Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky

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Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky

Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky (Belarusian language Феліск Эдмундавіч Дзяржынскі, Polish: Feliks Dzierżyński, Russian: Феликс Эдмундович Дзержинский; September 11 (August 30, O.S.), 1877 - July 20, 1926) was a Polish Communist revolutionary, famous as the founder of the Bolshevik secret police, the Cheka, later known by many names.

Dzerzhinsky was born into a family of nobles in Dziarzhynovo estate (near Ivianets and Rakau in Western Belarus which used to be part of Poland), then part of the Russian Empire. He was expelled from school for "revolutionary activity". He joined a Marxist group—the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party in 1895, and was one of the founders of Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania in 1900. He spent the major part of his early life in various prisons. He was arrested for his revolutionary activities in 1897 and 1900, sent to Siberia, and escaped both times. He then went to Berlin, before returning to participate in the failed 1905 revolution, after which he was again jailed, this time by the Okhranka. After being released in 1912, he was quickly rearrested for revolutionary activity and jailed in Moscow.

In March, 1917, he was freed (although Pravda usually asserts that he escaped, and indeed the facts are uncertain), along with many others, from the jail he had been imprisoned in since 1912. His first act was to join the Bolshevik Party. His honest and incorruptible character, combined with his complete devotion to the cause, gained him swift recognition and the nickname Iron Felix.

Lenin regarded Dzerzhinsky as a revolutionary hero, and appointed him to organise a force to combat internal political threats. On December 20, 1917, the Council of People's Commissars officially established the Vecheka, a Russian acronym for the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counter-revolution and Sabotage. The Cheka received a large amount of resources, and became known for ruthlessly pursuing any perceived counterrevolutionary elements. As the Russian Civil War expanded, Dzerzhinsky also began organising internal security troops to enforce the Cheka's authority. Lenin gave the organization tremendous powers to combat the opposition.

At the end of the Civil War in 1922, the Cheka was changed into the GPU (State Political Directorate), a section of the NKVD, but this did not diminish Dzerzhinsky's power: from 1921-24, he was Minister of the Interior, head of the Cheka/GPU/OGPU, Minister for Communications, and head of the Vesenkha (Supreme Council of National Economy). It is said, however, that he was not ambitious.

In 1924, Dzerzhinsky organized a mechanical calculator manufacturing operation. The most successful pinwheel calculator model was named the Felix. This sturdy model was in service until the 1970s, and was (not surpisingly) known in folklore as "Iron Felix".

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Dzerzhinsky (centre) in 1920

There was a popular Soviet camera, FED. The first models were made after Leica. Initially it was produced by a working commune for homeless children named after F.E.Dzierzhynski under the management of the famous Soviet pedagogue, Anton Makarenko. Later the production was expanded to a factory (also named after F.E.Dzierzhynski) in Kharkov, Ukraine.

Dzerzhinsky died of a heart attack on July 20, 1926 in Moscow. His name and image were widely used throughout the KGB and the Soviet Union—there were six towns named after him. There is a museum dedicated to him in his birth place in Belarus. The town Kojdanava, which is not very far from the estate, was renamed to Dzyarzhynsk. There is also a city of Dzerzhinsk & three cities called Dzerzhinskiy in Russia and two cities in Ukraine called Dzerzhinsk.

Iron Felix also refers to his monument at the Lubyanka Square in Moscow, near the KGB headquarters. Symbolically, the Memorial to the Victims of the Gulag (a simple stone from Solovki) was erected beside the Iron Felix; the latter was removed in August, 1991.

External links

bg:Феликс Дзерджински de:Felix Edmundowitsch Dserschinski fr:Flix Dzerjinski pl:Feliks Dzierżyński ru:Дзержинский, Феликс Эдмундович


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