Military Review

The first "amnesty" Beria

The first "amnesty" Beria

In 1939 — 1940, 270 000 — 290 000 people were released from GULAG prisons.

The amnesty of 1953, called Beriev (although at that time it was often called Voroshilov), according to which 1,2 million prisoners were released, is well described as “the triumph of post-Stalinist humanism”. Slightly less well known was the amnesty in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Victory in 1955 — according to it, collaborators and minions of the German occupation regime came to the fore. And almost nothing is said about the first Berium “amnesty” of 1939 — 1940.

Strictly speaking, it was not an amnesty, so we take it in quotes. One can only speculate about the reasons for silencing her, and one of them is the reluctance to “shine” Beria once again as a positive statesman. Lawrence Beria in the official (and unofficial) historiography firmly took the place of the main "villain of the Stalinist regime." It is customary to write off responsibility for almost all the repressions of that time, although, if we follow the facts, he ruled only six years with repressive bodies - from 1939 to 1945 a year. During this period, Beria can answer in full, and all the repression and lawlessness that occurred before and after this period are on the conscience of others (from Yagoda and Yezhov to Abakumov).

On the contrary, it was the period of Beriev’s administration of the repressive organs — this is the first attempt for the entire time of the Stalinist regime to impose at least some legitimacy in the punitive apparatus of the USSR.

Brief chronology of the entry of Beria to the post of NKVD Commissioner:

22 August 1938, he was appointed first deputy people's commissar of internal affairs of the USSR, and on September 8 he was appointed head of the I NKVD administration. September 11 Beria was conferred the rank of state security commissioner of the first rank; on September 29 he took the position of head of the Main State Security Directorate of the NKVD of the USSR. 25 November 1938, Beria was appointed Commissar of Internal Affairs of the USSR. 10 April 1939, Ezhov was arrested on charges of espionage, terrorism and conspiracy.

Nikolai Yezhov, 1937 year. Photo: RIA News

One of Beria’s first decisions as commissioner of the NKVD was the opening of the “Bureau for the Reception and Complaint of Complaints” on January 1 1939. It is this date that can be considered the beginning of the revision of many criminal cases instituted under the previous leadership of the NKVD, as well as the identification of Chekists, "who have recovered the legality."

In historiography, the numbers of people released into the wild in 1939 — 1940 are “walking”. They talk about 800 000 people, and about 50 000. The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle.

But if the methods by which the number of “amnestied” in 1939 — 1940 is calculated are quite voluntaristic, then the bringing order to Beria in the NKVD itself is very clearly documented.

Immediately after the appointment of the Commissioner of the NKVD, Beria began to mass cleaning staff Yezhov. From the end of November 1938 to December 1939 from the rank and file of the NKVD were fired 7372 person (22,9% of the total department), from the management - 3830 person (62%).

Here are examples of Beria’s “purges” from Yezhov’s cadres in just one week of January-February: on January 31, 1939, Beria signed the order to bring to court 13 employees of the NKVD road transport department of the Moscow-Kiev Railway for unjustified arrests, on February 3, 1939, by the order of Beria the head of the district department of the NKVD N. Sakharchuk is brought to trial for criminal methods of investigation; on February 5, a order of Beria arrested a group of employees of the Special Department of the Baltic fleet for unreasonable arrests. And such processes went on continuously throughout 1939.

At the same time, 14 506 people were accepted for operational KGB work, of which 11 062 was taken on party-Komsomol trips. In fact, more than a third of the NKVD began to consist of formerly civilians, mostly young university graduates. The people with higher education became 35% (with Yezhov - just 10%) of the total composition of the NKVD, and the proportion of people without secondary education dropped from 42% to 18%. Another replenishment of the NKVD came from the army. 27 January 1939, the Deputy Defense Commissar, Army Commissar of the Second Rank, Shchadenko, issued Order No. 010 on the early release and secondment to the NKVD of the USSR of a number of students of graduation and junior courses of military academies of the Red Army. By the way, looking ahead, we say that the first officers whose affairs began to be reviewed under Beria were the officers of the Red Army: around 1937 — 1938 years, about 30 000 people were fired from the army for political reasons (condemned around 10 000). Returned to service after the change of leadership of the NKVD 12 500 officers.

