Genrikh Yagoda
Historical Figure
Nationality: Russian SSR, Soviet Union (born in the Russian Empire)
Date of Birth: 1891
Date of Death: 1938
Cause of Death: Shot in the head
Religion: Atheist, came from a Jewish background
Occupation: Spy
Spouse: Ida Averbach
Military Branch: Imperial Russian Army (World War I),
Political Party: Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Fictional Appearances:
Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Novel only
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references

Genrikh Grigoryevich Yagoda (Russian: Ге́нрих Григо́рьевич Яго́да; 7 November 1891–15 March 1938), born Yenokh Gershevich Iyeguda (Russian: Енох Гершевич Иегуда) was a Soviet secret police official who served as director of the NKVD, the Soviet Union's security and intelligence agency, from 1934 to 1936. Appointed by Joseph Stalin, Yagoda supervised the arrest, show trial, and execution of the Old Bolsheviks Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev, events that manifested the beginnings of the Great Purge. Yagoda also supervised the construction of the White Sea – Baltic Canal using slave labor from the GULAG system, during which many of the laborers died.

Like many Soviet secret policemen of the 1930s, Yagoda himself was ultimately a victim of the Purge. He was demoted from the directorship of the NKVD in favor of Nikolai Yezhov in 1936, and arrested in 1937. Charged with the crimes of wrecking, espionage, Trotskyism and conspiracy, Yagoda was a defendant at the Trial of the Twenty-One, the last of the major Soviet show trials of the 1930s. Following his confession at the trial, Yagoda was found guilty and shot.

Genrikh Yagoda in Joe Steele[]

Genrikh Yagoda was the head of the Soviet NKVD from the 1930s until well into the 1950s.

In 1937, when U.S. President Joe Steele announced the creation of the Government Bureau of Investigation, some in the U.S. likened GBI head J. Edgar Hoover to Yagoda.[1] Many imagined that, when Leon Trotsky died, Yagoda would join him in short order.[2]

Literary Comment[]

In the short story version, Lavrenty Beria is the head of the NKVD, and Yagoda is not named. Conversely, Beria is not named in the novel.


  1. Joe Steele, pg. 151.
  2. Ibid., pg. 425.
Political offices
Preceded by
Vyacheslav Menzhinsky
Head of the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD)
Succeeded by
Nikolai Yezhov
Political offices
(Joe Steele)
Preceded by
Vyacheslav Menzhinsky(?)
Head of the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD)
Succeeded by
Incumbent at novel's end, 1953