Vyacheslav Molotov
Overview
 
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet
Soviet people
Soviet people or Soviet nation was an umbrella demonym for the population of the Soviet Union. Initially used as a nonspecific reference to the Soviet population, it was eventually declared to be a "new historical, social and international unity of people".-Nationality politics in early Soviet...

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

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

, an Old Bolshevik
Old Bolshevik
Old Bolshevik , also Old Bolshevik Guard or Old Party Guard, was an unofficial designation for those who were members of the Bolshevik party before the Russian Revolution of 1917, many of whom were either tried and executed by the NKVD during Stalin era purges or died under suspicious...

 and a leading figure in the Soviet government
Government of the Soviet Union
The Council of Ministers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was the de jure government comprising the highest executive and administrative body of the Soviet Union from 1946 until 1991....

 from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of 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...

, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium (Politburo) of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

. He served as Chairman
Premier of the Soviet Union
The office of Premier of the Soviet Union was synonymous with head of government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics . Twelve individuals have been premier...

 of the Council of People's Commissars from 1930 to 1941, and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1939 to 1949 and from 1953 to 1956.
Quotations

Someone helped us a lot with the atomic bomb. The intelligence (service) played a huge role. These Rosenbergs suffered in America. It is not excluded that they helped us. But we shouldn't really speak about it, because we might receive this kind of help in the future.

About Julius and Ethel Rosenberg being undercover Soviet agents. Quoted in "The FBI-KGB War: A Special Agent's Story" - Page 306 - by Robert J. Lamphere, Tom Shachtman - History - 1995

One blow from the German army and another from the Soviet army put an end to this ugly product of Versailles.

Quoted in "Legitimacy and Force" - Page 49 - by Jeane J. Kirkpatrick - United States - 1988

We cannot lose Poland. If this line is crossed, they will grab us, too.

December 4, 1981. Quoted in "Surviving the Millennium" - Page 236 - by Hall Gardner - Political Science - 1994

As long as we live in a system of states, and as long as the roots of fascism and imperialist aggression have not finally been extirpated, our vigilance in regard to possible new violators of peace should not slacken, and concern for the strengthening of cooperation between the peace-loving powers will continue to be our most important duty.

Quoted in "Strategy and Tactics of Soviet Foreign Policy" - Page 4 - by John Malcolm Mackintosh - Soviet Union - 1963

The old world must make way for the new.

January 10, 1930. Quoted in "Soviet Union, 1936" - Page 107 - by Joseph Stalin, A. Fineberg - Soviet Union - 1936

Only a fool would attack us.

June 1941. Quoted in "Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives" - Page 715 - by Alan Bullock - 1993

Encyclopedia
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet
Soviet people
Soviet people or Soviet nation was an umbrella demonym for the population of the Soviet Union. Initially used as a nonspecific reference to the Soviet population, it was eventually declared to be a "new historical, social and international unity of people".-Nationality politics in early Soviet...

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

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

, an Old Bolshevik
Old Bolshevik
Old Bolshevik , also Old Bolshevik Guard or Old Party Guard, was an unofficial designation for those who were members of the Bolshevik party before the Russian Revolution of 1917, many of whom were either tried and executed by the NKVD during Stalin era purges or died under suspicious...

 and a leading figure in the Soviet government
Government of the Soviet Union
The Council of Ministers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was the de jure government comprising the highest executive and administrative body of the Soviet Union from 1946 until 1991....

 from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of 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...

, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium (Politburo) of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

. He served as Chairman
Premier of the Soviet Union
The office of Premier of the Soviet Union was synonymous with head of government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics . Twelve individuals have been premier...

 of the Council of People's Commissars from 1930 to 1941, and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1939 to 1949 and from 1953 to 1956. Molotov served for several years as First Deputy Premier in 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...

's cabinet. He retired in 1961 after several years of obscurity.

Molotov was the principal Soviet signatory of the Nazi
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...

-Soviet non-aggression pact
Non-aggression pact
A non-aggression pact is an international treaty between two or more states/countries agreeing to avoid war or armed conflict between them and resolve their disputes through peaceful negotiations...

 of 1939 (also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
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...

