikis and Colonel Berzin, met Lockhart. Berzin told Lockhart that there was serious disaffection among the Lettish troops and asked for money to finance an anti-Bolshevik coup. Lockhart, who described Berzin as "a tall powerfully-built man with clear-cut features and hard steely eyes" was impressed by Berzen. He told Lockhart that he was a senior commander of the Lettish (Latvian) regiments that had been protecting the Bolshevik Government ever since the revolution. Berzin insisted that these regiments had proved indispensable to Lenin, saving his regime from several attempted coups d'état.

Lockhart claimed that initially he was suspicious of Berzin but was convinced by a letter that had been sent by Cromie: "Always on my guard against agents provocateurs, I scrutinized the letter carefully. It was unmistakably from Cromie. The handwriting was his... The letter closed with a recommendation of Berzin as a man who might be able to render us some service." Lockhart also believed Berzin's claim that the Lativan regiments had lost all enthusiasm for protecting the Revolutionary Government and wanted to return to Latvia.

On 17th August, 1918, Moisei Uritsky, the Commissar for Internal Affairs in the Northern Region, was assassinated by Leonid Kannegisser, a young military cadet. Anatoly Lunacharsky commented: "They killed him. They struck us a truly well-aimed blow. They picked out one of the most gifted and powerful of their enemies, one of the most gifted and powerful champions of the working class." The Soviet press published allegations that Uritsky had been killed because he was unravelling "the threads of an English conspiracy in Petrograd".

Despite these claims, Robert Bruce Lockhart continued with his plans to overthrow the Bolshevik government. He had a meeting with a senior intelligence agent based in the French Embassy. He was convinced that Berzin was genuine in his desire to overthrow the Bolsheviks and was willing to put up some of the money needed: "The Letts are Bolshevik servants because they have no other resort. They are foreign hirelings. Foreign hirelings serve for money. They are at the disposal of the highest bidder." George Alexander Hill, another agent based in Petrograd, also believed Berzin was telling the truth and were in the ideal position to overthrow the Bolshevik government: "The Letts were the corner stone and foundation of the Soviet government. They guarded the Kremlin, gold stock and the munitions."

Sidney Reilly and Ernest Boyce were brought into the conspiracy. Over the next week Hill, Reilly and Boyce were having regular meetings with Berzin, where they planned the overthrow of the Bolsheviks. During this period they handed over 1,200,000 rubles. Some of this money came from the American and French governments. Unknown to MI6 this money was immediately handed over to Felix Dzerzhinsky. So also were the details of the British conspiracy.

Berzin told the agents that his troops had been to assigned to guard the theatre where the Soviet Central Executive Committee was to met. A plan was devised to arrest Lenin and Leon Trotsky at the meeting was to take place on 28th August, 1918. Robin Bruce Lockhart, the author of Reilly: Ace of Spies (1992) has argued: "Reilly's grand plan was to arrest all the Red leaders in one swoop on August 28th when a meeting of the Soviet Central Executive Committee was due to be held. Rather than execute them, Reilly intended to de-bag the Bolshevik hierarchy and with Lenin and Trotsky in front, to march them through the streets of Moscow bereft of trousers and underpants, shirt-tails flying in the breeze. They would then be imprisoned. Reilly maintained that it was better to destroy their power by ridicule than to make martyrs of the Bolshevik leaders by shooting them."

Reilly later recalled: "At a given signal, the soldiers were to close the doors and cover all the people in the Theatre with their rifles, while a selected detachment was to secure the persons of Lenin and Trotsky... In case there was any hitch in the proceedings, in case the Soviets showed fight or the Letts proved nervous... the other conspirators and myself would carry grenades in our place of concealment behind the curtains." However, at the last moment, the Soviet Central Executive Committee meeting was postponed until 6th September.

On 31st August 1918 Dora Kaplan attempted to assassinate Lenin. It was claimed that this was part of the British conspiracy to overthrow the Bolshevik government and orders were issued by Felix Dzerzhinsky, the head of Cheka, to round up the agents based in British Embassy in Petrograd. The naval attaché, Francis Cromie was killed resisting arrest. According to Robin Bruce Lockhart: "The gallant Cromie had resisted to the last; with a Browning in each hand he had killed a commissar and wounded several Cheka thugs, before falling himself riddled with Red bullets. Kicked and trampled on, his body was thrown out of the second floor window."

