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Soviet Readers Finally Told of 1940 Execution of Stalin's Police Chief

February 15, 1988|United Press International

MOSCOW — Soviet readers were told for the first time Sunday that dictator Joseph Stalin's infamous secret police chief Nikolai I. Yezhov was executed almost 48 years ago.

Yezhov, who headed the secret police, known as the NKVD, from 1936 to 1938 at the height of the great purges, was removed by Stalin in July, 1938, to signify an end to the Stalinist terror in which millions perished.

From police chief, Yezhov went on to lead the Commission of Water Transport--thought to be a joke by Stalin. At the end of January, 1939, the former secret police chief disappeared.

The widely read weekly Ogonyok magazine Sunday revealed for the first time to Soviet readers that "on April 1, 1940, Yezhov was executed . . . for ungrounded repressions against the Soviet people."

The magazine described the interrogation of Yezhov at the secret police headquarters he once ruled in fear.

"He would come into the office of the investigator, unshaven, in a faded Red Army blouse that was worn and grimy and had no tabs or a belt (to prevent suicide)," Ogonyok said.

"He would ask permission for a smoke and would answer the questions wanly and reluctantly," the magazine said.

Ogonyok said Yezhov told his interrogators to spare the formalities, since he knew how interrogations were done in his former domain.

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