Maxim Litvinov
Overview
 
Maxim Maximovich Litvinov (17 July 1876–31 December 1951) was a Russian
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

ary and prominent 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....

 diplomat
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

.
Born Meir Henoch Mojszewicz Wallach-Finkelstein (simplified into Max Wallach) into a wealthy Jewish banking family in Białystok
Bialystok
Białystok is the largest city in northeastern Poland and the capital of the Podlaskie Voivodeship. Located on the Podlaskie Plain on the banks of the Biała River, Białystok ranks second in terms of population density, eleventh in population, and thirteenth in area, of the cities of Poland...

, Grodno Governorate
Grodno Governorate
The Grodno Governorate, was a governorate of the Russian Empire.-Overview:Grodno: a western province or government of Europe lying between 52 and 54 N lat 23 and E long and bounded N by Vilna E by Minsk S Volhynia and W by the former kingdom of Poland The country was a wide plain in parts very...

 in Podlasie Region of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, at that time part of the Russian Empire (Northwestern Krai
Northwestern Krai
Northwestern Krai was a subdivision of Imperial Russia in the territories of the present day Belarus and Lithuania. Together with the Southwestern Krai it formed the Western Krai...

), the son of Moses and Anna Wallach, he joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party , also known as Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party or Russian Social Democratic Party, was a revolutionary socialist Russian political party formed in 1898 in Minsk to unite the various revolutionary organizations into one party...

 (SDLP) in 1898.
Encyclopedia
Maxim Maximovich Litvinov (17 July 1876–31 December 1951) was a Russian
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

ary and prominent 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....

 diplomat
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

.

Early life and first exile

Born Meir Henoch Mojszewicz Wallach-Finkelstein (simplified into Max Wallach) into a wealthy Jewish banking family in Białystok
Bialystok
Białystok is the largest city in northeastern Poland and the capital of the Podlaskie Voivodeship. Located on the Podlaskie Plain on the banks of the Biała River, Białystok ranks second in terms of population density, eleventh in population, and thirteenth in area, of the cities of Poland...

, Grodno Governorate
Grodno Governorate
The Grodno Governorate, was a governorate of the Russian Empire.-Overview:Grodno: a western province or government of Europe lying between 52 and 54 N lat 23 and E long and bounded N by Vilna E by Minsk S Volhynia and W by the former kingdom of Poland The country was a wide plain in parts very...

 in Podlasie Region of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, at that time part of the Russian Empire (Northwestern Krai
Northwestern Krai
Northwestern Krai was a subdivision of Imperial Russia in the territories of the present day Belarus and Lithuania. Together with the Southwestern Krai it formed the Western Krai...

), the son of Moses and Anna Wallach, he joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party , also known as Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party or Russian Social Democratic Party, was a revolutionary socialist Russian political party formed in 1898 in Minsk to unite the various revolutionary organizations into one party...

 (SDLP) in 1898. The party was an illegal organization, and it was customary for its members to use pseudonym
Pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

s. He changed his name to Maxim Litvinov, but was also known as Papasha and Maximovich. Litvinov also wrote articles under the names M.G. Harrison and David Mordecai Finkelstein
His early responsibilities included carrying propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 work in Chernigov Governorate
Chernigov Governorate
The Chernigov Governorate , also known as the Government of Chernigov, was a guberniya in the historical Left-bank Ukraine region of the Russian Empire, which was officially created in 1802 from the disbanded Malorossiya Governorate with an administrative centre of Chernigov...

. In 1900 Litvinov became a member of Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

 party committee, but the entire committee was arrested in 1901. After 18 months of captivity, he led an escape of 11 inmates from Lukyanovskaya prison and lived in exile in Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, where he was an editor for the revolutionary newspaper Iskra
Iskra
Iskra was a political newspaper of Russian socialist emigrants established as the official organ of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Initially, it was managed by Vladimir Lenin, moving as he moved. The first edition was published in Stuttgart on December 1, 1900. Other editions were...

. In 1903, he joined the Bolshevik
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....

 faction and returned to Russia. After the 1905 Revolution he became editor of the SDLP's first legal newspaper, Novaya Zhizn
Novaya Zhizn
Novaya Zhizn was the first legal newspaper of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Its first editor was Maxim Litvinov. It was edited by Bolsheviks during November-December 1905....

(New Life) in St. Petersburg.