Ernest Boyce and Robert Bruce Lockhart were both arrested but Sidney Reilly had a lucky escape. He arranged to meet Cromie that morning. He arrived at the British Embassy soon after Cromie had been killed: "The Embassy door had been battered off its hinges. The Embassy flag had been torn down. The Embassy had been carried by storm." Reilly now went into hiding and eventually managed to get back to London.

Berzin was rewarded for his part in the conspiracy by being appointed to a senior position in Cheka. In 1926, Joseph Stalin gave Berzin the task of setting up the Vishera complex of labour camps in the Urals known as Vishlag where cellulose and paper were to be produced. Berzin was considered to be a good manager and according to Anne Applebaum, the author of Gulag: A History (2003), the inmates received wages and had their own cinemas, libraries and discussion clubs.

In 1931 Stalin appointed Berzin as head of Dalstroy (Far North Construction Trust). Dalstroy created several Gulag Camps across the region now known as Kolyma. Run by the NKVD, the political prisoners were involved in road construction and the mining of gold. Robert Conquest, the author of Kolyma: The Arctic Death Camps (1978) has argued that Berzin's primary aim was to exploit the region in line with the objectives of Stalin's Five Year Plan. A hard winter in 1932-1933 led to the deaths of large numbers of workers. It was said that conditions improved after 1934 and Berzin was considered one of the more humane of the Gulag administrators.

In December 1937 Eduard Berzin was arrested and accused of spying for Britain and Germany. After being tortured for several months he was executed at Lubyanka Prison on 1st August 1938.

To Reilly, Berzin's arrival was very opportune. It was a Lettish regiment which was to guard the theatre where the Soviet Central Executive Committee was to meet. What could be more appropriate than to arrest Lenin and Trotsky with their own guards? The Letts despised the Russians and within forty-hours, as a result of several meetings between Reilly and Berzin in the Tramble Café in the Tverskoy Boulevard, all plans were made...

Reilly's grand plan was to arrest all the Red leaders in one swoop on August 28th when a meeting of the Soviet Central Executive Committee was due to be held. Reilly maintained that it was better to destroy their power by ridicule than to make martyrs of the Bolshevik leaders by shooting them."

What Happened to the Lenin Plot?

It seemed like a good idea at the time—invade Russia, defeat the Red Army, stage a coup in Moscow, and assassinate party boss Vladimir Ilych Lenin. An Allied-friendly dictator would then be installed to get Russia back into the World War against the Central Powers.

Lenin remained as leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, however, until his death in 1924. Following is an account of the plot formed by the American, British and French conspirators, and of why it did not succeed.

You've only scratched the surface of Berzin family history.

Between 1966 and 2004, in the United States, Berzin life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1992, and highest in 2004. The average life expectancy for Berzin in 1966 was 83, and 96 in 2004.

An unusually short lifespan might indicate that your Berzin ancestors lived in harsh conditions. A short lifespan might also indicate health problems that were once prevalent in your family. The SSDI is a searchable database of more than 70 million names. You can find birthdates, death dates, addresses and more.

Gulag Boss, Good Boss

Mochulsky comes across fairly positively in his account, even if today’s reader is frequently frustrated by his lack of introspection and personal accountability. He is remarkably resourceful at problem solving, and seems genuinely concerned with the physical well being of the prisoners. As Deborah writes in her afterward, perhaps Mochulsky “was a man who want[s] to show us that even in an evil system there were people who tried to do their best”.[1. Deborah Kaple, “Afterward,” Fyodor Visilevich Mochulsky, Gulag Boss, trans. and edited Deborah Kaple (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011) 181.] I’m very curious about the issue of the “good boss”—the boss who, in other words, treats the prisoners humanely, while continuing to maintain a position of power and responsibility within this incredibly cruel and inhumane system. In my own research, I’ve come across one possible “good boss” candidate, who, like Mochulsky, commanded a sub-camp within a much larger camp complex.

F. I. Kazachenko, boss of a Siblag sub-camp

This man, Filip Ivanovich Kazachenko (pictured), presided over the Antibess and then the Orlovo-Rozovo subdivisions of Siblag, in present day Kemerovo Oblast’.[2. For more, see Wilson T. Bell, “The Gulag and Soviet Society in Western Siberia, 1929-1953,” (PhD dissertation, University of Toronto, 2011) 87-88, and 242-243:] In any case, I’d like to explore (very briefly) two questions regarding the “good boss.”

