On November 9, 2016, the first court session of the libel case surrounding General Ivan Serov’s memoir Notes from a Suitcase took place in Krasnopresnensky Regional Court in Moscow. As I wrote in a recent blog post, a lawsuit was filed by the journalist Aleksandr Khinstein and the granddaughter of Ivan Serov, Vera Serova, against Moscow radio station Ekho Moskvy. The claim is based on the Russian libel law protecting the “honor and dignity” of individuals, this case seeks to protect the late General, his granddaughter and Khinstein. The claim was prompted by the radio interview with the historian Boris Sokolov on July 14.
In the interview, Sokolov expressed doubt that the memoir, prepared for publishing by Khinstein, was written by Serov himself, and called Serov an executioner. The applicants sued for a compensation of 2,000,000 rubles from the radio station and 1,000,000 from historian Sokolov. It is important to note that Aleksandr Khinstein’s official position is adviser on ideology to Army General Viktor Zolotov, Director of the Rosguards, a 300-400,000-man special forces army subordinated directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The court declared that the applicants are obliged to provide information about the relationship of V. V. Serova with I. A. Serov and her right to inheritance, as well as on the whereabouts of the manuscript. In addition it requested to present the original of an alleged expert handwriting evaluation of the Serov manuscript.
During the session, Boris Sokolov made a long statement rebuffing the lawsuit’s claims. Below is my translation of Sokolov’s statement.
Moscow, November 9, 2016
To: Presnensky Regional Court of Moscow
From: Plaintiff Boris Vadimovich Sokolov
Case no. 2-8661/2016
Objections to the claim by A. Khinstein and V. Serova
I draw the court’s attention to the fact that in the disputed broadcast I stated my personal opinion as a historian about the authenticity of Serov’s published memoir.
I believe that the memoir and diaries by I. A. Serov entitled Notes from the Suitcase. The Secret Diaries of the KGB First Chairman Found 25 Years after His Death (Project by Aleksandr Khinstein), edited and commented by Aleksandr Khinstein. Moscow: Olma Media Group/Prosveshchenie, 2016. 704 pp., with illustrations) in large part was not written by the person who is credited with the authorship, and not at the time stated, which the publishers are insisting on. The grounds for such a conclusion was, among other things, the following examples from the published memoirs:
I. Serov says that before the war, while fighting against armed attacks of the Polish and Ukrainian underground, wounded servicemen were brought to the hospital in armored personnel carriers: “During the first night in Lvov [currently, Lviv] (the Red Army entered Lvov on September 22, 1939 — BS) I, with a group of [NKVD] officers way staying at the “Astoria” hotel, in front of which there was a small square. Tanks and armored personnel carriers were standing in the square . . . I was eating with my adjutant when suddenly we heard shots. Then we heard a knock at the door and there was a civilian calling me by name. He told me to go to the next floor because the editor of Soviet Ukraine had been shot and wounded. I rushed into the yard, and requisitioned an armored personnel carrier and sent the editor to the military hospital in it.” (pp. 49-50).
I believe this statement is an anachronism. First armored personnel carriers appeared in the Red Army only at the end of 1941. They were supplied [by the Americans] under the Lend-Lease. An attempt to create a domestic medical armored personnel carrier, VA-22, was launched in 1938, but it ended in failure, as the only manufactured experimental specimen was rejected by the [governmental] Commission in 1939, before the war, and did not go into production (A. G. Solyankin, I. G. Zheltov, and K. N. Kudryashov. Domestic Armored Vehicles. T. 1. Domestic Armored Vehicles, 1905-1941. Moscow: Eksprint, 2002. P. 336 [in Russian]). Meanwhile, this fragment was presented [in the memoir] as a diary entry, or at least the text was based on the diary entry. But in September 1939, the Red Army did not have armored personnel carriers, and the term “bronetransporter” [“armored personnel carrier”] was not used for armored cars or armored artillery tractors.
