Pilyar, Roman Aleksandrovich

(1894–1937)
   Born into the Polish nobility (his name at birth was von Pilhau), Pilyar joined the socialist parties of Poland and Latvia as well as the Menshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party in his youth. Following the Revolution of November 1917, he joined the Bolshevik Party and was active in party work. He joined the Cheka in 1920 and was active in the Russian civil war and collectivization. Pilyar was one of a number of talented Poles who joined the security service in the heady days of the Revolution. Like Feliks Dzerzhinsky and Vyacheslav Menzhinsky, the first two chiefs of the service, he was an internationalist rather that a Polish patriot. His Menshevik past dragged him down, however, as the NKVD began to look for traitors in their midst in 1937. Pilyar and other Poles in the service came under suspicion and almost all perished. He was arrested at the beginning of the Yezhovshchina in May 1937. He was tried and shot four months later. Pilyar was posthumously rehabilitated in 1957 and is remembered as the Cheka’s last nobleman.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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