He was a true knight, brutal, cold and hard-working. A man who was tortured, beaten and mutilated. Still he fought his enemies with great bravery and unlike those who came after him; not corrupted by power. Felix Dzerzhinsky is called a butcher, evil, a mass-murderer and a killer. The capitalist media loves to vilify him because he led the early Soviet security service. During the Russian Civil War his agency became notorious for many executions, but it also saved Soviet-Russia from collapse. Dzerzhinsky was a very good organizer and worked around the clock on many jobs. He worked with Polish revolutionaries and joined the Bolshevik Party. After the Civil War, Felix Dzerzhinsky supported Stalin against the Left Opposition. He died before he saw his friend unleashing the Great Terror machine that became stalinism!
The Emergency Commission or Cheka was created in December 1917, to combat those who stood in opposition to the rule of the soviets. When Lenin enforced the Red Terror, Felix Dzerzhinsky turned the Cheka into a knighthood of brave, but also brutal fighters. The Cheka arrested many people and was also responsible for many executions. Some victims were innocent, arrested only for their class status before the revolution. Others were guilty of violent acts against the Soviet government, such as murder or spying for the White Armies. Because the Cheka was so brutal during the Civil War, the capitalist media portrays them as prototype stalinists. This is not only a lie but also falsification of history. The Cheka was indeed brutal, but this does not equal them with the later NKVD of Stalin. In fact the Stalinist NKVD would murder most former Cheka members during the Great Terror!
Felix Dzerzhinsky was no saint or god like person during his life. Born into a aristocratic family in 1877, he rejected his bourgeois family and became a revolutionary socialist. As a young man age 18, he joined the Union of Workers an illegal Marxist group in the Russian Empire. Dzerzhinsky was also part of a 15 man delegation, that founded the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party in 1896. As a young revolutionary Marxist, he was soon arrested for his fight against the Russian monarchy. Felix Dzerzhinsky was jailed for the first time in 1898, he was called ”dangerous” by the czarist police. He spend a year in jail and three years of forced labour in a tobacco-factory. In 1899, the young revolutionary became a founder of the Polish party; Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania. Rosa Luxemburg ( a Polish-German Marxist ) was also a member of this party!
In February 1900, Felix Dzerzhinsky was arrested again by the czarist police. After spending two years in jail, he was exiled to Siberia. This was a common punishment for revolutionaries in the Russian Empire. He was able to flee from his prison train and moved out of Russia to Berlin. There he worked with Polish revolutionary socialists in exile. Because he was Polish; Felix Dzerzhinsky could speak both Russian, Polish, Yiddish and Latin. In Germany, he worked for a few years before moving to Switzerland. His fiancee Julia Goldman was undergoing treatment for tuberculosis. On 4 June 1904, she died in his arms. Her death was a big blow for him, Dzerzhinsky became depressed and wrote that he saw no meaning in life after her death!
This changed in 1905, when the Russian workers rose up against the czar. Filled with revolutionary hopes, Dzerzhinsky moved back to Russia to participate in the revolution. However the uprising failed as czarist troops opened fire on the striking workers. Felix Dzerzhinsky was arrested, this time by the czarist secret police. Unlike the regular czarist police, the Okhrana was cruel and very brutal in dealing with ”terrorists” as revolutionaries were called. Between 1905 and 1912, Dzerzhinsky was jailed and released many times. By now he was considered a very dangerous person, because he remained a strong Marxist and a revolutionary. The Okhrana knew that they needed to jail him for a long time. They were able to arrest him in Poland were he lived under fake name. Felix Dzerzhinsky was transported to Imperial Russia, he was locked in the Oryol Prison. It was here that he was tortured, beaten and mutilated by sadistic guards. Dzerzhinsky got a permanent disfigurement of his jaw and mouth, after spending four years in Oryol!
Felix Dzerzhinsky was released in February 1917, after the collapse of the monarchy. He wanted to leave Russia to mobilize the Polish working class for the socialist revolution. But he stayed after seeing the Bolshevik Party and how Vladimir Lenin organized his group. Although the Stalinist propaganda called him a friend of Lenin since the early days, this was not true. Felix Dzerzhinsky joined the Russian Social-Democratic Workers Party ( Bolsheviks ) after he was released from jail in 1917. Impressed by his revolutionary work, he was elected into the Executive Committee of the Moscow Soviet. Like all Bolsheviks, Dzerzhinsky called for all political power to be transferred to the soviets ( workers councils ).
