- NAME: Lavrentiy Beria
- OCCUPATION: Military Leader
- BIRTH DATE: March 29, 1899
- DEATH DATE: December 23, 1953
- Did You Know?: To compete with the West, the Soviets began atomic bomb development, overseen by Lavrentiy Beria.
- EDUCATION: Baku Polytechnical School for Mechanical Construction
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Merkheuli, Russia
- PLACE OF DEATH: Moscow, Russia
- Full Name: Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria
Best Known For
Lavrentiy Beria, who was compared to Hitler's Heinrich Himmler, was Stalin's marshal of the Soviet Union and the ruthless head of the secret police.
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In 1941, Stalin appointed Beria deputy prime minister, and Beria eventually joined the Politburo. At the Yalta Conference in 1945, Stalin proudly introduced Beria to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as "our Himmler," referring to Hitler's head of the Gestapo.
Lavrentiy Beria was shot by political rivals on December 23, 1953, at the age of 54. After Stalin's mysterious death earlier that year, Beria had overestimated his power. He had billed himself as an anti-Stalinist reformer and begun installing anti-Stalinist policies.
Beria had appointed himself first deputy prime minister, having become disillusioned with Stalin's ideology, and decided that forging a strategic alliance with the West would be beneficial for the country's economic recovery. This didn't sit well with his erstwhile friends in the Politburo, headed by Nikita Khrushchev. They charged him with treason and with being an imperialist agent, and had him interrogated by his own secret police using methods he developed. He was convicted and executed in the basement of KGB headquarters.
A few years later, Khrushchev denounced Stalinist policies such as the purges and mass executions, and began relations with the West.
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