Genrikh Lyushkov - Biography
Genrikh Samoilovich Lyushkov (Генрих Самойлович Люшков) (1900 – August 19, 1945) was an officer in the Soviet secret police and its highest-ranking defector.
Lyushkov was born in Odessa, the son of a Jewish tailor. Beginning in November 1920 he joined the Cheka of Odessa which was known for its ruthlessness. He served in what eventually became the NKVD in various parts of the Soviet Union, and also carried out an industrial espionage assignment in Germany in the 1930s involving the Junkers aviation company, which brought him Stalin's favor. His final posting was as NKVD boss of the Russian Far East on July 31, 1937. By then he had been awarded the Order of Lenin and was a deputy of the Supreme Soviet and a member of the Central Committee.
During the first of the Moscow Trials he was the one who led the interrogations of Zinoviev and Kamenev. When the Great Purge was near its peak and NKVD boss Nikolai Yezhov was gradually losing power, Lyushkov received a summons to return to Moscow, but strongly suspected that this would mean his own arrest and execution. His own two predecessors in his post, Deribas and Balitsky, had both been purged. On June 13, 1938 Lyushkov defected by crossing the border into Manchukuo with valuable secret documents about Soviet military strength in the region, which was much higher than the Japanese had realized. As a "third-rank commissar of state security" (комиссар госбезопасности 3-го ранга), Lyushkov was the highest ranking secret-police official to successfully defect, and he had the most inside knowledge about the purges within the Soviet Red Army due to his own participation in carrying them out.
Before defecting, Lyushkov had previously arranged for his wife Inna and 11 year old daughter to leave the Soviet Union in order for his daughter to receive medical treatment abroad. After receiving a pre-arranged code-phrase telegram from his wife, he defected a few days later believing that his family was safe, but in fact they had vanished without a trace. It was later reported that his wife had been tortured and shot at Lubyanka prison, and his parents and all his relatives were sent to Siberia. His mother and brother died, however, his sister survived the Siberian camp. The daughter's fate remains unknown.
A month after his defection, he gave a press conference at a Tokyo hotel. He published a number of articles and interviews about the Soviet purges, and served as an intelligence advisor to the Japanese. He proposed and planned a detailed assassination plot to be carried out against Stalin in Sochi in January 1939, and the Japanese attempted to smuggle six Russian emigrant agents across the Soviet-Turkish border to carry out this assassination mission. However the group had been infiltrated by a Soviet agent and the attempt to cross the border failed. Lyushkov also served as a military advisor and warned the Japanese not to underestimate Soviet military strength, estimating that at least 4,000 tanks would be needed for an attack on the Soviet Union. This was an impossible figure for the Imperial Japanese Army to achieve.
Lyushkov worked for the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchukuo until he disappeared in August 1945, at the beginning of the Soviet invasion of Manchuria near the very end of World War II. His fate is uncertain, but according to one version he was shot at the Japanese military mission in Dairen, by the head of the mission, a Japanese counterintelligence officer named Takeoka, to prevent him falling into the hands of the Soviets, and his body secretly cremated.
- List of Eastern Bloc defectors
- Люшков Генрих Самойлович at www.hrono.ru (in Russian)
- Трагедия маршала Блюхера at nvo.ng.ru (in Russian)
- Илья КУКСИН (Чикаго): ПОБЕГ СТОЛЕТИЯ at www.vestnik.com (in Russian)
- ЛЮШКОВ ГЕНРИХ САМОЙЛОВИЧ at www.memo.ru (in Russian)
- Эдуард Хлысталов. Почему Сталин не верил широкоизвестным теперь агентам. Предатели из разведки at www.hrono.ru (in Russian)