2. Serov writes that during the disarmament and arrest of officers of the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian corps of the Red Army in June 1941, on the eve of the Great Patriotic War, companies of Red Army submachine gunners were used: “After choosing a good location, I sent two Red Army platoons with submachine guns there and ordered the company commander to arrange them lying along the road. It was decided to arrange the Lithuanian officers in a two-by-two column and that they should face each other. I walked at the head of this column of officers and stopped in the right place. But the Colonel mixed up orders, and it turned out that the Lithuanian officers stood facing the Red Army servicemen with their backs to each. When they saw the barrels of machine guns, two Lithuanians calmly opened fire on us with pistols. (…)
Then, a month later, when the Germans attacked the Soviet Union, we felt how right was the decision to disarm these officers. The Security Commissars of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia told me how despicably and treacherous the families of those officers behaved, and how they immediately began helping the Germans.
Using the fact that I was in the Baltic States, I decided to go to the border, where there were Germans on the opposite side” (pp. 76-77).
However, Red Army submachine gunner companies were created only after Order no. 0406 of the People’s Commissariat of Defense, dated October 12, 1941, by which submachine gunner companies were introduced into infantry regiments (Russian Archives: The Great Patriotic War. Vol. 13 (2-2). Orders of USSR People’s Commissar of Defense, June 22, 1941 – 1942. Moscow: TERRA, 1997. P. 117, document № 92 [in Russian]). Therefore, submachine gunner companies did not exist in the Red Army in 1939, since mass production of submachine guns began only in August 1941.
This part of the text is presented as a diary entry with a later insertion. And disarmament is described with many details, mentioning particularly the submachine guns. Therefore, one could assume that this the text mentioning submachine guns was written by another person, who was not an eyewitness to the events, and who was not aware of the timing of the creation of machine gunner companies within the Red Army.
3. In describing the events of May 1941, in my opinion, there is also the following anachronism in the Serov memoir: “On May 6, a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Council was issued on the approval of Comrade Stalin as Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars [SNK]. V. M. Molotov became SNK First Deputy Chairman and Minister of Foreign Affairs” (pp. 80-81). This text is presented as a diary entry.
However, it is well known that until 1946, the post of V. M. Molotov was called “People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs.” For a diary entry, an anachronism like this is suspicious, especially appearing close to the correct name of Stalin’s post (Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars) and the correct name of Molotov’s other post (SNK Deputy Chairman). One could assume that this text is not a diary entry written by Serov, but by some other person.
4. I’d like to note other, in my opinion, anachronisms and inaccuracies in the memoir made by Serov in the description of events in the Crimea in the spring of 1942: “In March 1942, the Germans launched an offensive in the Crimea (…) [Lev] Mekhlis held the following positions: Deputy Minister of Defense, Chief of the Main Political Directorate, State Control Minister, a member of the GOKO [State Defense Committee] and of the Front Military Council (…) I saw bombs dropping on the shore… I then looked around and saw a “rama” [“chassis”], as we called the German bombers Focke-Wulf” (pp. 121-122). This fragment is presented as a diary entry. In fact, as is well known, in March 1942, in the Crimea on the Kerch Peninsula, Soviet troops were advancing [meaning the Germans were retreating].
Z. Mekhlis was then Deputy People’s Commissar of Defense, while he became State Control Minister only in 1946 (before the war, he was People’s Commissar of State Control). A “rama” was the reconnaissance plane Focke Wulf-189, which was never a bomber. I am concerned that here the anachronisms and inaccuracies are too much for a diary entry [facts should be fresh in one’s mind when writing a diary entry]. It is necessary to conclude that this is not a diary entry, and was made not by Serov, but by a person with insufficient knowledge of the realities of the spring of 1942.
5. In the notes about the Katyn [massacre] crime, made by Serov, there are questionable assertions that, in my opinion, could not be made Serov: “Forgot to write down that already in January 1944, a report was published by our [Soviet] commission on the Katyn case. The commission included Academician [Nikolai] Burdenko, Metropolitan Nikolai, writer Aleksei Tolstoy, Commissar of Education [Vladimir] Potemkin, and others. And then the fat [Bogdan] Kobulov escaped punishment, he was only frightened” [see my blog post Sokolov Debunks Serov’s Memoir] (p. 201).
