Joint State Political Directorate
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|Объединённое государственное политическое управление при СНК СССР
Obyedinyonnoye gosudarstvennoye politicheskoye upravleniye under the SNK of the USSR
|Formed||November 15th, 1923|
|Headquarters||Lubyanka Square, Moscow|
Council of the People's Commissars
The Joint State Political Directorate (also translated as the All-Union State Political Administration) was the secret police of the Soviet Union from 1923 to 1934. Its official name was "Joint State Political Directorate under the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR" (Russian: Объединённое государственное политическое управление при СНК СССР), Obyedinyonnoye gosudarstvennoye politicheskoye upravleniye under the SNK of the USSR, or ОГПУ (OGPU).
With the creation of the Soviet Union in December 1922, a unified organisation was required to exercise control over state security throughout the new union. Thus, on November 15, 1923, the Russian State Political Directorate left the Russian NKVD and became the all-union Joint State Political Directorate. Felix Dzerzhinsky, chairman of the GPU, became the OGPU's first chief.
Like the GPU before it, the OGPU was theoretically supposed to operate with more restraint than the original Bolshevik secret police, the Cheka. The OGPU's powers were greatly increased in 1926, when the Soviet criminal code was amended to include a section on anti-state terrorism. The provisions were vaguely written and very broadly interpreted. Even before then, it had set up tribunals to try the most exceptional cases of terrorism, usually without calling any witnesses. In time, the OGPU's de facto powers grew even greater than those of the Cheka.
Perhaps the most spectacular success of the GPU/OGPU was the Trust Operation of 1924–1925. OGPU agents contacted émigrés in western Europe and pretended to be representatives of a large group working to overthrow of the communist regime, known as the "Trust". Exiled Russians gave the Trust large sums of money and supplies, as did foreign intelligence agencies. The Trust finally succeeded in luring one of the leading anticommunist operators, Sidney Reilly, into Russia to meet with the Trust. Once he was in Russia, he was captured and killed. The Trust was then dissolved and had become a large propaganda success.
From 1927 to 1929, the OGPU engaged in intensive investigations of an opposition coup. Stalin soon made a public decree that any and all opposition views should be considered dangerous and gave the GPU the authority to seek out hostile elements. That led to the Shakhty Trial in March 1928, that prosecuted a group of supposed industrial saboteurs allegedly involved in a hostile conspiracy. That would be the first of many trials during Stalin's Five Year Plan.
The OGPU was responsible for the creation of the Gulag system. It also became the Soviet government's arm for the persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Greek Catholics, the Latin Catholics, Islam and other religious organizations, an operation headed by Yevgeny Tuchkov. The OGPU was also the principal secret police agency responsible for the detection, arrest, and liquidation of anarchists and other dissident left-wing factions in the early Soviet Union.
The OGPU was reincorporated into the newly created all-union People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) in July 1934, becoming its Main Directorate of State Security (GUGB). Its final transformation was into the more widely-known Committee for State Security (KGB).
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- Overy, Richard. The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia. London: W. W. Norton. ISBN 0393020304.
- Andrew D. W. Forbes (1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: a political history of Republican Sinkiang 1911–1949. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press Archive. p. 120. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28.