- (Gosudarsvenniy Komitet Oborony)The State Defense Committee was created by Joseph Stalin on 30 June 1941 with a basic membership of eight senior party, military, and security police officials to manage the Soviet war effort against Nazi Germany. In effect, the GKO was the government of the Soviet Union during World War II (1941–1945) with power to issue decrees with the force of law to all state, party, military, and police organizations. It oversaw military strategy, supervised military production, and directed all matters relating to state security. The leaders of the NKVD and NKGB reported to Lavrenty Beria and Stalin on a daily basis. Amajor reason for the Soviet Union’s success in the war was the creation of political and military unity of command through the GKO. Whereas Adolf Hitler enjoyed watching his underlings fight, Stalin built a coordinated center of political and military operations. While the German intelligence and security services often battled for Hitler’s ear, the GKO structure allowed intelligence to be funneled into military strategy.Beria served as a member of the GKO responsible for all issues of state security and intelligence. Under Beria’s direction, the intelligence services provided intelligence on the Nazi enemy and kept the dictator aware of developments in Soviet society. The GKO was a major consumer of foreign intelligence during the course of the war. More than 3,000 raw intelligence reports were circulated to the GKO by the NKGB. Probably no fewer were issued by the GRU. Beria and Stalin singled out intelligence officers for medals and promotions. They also mandated criticism and punishment for lack of work or suspected treachery. Senior intelligence officers were recalled from foreign postings for punishment on a few occasions. The GKO was abolished by decree in September 1945 following the defeat of Japan. In the next few years, Stalin permitted the security service to punish many of the most successful GKO’s staff officers, including the commanders of the Soviet air force and navy.
Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Robert W. Pringle. 2014.
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