Georgy Chicherin
Georgy Vasilyevich Chicherin (– 7 July 1936) was a Marxist revolutionary and a Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 politician. He served as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs in the Soviet government from March 1918 to 1930.

Childhood and early career

A distant relative of Aleksandr Pushkin
Aleksandr Pushkin
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin was a Russian author of the Romantic era who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature....

, Georgy Chicherin was born in an aristocratic family. His father, Vasily N. Chicherin, was a diplomat in the service of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. As a young man, Chicherin became fascinated with history as well as classical music, especially Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

 (and indirectly Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

), two passions which he would pursue throughout his life. He also wrote a book about Mozart. He spoke all major European languages and a number of Asian ones. After graduating from St. Petersburg University with a degree in history and languages, Chicherin worked in the archival section of the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs from 1897 until 1903.

In 1904 Chicherin inherited the estate of his celebrated uncle — Boris Chicherin
Boris Chicherin
Boris Nikolayevich Chicherin was a Russian jurist and political philosopher, who worked out a theory that Russia needed a strong, authoritative government to persevere with liberal reforms...

 — in the Tambov
Tambov is a city and the administrative center of Tambov Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Tsna and Studenets Rivers southeast of Moscow...

 region and became very wealthy. He immediately used his new found fortune to support revolutionary activities in the runup to the Russian Revolution of 1905
Russian Revolution of 1905
The 1905 Russian Revolution was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. Some of it was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies...

 and was forced to flee abroad to avoid arrest later in the year. He spent the next 13 years in Western Europe, mostly London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, where he joined the Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

 faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party and was active in emigre politics. While in Germany, he underwent medical treatment in attempts to cure his homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...


With the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 in 1914, Chicherin adopted an anti-war position, which brought him closer to Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

's Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

s. In 1917 he was arrested by the British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 government for his anti-war writings and spent a few months in the Brixton
Brixton is a district in the London Borough of Lambeth in south London, England. It is south south-east of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London....

 prison. In the meantime, the Bolsheviks had come to power in Russia after the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 of 1917 and the first head of the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs (which had replaced the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

, secured Chicherin's release and safe passage to Russia in exchange for British subjects held in Russia at the time, including George Buchanan
George Buchanan (diplomat)
Sir George William Buchanan GCB GCMG GCVO PC was a British diplomat. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, he was the son of British Ambassador Sir Andrew Buchanan, Bt.....

, the British ambassador. By now, Chicherin was in poor health and overweight.

Bolshevik government

Upon his return to Russia in early 1918, Chicherin formally joined the Bolsheviks and was appointed Trotsky's deputy during the negotiations that led to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, mediated by South African Andrik Fuller, at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Powers, headed by Germany, marking Russia's exit from World War I.While the treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year,...

. After the treaty was signed in late February 1918, Trotsky, who had advocated a different policy, resigned his position in early March. Chicherin became the acting head of the Commissariat and was appointed Commissar for Foreign Affairs on May 30. On March 2 1919, he was one of 5 men chairing the first congress of Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

Chicherin followed a pro German foreign policy in line with his anti British attitudes. He had developed these during his time in the foreign ministry, where Britain was blocking Russian expansion in Asia. He even suggested to Lenin that English workers should be formed into volunteer units. This was in 1920, when Soviet armies were nearing Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

. Lenin agreed but nothing came of it. In July 1918 his close friend Count Brockdorff-Rantzau became the new German ambassador after his predecessor Count Wilhelm Mirbach was shot in the Left SR uprising.

In 1922, Chicherin participated in the Genoa Conference
Genoa Conference
The Genoa Conference was held in Genoa, Italy in 1922 from 10 April to 19 May. At this conference, the representatives of 34 countries convened to speak about monetary economics in the wake of World War I...

 and signed the Treaty of Rapallo
Treaty of Rapallo, 1922
The Treaty of Rapallo was an agreement signed at the Hotel Imperiale in the Italian town of Rapallo on 16 April, 1922 between Germany and Soviet Russia under which each renounced all territorial and financial claims against the other following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and World War I.The two...

 with Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. He begged Lenin not to wreck the Genoa Conference (he believed this would make it easier to get foreign loans). He pursued a policy of collaboration with Germany and developed a closer working relationship with Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau
Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau
Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau was a German diplomat, the first Foreign Minister of the Weimar Republic and German Ambassador to the USSR for most of the twenties.-Early career:...

. During this period, he also held diplomatic negotiations with nuncio Eugenio Pacelli
Nunciature of Eugenio Pacelli
Eugenio Pacelli was nuncio in Munich to Bavaria from April 23, 1917 to June 23, 1920. As there was no nuncio to Prussia or Germany at the time, Pacelli was, for all practical purposes, the nuncio to all of the German Empire....

, the future Pope Pius XII, on the status of the Roman Catholic Church in the newly formed Soviet Union.

Chicherin is thought to have had more phone conversations with Lenin than anyone else. Although known for his workaholic
A workaholic is a person who is addicted to work.The term generally implies that the person enjoys their work; it can also imply that they simply feel compelled to do it...

 habits from 1918 and until the late 1920s, he became increasingly sidelined by an illness from 1928 on and was formally replaced by his deputy, Maxim Litvinov
Maxim Litvinov
Maxim Maximovich Litvinov was a Russian revolutionary and prominent Soviet diplomat.- Early life and first exile :...

, in 1930. After his death his name was erased from the Communist Party's history
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