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The Main Directorate of State Security (Russian: Glavnoe Upravlenie Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti, Главное управление государственной безопасности, ГУГБ, GUGB) was the name of the Soviet secret police from July 1934 to April 1943. It was run under the auspices of the Peoples Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD). Its first head was first deputy of People's Commissar of Internal Affairs (then - Genrikh Yagoda), Commissar 1st rank of State Security Yakov Agranov.



Main Directorate of State Security evolved from the Joint State Political Directorate (or. OGPU). On February 3, 1941, the Special Sections (or. OO) of the GUGB-NKVD (responsible for counter-intelligence in the military) became part of the Army and Navy (RKKA and RKKF, respectively). The GUGB was removed from the NKVD and renamed Peoples Commissariat of State Security or NKGB.
Following the outbreak of World War II, the NKVD and NKGB were reunited on July 20, 1941 and counter-intelligence was returned to the NKVD in January 1942. In April 1943 it was again transferred to the Narkomat of Defence and Narkomat of the Navy, becoming SMERSH (from Smert' Shpionam or "Death to Spies"); at the same time, the GUGB was again separated from the NKVD as NKGB.

GUGB head's

By the end of 1937 GUGB was one of the most powerful and influential organs in NKVD structure. GUGB departments (or Sections) dealt with - intelligence, internal security, counter-intelligence, protection of government and secret communications.
First chief of GUGB was Yakov Agranov, Commissar 1st rank of State Security and first deputy of People's Commissar of Internal Affairs. Next chief of GUGB from April 15, 1937 to September 8, 1938 was komkor Mikhail Frinovsky, he was succeeded by Lavrenty Beria, then just promoted to Commissar 1st rank of State Security. When Beria become People's Commissar of Internal Affairs (head of NKVD), Commissar 3rd rank of State Security Vsevolod Merkulov become his first deputy and new and last head of GUGB.


Between 1934 and 1941, Main Directorate of State Security when through several organizational changes. In January 1935 in GUGB structure there were nine departments -

(head of GUGB) – Commissar 1st rank of State Security Yakov Agranov

1. Operational Department – Karl Pauker (headed by)

2. Special Department – Gleb Boki

3. Department of Economics - (ЭКО/EKO) – Lev Mironov

4. Special Department - (OO) – Mark Gay

5. Secret Political Department - (СПО/SPO) – Georgy Molchanov

6. Foreign Department - (ИНО/INO) – Artur Artuzov

7. Department of Transport - (ТО) – Vladimir Kichkin

8. Department of Information and Statistic - (УСО/USO) – Yakov Genkin

9. Staff Department - (OK) – Yakov Weynschtok

By the end of 1937 People's Commissar of Internal Affairs Nikolai Yezhov, in his order #00362 had change the departments number from nine to twelve.

(head of GUGB) – komkor Mikhail Frinovsky
  • Department 1 [Protection of Government] – Israel Dagin
  • Department 2 [Operative] – Ans Zalpeter
  • Department 3 [counter-intelligence] (КРО/KRO) – Aleksandr Minayev-Cikanovich
  • Department 4 [Secret Political] (СПО/SPO) – Mikhail Litvin
  • Department 5 [Special] (OO) – Nikolai Nikolaev- Zhuryd
  • Department 6 [Transport] (TO) – Mikhail Volkov
  • Department 7 [Foreign (Intelligence)] (ИНО/INO) —Abram Slutsky
  • Department 8 [Records and Statistic] (УСО/USO) – Vladimir Cesarsky
  • Department 9 [Special (codes)] (OO) – Isaak Shapiro
  • Department 10 [Prison] – Yakov Weynschtok
  • Department 11 [Maritime Transportation] (ВО/WO) – Victor Yrcev
  • Department 12 [Technical and Operational] (OOT) – Semyen Zhukovsky

After Lavrenty Beria took over Frinovsky place as a GUGB head, in September 1938, GUGB when through another organizational change -

(head of GUGB) – Commissar 1st rank of State Security Lavrenty Beria
  • Department 3 - [counter-intelligence] –
  • Department 4 - [Special] —
  • Department 5 - [Foreign (Intelligence)] – Pavel Fitin
  • Department 6 - [Codes] –
  • GUGB Investigating Section

GUGB Ranks

The GUGB had a unique system of ranks, a blend of position-rank system used in the army and personal ranks used in Militsiya; the rank insignia was also very distinct. Even though insignia introduced in 1937 followed the Red Army collar patch patterns, it assigned them very different ranks for GUGB and Internal Troops/political/specialist branches, with GUGB rank placed at least one grade higher than a similar army equivalent. [1] [2] [3] [4].

When GUGB and Militsiya ranks were replaced with military ranks and insignia in February 1943, Major to Sergeant ranks were aligned with Colonel to Junior Leutenant, and Senior Major and up were replaced with various degrees of Commissar. In 1945, General Commissar Lavrentiy Beria received the rank of the Marshal of the Soviet Union, and other GUGB Comissars received the ranks from Generals of the Army] to Major General.

The ranks of GUGB used in 1937-1943 are as follows:

  • генеральный комиссар ГБ – General Commissar of State Security
  • комиссар ГБ 1-го ранга – Commissar 1st rank of State Security
  • комиссар ГБ 2-го ранга – Commissar 2nd rank of State Security
  • комиссар ГБ 3-го ранга – Commissar 3rd rank of State Security
  • старший майор ГБ – Senior Major of State Security
  • майор ГБ – Major of State Security
  • капитан ГБ – Captain of State Security
  • старший лейтенант ГБ – Senior Lieutenant of State Security
  • лейтенант ГБ – Lieutenant of State Security
  • младший лейтенант ГБ – Junior Lieutenant of State Security
  • сержант ГБ – Sergeant of State Security

See also


  • Piotr Kołakowski - NKWD i GRU na ziemiach Polskich 1939-1945 - (Kulisy wywiadu i kontrwywiadu) - Dom wydawniczy Bellona Warszawa 2002 - (NKVD and GRU on Polish soil 1939-1945 [Intelligence counter-intelligence series] Warsaw, 2002)


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