) of 1939, after Britain and France repeatedly failed to join the Soviets in an anti-Nazi alliance, was involved in post-war negotiations where he became noted for his excellent diplomatic skills, and was a signatory of the Politburo resolution authorising the Katyn massacre
Katyn massacre
The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre , was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs , the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of...

. Following the aftermath of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 (Great Patriotic War
Great Patriotic War (term)
The term Great Patriotic War , Velíkaya Otéchestvennaya voyná,) is used in Russia and some other states of the former Soviet Union to describe the portion of World War II from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945, against Nazi Germany and its allies in the many fronts of Soviet-German war.-History:The term...

) Molotov kept his place, until 1949, as a leading Soviet diplomat and politician. In March 1949, after losing Stalin's favour, he lost the foreign affairs ministry to Andrei Vyshinsky. Molotov's relationship with Stalin deteriorated further, with Stalin complaining about Molotov's mistakes in a speech to the 19th Party Congress
19th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Nineteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was held from October 5–14, 1952. It was the last congress of the Stalin regime and the first to take place since before World War II...

. However, after Stalin's death in 1953 Molotov was staunchly opposed to Khrushchev's de-Stalinisation policy. He defended his policies and the legacy of Stalin until his death in 1986, and harshly criticized Stalin's successors, especially Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

.

Early life and career (1890–1930)

Molotov was born Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin in the village of Kukarka
Sovetsk, Kirov Oblast
Sovetsk , formerly Kukarka , is a town and the administrative center of Sovetsky District of Kirov Oblast, Russia. Population: In the 12th century, Kukarka was a capital of the local principality of Chumbylat, a renowned Mari leader and warrior. The town was occupied in 1594 by Russians during...

 (now Sovetsk in Kirov Oblast
Kirov Oblast
Kirov Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Kirov. Population: -History:In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Vyatka remained a place of exile for opponents of the tsarist regime, including many prominent revolutionary figures.In 1920, a number of...

), the son of a shop clerk. Contrary to a commonly repeated error, he was not related to the composer Alexander Scriabin
Alexander Scriabin
Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin was a Russian composer and pianist who initially developed a lyrical and idiosyncratic tonal language inspired by the music of Frédéric Chopin. Quite independent of the innovations of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed an increasingly atonal musical system,...

. He was educated at a secondary school in Kazan
Kazan
Kazan is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia. With a population of 1,143,546 , it is the eighth most populous city in Russia. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. In April 2009, the Russian Patent Office granted Kazan the...

, and 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 of 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...

 (RSDLP) in 1906. He took the pseudonym
Pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

 Molotov (from the Russian molot, "hammer
Hammer
A hammer is a tool meant to deliver an impact to an object. The most common uses are for driving nails, fitting parts, forging metal and breaking up objects. Hammers are often designed for a specific purpose, and vary widely in their shape and structure. The usual features are a handle and a head,...

"
) for his political work. His other party nickname was 'stone arse', owing to his long hours at desks. (He once announced he was taking a 13 minute nap and woke up exactly 13 minutes later). He was arrested in 1909 and spent two years in exile in Vologda
Vologda
Vologda is a city and the administrative, cultural, and scientific center of Vologda Oblast, Russia, located on the Vologda River. The city is a major transport knot of the Northwest of Russia. Vologda is among the Russian cities possessing an especially valuable historical heritage...

. In 1911 he enrolled at the St Petersburg Polytechnic, and also joined the editorial staff of Pravda
Pravda
Pravda was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991....

, the underground Bolshevik newspaper of which 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...

 was editor. In 1915 Molotov was again arrested and deported to Irkutsk
Irkutsk
Irkutsk is a city and the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, one of the largest cities in Siberia. Population: .-History:In 1652, Ivan Pokhabov built a zimovye near the site of Irkutsk for gold trading and for the collection of fur taxes from the Buryats. In 1661, Yakov Pokhabov...

, but in 1916 he escaped and returned to the capital.

Molotov became a member of the Bolshevik Party's committee in Petrograd in 1916. When the February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

 occurred in 1917, he was one of the few Bolsheviks of any standing in the capital. Under his direction Pravda
Pravda
Pravda was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991....

took to the "left" to oppose the Provisional Government formed after the revolution. When 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...

 returned to the capital, he reversed Molotov's line; but when the party leader, 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...

