Interrogations of Nikolai Ezhov, former People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs.
We do not know how many interrogations of Ezhov are in existence. All the prosecution materials concerning virtually all the important matters of the later 1930s in the USSR are still top-secret, kept in the Presidential Archives of the Russian Federation. I have simply translated those texts that have been published as of this date (July 2010).
I have compiled and translated these confessions from the following “semi-official” sources:
Briukhanov, Boris Borisovich, and Shoshkov, Evgenii Nikolaevich. Opravdaniiu ne podlezhit. Ezhov i Ezhovshchina 1936-1938 gg. Sankt-Peterburg: OOO “Petrovskii Fond” 1998.
Polianskii, Aleksei. Ezhov. Istoriia �zheleznogo� stalinskogo narkoma. Moscow: �Veche�, �Aria-AiF�, 2001.
Pavliukov, Aleksei. Ezhov. Biografiia. Moscow: Zakharov, 2007.
I term these sources “semi-official” since they are quoted unproblematically by all the anticommunist scholars. These scholars ignore them almost completely, and ignore their implications completely, but they do not consider the documents false.
In addition I have used these sources, which are more or less “official”:
Lubianka. Stalin i NKVD – NKGB – GUKR �SMERSH�. 1939 – mart 1946. Moscow: �Materik�, 2006.
Petrov, Nikita, and Iansen [Jansen], Mark. �Stalinskii pitomets� — Nikolai Ezhov. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2008.
A few remarks have been taken from other sources, mainly Vassilii Soima, Zapreshchennyi Stalin, Chast’ 1. Moscow: OLMA-PRESS, 2001. Where possible I have checked the text with the versions online at http://perpetrator2004.narod.ru/ , “Documents of Soviet Power and of Soviet-Communist Terror”, which has used the sources above.
Here I only present them in English translation for interested students. Naturally they must be studied. I’m doing that but I do not present my results here.
NOTE: We have one very important confession by Mikhail Frinovskii, Ezhov’s Assistant Commissar — that of April 11, 1939. Also published in the Lubianka volume cited above, I have put a translation of it online here.
It should be read in connection with Ezhov’s confessions.
July 31 2010
Ezhov interrogation 04.18 – 04.20.39
According to Pavliukov, this is the 1st Ezhov confession in his file. QQ 519-520 & n. 481 p. 564. Summarized 520-521.
“Question: You have been arrested as a traitor to the party and an enemy of the people. The investigation possesses sufficient facts to expose you completely at the first attempt to conceal your crimes. We propose that you not wait to be exposed but proceed to confessions of your black traitorous work against the party and Soviet power.
Answer: It is hard for one such as I, who only lately enjoyed the party’s trust, to confess to betrayal and treason. But now that I am faced with answering before the investigation for my crimes, I wish to be thoroughly frank and truthful.
I am not the person the party took me for. Hiding behind a mask of party loyalty, for many years I have deceived and been two-faced while conducting a ferocious hidden struggle against the party and the Soviet State.”
Summary of other parts of Ezhov’s statement.
“Ezhov started the history of his ‘fall into sin’ in 1921, when he worked in Tartaria and under the influence of anarch-syndicalist ideas supposedly joined the local group of the ‘Workers’ Opposition.’ In the following years, the period of inner-party discussions of the 1930s, he also supposedly expressed differences in his political views with the general line of the party. However, the investigators showed no interest in digging so deeply into the garbage-heap of history, and they did not permit Ezhov to deviate long from the basic theme.”
“Question: What is the point of this expansive story about these or those ‘political waverings’ of yours? As a long-time agent of foreign intelligence services you must confess about your direct espionage work. Talk about that!
Answer: All right, I will go directly to the moment when my espionage ties were formed.”
“Ezhov related that he was drawn into espionage work by his friend F.M. Konar*, who had long been a Polish agent. Konar learned political news from Ezhov and gave them to his bosses in Poland and on one occasion told Ezhov about this and proposed that he volunteer to begin working for the Poles. Since Ezhov had in fact already become an informant of Polish intelligence, since he had transmitted to them via Konar many significant party and state secrets, he supposedly had no other choice than to agree with this proposal.
* F.M. Konar – An assistant Commissar of Agriculture, he was among those convicted and executed in March 1933 for sabotage in agriculture at the height of the serious famine. Konar had also been a friend of the poet Osip Mandel’shtam, according to his daughter Nadezhda (Memoirs).
The Poles supposedly shared a part of the intelligence received from Ezhov with their allies the Germans, and so after a time an offer of collaboration from the latter was also made.
According to Ezhov Marshal A.I. Egorov, first assistant Commissar for Defense, acted as the middleman [between Ezhov and the Germans]. He met with Ezhov in the summer of 1937 and told him that he knew about the latter’s ties with the Poles, that he himself was a German spy who on orders from the German authorities had organized a group of conspirators in the Red Army, and that he had been given a directive to establish close working contact between his group and Ezhov.
Ezhov agreed with this proposal and promised to protect Egorov’s men from arrest.”
Ezhov interrogation 04.23.39 (04.24.39)
Quotes are same as beginning and end of Ezhov conf. dated April 24, 1939 in Petrov & Iansen, 365-6 and Pavliukov, 522-523.
Pavliukov says 10 pages in length. P&Ia cite same archive, different location, 4 pages in length.
Pavliukov – no sign this confession was forced, or even asked about this (522).
Petrov & Iansen, 365-6:
“I think it essential that I inform the investigation of a series of new facts concerning my moral-personal dissoluteness. I mean my longtime vice of homosexuality.
This began in my early youth when I lived as an apprentice to a tailor. At about the age of 15 or 16 years I had a few instances of perverse sexual acts with other apprentices of my own age of the same tailor shop. This vice renewed itself in the old Tsarist army in frontline conditions. Aside from one chance contact with one of the solders of our company I had relations with a certain Filatov, my friend from Leningrade with whom we served in the same regiment. Our relations were “mutual”, that is the “female” part was played first by one side, then by the other. Afterwards Filatov was killed at the front.
In 1919 I was appointed commissar of the 2nd base of radio-telegraph formations. My secretary was a certain Antoshin. I know that in 1937 he was still in Moscow and was working somewhere as chief of a radio station. He is an engineer radio technician. In 1919 I had mutual homosexual relations with this same Antoshin.
In 1924 I was working in Semiplatinsk [now the city of Semei, Kazakhstan – GF]. My old friend Dement’ev went there with me. On several occasions in 1924 I had homosexual relations with him in which only I played the active role. [Ezhov apparently means Dement’ev played the “female” role. – GF]
In 1925 in Orenburg I established homosexual relations with a certain Boiarskii, at that time the chairman of the Kazakh oblast’ trade union council. As far as I know he is now working as the director of an artistic theater in Moscow. Our relations were mutual.
At that time he and I had just arrived in Oreburg and were living in the same hotel. Our relations were shot-lived, until the arrival of his wife, who arrived quickly.
In the same year 1925 the capital of Kazakhstan was transferred from Orenburg to Kzyl-Orda, whence I also went to work. Soon F.I. Goloshchekin arrived there as the secretary of the regional [Party] committee (he is now employed as a chief arbiter). He arrived as a bachelor, without a wife, and I was also living as a bachelor. Before my departure for Moscow (for about 2 months) I had de facto moved into his apartment and often spent the night there. I quickly established homosexual relations with im as well, and they continued off and on until my departure. As with the others, our relations were mutual.
In 1938 I had two instances of homosexual activity with Dement’ev, with whom I had also had relations in 1924, as I stated above. These relations were in Moscow in the autumn of 1938 in my apartment, after I had already been dismissed from the post of Commissar of Internal Affairs. Dement’ev lived with me at that time about two months.
A little later, also in 1938, there occurred two instances of homosexual activity between myself and Konstantinov. I have known Konstantinov since 1918 in the army. He worked with me before 1921. Since 1921 we hardly saw each other at all. In 1938 on my invitation he began to visit me often at my apartment and two or three times he was at my dacha. He came twice with his wife; the other visits were without wives. He often stayed the night with me. As I have said above, at that time he and I had two instances of homosexual relations. Our relations were mutual. I should also say that during one of his visits to my apartment with his wife I also had sexual relations with her.
All of this was accompanied, as a rule, with heavy drinking.
I give this information to the investigation as an additional detail characterizing my moral dissolution.
April 24, 1939. N. Ezhov.
Ezhov interrogation of 04.26.1939 (published separately)
Ezhov’s April 26 1939 confession belongs here (from Lubianka)
Ezhov interrogation 04.30.39
Ezhov interrogation, Pavliukov 525-6 & n. 489 p. 564. Short Q from interrogation on 525-6.
Acc. to Pavliukov 526, Ezhov named 66 names of fellow conspirators in this one interrogation.
“The first stage of the investigation was completed on April 30, 1939. In the course of the interrogation that took place on that day Ezhov told about the method of recruiting his subordinates in the Cheka into the anti-Soviet conspiracy and about the basic direction of the sabotage work in the NKVD. This sabotage consisted in massive arrests without any basis, falsification of investigative materials, forgeries, and reprisals against undesirable elements.”
Quotation (Pavliukov 525-6)
“All this was done in order to cause widespread dissatisfaction in the population with the leadership of the Party and the Soviet government and in that way to create the most favorable base for carrying out our conspiratorial plans.”
Ezhov interrogation 05.05.1939
Pavliukov summarizes it 526. No QQ, no note.
“…at his interrogation of May 5 1939 Ezhov recounted the work of the ‘conspirators’ in the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs. Here at that same time took place the beginning of the large-scale purge (after the removal of M.M. Litvinov, the director of the division of foreign political affairs). Therefore the theme of subversive activity in the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs was especially timely in those days.
Ezhov stated that the goal of this activity was the creation of conditions for the victory of Germany and Japan in the inevitable war with the USSR. Specifically, they undertook attempts to create disagreements between the Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek and the Soviet authorities, for the purpose, in the last analysis, of facilitating Japanese seizure of the Soviet Far East.
At the beginning of May 1939 confessions were obtained from several arrested NKVD employees concerning the fabrication, at Ezhov’s instruction, of the so-called mercury poisoning. Interrogated on this point Ezhov confirmed the fact of the falsification and explained that this initiative was undertaken with the goal of raising his authority even higher in the eyes of the country’s leadership.”
