Two of the great guys who make collecting Soviet orders and medals fun for me are Dave Schwind and Valery Skhomorokhov. There are countless others who share our interest and give freely of their experiences and expertise. Dave has a great website devoted in part, to the Soviet medal winners of the Great Patriotic War.Ivanov award book photograph
What caught my attention was an article Dave wrote on his website a few years back. It was about "Civil Worker Alexander Gavrilovich Ivanov," who won the Order of Lenin (Type 4, Variation 2) in February 1939. Dave acquired Ivanov's medals in 1999 and said they originated from Moscow. He tried several times to obtain his archival records in Moscow without success.
Dave surmised that our mystery man was one of those feared NKVD (People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs) guys because there is a photo of him in his award booklet wearing a fine suit. It is a very formal portrait taken when he received the Order of Lenin. Scrutinizing the photo, Ivanov just looks like a secret police type! Had he been a soldier, he would probably have been photographed in uniform with his new award. The Order of Lenin in 1939 was an extremely high award as compared to the postwar years when the government virtually gave them away for 25 years of military service.
Dave wrote: "The only criteria which a civilian could qualify for an award of the Order of the Red Banner would be the section in the eligibility statue which reads: 'Special bravery and courage displayed in accomplishing special assignments."
Outside Lenfilm, in St. Petersburg, Russia
"Finally, his Order of the Red Star. I have yet to find any criteria, or even any statute which would allow the awarding of the Red Star to a civilian," Dave continued. "All of these awards have been non-researchable, on several tries by several professional researchers. While this is by no means conclusive, it is yet another 'cog in the wheel' in conjecture to who he was. Who do I think he was? I believe that he was a part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs or the Committee on State Security of the USSR…"
Ivanov's Order of Lenin, Order of the Red Banner, the Red Banner of Labor, and his Order of the Red Star went on the online auction ebay in December 2001. Dave tried his best to make it "talk," but was unsuccessful, and decided to part with it, and move on. I initially had no intention of purchasing this set. However, the challenge of uncovering the mysterious Ivanov proved too much! If the set got away from me, I know it would have haunted me for the rest of my life!

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