Order about Family Members of Traitors of the Motherland

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The NKVD Order № 00486,[1] signed by Nikolai Yezhov, instructed about repression of wives and children of enemy of the people also known as "traitors of the Motherland, members of Right-Trotskyist spying-terrorist organizations convicted by first and second category since 1 August 1936". It was signed by Nikolai Yezhov acting both as chief of NKVD and General Commissar of State Security (chief of GUGB).

While the preamble of the order spoke only about the wives, the body set instructions with respect to wives, "socially-dangerous children of age over 15 years" and children under 15 years. Therefore this order is known as the Order about Family Members of Traitors of the Motherland (Приказ о ЧСИР in Russian).

This order was a base element of the legal system of the Great Purge. It introduced a new category of the inmates and was referred in many subsequent NKVD orders. The NKVD Order № 00689 partially recalled some of its extremities.


All cases were to be considered by the Special Council of the NKVD.

Wives were subject to imprisonment into labor camps for terms "at least 5–8 years".

"Socially dangerous" children were to be placed in labor camps, corrective labor colonies, or special-regimen orphanages (детские дома особого режима), see also Orphans in the Soviet Union.

The remaining orphaned children were to be placed in ordinary orphanages or to non-convicted relatives (if the latter wished).

The order also stated wives with breast-fed children, ill or with ill children were not to be arrested. They were moved to labor camps later: breast-feeders after the verdict, those with illness after the recovery.

Personnel of the orphanages to house the children of the convicted were to be purged and refitted with politically reliable staff to properly supervise the "correction" of the children.

The order also instructed that in the future, wives of the "traitors of the Motherland" should be arrested simultaneously with their husbands.


According to this order a number of specialized labor camps were installed, for different categories of relatives: for wives, for breast-feeding wives, for elderly wives, for children.

During the Great Purge the orphanages became overcrowded, and the country was flooded with runaway orphans, greatly increasing the juvenile delinquency, once again since the Russian Civil War.


As an element of the rollback of the Great Purge, on October 17, 1938, the NKVD Order № 00689, signed by Lavrenty Beria, said not to arrest wives automatically, together with their husbands, but only after consideration by a single NKVD officer. Only wives that were deemed "politically untrustworthy or socially dangerous" or who knew about the "counter-revolutionary activity" of their husbands were to be arrested.


  1. ^ (full name: Operational Order of People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the USSR by August 15, 1937 # 00486)