NKVD (Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del, The People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) – the highest organ of the security forces in the Soviet Union. It was established by Vladimir Lenin in 1917. It was not playing an important part until 1934 when it merged with GPU (the State Political Directorate), the political police. NKVD had its own police and military units and was entitled to pass sentences in political cases, so in fact the organisation was controlling the whole social life of the Soviet Union. Under Stalin’s rule NKVD was mainly an instrument of terror for the Soviet citizens. NKVD was supervising labour camps, the so-called GULAG, in which millions of people were imprisoned. NKVD was headed by: Genrikh Yagoda (till 1936), Nikolai Yezhov (till 1938) and Lavrentiy Beria. During the war with Germany KGB, the political police, was separated from NKVD. After the war NKVD was active also in countries taken over by the Soviet Union. In Poland it was helping the new authorities fight the opposition. In 1946 NKVD was transformed into the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The term was created within the framework of the project Zapisywanie świata żydowskiego w Polsce [recording the Jewish environment in Poland], whose author is Anka Grupińska, a well-known Polish journalist and writer, specializing in the modern history of the Polish Jews. The project, initiated in 2006 by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, consists in recording interviews with Polish Jews from all generations.