Soviet Police Chief Sends Telegram To Leon Trotsky, 1920

By the time the October Revolution shook up Russia, Felix Dzerzhinsky was 40 and a deeply ill man, suffering from tuberculosis. Still, he was at the very heart of the uprising, ensuring the capture and control of the post and telegraph in St. Petersburg, then called Petrograd. In December 1917 to protect the newly-born Bolshevik government from political opponents a secret police – All Russian Extraordinary Commission – was created, later known by its Russian initials Cheka («ЧК»). Its agents were dubbed theChekists. This forerunner of the KGB unleashed a reign of terror on all those seen as enemies of the revolution. Recommended by Lenin , Dzerzhinsky was appointed the Cheka’s head. Nicknamed Iron Felix for his ruthlessness and devotion to the cause, he soon became the most feared man in Russia. The Cheka itself soon became known for its use of torture and mass summary executions. Dzerzhinsky sent this letter to Leon Trotsky, then War Commissar, in 1920 asking that a job be found for a Comrade Goldbaum who assisted him in Warsaw. He has signed the document, "F. Dzerzhinski." He died suddenly of a heart attack six years later.