Lavrentiy Beria

Lavrentiy Beria

Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria (Georgian: ლავრენტი პავლეს ძე ბერია, Lavrenti Pavles dze Beria; Russian: Лавре́нтий Па́влович Бе́рия; 29 March 1899 – 23 December 1953) was a Soviet politician, Marshal of the Soviet Union and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus (NKVD) under Joseph Stalin during World War II, and Deputy Premier in the postwar years (1946–1953).

Beria was the longest lived and most influential of Stalin's secret police chiefs, wielding his most substantial influence during and after World War II. He simultaneously administered vast sections of the Soviet state and served as de facto Marshal of the Soviet Union in command of the NKVD field units responsible for anti-partisan operations on the Eastern Front during World War II, as well as for acting as barrier troops and the apprehension of thousands of "turncoats, deserters, cowards and suspected malingerers". Beria administered the vast expansion of the Gulag labor camps and was primarily responsible for overseeing the secret defense institutions known as sharashkas, critical to the war effort. He also played the decisive role in coordinating the Soviet partisans, developing an impressive intelligence and sabotage network behind German lines. He attended the Yalta Conference with Stalin, who introduced him to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as "our Himmler". After the war, he organized the communist takeover of the countries of Central Europe and Eastern Europe. Beria's uncompromising ruthlessness in his duties and skill at producing results culminated in his success in overseeing the Soviet atomic bomb project. Stalin gave it absolute priority and the project was completed in under five years in no small part due to Soviet espionage against the West organized by Beria's NKVD.

Beria was promoted to First Deputy Premier, where he carried out a brief campaign of liberalization. He was briefly a part of the ruling "troika" with Georgy Malenkov and Vyacheslav Molotov. Beria's overconfidence in his position after Stalin's death led him to misjudge the feelings of his associates, many of whom still had relatives in his prisons. In addition, his proposals to free East Germany and normalize relations with the United States alarmed other Politburo members, especially in the wake of the 1953 East German uprising which was put down only after an invasion by Soviet troops. During the coup d'etat led by Nikita Khrushchev and assisted by the military forces of Marshal Georgy Zhukov, they formed an alliance to remove and kill Beria. In that same year, he was arrested on false charges of treason by Zhukov's soldiers during a meeting in which the full Politburo condemned him. The compliance of the NKVD was ensured by Zhukov's troops, and after interrogation Beria was taken to the basement of the Lubyanka and shot by General Pavel Batitsky along with Beria's most trusted associates.

Read more about Lavrentiy Beria:  Early Life and Rise To Power, Beria At The NKVD, Postwar Politics, Stalin's Death, After Stalin, Downfall, Sexual Assault Charges, In Culture, Honours and Awards

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