This note is presented as a diary entry of May-June 1944 concerning an event that took place in January 1944. However, it is doubtful that Serov in 1944 could seriously fear that Stalin would have recognized the Katyn [massacre] as an NKVD crime. And even if he [Serov] thought so, he had as much to fear as B. Z. Kobulov of being shot for the same crime. Just like Kobulov, he supervised the massacre of Polish officers and civilians ordered by the Politburo decision of March 5, 1940, following which the executions of Poles were carried out. The only difference was that Serov supervised the massacre of Polish officers and civilians in Kharkov, not Katyn, and in the prisons in Western Ukraine, while in the spring of 1940 he headed the Ukrainian NKVD. Apparently, for this and other activities on April 26, 1946 he was awarded the Lenin Order.
Sergei Nikitich Khrushchev, the son of Nikita Khrushchev, confirms the fact that Serov carried out these shootings. In his memoir S. Khrushchev wrote in connection with the unrest in Poland in 1956:
For the first time, I heard about Katyn in those years.
I was struck by the enormity of the charges, and, of course, I did not believe in them… However, soon I became convinced that they were true.
I happened to hear a confirmation of so vehemently rejected accusations from an authoritative source, General Serov.
In my father’s presence, he did not touch [this] taboo topic, but once he called upon us in my father’s absense.
During those days (we are talking about 1956 – B. S.) many were talking about Katyn. Once [Aleksei] Adjoubei (Sergei Khrushchev’s brother-in law – B. S.), I do not remember in what connection, asked the General, who allowed information to come out about Katyn?
Ivan Aleksandrovich [Serov] responded to the question angrily, I would say, even painfully. He began to express some criticism against the Belarussian security officers who made an inexcusable, in his view, mistake.
“They couldn’t cope with the smallest thing,” — Serov blurted crossly, — “I had much more of them [officers to kill] in Ukraine. It was neat and slick, no trace could be found …”
He broke off and started talking about something else. In vain Aleksei tried to bring him back to the terrible subject, the General remained silent.
I could not grasp what I heard. “So, it’s true …,” – was pounding in my temples.
I did not ask my father, the accidentally revealed mystery seemed to be so terrible that instinctively I was afraid of touching it.
(Sergei Nikitich Khrushchev. The Birth of a Superpower: The Book about Father. Moscow: Vremya, 2003 [in Russian]. Nikita Krushchev said the same thing in the first edition of his book Crises and Rockets. Moscow: Novosti, 1994. Vol. 1. P. 204 [in Russian]).
Participation in the organization of the execution of Poles following the Politburo decision of March 5, 1940, is the gravest crime of I. A. Serov, and not his “involvement in a number of disgraceful actions”, as the applicants claim. And it is unlikely he would have dared to entrust to the diary one of the most carefully concealed state secrets, the involvement of the NKVD in the Katyn crime. If such a diary entry was found, he could have been shot. Since it is very doubtful that Serov would make such a record of Katyn in 1944 (or later), one can assume that this note was not from the diary and not penned by Serov.
6. In describing his activity in July 1945 in Germany concerning the removal of technical documentation, industrial equipment, and German specialists to Soviet territory, there is also the following anachronism: “A German started a gyroscope of the size of a fist and gave it to us to hold. I took it, and he told me: ‘You should try to turn it on its side.’ All my attempts were unsuccessful. It turns out that inside there was a small machine controlled by software…” (p. 305). It should be reminded that the first commercial computer-controlled machine appeared in 1952 in the United States, and in the Soviet Union, they appeared only in the first half of the 1960s. Before that there was no term “programnoe upravlenie” [“controlled by software”] in the Russian language.
Therefore, it is doubtful that Serov could write this in 1945. Again, this fragment is presented as a diary entry. Even if to assume that in the 1960s or later Serov was editing his diary entry of 1945 about the gyroscope, he could take the term “controlled by software” only from some literature on gyroscopes. However, the operating principle of the gyroscope in the note is described incorrectly, and there is no “machine controlled by software” in any gyroscope, from which one can conclude that Serov did not use literature on gyroscopes. Therefore it is necessary to conclude that this fragment of the text is not a diary entry and could not be written by Serov, but was written by another person, who, apparently, was unfamiliar with gyroscope construction.
