Sources: Own archives and scanty material made available by Deuxieme Bureau and C.I.A. Washington.
SMERSH is a conjunction of two Russian words: 'Smyert Shpionam,' meaning roughly: 'Death to Spies.'
Conclusion: Every effort should be made to improve our knowledge of this very powerful organization and destroy its operatives.
Ranks above M.W.D. (formerly N.K.V.D.) and is believed to come under the personal direction of Beria.
Headquarters: Leningrad (substation at Moscow)
Its task is the elimination of all forms of treachery and back-sliding within the various branches of the Soviet Secret Service and the Secret Police at home and abroad. It is the most powerful and feared organization in the U.S.S.R. and is popularly believed never to have failed in a mission of vengeance.
It is thought that SMERSH was responsible for the assassination of Trotsky in Mexico (22 August 1940) and may indeed have made its name with this successful murder after attempts by other Russian individuals and organizations had failed.
SMERSH was next heard of when Hitler attacked Russia. It was then rapidly expanded to cope with treachery and double agents during the retreat of Soviet forces in 1941. At that time it worked as an execution squad for the N.K.V.D., and its present selective mission was not so clearly defined.
The organization itself was thoroughly purged after the war and is now believed to consist of only a few hundred operatives of very high quality divided into five sections.
Department I: In charge of counterintelligence among Soviet organizations at home and abroad.Only one SMERSH operative has come into our hands since the war: Goytchev, alias Garrad-Jones. He shot Petchora, medical officer at the Yugoslav Embassy, in Hyde Park, 7 August 1948. During interrogation he committed suicide by swallowing a coat-button of compressed potassium cyanide. He revealed nothing beyond his membership of SMERSH, of which he was arrogantly boastful.
Department II: Operations, including executions.
Department III: Administration and Finance.
Department IV: Investigations and legal work. Personnel.
Department V: Prosecutions: the section which passes final judgment on all victims.
We believe that the following British double agents were victims of SMERSH: Donovan, Harthrop-Vane, Elizabeth Dumont Ventnor, Mace, Savarin. (For details see Morgue: Section Q.)
Source: Fleming, Ian, Casino Royale, (New York: Gildrose Productions Ltd., 1953), 22-24
All information is factually correct and relevant to 1953
More information submitted by Michael Schriner
Try a web search for one Russian General Pavel Sudaplatov. Consider
going back to Feliks Derzhinsky and the Cheka. Cross reference with one
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., a WW2 ho-daddy of the SEALS. And while you are
bored cross reference RAF Wing Commander Frederick Forrest Edward
Yeo-Thomas - SOE operative codename "White Rabbit". Which brings us to
Ian Fleming and his dealings with Special Operations and The Man Who
Never Was, looping back to SOE and Fairbanks's Beach Jumpers.
Truth is far more interesting than fiction, and much more strange.
So how did Bond get his designation - watch The Discovery Channel for a
series titled SpyTek, especially episode 3 - The Deadly Game.
More information submitted by Jevex
The Russian (Cyrillic) alphabet was
actually created by a Greek monk, now referred to as St. Cyril, and his
brother, when they ventured north over the Caucasus Mountains to bring the
gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to the peoples who lived there. The two
monks found that the people had a well-developed spoken language, but no
form of writing, whatsoever. So, they took Greek and Roman letters and
revised them to represent the different phonetic sounds of the spoken Russian
language. That's why, if you got a chart of various alphabets, you'd note
that the Russian "g" sound (a hard 'g', as in 'get') is represented by a
letter which looks almost identical to the Greek "gamma", and other
similarities, as well.
Well, more to the point: there is a Russian preposition analogous
to our English "to" or "with". (As an example, when you call someone, say
Joe, on the telephone, and Sally answers, you can ask to speak _to_ Joe, or
to speak _with_ Joe, and it means basically the same thing.) This Russian
preposition is written as a single letter: "c". In Russian, the letter C is
always pronounced softly, like in "Cynthia" or "celery, and _never_ as a
hard sound, like the C in "clock".
The phrase from which SMERSH actually takes its name is, in Russian,
"C myert shpionam!" and was the "motto" of the branch of the KGB (more
correctly, the NKVD - predecessor to the KGB) _officially_ known as the
"Voyenna Kontra Razvedka" (Military Counter-Intelligence). (One needs to
bear in mind that the KGB [Komityet Gosudarstvennoi Beazopasnosti - the
Committee for State Security] and the GRU [Gosudarstvennoi Radzivatelnoye
Upravlenie - State Military Intelligence Organization] are really more like
two sides of the same coin.)
The other point that bears on the translation of this 'motto' is the
fact that, like Latin and Spanish, Russian is a language that uses a format
called "case" to denote the use of nouns. For each "case" - subject, direct
object, indirect object, object of a preposition, possessive - there is a
different word-ending used. Also, the way that the spoken language has
developed over the years, if a noun ends in the form that denotes that it is
being used as the object of a preposition, yet no preposition occurs next
to the word, it is understood that the preposition "to" is intended. It's
a bit like when we say, in English, "Throw me the ball." What we really
mean is, "Throw the ball to me." The "to" is simply understood by the
The word, "shpionam" is both the plural ("shpion" is the singular),
and has the case-ending which denotes its use as the object of a preposition.
Since no preposition occurs immediately prior to the word "shpionam", it is
understood that the preposition "to" is intended. Hence, the motto has a
translation of "with death to spies". When it is spoken in Russian, it is
said so quickly that, to non-Russian-trained ears, it _appears_ to sound
like "smyert shpionam", and that is how Fleming wrote it. He wasn't alone
in that, as both our CIA, and the British Ministry of Intelligence listed
the radical branch of the VKR by that name. It was a very real organization,
until the fellows from SMERSH got a little out of hand and began killing
foreign spies in wholesale lots - very much against the typical method of
operation of intelligence units on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Both
the CIA and the MI began massive retalliations, until Krushchev kicked up a
fuss about it. When told by our ambassadors what was actually going on, he
ordered the VKR entirely disbanded, immediately.
(If you want to dig a little deeper, there's a very good book that
most libraries have a copy of, called "Inside The KGB", which details the
history of the organization beginning back with the "Okhrana" [the Tsar's
secret police] and tracing it down to modern times. It's written by the
top KGB agent ever to defect to the West, and there are some very good
charts in it, depicting how the various Departments and Directorates all
interrelated with one another. I think you can find at least some of that
stuff on the KGB's website, too.)
For more information on SMERSH go here.