Pavel Sudoplatov : biography
Lieutenant General Pavel Anatolyevich Sudoplatov (Пáвел Aнатóльевич Cудоплáтов) (July 7, 1907 – September 26, 1996) was a member of the intelligence services of the Soviet Union who rose to the rank of lieutenant general. He was involved in several famous episodes, including the assassination of Leon Trotsky, the Soviet espionage program which obtained information about the atomic bomb from the Manhattan Project, and Operation Scherhorn, a Soviet deception operation against the Germans in 1944. His autobiography, Special Tasks, made him well-known outside the USSR, and provided a detailed look at Soviet intelligence and Soviet internal politics during his years at the top.
Arrest, trial and imprisonment
After the fall of Lavrenty Beria, Sudoplatov was arrested on August 21, 1953. He simulated madness to avoid being executed with Beria, and therefore he was tried only in 1958.Vadim J. Birstein. The Perversion Of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science. Westview Press (2004) ISBN 0-8133-4280-5 He was accused, among other things, of involvement with the Mairanovsky's laboratory of death:
- "As established [during the court trial], Beria and his accomplices committed terrible crimes against humanity: they tested deadly poisons, which caused agonizing death, on live humans. A special laboratory, which was established for experiments on the action of poisons on living humans, worked under the supervision of Sudoplatov and his deputy Eitingon from 1942 to 1946. They demanded he provide them only with poisons that had been tested on humans...".
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. After serving the full term (during which time he was housed with a number of Stalin's top assistants, also imprisoned), he was duly released in August, 1968.
Early life and career
He was born in Melitopol, in Eastern Ukraine, to a Russian mother and a Ukrainian father, and was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1919 at the age of 12 he left home and joined a Red Army regiment near Melitopol. After being assigned to company flags and served in combat against both the White Army and the Ukrainian nationalist movement during the Russian Civil War. He was recruited into the Cheka in 1921, at the age of fourteen, and was promoted to the Secret Political Department of the Ukrainian State Political Directorate (OGPU) in 1927.
In 1928 he married Emma Kaganova, a Jewish girl from Gomel, Belarus who had been recruited by and worked for the OGPU.
He transferred to the Soviet OGPU in 1933, moving to Moscow, and soon after became an "illegal", operating under cover in a number of European countries. On May 23, 1938, he personally assassinated the Ukrainian nationalist leader Yevhen Konovalets by giving him a box of chocolates containing a bomb.Christopher Andrew, Vasili Mitrokhin. The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. Basic Books (1999) ISBN 0-465-00312-5
According to Sudoplatov, the order to murder Konovalets came directly from Joseph Stalin, who had personally told him, "This is not just an act of revenge, although Konovalets is an agent of German fascism. Our goal is to behead the movement of Ukrainian fascism on the eve of the war and force these gangsters to annihilate each other in a struggle for power."Pavel Sudoplatov, Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness, a Soviet Spymaster, pages 23-24.
After delivering the bomb to Konovalets, Pavel Sudoplatov calmly walked away and waited nearby to know that it had successfully detonated. He then traveled on foot to Rotterdam's railway station and boarded a train for Paris. Then, with the assistance of the NKVD, Sudoplatov was smuggled to the Second Spanish Republic, where he briefly served in combat against Francisco Franco's Nationalists.
Due to his sudden disappearance, both the Dutch police and the OUN immediately suspected Sudoplatov of Konovalets' murder. Therefore, a photograph of Sudoplatov and Konovalets together was distributed to every OUN unit. According to Sudoplatov, In the 1940s, SMERSH... captured two guerilla fighters in Western Ukraine, one of whom had this photo of me on him. When asked why he was carrying it, he replied, "I have no idea why, but the order is if we find this man to liquidate him."Pavel Sudoplatov, Special Tasks, page 16.
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