Sudoplatov, Pavel Anatolyevich, born 07-07-1907, in Melitopol, Russian Empire (present-day 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, he served in combat against both the White Army and the Ukrainian nationalist movement during the Russian Civil War.
Sudoplatov was recruited into the Cheka in 1921, at the age of fourteen, and was promoted to the Secret Political Department (SPO) or NKGB of the Ukrainian State Political Directorate (OGPU) in 1927. 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 23-05-1938, he personally assassinated the Ukrainian nationalist leader Yevhen Konovalets in Rotterdam by giving him a box of chocolates containing a bomb. Konovalets was a military commander of the UNR army and political leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement. He is best known as the leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists between 1929 and 1938.
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.” After delivering the bomb to Konovalets, Pavel Sudoplatov calmly walked away and waited nearby to verify 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.”
In the fall of 1938, he was made acting director of the Foreign Department of the NKVD (as the OGPU had by then become) after the purging of the previous head, in a set of purges which later culminated in the fall of Nikolai Yezhov (who was eventually replaced by Lavrentiy Beria). Shortly afterward, Sudoplatov narrowly escaped being purged himself. Nikolai Yezov on 04-02-1940,age 44, was shot by the future KGB chairman Ivan Serov Serov was widely known for boasting to his colleagues that he could “break every bone in a man’s body without killing him”.He survived all and died 01-07-1990, age 44 in Moscow
In March 1939, Stalin rehabilitated Sudoplatov, promoting him to deputy director of the Foreign Department, and placed him in charge of the assassination of Trotsky, which was carried out in August 1940.
In June 1941, Sudoplatov was placed in charge of the NKVD’s Administration for Special Tasks, the principal task of which was to carry out sabotage operations behind enemy lines in wartime (both it and the Foreign Department had also been used to carry out assassinations abroad). During World War II, his unit helped organize guerrilla bands, and other secret behind-the-lines units for sabotage and assassinations, to fight the Nazis.
In late July 1941, under the orders of Lavrentiy Beria, he met (in a Georgian restaurant in the centre of Moscow) with the Bulgarian ambassador, who was the representative of Germany in USSR, at the time. Sudoplatov asked the ambassador if Adolf Hitler would stop penetration of the USSR in exchange for giving Germany, a large part of the USSR. No one knows if this proposition was true or if it was an attempt of the USSR to gain time.
In February 1944, Beria allegedly named Sudoplatov to head the newly formed Department S, which, according to Sudoplatov, united both the army intelligence (GRU) and NKVD intelligence in an effort to aid and secure the Soviet atomic bomb project. Sudoplatov’s exact role and contribution, as well as his claim that he “engineered the theft of atomic secrets from the United States with the aid of four eminent scientists” is under discussion, since, according to the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia, Department S was established in September 1945, and Sudoplatov had limited access to the Soviet atomic effort from that time until October 1946 and did not have any access to foreign agents tasked with collecting the atomic intelligence. In 1995, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) conducted an investigation and declared that it,
…is not in possession of any credible evidence that would suggest that Neils Bohr, Enrico Fermi, Robert Oppenheimer, or Leo Szilard engaged in any espionage activity on behalf of any foreign power…, the F.B.I. has classified information available that argues against the conclusions reached by the author of ‘Special Tasks.’ The F.B.I., therefore, considers such allegations to be unfounded.
In the summer of 1946, Sudoplatov was removed from both posts, and in September he was placed in charge of another group at the newly renamed MGB, one which was supposed to plan sabotage actions in Western countries. In November, 1949, he was given a temporary job helping suppress a guerrilla Ukrainian liberation movement in Ukraine that was a relic of World War II.
In the spring of 1953, around the time of Stalin’s death, Sudoplatov was appointed to head the yet-again renamed MVD’s Bureau of Special Tasks, which was responsible for sabotage operations abroad, and ran networks of “illegals” who were given the task of preparing attacks on military establishments in NATO countries, in the event that NATO attacked the Soviet Union.
After the fall of Lavrentiy Beria, Sudoplatov was arrested on 21-08-1953, as his alleged collaborator in crimes. He simulated madness to avoid being executed with Beria, and therefore he was tried only in 1958. He was accused, among other things, of involvement with the Grigory Mairanovsky’s laboratory of death: Grigory Moiseevich Mairanovsky was a Soviet biochemist and poison developer
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. Nahum Isaakovich Eitingon, also known as Leonid Aleksandrovich Eitingon. They demanded he provide them only with poisons that had been tested on humans..He died age 80 on 03-05-1981, in Moscow).
Sudoplatov 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.
Sudoplatov thereafter worked for some time as a German and Ukrainian translator, and also published – under the pen name “Anatoliy Andreev” – three books based on his activities during World War II.
After an extensive letter-writing campaign, including a publicity effort during the glasnost era of the late 1980s, he was finally rehabilitated and cleared of wrongdoing on 10-01-1992 – after the December 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union. In his memoirs, he wrote with bitterness about his rehabilitation:
The Soviet Union—to which I devoted every fiber of my being and for which I was willing to die; for which I averted my eyes from every brutality, finding justification in its transformation from a backward nation into a superpower; for which I spent long months on duty away from Emma and the children; whose mistakes cost me fifteen years of my life as a husband and father – was unwilling to admit its failure and take me back as a citizen. Only when there was no more Soviet Union, no more proud empire, was I reinstated and my name returned to its rightful place. Pavel Sudoplatov’s wife was Emma Karlovna Kaganova. The real name of the Jewess for whom he had passionate feelings was Kogan. The beauty with the blue eyes captured the heart of a twenty-year-old man. She was smart and beautiful, managed to study at the Gomel gymnasium, loved art and literature, she knew 5 languages. Emma worked as a coordinator of the USSR GPU agents under the Ukrainian intelligentsia. The girl introduced Sudoplatov to her interests and led her into her work. Young people married in 1928. Their marriage was officially registered 23 years later.In 1932 the couple moved to Moscow for service. Emma worked as an agent in the secret political department. She still specialized in working with creative intelligentsia. Sudoplatov was aimed at Ukrainian nationalists. The scouts family had two children. After their father’s death, the sons gave interviews in which they discussed the activities of their parents. Emma died 02-09-1988, aged 83, in Moscow.
Death and burial ground of Sudoplatov, Pavel Anatolyevich.
Sudoplatov died on 26-09-1996, age 89, in Moscow, Russia, and was buried next to his wife Emma on the New Donskoy Cemetery in Moscow.