From the Archive: “A small piece of brown colored mass” Part 2/3

Part one of “A small piece of brown colored mass” can be read here

Presidential Archive of the Russian Federation, f. 3, op. 3, d. 65, l. 29-31.

To the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs SSR Cde. Yagoda.


On 16 October a letter from another town addressed “Kremlin to Cde. Stalin” was received by the Special Department of the TsK VKP(b). The letter was dropped in a mailbox outside of Moscow on 13 October.

Cde. Sentaretskaya, a Party member and an employee in the 5th section of the special department of the VKP(b), who is charged with opening the mail and in particular opening this letter, found a substance wrapped in paper in the envelope, which she ascertained upon a closer look to be excrement. Since this substance emitted the smell of cloves, she showed it to the supervisor of the 5th section, Cde. Selitskii and his boss Kabashkin. Both of them looked at the substance, and smelled the scent of cloves, and Cde. Kabashkin ordered Sentaretskaya to throw the substance in the toilet. Sentaretskaya, returning from the toilet where she went to threw out the substance, went back to work, but after a few minutes said that she felt bad, attempted to get up from her chair, but fainted, hitting her head on the floor. When first aid returned Sentaretskaya to consciousness, she began to complain about blurry vision, and after that, of blindness.

Sentaretskaya was quickly sent to the Kremlin hospital, where she was given the necessary medical help and where she was subject to a thorough examination. Professor M. O. Averbakh, Privatdozent M. Iu. Rappoport, Deputy Head of the Kremlin Hospital B. E. Kogen and Doctor of Neuropathology E. V. Tepper conducted the examination and concluded that the sudden blindness was caused by hysterical episode and that there were no symptoms whatsoever of inborn illness of the ocular system and optic nerve [that could be given] as an explanation for the sudden development of blindness.

The Scientific Research Institute of Sanitation and the 13th Department of the Communist Hospital of the RKKA (Workers’ Peasants’ Red Army), where we went for confirmation of this conclusion, confirmed it and established that the sudden blindness could not have been the cause of an unknown chemical substance.

At the present moment, Sentaretskaya’s sight has gradually returned and is already close to normal.

Because the paper that the substance was wrapped in was thrown in the toilet, we only subjected the remaining envelope to a complete examination. The examination was conducted by Cde. Udris, the Captain of the 1st Department of the Scientific Research Chemical Institute of the RKKA, who spotted on the envelope the trace of some kind of poisonous substance.

Further investigation, which the Special Department will conduct,  will be difficult because the postal stamp [showing] the point of origin is erased and it is difficult to establish from which town it originated.

Deputy Captain Operations of the GUGB NKVD (Main Department of State Security, People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs.)

27 October 1935

This document was published in Istochnik, 3, 1993.