7. Also I consider as anachronistic the following note of Serov from March 1953, even before the death of Stalin: “On March 4, 1953, it was reported in the newspaper that Comrade Stalin got sick. (…) At work, I have learned from [Semyon] Ignatiev, who had visited the Kremlin, that at night, after everyone left [Stalin’s] near dacha, in the early morning Stalin became ill.” (p. 404).
However, before Stalin’s death and the merger of the MVD [Internal Affairs Ministry] with the MGB [State Security Ministry] into a united MVD headed by L. P. Beria, Semyon Denisovich Ignatiev and I. A. Serov worked in different ministries and, accordingly, in different buildings, Ignatiev headed the MGB, while Serov was the first deputy of the Interior Minister. And in October 1950, the central apparatus of the Interior Ministry moved from Dzerzhinsky Street to the Ogarev Street, 6 (Yuri Bogdanov. Sergey Kruglov. Two Decades in the Leadership of the State Security and Internal Affairs Organs. Moscow: Algoritm, 2015 [in Russian]. Therefore, the phrase “at work, I learned from Ignatiev…” sounds wrong [since they didn’t work at the same place] and can hardly belong to Serov. Again, the corresponding note is presented as a diary entry made on March 4, 1953.
8. I consider the following entry for March 1953 to also be an anachronism: “Well, the Plenum of the Central Committee gathered without Stalin. A Politburo proposal was pronounced that C.[omrade] [Georgy] Malenkov was recommended for [the post of] Chairman of the Council of Ministers, while C.[omrade] [Nikita] Khrshchev, as the 1st Secretary of the Central Committee” (p. 407). But it is well known that Khrushchev became the 1st Secretary of the CC CPSU [Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union] only in September 1953. On March 14, 1953, the CC Plenum relieved G. M. Malenkov of his duties as Secretary of the CPSU and elected a Secretariat consisting of S. D. Ignatiev, P. N. Pospelov, M. A. Suslov, N. S. Khrushchev, and N. N. Shatalin.
At the time, Khrushchev was not named 1st Secretary. It was only agreed that he should concentrate on working in the CC Secretariat (“Structure of the governing bodies of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Politburo (Presidium), Organising Bureau, and the CC Secretariat (1919-1990).” Izvestiya TsK KPSS [Proceedings of the CC CPSU,. No. 7 (1990.): 69-136 [in Russian]. In his March note, Serov could not predict the events of September. It is reasonable to assume that the note does not belong to the diary, and was not made by Serov.
9. The following diary entry about Serov visiting India together with N. S. Khrushchev and N. A. Bulganin in 1955 looks quite strange: “I paid attention to the tall, handsome Indian of about 26-years-old with no less beautiful wife. The Indian had a red (Muslim) turban on his head. I asked Gandhi (an Indian who accompanied Serov – B. S.), what did this mean. He said that he was the Maharajah of Kashmir. And he put on the red turban in honor of the Soviet guests, knowing that the red color is considered official [in the Soviet Union]” (p. 445). Serov, of course, could not know that the Sikhs, to which the Maharajah (in 1955, he was no longer the Maharaja, but a Governor) of Kashmir belonged, like the Muslims, too, had red turbans, which they often wear in everyday life, as well as at official events. And the assumption that the Maharaj humbled himself so far as to wear a turban of a certain color (a sacred garment for Sikhs), only to flatter the Soviet guests, seems ridiculous. It is very doubtful that the Indian representative would give Serov such an explanation or that the explanation was invented by a Soviet translator. Therefore, there is every reason to doubt that the relevant entry is a diary entry written by Serov.
When a historical source contains such a high number of anachronisms and absurdities, historians and philologists usually deny its authenticity. In other words, they conclude that it was written by another person and not at the time which was stated.
