Soviet Koreans and Far Eastern NKVD in the 1930s

Abstract

The period of 1930s in Soviet history is one from the most discussed in the contemporary Russian historiography. Therefore, Russian and foreign specialists conduct a large number of studies on this topic, and process archive data in order to search for new information. Their attitude towards repression is not unambiguous. Despite the large number of publications on this topic, there are still some areas that are unrobed by researchers. One of them is the relationship of NKVD and the Korean diaspora in the Soviet Far East. As is known, NKVD deported Soviet Koreans from the Far East to Central Asia in 1937. However, this question is complicated and accompanied struggles in regional NKVD. The aim of our work is to consider and analyze the relationship of the local NKVD and party organization to the Korean diaspora in the southern part of the Soviet Far East before ethnic deportation.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    But Suturin died before publication of his work.

  2. 2.

    ROVS—Russian All-Military Union. It was founded in 1924. It united in its ranks the White Guards hostile to the Soviet regime. The main slogan of the organization was the struggle against communism, as well as the indivisibility and unity of Russia. Before World War II, the ROVS was the largest organization of Russian emigration, and at the time of its creation, the union totaled up to 100 thousand members. Many members of the ROVS took part in the Civil War in Spain on the side of the Franco regime, in World War II—on the side of Nazi Germany against the Allies. The ROVS policy is not approved by all of the emigrant organizations. After the 1940s, the organization practically did not make its presence felt. The ROVS began to show itself again in the 1990s, including the Russian Federation and Ukraine. In 2014–2017, members of the ROVS participated in military operations in Ukraine—in particular, their units fought against the Ukrainian troops in the army of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

  3. 3.

    In the late 1930s, they will create a number of Russian fascist parties on the territory of Manchuria with the patronage and support of the Japanese colonial authorities.

  4. 4.

    Deribas Terentij Dmitrievich (1883–1938)—famous participant of the Russian revolution 1917, old Bolshevik, officer of VChK, OGPU and NKVD. He was a participant of Russian revolution 1905–1907. In 1920s, he worked in the Secret Department of OGPU USSR. In 1931, Deribas became member of collegiums OGPU–NKVD. From October 1933, he supervised the construction of the Baikal-Amur Railway by prisoners. His successful work in this object was positively estimated by Moscow and in July 10, 1934, Deribas received two new posts—Head of local NKVD in the Far East and Head of Special Department in the Special Red Banner Far Eastern Army. In July 31, 1937, he was removed from all posts and in August 12 arrested and blamed in “espionage, sympathy for Trotskyism and the organization of a number of conspiracies in the NKVD and the Red Army”. Later he was deported in Moscow for intensive interrogations. In July 28, 1938, Deribas was sentenced by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR to death. He was shot in the same day in polygon “Kommunarka” near Moscow (it was the place of death of some dozen thousand repressed people). In 1957, the case of Deribas was reconsidered and in December 31, he was posthumously rehabilitated and reinstated in the KPSS. The case of Deribas is rare in itself, because almost all participants of Stalin repressions in the 1930s, who had high-level positions, usually are not subjects to rehabilitation.

  5. 5.

    Zapadnyj (Kesselman) Semen Izrailevich (1899–1938)—participant of the First World and Russian Civil wars, since 1919 in VChK, commissar of state security of the 3rd rank, member of the Bolshevik party from 1918. Until 1928, he served in Ukraine, from 1928—in the Soviet Far East. Zapadnyj was arrested in August 1937 and was shot in February 1938. By Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the USSR from April 28, 1980, he was rehabilitated posthumously due to lack of corpus delicti.

  6. 6.

    Harnskij Konstantin Andreevich (1884–1938) was a Russian hereditary noble, was born in the family of officer, and was an active participant of the Russian Civil War in the Red side. He was one of the best orientalists in the Soviet State. In the summer of 1937, Harnskij was arrested on charges of involvement in espionage and sabotage activities. Later he received blame in spying for Japan. This case was not only for one person, because not only Harnskij was blamed, but for other professors and scholars too. This process was famous in the Far East. In April 25, 1938, he was sentenced to death and executed. In 1957, Harnskij was rehabilitated.

  7. 7.

    Pak Sen Hun 1989. In 1940s. Pak Sen Hun worked in the 88th brigade, and he was a personal curator of Kim Il Sung—future Head of North Korea.

  8. 8.

    About which we plan to say more in our forthcoming article, provisionally titled—Lushkov against NKVD: history of one treason.

  9. 9.

    Nikolaj Nikolaevich Ezhov (1895–1940) —Head of NKVD in 1937–1938. He was an author of most famous repressive acts in the USSR. He was shot in 1940.

  10. 10.

    Barminskij Sergej Arsentievich (1900–1938) —senior major of state security (1936), and commissar of state security of the 3rd rank. One from founders of the football club Dinamo (Kiev)—most famous and titled football team in the Soviet Union. Participant of the October revolution and Russian Civil wars. Served in Moscow, Ukraine, on Romanian border. Last work place—Head of the 5th Department of NKVD of the Special Red Banner Far Eastern Army. Barminskij was arrested in August 9, 1937 and shot in February 10, 1938.

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Funding

This publication was supported by the 2020 Korean Studies Grant Program of the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS-2020- R06).

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Correspondence to Alexander Kim.

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Kim, A., Surzhik, M. & Mamychev, A. Soviet Koreans and Far Eastern NKVD in the 1930s. East Asia (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12140-020-09349-4

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Keywords

  • Stalin repressions
  • Resistance
  • Local authorities
  • Far East
  • Korean diaspora
  • NKVD