Ezhov interrogation May 11 1939 by Kobulov
Long quotes in Poliansky 222-226. Acc to Poliansky, this is where Kuz’min’s report of Dec. 12 1938 about Sholokhov and Ezhova is located.
“It is not altogether clear why the closeness of these persons to Ezhova [Ezhov’s wife – GF] appeared suspicious to you.
Ezhova’s closeness to these people was suspicious insofar as Babel, for example, as I knew, had written almost nothing during the past few years, circulating all the time in a suspicious Trotskyist milieu and, besides that, had close ties to a series of French writers who could by no means be considered among those who were sympathetic to the Soviet Union. Not to mention the fact that Babel demonstratively refused to write off his wife, who had been living in Paris for many years, but preferred to go to see her. Ezhova had a special friendship with Babel. I suspect – in truth, just on the basis of my personal observations – that there must have been ties of espionage between my wife and Babel.
On what factual basis do you make this statement?
I know from my wife’s own words that she had been acquainted with Babel since 1925. She always insisted that she had never had intimate relations with him. Their ties were limited to her desire to maintain an acquaintance with a talented, singular writer. Babel visited us at home a few times at her invitation, where, of course, I also made his acquaintance.
I observed that in his relationship with my wife Babel was demanding and rude. I saw that my wife was simply afraid of him. I understood that this was not a question of my wife’s literary interests, but of something more serious. I excluded any intimate relations because I thought that Babel would hardly treat my wife with such rudeness when he knew what social position I occupied. To my questions to my wife whether she had the same kind of relations with Babel as she had with Kol’tsov she either remained silent or weakly denied it. I always supposed that with this indefinite answer she simply wished to hide from me her espionage ties with Babel, evidently not wishing to confide the numerous channels of this kind of relationship with me…
What you have said about Babel is not a sufficient basis for suspecting him of taking part in espionage for England. Aren’t you just slandering Babel?
I am not slandering him. Ezhova definitely never said that she was linked with Babel in her work for English intelligence. In this case I am only expressing that supposition, based upon my observation of the nature of the mutual relations between my wife and the writer Babel.
What do you think in general about, shall we say, Ezhova’s friendship with cultural figures?
This whole specific milieu of people who were tied with the interests of the Soviet people with very thin threads, could not fail to arouse my suspicions.
What can you tell us about her relations with the writer Sholokhov?
I seem to recall that, I think last spring, my wife told me that she had meet Sholokhov, who had come to Moscow and dropped in at the journal “SSSR na stroike”. There was nothing suprising in this, Ezhova always tried to meet writers and never missed an opportunity to do so. I was very well informed about this.
Good. And what did you do when you found out about the intimate relations between Ezhova and Sholokhov?
I did not know anything about such relations; this is the first time I have heard about them.
Don’t lie, Ezhov. In June and August of last year upon your instructions Alekhin arranged to monitor the letter “N” at the phone number of the Hotel “Nationale”, where Sholokhov was staying.
For Alekhin see http://www.memo.ru/history/NKVD/kto/biogr/gb13.htm
I issued no such instructions. Ezhova may have showed up under the letter “N” solely by chance.
But you did know that the intimate relations of Sholokhov with your wife were recorded. Here, take a look at this.
[Here reads Kuz’min report of Dec. 12 1938, acc. to Poliansky 224-5]
Do you admit that a few days after you received the transcript you brought it home and showed the document to your wife, and then berated her for betraying you?
No such event happened. No one ever gave me this transcript of the intimate relations between Ezhov and Sholokhov, and in general I never showed my wife documents from my work and never told her what they contained.
Of course you can deny this, Ezhov. But we have the confessions of Glikina, Ezhova’s close friend and a German spy, who is now arrested and is under investigation. Glikina confesses that Ezhova was beaten by you and complained to her and told her about everything. Therefore let me remind you that lying will not help you!”
The following short extract from Ezhov’s interrogation-confession of May 11, 1939 is printed in Viktor Fradkin, Delo Kol’tsova. Moscow: Vagrius / Mezhdunarodnyi Fond “Demokratiia”, 2002. Published under the auspices of the “Memorial” society, there is every reason to believe that the documents reproduced in this volume are genuine.
Question: Besides Zinaida Glikina, whom you have already named, was anyone else connected with your wife Ezhova E.S. [Evgeniia Solomonovna – GF] in espionage work?
Answer: I can only reply with more or less precise suppositions. After the journalist M. Kol’tsov arrived from Spain his friendship with my wife grew much stronger. This friendship was so close that my wife even visited him in the hospital when he was ill.
Kol’tsov also worked in the commission — or committee — on foreign literature, that is, where Glikina also worked and, as far as I know, Kol’tsov obtained this job for Glickina upon Ezhova’s recommendation.
I became interested in the reasons for my wife’s closeness with Kol’tsov and once asked her about this. My wife at first put me off with general phrases, but then said that this closeness was connected with her work. I asked her, with which work, the literary or the other, and she answered: “With both the first and the second.”
I understood that Ezhova was connected with Kol’tsov in her espionage work for England.
Ezhov interrogation 05.17.39
Interrogation re: murder of Slutsky, organized by Ezhov. Pavliukov 527. No QQ, no note. See Pavliukov 531-2 on Frinovsky’s testimony at Ezhov’s trial on February 3, 1940, where Frinovsky discussed Slutsky’s murder.
“The interrogation of May 17 1939 was devoted to the circumstances surrounding the death of the former head of the Foreign division of the GUGB of the NKVD M. M. Slutsky. Ezhov informed us that the murder of Slutsky was organized according to his instructions, and was done because of the feat that Slutsky, whose arrest had become inevitable, might reveal during his interrogation the facts he knew about the criminal activity of the conspirators. “
Ezhov interrogation 06.16.39 by Rodos, selections – Poliansky 230-233
“Do you confirm Kosior’s confessions about your collaboration in working for Polish intelligence? Where, when and what secret information did you transmit to Kosior, and whom else did you recruit for this work?”
Perhaps you did not know Radek and Piatakov well and did not receive any instructions from Trotsky through them?
I never received any instructions from Trotsky from anybody. I knew Radek very poorly, I met him at Piatakov’s apartment a few times, but that was about ten years ago!
Were you friends with Piatakov?
Never. Mariasin, the president of the Gosbank, introduced us. We would get together for a drinking bout sometimes at his place, sometimes at Piatakov’s. And then I always got angry with Piatakov.
All right, then. When was this?
In 1930 or 1931, I can’t remember now.
And what did you do with him?
When he was drunk Piatakov often played the hooligan, made fun of those present. Once I was sitting next to him at the table. Piatakov quietly stuck me with a pin and then pretended that it was not he who had done it. A little while later he did it again even harder. I did not hold back and hit Piatakov in the face and split his lip. That evening I went away angry with him and never made it up with him and never had any doings with him at all.
You lie well, you bastard. Only I am not Piatakov, I won’t stick you with a pin, but I will force you to tell the truth.
I’ll tell you everything, don’t beat me. My guilt before the party and the people is so great that it’s senseless to justify myself.”
Ezhov interrogation June 19 1939
No QQ. Re: nephews Viktor and Anatolii, and Mikhail Blinov, husband of his niece.
Pavliukov 528; 537.
“In particular, during the course of the interrogation of June 19 1939 Ezhov told about his conversations of a counterrevolutionary nature, which he supposedly had with his nephews Viktor and Anatolii, and also with the husband of his niece Mikhail Blinov. They supposedly agreed completely with his anti-Soviet views, and Viktor also shared, in Ezhov’s words, even his terrorist intentions, although he [Ezhov] never gave him any assignments of that nature.”
“As has already been mentioned earlier, during the course of the interrogation of June 19 1939 confessions were beaten out of Ezhov according to which Anatolii and Viktor shared his anti-Soviet views and even sympathized with his terrorist orientation. After that they went after his nephews in a serious way. They succeeded in breaking Anatolii first. He not only ‘confessed’ that he knew about Ezhov’s terrorist orientations but also stated that together with his brother Viktor he was read to do anything to help bring about these criminal plans.”
[There is NO evidence that Ezhov beaten or tortured to get these confessions – only “supposed” by Pavliukov, 527 bot. – GF]
“As concerns confessions of a personal nature, to obtain some of them the investigators, probably, had to have recourse to the practice of interrogation “with partiality” [i.e. to beat Ezhov – GF]. Otherwise it is hard to understand now,for example, they were able to obtain from Ezhov confessions compromising his nearest relations.”
– summ’d by Pavliukov 527 bot.
“If you intend to lie again and make fun of the investigation, then we will not waste our time. I’d prefer to send you back to prison for a week or so to think it over.”
Ezhov had already thought about the beginning of his dialog with the investigator and began to talk quickly:
“I admit that I was connected with Zhukovsky in espionage work for Germany since 1932. The fact that I tried to conceal that circumstance from the investigation can be explained only by my cowardice, which I showed at the beginning of the investigation when I tried to minimize my personal guilt, and since my espionage link with Zhukovsky concealed my even earlier ties with German intelligence, it was hard for me to speak [about them] at the first interrogation.”
For Zhukovsky see http://www.memo.ru/history/NKVD/kto/biogr/gb169.htm
“When did you become a German spy?
I was recruited in 1930. In Germany, in K�nigsberg.
How did you happen to be there?
I was sent to Germany by the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture. In Germany I was well treated and shown every attention. The most assiduous attention I received from the prominent official of the Economic Ministry of Germany Artnau. Having been invited to his estate near K�nigsberg I spent the time happily enough, partaking excessively of alcoholic drinks. In K�nigsberg Artnau often paid the restaurant bills for me. I did not protest. All these circumstances made me feel close to Artnau and often without holding back I blurted out to him all kinds of secrets about the situation in the Soviet Union. Sometimes, when I was drunk, I was even more frank with Artnau and gave him to understand that I personally was not wholly in agreement with the Party’s line and with the existing Party leadership. Things got to the point that during one of the conversations I directly promised Artnau to discuss a series of questions in the government of the USSR concerning the purchase of livestock and agricultural machinery, in which Germany and Artnau were very much interested.
