Letters and Documents from old KGB (OGPU) files See also “Interrogations & Judgment” and “Trial for leading hunger strike and worker resistance in Vorkuta” Letter to Stalin from leading British intellectuals How We Got the Documents 2009 Showing of Documentary at Boston Museum of Fine Arts Photographs from Trip to Russia
Freda Utley’s husband, Arkadi Berdichevsky, was arrested and sentenced by the Soviet secret police in 1936. In 2004 Freda Utley’s son, Jon Basil Utley, obtained copies of the old KGB (OGPU) files from Moscow and then from Ukhta, the former administrative capital for all concentration camps in Komi. He then visited Vorkuta where his father had been condemned and died. Following are many of the relevant documents.—
Item 1–Letter from researcher about his discoveries
From: Wladislaw George Krasnow [email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, June 11, 2004 3:50 PM
To: Jon Utley
I’m ready to deliver to you several dozen copies from the FSB file on
the legal case of your father.
I used Tuesday, May 11, to set up an appointment with someone from the
FSB’s Central Archives. It was not easy. As you remember, their response
contained neither telephone nor street address.
The appointment was on Thursday, May 13. A young man, Denis Shibaev,
apparently an assistant to Mr. Cherepkov, Deputy Chief, introduced me to
the File. He pointed out, among other things, that your father never
admitted his guilt, denied that he ever belonged to any
Counter-Revolutionary Trotskyite organization, and refused to implicate
Shibaev also emphasized that Mr. Berdichevsky’s case was reviewed by a
special commission in 1961 and then rescinded in 1963, sadly, only
post-mortem.He also spelled out the rules of the engagement (not
looking, for instance, into sealed envelopes containing witnesses’
testimonies, attached to the file). Then he let me to examine the file
in the Reading Room on ul. Kuznetsky Most 22. He told me that, if I
wished, he would copy for me some of the pages of importance to my
research, but not to exceed 30% of the total. So I did. It would take
him several days to have the copies ready, he told me. So I went to Perm
on the same day.
I came back to Moscow and the Reading Room on Wednesday, May 19. I
found both the File and the set of copies as requested, including the
prisoner’s mug shot. I examined the File and the copies once again.
Next day, May 20, I went to the Archives again. At Shibaev’s suggestion,
I wrote a second request asking to allow access to Berdichevsky’s File
pertaining to his second trial by the troika. That File may be kept by
the NKVD’s office in Archangelsk.
I submitted it to the FSB’s Public Reception box. Shibaev told me that
if the request would come to him, he would write to my Alexandria
address before August about the result.
The rest could be discussed when we meet.
Best Regards, WGK
Item 2–letter to Vladislav Krasnow who researched the documents in Moscow.
Federal Security Service (FSB)
of The Russian Federation
Department of Registry and Archives
February 5, 2004
# 10/A-K-19, Moscow
Ul. Profsoyuznaya 136, korpus 1, kv. 186
Dear Vladislav Georgievich!
In response to your inquiry, we inform you that the Central Archive of Russia’ Federal Security Service (FSB) has indeed in its custody the Investigative Dossier referenced as Arkady Yakovlevich Berdichevsky. Born in 1888 in the city ofOdessa, he was formerly Chief of the Department of Finance and Accounting of “Soyuzpromeksport.”
On April 10 1936, the NKVD of the USSR arrested him as a member of the “Counter-Revolutionary Trotskyite organization” (according to articles 58-10 and 58-11 of the Criminal Code of the Russian federation). Prior to the arrest he resided on Kalyaevskaya Street 5, Apartment 281.
Mr. Berdichevsky was accused of having participated in “counter-revolutionary Trotskyite meetings that were arranged by his wife Uatley (sic! in the original Russian indictment) and during which propaganda against the VKP(b) was conducted,” which activities he “had concealed from concerned authorities to the moment of his arrest.”
By the August 9, 1936 decree of the Special Conference of the NKVD, he was convicted and sentenced to a 5-year term at the Corrective-Labor Camps (ITL).
While serving his term on the territory of Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, accused of participating in collective resistance, on January 11, 1938 he was tried by the three-men (troika) tribunal of the Archangelsk Regional Office of NKVD and sentenced to execution by a firing squad. This execution was carried out on March 30, 1938. (As far as we can surmise, somewhere in Ukhtpechlag, Vorkutinsky Point, Komi ASSR.)
This troika tribunal decree was rescinded by the decision of the Presidium of the Supreme Court of Komi ASSR on March 29, 1961. By the decision of the Judicial Collegium on Criminal Affairs of the Supreme Court of the RSFSR, on March 29, 1963, Mr. Berdichevsky was rehabilitated.
Responding to a personal request of former U.S. Ambassador in the USSR Mr. Thompson which was forwarded to him through USSR Ambassador in Washington, in January of 1963, Frieda (sic,WGK) Utley was informed that her husband, A. Ya. Berdichevsky, died on March 30, 1938, while serving his sentence. She was also informed that the fact of his death was registered in the ZAGS Bureau of the Executive Committee of the District Soviet (raysovet) of Working People’s Deputies of Timiryazev District (rayon) of Moscow, March 8, 1963, Entry #5.
According to the Law of the Russian federation, “Concerning the rehabilitation of the Victims of Political Repressions,” of October 18, 1991, the access to documents contained in the Investigative Dossiers of rehabilitated persons can be granted with the consent of the rehabilitated person himself/herself. In case of his/her dearth, the consent of his/her close relatives is required.
Item 9, Article 34, of the Code (?) of the Russian Federation defines “close relatives” as parents, children, adoptive parents and adoptive children, brothers and sisters, grandparents, grandchildren, as well as a spouse.
Further details pertaining to Berdichevsky’s Case could be obtained upon a written request, accompanied by documents verifying close relation between Jon Basil Utley and A. Ya. Berdichevsky as well as a copy of Jon Basil Utley’s passport, all certified by a Notary Public.
Furthermore, we inform you that the archival Investigative Dossier of A. Ya. Berdichevsky could be made accessible to Jon Basil Utley, provided that he can verify his identity as spelled out above, in the Reading Room of the Central Archive of the FSB. Likewise, the Dossier can be made available for inspection by Mr. Utley’s representative, provided that he has the original draft of Power of Attorney from Mr. Utley, certified by a Notary Public. Other close relatives of A. Ya. Berdichevsky can likewise have access to the Dossier either in person or by issuing the Power of Attorney to their representatives, provided their own relatedness to Berdichevsky is affirmed and verified.
We ask to notify the Central Archives of the FSB, by a letter, about your intention to inspect the Dossier.
Deputy Chief of the Achive,
- P. Cherepkov