  1. How possible/common was the “good boss”?
  2. What do we make of some of the silences in Mochulsky’s memoir?

On the first question, clearly the “good boss” was not common. Memoirists rarely have anything positive to say about camp personnel. As Alan relates in his own work, even the boss of Vorkuta, M.M. Mal’tsev, about whom Solzhenitsyn himself had heard some positive remarks, was, basically, a tyrant who could be incredibly cruel or beneficent, when it suited him.[3. Alan Barenberg, “From Prison Camp to Mining Town: The Gulag and Its Legacy in Vorkuta, 1938-1965: Volume One,” (PhD dissertation, University of Chicago, 2007) esp. 95-99.] One is hardly surprised by the following account of a Siblag boss, excerpted from my manuscript:[4. Bell, “The Gulag and Soviet Society,” 242]

Sergei Vladimirov, who spent ten years in Siblag from 1942-1952 and wrote his memoir under the pseudonym V. Blousov, vividly describes an incident when a guard killed a young prisoner who had been fishing, and the prisoners gathered around, threatening to beat the guards. The subdivision’s commander, Major Zvantsev, whom the prisoners had nicknamed “The Boar,” objected to the prisoners’ complaints:

“You are thinking of rebelling?” he shouted. “To the cooler (kartsere) with you! I’ll send you to the tower! Bastards (Svolochi)! (…) Disperse!”

From the crowd could be heard in response:

“Murderers! They’ve killed (zagubili) the boy!”

“For a little fish… a person died (pogib)!”

“A person?” roared The Boar, “There aren’t any here! Here are enemies of the people, traitors of the Motherland, bandits, crooks (zhuliki). The dregs of humanity, scum (mraz’), riff-raff (podonki), that’s who is here!

On the balance, of course, The Boar is closer to the norm than Mochulsky. But, that a Mochulsky is even possible in the Gulag underscores the degree to which the prisoner’s experience depended on the personality of individual commanders, as opposed to directives from Moscow. Kazachenko is a case in point. Prisoners—both men and women—from his subdivisions remember him fondly, as someone who knew agricultural production inside and out, who referred to them as “temporary detainees” rather than prisoners, and who cared about the prisoners’ living conditions. One prisoner describes her transfer to another Siblag sub-camp, where the prisoners there simply could not believe her stories about living conditions under Kazachenko.[5. For these memoirs, see Memorial f. 2, op. 1, d. 84, ll. 34-35 (Evsei Moiseevich L’vov) and Memorial f. 2, op. 1, d. 7, l. 35 (Sof’ia Sergeevna Potresova)] Kazachenko, like Mochulsky, seems to have done well in the system. He remained within the Siblag system until the early 1950s, and is remembered in the 2009 journal, Vestnik UIS Kuzbassa, as the “Legend of Siblag”.[6. “Legenda Siblaga,” Vestnik UIS Kuzbassa, no. 1-2 (Jan-Feb 2009) 9-10]

Just as an aside, the journal issue itself is fascinating. Put together by a division of the Federal Penitentiary Service, the Kuzbass UIS (Ugolovnaia ispolnitel’naia sistema), it is a special issue titled, “130 years of the UIS”. In other words, the founding of the UIS is dated to the tsarist period, emphasizing continuity through the Soviet period to the present day!

In any case, to get to my second question: just how “good” was Mochulsky? I want to take him at face value, and I admire his ability to find secure sources of food for prisoners under his command, and to ensure that they at least had rudimentary shelter. Yet there were a few points that nagged at me – silences in the text. For example, he describes some instances of problem solving—finding alternative food sources, convincing work refusers to work—in great detail, yet other instances receive almost no elucidation. Following the outbreak of the war, Mochulsky begins inspecting the track at night (along with his daytime inspections), and this immediately increased labor discipline on the night shift.[7. Mochulsky, Gulag Boss, 80.] Mochulsky credits his presence for the change (“prisoners understood that their work could at any moment be checked”), but are we really to believe that no coercion was involved? Why the lack of detailed description, here? Later, as boss of the militarized section of the railway, Mochulsky writes, “I only dealt with the prisoners as a labor force. I did not have anything to do with their maintenance or daily lives”.[8. Mochulsky, Gulag Boss, 102.] He does not explain exactly what he means by this statement, but one can certainly infer that, at this point, the prisoners’ daily lives were miserable, and Mochulsky is trying to absolve himself of blame (and, perhaps, feels guilty). Still, overall I agree with Jeff – it matters that Mochulsky tried—and at times succeeded—in being a good boss in an overwhelming cruel and violent system.