And how did German intelligence recruit Zhukovsky? Did his recruitment take place through you?
I established espionage ties with Zhukovsky in 1932 under the following circumstances. Zhukovsky was then working as assistant trade representative of the USSR in Germany. At that time I was the chairman of the Raspredotdel of the Central Committee of the Party. When he somehow found himself in Moscow Zhukovsky applied to me with the request to take him along to the negotiations. Before this I had not been acquainted with Zhukovsky and saw him for the first time in my office at the CC. I was astonished that Zhukovsky began to report to me about the situation in the Berlin trade representative office of the USSR concerning questions which had nothing to do with my position. I understood that the basic reason for Zhukovsky’s visiting me was, obviously, not to initiate me into the situation of the affairs of the office of the Soviet trade representative in Berlin but in something else entirely, about which he preferred to remain silent for the time being, awaiting my initiative. Not long before Zhukovsky’s arrival there arrived at the office of foreign groups, which at that time was also a part of the Raspredotdel of the CC of the Party and was under my supervision, there had arrived materials that characterized Zhukovsky in an extremely negative way. From these materials it was obvious that Zhukovsky had carried out a number of trade operations that had been unprofitable for the Commissariat of Foreign Trade. From these materials it was also obvious that in Berlin Zhukovsky was involved with the Trotskyists and spoke in their defense even at official Party gatherings of the Soviet colony. On that basis the Party organization of the Soviet colony insisted that Zhukovsky be recalled from Berlin. Knowing that these materials would have to come before me Zhukovsky obviously expected that I would be first to begin a talk with him concerning his further work abroad. After Zhukovsky had finished his report I reminded him about the failures in his work. Zhukovsky gave me his explanations and at the end of the conversation asked me my opinion as to whether he might continue his work in the office of the Soviet trade representative or be recalled to Moscow. I avoided any answer and promised to deal with the materials and report the results. At the same time I decided to transmit all the compromising materials on Zhukovsky to Berlin so that Artnau might be able to use them and to recruit Zhukovsky to collaboration with German intelligence. I considered Zhukovsky my man, and he unhesitatingly fulfilled all my assignments concerning espionage for Germany. Zhukovsky had the essential conditions of free access to all materials of the Commission of Party Control, and he made use of them whenever German intelligence demanded from him materials on this or that question. I also created for him in the NKVD such conditions that he was able to use for espionage work information through the secretariat of the NKVD on any questions.*
* Senior major of State Security Semion Borisovich Zhukovsky was shot on January 24, 1940. He has been rehabilitated (Poliansky, p. 393).
Ezhov confession 06.25.39 Rodos re poisons
– fm perpetrator2004 Yezhov1.doc; Soima; Poliansky 241-245.
FROM THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERROGATION OF N.I. EZHOV BY INVESTIGATOR RODOS ON JUNE 25 1939:
“How did you use this NKVD laboratory in your espionage and conspiratorial activities?” asked Rodos, glancing at Kobulov who was sitting beside him.
“ANSWER: I knew that such a laboratory existed and that Iagoda made use of it in his conspiratorial activities. But when I came to the NKVD Frinovsky explained to me that we could not do without the activities of this laboratory, and that it was necessary for our intelligence activities in the Foreign Division abroad. But I did not know anything about what they were doing. I did not even hear about all these experiments about which Zhukovsky spoke, probably Frinovsky allowed himi all this. True, once – I don’t remember when – Frinovsky told me that Alekhin had in the laboratory some substance which, if a person ingested it, would cause death like that from a heart attack. Such a substance is essential when it’s necessary to eliminate enemies abroad. But it had to be tested to see whether it would leave traces on the organism that could be discovered by experts upon autopsy. Frinovsky said that they had a doctor who for this purpose needed to carry out research on the corps of a person who had died from this substance. The doctor needed to carry out experiments on three or four persons. What’s the difference how they die, poison is even easier than a bullet in the back of the head. Therefore I agreed, but I never heard anything more about this laboratory and about what they were doing there.
QUESTION: Once again your answer is not to the point. Name the persons whom you liquidated in your espionage and conspiratorial activities by the use of the poisons whch you received from this laborator.
ANSWER: I have no idea about these poisons, I have never seen them.
KOBULOV: Ezhov is lying again, he thinks that somebody will believe him. We remind him that he gave the directive to poison Slutsky. Both Frinovsky and Alekhin have given testimony about this.
Did you hear what we are asking you about? How did you organize the poisoning of Slutsky? – asked Rodos.
Frinovskyk actively spoke against Slutsky. He said that this was Iagoda’s man and that we could never trust himi under any circumstances.
But here Frinovsky does not view Slutsky at all in the way you do – Kabulov suddenly said. Slutsky head the INO (International section) and could have had access to information from abroad about your espionage links. You feared that and poisoned Slutsky after putting your own agent Shpigel’glas in his place. But you didn’t manage to cover your tracks. Shpigel’glas figured everything out, uncovered your whole band of spies. You had to take care of your agents in the INO and abroad in the most meticulous manner.
Tell us in detail how you organized the murder of your wife Evgeniia Solomonovna Ezhova by means of poisoning.
I did not organize such a poisoning. She died from a sedative, she drank a large dose.
And here your chauffer confessed in the investigation that a day before Ezhova’s death you asked him to take chocolate candies and fruit to her in the hospital. You poisoned these products. Who gave you the poison? Zhukovsky? Alekhin?
My wife died November 21. At that time both of them had already been arrested. And then, I don’t’ remember that I sent my chauffer to her with a present.
KOBULOV: Don’t play the fool, Ezhov, we are not children here, and we will not believe that such a hardened bandit and spy as you are did not keep poison and did not know how to use it.
I do not recall the exact date when I saw my wife in the hospital for the last time. Probably it was the 17th or 18th. She told me that she did not want to live, that in any case they would soon arrest her, that she felt there were serious crimes on her account. She asked me that I bring her some kind of poison the next time…
Did you arrange your wife’s suicide?
Yes. She knew a lot about my subversive activities, my accomplices, and my criminal plans. But I decided not to give her poison. I did not have any special poison. Normal poison I could of course obtain, but such a poisoning could have brought suspicion upon me, that I had put her to death myself or through accomplices, or simply had given her poison for suicide. I knew that a large dose of sedative could cause death. I told her that I did not have any poison, but I did have a very great deal of sedative. She understood everything.
On the 20th I took a box of chocolate candies and put a packet of Luminal in it. Then I put the box into a basket with grapes and apples and told my chauffer to take all this to the hospital. Of course I committed a serious crime, but she herself asked me about this. She wanted to end her life.”
[Soima: “Earlier he had confirmed to Rodos that with the aid of poison Ezhov had put his wife to death.]
Ezhov interrogation 06.29.39 by Rodos re Kedrov’s report
– fm Poliansky 250-252
Tell us about your espionage connections with the agent of German intelligence Mnatsakanov.
I never had such connections with him.
And if you think about it the right way. When did you become acquainted with him?
That was, it seems, in 1935. I was going to Vienna for treatment together with my wife. Then I was already a secretary of the Central Committee and Slutsky had the task of security for our trip abroad. He, so to speak, attached this Mnatsakanov to me. He had been a consul or a vice-consul, had an automobile, and drove us around the town.
Yee-es. And he drove you around so well that once you were Commissar you immediately dragged this villain to a leading post in the INO knowing that he was a German spy, that his wife was linked to Polish intelligence, and that his brother was an experienced Trotskyist provocateur!
I didn’t know any of this. Slutsky had simply worked with him in Vienna, had a high opinion of him, and decided to take him into the INO apparatus. I supported Slutsky, not because I knew Mnatsakanov a bit. I did not spend much time on INO matters and completely relied on Slutsky in matters of cadre.
So it turns out that it was Slutsky who is to blame. He foisted a German agent onto you, and you knew nothing about him. Is that the way things were?
I do not wish to blame Slutsky for anything. He did not foist Mnatsakanov onto me. In my opinion I did not see this Mnatsakanov in the NKVD even once. In the INO at that time I only met with Slutsky about the work, sometimes with Shpigel’glas, and with Boris Berman.
Why then did Mnatsakanov call you and ask you to intercede for him when they unmasked him and began to expel him from the Party?
He could not have called me. I had a direct connectiononly with the heads of departments and their assistants. Who among them would even let Mnatsakanov near such a telephone, much less since they wanted to expel him from the Party. That is impossible.
I remind you that he called at that time from Kedrov’s office.
About Kedrov I know that he was just a simple worker in the INO. From his telephone it was also impossible to reach me.
That’s all, we are finished with lying. You have two days to think hard about your espionage work with Mnatsakanov, to remember all the details. And especially how you warned him in Duilov’s office not to give any confessions. If you continue to lie and mock me, I’ll have your head.
Ezhov interrogation 07.02.39 by Rodos re Mnatsakanov
– fm Poliansky 252-260
When and how did Mnatsakanov enter into espionage relations with you?
This was in 1935 when I went to Vienna for the second time to get treatment for my lung disease.
You had been there before, when?
In 1934, I was alone then, and the next time I went with my wife. I was treated the whole time by the famous Professor Norden.
German intelligence summoned you to him, he was an agent of theirs?
Not. The Kremlin medical directorate sent me to him. Many important workers and their wives were treated by him. He had been in Moscow several times, already in the 1920s. And Norden could hardly have been connected with German intelligence. I was told while still in Moscow that this professor was a monarchist and supporter of Franz-Josef and no lover of Hitler, that’s why he moved from Berlin to Vienna, so the fascists could not persecute him. And also, he is very old.
Tell us about your first trip to Vienna, with whom did you meet there?
In Vienna Slutsky met me. He had received a special directive about this from Iagoda.
From Iagoda? That is interesting. Did you yourself ask Iagoda to do this?
No. I did not talk with Iagoda about this. At that time I was an assistant department head in the CC and traveled to Austria under a false name. Therefore the CC gave a directive to Iagoda that he should take care of guaranteeing my security.
Well, and who was it who took care of your security then, Mnatsakanov?
No, then Mnatsakanov was not yet working in Vienna, I think. It was Slutsky himself who brought me to Norden at first, and then, twice, some collaborator of his. To be honest I do not remember his name and never met him again.