During the first months of work, Beria completely revised the rules for conducting criminal cases. Convicted by "threes" now could file complaints that were required to be considered within 20 days. A special department with a staff of 15 people was established at the Secretariat of the Special Meeting to consider applications and complaints. During the trial on group cases were obliged to interrogate all its participants. The number of cases considered by judges decreased tenfold - if the judge “stamped” 200 — 300 cases on Ezhov's day (in fact, simply read out the sentence, without questioning witnesses and hearing the case), then under Beria, the standard was no more than ten cases per working day.

It is characteristic that this “restructuring” was not entrusted to the prosecutor’s office or the court, but to the NKVD under the leadership of Beria.

Gulag prisoners, 1940 year. Photo: TASS photo chronicle

Political affairs, since 1939, has become an order of magnitude less - the era of the “Great Terror” is over. 1939 was sentenced to death for 2600 people for 1940 year, 1600 people for 1937 year (for comparison, 1938 680 people were shot for 000 — XNUMX years). At the same time, it should be understood that among this number of those shot, there was a significant proportion of real saboteurs and spies, mainly consisting of persons from the territories recently joined to the USSR in the west (Baltic States, Bukovina, Moldova and Western Ukraine).

The liberalization of prisons also took place: the defendants were allowed to use board games and books in their cells, established rules for visiting family members and passing on packages.

Beria also belongs to the invention of “sharashkas” - defense research institutes and enterprises in which the necessary military-industrial complex and science prisoners were located under relatively mild conditions.

At the same time, they began to deal with the review of cases, the very first Beria "amnesty" began. Doctor historical Sciences V. Zemskov gives the following figures:

“In total, 1939 327 people (400 223 - from the camps and 600 103 - from the colonies) were released from the GULAG in the GNAGX year, but in this case these figures have little to say, as there is no indication of what percentage of them was ahead of schedule liberated and rehabilitated "enemies of the people." We know that 800 January 1 of the year in Kolyma was 1941 34 liberated campers, of which 000 (3000%) were fully rehabilitated. ”

On 1 January 1939, the total prison population was 1 672 000 people. If we take Zemskov's data as average for the whole GULAG, then, according to Beria's “amnesty,” about 140 of thousands of people left. Approximately such figures (from 130 000 to 150 000) are called by other researchers, although most of them clarify that a significant part did not receive the status of rehabilitated, and they either got rid of the deadlines to the minimum (one or two years) or were transferred to the status of exiles (that is, softened the punishment).

Much more fortunate were those who, before November 1938, did not manage to get a sentence, but were in pre-trial detention. Oleg Mozokhin, a historian of the special services, cites exact data on this category. So, on 1 in January 1939 was considered to be under investigation - 149 426 people, released on cases terminated during the investigation - 83 151 people, released by the prosecutor's office and acquitted by the 25 courts 575 people. All in all, 187 840 convicted in 1939 — the first half of 1941 — were 142 432 released during the investigation and trial. This is the exact figure of Beria's “amnesty” for those under investigation.

Thus, the total number of those who fell under the first Beria “amnesty” and were released into custody by those under investigation and prisoners of the GULAG is 270 000 — 290 000 people.

But do not think that Beria was a humanist. No, he, or rather Stalin, needed no more humane, but a more flexible NKVD. Beria correctly calculated that these “amnestied” 200 000 — 300 000 people would do more good at will than in the camp — war was coming, and they returned to factories, laboratories and the army.

Beria became the creator of the Gulag as a significant unit of the economy of the USSR. Beria didn’t need a dead convict, he considered a prisoner as a working unit, which, like a machine tool or other labor tool, should still be regretted (in the 1939 year, the death rate in the gulag immediately plummeted twice, and in the first half of the 1941 year, compared to with 1938-m - three times). Over the 1941 — 1944 years, only the construction organizations of the NKVD carried out capital works for 14,2 billion rubles, which accounted for 15% of all construction work carried out during this time on the national economy of the USSR as a whole.

