Database reveals names of secret agents for the Soviet Great Terror

Curiosity of relatives from the former Soviet Union is peaked when there is a silence about their life in the old country. What’s the big secret about their life?

More 41,000 men and women from the former Soviet Union had a big secret of their lives- working for the NKVD (precursor to the KGB) during the Soviet Great Terror from 1935 to 1939. Their secret is no longer that, thanks to an online database from Russian organization Memorial.

Anyone who is curious if their relatives served as NKVD agents during the terror years can do it quietly by using this database. Not surprisingly, some of these agents were executed after years of loyal service.

Information on each agent varies but some have their full name, birthdate, birthplace, death date and place of death, in addition to details on their service and awards.

Naturally, this database is in Russian but easy to use for those who don’t know Russian.

Here’s how to use the database without knowing Russian:

  1. Translate family names into Russian by using Google Translate or Transliterating English to Russian in One Step
  2. Click on the link for the correct letters that start the last name on this page.
  3. Once a possible match is found, click on the link, copy and paste the text into Google Translate  to read the material in English.

For those intimidated by using a Russian website, here is another way to search this database.

  1. Translate family names into Russian by using Google Translate or Transliterating English to Russian in One Step
  2. Copy the full name or last name into Google’s search bar and add site: http://nkvd.memo.ru/index.php. It should look like Иванов site: http://nkvd.memo.ru/index.php in the search bar.
  3. Then the results appear in Russian. Copy and paste each page of results into Google Translate to decide which links to click on.

Memorial, which posted this database onto its website, also has a database for victims of the Soviet Repression here. The database was updated in December 2016.

The organization is working on a database of Soviet Union citizens who were forced laborers of Germany. Follow this blog by clicking on the button in the top right corner to learn when that database becomes public.

Related posts:
Secrets of searching the Internet in Russian and Ukrainian like a native speaker
Break open the “I don’t know anything” relatives for some genealogy gems

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