, arrived, he overruled Stalin. Despite this, Molotov became a protégé of and close adherent to Stalin, an alliance to which he owed his later prominence. Molotov became a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee
Petrograd Soviet
The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies , usually called the Petrograd Soviet , was the soviet in Petrograd , Russia, established in March 1917 after the February Revolution as the representative body of the city's workers.The Petrograd Soviet became important during the Russian...

 which planned 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...

, which effectively brought the Bolsheviks to power.

In 1918, Molotov was sent to Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 to take part in the civil war
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 then breaking out. Since he was not a military man, he took no part in the fighting. In 1920, he became secretary to the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Bolshevik Party. Lenin recalled him to Moscow in 1921, elevating him to full membership of the Central Committee
Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , abbreviated in Russian as ЦК, "Tse-ka", earlier was also called as the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party ...

 and Orgburo
Orgburo
The Orgburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union existed from 1919–52, until the 19th Congress, when the Orgburo was abolished and its functions were transferred to the enlarged Secretariat....

, and putting him in charge of the party secretariat. He was voted in as a non-voting member of the Politburo in 1921, and held the office of Responsible Secretary. His Responsible Secretaryship was criticised both by Lenin and 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....

, with Lenin noting his "shameful bureaucratism" and stupid behaviour. On the advice of Molotov and Nikolai Bukharin
Nikolai Bukharin
Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin , was a Russian Marxist, Bolshevik revolutionary, and Soviet politician. He was a member of the Politburo and Central Committee , chairman of the Communist International , and the editor in chief of Pravda , the journal Bolshevik , Izvestia , and the Great Soviet...

 the Central Committee decided to reduce Lenin's work hours. In 1922, Stalin became General Secretary
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the title given to the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. With some exceptions, the office was synonymous with leader of the Soviet Union...

 of the Bolshevik Party with Molotov as the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

Second Secretary. As a young follower Molotov admired Stalin, but was open in criticism of him. Under Stalin's patronage, Molotov became a member of the Politburo
Politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

 in 1926.

During the power struggles which followed Lenin's death in 1924, Molotov remained a loyal supporter of Stalin against his various rivals: first 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....

, later Lev Kamenev
Lev Kamenev
Lev Borisovich Kamenev , born Rozenfeld , was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a prominent Soviet politician. He was briefly head of state of the new republic in 1917, and from 1923-24 the acting Premier in the last year of Lenin's life....

 and Grigory Zinoviev
Grigory Zinoviev
Grigory Yevseevich Zinoviev , born Ovsei-Gershon Aronovich Radomyslsky Apfelbaum , was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a Soviet Communist politician...

 and finally Nikolai Bukharin
Nikolai Bukharin
Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin , was a Russian Marxist, Bolshevik revolutionary, and Soviet politician. He was a member of the Politburo and Central Committee , chairman of the Communist International , and the editor in chief of Pravda , the journal Bolshevik , Izvestia , and the Great Soviet...

. Molotov became a leading figure in the "Stalinist centre" of the party, which also included Kliment Voroshilov
Kliment Voroshilov
Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov , popularly known as Klim Voroshilov was a Soviet military officer, politician, and statesman...

 and Sergo Ordzhonikidze
Grigoriy Ordzhonikidze
Grigol Ordzhonikidze ორჯონიკიძე - Grigol Orjonikidze, , generally known as Sergo Ordzhonikidze ; – February 18, 1937) was a Georgian Bolshevik, later member of the CPSU Politburo and close friend to Joseph Stalin...

