Arrested in the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1953
Lawrentij Berija came from a poor peasant family in north-west Georgia. In his youth, he first worked as a spy in the underground. In 1921 he became a member of the domestic intelligence service of the Communist Party, already in 1926 Georgian head of the GPU and in 1931 chairman of the Communist Party in Georgia. In 1938, he was himself targeted by the secret service in the course of the Stalinist purge, but managed to convince Joseph Stalin of his loyalty. In the same year he became head of the NKVD secret service and as such continued the Stalinist purges. In 1941 he became a member of the State Defence Committee, and in 1944 he supervised the deportation of 500,000 Chechens and Ingush. Immediately after World War II, Beriya was made responsible by Stalin for the construction of a Soviet atomic bomb. In 1949, the first plutonium bomb was detonated. After Stalin’s death on 5 March 1953, a power struggle broke out in the course of which Beriya was arrested at the meeting of the Central Committee of the CPSU chaired by Nikita Khrushchev on 26 June 1953. At the trial before a special tribunal of the Supreme Court, the death sentence was pronounced on 23 December 1953 and executed by firing squad on the same day.
Kristian Sotriffer, otherwise rather critical of Pack’s works, wrote in his article on the occasion of the artist’s exhibition in 1968 at the Würthle Gallery: “For me, the best picture in the exhibition is a large, excellently composed “history picture” of a new type, largely freed from constraints of any kind, entitled “Lawrentij Berija wird 1953 im Zentralkomitee der KPdSU verhaftet”. It is a picture that is free of questions of origin and style, because it is true in itself and because Pack has engaged with it as perhaps with no other.”