5 The Bush Campaign Plotted To Disenfranchise Thousands Of Black Voters (Then Accidentally Emailed The Evidence To A Parody Site)

Actively trying to screw people out of their right to vote is as American as apple pie. Take the 2012 Wisconsin recall election, when a group backed by the Koch brothers sent Democratic voters mail-in ballots filled with the wrong information in an apparent attempt to trick them into disqualifying their votes. But if you're going to hatch a secret conspiracy to subvert democracy, you should try not to fuck up as badly as the Bush campaign did in 2004.

Back in the Hoobastank days, a Republican National Committee researcher sent an email to his boss and copied in the Florida director of George Bush's reelection campaign, who had an email address at The email was titled "Caging," and contained a list of 1,886 mostly African-American voters in Florida. Republicans had been blanketing Democratic-leaning areas with campaign literature sent by first-class mail, and anyone whose mail was returned to sender had their name added to a "caging list" of votes, which could be challenged on the grounds that their registered address was incorrect.

But the researcher typed instead of .com, possibly because he sucked at his job. The .org site was a parody page run by domain squatter John Wooden, who sent the email to the BBC. A BBC investigation inferred that the Bush campaign intended to use the lists to challenge massive numbers of black voters on Election Day. The GOP denied the accusations, obviously, but couldn't explain why the leaflets were sent by first-class mail (campaigns generally never do this, as it's expensive and serves no purpose . unless you want undelivered mail returned), nor why "useless" information about returned mail in Florida was being sent to the RNC research director in Washington. So the next time you screw up and accidentally copy a surprise party recipient on the planning email, console yourself with this story.

The caging plan went ahead in Ohio, where returned letters were used to challenge the votes of 23,000 citizens, including soldiers serving in Iraq, homeless people, and a large number of voters with a minor typo in their addresses. Federal courts threw the mass challenge out, but it's still good that they didn't succeed in Florida, because it's quite possible that the state would still be arguing about it today.

Related: 6 Stupid Reasons Actual People Are Scared Of Net Neutrality

The Kolyma period

It was apparently on the basis of this success that in 1931 Stalin appointed him head of Dalstroy, the authority which was to develop Kolyma making use essentially of forced labour consisting of some convicted criminals but mainly political prisoners. He arrived in Nagaevo Bay by steamship on 2 February 1932 together with a small number of prisoners (mainly mining engineers) and some security guards.

It is reported that Berzin's primary aim was to exploit the region to the full, in line with the objectives of Stalin's First Five Year Plan. The prisoners were simply his workforce. The focus of his attention was gold mining as gold was needed to pay for industrial development across Russia. This required construction of the harbour town of Magadan, substantial road building, some lumbering and building a large number of labour camps.

From the very start, however, lack of proper preparations combined with an exceptionally hard winter in 1932/33 led to tremendous hardship, particularly for the prisoners sent up into the River Kolyma valley to build roads and mine gold, very many of whom perished in the cold. [2]

It is said that Berzin tried to treat his prisoners comparatively well in order to enable them to carry out their work as efficiently as possible. In reality, this is only a half-truth: while Berzin allowed hard working prisoners shortened sentences—and even paid them salaries—he also sent less valuable prisoners to smaller camps, known as lagpunkts, where many were tortured and killed. [1] After the hard winter of 1932 and difficult conditions the following summer, the situation started to evolve more positively . Although hardships continued, the overall efficiency of the operations and the conditions for the prisoners improved under Berzin's leadership. The same can be said for overall gold production, as "Kolyma’s gold output increased eight times in the first two years of Dalstroi’s operation." [3] The years 1934 to 1937 were remembered as a comparatively good period, particularly in the light of what was to follow under later leaders. [4]

On returning to Kolyma, no doubt as a result of instructions he had received, he issued even harsher orders. Prisoners were required to work in the opencast mines at temperatures as low as -55 C. As a result, annual gold output rose to 33 tons.