. Trotsky and his supporters underestimated Molotov, as did many others. Trotsky called him "mediocrity personified", whilst Molotov himself pedantically corrected comrades referring to him as 'Stone Arse' by saying that Lenin had actually dubbed him 'Iron Arse'. However, this outward dullness concealed a sharp mind and great administrative talent. He operated mainly behind the scenes and cultivated an image of a colourless bureaucrat – for example, he was the only Bolshevik leader who always wore a suit and tie. In 1928 Molotov replaced Nikolai Uglanov
Nikolai Uglanov
Nikolai Aleksandrovich Uglanov was a Russian Bolshevik politician, who played an important role in the government of the Soviet Union.* 20 August 1924 - November 27, 1928, First Secretary of the Moscow Communist Party...

 as First Secretary of the Moscow Communist Party
First Secretary of the Moscow Communist Party
The First Secretary of the Moscow gorkom of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the position of highest authority in the city of Moscow roughly equating to that of mayor. The position was created on November 10, 1917, following the October Revolution and abolished on August 24, 1991...

 and held that position until 15 August 1929. In a lengthy address to the Central Committee in 1929, Molotov told the members that the Soviet government would initiate a compulsory collectivisation campaign to solve the agrarian backwardness of Soviet agriculture.

Premiership (1930–1941)

During the Central Committee plenum of 19 December 1930, Alexey Rykov, the Chairman
Premier of the Soviet Union
The office of Premier of the Soviet Union was synonymous with head of government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics . Twelve individuals have been premier...

 of the Council of People's Commissars (the equivalent of a Western head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

) was succeeded by Molotov. In this post, Molotov oversaw the Stalin regime's collectivisation of agriculture
Collectivisation in the USSR
Collectivization in the Soviet Union was a policy pursued under Stalin between 1928 and 1940. The goal of this policy was to consolidate individual land and labour into collective farms...

. He followed Stalin's line by using a combination of force and propaganda to crush peasant resistance to collectivisation, including the deportation of millions of kulak
Kulak
Kulaks were a category of relatively affluent peasants in the later Russian Empire, Soviet Russia, and early Soviet Union...

s
(peasants with property) to labour camps. An enormous number of the deportees died from exposure and overwork. He signed the Law of Spikelets
Law of Spikelets
Law of Spikelets or Law of Three Spikelets was a common name of the Soviet law to protect state property of kolkhozes. The common name came into use because the law was used to prosecute not only property thieves but also anyone who collected as little as a handful of grain or "spikelets" left...

and personally led the Extraordinary Commission for Grain Delivery in Ukraine, which seised a reported 4.2 million tonnes of grain from the peasants during a widespread manmade famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 (known in Ukraine as Holodomor
Holodomor
The Holodomor was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR between 1932 and 1933. During the famine, which is also known as the "terror-famine in Ukraine" and "famine-genocide in Ukraine", millions of Ukrainians died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of...

). Contemporary historians estimate that between seven and eleven million people died, either of starvation or in labour camps, in the move to collectivise farms. Molotov also oversaw the implementation of the First Five-Year Plan for rapid industrialisation.

Sergei Kirov, head of the Party organisation in Leningrad
Leningrad
Leningrad is the former name of Saint Petersburg, Russia.Leningrad may also refer to:- Places :* Leningrad Oblast, a federal subject of Russia, around Saint Petersburg* Leningrad, Tajikistan, capital of Muminobod district in Khatlon Province...

, was killed in 1934; some believed his death was ordered by Stalin. Kirov's death triggered a second crisis, the Great Purge
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

. In 1938, out of the twenty-eight People's Commissars in Molotov's Government, twenty were executed on the orders of Molotov and Stalin. The purges were carried out by Stalin's successive police chiefs, Nikolai Yezhov
Nikolai Yezhov
Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov or Ezhov was a senior figure in the NKVD under Joseph Stalin during the period of the Great Purge. His reign is sometimes known as the "Yezhovshchina" , "the Yezhov era", a term that began to be used during the de-Stalinization campaign of the 1950s...

 was the chief organiser and Kliment Voroshilov
Kliment Voroshilov
Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov , popularly known as Klim Voroshilov was a Soviet military officer, politician, and statesman...

