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Help with OGPU unifoms

Article about: I'm hoping some of you knowledgeable people can help me. I've been scouring the web for information that seems very hard to find. I'm looking for details (ranks, descriptions and, preferrabl

  1. #1

    Default Help with OGPU unifoms

    I'm hoping some of you knowledgeable people can help me. I've been scouring the web for information that seems very hard to find. I'm looking for details (ranks, descriptions and, preferrably, pictures) of OGPU police from 1930. I'm specifically interested in OGPU who would have been in Ukraine to oversee/enforce collectivisation. I'm also interested in the soldiers who would have accompanied them - what units they woud be from, what uniforms they would have worn etc.

    It would be fantastic if anyone could help.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Help with OGPU unifoms

    Here is an image of OGPU troops taken in 1924.

    This was the last year of these uniform regulations. I'll try and dig up some more, which I know I have, of the 1924 pattern - up to 1935 in the coming weeks/months - if you can wait...

    Help with OGPU unifoms
    Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam!

  4. #3

    Default Re: Help with OGPU unifoms

    That's great, thanks for taking the time to look into it. What an amazing photograph. They look like a very serious bunch, and I bet they made a few people nervous.

    I managed to find a couple of images.

    I believe the soft woolen,pointed hat is called a budenovka and was designed to fit under a helmet, but I'm not sure what the tunic or the blue trim would have been called.

    In your photograph, I notice that some are wearing budenovkas and others are wearing caps - was there a significance to this? I think at the time official ranking didn't exist, but maybe it signified some were of a higher standing than others? Also, none of them appear to be armed. As far as I know, soldiers were carrying Mosin Nagant rifles in those days, but I'm not sure about OGPU. I found something to suggest some OGPU might have carried Mauser C96 pistols (as some of the Chekists did).

    I'm guessing that when the OGPU were operating in Ukraine during the early 1930's, they would have been accompanied by Red Army soldiers - anything you know about uniforms and unit would be very useful. I've done a bit of surface digging on the web, but it's surprising how little info seems to be immediately available!

    I've just read back through my post and realise I'm asking a lot of questions! Thanks very much for your help, anything else would be greatly apprciated and, yes, I can wait.

    Thanks again.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Help with OGPU unifoms

    You are correct, the hat is a Budionovka named for General Semion Budionniy. Prior to the Bolsheviks, that style was a Bogatyrka, named after the Bogatyr 9th Century Slavic Rus who wore a helmet with a spike on top. In 1918, the Council of the Revolutionary War passed a resolution to standardize uniforms of the Workers and Peasants Red Army (RKKA). The Budionovka was placed into service with a tall peak and by the mid-1920s the peak was shortened to better fit the shape of the hat. From the photo you have, the hat appears to be a later model. Colored cloth stars on the front represented branches of service. By the early 1940s, the Budionovka was replaced but I have seen Soviet photos with army cadets wearing a Budionovka in the mid-40s. The uniform you show appears to be 1923-1924 for a commander of the transport/convoy escort guards of the OGPU. That branch was called the KSR. I came to this assumption looking at sleeve rank descriptions (written in Cyrillic) at and at Perhaps those two sites might help you?

  6. #5

    Default Re: Help with OGPU unifoms

    Splatteh, here is one more webpage that might be of assistance to you for looking at styles of uniforms for the OGPU and other branches of the Soviet military.

    1918-1945 (143 ) - . , , ,

  7. #6

    Default Re: Help with OGPU unifoms

    Hi, Will, and thanks for your help. You're right about the uniform I posted here - it's not quite what I'm looking for. However, I have done a little more digging and come up with soemthing. It's surprisingly hard to find exactly what I'm looking for! Anyway, I found this . . .

    From what I can tell, there was something of a switch about with uniforms in the summer of 1924 - to the M24 style? - and this photo shows the kind of uniform the head of a provincial OGPU unit might have worn. As I understand it, there were no official rankings at that time, but this guy would have been a big cheese. The breeches would have been dark blue with raspberry piping. His subordinates would have worn a khaki coloured kitel tunic with the dark blue trousers (I think). It appears to be the case that OGPU were distinguished by the dark red collar tabs with the raspberry coloured piping. And there was also a very distinctive peaked cap which was royal blue with a dark red band and raspberry piping. To further complicate this for me, all this uniform was worn by interior and state security OGPU. There was also a branch of OGPU border guardsthat wore a different uniform again.

    OK, so that's what I've discoverd so far. Please feel free to either confirm or refute my findings!

  8. #7

    Default Re: Help with OGPU unifoms

    Splatteh, I don't want to mislead because while I offered information I am not well-versed to confirm or refute uniform specifics to an affirming degree. There are Red Army collectors on who'd be more savvy with answers. My specialty is Soviet posters so I have a broad knowledge of uniform styles due to my research of Soviet books and from images on posters. I'll look at my posters from the 1920s and 1930s to see if they have OGPU uniforms depicted and see if they show styles. If seen, I'll post photos here. Do you have a uniform or are you wanting to buy an original? Caution buying: the market is FULL of quality reproduction Soviet items and early uniforms are mostly fake. Before buying get detailed photos of stitching, buttons, inside pockets, hat details and put photos on the forum. You'll get plenty of opinions and some solid advice, too.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Help with OGPU unifoms

    The reason for the research is that I'm a novelist and my latest novel is set in western Ukraine (1930) during the time of collectivisation. As you probably know, the OGPU were among those who were identifying, arresting, executing and deporting kulaks throughout the area. The main character is arrested and interrogated by an OGPU 'officer' and although it's actually a very small part of the novel I'm writing, I want to make sure the details are accurate.

    It's proving to be rather difficult to find all the information I need, probably due to the number of changes made during those early years of the Soviet Union.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Help with OGPU unifoms

    Interesting! One thing that might assist you as a primary source; I have anti-Kulak and collectivization posters from that era. I think I have an anti-Kulak poster from 1930, and a few collectivization posters from the Ukraine. All of them are translated and if you want I can post them here or on another forum where there are posters. Posters would have reminded people to hand over their 'fair share' of grains, farm tools, etc. Forced collectivization occurred from 1927 until about 1940 so it was part of the first Five-Year Plan (1928-1932). I might have a Five-Year Plan poster that deals with agriculture.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Help with OGPU unifoms

    The posters sound great. If you don't mind posting them here, it would be very interesting to see them.

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