And when did Mnatsakanov approach you?
In 1935. He met Evgeniia Solomonovna and myself at the station and drove us to the plenipotentiary’s office to Slutsky. Then he took us to Norden and showed us the city. He was very polite and kind to us.
I’ll bet. Did he connect with you by some code word in the name of German intelligence?
No. He gave me a greeting from Artnau and I understood everything. Thereupon I communicated secret political information to him.
What kind of information?
I don’t remember exactly now, but in my opinion Mnatsakanov was interested in information about industry and about the weaponry of the Red Army. Not long before this I headed the industrial division of the CC, and I was very familiar with this information. Probably that’s why the Germans asked me such questions.
He gave you tasks of a subversive and sabotage character?
Yes, he did. But in general.
What do you mean “in general”?
At that time I had already become a secretary of the CC, head of the department of leading Party organs, chairman of the Party Control Commission, and chairman of the Commission on Foreign Assignments. German intelligence knew this very well, and I received from Mnatsakanov the task of performing sabotage while in these positions, of subverting Party work.
Be more concrete.
Well, how shall I say it? In my hands at that time was in fact all the work of reassigning of leading cadres. Choosing their activities, punishments, directing them for work abroad. So I did everything that a saboteur could do in such positionis. I directed to leading positions people who were weak in professional, political, and moral sense, people who could ruin production, undermine the fulfillment of the Five-Year Plan. To compromise the Party. In the Party Control Commission I managed things so as to coverup and not disclose elements hostile to the Party, and to deprive of Party membership and shut out in every way those who were loyal to the Party. Abroad I tried to send those who would probably become spies or non-returnees.
What a scoundrel you were anyway, Ezhov – hissed Rodos with pleasure through his teeth. Why, after that there is no place for you on this earth.
I understand that I caused enormous harm to the Party and the country, I repent fully of my crimes and am ready to bear the punishment I deserve for them, — said Ezhov, as if by rote, glancing in fear at the investigator.
Were you familiar with Mnatsakanov’s wife, Erna Boshkovich?
Yes, he introduced us to her in Vienna.
Did you know that her first husband was a Polish spy and that she herself works for Polish intelligence?
No. I did not even know that she had been married before Mnatsakanov.
Did your wife meet with her alone?
I seem to remember that not long before our departure Mnatsakanov and Boshkovich took her shopping, and at that time I was in the office of the trade representative.
What do you think? Could Ezhova have established espionage connections with Boshkovich in Vienna? What information do you have about that?
I have no information about that. Evgeniia and I never spoke about Boshkovich. She never told me anything about espionage connections either with her or with Mnatsakanov.
That doesn’t mean that there were no such connections. It is already proven now that Ezhova was an English spy and you even confirmed this to the investigation. Tell us honestly, do you know about any meetings with Boshkovich after her arrival in Moscow?
My wife told me almost nothing about her espionage work. But I concede that she might have had espionage connections with Boshkovich in Moscow, since the English and Polish intelligence services often work together.
You called Mnatsakanov to Moscow specially in order through him to get into contact with the Gestapo. Did he ask you about this?
Yes. Before my own departure from Vienna he expressed such a wish and I ordered Slutsky to have him recalled for work in the NKVD as soon as I became the Commissar.
Did you conduct your conspiratorial contact with him in the NKVD building?
Yes, we had that kind of contact right up until his exposure and arrest.
What tasks did Mnatsakanov give you? Did you hand over to him secret NKVD information?
He was not interested in secret NKVD information. In the leadership of the Commissariat on the level of heads of departments and their assistants were Gestapo agents. Then many of them were exposed, as was Mnatsakanov himself. These agents knew more detailed information than I did. So I told him about Politburo sessions, CC plenums, conversations with Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich and other leaders, related to him the contents of secret letters and telegrams of the Central Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars.
You did good work. And why didn’t you rescue him when he fell? For he asked you to help him.
There was nothing I could do because he was completely exposed and confessed his espionage work.
Were you afraid that he would give you up?
No. No one would have believed him.
You are lying, Ezhov! We have evidence against you. When investigator Dulov was interrogating Mnatsakanov you went specially to his office and told your collaborator: “You are writing? Well, write, write.” This meant you were warning him in this way that he should keep silent about you, and then arranged it so that he would be shot as quickly as possible. Wasn’t it like that?
Yes, I remember what happened. I was afraid that Mnatsakanov would expose me as a German spy. I wanted him to be shot as quickly as possible, and I achieved that.
On this occasion Rodos was satisfied with his suspect. His confessions fit into the plan that had been thought out in advance and covered many unclear points. He nodded to Ezhov, who had deserved a cigarette, to the packet lying on the table. While the former Commissar lit up Rodos took a copy of a typewritten text from a file.
This was some kind of unrelated and unidentified communication from either a suspect or an interrogator, and perhaps just an excerpt from an anonymous denunciation. In the NKVD it was considered impermissible to take an interest in the source of operational information and, having received this paper from Kobulov, Rodos did not add any details to it.
Someone had informed about an amorous contact between Ezhov and a certain Stefforn, a Czech and German female spy, that had taken place in 1934. Before this Rodos had read the text about three times but still did not understand who this Stefforn was – an NKVD collaborator, the wife of a colleague in the INO in Berlin, or both at the same time. Supposedly Ezhov had asked her to marry him but she had refused, and then regretted it. But soon she found herself a new husband, one Petrushev. When Stefforn was imprisoned for espionage Petrushev had asked Evgeniia Ezhova to intercede for her with her husband, but that did not help. That was all the information.
Rodos thought. Ezhov had already named about ten German spies with whom he was working in Moscow, therefore the Czech woman Stefforn was hardly essential here. But she might have played a role in Ezhov’s moral dissolution, which was now very important.
Did you know a woman named Stefforn?
Perhaps. Remind me who she is.
I will. She was your lover, a Czech whom you even wanted to marry, but she preferred somebody named Petrushev to you.
Maybe that’s Elena Petrusheva, a friend of Evgeniia, they had met in Germany at the end of the 1930s. But…
Tell me about her in detail.
My wife told me that Lena’s father was a German Jew from Prague and her mother was either a Czech or a Pole. She was married to a Soviet citizen working aborad and lived with him for some time in Germany.
Was this husband an employee of the INO of the OGPU?
I don’t know, that wasn’t mentioned in the conversation. Sometime in 1930 she left him and went to Moscow. I don’t know the husband’s last name. Then she married Petrushev. I met them a couple of times, a respectable-looking man. He said that his father had been a well-known pre-Revolutionary photographer, the best one in Russia, and very rich. And Petrushev himself worked in some publishing house or other either as a photographer or, maybe, as an artist. The wife told me that he could draw very well, his pictures were hanging in their home.
Don’t go off on me about pictures, stay with the main point of the question. Petrushev asked your wife to get you to help his wife Stefforn when she was arrested for espionage on behalf of Germany.
Evgeniia Solomonovna never said anything about that to me. In general she and I agreed that she would not ask me about government employees and saboteurs who were under arrest. Once she did ask me to help the husband of a friend, who had been seized for sabotage in a factory, and I told her that I could not do that because my real activities might be uncovered and then we would both burn. Since that time she did not trouble me with such questions.
Be that as it may, Ezhov. But you are avoiding the question about your amorous relations with this Stefforn, or Petrusheva. Tell me now about that.
Elena was an interesting woman and she pleased me. She came to our apartment a few times – that was, it seems, at the end of 1934. With her there was another woman. We drank. When she and I were smoking together in another room I began to embrace her and wanted to arrange to meet at her apartment since she had said that her husband Petrushev was resting at a spa in Kislovodsk. I asked for her telephone number so I could call her the next day. But she said that they had no telephone. I remembered that my wife had called her at home. That meant that she did not want to get together with me.
What, she didn’t work and sat at home all the time?
As I remember she was a typist at home, but I might be mistaken.
And what, you didn’t meet with her again. Was it really that hard to get her to go to bed?
I didn’t try to do that again. After 1934 I didn’t see her again. Zhenia [= Evgeniia] did not invite her to our place any more.
Elena had unpleasant conversations with her, anti-Party, politically harmful. About the hunger in the Ukraine, where some of her relatives lived. No doubt she was trying to see how my wife would react to that. In addition Evgeniia heard from one of her friends that Petrusheva had gotten a little drunk and hinted to her that she was collaborating with the NKVD.
Ezhov, there is no point in lying. We have information and evidence that you lived for a long time with this woman, wanted to leave your wife for her, gave her expensive gifts and told her state secrets when you were drunk. I don’t have the time to drag every word out of you. Today in this room you’ll be given a pencil and paper, and you write in detail about your grimy ties with this slut. And don’t forget to tell had your complete moral degeneration led to your becoming a spy and traitor.
And something else. For a long time you have been hiding your attraction to men, what’s called homosexuality. But this became known after you agreed to the shameful affair of citizen V. from the Commissariat of Water Transport in your apartment, and before that in V’s presence you amused yourself with his wife in bed. Do you understand how far you have fallen? You are simply a monster, Ezhov, a filthy person and a pervert. I’m disgusted to look at you.
At that time I was very drunk…
What’s that, justification?
No, but I don’t remember anything, I woke up in the morning and they were no longer there. The chauffer then told me that he took them away at 3 a.m. I could have done anything at all then…
I’m not interested in that. But we know that you told V. about your passion for homosexuality since childhood and that men could completely replace women for you. You should write in detailed when you became a homosexual and with whom you then became involved in this filthy business…
Ezhov interrogation 07.08.39 by Rodos
– fm Poliansky 262-268
“Tell us how and when you recruited Uspensky in the espionage-sabotage organization in the NKVD that you had created.
I turned my attention to Uspensky already at the beginning of 1936.
That was when he was still the assistant commandant of the Moscow Kremlin for internal security?
Where did you find out about Uspensky’s hostile anti-Soviet views. Did he express them to you himself?
No. Veinshtok and Frinovsky told me about that. They knew him well and believed that he’d be very suitable for espionage work.
Did you recruit Uspensky personally?