, Lazar Kaganovich
Lazar Kaganovich
Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich was a Soviet politician and administrator and one of the main associates of Joseph Stalin.-Early life:Kaganovich was born in 1893 to Jewish parents in the village of Kabany, Radomyshl uyezd, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire...

 and Molotov were intimately involved in the processes. Stalin frequently required Molotov and other Politburo members to sign the death warrants of prominent purge victims, and Molotov always did so without question. There is no record of Molotov attempting to moderate the course of the purges or even to save individuals, as some other Soviet officials did. During the Great Purge, he personally approved 372 documented execution lists, more than any other Soviet official including Stalin. It is known that Molotov was one of few with whom Stalin openly discussed the purges. Although Molotov and Stalin signed a public decree in 1938 which disassociated them from the then ongoing Great Purge., in private, and even after Stalin's death, Molotov supported the Great Purge and the murders committed by his government.
Despite the great human cost, the Soviet Union under Molotov's nominal premiership made great strides in the adoption and widespread implementation of agrarian and industrial technology. In a document written by Molotov he noted how cannibalism
Cannibalism
Cannibalism is the act or practice of humans eating the flesh of other human beings. It is also called anthropophagy...

 and starvation
Starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

 were still serious problems even in 1937 in the Soviet Union. Andrey Vyshinsky
Andrey Vyshinsky
Andrey Januaryevich Vyshinsky – 22 November 1954) was a Soviet politician, jurist and diplomat.He is known as a state prosecutor of Joseph Stalin's Moscow trials and in the Nuremberg trials. He was the Soviet Foreign Minister from 1949 to 1953, after having served as Deputy Foreign...

, the Procurator General, even told Molotov personally of incidents involving mothers eating their newly-born children. The rise of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 in 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...

 precipitated the development of a modern armaments industry on the orders of the Soviet government. Ultimately, it was this arms industry, along with American Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

 aid, which helped the Soviet Union to prevail in the World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 (Great Patriotic War
Great Patriotic War (term)
The term Great Patriotic War , Velíkaya Otéchestvennaya voyná,) is used in Russia and some other states of the former Soviet Union to describe the portion of World War II from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945, against Nazi Germany and its allies in the many fronts of Soviet-German war.-History:The term...

). Set against this, the purges of the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 leadership, in which Molotov participated, weakened the Soviet Union's defence capacity and contributed to the military disasters of 1941 and 1942, which were mostly caused by unreadiness for war. The purges also led to the dismantling of privatised agriculture and its replacement by collectivised agriculture. This left a legacy of chronic agricultural inefficiencies and under-production which the Soviet regime never fully rectified.

Molotov was reported to be a vegetarian and teetotaler by American journalist John Gunther in 1938. However, Milovan Djilas claimed that he "drank more than Stalin" and did not note his vegetarianism despite having several banquets with him.

Minister of Foreign Affairs (1939–1949)

In 1939, following 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...

 and Hitler's subsequent invasion of Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 in 1938, Stalin believed that Britain and France would not be reliable allies against German expansion so instead sought to conciliate 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...

. In May 1939 Maxim Litvinov
Maxim Litvinov
Maxim Maximovich Litvinov was a Russian revolutionary and prominent Soviet diplomat.- Early life and first exile :...

, the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, was dismissed and Molotov was appointed to succeed him. Molotov was succeeded in his post as Premier by Stalin.

At first, Hitler rebuffed Soviet diplomatic hints that Stalin desired a treaty, but in early August 1939, Hitler authorised Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945. He was later hanged for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials.-Early life:...

 to begin serious negotiations. A trade agreement was concluded on 18 August, and on 22 August, Ribbentrop flew to Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 to conclude a formal non-aggression treaty. Although the treaty is known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, it was Stalin and Hitler, and not Molotov and Ribbentrop, who decided the content of the treaty. The most important part of the agreement was the secret protocol, which provided for the partition of Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 and the Baltic States
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and for the Soviet annexation of Bessarabia
Bessarabia
Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

 (then part of Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, now Moldova
Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

). This protocol gave Hitler the green light for his invasion of Poland, which began on 1 September. On 5 March 1940 Lavrentiy Beria
Lavrentiy Beria
Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria was a Georgian Soviet politician and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus under Joseph Stalin during World War II, and Deputy Premier in the postwar years ....

 gave Molotov, along with Anastas Mikoyan
Anastas Mikoyan
Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan was an Armenian Old Bolshevik and Soviet statesman during the rules of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and Leonid Brezhnev....

, Kliment Voroshilov
Kliment Voroshilov
Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov , popularly known as Klim Voroshilov was a Soviet military officer, politician, and statesman...

 and Stalin, a note ordering the execution of 25,700 Polish officers and anti-Soviets, in what has become known as the Katyn massacre
Katyn massacre
The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre , was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs , the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of...