Second emigration

When the Russian government began arresting Bolshevik
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 1906, Litvinov left the country and spent the next ten years as émigré and arms dealer for the party. Based in Paris he travelled throughout Europe, sometimes posing as a procurement officer from Ecuador, buying rifles in Belgium, Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire. Despite some notable disasters, such as the wrecking of a gun running yacht on the Romanian coast, he had some success in smuggling these arms into Russia via Finland and the Black Sea.

In 1907 he attended the 5th Party Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in London. Initially he had to rely on the charity of the Rowton Houses
Rowton Houses
Rowton Houses were a chain of hostels built in London, England by the Victorian philanthropist Lord Rowton to provide decent accommodation for working men in place of the squalid lodging houses of the time....

 for accommodation in London. However, eventually the party arranged a rented house for him that he shared with Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, who had also been anxious to find more comfortable housing than the Rowton poor hostels.

In 1908 he was arrested under the name Meer Wallach by French police, while carrying twelve 500-ruble banknotes that were taken from bank in Tiflis during the 1907 Tiflis bank robbery
1907 Tiflis bank robbery
The 1907 Tiflis bank robbery, also known as the Yerevan Square expropriation, was an armed robbery by Bolshevik revolutionaries of a bank cash shipment in the Georgian city of Tiflis . The robbery occurred on 26 June 1907 in Yerevan Square...

 that took place on 26 June 1907. Litvinov was deported from France to England and lived in London
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...

, where he was active in the International Socialist Bureau
International Socialist Bureau
The International Socialist Bureau was the permanent organization of the Second International, established at the Paris congress of 1900. Before this there was no organizational infrastructure to the "Second International" beyond a series of periodical congresses, which weren't even given a...

. In early 1918, he was frequently reported in the British and American press as the foreign representative of the Bolsheviks in the UK, a claim given some substance by R. H. Bruce Lockhart
R. H. Bruce Lockhart
Sir Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart KCMG , was a journalist, author, secret agent, British diplomat in Moscow and Prague, and footballer...

, a British agent in Moscow at the time.
In England he met and married Ivy Lowe, daughter of one of the most distinguished Jewish families in Britain. Miss Lowe’s ancestors emigrated from Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 to England following the unsuccessful 1848 revolution
Revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg areas
From March 1848 through July 1849, the Habsburg Austrian Empire was threatened by revolutionary movements. Much of the revolutionary activity was of a nationalist character: the empire, ruled from Vienna, included Austrian Germans, Hungarians, Slovenes, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Ruthenians,...

. Her father, Walter Lowe, was a prominent writer and a close friend of H.G. Wells. They enjoyed frequent exchanges, Lowe espousing the Jewish point of view, and Wells a secular philosophy.

For a while Litvinov also lived in North Belfast in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

.

After the October Revolution

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, Litvinov was appointed by 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...

 as the Soviet government's representative in Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

. His accreditation was never officially formalised, and his position as an unofficial diplomatic contact was analogous to that of Robert Lockhart
R. H. Bruce Lockhart
Sir Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart KCMG , was a journalist, author, secret agent, British diplomat in Moscow and Prague, and footballer...

. In 1918, Litvinov was arrested by the British government and held until exchanged for Lockhart, who had been imprisoned in Russia. The following year he published the English tract The Bolshevik Revolution: Its Rise and Meaning, distributed by the British Socialist Party.
Litvinov was then employed as the Soviet government's roaming ambassador. It was largely through his efforts that Britain agreed to end its economic blockade of the Soviet Union. Litvinov also negotiated several trade agreements with European countries. In February 1929 he concluded the Litvinov's Pact
Litvinov's Pact
Litvinov's Pact was concluded on February 9, 1929 in Moscow. It is named after the best-known and most successful Soviet diplomat who organized the negotiations, Maxim Litvinov...

 in Moscow, signed by the Soviet Union, Poland, Romania, Latvia and Estonia, in which those countries promised not to use force to settle their disputes (this was seen as an 'Eastern Kellogg-Briand Pact
Kellogg-Briand Pact
The Kellogg–Briand Pact was an agreement signed on August 27, 1928, by the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Weimar Germany and a number of other countries.The pact renounced war , prohibiting the use of war...

').

In 1930, Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 appointed Litvinov as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs. A firm believer in collective security, Litvinov worked very hard to form a closer relationship with France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Britain. In 1933 he successfully persuaded the United States to officially recognize the Soviet government. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 sent comedian Harpo Marx
Harpo Marx
Adolph "Harpo" Marx was an American comedian and film star. He was the second oldest of the Marx Brothers. His comic style was influenced by clown and pantomime traditions. He wore a curly reddish wig, and never spoke during performances...

 to the Soviet Union as a good-will ambassador, and Litvinov and Marx became friends and even performed a routine on stage together. Litvinov also actively facilitated the acceptance of the USSR into the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 where he represented his country in 1934—1938.

