If you have any ideas on how to improve Ameriwiki, let us know at the Community Portal!
Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky (Polish: Feliks Dzierżyński, Russian: Феликс Эдмундович Дзержинский) was the head of the Soviet first secret service, the Cheka, from 1917-1922 and of the Cheka's successors, the GPU and the OGPU, from 1922-1926.
He was born on September 11 1877 in Belarus of Polish ancestry. He intended to be a Catholic priest, but became involved with socialist movements. He was frequently imprisoned, and in 1917 he joined the Bolshevik party.
On December 20, 1917 Lenin appointed him the head of the newly established Cheka. Dzerzhinsky went on to be the head of an organization that murdered up to 500,000 "counter-revolutionaries". After the Cheka was integrated with the NKVD, Dzerzhinsky headed its successors, the GPU and then the OGPU.
He was widely regarded as a hero by the government of the Soviet Union, and numerous cities were named after him in the former USSR. Many of those names have been changed back since the fall of Communism. There were also many statues of him, of which the most notorious was the 15 ton statue known as "Iron Felix", erected in 1958 in Dzerzhinsky Square. The square had been renamed from Lubyanka Square in 1926. In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the statue was pulled down amidst much fanfare, and the location was renamed back to Lubyanka Square. Another large statue of him in Warsaw, Poland was taken down in 1989. There have been some attempts by traditionalists to put the "Iron Felix" statue back up, but this has not happened.