.

Under the terms of the Pact, Hitler was, in effect, given authorisation to occupy two-thirds of Western Poland, as well as Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

. Molotov was given a free hand in relation to Finland. In the Soviet-Finnish War that ensued, a combination of fierce Finnish resistance and Soviet mismanagement resulted in Finland losing parts of its territory, but not its independence. The Pact was later amended to allocate Lithuania to the Soviet sphere in exchange for a more favourable border in Poland. These annexations led to massive suffering and loss of life in the countries occupied and partitioned by the two dictatorships.
In November 1940 Stalin sent Molotov to Berlin
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...

 to meet von Ribbentrop and Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 (see German–Soviet Axis talks#Molotov travels to Berlin). In January 1941, the British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden
Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, KG, MC, PC was a British Conservative politician, who was Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957...

 visited Turkey in an attempt to get the Turks to enter the war on the Allies' side. Though the purpose of Eden's visit was anti-German rather than anti-Soviet, Molotov assumed otherwise and in a series of conversations with the Italian Ambassador Augusto Rosso, Molotov claimed that the Soviet Union would soon be faced with an Anglo-Turkish invasion of the Crimea. The British historian D.C. Watt argued that on the basis of Molotov's statements to Rosso, it would appear that in early 1941, Stalin and Molotov viewed Britain rather than Germany as the principal threat.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact governed Soviet-German relations until June 1941 when Hitler, having occupied 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 neutralised Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, turned east and attacked the Soviet Union. Molotov was responsible for telling the Soviet people
Soviet people
Soviet people or Soviet nation was an umbrella demonym for the population of the Soviet Union. Initially used as a nonspecific reference to the Soviet population, it was eventually declared to be a "new historical, social and international unity of people".-Nationality politics in early Soviet...

 of the attack, when he instead of Stalin announced the war. His speech, broadcast by radio on 22 June, characterised the Soviet Union in a role similar to that articulated for Britain by Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 in his early wartime speeches. The State Defence Committee was established soon after Molotov's speech; Stalin was elected Chairman and Molotov was elected Deputy Chairman.
Following the German invasion, Molotov conducted urgent negotiations with Britain and, later, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 for wartime alliances. He took a secret flight to Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 where he was greeted by Eden. From there he took a train to 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...

 to discuss with the British government the possibility of opening a second front against Germany. After signing the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of 1942
Anglo-Soviet Treaty of 1942
The Twenty-Year Mutual Assistance Agreement Between the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Anglo-Soviet Treaty established military and political alliance between the USSR and the British Empire during World War II, and for 20 years after it...

 on 26 May Molotov left for Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, United States. Molotov met with 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...

, the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, and ratified a Lend-Lease Treaty
Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

 between the USSR and the US. Both the British and the United States government, albeit vaguely, promised to open up a second front against Germany. On his flight back to the USSR his plane was attacked by German fighters, and then later by Soviet fighters.

When Beria told Stalin about the Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

 and its importance Stalin handpicked Molotov to be the man in charge of the Soviet atomic bomb project
Soviet atomic bomb project
The Soviet project to develop an atomic bomb , was a clandestine research and development program began during and post-World War II, in the wake of the Soviet Union's discovery of the United States' nuclear project...

. However, under Molotov's leadership the bomb, and the project iself, developed very slowly and Molotov was replaced by Beria in 1944 on the advice of Igor Kurchatov
Igor Kurchatov
Igor Vasilyevich Kurchatov , was a Soviet nuclear physicist who is widely known as the director of the Soviet atomic bomb project. Along with Georgy Flyorov and Andrei Sakharov, Kurchatov is widely remembered and dubbed as the "father of the Soviet atomic bomb" for his directorial role in the...

. When Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

, the American President, told Stalin that the Americans had created a bomb never seen before, Stalin related the conversation to Molotov and told him to speed up development. On Stalin's orders the Soviet government substantially increased investment in the project.

In a collaboration with Kliment Voroshilov
Kliment Voroshilov
Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov , popularly known as Klim Voroshilov was a Soviet military officer, politician, and statesman...