Yes. That was right after my arrival in the Commissariat. He quickly agreed and I told him that we needed our own men in the provinces. That was why I sent him to Western Siberia.
What kinds of assignments did you given him then?
He was supposed to recruit agents into our organization from among the Chekist cadre and to promote them to leading positionis so that they could seize power in the event of war or a coup.
In November 1937 you sent Uspensky a coded message with the following content: “If you think you are going to sit in Orenburg for five years, you are mistaken. Very soon, it seems, I will have to promote you to a more responsible post. What is the meaning of this message?
At that time the leadership of our organization decided to move to active measures. There was a lot of evidence against Leplevsky and Zakovsky showing that they were spies and enemies of the people. It was impossible to hide such matters, and we had to get rid of these people, we couldn’t use them, they could cause everything to fail. We decided to replace them with Uspensky and Litvin. I gave Uspensky a coded message so that he would find out about his forthcoming departure from Orenburg and would switch all the sabotage-espionage work over to other people whom he had been able to recruit there.
OK. And now tell us how you warned Uspensky about the fact that they wanted to arrest him.
Did Dagin tell you about the fact of Uspensky’s forthcoming arrest?
Yes, I think it was he. He came to my office and told me about that.
And didn’t he tell you that he had listened in on the telephone conversation between comrades Stalin and Khrushchev about Uspensky?
Yes, I remember that he told me about the telephone conversation about Uspensky which he had listened in on, but he did not say that that was Stalin’s conversation. Dagin, on my instructions, listened in on all telephone conversations of the Poliburo and immediately told me about them so that I would be up to date.
After that you called Kiev and warned Uspensky. What did you tell him?
I said: ‘You are being recalled, your situation is bad.’ Something like that. I was afraid to send him a coded message, they could intercept it, since I had already lost trust and was under suspicion among the Party [leaders] as a hostile element.
Did Dagin also tell you about the recall of Litvin from Leningrad?
I did not know anything about the recall of Litvin to Moscow and did not warn him. There was no need to do so.
Why was that?
I had an agreement with him that in the event he was exposed he would commit suicide.
Was that your order?
No. In September of that year Litvin was in Moscow and used to come to my dacha. He told me that the arrival of Beria at the NKVD was the beginning of the end and soon we would all be arrested, since the Party was most likely aware about our plot. And he also said that he would not give himself up alive and that if they unexpectedly recalled him to Moscow he would shoot himself. That’s what happened.
Did you support him in this intention?
No. But I didn’t try to dissuade him either.
That means that you admit that you de-facto gave your accomplice an order to commit suicide in the event of failure?
Yes, that was de-facto the case.
When did you include Litvin in your espionage work?
That was in 1931, when I transferred him to Moscow.
Why did he agree to become a spy?
Already in the 1920s when I was getting together with Litvin I noticed his inexplicable relationship to Trotskyism. Openly he was not a supporter of Trotsky, but in his circle at that time there were many exposed Trotskyhists and I think that in his inner being he had always been a Trotskyist.
You wish to say that even then Litvin was a double-dealer?
Yes. He was a double-dealer and, as later turned out, was a supporter of the Trotskyist-Zinovievist line. Therefore he willingly agreed to my proposal to become a German spy. I think because at that time the Left opposition had already suffered its final failure and Trotsky had been driven out of the USSR altogether.
In 1933 Litvin upon your recommendation was named the chief of the cadre section of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Ukraine. Was that done on the instruction of German intelligence?
Yes, I received that instruction from Artnau.
What directives about espionage did Litvin receive from you?
These directives were of a subversive and sabotage nature. I asked him to appoint to leading positions people who could by their actions cause arouse the dissatisfaction of the population of the Ukraine, people who would carry out sabotage, ruin foodstuff and livestock, disrupt the fulfillment of industrial plans. These were hidden Right and Left Oppositionist, who also carried out assignments for Zinoviev, Bukharin, Rykov and other enemies.
Litwas was included by you in the basic plan for sabotage that German intelligence gave you? Did you also take him into the NKVD upon the assignment of the fascists in order to organize there the espionage-conspiratorial organization?
Yes, that’s how it was.
When you came to work in the NKVD you also brought with you there another of your collaborators, Isaac Shapiro.* When was he recruited by you?
* For Shapiro see http://www.memo.ru/history/NKVD/kto/biogr/gb537.htm
I had known Shapiro since 1930. He worked in the cadre section of the Commissariat of Agriculture in which I was a chief. He and I had a good friendship and I valued his zeal and literacy. And when Artnau recruited me and asked me to find people for espionage work I thought right away about Shapiro, who was personally devoted to me and it had always seemed to me that he did not like Soviet power very much and disapproved of the political line of the Party.
Did Shapiro carry out sabotage activity in the Commissariat of Agriculture on your instruction?
Yes, he did. But for a short time only. I decided to take him into the Central Committee, since there I needed people for subversive work.
He knew that you were a German spy?
Yes, I told him that together we would work for German intelligence, so as later to overthrow the government and come to power if there were a war with Germany.
What assignments of yours did Shapiro carry out in the NKVD?
He was de-facto my main assistant. Indeed I first appointed him the chief of the secretariat, and then made him also chief of the first special section. He had a lot of possibilities for sabotage in the NKVD and he carried out all my assignments of an espionage-subversive nature, both mine and Frinovsky’s. And when Beria arrived at the NKVD he immediately found out that Shapiro was an enemy and arrested him in November of ’38.
I know that. It would be better for you to tell me how you recruited Liushkov and how you helped him escape to Japan.
I recruited Liushkov right after his return from Leningrad from the investigation of Kirov’s murder. At that time I was already secretary of the Central Committee and Liushkov knew that I was beginning to oversee the NKVD. Therefore, when I called him to my office and hinted that I had information about his ties with the Petliurovists during the civil war in the Ukraine and other incriminating facts, he was frightened and immediately agreed to work for me as a German-Japanese intelligence man.
Did you really have that kind of information?
No, I did not have. I made it all up in order to recruit Liushkov. But I guessed that he was a hostile element with a foul past, and turned out to be correct. Liushkov agreed to become a spy.
How did you order Liushkov to flee to the Japanese?
Ezhov thought for a few seconds. He could not think of a reason why Frinovsky, one of the leaders of the conspiratorial group in the NKVD, had suggested arresting his colleague Liushkov. But then he found a solution.
Frinovsky often told me that he did not like Liushkov. He was cowardly and could betray us all at any moment. Upon our orders he was carrying out important espionage tasks for Japanese intelligence and knew a great deal about our subversive and sabotage work. Frinovsky said that we had to get rid of him, that means, kill him. And he told me that he would take care of that himself. I decided not to hinder him.
Did Frinovsky say how he wanted to kill Liushkov?
No. But I think that he wanted to arrest him first, and then in the inner prison to poison him or put him to death somehow.
What a gang! And who warned Liushkov anyway about the danger?
I don’t know. But Frinovsky wanted to appoint Gorbach from Novosibirsk to Liushkov’s place and recall the latter to Moscow, supposedly for a new job, but in reality to arrest him. Liushkov, most likely, found out that Gorbach was already on route to Khabarovsk, and fled across the border.
Ezhov ochnaia stavka w. Zhukovsky 07.21.39 – Rodos & Esaulov present
[“ochnaia stavka” = “face-to-face confrontation”]
– Poliansky 269-272; B&S 138-139.
Do you know this man?
Who is it?
Nikolai Ivanovich Ezhov.
And you? Rodos asked Ezhov.
Yes, that is Semion Borisovich Zhukovsky.
Suspect Ezhov. Confirm your confessions concerning the conspiratorial, sabotage, and terrorist activities of the former assistant Commissar of the NKVD Zhukovsky, that you gave at the interrogation of July 17 of this year.
Investigator: When did you become a German spy?
Ezhov: I was recruited in 1930 in Germany, in K�nigsberg.
[Here Ezhov repeats word for word the confession included above in the section “Ezhov interrogation 06.21.39 by Rodos, fm Poliansky 235-238” ]
In Germany I was well treated and shown every attention. The most assiduous attention I received from the prominent official of the Economic Ministry of Germany Artnau. Having been invited to his estate near K�nigsberg I spent the time happily enough, partaking excessively of alcoholic drinks… (In K�nigsberg Artnau) often paid the restaurant bills for me… I did not protest… All these circumstances made me feel close to Artnau and often without holding back I blurted out to him all kinds of secrets about the situation in the Soviet Union… Sometimes, when I was drunk, I was even more frank with Artnau and gave him to understand that I personally was not wholly in agreement with the Party’s line and with the existing Party leadership. Things got to the point that during one of the conversations I directly promised Artnau to discuss a series of questions in the government of the USSR concerning the purchase of livestock and agricultural machinery, in which Germany and Artnau were very much interested….
[Here the source continues with new material, not printed earlier as a part of this confession.]
Since I knew about Zhukovsky’s cowardice and stubbornness I did not consider it necessary to keep him up to date about conspiratorial matters. I only introduced him fully to these matters in the Spring of 1938. Then he was appointed my assistant and headed the whole accounting of the NKVD and the GULAG. We conspirators had special plans about the GULAG about which I have given detailed confessions, and I decided to bring Zhukovsky up to date. By this time the people who could have exposed Zhukovsky along the lines of his Trotskyist and espionage connections were already condemned and the danger of Zhukovsky’s arrest had passed. I told Zhukovsky about the existence of the conspiracy in the NKVD, that the conspiratorial organization is connected with governmental circles of Germany, Poland, and Japan. I don’t remember exactly now, but I think that I told him about our desire to get into contact with the English. Then I told him about the leading members of the conspiratorial organization and about our plans, specifically about our terrorist plans…
What assignments did you give Zhukovsky concerning the GULAG?
The conspiratorial assignments concerning the GULAG that I gave to Zhukovsky consisted in this: we sent to work the GULAG a very great quantity of compromised people. We could not leave them in the operational work, but we kept them in the GULAG for the purpose of forming a sort of reserve for conspiracies in the case of a coup in the country. I assigned Zhukovsky to maintain these people, but not to connect himself with them along conspiratorial lines, but to carry out all conspiratorial assignments that came to the GULA through these people…
Investigator: Did you give these terrorist assignments to Zhukovsky at the time of his work in the section of operational technology? Did you talk with him about the terrorist tasks of the conspiracy.
