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Old 07-29-2003, 03:07 AM   #1
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NKVD and KGB Uniforms - An Intro

N.K.V.D. & K.G.B. UNIFORMS

Soviet state security organs were militarized organizations. Most of their employees held military rank, ranging from Private to Army General, and were issued military style uniforms. The vast majority of state security personnel wore their uniforms on a daily basis. This is particularly true of personnel belonging to Border Guard, Guard and Troop directorates [for example members of the KGB's 8th (Guards) and 15th (Bunkers) Directorates or the NKVD's GUVV (Internal Troops) and GULAG (Prison Guards) Directorates]. However, some state security personnel often wore plain clothes during normal duty though they wore their uniforms for special actions including training and ceremonial occasions. Uniforms were worn by students at state security schools, for I.D. and pass photos as well as for official photos, and during award ceremonies. Even personnel of the foreign intelligence directorate had uniforms and wore them on some occasions.

During most of the Soviet era, state security uniforms followed the same general guidelines as military uniforms (as outlined in People's Commissariat/Ministry of Defence uniform regulations). It must be emphasized that the People's Commissariat/Ministry of Defence uniform regulations did not apply to the state security organs, which instead had their own regulations. Unfortunately, the uniform regulations of the Soviet state security organs (with the exception of some police uniform regulations) have not, to my knowledge, ever been released. However, from close observation of state security uniforms and photos and from anecdotal evidence it is clear that state security uniform regulations were almost identical to those of the military and that almost all regulations were the same.

FAMILIES OF STATE SECURITY UNIFORMS

There are several major divisions, or families, of uniforms within the Soviet state security organs corresponding to some of the major branches of service within these organs. These divisions date from the earliest days of the Soviet state security organs.

- True State Security personnel, those responsible for internal security and foreign espionage (whether GPU, OGPU, NKVD-GUGB, NKGB, MGB, or KGB), had what can be described as the basic state security uniform.

- The Border Guards (whether GPU, OGPU, NKVD, MGB, MVD or KGB) have always had uniforms that are distinct from those of other branches.

- The Prison Guards and Convoy Escort Troops (whether GPU, OGPU, or NKVD-GULAG) had distinct uniforms until they were finally incorporated into the general MVD troops in 1953.

- The Militsia (Police) (whether NKVD-GUM or MGB) had distinct uniforms, a tradition which they carried on when they were finally incorporated into the MVD in 1953.

In addition, state security personnel serving in a military counter-intelligence role (the NKVD's Chief Directorate of Military Counter-Intelligence, its wartime SMERSH incarnation and the KGB's 3rd Chief Directorate) served in "special sections" within armed forces units and wore the uniforms of the military unit in which they worked, though they carried state security I.D.

Some specialists within the state security organs also wore regular military uniforms. For example, although NKVD signals troops wore regular NKVD uniforms with signals branch insignia, it appears that KGB signals personnel may have worn army uniforms. A picture in a 1989 Soviet propaganda publication "The KGB Must Abide by the Interests of the People" shows a class of officer cadets wearing uniforms of army signal troops with the caption: "Future officers for security services are being trained at the Higher School of the USSR KGB". These are presumably KGB Communications Troops.

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Old 08-08-2004, 09:12 AM   #2
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update

perhpas when shawn gets back across the atlantic ( shold be on tuesday) he can elaborate on this thread!

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Old 08-09-2004, 05:47 AM   #3
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Hello Shawn,

When you have time perhaps we can talk more. I must admit that I’m interested only in Stalin era (mostly before and during the war) and in entire NKVD as organization, not just state security.

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It must be emphasized that the People's Commissariat/Ministry of Defense uniform regulations did not apply to the state security organs, which instead had their own regulations.
When it’s may be true for later Soviet Union days, before and during the war it’s was different.
All ranks, insignia, uniforms etc. in those days were instituted by decrees of either Revolutionary Military Council or Central Executive Comity or Presidium of Supreme Soviet and were later executed by appropriate Orders of People’s Commissar of Defense and People’s commissar of Internal affairs. On quite a few occasions they issued joint orders. Same apply to regulations how to wear uniforms, for example in 1932, 1936 1941 and 1943. In decrees it was stated that these regulations apply to both army and OGPU/NKVD and they were followed by orders from NKO and NKVD.


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it is clear that state security uniform regulations were almost identical to those of the military and that almost all regulations were the same.
See the above.


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- The Prison Guards and Convoy Escort Troops (whether GPU, OGPU, or NKVD-GULAG) had distinct uniforms until they were finally incorporated into the general MVD troops in 1953.
Up until 1956 guards for labor camps of GULAG and GUSHOSDOR were civilian employees of NKVD, not military personal. Unlike Convoy Escort Troops (konvoynie voyska) were enlisted men and they were used to guard prisons and to escort prisoners to labor camps. They also handle deportations of ethnic groups, guard camps for prisoners of war and some (not all) sites where labor of prisoners of labor camps was used. By June of 1941 total number of Convoy escort troops were just 39,000 by 1945 they number grew to 151,200.

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In addition, state security personnel serving in a military counter-intelligence role (the NKVD's Chief Directorate of Military Counter-Intelligence, its wartime SMERSH incarnation and the KGB's 3rd Chief Directorate) served in "special sections" within armed forces units and wore the uniforms of the military unit in which they worked, though they carried state security I.D.
Personal of counter-intelligence SMERSH under leadership of commissar of state security 2nd rank ABAKUMOV even though transferred in 1943 under direct Stalin command (NKO) retain special ranks and until 1945 continue to wear state security uniforms and insignia. You statement may be partially true for SMERSH representatives in the army (osobie otdely), but not because of regulations, just lack of state security uniforms and especially insignia during the war. It’s was wide spread use of aviation shoulder boards instead of state security shoulder boards, due to lack of later.

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Some specialists within the state security organs also wore regular military uniforms.
This is true.

Vadim

Last edited by vvadim; 08-09-2004 at 06:06 AM.
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