Beria showed the same “technocratic” approach to prisoners during World War II - the country needed soldiers, and more than 800 000 people went to the front (to the “famous” punitive battalions).

At the present time, Beria would be called a technocrat or “effective manager.” He he was - adjusted for a bloody era.
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  1. Boris55
    Boris55 20 September 2013 09: 44
    Criminal offenders in the RSFSR in 1936 received the following sentences: 82,4% - up to 5 years, 17,6% - 5-10 years, 10 years were the maximum possible prison term up to 1937 years.

    Political prisoners convicted by the civil courts of the Soviet Union in 1936 received sentences: 42,2% - up to 5 years, 50,7% - 5-10 years.

    As for those sentenced to imprisonment in the GULAG labor camps, where longer sentences were set, the statistics of 1940 shows that those who served there before 5 years were 56,8%, from 5 to 10 years 42,2%. Only 1% of prisoners received a sentence of over 10 years.

    For 1939, we have statistics obtained by the Soviet courts. The correlation of the terms of imprisonment was as follows: up to 5 years - 95,9%, from 5 to 10 years 4%, over 10 years - 0,1%.

    The number of prisoners in the USSR (1934 - 1953)

    The number of prisoners in the USSR (1934 - 1953)The number of prisoners in the USSR (1934 - 1953)

    Full size:
  2. mejik
    mejik 20 September 2013 11: 46
    A difficult, ambiguous time. A man who cares for a country can only be worthy of worthiness after the passage of time and by those people who are able to appreciate its deeds. Today, living people, thanks to the notorious publicity, can now find fault with anyone. Nicholas II, Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Putin, Medvedev, Putin. And put yourself in their place. In their place, and with our stopuda excuse, he is not mistaken who does nothing. And the price of mistakes is someone's life, fate. I, personally, am not ready to condemn or praise this or that, understanding how it was not easy for them to be given any decision, taking into account the political one. economic, humanitarian conditions. I’m not ready to take their place either on Olympus or in history. I’m only ready to understand the motives of certain acts of the powerful of the world of that tragic time. God be their judge. God and history.
    1. rate
      rate 20 September 2013 12: 45
      In the place of Khrushchev, Gorbachev and Medvedev, it is difficult to imagine yourself.
  3. atos_kin
    atos_kin 20 September 2013 12: 14
    "More than 800 people went to the front from the GULAG (to the" famous "penal battalions).

    Offensive mistake for the researcher ..., and article +.
    1. smile
      smile 20 September 2013 15: 06
      I will add one more offensive blunder - less than 700 thousand people shot are the total number of people executed in the country by a court verdict and as a result of extrajudicial executions (for example, shooting during a military base) for a period from 21 (or 22) to 53 years. Even the Memorial, which, according to new terminology, is a foreign agent, is funded by the United States, doesn’t insist on big numbers ... The author famously shot as many during the year as he executed during the fight against banditry, basmachism, during the decades of unceasing war in the Far East during WWII. policemen, traitors and SS men and German war criminals got here. And then ... for you, for a year.
      The author-article is excellent, but there are very serious fundamental errors. not permissible for the researcher. Excuse me.
    2. 0255
      0255 20 September 2013 16: 16
      "More than 800 people went to the front from the GULAG (to the" famous "penal battalions).
      Offensive mistake for the researcher ..., and article +.

