Lavrenti Beria – Soviet politician
Lavrenti Beria was a Soviet politician and police official, chief of the NKVD (1938-1946), member of the Communist Party (1917-1953).
Lavrenti Pavlovich Beria was born in 1899 in a village in the Georgian Republic. He was the son of a Georgian peasant.
He entered the Baku Polytechnic for Mechanical Construction in 1915 and graduated four years later.
In March 1917 Beria joined the Bolshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. He participated in the Russian Revolution as an underground soldier and counterintelligence agent in the Caucasus.
In 1921, his career in the Soviet secret police began. Beria’s influence grew as the political police played an increasing role in Georgian politics. His career was successful because he helped to engineer the defeat of the national communists, who wanted Georgia to retain some form of independence from Moscow.
By 1926 Beria became a chairman of the Georgian GPU (State Political Administration, the successor organization to the Cheka).
In 1931, he was elected to the post of first secretary of the Georgian party apparatus.
In 1935 Beria published a lengthy treatise, On the History of Bolshevik Organizations in Transcaucasia, which greatly exaggerated Stalin’s role in the revolutionary movement in the Caucasus before 1917.
In 1938 Stalin rewarded him with the post of head of the NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, as the secret police was then called) in Moscow.
He concluded the era of the ‘Great Purge’ by liquidating police officials, including his erstwhile superior, Yezhov.
By the end of World War II, Beria had earned a reputation as a ruthless but highly effective administrator. He even became a marshal of the Soviet Union. Stalin made him a full member of the party’s ruling Politburo in 1946.
When Joseph Stalin died in March 1953, Beria, V. M. Molotov, and G. M. Malenkov formed a triumvirate in an apparent effort to rule the Soviet Union. However, other Bolsheviks, fearing that once again power would be concentrated in one man, conspired to purge Beria.
Nikita Khrushchev ordered to arrest Beria in 1953. Lavrenti Beria was executed in December 1953.
He was one of the most influential politicians of the Soviet period.
He was married to Nina Gegechkori (1905-1991). They had a son, Sergo (1924-2000).
In recent years, Beria had a second (unofficial) wife. He lived together with Valentina Drozdova. When he met her she was a schoolgirl. Valentina gave birth to a daughter.