, Molotov contributed both musically and lyrically to the 1944 version of the Soviet national anthem. Molotov asked the writers to include a line or two about peace
Peace
Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the...

. Molotov's and Voroshilov's role in the making of the new Soviet anthem was, in the words of historian Simon Sebag-Montefiore, acting as music judges for Stalin.

Molotov accompanied Stalin to the Teheran Conference in 1943, the Yalta Conference
Yalta Conference
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11, 1945, was the wartime meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D...

 in 1945 and, following the defeat of Germany, the Potsdam Conference
Potsdam Conference
The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern, in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 16 July to 2 August 1945. Participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States...

. He represented the Soviet Union
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....

 at the San Francisco Conference, which created the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

. Even during the period of wartime alliance, Molotov was known as a tough negotiator and a determined defender of Soviet interests. From 1945 to 1947 Molotov took part in all four conferences of foreign minister
Foreign minister
A Minister of Foreign Affairs, or foreign minister, is a cabinet minister who helps form the foreign policy of a sovereign state. The foreign minister is often regarded as the most senior ministerial position below that of the head of government . It is often granted to the deputy prime minister in...

s of the victorious states in World War II. In general, he was distinguished by an uncooperative attitude towards the Western powers. Molotov, on the direction of the Soviet government, condemned the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

 as imperialistic and claimed it was dividing Europe into two-camps, one capitalist and the other communist. In response, the Soviet Union, along with the other Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 nations, initiated what is known as the Molotov Plan
Molotov Plan
The Molotov Plan was the system created by the Soviet Union in 1947 in order to provide aid to rebuild the countries in Eastern Europe that were politically and economically aligned to the Soviet Union...

. The plan created several bilateral relations between the states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union; and later evolved into the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance
Comecon
The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance , 1949–1991, was an economic organisation under hegemony of Soviet Union comprising the countries of the Eastern Bloc along with a number of communist states elsewhere in the world...

 (CMEA).

In the postwar period, Molotov's power began to decline. A clear sign of Molotov's precarious position was his inability to prevent the arrest in December 1948 for "treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

" of his Jewish wife, Polina Zhemchuzhina
Polina Zhemchuzhina
Polina Semyonovna Zhemchuzhina was a Soviet stateswoman and the wife of the Soviet premier Vyacheslav Molotov.Born Perl Karpovskaya to the family of a Jewish tailor in the village of Pologi, in the Aleksandrov uyezd of Yekaterinoslav Governorate , she joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour...

, whom Stalin had long distrusted. Molotov never stopped loving his wife, and it is said that he ordered his maids to make dinner for two every evening to remind him that, in his own words, "she suffered because of me". The couple were reunited by Beria upon the death of Stalin. In 1949, Molotov was replaced as Foreign Minister by Andrey Vyshinsky
Andrey Vyshinsky
Andrey Januaryevich Vyshinsky – 22 November 1954) was a Soviet politician, jurist and diplomat.He is known as a state prosecutor of Joseph Stalin's Moscow trials and in the Nuremberg trials. He was the Soviet Foreign Minister from 1949 to 1953, after having served as Deputy Foreign...

, although retaining his position as First Deputy Premier and membership of the Politburo.

Post-war career (1949–1976)

At the 19th Party Congress
19th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Nineteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was held from October 5–14, 1952. It was the last congress of the Stalin regime and the first to take place since before World War II...

 in 1952, Molotov was elected to the replacement for the Politburo, the Presidium
Presidium
The presidium or praesidium is the name for the heading organ of various legislative and organizational bodies.-Historical usage:...

