Yakov Saulovich Agranov
Born (1893-10-12)October 12, 1893
Checherskaya, Gomel Oblast, Belarus (then Russian Empire)
Died August 1, 1938(1938-08-01) (aged 44)
Allegiance Template:USSR
Service/branch NKVD
Years of service 1919-1938
Rank Commissar
Awards Order of the Red Banner (twice)

Yakov Saulovich Agranov (Template:Lang-ru) (born Yankel Samuilovich Sorenson, Янкель Самуилович Соренсон; 1893 – 1938) was a prominent member of the Cheka, the forerunner of the Soviet KGB. From 1919 until his death he was a prominent member of the Cheka (later the OGPU and then NKVD).

He is known as the fabricator of “Petrograd military organization” case leading to execution of Nikolai Gumilev and others, as creator and director of first Stalin's show trials, including Trial of the Twenty One and Industrial Party Trial, and as a deputy of NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda during Stalin's Great Purge.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Agranov was born in a Jewish shopkeeper's family in Checherskaya, a village in the Gomel province of the Russian Empire. In 1912 he joined the Socialist-Revolutionary Party while working as a clerk and in 1915 joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. He was arrested by the tsarist police in 1915 and exiled to Yenesei province.

In 1918, Agranov became secretary of Sovnarkom. At this time he was taking orders directly from Vladimir Lenin and Felix Dzerzhinsky. During this period Agranov was in charge of the forced exile of leading figures of Russian science and culture as potentially anti-Soviet elements. Among those expelled were Nikolai Berdyaev and Nikolai Lossky.

In 1921, Agranov was the chief investigator who fabricated the “Petrograd militant organization”, allegedly headed by Vladimir Tagantsev. Tagantsev was arrested and then tricked into giving names 300 "conspirators", who, he was told, would not be executed.[1] The investigation ended with more than 85 persons being sentenced to death, including Tagantsev and poet Nikolay Gumilyov. All concerned were promptly executed. When asked why he was so merciless, Agranov responded: "Seventy percent of Petrograd intellectuals were standing by one leg in the camp of our enemies. We had to burn that leg".[2]

Agranov also investigated the Kronstadt rebellion and the peasant uprising in Tambov region. At the end of his career he fabricated the Trial of the Twenty One, against the Trotskyist Anti-Soviet Military Organization, the “Promparty” and “Working Peasant Party ” cases, later shown to be mythical.

Agranov is also implicated in the suspicious suicide of Vladimir Mayakovsky in 1930 because the poet shot himself from the gun given to him as a present by Agranov.

Immediately after the assassination of Sergey Kirov in Leningrad in 1934, Agranov was entrusted with the organization of mass reprisals in the city. The interrogation sessions of Lev Kamenev, Grigory Zinoviev, Nikolai Bukharin, Alexei Rykov and Mikhail Tukhachevsky were conducted under his supervision.

The cynical motto “If there is no enemy, he should be created, denounced and punished” was attributed to Yakov Agranov. His career and life come to an end when in 1938 he himself was accused of being a Trotskyite sympathizer and executed by firing squad as an “enemy of the people”.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Stalin and his Hangmen, Donald Rayfield, 2004, pub. Random House. p 117
  2. Vitaliy Shentalinsky, Crime Without Punishment, Progress-Pleyada, Moscow, 2007, ISBN 978-5-93006-033-1 (Russian: Виталий Шенталинский, "Преступление без наказания"), page 214.

External links[edit | edit source]

es:Yákov Agránov fr:Iakov Agranov ja:ヤーコフ・アグラーノフ pl:Jakow Agranow ru:Агранов, Яков Саулович

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