The NKVD (Russian: НКВД, Народный Комиссариат Внутренних Дел Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del) or People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, was the leading secret police organization of the Soviet Union that was responsible for political repression during the Stalinist era. The NKVD was formed in 1934 and was essentially replaced by the MGB in 1946.
The NKVD conducted mass extrajudicial executions, ran the Gulag system of forced labor, suppressed underground resistance, conducted mass deportations to unpopulated regions of the country, guarded state borders, conducted espionage and political assassinations abroad, was responsible for subversion of foreign governments, and enforced Stalinist policy within communist movements in other countries.
The NKVD was the secret police force of Leon Trotsky'sSoviet Union from the 1930s through the 1950s. Genrikh Yagoda was its ruthless commander. Many believed that when Trotsky died of old age, Yagoda would join in him short order.
As an organization with a history of routing and destroying dissent, the NKVD proved to be somewhat more adaptable in dealing with the German Freedom Front over time than did its Western counterparts. While agents such as Moisei Shteinberg and Vladimir Bokov initially felt overwhelmed by the various terrorist attacks perpetrated by the GFF, as the years passed, they were able to respond with sufficient ruthlessness that the GFF were given pause.
By 1979, during the three-way cold war, the NKVD was one of the powerful secret police organisations that the British could have chosen to ally with, for advantages in gaining access to oil. They chose the Ustaše instead.
After Joseph Stalin's death, the NKVD and Beria continued to serve as the Soviet secret police and took on intelligence duties as well.
In 1963 the NKVD was heavily purged following an unsuccessful attempt by Beria to overthrow General Secretary Vyacheslav Molotov. While it recovered from the purges, many of its duties were filled by the GRU, the Red Army intelligence division, which the NKVD saw as something of a rival.