In July 1917, he moved to Petrograd and was elected into the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party. Felix Dzerzhinsky supported Vladimir Lenin against Bolsheviks like Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoview, who opposed the idea of removing the Provisional Government from power. Dzerzhinsky and Lenin wanted revolution and they got a majority of votes in the Central Committee. Because of his support, Lenin gave him a seat in the Military Revolutionary Committee that led the October Revolution. Because Russia used the Roman Julian calender, the date of the socialist revolution was in October. Western people use the Gregorian calender, for them the revolution started in November. On 7 November ( October by Julian standards ) 1917, the Battleship Aurora started the revolution. Red Guards from the soviets arrested the ministers and ended the rule of the bourgeoisie in Russia for 74 years!
After the revolution triumphed, Felix Dzerzhinsky started to work on keeping power in hands of the soviets. This was not easy because not all military units supported the new Soviet government. Soon the White Armies were created, led by anticommunist officers who rejected the soviets from a conservative right-wing viewpoint. Anti-Jewish propaganda was used to portray the Bolsheviks as evil. Felix Dzerzhinsky was of Jewish heritage, like Leon Trotsky he came from Jewish parents. The White Armies abused this fact and called on Russians to fight the ”Jewish Bolsheviks”.
Although the new Cheka leader wanted to use brutal force, Lenin refused terror against the opponents of communism for 10 months. Dzerzhinsky was not at freedom to do as he pleased. But after the White Terror killed many Bolsheviks, including the whole Azerbaijan Soviet leadership ( murdered by anticommunists under British supervision ) and almost losing his own life twice, Lenin gave Dzerzhinsky the order to start the Red Terror. Now the roles were reversed and after September 1918, Dzerzhinsky used all powers he got to fight the enemies of the Soviet revolution. Many victims of the Red Terror were shot win-out a fair trial. Dzerzhinsky said: “We represent in ourselves organized terror. This must be said very clearly; We are terrorizing, arresting and exterminating, all enemies of the revolution on the basis of their class affiliation or of their pre-revolutionary roles”. It is unknown how many innocent and how many guilty people were killed. The lowest numbers say that 50.000 were executed, although this number may be far higher. Revolutionary Socialist Media thinks that 200.000 people were killed by the Cheka between 1918 and 1922. The capitalist media is vilifying Dzerzhinsky, because of his brutality during the Civil War. They totally ignore the reasons for the Red Terror and simply equal it with Stalin’s Great Terror!
From 1918 until 1919, Felix Dzerzhinsky refused a house of his own. He slept in his own office as Lenin moved the capital to Moscow. The former imperial capital of Petrograd ( Saint Petersburg ) was too close to the sea and open to a possible western invasion. So Moscow became the new capital of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. Dzerzhinsky faced a difficult battle, soldiers were deserting by the thousands. There was little to no discipline in the early Red Army, so he ordered Cheka officers to shoot any soldier who did not obeyed orders. Like Lenin, Dzerzhinsky was a hard working man, he took little time for private things. During diner he would curse the cook if his food was better prepared. The Cheka leader hated elitism and started to use his own agency to fight elitism inside the Soviet government. Bolsheviks who did not lived the life of a average worker were reported and could face harsh punishment. In 1918, the Cheka also started a campaign to combat typhus, Dzerzhinsky played a big role in fighting this disease!
By 1921, the Soviet government was winning the Civil War. By now the Cheka employed 200.000 people and was feared by many. Corruption however was growing as the state bureaucracy took over many functions of the soviets. Felix Dzerzhinsky saw a rise of corruption in the form of bribery. He wrote that all government officials who took on bribery had to be shot. He hated corruption and those who abused power for their own needs. So the Cheka was also feared by government bureaucrats during the Civil War. Felix Dzerzhinsky became friends with Joseph Stalin, who was elected General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party in 1922. Both men were supporters of a strong state and this united them. Dzerzhinsky was a good organizer, but not a very good politician. Knowing how the Cheka leader favoured a stable and organized government, Joseph Stalin made Felix Dzerzhinsky part of the party’s politburo after Lenin became sick!
