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Daily History

December 20 1917 Creation of Russia’s Cheka security service


Cheka BadgeOn December 20th 1917, the first Soviet security organisation, Cheka, was founded. While the KGB is the stereotypical Soviet secret police in modern society, the Cheka were the first of its kind, created by Lenin in 1917 in order to stabilise Russian society after the Bolshevik Revolution and the dismantling of the Russian monarchy.

Cheka’s full translated name is “All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage.” The organisation was originally led by Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, a Polish Communist revolutionary who spent the majority of the twenty years previous to the Bolshevik Revolution in various prisons. Apart from being a leader of the Cheka, he is also known for several scientific advancements, among them a Soviet camera known as “FED.”

While not necessarily secret in its functioning, the Cheka were methodical and sought out bourgeois members of post-Bolshevik Russian society. Many were found guilty without proper trials, and the Chekas performed many mass arrests, imprisonments and even executions of those considered to be a threat to society.

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

10 thoughts on “December 20 1917 Creation of Russia’s Cheka security service

  1. Observation suggest that re-ordering an upset apple cart as per the French and Russian revolutions particularly, inevitablty requires a powerful and ruthless executive with his own police force, right? Too many contending interests!

    It might be interesting to compare the Russian apparat and the German SS with current evolution of the Dept of Homeland Security to elucidate similarities and differences…

    Posted by jackcurtis | February 23, 2012, 06:31
  2. Craig, This is a link to a lttle story I wrote when Obama was elected.

    http://whoopiebrain.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/the-town-tweeker/

    The reason I mention it is that there was an interesting book I read and referenced in my story.

    “An Archaeology of Socialism” written by Buchli in 1999.

    I thought you may find it interesting if you can get your hands on it.

    Posted by Waldo "Wally" Tomosky | February 24, 2012, 22:13
  3. I’m curious about the timing and subject matter, Craig. I studied Russian and Soviet history and on a trip to
    Moscow many years ago, went to Dzherinsky Ploshad in front of KGB HQ at the time. I walked around the building and took pictures of all sides, including the underground driveway that Solzhenitsyn described in his Gulag books.
    I believe the FSB has taken over the property w/ its cells and underground dungeons.

    Posted by jackandmarilynerickson | February 25, 2012, 18:28
    • Interesting. having studied Russian and Soviet history, you would be far more knowledgeable about the subjects than I. Why is the timing and subject matter curious? 🙂

      Posted by Craig Hill | February 25, 2012, 18:33
  4. Dzerzhinsky: had to look up Felix’s origins again as I had been sure that I had seen that the Belarusians consider him one of their own. English Wikipedia certainly shows the ancestry as Polish, but doesn’t give the birth location. You have to go to the Russian Wikipedia entry for that information: Dzerzhinovo, Oshmyansky Uezd, Vilenskaya Guberniya, Russian Empire… which translates today to Dzerzhinovo, Volozhinsky Rayon, Minskaya Oblast in Belarus (I believe my sister-in-law is from somewhere near those parts, from Ivye).

    Of course, this is a part of the country that was briefly part of Interwar Poland, and of course his ancestry is clearly Polish, so its not completely inaccurate to describe him as Polish. Just the same as it’s not completely inaccurate of Belarusians to consider him from Belarus.

    Shifting borders, part of what makes studying Eastern European history fun…

    Posted by benmangel | March 2, 2012, 02:59
    • The shifting borders have created many interesting barr room conversations during my travels and associations with older European residents 🙂

      Posted by Craig Hill | March 2, 2012, 07:30
  5. This shifting borders also give a clue to Felix D’s success. He was an outsider. Precisely for the same reason Lenin chose Koba J- (aka. Stalin to head the commission to write about the minorities and their place in the new Bolshevik Russia. A Russian Jew would have been biased. It is from her Stalin’s star began to rise. The secret Police was necessary and played a vital role.

    Posted by bennythomas | March 3, 2012, 18:29

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