In his analysis of the modern world, French Traditionalist thinker René Guénon noted that the true masters of revolutions, materialism and secularism were not actually ends in themselves, but only the initial phases in the occult processing of society. The ultimate end of the cryptocratic elites, Guénon believed, was the destruction of sacred tradition and the enthronement of infernal forces in a new counter-religion. With the experience of the Bolshevik Revolution and early-period Soviet intelligence’s forays into the realms of the esoteric, we have a powerful example of Guénon’s thesis in action, as recounted by contemporary Russian journalist Georgy Filin.
Sami sorcerers and Buryat shamans, connoisseurs of cryptography and ancient poisons, hypnotists and psychics, telepaths and clairvoyants – who wasn’t brought in to work in the OGPU [Unified State Political Directorate] Special Department directed by one of Lenin’s closest colleagues, Gleb Bokii. The Special Department was consulted by luminary of Soviet psychiatry academic Vladimir Bekhterev, and one of its key officers was none other than the famed terrorist Yakov Blumkin, a favorite of Cheka head Felix Dzerzhinsky and the prototype of Maksim Isaev, Stierlitz. And Bokii himself possibly served as the prototype of another well-known personage – Bulgakov’s Woland. It was said that at the Chekist’s dacha events frequently took place akin to the ball described in Master and Margarita.
At the beginning of the Great Fatherland War [World War II], on Hitler’s personal orders, Abwehr agents searched for surviving officers of the NKVD’s Special Department, disbanded by that time, and offered fantastic money – 50,000 Reichsmarks to only answer in detail two or three dozen questions. In current evaluations that’s half a million dollars. That was the value accorded officers of Gleb Bokii’s Special Department!
Before the revolution Bokii had succeeded in making a career as a convicted bandit. Over 15 years he stood before the court 12 times, including for murders. But every time by some miracle he was able to escape, or he was acquitted and released. It’s notable that no small sums for bail were brought for the bandit Bokii at various times by the mystic and hypnotist Gurdjieff, medium and clairvoyant Pavel Mokievsky, and also the Tibetan healer Pyotr Badmaev, who treated Emperor Nicholas II’s family. Gleb Bokii’s fighters were engaged in so-called expropriations – stripping property from rich people for the use of the Social Democrats and Bolsheviks. Long before the revolution the future head of the State Security Special Department became friends with Vladimir Lenin, whom he for some reason always called by his mother’s maiden name – Blank. And only once did Bokii call the leader of the world proletariat the name now etched onto the Mausoleum, on the day of his arrest. “What is Stalin to me?” the arrested Chekist stated to NKVD chief Nikolai Yezhov. “I was appointed by Lenin!”
The Mystical Special Department Birthed by Two Atheists – Lenin & Dzerzhinsky
In the first edition of the Bulgakov Encyclopedia, its editor Boris Sokolov brings proof that namely Gleb Boky – and no one else – acted as the prototype of Woland from Master and Margarita. The former chief of the 2nd Section of the Special Detachment, a certain Klimenkov, confessed during his interrogation:
He (Bokii – editor) created a ‘dacha commune’ in Kuchino. Arriving for a weekend day at the dacha, Bokii’s guests got drunk the entire day off and the night before the next workday. Drunken orgies were often accompanied by fights that segued into a general melee. The reason for these fights was that the husbands noticed the debauchery of their wives with the men present. After an extraordinary bender, everyone would go to the bathhouse to engage in sexual perversion. The women were made to drink until drunk, stripped, and used one after another. All members of the “commune” participated in this, including Bokii’s daughters. The debauchery led to several suicides on the basis of jealousy.
Bulgakov supposedly found out about the commune’s mores from the poet Andrei Bely, who had lived there in Kuchino. “The Chekists possibly seemed to Bulgakov contemporary analogues of the demonic,” wrote Boris Sokolov. And indeed, the orgies of Bokii and his subordinates even exceeded what happened at Satan’s ball, as birthed through the writer’s fantasy.
But in Soviet history Bokii remained not only as a possible prototype of a famous literary personage and the arranger of debauched entertainments. In the summer of 1918 – already after the assassination of German Ambassador Von Mirbach, but before his flight to Ukraine – Yakov Blumkin, the chief of Trotsky’s personal security, introduced Gleb Bokii to academic Vladimir Bekhterev and Aleksandr Barchenko, an employee of Bekhterev’s Brain Institute. It turned out that all four believed in otherworldly forces, practiced occultism, and were not against pressing their esoteric knowledge into the service of the young Soviet state. It’s incredible that these four different men managed to interest the head of the Cheka, Felix Dzerzhinsky, with a proposal to create a special department that would research various types of mystical phenomena. And in 1921 Dzerzhinsky, absolutely not a believer in any such thing and an atheist to the marrow of his bones, would sign alongside another atheist – Vladimir Lenin – a resolution on creating a special department under the OGPU. For tradecraft it was termed a cryptographic department – why would you openly call it the Department of Mysticism, Mind-Reading and Sorcery?