Despite the dreadful conditions and the high death toll, over the years Berzin succeeded in having a road built to Seimchan high up in the Kolyma valley which was to lead to even higher gold outputs in subsequent years.

Post-Dalstroy developments

The Chukot Autonomous Okrug site provides details of developments after the official closure of the camps. In 1953, the Magadan Oblast (or region) was established. Dalstroy was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Metallurgy and later to the Ministry of Non-Ferrous Metallurgy.

Industrial and economic evolution

Industrial gold-mining started in 1958 leading to the development of mining settlements, industrial enterprises, power plants, hydro-electric dams, power transmission lines and improved roads. By the 1960s, the region's population exceeded 100,000. With the dissolution of Dalstroy, the Soviets adopted new labor policies. While the prison labor was still important, it mainly consisted of common criminals. New manpower was recruited from all Soviet nationalities on a voluntary basis, to make up for the sudden lack of political prisoners. Young men and women were lured to the frontier land of Kolyma with the promise of high earnings and better living. But many decided to leave. The region's prosperity suffered under Soviet liberal policies in the end of the 1980s and 1990s with a considerable reduction in population, apparently by 40% in Magadan.[10] A U.S. report from the late 1990s gives details of the region's economic shortfall citing outdated equipment, bankruptcies of local companies and lack of central support. It does however report substantial investments from the United States and the governor's optimism for future prosperity based on revival of the mining industries.[11]

Last political prisoners

Dalstroy and the camps did not close down completely. The Kolyma authority, which was reorganised in 1958/59 (31 December 1958), finally closed in 1968. However the mining activities did not stop. Indeed, government structures still exist today under the Ministry of Natural Resources. In some cases, the same individuals seem to have stayed on over the years under new management. There are indications that the political prisoners were gradually phased out over the years but it was only as a result of Yeltsin's far reaching reforms in the 1990s that the very last prisoners were released from Kolyma. The Russian author Andrei Amalrik appears to have been one of the last high-profile political prisoners to be sent to Kolyma. In 1970, he published two books: Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984? and Involuntary Journey to Siberia. As a result, he was arrested for "defaming the Soviet state" in November 1970 and sentenced to hard labour, apparently in Kolyma, for what turned out to be a total of almost five years.[12]

The Meaning of the Word “Tantra” Arrow down

The Sanskrit word “tantra” means “something stretched out” – stretched out in two senses of the word. One is stretched out like the warp of threads on a loom. Tantra practice is the warp on which to weave all the sutra practices together. “Stretched out” is also in the sense of an everlasting continuum throughout time, with no beginning and no end. This refers, in general, to our mental continuum – the continuum of our individual, subjective experiencing of life. This continuum includes having a body, speech (some means of communication), mind, activity, and various good qualities like understanding and care, both for self and others (the instinct for self-preservation and preservation of the species). We all have these aspects in some form and to some level of development in each lifetime. These variable factors, plus the voidness of the mental continuum (it is devoid of existing in any impossible ways) and the fact that these factors can be stimulated to evolve further, are called our “Buddha-nature factors.” They constitute an everlasting continuum, a “tantra.”


1 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956 An experiment in literary investigation (New York: Harper and Row, 1974) I:ix.

2 For an excellent guidebook on secret police personnel during this time period, see N. V. Petrov and K. V. Skorkin, Kto rukovodil NKVD: Spravochnik (Moscow : “Zven´ia,” 1999).

3 For more particulars on the birth of Dal´stroi, see GAMO (Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Magadanskoi Oblasti--State Archive of the Magadan Region), f. r-23ss, op. 1, d. 1, l. 1.

4 See “Luchshii chekist-tverdyi bol´shevik,” Kolymskaia pravda (7 November 1934): 2. For a modern assessment that more objectively reveals the conundrums facing Berzin’s career in Magadan, see A.G. Kozlov, “Pervyi direktor,” Politicheskaia agitatsiia, 17 (September 1988): 28-31. For Berzin’s official appointment as director of Dal´stroi, see GAMO, f. r-23ss, op. 1, d. 1, l. 2.

5 Such a balancing act of propaganda and misleading explanation continued throughout the history of Dal´stroi, reflecting both standard practice in the Stalin era as well as the pretense of continuity with an earlier emphasis on the heroic “opening” of northern territories to Soviet power. See A.G. Kozlov, “Svetloe nachalo Magadana,” Reklamnaia gazeta (7 March 1989): 8.

