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Merkulov file photo [16816]

Vsevolod Merkulov

Given NameVsevolod
Born27 Nov 1895
Died23 Dec 1953
CountryRussia, Georgia


ww2dbaseVsevolod Nikolayevich Merkulov was born in Tiflis (now Tblisi), Georgia Governorate in southern Russia to a low ranking nobleman and a captain in army of the Russian Empire. He graduated from the Tiflis Gymnasium in 1913 and moved on to study at the Petrograd Imperial University at Petrograd (later Leningrad, now Sankt-Peterburg), Russia, in the Department of Physics and Mathematics. He served in the Russian Army between 1915 and 1918. In 1921, he returned to southern Russia and worked as a detective at the Transportation Unit of the Extraordinary Commission, or VCheKa, a Soviet internal security organization, in the newly formed Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. Between 1925 and 1931, he was the head of the Secret Operations Directorate of the State Political Directorate, or GPU, another secret police organization, of Adzharistan in southern Georgia. In 1931, Lavrentiy Beria, a political ally also of Georgian descent, rose to power in the Soviet capital of Moscow and named Merkulov to the staff of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party and gave him responsibility over the Special Sector for counterintelligence. In 1941, he was brought to Moscow by Beria to be the People's Commissar of State Security of the Soviet Union, or NKGB. Five months later, as NKGB was merged under the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, or NKVD, he became the Deputy People's Commissar of the NKVD, reporting to Beria. In Jul 1943, NKGB was once again an organization independent of the NKVD, and Merkulov resumed his leadership role. After the war, he stepped down from his position of power at NKGB in Mar 1946. Between 1946 and the early 1950s, he served as the Minister for State Security and then the Minister of State Control. In 1953, as Beria's political opponents successfully ousted Beria from power, Beria and five of his close colleagues, including Merkulov, were arrested and executed.

Vadim Birstein, SMERSH

Last Major Revision: Dec 2012

Vsevolod Merkulov Timeline

27 Nov 1895 Vsevolod Merkulov was born in Zagatala, Russia (now Azerbaijan); his birthday was also recorded as 25 Oct 1895 in the Russian Old Style.
28 Sep 1939 Vsevolod Merkulov sent his superiors in Moscow, Russia a report, noting his NKVD Operational Group No. 1 had arrested 923 Polish officers, policemen, land owners, Ukrainian nationalists, etc. in eastern Poland.
3 Feb 1941 Vsevolod Merkulov was named the People's Commissar of State Security of the Soviet NKGB with responsibilities to oversee espionage and intelligence activities. The new ministry NKGB would last only until the German invasion when it would be merged back into the NKVD.
16 May 1941 Vsevolod Merkulov reported to Joseph Stalin regarding the final deportation plan for the Baltic States, which targeted political leaders, land owners, officers, and others, plus their families. He recommended 8-year imprisonment in labor camps for them, and the exile to faraway lands in the Soviet Union for their families.
20 Jul 1941 Vsevolod Merkulov stepped down as the People's Commissar of State Security of the Soviet Union.
3 May 1943 Soviet NKVD/NKGB official Viktor Il'in was arrested in Vsevolod Merkulov's office on false charges of treason, conspiracy, and spreading anti-Soviet propaganda.
20 Jul 1943 Vsevolod Merkulov was named the People's Commissar of State Security of the Soviet Union.
4 Mar 1944 Vsevolod Merkulov was awarded the Order of Kutuzov 1st Class.
2 Oct 1944 Vsevolod Merkulov submitted a report to Lavrentiy Beria detailing the intelligence he had gained from an American atomic scientist.
19 Jul 1945 Vsevolod Merkulov was promoted to the rank of general.
19 Mar 1946 Vsevolod Merkulov was named the Minister of State Security (MGB) in the Soviet Council of Ministers.
7 May 1946 Vsevolod Merkulov was dismissed as the head of the Soviet Ministry for State Security (MGB) by the Soviet Politburo.
20 Aug 1946 Joseph Stalin explained that Vsevolod Merkulov's dismissal in May 1946 was due to his dishonesty during the war.
23 Dec 1953 Vsevolod Merkulov was executed in Moscow, Russia.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
2 Jun 2016 04:35:39 AM

Max Hastings in his recent book, The Secret War (HarperCollins, 2015) mentions that Merkulov, Beria's deputy, had presided over the infamous massacre of 25,000 Polish officers at Katyn.

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