Ian Karlovich Berzin

Berzin, Ian Karlovich


(also I. K. Berzin’; pseudonym of Peteris Ķuzis; Party pseudonym Papus; also known as Pavel Ivanovich Berzin). Born Nov. 13 (25), 1889; died July 29, 1938. Soviet military figure, commissar of the army, second class (1937). Member of the Communist Party from 1905. Born in the volost (small rural district) of Iaunpils, Kurliand Province, into the family of a Latvian farm laborer.

Berzin was in the revolutionary movement from 1904. In 1906 he was wounded in clashes with the police and was arrested. In 1907 a military tribunal sentenced him to eight years of deprivation of freedom, but the sentence was reduced to two years because he was a minor. In 1911 he was again arrested for revolutionary activity and deported to Irkutsk Province, from which he escaped in 1914. In 1915 he was drafted into the army, but he escaped and worked as a mechanic in Petrograd plants. He actively participated in the February Revolution of 1917 and was the editor of the Latvian newspaper Proletariata Cina in the summer of 1917. During the October armed uprising of 1917, he was a member of the Party committee in Vyborg Raion and a member of the Petrograd committee. He was sent to work at the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs and became deputy commissar of internal affairs of Latvia in 1919. From May 1919 he was in the Red Army, where he served as chief of the political section of the 11th Rifle Division and chief of the special division of the Fifteenth Army. From April 1921 he worked in the intelligence division of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army and was its chief during the years 1924–35 and from July to November 1937. In 1936–37 he was chief military adviser in Spain. He was awarded the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner, and the Order of the Red Star.