6 A.G. Kozlov, “Vernulsia k sem´e,” Reklamnaia gazeta (4 April 1989): 8.

7 See Varlam Shalamov, Kolyma tales, trans. John Glad (New York : Penguin, 1994): 152. For a description of the subsequent and depressing realities to be found in “Vas´kov’s House,” which still stands in central Magadan, see Evgeniia Ginzburg, Within the whirlwind (New York : Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1981): 290-304.

8 “Stoikii borets na fronte perekovki,” Vernyi put´ (7 November 1934): 3.

9 Some authors contend that this situation in Magadan, clearly not on par with the violent upheaval already taking place elsewhere in the Soviet Union, reflected Berzin’s more moderate political sentiments and proclivities. See A.G. Kozlov, “Iz istorii Kolymskikh lagerei (1932-1937 gg.), in S.G. Bekarevich, ed., Kraevedcheskie zapiski (1991): 87.

10 For Berzin’s last prikazy as the head of Dal´stroi, in which he appointed Pavlov as a “temporary” director during his own absence, see GAMO, f. r-23, op. 1, d. 26, l. 137. These events in Magadan represented a typical Stalinist phenomenon in which security personnel assigned as “deputies” soon assumed control of operations, thus offering a smooth transfer of power. Appointed as a deputy to Ezhov in July 1938, Beria himself assumed command of the NKVD after his predecessor’s ouster in December of that year. For more on Beria’s appointment and Ezhov’s downfall, see Robert Conquest, The Great Terror : A reassessment (New York : Oxford University Press, 1990): 431-432, and Inside Stalin’s secret police : NKVD politics, 1936-1939 (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1985): 76-99.

11 A.G. Kozlov, “Iz istorii kolymskikh lagerei (konets 1937-1938 gg.),” in S.G. Bekarevich, ed., Kraevedcheskie zapiski (1993): 121. See also id., “Tiazhelye gody,” Magadanskaia pravda (18 June 1989): 4.

12 Berzin’s status as an important regional official merited the direct participation of Ezhov, who signed the arrest warrant to apprehend the Dal´stroi boss in the outskirts of Moscow. See A.G. Kozlov, “Pervyi direktor,” art. cit.: 29.

13 For more on the role of Aleksandrov during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, particularly in regard to the official formation of the oprichnina, see Ruslan G. Skrynnikov, Ivan the Terrible, ed. and trans. Hugh F. Graham (Gulf Breeze, Fl.: Academic International Press, 1981): 83-87.

14 See A.G. Kozlov, “Iz istorii Kolymskikh lagerei (1932-1937 gg.),” art. cit.: 87.

15 AOSVZ (Arkhivnoe Otdelenie Severovostokzoloto--Archival Department for the Association of North-eastern Gold--formerly Dal´stroi institutional archive), d. 3418, l. 25.

16 See A.G. Kozlov, Magadan : Konspekt proshlogo (Magadan : Magadanskoe knizhnoe izdatel´stvo, 1989): 33. For more on Berzin’s downfall, see Roy Medvedev, Let history judge : The origins and consequences of Stalinism, ed. and trans. George Shriver (New York : Columbia University Press, 1989): 427.

17 For some of these contracts, see AOSVZ, d. 13484, l. 1.

18 A.G. Kozlov, “Iz istorii kolymskikh lagerei (konets 1937-1938 gg.),” art. cit.: 121-22.

19 GARF (Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii--State Archive of the Russian Federation), f. 9401s, op. 1a, d. 22, ll. 62-63.

20 GAMO, f. r-23ss, op. 1, d. 6, l. 55.

21 For more on the troiki, see R. Medvedev, op. cit.: 622, and R. Conquest, The Great Terror, op. cit.: 286.

22 See S. Fitzpatrick, “Stalin and the making of a new elite, 1928-1939,” Slavic Review, 38, 3 (September 1979): 399-402.

23 A.I. Shirokov and M.M. Etlis, Sovetskii period istorii Severo-Vostoka Rossii (Magadan : Mezhdunarodnyi pedagogicheskii institut, 1993): 7-8.

24 This emphasis ended by 1939, when overt Soviet discrimination in favor of workers and peasants lessened across the USSR. See S. Fitzpatrick, Education and social mobility in the Soviet Union, 1921-1934 (New York : Cambridge University Press, 1979): 234-254.

