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"Communist secret police in SCW, photos?" Topic

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Makhno191830 Dec 2019 9:17 a.m. PST

Hi all, any one ever see photos of the uniforms, or other general information useful for painting, on the communist secret police in Spain circa '36? Looks like Orlov of the NKVD was already in Spain setting up secret prisons, influencing the government, and pushing for communist control of the security forces in September 1936. By November the communists, which had little following before Russian involvement, took over many aspects of the government as well as police and security forces. Im most interested in the Servicios Especiales, the Ministry of the Interior's intelligence department. Id love to see a photo or graphic of their uniforms. Apparently they operated as an arm of the KKVD. Any leads? My source for most of this is (accessed online): The Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counter Revolution. By Bolloten.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP30 Dec 2019 12:04 p.m. PST

? IF they were secret police, would they have uniforms?

gbowen30 Dec 2019 12:05 p.m. PST

They are in the modern Spanish/Basque film Guernica and a nasty bunch they are. If they are secret police would they not be in mufti? They are in the film albeit with ominous raincoats.

rmaker30 Dec 2019 1:25 p.m. PST

? IF they were secret police, would they have uniforms?

Why not? Those in the Soviet Union did.

Makhno191830 Dec 2019 2:46 p.m. PST

Ya i found some photos of the soviets, in Russia (i wonder if theyd wear the same in Spain) but i did have that same thought, as well as this one: if they were secret they would probably avoid photos. But i figured it was worth a shot!

Makhno191830 Dec 2019 3:49 p.m. PST

Some of those photos of NKVD officers I mentioned in the previous post



plus an artistic rendering and below it a model, for some color reference


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 Dec 2019 6:46 p.m. PST

I have long treasured that Avram Davidson "Doctor Eszterhazy" reference to the secret police showing up in their new summer uniform. But a lot of what we term "secret police" are more formally or officially security police or some such, and might very well have an official uniform--though of course, like plainclothes policemen, might seldom wear it.

For gaming purposes, though, they'd at least have fashions or expectations. The US civil service (and the associated contractors) may not have a uniform either--but try to find one of any rank without a dark blue or charcoal suit or a black topcoat. Early Chekists go heavy on leather jackets, but I'm not sure it was true as late as the mid-thirties.

Cuprum230 Dec 2019 9:18 p.m. PST

The NKVD is the "People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs". In a more familiar language – the Ministry of the Interior.

This structure included many different services:
- State security (protection of the first persons of the state, protection of state secrets, the fight against espionage and sabotage)
- Border Guards
- Foreign intelligence
- Management and security of places of detention
- Protection of public order and property (normal police functions)
- Fire service

Soviet instructors and volunteers were not officially present in Spain, and therefore did not have the right to use their uniforms. Most likely, they had a uniform of the corresponding Spanish services.

In the figures you have given, the characters have shoulder straps on their shoulders. Until 1943, epaulettes in the USSR were not used and were considered a symbol of the overthrown tsarist regime.

Cuprum230 Dec 2019 11:58 p.m. PST

Forgot to mention the NKVD troops (Internal troops – an analogue of the National Guard)

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP31 Dec 2019 1:21 p.m. PST

Contact Cacique Caribe on LFA. His Grandparents and Parents lived through the SCW and he has a large oral history of the conflict.

Major B31 Dec 2019 3:41 p.m. PST

The Republican Military intelligence, the SIM, wore standard uniforms

Makhno191831 Dec 2019 4:25 p.m. PST

Thanks all! Stone Mtn, Cacique Caribe sounds really interesting. Through google search I figured out LFA refers to a Land of the Lost Forum Anonymous? I dont believe I'm a member there ;-). Major B, thats really good to know. Ive begun my search for the SIM uniforms, nothing yet coming up, do you know of any, or a description of them?

Thanks again all. I may just end up turning these few extra officer minis into more Asaltos. Less fun, but probably a lot more useful

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP01 Jan 2020 8:21 a.m. PST

LFA =Lead Adventure Forum. grin

Major B01 Jan 2020 12:01 p.m. PST

See the Guide to the Harry Randall XV BDE Collection, ALBA PHOTO 11, Photo Unit Series B, Item: 11-0190#: B457, Lieutenant Ivan Rujevic, Servicio de Inteligencia Militar, 15th International Brigade. [real name John Gerlach]


In this photo "Ivan" is shown wearing an officer's uniform. In other photos in the collection he is shown in a beret and soft brimmed cap. There was no specific uniform for the SIM.

The Randall collection is an excellent source to see what the men of the XV BDE wore in the field.

Hope this is helpful.


Makhno191801 Jan 2020 5:03 p.m. PST

Thanks to you both!

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