Ezhov: Yes, I talked to him. There were two variants of our plans. The first variant: in the case of war, when we proposed to carry out the arrests of the members of the government and their physical removal. And the second variant: if there were no war in the immediate future, then to get rid of the leadership of the Party and the government, especially Stalin and Molotov, by carrying out terrorist acts against them. I firmly remember that I told Zhukovsky about this after I had entrusted him with the existence of the conspiracy.
Investigator: Suspect Zhukovsky, did you receive from Ezhov the criminal assignments about which he has just spoken?
Zhukovsky: I did not receive any such criminal assignments and am hearing about terrorist tasks for the first time at this face-to-face confrontation.
You have nothing else that you want to tell the investigation? [ asked Rodos to Zhukovsky and, having received a negative answer, pushed the button to call the guards to take them away.]
Ezhov interrogation 07.24.39 by Rodos, including a quotation from a Frinovsky interrogation
– Poliansky 272-275
Recently Frinovsky gave confessions about your terrorist activity. Now I shall read them to you: “When Zhukovsky was chief of the 12th section, Ezhov gave him an assignment to develop poisons with the aim of using them in carrying out terrorist acts. Ezhov, speaking with Zhukovsky in my presence, said that it was necessary to work on the question of poisons that would work instantaneously, which could be used on people but without [leaving] visible traces of poisoning. Ezhov also clearly said that we needed these poisons for use within the country.”
Do you confirm his confession, Ezhov?
I cannot confirm that. At one of the interrogations I said that I had no relation to this laboratory. Frinovsky and Zhukovsky took care of it. I did not give them any tasks concerning poisons and did not have any conversations about these poisons.
Stop lying! You are incriminated not only by Frinovsky but by Zhukovsky, Alekhin and Dagin. You stood at the head of the conspiracy and gave directions to prepare poisons for the villainous murder of leaders of the Party and government. Here is some more of what Frinovsky confessed about this:
“I must say that the oopen use of servants for a terrorist act was not essential, servants could be used secretly, because the laboratory and the preparation of products were in the hands of Barkan and Dagin, they could poison the products in advance, and the servant, not knowing the products were poisoned, could give them to the members of the Politburo.
Ezhov gave Zhukovsky directives about the preparation of poisons, after he left the 12th department Zhukovsky transmitted these directives to Alekhin, and I and Ezhov confirmed these directives more than once. In 1937 and 1938 there were several joint conversations in Ezhov’s office between myself, Ezhov, and Alekhin. We were constantly concerned with how to carry out this work in the laboratory. The point is that those poisons that were being developed in the laboratory had had some kind of taste or left traces of their use in the human organism. We set the task of developing in the laboratory poisons that would be without any taste, so that they could be used in wine, drink and food, without changing the taste and color of the food and the drink. We proposed to invent separately poisons of instantaneous and of delayed action, and also whose use would not cause any visible destruction in the human organizing so that it could not be determined by autopsy of the body of the person killed by poison that poisons had been used to murder him.
What do you say to this?
I seem to remember a few conversations with Frinovsky about poisons. But I do not remember that I gave him any directives about their preparation and use.
But you will remember, think about it. I am convinced that the memory of traitors and scoundrels such as yourself is quickly restored in punitive cells and isolation cells. Everybody remembers after a few days.
The use of poisons for the purpose of terror against the government was discussed by use, when our original plan of a coup d’�tat and seizure of power fell apart.
Tell us about this in more detail.
Already in the summer of last year [1938 – GF] our organization took the decision to organize a military coup on the 7th of November.
Who was present at this assembly and where did it take place?
It took place at my dacha. Present were Frinovsky, Evdokimov, Dagin, Zhurbenko, Zhukovsky, and Nikolaev-Zhurid. That was, so to speak, the general staff of our subversive organization. Oh, I forgot, Litvin was also there, he was coming to Moscow at that time on official business.
Did you call together this meeting specially so that your general staff of bandits could take part?
Yes. The staff’s presence was essential, as the coup was to take place also in Leningrad and the staff was supposed to guarantee everything.
It was for this purpose that you also moved Zhurbenko to be the head of the UNKVD for Moscow and Moscow oblast’, so that he could be there to guarantee your treasonous conspiracy?
Yes, that is so. I specially appointed Zhurbenko to this position before Beria’s arrival in the NKVD.
Continue. What did you discuss there at the dacha?
We decided that the interior troops [of the NKVD – GF] that were in Moscow and were under the command of Frinovsky as first assistant to the Commissar would carry out the coup. As for him, he should prepare a fighting group that would annihilate the members of the government in attendance at the parade. Then we decided to confirm a final plan for the coup in September or October and to send around directive to our people in the republics and oblasts’ about what they should do on the seventh of November.
And this meeting took place, who was present at it?
There were only three of us: Frinovsky, Zhukovsky, and I. Either the end of September or the beginning of October we met in my office.
And what did you discuss?
At that time the possibilities of our organization had been seriously disrupted by the arrival of Beria in the NKVD. He replaced Frinovsky, and we could no longer use the internal troops.
But why, he must have had his agents there?
Yes, he did have his agents, but obviously Beria already had information about our conspiracy and arrested almost all of them in September. I could not prevent these arrests or I would have exposed myself. Then Frinovsky proposed that we put off the coup and take power by means of poisoning the members of the government and in the first place Stalin, Molotov and Voroshilov. Their deaths would have immediately caused confusion in the country and we would have taken advantage of this and seized power. We calculated that we could then arrest all the people in the government and the NKVD who were unsuitable for us, and to claim that they were conspirators guilty in the deaths of the leaders.
What low-lifes! What could have stopped you hoodlums?
Frinovsky then said that Dagin would carry out the poisoning, and that Alekhin and Zhukovsky would give him the poisons. But it would be necessary to prepare the poisons, and we decided to carry out this terrorist act when the requisite poisons were collected. We agreed to meet when Dagin had the poisons and to put together a detailed plan for the coup. But Zhukovsky was unexpectedly arrested, a few days after this meeting, and after him Alekhin and Dagin, and I do not know whether or not Dagin received the poisons.
Ezhov interrogation 08.02.39 by Rodos
– Poliansky 275-280 (plain text); Briukhanov & Shoshkov 139-142 (italics); in both of them (underlined).
/ 275 /
Tell us in detail about the sabotage activities that were carried out by you and your colleagues on the economic properties of the NKVD – said Rodos, preparing to write down the confessions.
In addition to the large quantity of economic properties that had been under the direction of the NKVD under Iagoda and which had developed greatly during the years 1937-1938, that is Kolyma, Indigirka, Norilstroi and others, I succeeded in significantly increasing the economic activity of the NKVD by means of new properties.
During these years I succeeded in carrying forth in the government the question about the transfer to the direction of the NKVD of many forest regions of the Commissariat of Forests, in connection with which the production program of the forest camps of the NKVD in the preparation and export of wood products in 1938 comprised almost half of the whole program of the Commissariat of Forests.
Into the direction of the NKVD were transferred the construction of railroad lines that had the most important defense significance, such as the Baikal-Amur railray, the line from Ulan-Ude to Naushi, the Soroka-Pliasetskaia, the Ukhto-Pecherskaia line, and others.
Among the purely defense-oriented properties I achieved the transfer under the direction of the NKVD of the construction of the Archangel shipbuilding factory and almost all the powder cellulose factories in Archangel, Solikamsk and other places, at the same time having organized the construction of ten smaller cellulose factories. On the initiative of the NKVD, on top of the programs confirmed by the government, the NKVD was given the construction of the world’s largest hydroelectric station – the Kuibyshev hydro network.
Sabotage and mismanagement in the construction sites flourished with complete impunity. We managed to go over completely to questions of defense construction, achieving practical control over a significant part of it. This gave us the possibility in case of need in our conspiratorial goals to vary and carry out different subversive measures which could help accomplish the defeat of the USSR in wartime and our coming to power.
…The greatest population of prisoners was the border regions of the far Eastern borders. Here it was very easy for us to take over different economic tasks of a defense nature because of the lack of workers. However the camps of the Far Eastern Region were situated not only near to the borders but we sent there mostly prisoners sentenced for espionage, diversion, terror and other more serious crimes, and we sent almost no so-called “ordinary” prisoners.
In this way along the borders of the FER, in the direct rear of the Red Army was prepared the most active and embittered counterrevolutionary force, which we planned to use in the widest possible manner in case of complication or of war with the Japanese… A significant quantity of prisoners were concentrated on our western borders of Ukraine, Belorusia, the Leningrad oblast’, and the Karelian ASSR, especially in road construction.
… The whole conspiratorial plan of the regime we created for the prisoners consisted in that the most privileged conditions were created for the prisoners sentenced for the most serious crimes (espionage and terrorism), since that was the qualified force that would often be used for directing the administrative and economic work in the camps. In their hands was concentrated also all the cultural and educational work of the prisoners. It is clear in what spirit they were educated. Finally the regime created in the camps often permitted the counterrevolutionary activity of the prisoners to continue with complete impunity.
In the camps the work of the so-called 3rd sections was so badly organized and the camps were guarded so poorly, that the prisoners had the possibility of creating their own counterrevolutionary groups in the camps and to associate with each other at will. Facts like this were many. The guard of the camps was extremely small, made up of unreliable people, the material situation of the soldiers and the command staff was very poor, and, finally, the prisoners themselves were used in many cases in the capacity of guards. As a result of a security organized like this there were many cases of mass escapes from the camps. We fought against this evil poorly and did so consciously, in the hopes that the escapees from the camps would continue their counterrevolutionary activity and would become a force that would spread all kinds of anti-Soviet agitation and rumors.
/ 276 /
I achieved the transfer under the direction of the NKVD a series of working factors of the defense industry. The reason for that could not have been the use of the labor of prisoners, since among them were the Pavshinsky factory, the Tushinsky factory of aviation motor construction, and others. Besides that, the NKVD organized a series of new factories on its own initiative, which carried out defense production…
What, do you think we called you here to report on behalf of the NKVD about the successful fulfillment of the Five-Year Plan! You are a bandit, a conspirator, a saboteur, a terrorist, and a traitor. Answer the question asked you to the point.