Similarly, Gennady Sokolov, the security services historian, said in an interview with the [Russian] newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda: ” However, some information given in the book as the author’s text, in my estimation, could not belong to the pen of General Serov. Take, for example, the case of [Colonel] Oleg Penkovsky. What did Serov write about him? And did Serov write this? (…) Serov was aware of all the events during Khrushchev’s visit and could not write in his memoir that the British frogman [Lionel Crabb] was liquidated by us. [because Serov knew he had not been killed by the Soviets’]” (Yevgeny Chernykh. “Who Falsified the Memoir of the First KGB Chief Serov?” Komsomolskaya Pravda, October 8, 2016 [in Russian].
However, the book Notes from a Suitcase, as I said in the interview at the Ekho Moskvy radio station, contains, without doubt, fragments of manuscript written by Serov [entitled] Life for the Good of the Motherland and the Party, a photocopy of the first page of which is reproduced in the book in a selection of illustrations between pages 480 and 481.
However, it is rather not a diary, but a version of an expanded autobiography. Thus, text that is similar to that seen in the photo, is cited on page 16 of the book: “In 1923, I graduated from a grade II [7-year] school. I, as a Komsomol [Communist Youth Union] member, was summoned to the regional Party Committee and was told to go to the head of my village council that I had been appointed head of the reading hut [village library]. (…) There I was soon elected Secretary of the local Komsomol Committee, and then, in January 1923, I was summoned to the regional Party Committee and was told that they would recommend me to the post of Chairman of the regional Executive Committee. I told the Secretary the regional Committee that I was not even 18-year old.” In the photo, the text reads: “In 1923, [he] graduated from a grade II school. After graduation, the regional Party Committee sent me to my village council to head the reading hut, to explain to the peasants and youth the tasks of Soviet power in the countryside. Then a year later I was summoned to the regional Party Committee and was told that they would recommend me to the post of Chairman of the regional Executive Committee, which included 21 villages. I said that I was not even 18-years old.”
But in the book a very strange passage preceded this text: “In 1921, the British landed troops in Arkhangelsk and began moving in the direction of [the city of] Vologda, to help the Whites restore bourgeois rule. From us, teenagers, boys of the grade II school, Komsomol members a ChON squad was organized.” The fact that Serov served in the ChON [Special Task Units or Military-Party Squads existed from 1919-1924 and were used mostly to support VCheKa operations] can’t be denied. And the [Russian] Civil War history he probably did not know in detail, even though he studied it in the Military Academy. But the statement that the British landed in Arkhangelsk in 1921 [the British landed in 1918 and left in 1919] is as absurd as the statement “World War II ended in 1946” would be.
However, we do not know the length the manuscript Life for the Good of the Motherland and the Party, [whether it contains] 10, 100 or 1,000 pages, so we can’t separate fragments of the text written by Serov himself within the book Memoirs from a Suitcase, from the fragments of the text he presumably did not write. And the attribution to Serov of texts he allegedly did not write, and containing a number of anachronisms and absurdities that he himself would have hardly made, can, in my view, humiliate his honor and dignity.
My statement that Serov’s memoir “was written, for example, by Khinstein,” are of a probabilistic character and reflect my personal opinion. At the same time, I suppose that some text in the book Memoirs from a Suitcase, which are presented as Serov ‘s texts, in fact, I believe, were not written by him, but could have been created by another person or persons. Aleksandr Khinstein, who published the Serov memoir under his editorship and in the frame of the “Project of Aleksandr Khinstein”, is responsible for the inclusion in this edition of text whose authorship is in question. Serov ‘s memoir, in the shape it was published, never existed (due to the editing made during the publication), and a significant portion of it, in my opinion, was not written by Serov.