Negotiations regarding Germany and dismissal

After the Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

 German media derided Litvinov about his Jewish ancestry, referring to him as "Finkelstein-Litvinov."

On 3 May 1939 Stalin replaced Litvinov with Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

. That night, NKVD troops surrounded the offices of the commissariat of foreign affairs. The phone at Litvinov's dacha was disconnected and, the following morning, Molotov, Georgii Malenkov, and Lavrenty Beria arrived at the commissariat to inform Litvinov of his dismissal. After Litvinov's dismissal, many of his aides were arrested and beaten, evidently in an attempt to extract compromising information.

The replacement of Litvinov with Molotov significantly increased Stalin's freedom to maneuver in foreign policy. The dismissal of Litvinov, whose Jewish ethnicity was viewed disfavorably by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, removed an obstacle to negotiations with Germany. Stalin immediately directed Molotov to "purge the ministry of Jews." Recalling Stalin’ s order, Molotov commented: `Thank God for these words! Jews formed an absolute majority in the leadership and among the ambassadors. It wasn’t good."

Given Litvinov's prior attempts to create an anti-fascist coalition, association with the doctrine of collective security
Collective security
Collective security can be understood as a security arrangement, regional or global, in which each state in the system accepts that the security of one is the concern of all, and agrees to join in a collective response to threats to, and breaches of, the peace...

 with France and Britain, and pro-Western orientation by Kremlin standards, his dismissal indicated the existence of a Soviet option of rapprochement with Germany. Likewise, Molotov's appointment was a signal to Germany that the USSR was open to offers. The dismissal also signaled to France and Britain the existence of a potential negotiation option with Germany. One British official wrote that Litvinov's disappearance also meant the loss of an admirable technician or shock-absorber, while Molotov's "modus operandi" was "more truly Bolshevik than diplomatic or cosmopolitan."

With regard to the signing of a German-Soviet nonaggression pact with secret protocols dividing eastern Europe
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

 three months later, Hitler remarked to military commanders that "Litvinov's replacement was decisive." A German official told the Soviet Ambassador that Hitler was also pleased that Litvinov's replacement, Molotov, was not Jewish. Hitler also wrote to Mussolini that Litvinov's dismissal demonstrated that Kremlin's readiness to alter relations with Berlin, which lead to "the most extensive nonaggression pact in existence." When Litvinov was later asked about the reasons for his dismissal, he asked, "Do you really think that I was the right person to sign a treaty with Hitler?"

Litvinov, like Churchill, had misgivings about Munich. Following the invasion of the U.S.S.R. on 22 June 1941, Litvinov said on a radio broadcast to Britain and the U.S., "We always realized the danger which a Hitler victory in the West could constitute for us," which one commentator described as, "in the tactful language which underlings must apply to dictators... tantamount to 'I told you so.'". With the Soviet Union embroiled in the Great Patriotic War, Joseph Stalin appointed Litvinov as Deputy Commissar of Foreign Affairs. Litvinov also served as Ambassador to the United States from 1941 to 1943 and significantly contributed to the lend lease agreement signed in 1941.

Legacy

In 1945, he was mentioned by Halvdan Koht
Halvdan Koht
Halvdan Koht was a Norwegian historian and politician representing the Labour Party.As a politician he served as the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1935 to 1941. He was never elected as a member of the Parliament of Norway, but was a member of Bærum municipal council in 1917–1919 and...

 among seven candidates that were qualified for the Nobel Prize in Peace. However, he did not explicitly nominate any of them. The person actually nominated was Cordell Hull
Cordell Hull
Cordell Hull was an American politician from the U.S. state of Tennessee. He is best known as the longest-serving Secretary of State, holding the position for 11 years in the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during much of World War II...

.

After Litvinov's death, his wife returned to live in Britain. His last words, directed at his wife, were "Englishwoman go home".

His grandson Pavel Litvinov
Pavel Litvinov
Pavel Litvinov is a Russian physicist, writer, human rights activist and former Soviet-era dissident. He is the grandson of Maxim Litvinov, Joseph Stalin's foreign minister during the 1930s, and as such was born and raised amongst the Soviet elite...

 is a Russian physicist, writer and a Soviet-era dissident.

Works


External links

Biography six versions from various resources The Bolshevik revolution : its rise and meaning by Maxim Litvinov

See also

  • Soviet-German relations before 1941
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