Sabotage and mismanagement in the construction sites flourished with complete impunity.
I’ll bet, with a Commissar like that. – said Rodos with a grimace, not stopping his note-taking.
We managed to go over completely to questions of defense construction, achieving practical control over a significant part of it…
Who is this “we”?
Well, our conspiratorial organization. Myself, Zhukovsky, Frinovsky, and others. I have already named them all earlier.
This gave our organization the possibility in case of need in our conspiratorial goals to vary and carry out different subversive measures which could help accomplish the defeat of the USSR in wartime and our coming to power.
In which areas was the subversive activity of your organization mainly distributed?
The greatest population of prisoners was the border regions of the far Eastern borders. Here it was very easy for us to take over different economic tasks of a defense nature because of the lack of workers. However the camps of the Far Eastern Region were situated not only near to the borders but we sent there mostly prisoners sentenced for espionage, diversion, terror and other more serious crimes, and we sent almost no so-called “ordinary” prisoners.
In this way along the borders of the FER, in the direct rear of the Red Army was prepared the most active and embittered counterrevolutionary force, which we planned to use in the widest possible manner in case of complication or of war with the Japanese.
Did you send Liushkov there specially. What assignments did you give him?
At the beginning of 1937 Frinovsky and I conferred with each other and decided that we had to have our own man in the Far East, through whom we could maintain contact with Japanese intelligence. In the event of an attack by the Japanese he was to let the counterrevolutionaries out of the camps, seize with their help the stores of arms and military supplies, and then head terrorist-diversionist work in the rear of the Red Army. We thought about this and chose Liushkov for these purposes, whom I had already recruited to our organization in 1936. Then I transferred him from the Azovo-Chernomorsky region and made him the head of the NKVD in the Far Eastern Region.
In which other areas did you create the same kind of espionage-diversionist centers?
We also did this in the western borders of the USSR. A significant quantity of prisoners were concentrated on our western borders of Ukraine, Belorusia, the Leningrad oblast’, and the Karelian ASSR.
In Leningrad oblast and Karelia Litvin was in charge for you, of course?
Yes. I sent him there specially at the beginning of 1938 instead of Zakovsky, whom I could not fully trust.
And in the Ukraine?
There Uspensky all the assignments, including contact with Polish and German intelligence. That is why I made him Commissar of Internal Affairs of the Ukraine.
When was he recruited by you?
At the beginning of 1937. He came to Moscow from Novosibirsk before he was appointed to the position of chief of the UNKVD for the Orenburg oblast. I knew that Uspensky was anti-Soviet, anti-party, and for that reason he immediately agreed to work in our organization.
In Belorussia you sent Boris Berman? Did you know that he was an old German agent?
Yes. Artnau told me that Berman was working for German intelligence as soon as I became Commissar of Internal Affairs. He had been recruited at the beginning of the ‘thirties, when he was
/ 279 /
[Soviet] resident in Germany. I immediately established espionage contact with him, then he was the assistant chief of the INO. In 1937 I specially sent him from our organization to Belorussia and made him Commissar of Internal Affairs. There he met with German agents and received assignments and instructions.
That means your widespread espionage organization in the case of an attack on the USSR by Japan and Germany could seize power not only in Moscow but in border areas, opening the road to the invaders. Do I understand this correctly from your confessions?
Yes. That was exactly what we had planned. It’s useless to deny such things.
Tell me, was counterrevolutionary work carried on by your confederates in the camps for the purpose of establishing there bases for sabotage and anti-Soviet activity?
In the camps the work of the so-called 3rd sections was so badly organized and the camps were guarded so poorly, that the prisoners had the possibility of creating their own counterrevolutionary groups in the camps and to associate with each other at will. Facts like this were many. The guard of the camps was extremely small, made up of unreliable people, the material situation of the soldiers and the command staff was very poor, and, finally, the prisoners themselves were used in many cases in the capacity of guards. As a result of a security organized like this there were many cases of mass escapes from the camps. We fought against this evil poorly and did so consciously, in the hopes that the escapees from the camps would continue their counterrevolutionary activity and would become a force that would spread all kinds of anti-Soviet agitation and rumors…
[At that moment the telephone on Rodos’s table started to ring.]
/ 280 /
I am leaving right away, I will be back at four o’clock for sure.
We shall continue the interrogation tomorrow, and you remember what concretely sabotage work you carried out with your confederates in the economic properties of the NKVD.
Ezhov interrogation 08.03.39 by Rodos
“The overwhelming majority of the prisoners were so-called vicious “refusers”, as a rule people who had not fulfilled the assigned norm of work, in connection with which these latter were deliberately extremely poorly provided, something we also did for sabotage purposes. This circumstance, and a series of other subversive measures of the conspiratorial organization caused the necessity of more and more prisoners being brought to Kolyma. The government every year devoted enormous expenses to the development of Kolyma, spending hundrerds of millions of rubles. If these means had been rationally spent, the mining at the rich Kolyma sites could have been significantly mechanized. Mechanization would not only have reduced the necessity of holding a large quantity of prisoners in Kolyma and of bringing to them a huge amount of foodstuffs and other supplies, but would have increased the yield of metal and sharply lowered its cost. Meanwhile mechanization was slowed down by sabotage and all the extraction was based on muscle power alone. As a result already in 1938 more than 100,000 prisoners were brought to Kolyma. The whole area of Kolyma is rich not only in gold, but in many other ores. Specifically, in Kolyma there are huge supplies of coal and other forms of fuel. With any kind of careful economic approach to the matter it would have been possible without any difficulty to satisfy the demands of Kolyma with coal and even with oil without the costly transporting of them from the European part of the USSR. However the coal deposits of Kolyma are not exploited at all. In Kolyma it would unquestionably be possible to wholly cease the importation even of explosive materials and of the simplest equipment, which also is brought in every year in great quantities. For this purposes it would be necessary to build in Kolyma a very simple mechanical factory of modest size or, even better, workshops that could manufacture the simplest equipment and spare parts. Just as easily and quickly could and should be built in Kolyma an explosives factory of modest size, since almost all raw materials necessary for this exist there. Finally, in Kolyma the importation of foodstuffs could be significantly reduced. Such a possibility is completely obtainable for Kolyma, where meat, fish and even vegetable production could be developed. All this was deliberately ignored by us, and the supply of Kolyma was wholly laid upon the shoulders of the state. I have already said that the region of Kolyma together with the gold-bearing regions are rich also in a whole series of other rare ores. So, for example, there are rich industrial supplies of tin, antimony, copper, micas, and other ores. These extremely valuable ores that have enormous economic and defense significance are not worked at all or are extracted in tiny quantities, like tin, while in Kolyma there are all the possibilies of setting up the extraction of these ores at the same time as that of gold, the more so since the regions with these ores are nearby.
It is clear that the parallel extraction of gold and of other valuable ores that are so territorially adjacent where, consequently, it would be possible to set up a unified, energetic, mechanical economic unit, and to reduce to a significant extent the cost of gold and of other rare metals. These questions we deliberately and as an act of sabotage ignored, and did not even present to the government.
What role in this was played by the foreign intelligence services with which you were collaborating?
They, of course, knew what we were doing and encouraged and supported our subversive work in every way. But as far as I know they did not specially give any assignments either to me or to their other agents, since, no doubt, they were certain that we ourselves knew where we should best carry out the sabotage.
Name the concrete properties where sabotage was carried out according to your instructions.
The construction of the Ukhto-Pechersk road has a decisive meaning for the development of the extraction of coal, oil, and other valuable products, without which the economic development of the Northern region as a whole is impossible. Meanwhile the construction of this road was retarded by us deliberately and in every way, under various pretexts and the resources allotted to it were spread over a large area of work and did not have any effect. The retardation in the construction of the Ukhto-Pechersk railroad is explained in the main by the lack of a satisfactory plan, which the Commissariat of Roads and Rails should present. The saboteurs in the GULAG and in the Commissariat of Roads and Rails with our support organized a never-ending dispute about the choice of the direction of the roads, which has been going on for a long time now, and the planning and even the exploratory works in many sectors have not been begun to this day. Finally, it was essential not to spread out our resources over a broad front of works, but to concentrate on the decisive sections for the export of production. And precisely the construction of the Ukhto-Pechersk line should have been strictly divided into several stages. In the first part should have been concentrated all the forces and resources to finish the construction of the Vorkuta-Abez’ section, for the purpose of exporting coal. But we hindered that, insofar as all decisions were mine. Further, the construction of the section from the oil-bearing areas of Ukhta to Kotel’nich shoul have been organized, and these works could have been fully developed from two directions, both from Kotel’nich and from Ukhta. Only in the final stage could have been finished those sections that unite the coal-rich Vokuta areas with the oil-bearing Ukta areas and that give in this way an outlet for coal and oil in two directions. But nothing of this was done because of our sabotage.
What subversive, espionage and sabotage activity did you carry out in the GULAG itself?
* We understood, that the expansion of the economic functions of the NKVD must express themselves in the worsening of our basic operative work. We proposed to widely use the system of camps so as to send there the compromised part of NKVD workers. There are not only drunkards, idlers and wastrels. Among them were people with a Trotskyist past, Rights who sympathized with Bukharin, and Iagoda’s people. De-facto they were all recruited by us since, in sending them to the GULAG, we were hinting to them that we had evidence against them that could be investigated at any moment. In this manner we created a special reserve of people read to carry out any conspiratorial task.
But there were many anti-Soviet elements in the GULAG even without this. The conspiratorial leadership of the GULAG remained, for all practical purposes, unreplaced. At the time of my arrival in the NKVD the GULAG was headed by the conspirator of Iagoda’s group Matvei Berman, Boris Berman’s older brother. He had put together a large anti-Soviet group of people who occupied more or less responsible posts in the GULAG. Among these people were a great many Trotskyists, Zinovievists, Rights, and it was easy to attract them to our side after Berman left when the GULAG was headed by Ryzhov, a participant of the conspiracy recruited by men, who was sent to this work on my initiative in order to carry out sabotage assignments. And after his departure for the Commissariat of Forests, the GULAG was headed by the conspirator and spy Zhukovsky, who was connected with me and who was at the same time my assistant.