The plaintiffs’ thesis that “Serov recorded his notes in great secrecy, since writing a diary by a serviceman during the Great Patriotic War was officially was considered as equivalent to a crime. No wonder that he did not mention dates” does not withstand criticism. Until now, a number of diaries written by servicemen during the Great Patriotic War were published, and most of the records in them have the exact date (see, for instance, Vladimir Gelfand. Diary from 1941 to 1946. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2015-2016 (2 vols.) [in Russian]; This Is Also My War. The Great Patriotic War in the Written and Visual Ego-Documents. Compilation of Documents, edited by A. Yu. Rozhkov and I. G. Tazhidinova. Krasnodar: Tradition, 2016 [in Russian]; and so forth). After all, the crime was not Serov’s dates, but the content of the diary entries. For example, the entry where Katyn [massacre] is discussed as an NKVD crime. If Serov was not afraid of making such notes, why was he afraid of putting down the dates? And a diary writer needs dates records in order to navigate through the entries.
The claim of the plaintiffs that the presence in the text of references to 13 calls of Serov to Stalin and 4 phone calls between them in the period 1939-1945 supposedly refutes my judgment that in Serov’s diaries there are few specific orders from his superiors and his own orders to specific subordinates does not stand criticism. During this period, hundreds or thousands of orders would have been recorded in the diaries of officials of this high level.
With regards to the presence or absence of armored vehicles in the Red Army on the eve of World War II, I can quote the following source:
On the eve of World War II, the Red Army armored force vehicles were represented by heavy tanks T-35, KV-1 and KV-2, medium tanks T-28 and T-34, light tanks T-26 and BT, small floating tanks T-37A, T-38 and T-40, special tanks and tankettes T-27, and armored cars BA-3, BA-6, B-10, B-20, FAI. Self-propelled artillery in the prewar period were not commercially produced, despite the large number of prototypes developed. Armored vehicles of the engineering troops, combat, logistics and technical support were also not commercially produced, except the artillery tractors based on a light tank T-26 or tankette T-27.
(A. G. Solyankin, I. G Zheltov, and K. N. Kudryashov. Domestic Armored Vehicles T. 2. Domestic Armored Vehicles, 1941-1945. Moscow: Eksprint, 2005. P. 6 [in Russian]). It is easy to confirm that no armored personnel carriers are mentioned here.
As for comparison [comparison made by diplomat/historian Gennady Sokolov, no relation to Boris Sokolov] with novels by Yulian Semyonov [a popular Soviet writer of detective novels, including stories of fictional Soviet agents during World War II], I’d like to note that these parallels suggest that [Serov’s] text was written much later than the described events. And finds of literary parallels in the text cannot insult anyone. Such parallels may be a consequence of both the borrowing and a random coincidence.
As for the statement that Stalin could leave Serov as an illegal rezident [head of an intelligence net] in Moscow in case of German occupation of it in the autumn of 1941, it is necessary to say that Serov was the bearer of the most important state secrets, including information about the execution of the Polish officers and civilians in Kharkov and West Ukrainian prisons. Stalin could not allow the Germans to take him, which would have been quite possible if he was left as an illegal rezident in the enemy’s rear. Such big Party functionaries as the head of the Ukrainian Communist Party and a Politburo member, N. S. Khrushchev, and the head of the Communist Party of Belarus and a Central Committee member, P. K. Ponomarenko, directed, respectively, partisans and the underground in Ukraine and the rest of the occupied territory from Moscow, without crossing the front line.
If Stalin appointed Serov head of the Moscow underground and partisans, Serov would have directed them from [the city of] Kuibyshev [where the main Soviet offices were evacuated] or another place on the Soviet side of the front. High-level Soviet bureaucrats, in fact, visited the frontline areas. For example, not only Serov, but also L. M. Kaganovich, a Politburo and GKO member, was shell-shocked on October 4, 1942, when he was a member of the Military Council of the Western Front and his arm was wounded during bombardment. As is well known, during various times front commanders M. P. Kirponos, N. F. Vatutin and I. D, Chernyakhovsky, as well as Deputy Front Commander I. R. Apanasenko were killed at the front line.
However, neither Kaganovich nor Serov, or other officials or military offices of such a high level were sent to the enemy’s rear. And Serov had no experience with illegal work. My arguments about how Serov could behave if captured by the Germans, were intended to illustrate the considerations of why Stalin would have never appointed Serov to head an illegal rezidentura in Moscow. Stalin, as is known, suspected the captured Soviet generals of treason, often unfairly, and some of them paid with their lives after their release [from German captivity] and were rehabilitated only posthumously, as, for example, General P. G. Ponedelin, declared a traitor.
