Pavel Anatolyevich Sudoplatov
Nickname Viktor
Born July 7, 1907
Melitopol, Russian Empire Present-day Ukraine
Died Template:Death-date and age
Allegiance 22x20px Soviet Union
Service/branch 20px Red Army
Years of service 1921-1953
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands held State Political Directorate
People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs
Ministry for State Security (Soviet Union)
Main Directorate of Intelligence
Ministry of Internal Affairs (Russia)
Battles/wars World War II
Cold War

Lieutenant General Pavel Anatolyevich Sudoplatov (Пáвел Aнатóльевич Cудоплáтов) (July 7, 1907 – September 26, 1996) was a member of the intelligence services of the Soviet Union who rose to the rank of lieutenant general.[1] He was involved in several famous episodes, including the assassination of Leon Trotsky, the Soviet espionage program which obtained information about the atomic bomb from the Manhattan Project, and Operation Scherhorn, a Soviet deception operation against the Germans in 1944. His autobiography, Special Tasks, made him well-known outside the USSR, and provided a detailed look at Soviet intelligence and Soviet internal politics during his years at the top.

Early life and career[edit | edit source]

He was born in Melitopol, in Eastern Ukraine, to a Russian mother and a Ukrainian father, and was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1919 at the age of 12 he left home and joined a Red Army regiment near Melitopol. After being assigned to company flags and served in combat against both the White Army and the Ukrainian nationalist movement during the Russian Civil War. He was recruited into the Cheka in 1921, at the age of fourteen, and was promoted to the Secret Political Department of the Ukrainian State Political Directorate (OGPU) in 1927.

In 1928 he married Emma Kaganova, a Jewish girl from Gomel, Belarus who had been recruited by and worked for the OGPU.

He transferred to the Soviet OGPU in 1933, moving to Moscow, and soon after became an "illegal", operating under cover in a number of European countries. On May 23, 1938, he personally assassinated the Ukrainian nationalist leader Yevhen Konovalets by giving him a box of chocolates containing a bomb.[2]

According to Sudoplatov, the order to murder Konovalets came directly from Joseph Stalin, who had personally told him, "This is not just an act of revenge, although Konovalets is an agent of German fascism. Our goal is to behead the movement of Ukrainian fascism on the eve of the war and force these gangsters to annihilate each other in a struggle for power."[3]

After delivering the bomb to Konovalets, Pavel Sudoplatov calmly walked away and waited nearby to know that it had successfully detonated. He then traveled on foot to Rotterdam's railway station and boarded a train for Paris. Then, with the assistance of the NKVD, Sudoplatov was smuggled to the Second Spanish Republic, where he briefly served in combat against Francisco Franco's Nationalists.

Due to his sudden disappearance, both the Dutch police and the OUN immediately suspected Sudoplatov of Konovalets' murder. Therefore, a photograph of Sudoplatov and Konovalets together was destributed to every OUN unit. According to Sudoplatov,

In the 1940s, SMERSH... captured two guerilla fighters in Western Ukraine, one of whom had this photo of me on him. When asked why he was carrying it, he replied, "I have no idea why, but the order is if we find this man to liquidate him."[4]

In the fall of 1938, he was made acting director of the Foreign Department of the NKVD (as the OGPU had by then become) after the purging of the previous head, in a set of purges which later culminated in the fall of Nikolai Yezhov (who was eventually replaced by Lavrentii Beria). Shortly afterward, Sudoplatov narrowly escaped being purged himself.

In March, 1939, Stalin rehabilitated Sudoplatov, promoting him to deputy director of the Foreign Department, and placed him in charge of the assassination of Trotsky, which was carried out in August, 1940.

In June, 1941, Sudoplatov was placed in charge of the NKVD's Administration for Special Tasks, the principal task of which was to carry out sabotage operations behind enemy lines in wartime (both it and the Foreign Department had also been used to carry out assassinations abroad). During World War II, his unit helped organize guerrilla bands, and other secret behind-the-lines units for sabotage and assassinations, to fight the Nazis.

