Blokhin, Vasily Mikhailovich

   Possibly the most prolific executioner of the 20th century, Blokhin acted as chief of the headquarters branch that ran Lubyanka prison from the 1930s through 1953. As such, he personally shot leading party members and two former chiefs of his service, Genrykh Yagoda and Nikolai Yezhov, as well as members of Joseph Stalin’s family. According to a recent biography of Stalin, Blokhin often carried out these duties— which Stalin referred to as black work (chornaya rabota)—wearing a butcher’s leather apron. In 1940 Blokhin oversaw the shooting of 14,000 Polish officers at Katyn, reportedly executing 7,000 men. Blokhin, a veteran of the tsarist army, joined the Cheka in 1921 and rose through the ranks. He was rewarded for his duties, decorated with the Order of Lenin, and was promoted to major general in 1945. Blokhin retired for reasons of health in 1953. Shortly prior to his suicide in 1955, he was stripped of some of his medals for “discrediting the service.”

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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