Ivan Serov : biography
State Security General Ivan Aleksandrovich Serov ( August 13, 1905 – July 1, 1990) was a prominent leader of Soviet security and intelligence agencies, head of the KGB between March 1954 and December 1958, as well as head of the GRU between 1958 and 1963. He was Deputy Commissar of the NKVD under Lavrentiy Beria, and was to play a major role in the political intrigues after Joseph Stalin's death. Serov helped establish a variety of secret police forces in Central and Eastern Europe after the rise of the Iron Curtain, and played an important role in crushing the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.Erwin A Scmidl, Laszlo Ritter, Peter Dennis, The Hungarian Revolution 1956, 2006
Serov headed both the political intelligence agency (KGB), and the military intelligence agency (GRU), making him unique in Soviet/Russian history.
Though Serov is generally considered less significant than Lavrentiy Beria in modern literature, his actions helped to bring Stalinism to Europe and to intensify the Stalinist process in the Soviet Union. Serov's consolidation of Soviet power in Eastern Europe was helped by his organization of both the UB (Polish Intelligence Service) in Poland and the Stasi in East Germany.
Serov's downfall from position of power has been linked to a case called the Penkovsky affair. Oleg Penkovsky was Serov's protégé, an officer who turned to be a double agent. Serov was married to Khrushchev's daughter and this saved him when he was expelled from power.
GRU Executive and downfall
As head of GRU, Serov was a player in the Cuban Missile Crisis, helping the Soviet leadership with American intelligence. After the failure of the Soviet Union to gain the upper hand in the crisis, Serov was dismissed from the position, and in 1965 was stripped of his Party membership, bringing his career to an end.
Serov, however, lived on till 1990, the year before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In 1945, Serov was transferred to the Second Belarusian Front, and he went to Berlin in May of that year. He stayed there until 1947, helping to organize the construction of the Stasi, the East German secret police.Koehler, J.: "Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police" ISBN 0-8133-3409-8
Becoming Head of the KGB
After the death of Stalin, Serov, who was close to Beria, betrayed him, conspiring with the officers of GRU against him, thus avoiding his own downfall in the aftermath. Serov was one of the few major figures in the secret police to survive this incident.
In 1954, Serov became Chairman of the KGB, and so the head of the larger part of the Soviet secret police. Serov organized security for the tours of Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev, but did not travel to Britain in 1956 when he was decried by the British media as "Ivan the Terrible" and "the Butcher".
Serov played a key role in the Hungarian crisis, sending reports to the Kremlin from Budapest, and escorting visiting Soviet Presidium leaders Anastas Mikoyan and Mikhail Suslov in an armed personnel carrier into Budapest on October 24, because there was too much shooting in the streets.Johanna Granville, trans.,,Cold War International History Project Bulletin, no. 5 (Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington, DC), Spring, 1995, pp. 22-23, 29-34.
In 1956, the Hungarian revolution overthrew the incumbent Communist Hungarian government and in response to this, János Kádár formed a new government more loyal to Moscow, but this received little popular support. Serov was responsible for arresting supporters of Imre Nagy who were trying to negotiate with Soviet military officials.
Serov organized deportations of Hungarians, among them Imre Nagy. Serov co-ordinated the abduction of Pál Maléter, the Hungarian general, and the disruption of peace talks between the Red Army and the Hungarian forces.
Serov was removed from his post as head of the KGB in 1958 after hints by Nikita Khrushchev, who had said that Western visitors could expect that they "wouldn't see so many policemen around the place", that the Soviet police force would undergo a restructuring. Serov was moved from his post to that of Director of the GRU.
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