      and where else, in your opinion, were sent to fight prisoners, if not in the penal battalion? To the guard of honor company? The personal guard of Stalin? I don’t know where you found the blooper.
      1. smile
        smile 20 September 2013 17: 06
        Sorry for the fact that I will tell you a secret - penal battles are exclusively officer formations where ONLY officers served their sentences. Or have a million criminal officers been languishing in our camps? :)) You know, they didn’t send KaERs to the front.
        Besides. the personnel of the red army's penal units amounted to a little more than a percent of the army .... because I forgot the numbers, and look for laziness, let's figure it out together. Altogether with 41, 34 million were called up for arms (along with those who already pulled the strap). About 24 million were sent to the front (taking into account the Japanese company). I will not mention it here. when they were disbanded, unprincipled.
        One percent of 24 million is lope? Suggest? And where did the idiotic fairy tales about a million criminals in the penal companies of the Red Army come from? I hope it is clear. What is the jamb of the author? I will not go around you, everyone can make a mistake ... but you must be critical of what is stated, even if you like it.
    3. Falcons 2013
      Falcons 2013 20 September 2013 20: 39
      Throughout the war 200 people passed through the "famous" penal battalions.
  4. rennim
    rennim 20 September 2013 13: 43
    Colonel Kvachkov Beria would not have imprisoned for such a period of time ... Today "these" are much more "humane" ...
    1. atos_kin
      atos_kin 20 September 2013 14: 27
      He would have taken him to work.
    2. smile
      smile 20 September 2013 15: 17
      Sorry, men, but at that time Kvachkov would have been shot unambiguously. A proven attempt to organize armed detachments and prepare for a guerrilla warfare (and Kvachkov admitted this, but explained his actions by preparing for guerrilla operations in the conditions of the country's occupation by the NATO bloc), regardless of motives, at that time only a wall. It was such tough actions that saved the USSR as a country. since the partisans and saboteurs we had had enough. if allowed to appear also homegrown, then .... In principle. if Kvachkov could start a guerrilla war in Russia, the Chechens would automatically become his allies, they have different goals. but the outcome of their actions would be one-weakening country.
      If he only wanted to bang Chubais, he would be a national hero for me, but since he wanted to partisan, that is, to kill primarily those guys who would be forced to defend the integrity of the country, for me he went into the category of those who do not know, what creates, and he had to be stopped. True, I think. that this could be done without a shameful trial and putting a well-deserved uncle behind bars.
      1. zub46
        zub46 20 September 2013 22: 40
        Unfortunately, I am completely forced to agree with you.
  5. zub46
    zub46 20 September 2013 14: 56
    L.P. Beria was devoured after the death of J.V. Stalin as a sane person, a talented organizer and the most likely contender for the role of head of the country. At the top of society, big showdowns were planned on a sensitive topic: which of our leaders and main politicians who were in good health at that time signed more "death lists" and generally broke firewood. Lavrenty Pavlovich possessed information, criticized the existing system and was ready to drastically change it. I was even ready to admit a private trader into the economy to some extent (the experience of Lenin's NEP). That is, leaving Beria alive for them was dangerous in all respects.
    In part of the Gulag. Of course, God forbid to sit there (and even now), but the organization of labor created in the places of imprisonment created under the control of Lavrenty Pavlovich by his people worked until the very end of the Soviet regime. In the 1970s and early 80s, the GUITU-GULITU system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR occupied the 8th-10th place among the country's industrial branches in terms of output. People worked, brought benefits to the country, earned a penny, paid off debts and helped families. By the way, look at old agricultural machinery, carpentry, etc. You can find confirmation on the products of that time that it was made in prison. This is a rounded triangle emblem inside another triangle. Around 1985, he was at a permanent exhibition of products manufactured in prisons. I came out with the conviction that a lot of what we used to use was made there: clothes, including uniforms and children’s, cutlery, simple shoes, carpentry, panel houses, agricultural equipment, capping for ammunition, etc., not to mention building materials. Like this. Is it bad?
  6. gorozhanin
    gorozhanin 20 September 2013 16: 23
    Great projects of Beria:
    - the defeat of the Jewish mafia of the NKVD (with the illiterate executioner Yezhov, this mafia only strengthened);
    - relocation (I do not specifically use the word "evacuation") of industry to the Urals with the beginning of the War (a project on the verge of mysticism, which predetermined the outcome of the War);
    - organization of scientific scarabs;
    - a nuclear post-war project (which saved not only Soviet people from nuclear hell, but also the world from unconditional "democratization", that is, enslavement).