Agents of the Special Department Knew Tibet Better Than Nicholas Roerich
It was proposed to Gleb Bokii to head the Special Department; Bokii’s deputy for “scientific research” was Aleksandr Barchenko. At the beginning of the 1920’s, Barchenko organized his first expedition to the center of the Kola Peninsula. The objective: study of mass hypnosis, “polar madness,” which the Pomors called “hysteria,” and the Eskimos termed the “call of the North Star.” Many researchers of the North encountered this phenomenon, including the famous Roald Amundsen. Members of Northern expeditions would hear “voices” summoning them to carry out seemingly insane actions, and they even attacked each other with axes and ice picks, “called by the North Star.” Until this day the materials of this expedition remain classified, yet in all probability Barchenko and his companions met with success. Immediately after his debriefing report at the Brain Institute, Bokii’s deputy was offered the seat of academic consultant in the Main Science Directorate.
For their research, Bokii and Barchenko obtained colossal funds for the time – the average cost of one operation by the Special Department comprised around 100,000 rubles (in conversion to today’s valuation, that’s approximately $600,000). There followed several more expeditions to the Kola Peninsula, and in the surrounding areas of the Sami’s Lake Seidozero, Barchenko uncovered ancient pyramids. The find confirmed Barchenko’s version that ancient Hyperborea existed namely in these places. The Special Department’s next expedition was to head to Tibet, but Bokii’s plans became known to OGPU Foreign Department (INO) chief Meer Trilisser, who related to the heavy-spending Special Department with extreme jealousy. Trilisser convinced Dzerzhinsky to entrust the Tibetan mission to his men. But at the last moment, the omnipresent Yakov Blumkin was “clasped on” as an “addition” from the Special Department. The terrorist disguised himself as a Tibetan lama and followed Nicholas Roerich incognito – it was namely to the latter that Trilisser had entrusted direction of the mission to Lhasa. Upon their return, neither Roerich nor Trilisser “made their mark” – the information they collected was considered “of little significance.” Meanwhile, high government decorations awaited Blumkin, Bokii, and Barchenko. For what were they awarded? For Blumkin presenting certain proof of the existence of the mythic Shambhala. What kind of proof will become clear after the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) declassifies archive materials on the Tibetan expedition. This was planned to be done in 1993 and again in 2000, but for some reason these materials still haven’t been declassified.
Dubious Research Was Financed for a Decade and a Half
In 1926 on Dzerzhinsky’s personal orders, Barchenko undertook an expedition to Crimea. The objective was the search for entrances to the ancient cities of abandoned civilizations and the excavation of Scythian Naples and Mangup-Kale. In two years an expedition to Altai would follow – there they would conduct observation of unidentified flying objects (for the first time in Soviet history!), and then Barchenko awaited a return to the Kola Peninsula. There Barchenko searched for a certain “stone from Orion” or “Grail stone” supposedly accumulating and transferring psychic energy at a distance and securing contact with the cosmos. Nonsense? Then why are the materials of this expedition still top secret? Also, Barchenko’s findings only became known just 25 years ago from declassified documents of Hitler secret organization, the Ahnenerbe. We also know that over the 15-year history of Bokii’s Special Department’s existence, it was refused financing one time only. In those somewhat naive times, such a practice as “budget cuts” in principle didn’t exist, just like the practice of all sorts of “skimming.” It’s impossible to allow even the notion that tremendous funds were allotted by the Soviet leadership to a purposely hopeless cause. Does that mean that the results of the Special Department’s expeditions were nevertheless convincing?
In 1935, right after the creation of the Ahnenerbe, its general secretary Wolfram Sievers signed an order on studying the results of expeditions organized by Boky’s institution. But how did the Germans even find out that the Soviet Union was conducting analogous esoteric research? It’s possible a leak occurred during Bokii and Barchenko’s contacts with Professor Karl Haushofer in the mid-1920’s. According to rumors, Barchenko and Haushofer were even in the same Masonic lodge, but we can only guess whether this was indeed so. Haushofer and Sievers seriously thought that he who masters Tibet – the “heart of the world” – would also become master of the entire world. And Boky’s Special Department possessed such secrets. However it was, the Germans came across not a few secret materials – either from Barchenko himself, or through some other channels. And in the war years, the German intelligence services genuinely set out to hunt down officers of the disbanded department, driving to fill their knowledge at the cost of the latter.
Bokii and Barchenko were arrested in 1937 – it’s not excluded from the signal of Trilisser, who treated the Special Department extremely covetously. In that year Bokii was shot, and Barchenko was executed just a year later, after he had left a detailed description of the work performed by the Special Department. Out of 189 officers of the “cryptographic” department, by the beginning of the war, not more than 50 remained alive.
Translated by Mark Hackard