Similarly, Stalin would have suspected Serov, in any case, if he was in the hands of the Germans. And it would not have mattered, if Serov was a traitor or if he would have bravely withstood the enemy and remained faithful. Well, a coincidence of the legend, according to which Serov was going to act in the underground, with the legend of one of the main characters of the novel and [popular] film The Venue Cannot Be Changed, suggests the literary origin of this episode [in the memoir]. In my opinion, for the veterans of special services, who, in particular, Serov would have considered as potential readers of his memoir, this episode with the alleged sending of Serov to the enemy’s rear looks highly unlikely and would not inspire their confidence.
My conclusion that Serov was an executioner, is proved by his participation in the execution of the Poles in the spring of 1940, in the execution of German hostages in Germany in 1945, and participation in the organization of the deportations of the Volga Germans, Crimean people and the North Caucasus peoples. I have already said about his role in the execution of the Poles. I can add that “by the August 27  order of the NKVD of the USSR Serov was appointed head of the Operational Group for Eviction of the [Soviet] Germans from Stalingrad and Saratov regions. He went to that area and from September 3 to 20, he ‘successfully’ carried out the eviction, for which NKVD order no. 001353 from September 22, 1941, honorably mentioned him” (Nikita Petrov. “First Chairman of the KGB General Ivan Serov.” Otechestvennaya istoriya [National History]. No. 5 (1997): 23-43 [in Russian], http://www.fedy-diary.ru/?page_id=5889 ).
On February 20, 1944, [Lavrenty] Beria came to [the city of] Grozny together with I. Serov, B. Kobulov, and S. Mamulov, and he personally supervised the operation, which had involved an unprecedented large force, up to 19 thousand NKVD, NKGB and «SMERSH» operatives and about 100 thousand NKVD officers and servicemen, required virtually the whole country to participate in the so-called “exercises in the mountainous area” [meaning the deportation of the Chechens and other local Caucasus nations] (Pavel Polyan. Not on Their Own Will: History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR. Moscow: Memorial, 2001. Chapter “Forced Migration During World War II and after Its End (1939-1953) [in Russian],).
In 1944, Serov directs mass arrests and deportations of civilian populations from near frontline areas in order to “cleanse the rear” of the western advance of the West Red Army. For his participation in the operation to evict the Chechens and Ingush people, on March 8, 1944, Serpv was awarded the Suvorov Order of the 1st Class (Nikita Petrov. “First Chairman of the KGB General Ivan Serov.” Otechestvennaya istoriya [National History]. No. 5 (1997): 23-43 [in Russian].
In May 1944, Serov was in the Crimea together with B. Z. Kobulov. On May 11, they reported to Stalin on the identification and arrests of “anti-Soviet elements” in [the city of] Sevastopol (GA RF [State Archive of the Russian Federation]. Fond [Collection] 9401. Opis’ [Register]. 2. Delo [File] 65. Listy [Pages] 71-74). After that, Serov was actively involved in the operation to evict the Crimean Tatars from the Crimea that started on May 18, 1944 (Nikita Petrov. “First Chairman of the KGB General Ivan Serov.” Otechestvennaya istoriya [National History]. No. 5 (1997): 23-43 [in Russian].
“One cannot accuse Serov of an absence of cruelty, his men executed German hostages. As stated in the report, ‘in response to the German terrorist acts, the front troops shot 567 Volkssturm participants, members of the Fascist Party’ (GA RF. F. 9401. Op 1. D. 2226. Ll. 113-121) (Nikita Petrov. “First Chairman of the KGB General Ivan Serov.” Otechestvennaya istoriya [National History]. No. 5 (1997): 23-43 [in Russian]..
In my opinion, for these crimes Serov should not be a subject of rehabilitation, whatever the merits of his leadership of the Moscow police or partisan movement, or his participation in the rehabilitation of innocent victims sentenced under Stalin.
Sokolov, B. V. [signature]
November 9, 2016
The next court session is scheduled for December 7.