    The great was the leader.
  7. opl34
    opl34 20 September 2013 16: 53
    12 th
    The executioners simply did their job and became dangerous. I don't see any humanism, cleaning up traces and cleaning up "watched" how animals that have tasted human blood are being killed.
    1. sdv68
      sdv68 20 September 2013 18: 27
      Quote: opl34
      The executioners simply did their job and became dangerous.
      If you make such a statement, then clarify pliz, what was the point in this very "CASE" (ie in the repressions of 37-38 years), and why they did not occur earlier, and later did not repeat themselves?

      PS: And as for Yezhov, I recently found his testimonies in the case on the net. I don’t know how much they can be trusted, but they in particular explain why the third marshal - Yegorov - was shot. Read - - very entertaining. Yes, in his testimony there are also explanations for the very CASE of which you wrote.
  8. itr
    itr 20 September 2013 20: 12
    Dismissed 7 thousand and took 14 not docking gentlemen
    Hands on the elbow in the blood of all were there so there is nothing to talk about pure and white
    1. sdv68
      sdv68 20 September 2013 20: 24
      Quote: itr
      Dismissed 7 thousand and took 14 not docking gentlemen
      Hands on the elbow in the blood of all were there so there is nothing to talk about pure and white

      Those. you claim that under Beria repression increase at least 2 times? That's just the documents do not confirm this. Or you will also (following the example of many liberalists) claim that they were so afraid of what they were doing that they left no traces, and immediately destroyed all the documents. I wonder who the most powerful people in the USSR could be so afraid of.
      1. itr
        itr 20 September 2013 20: 37
        I didn’t say anything
        And stated the fact that they all have hands to the elbow in the blood
        By the way, after all, they did not find evidence, and even half of the Nazis tortured in concentration camps
        1. sdv68
          sdv68 20 September 2013 22: 00
          Quote: itr
          I didn’t say anything
          And stated the fact that they all have hands to the elbow in the blood

          But didn’t you say that the number of NKVD apparatus with the arrival of Beria has doubled (by the way, you yourself have come up with, or do you have a source of information).

          By the way, if you clear the Augean stables, it’s hard to stay in white gloves.

          Quote: itr
          By the way, after all, they did not find evidence, and even half of the Nazis tortured in concentration camps
          Well yes. Now let's compare the German concentration camps and the Gulag. That's just a comparison, it is absolutely illiterate
        2. luka095
          luka095 21 September 2013 01: 05
          And how did they ascertain? Inspection?
  9. Vadim2013
    Vadim2013 20 September 2013 20: 56
    Of course, Lavrenty Beria was a talented person. Much could do useful after the death of I.V. Stalin.
    1. Vadim2013
      Vadim2013 21 September 2013 05: 45
      Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria was born on 17 [29] on March 1899 in the village of Merheuli, Sukhumi District, Kutaisi Province (now in the Gulrypsh District of Abkhazia) into a poor peasant family. His mother Martha Djakeli (1868 — 1955) - a mega-fish, according to the testimony of Sergo Beria and fellow villagers, was in a distant relationship with the Mingrelian princely family Dadiani. Almost from the very bottom of society, L.P. Beria rose to the highest power in the USSR.
  10. Black
    Black 20 September 2013 21: 50
    Quote: zub46
    I came out with the conviction that a lot of what we used to use was made there: clothes, including uniforms and children’s, cutlery, simple shoes, carpentry, panel houses, agricultural equipment, capping for ammunition, etc., not to mention building materials. Like this. Is it bad?

    I wonder how many centuries slave blood will come out of us?

    L.P. Beria, on the other hand, has respect for his colossal capacity for work, as well as for many of his contemporaries. It was impossible to work half-heartedly at that time.
    And the fact that they are all, to one degree or another anointed with blood, is not their fault.
  11. Asan Ata
    Asan Ata 20 September 2013 22: 45
    I think if Beria had become Stalin’s successor for many years, history would have changed dramatically. If this man managed to create so much during difficult war years, what leaps would we go forward from damned capitalism in peacetime?
  12. The comment was deleted.
  13. deman73
    deman73 21 September 2013 18: 03
    The man was talented, no doubt, and a very good organizer, I think with him the USSR would go far in its development