Soviet Communists

Soviet Communists

(KV 2/1236)

Lavrenti Beria

(KV 2/1236)

Beria (1899-1953) was born in Georgia, and trained as an architect, subsequently working as a building inspector in Azerbaijan. He joined the Communist Party in 1917, and first met Stalin, it is claimed, when he saved him from an assassination attempt in 1931. Stalin quickly promoted Beria through the party ranks, and he headed the NKVD (the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, or the Communist secret police) from 1938. Under Beria's leadership the NKVD conducted purges that resulted in the deaths of millions of Russians. He became deputy prime minister in 1941, and joined the politburo in 1946. He was placed in charge of the Russian atom bomb project (see notes for Klaus Fuchs above). Beria's fortunes did not outlive Stalin, however, and he was arrested and executed in December 1953.

This file is the Security Service record of its monitoring of Beria's activities. It is relatively thin as there is no substantive Security Service action noted on the file, and contains mostly reports on or references to Beria from other agencies. One such report (at folio 2a) from 1931, on Beria's activities in support of Stalin, is derived from a SIS source inside the Secret Department of one of the regional Communist Party committees in the Soviet Union. Some documents relating to SIS co-operation with various American agencies monitoring Beria's activities are still retained from release. There is some detail on the file of Beria's 1947 visit to Western Europe (of which one of the main objectives was thought to be disruption of de Gaulle's plans).