Rudzutak Advanced Training School for the Security Command Personnel of the Roads of Transportation (Railroads), 3rd Graduation Class, #26, 1928 issue.
In silver and enamels; measures 49.7 mm in height, 23.8 mm in width; weighs 11.7 g without the wing nut; the wing nut measures approx. 16 mm wide and weighs 1.2 g.
The badge is of exceptionally elaborate design and stunning quality. The enamels - green enamel in particular - are literally of Faberge level. The red star is a separate superimposed part. The superimposed center portion consists of three separate parts: crossed anchor and axe (early emblem of Russian railroads), crossed rifles, and the Roman numeral III signifying the graduation class. The reverse has stamped Cyrillic maker mark "Т-во ВР", sterling silver hallmark "875" of the 1927 type, and circular assay inspection hallmark. There is also an engraved serial number "26" near the bottom.
Excellent condition. The enamel is practically perfect, the only exception being a tiny surface flake to the upper edge of the upper left arm of the red star, unnoticeable without magnification. The enamel retains beautiful tone and luster throughout. The details of the superimposed silver parts are pristine and crisp. The whole assembly is very sound, although the center part can rotate some 5 degrees clockwise. It will stay in place if undisturbed and is not in any danger of falling off. All the attachment wires are original and intact. The screw post is about 9.5 mm long, has not been shortened. The wing nut is of the earlier period as it has the pre-1927 "Kokoshnik" hallmark. Nevertheless, we believe it to be original to the badge: early, even Imperial era wing nuts were often used by the manufacturers of Soviet badges during the 20s. The paper "washers" were added, possibly by the original owner. They look quite old and in our opinion, add a nice "personal touch" to the badge.
The Rudzutak School was founded in mid-1920s to provide advance training for top security officers of the Narkomat of Transportation (Railroads.) At the time, Soviet railways had a massive bureaucracy that included not only a politically influential trade union, but also their own police force. Later, as their power diminished, the railway police merged with the mainstream NKVD and eventually evolved into Transportation Departments within NKGB State Security. During its short existence, the Rudzutak School put out several graduation classes with the dates of graduation ranging from 1927-1930. Based on single- and two- digit serial numbers observed on the few existing graduation badges, probably no more than 100 people graduated each year. This however only partly explains the rarity of the graduation badge.
Those who had top posts in the Soviet law enforcement in the late 20s became the prime target for waves of purges and executions during the 30s. An arrest of the original owner would almost invariably mean that the badge was confiscated and destroyed. Moreover, Janis Rudzutak himself, the Soviet Commissar for Transportation and Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, became one of the most notable victims of the repressions. Despite being one of the most powerful and charismatic Bolshevik leaders - he was among the closest allies of Lenin even before the revolution and no less than his son-in-law (by marriage to Lenin's adopted daughter) - Rudzutak was arrested in 1937. He was accused of "Trotskyism", espionage, and participation in a plot to overthrow the government. Rudzutak was brutally tortured and after a brief secret trial during the following year, executed by firing squad. Once he became a "non- person", any items mentioning his name - be it badges, books, or ID cards - were either destroyed or carefully altered. We have actually seen one Rudzutak school badge that had been defaced, with the name scratched out. Most others were probably simply smashed and melted down for scrap: owning this badge even without wearing it would have been far too risky. The "politically incorrect" name of Rudzutak must be the major contributing factor to the rarity of the badge. Very few private collectors or museums even in Russia can boast of having one of these.
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