Stalin’s secret police finally named but killings still not seen as crimes
Andrei Zhukov praised by activists for singlehandedly identifying every NKVD officer involved in 1930s arrests and killings
For two decades, starting in 1993, Andrei Zhukov went down into a Moscow archive at least three days a week, spending hour after hour leafing through thousands of orders issued by the NKVD, Joseph Stalins secret police, searching for the names and ranks of the organisations officers.
The result is the first comprehensive survey of the NKVD men responsible for carrying out Stalins Great Terror of 1937 and 1938, in which about 1.5 million people were arrested and 700,000 shot. While it is not the first study into the senior leadership of the NKVD, this is the first time that everyone from the investigators to the executioners has been identified. There are just over 40,000 names on the list.
Zhukov, a jovial eccentric who now lives in the countryside outside Moscow, said that although he was no fan of Stalin, there was no real political motivation to his work. Now 64, he has always enjoyed collecting things and was an avid philatelist during the Soviet period.
Ive always been interested in things that were secret, or hard to find. I started this off purely from a collectors instinct, he said.
Historians, however, soon realised the importance of Zhukovs work. The organisation Memorial, which works to document Stalin-era crimes, released a CD this summer containing his database of names. In November, the database was released online.
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