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Towards the 125th birthday anniversary of Felix Dzerzhinsky - 11 September, 2002

Soviet statesman and politician Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky was born on September 11 (August 30), 1977 in the Dzerzhinovo estate of the Oshmyansky district of the Vilno province into a gentry family.

He finished seven forms of the Vilno secondary school. Up to the age of 16 he was a fervent Catholic and prepared to become a clergyman - a Roman-Catholic priest but while studying at school he entered a Social Democratic circle and on Gedimin mountain in Vilno (the Lithuanian city of Vilnius now) swore to devote his life to combating evil and injustice. Dzerzhinsky left the last form of the secondary school to fully devote himself to party work. He joined the Social Democratic movement in 1894, became a member of the RSDRP in 1895, in that same year became a member of Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, and in 1900 entered its organising centre. On Dzerzhinsky's initiative in 1906 the SDKPL united with the RSDRP, having retained its organisational autonomy.

During the first Russian revolution of 1905-1907 Dzerzhinsky organised strikes of workers and carried out propaganda work in the troops. He was arrested more than once and spent a total of 11 years in prisons and penal servitude where he contracted tuberculosis.

In October 1917 he was a member of the Military-Revolutionary party Centre of the Bolsheviks and of the Petrograd Military-Revolutionary Committee. At the 6th party congress Dzerzhinsky came out for an armed uprising, entered the Central Committee, and became a leader of organisational and military work.

Dzerzhinsky took an active part in the October coup: he controlled posts and the telegraph, and provided communication for Smolny. On Dzerzhinsky's proposal a commission for fighting counter-revolution, consisting of five members, was organised under the Military-Revolutionary Committee, and the All-Russia Extraordinary Commission (VChK) for fighting counter-revolution and sabotage was set up under the Soviet of People's Commissars on December 20, 1917. Dzerzhinsky headed it till his death.

From February 1922, Dzerzhinsky was simultaneously the chairman of GPU-OGPU (another Soviet secret service), from August 1919 - the chief of the Special Department of the VChK, from March 1919 to July 1923 - the chairman of the commission under the All-Russia Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) on improving the life of children, combating child homelessness being one of its tasks. Alongside fulfilling these duties, Dzerzhinsky participated in numerous commissions and societies: was a member of the presidium of Society for Studying the Problems of Interplanetary Communications, the chairman of the VTsIK commission on improving workers' life, and was a founder of the Dynamo society and an initiator of the establishment of the Society of Political Convicts and Exiled Settlers. From 1924 Dzerzhinsky was Alternate Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

Dzerzhinsky died of a heart attack on July 20, 1926.

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