In late July 1941, under the orders of Lavrenti Beria, he met (in a Georgian restaurant in the centre of Moscow) with the Bulgarian ambassador, who was the representative of Germany in USSR, at the time. Sudoplatov asked the ambassador if Hitler would stop penetration of the USSR, in exchange for giving Germany, a large part of USSR. (No one knows if this proposition was true or if it was an attempt of USSR to gain time).

In February, 1944, Beria named Sudoplatov to also head the newly-formed Department S, which united both GRU and NKVD intelligence work on the atomic bomb; he was also given a management role in the Soviet atomic effort, to help with coordination.

In the summer of 1946, he was removed from both posts, and in September he was placed in charge of another group at the newly-renamed MGB, one which was supposed to plan sabotage actions in Western countries. In November, 1949, he was given a temporary job helping suppress a guerilla movement in Ukraine that was a relic of WWII.

In the spring of 1953, around the time of Stalin's death, Sudoplatov was appointed to head the yet-again renamed MVD's Bureau of Special Tasks, which was responsible for sabotage operations abroad, and ran networks of "illegals" who were given the task of preparing attacks on military establishments in NATO countries, in the event that NATO attacked the Soviet Union.

Arrest, trial and imprisonment[edit | edit source]

After the fall of Lavrenty Beria, Sudoplatov was arrested on August 21, 1953. He simulated madness to avoid being executed with Beria, and therefore he was tried only in 1958.[5] He was accused, among other things, of involvement with the Mairanovsky's laboratory of death:

"As established [during the court trial], Beria and his accomplices committed terrible crimes against humanity: they tested deadly poisons, which caused agonizing death, on live humans. A special laboratory, which was established for experiments on the action of poisons on living humans, worked under the supervision of Sudoplatov and his deputy Eitington from 1942 to 1946. They demanded he provide them only with poisons that had been tested on humans...".[5]

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. After serving the full term (during which time he was housed with a number of Stalin's top assistants, also imprisoned), he was duly released in August, 1968.

Later life[edit | edit source]

He thereafter worked for some time as a translator, working in German and Ukrainian, and wrote a novel as well as historical items about his work during WWII.

After an extensive campaign, including a publicity effort during the glasnost era, he was finally re-habilitated and cleared of wrongdoing in 1992.

In 1994, his autobiography, Special Tasks, based in large part on Sudoplatov's memory, and written with the help of his son Anatoli and two American writers, was published; it caused a considerable uproar. In addition to extensive details of many Soviet intelligence operations during Sudoplatov's career, and a similarly extensive discussion of the political machinations inside the intelligence services and the Soviet government, it claimed that a number of Western scientists who had worked on the atomic bomb project, while not agents for the Soviets, had provided useful atomic information; this has been heavily disputed.[by whom?] He was buried in the New Donskoy Cemetery in Moscow.

Honours and awards[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Павел Судоплатов - Спецоперации. Лубянка и Кремль 1930-1950 годы
  2. Christopher Andrew, Vasili Mitrokhin. The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. Basic Books (1999) ISBN 0-465-00312-5 p. 86
  3. Pavel Sudoplatov, Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness, a Soviet Spymaster, pages 23-24.
  4. Pavel Sudoplatov, Special Tasks, page 16.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Vadim J. Birstein. The Perversion Of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science. Westview Press (2004) ISBN 0-8133-4280-5

Further reading[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

cs:Pavel Sudoplatov de:Pawel Anatoljewitsch Sudoplatow et:Pavel Sudoplatov fr:Pavel Soudoplatov hu:Pavel Anatoljevics Szudoplatov nl:Pavel Soedoplatov ja:パヴェル・スドプラトフ pl:Paweł Sudopłatow ro:Pavel Sudoplatov ru:Судоплатов, Павел Анатольевич fi:Pavel Sudoplatov sv:Pavel Sudoplatov uk:Судоплатов Павло Анатолійович

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