Thursday, October 11, 2012

The KGB’s Lubyanka

The Lubyanka was one of the first landmarks I recognized in Moscow.  It was an elegant building.  It was also the headquarters of the KGB - the secret police of the Soviet Union - and its prison.

The KGB, formerly the Cheka, was established to protect the Communist (Bolshevik) regime after the October Revolution in 1917.   Leon Trotsky, one of Stalin’s arch enemies, was deported from the USSR in 1929, and assassinated in Mexico in 1940. In the Great Purge of the Communist Party in 1936-38, it was estimated that a million people, 1% of the adults in the USSR, perished.

Approximately 14 million people passed through the Gulag labor camps, many of them in Siberia. An estimated 1 million died in the labor camps.  The oppression and survival in the labor camps have been fictionalized and documented in books such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago.

The KGB also played important roles in the suppression of the Hungarian Uprising in 1956, and the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

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