[Intelforum] Important new biography on KGB chairman I.A. Serov
Jong, B.M. de
B.M.deJong at uva.nl
Fri Dec 2 09:23:59 EST 2005
List members who are interested in the history of Soviet state security and read Russian may want to know that the first biography on KGB chairman Ivan Serov was published recently in Russia.
Nikita Petrov, Perviy predsedatel' KGB Ivan Serov. ('The First Chairman of the KGB Ivan Serov'), Moskva, Materik, 2005 ISBN 5-85646-129-0 409 pp.
Serov was the first chairman of the newly established KGB in 1954-1958 and chief of the GRU in 1958-1963. He lost the latter post as a consequence of the Penkovsky affair. Serov (1905-1990) began his career under Stalin and took part in my of the mass repressions during that era.
Nikita Petrov, as list members may know, together with Marc Jansen, is the co-author of the Yezhov biography Stalin's Loyal Executioner (2002). I just received the book on Serov and I haven't read it yet but I am sure it will be an important volume for those interested in KGB history. Petrov is a meticulous and very reliable historian and published an earlier biographical profile of Serov a couple of years ago in Russian that already contained many interesting new details.
The biography in the strict sense takes up only 200 pages of the book, which are filled with many references to achive materials. The remainder of the book is filled with documents from Russian archives, many of them published for the first time as far as I can see. The first document, for instance, is a short autobiography that Serov himself wrote as People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in 1940. The book has an index of personal names (quite exceptional for a Russian book in this field!) that provides many additional details about the careers of the officials menitoned and a person like Beria, of course, figures prominently in the book according to the index, as do the Kobulov brothers and Merkulov, for instance.
The book also contains a list of visits to Stalin by Serov in the years 1939-1947 and a biographical chronicle of Serov's life with the most important events in every year. The last document is a report by KGB chairman Andropov to the CPSU Central Committee from 1971 that Serov is working on his memoirs. The KGB was still keeping an eye on Serov, of course.
This would seem to be an important book, that undoubtedly deserves to be translated into English soon.
Ben de Jong
University of Amsterdam
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