25 The legends of Garanin, which percolated into the camp memoirs of Ginzburg and others, accurately reflected the personality of the Sevvostlag boss while overplaying his role. See A.G. Kozlov, “Iz istorii kolymskikh lagerei (konets 1937-1938 gg.),” art. cit.: 136-138.

26 OSF ITs UVD (Otdelenie Spetsial´nykh Fondov, Informatsionnyi Tsentr Upravleniia Vnutrennykh Del--Department of Special Fonds, Information Center for the Administration of Internal Affairs), f. 12-u, op. 1, d. 4, l. 127.

27 Some of this has been recounted in R. Medvedev, op. cit.: 512.

28 In spite of lending his name to the era in Magadan, Garanin indeed remained secondary to the troika. See A.G. Kozlov, “Iz istorii kolymskikh lagerei (konets 1937-1938 gg.),” art. cit.: 130.

29 See T.S. Smolina, “ Kolyma-god 1939,” Magadanskii komsomolets (10 September 1988): 4.

30 A.G. Kozlov, “Garanin : Legendy i dokumenty,” Magadanskaia pravda (14 October 1993): 3.

31 For examples, see T.S. Smolina, “Kolyma-god 1938,” Magadanskii komsomolets (3 September 1988): 4.

32 Ibid. While occurring several months after Ezhov’s ouster, these events in Magadan dovetailed with the earlier NKVD “housecleaning” in Moscow that resulted in Beria’s appointment before the end of 1938. For more on this, see Amy Knight, Beria : Stalin’s first lieutenant (Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1993): 90-93, and R. Conquest, The Great Terror, op. cit.: 431-435.

33 For more on Nikishov’s career, see S.P. Efimov, “Nachal´nik Dal´stroia I. F. Nikishov,” Kolyma, 11 (1991): 34. For reference to the Kremlin meeting between Stalin and Nikishov, see A.G. Kozlov, Magadan, op. cit.: 92.

34 On Beria’s rise to power and his installment of the Georgian “family circle” at NKVD headquarters, see again A. Knight, op. cit.: 90-93. See also R. Conquest, The Great Terror, op. cit.: 627.

35 Following the Kremlin meetings with Stalin and the lengthy trip across Siberia, Nikishov arrived to begin work in Magadan on this date. See Sovetskaia Kolyma (14 December 1939): 4.

36 T.S. Smolina, “ Kolyma-god 1939,”art. cit.: 4-5.

37 Using previous events as a guide, Nikishov’s meeting with Stalin in the Kremlin in October 1939 presumably dealt with fine details of policy governing the activities of the new Gulag administration in Magadan. For further information, see again A.G. Kozlov, Magadan, op. cit.: 92.

38 GARF, f. 9401s, op. 1a, d. 34, l. 59.

41 See A. Knight, op. cit.: 92-93. Solzhenitsyn has argued that the concomitant release of prisoners during the “Beria thaw,” the rare “reverse wave” in his description, came only as a political move to enhance the reputation of Beria while heaping all the blame upon Ezhov for the atrocities of the Great Purges. See A. Solzhenitsyn, op. cit.: 76.

42 Quoted in T.S. Smolina, “ Kolyma-god 1939,” art. cit.: 4-5.

43 This emphasis upon production became a constant refrain in local newspapers. For example, see Sovetskaia Kolyma (5 December 1940): 3.

44 On the flip side, Nikishov never embraced Berzin’s “idealism” as Dal´stroi remained a more cynical institution after 1937. See A.S. Navasardov, “Iz istorii stroitel´stva Kolymskoi trassy (1928-1940 gg.),” in S.G. Bekarevich, ed., Kraevedcheskie zapiski (1991): 25.

45 Berzin remained a “nonperson” in the USSR for eighteen years, from his death in 1938 until his posthumous rehabilitation following Khrushchev’s “secret speech” in 1956. See K.B. Nikolaev, “Pervyi direktor tresta ’Dal´stroi’,” Magadanskaia pravda (2 August 1988).

46 Tangible reasons prevented Nikishov from ignoring Berzin’s legacy entirely. Aside from the industrial achievements attained by the first Dal´stroi chief in the Magadan region, most of the infrastructure of camps, roads, power stations, and state farms throughout the territory had been built by Berzin. See ibid., as well as A.G. Kozlov, “Pervyi direktor,” art. cit.: 31.

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