Dzerzhinsky, Feliks Edmundovich (fyĕˈlyĭks ĕdmōnˈdəvĭch dzĭrzhēnˈskē) [key], 1877–1926, Russian Bolshevik leader, organizer, and first chairman (1917–21) of the Cheka (see secret police). He was the son of Polish aristocrats. Under his direction, the reign of terror against anti-Bolsheviks reached its height in 1918. Dzerzhinsky also headed the agencies that succeeded the Cheka (the OGPU and the GPU) and held other high posts.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.