Although some Bolsheviks were critical of the Soviet government under Stalin’s early leadership, Felix Dzerzhinsky supported his friend against the Left Opposition. Loyalty to the party was part of his personality and this loyalty was now abused by Stalin. By the time Lenin died, the Soviet-Union was no longer the workers state of 1917. The Russian Communist Party had replaced the soviets as ruler of the nation. But Felix Dzerzhinsky was unable to see this degeneration, he remained loyal to the party of Lenin now led by Stalin. He could not oppose the communist party and the Soviet state, because he lacked the political understanding of why the revolution degenerated. As a organizer Dzerzhinsky started to work with homeless children. This was a big problem after 1922 in the new Soviet-Union. Many children were homeless and living on the streets of cities. Felix Dzerzhinsky took on the job of helping these poor children and became a guardian for many!
After Lenin died in January 1924, Felix Dzerzhinsky wanted to preserve his body. Stalin supported him and so Lenin’s corpse became a relic for ”Marxism-Leninism” the dogma of the Soviet government. A wooden mausoleum was created in 1925, later replaced by a new mausoleum of marble, porphyry, granite and labradorite. Dzerzhinsky carried Lenin coffin to his final resisting place and participated in his funeral service. In his last year, the Knight of the Revolution took on many jobs next to his main work as leader of the State Political Directorate. He chaired the Friends of Soviet Cinema and promoted the youth to visit movies.
In 1926, there were many discussions about the direction of the communist party. The United Opposition led by Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoview rejected the Stalinist view of building socialism in one nation. Dzerzhinsky supported Stalin and rejected his opponents. After a two hour speech, Felix Dzerzhinsky got a heart attack and died. His friend Stalin made sure that he became an role model for many NKVD and KGB agents, with only one big difference: Under Stalin the State Political Directorate was transformed into a instrument of abuse, corruption and mass murder. In 1934, the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs took over most duties and became the feared NKVD. It was this agency that started the massive terror against the working class of the Soviet-Union and the communist party. Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria became NKVD leader after Stalin killed his predecessor!
Beria was not like Dzerzhinsky, he loved power and used fear and intimidation to get what he wanted. As a young man, he joined the Cheka and played a large role in suppressing the 1924 anticommunist uprising in Georgia. Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria and Joseph Stalin first met in 1926, as both men were ethnic Georgians they got along. Stalin promoted Beria and made him leader of the Georgian Communist Party. As a loyal Stalinist and a supporter of the Great Terror, Beria was made a member of the Central Comittee of the All-Union Communist Party in 1934. By now all opposition to Stalin was removed and the whole party was loyal only to him. Still Stalin enforced the Great Terror to kill anybody who was once critical of his rule. It can be said that had Felix Dzerzhinsky lived to see the Great Terror, he would have been murdered. Joseph Stalin was notorious for killing loyal comrades!
From 1938 until 1953, Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria ruled the NKVD. He loved to rape young teenage girls and would send his spy’s looking for potential rape victims. Unlike Dzerzhinsky, Beria played on corruption, nepotism and fear. For his loyalty, the NKVD boss was made Marshal of the Soviet Union. Ironic if you consider he murdered three out of the five original Marshals of the Soviet Union. Also Beria never joined the Red Army or had any military experience, still Joseph Stalin made him Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1945!
As the NKVD became the butcher for Stalin, Felix Dzerzhinsky was their face. His picture was seen in every NKVD building, so most people associated Felix Dzerzhinsky with Stalin’s henchman and grew to hate him. After Stalin’s death and Beria’s execution by the supporters of Nikita Khrushchev, the NKVD was reformed into the Committee for State Security or KGB. Unlike the autonomous NKVD, the KGB was more controlled and stood under the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union. Felix Dzerzhinsky remained the face of the KGB and all Stalinist agencies. In East Germany, the only viewable part of the Stasi ( Ministry for State Security ) was the Guard Battalion: Felix Dzerzhinsky. The face of the Knight of the Revolution, became also the face of the East German Stalinist secret service, that protected the elitist rulers of the German Democratic Republic!
Vladimir Putin’s Russian Federation has replaced the symbols of the Soviet revolution with that of czarism. Still Felix Dzerzhinsky is seen as a hero by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation. Its emblem is very similar to that of the former KGB, only the Russian czarist eagle now stand on the shield of the emblem. In the Republic of Belarus, Dzerzhinsky’s statue still stands next to the KGB building. Unlike other post-Soviet republics, the Belarus KGB is alive and protecting the state-capitalist regime of Alexander Lukashenko. If Dzerzhinsky was alive today he would explode in anger over the abuse of his face and ideals. Indeed, Dzerzhinsky was an opponent of elitism, corruption and everything Putin and Lukashenko stand for. He was a true Knight of the Soviet Revolution!