In the summer of 1938 the Central Committee of the Party more than once pointed my attention to the fact that I was surrounded by suspicious people who had come with me to work in the NKVD. In the Central Committee the question of removing Tsesarsky was raised, it was proposed to me that I remove Shapiro, Zhukovsky, and Litvin from the work. That put me on my guard, inasmuch as all these men were my confederates, and that meant that something might be known to the Party about the conspiracy. In order to somehow conceal my anti-government activity I had to agree with the demands of the Central Committee and I decided to send Zhukovsky packing without any fuss, away to the countryside. I carried out this attempt but it did not succeed, since about that time Beria began to work and Zhukovsky, instead of going to the place I had assigned him as director of the Ridder polymetallic combine, was arrested.”
* From this point on the text given in Poliansky here is given in B&S but attributed to Ezhov’s August 2 1939 interrogation.
Ezhov August 4 1939 Confession (published separately)
Ezhov August 4 1939 Confession belongs here.
Ezhov ochnaia stavka with Bulatov 09.20.39
Pavliukov 528 – very brief discussion plus the two sentences quoted below.
Discussion: “There were also those who continued to offer resistance [to the investigation – GF]. For example, in the course of the face-to-face confrontation held on September 20 1939 with his former associate in the Central Committee apparatus D.A. Bulatov, the latter rejected all accusations directed against him and left the interrogation unbroken.”
Ezhov interrogation 10.25.39 by Esaulov
Poliansky 285; 286-289.
“Listen”, implored Ezhov, “What kind of spy am I? I have a ‘tail’ behind me at all times, my chauffer or a guard. What kind of a resident could I meet with? And no one recruited me in Germany in 1930. I have been lying a lot. And I lied about Slutsky. I did not give Frinovsky the assignment to poison him, and Alekhin and Zakovsky have nothing to do with it. Slutsky died by himself, from his heart. And lied about everything.
You should not lie…
In various documents you stated contradictory and untrue information about yourself. The verification has proven this. Did you do this out of espionage and sabotage motives?
Yes. I deliberately distorted my biography. I did this for careerist purposes, to be promoted in the Party.
You thought up another biography for yourself not out of careerist, but out of provocateurist motives, in order to deceive the Party, to insinuate yourself into its leadership, and corrupt it from within by means of sabotage and espionage. Was that so?
Yes. I did this out of sabotage and prevocational motives in order to struggle against the Party.
Now let us move on to an explanation of those facts that you have deliberately distorted. In official documents you lied that you were born in Petrograd. No information about your birth in that city have been found. Where were you born in reality?
I only know about the place I was born from my mother’s words, from memories of my early childhood. Mother said that I was born in the city of Mariampol, in the former Suval’sk guberniia of Lithuania. Afterwards I went to Petrograd. By means of the facts about my birth in Petrograd I wanted to portray myself in the guise of a deeply-rooted proletarian and old revolutionary.
Did you also lie when you said your father was a worker?
Yes, I also lied about this for the same reason.
Who was your father in reality?
My father, Ivan Ezhov, from near Tula by birth, was from a peasant family.
Were they well-off?
Yes. He served in the army, in a musical unit, as a senior musician in Mariampol. There he also married the servant girl of a choirmaster.
What did your father do after demobilization?
He was a forester and a switchman on the railroad.
In a prerevolutionary Peterburg handbook an Ivan Ezhov is mentioned who was owner of a saloon. Was that your father?
For a time my father owned a tea house.
We have information that this tea house also served as a front for criminal activities. Is that so?
Yes. It was in reality a house of assignation…
It was a bordello, and my father lived on the proceeds. When they shut down the tea house, he became a painter.
Did he hire other workers?
I don’t deny that in later years father had one or two hired workers and was something like a contractor.
Did you also lie deliberately about working as a mechanic in Petrograd factories?
I did this to pretty up my background. I worked very little as a mechanic, my main work was always the trade of tailor.
And now tell us what your real nationality is.
I have always considered myself a Russian and identify myself as such on official documents. I was born into a Russian peasant family.
Aren’t you concealing your real nationality? After all, your mother was from Lithuania.
In official documents my nationality is recorded more or less correctly.
What does “more or less” mean?
That means that my mother was born in Lithuania and therefore was a Lithuanian by nationality.
In one of your [biographical] formsyou wrote that you know both the Lithuanian and the Polish languages. Did your mother teach them to you?
No. My mother and father knew Lithuanian, but never spoke it at home. I served in Vitebsk in the Tsarist army, and there there were many Poles and Lithuanians. That’s where I learned a few words and sentences. But I do not know how to speak these languages and wrote on the form that I know them for prevocational purposes.
The investigation possesses information tht you know Yiddish. Why do you conceal this?
I do not know Yiddish, if you do not count a few words and expressions that I learned from my acquaintances who were Jews.
And here we have information that you often spoke Yiddish with your wife.
That is some kind of mistake. I cannot speak Yiddish. Even my wife, in my opinion, knew Yiddish poorly and never spoke it with any Jewish people.
Ezhov protocol of end of investigation 02.01.40
Pavliukov, 529, Poliansky 290, say this was presented by Esaulov.
B&S 144-145, and Soima says it was Sergienko.
Text identical in Poliansky & Soima; very close to this in B&S.
No text in Pavliukov.
1. Was the leader of an anti-Soviet conspiratorial organization in the armed forces and the organs of the NKVD.
2. Betrayed his fatherland by carrying out espionage work in the service of Polish, German, Japanese, and English intelligence services.
3. Toward the goal of seizing power in the USSR prepared an armed uprising and the commission of terrorist acts against leaders of the Party and the government.
4. Undertook subversive, sabotage work in Soviet and Party apparatuses.
5. For adventurist and careerist goals created a case about an imaginary “mercury” poisoning of himself, organized the murder of a series of persons who were inconvenient to him and who could have exposed his treasonous work, and had sexual relations with men (homosexuality).
“The last interrogation took place on January 31 , and on the very next day the assistant chief of the investigative section of the NKVD of the USSR A.A. Esaulov composed a protocol of the conclusion of the investigation. Ezhov was given for his perusal 12 volumes of his criminal case. He read through it and declared that he confirmed all the confessions given by him at the preliminary investigation, and that he had no additions to make.”
Ezhov’s Concluding Statement at Trial (published separately)
A transcript obviously exists, but it is still secret.
Transcript of Ezhov’s final words at trial belongs here.
“Then the protocol concerning the conclusion of the investigation was announced, in which Ezhov had confirmed the truth of his confessions with his own signature. Ezhov stated that at that moment he had not retracted these confessions, but that he was retracting them now. He had no connections with any intelligence services, had not planned any terrorist act on Red Square on November 7 1938, and had never taken part in any conspiratorial activity.
It was necessary for the court, setting aside its preliminary intention to do without witnesses, to call into the courtroom one of them, Ezhov’s former assistant M. P. Frinovsky. That same day he too was supposed to appear in court and probably was somewhere nearby.
Frinovsky stated that soon after his appointment as Commissar of Internal Affairs Ezhov had recruited him into the conspiratorial organization in the NKVD organized by himself. At first they prevented the exposure of the participants of the Right-Trotskyite bloc as much as possible, and at the end of 1937 they set to the creation of a terrorist group within the NKVD.
/ 532 /
Besides that Frinovsky discussed the falsification, in accordance with Ezhov’s directives, of the so-called mercury poisoning, the murder on Ezhov’s order of the chief of the Foreign Division of the GUGB of the NKVD A. A. Slutsky, and of the poisoning by Ezhov of his own wife.
In answer to the questions of the chairman V.V. Ul’rikh Ezhov called everything Frinovsky said to be vicious slander. He did not poison his wife and did not send her luminal, and in relation to Slutsky had had a directive from “directive organs” not to arrest him but to get rid of him by another means, “as otherwise our whole foreign intelligence service would have fled”. The need to get rid of Slutsky was dictated, in Ezhov’s words, by the fact that there were very weighty confessions of the former assistant commissar for internal affairs Ia. S. Agranov.
Ezhov continued that he did not take part in the anti-Soviet conspiracy together with Frinovsky. Evdokimov, Dagin, and the other persons whom he had named in his confessions as participants in the conspiracy were in fact not such, or in any case he did not know anything about that.”
Comments on Ezhov’s last words from Briukhanov & Shoshkov, 153:
“Reading ‘the Last word’ it is impossible not to notice that Ezhov said nothing about the essence of the accusations leveled against him. He rejected them all, but spoke mainly about his services in exposing “enemies and spies of various types and intelligence services” while stating at the same time he had “such crimes for which I could be shot”, promising to discuss them, but admitted guilt only in that he “did not purge enough” enemies.
Ezhov denied his participation in a secret organization directed against the Party and the government, saying that, on the contrary, he had taken all measures to expose the conspirators who had murdered S.M. Kirov. But was there a conspiracy in the organs of the NKVD? Or did those 14 thousand NKVD men whom Ezhov purged act individually – each one on his own?
Judging from the transcript [of Ezhov’s trial] such a question was not raised at the trial: Everything was clear to the court as it was. The “sincere confessions” in his “Last word” did not ring true. Ezhov was careful to avoid any sharp corners. He even distorted the episode that had already figured in the trial of Bukharin, Rykov and the others, concerning the falsification of a terrorist act against himself. As it turned out the “terrorist act” was planned and executed – if we can even use that word in this case – by Ezhov and by the former chief of the counter-revolutionary section Nikolaev in order to increase the authority of the “iron commissar.” Having consulted with specialists about the conditions for mercury poisoning Nikolaev had rubbed mercury into the upholstery of the soft furniture in Ezhov’s office and submitted a piece of cloth for laboratory analysis. In the “terrorist act” they blamed NKVD man Savolainen, on whom a vial of mercury was planted. After the necessary “working over” Savolainen confessed to everything.
And Ezhov’s attempt to deny the accusation about dissolution in his morals and private life, to convince the court that he was supposedly loved for his modesty and honesty.
As a whole the ‘Last word’ creates an impression of something not thought through, rambling, incomplete, and dishonest. And yet Ezhov, in essence, had nothing to lose. He could have spoken more frankly.”