, but was not listed among the members of the newly-established secret body known as the Bureau of the Presidium; indicating that he had fallen out of Stalin's favour. At the 19th Congress Molotov and Anastas Mikoyan
Anastas Mikoyan
Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan was an Armenian Old Bolshevik and Soviet statesman during the rules of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and Leonid Brezhnev....

 were said by Stalin to have committed grave mistakes, including the publication of a wartime speech by Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 favourable to the Soviet Union's war time efforts. Both Molotov and Mikoyan were falling out of favour rapidly, with Stalin telling Beria, Khrushchev, Malenkov and Nikolai Bulganin
Nikolai Bulganin
Nikolai Alexandrovich Bulganin was a prominent Soviet politician, who served as Minister of Defense and Premier of the Soviet Union . The Bulganin beard is named after him.-Early career:...

 that he did not want to see Molotov and Mikoyan around anymore. At his 73rd birthday Stalin treated both with disgust. In his speech
On the Personality Cult and its Consequences
On the Personality Cult and its Consequences was a report, critical of Joseph Stalin, made to the Twentieth Party Congress on February 25, 1956 by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It is more commonly known as the Secret Speech or the Khrushchev Report...

 to the 20th Party Congress Khrushchev told the delegates that Stalin had plans for "finishing off" Molotov and Mikoyan in the aftermath of the 19th Congress.
Following Stalin's death, a realignment of the leadership was sought, in the course of which Molotov's position was strengthened. Georgy Malenkov
Georgy Malenkov
Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov was a Soviet politician, Communist Party leader and close collaborator of Joseph Stalin. After Stalin's death, he became Premier of the Soviet Union and was in 1953 briefly considered the most powerful Soviet politician before being overshadowed by Nikita...

, Stalin's successor in the post of Premier, reappointed Molotov as Minister of Foreign Affairs on 5 March 1953. Although Molotov was seen as a likely successor to Stalin in the immediate aftermath of his death, he never sought to become leader of the Soviet Union. A Troika
Troika (triumvirate)
Troika is a committee consisting of three members. The origin of "troika" comes from the term in Russian used to describe three-horse harnessed carriage, or more often, horse-drawn sledge.- Communist states :...

 was established immediately after Stalin's death, consisting of Malenkov, Beria, and Molotov, but ended when Malenkov and Molotov deceived Beria. Molotov supported the removal and later the execution of Beria on the orders of Khrushchev. The new Party Secretary, Khrushchev, soon emerged as the new leader of the Soviet Union. He presided over a gradual domestic liberalisation and a thaw in foreign policy, shown by the reconciliation with Josip Broz Tito
Josip Broz Tito
Marshal Josip Broz Tito – 4 May 1980) was a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman. While his presidency has been criticized as authoritarian, Tito was a popular public figure both in Yugoslavia and abroad, viewed as a unifying symbol for the nations of the Yugoslav federation...

's government in Yugoslavia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

 (which Stalin had expelled from the communist movement). Molotov, an old-guard Stalinist, seemed increasingly out of place in this new environment, but he represented the Soviet Union at the Geneva Conference of 1955.

The events which led to Molotov's downfall began in February 1956 when Khrushchev launched an unexpected denunciation of Stalin at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party. Khrushchev attacked Stalin, both over the purges of the 1930s and the defeats of the early years of World War II, which he blamed on Stalin's over-trusting attitude to Hitler and the purges of the Red Army. Since Molotov was the most senior of Stalin's collaborators still alive and had played a leading role in the purges, it became obvious that Khrushchev's examination of the past would probably result in Molotov's fall from power. Consequently, he became the leader of an old guard which tried to overthrow Khrushchev.

In June 1956, Molotov was removed as Foreign Minister, and in June 1957 was expelled from the Presidium (Politburo) following a failed attempt to remove Khrushchev as First Secretary. Although Molotov's faction initially won a vote in the Presidium, 7-4, to remove Khrushchev, the latter refused to resign unless a Central Committee plenum decided so. In the plenum, which lasted from 22–29 June, Molotov and his faction were defeated. Eventually he was banished as ambassador to the Mongolian People's Republic. In 1960, he was appointed Soviet representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

, which was seen as a partial rehabilitation. However, after the 22nd Party Congress in 1961, during which Khrushchev carried out his de-Stalinisation campaign, including the removal of Stalin's body from Lenin's Mausoleum
Lenin's Mausoleum
Lenin's Mausoleum also known as Lenin's Tomb, situated in Red Square in the center of Moscow, is the mausoleum that serves as the current resting place of Vladimir Lenin. His embalmed body has been on public display there since shortly after his death in 1924...

, Molotov along with Lazar Kaganovich
Lazar Kaganovich
Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich was a Soviet politician and administrator and one of the main associates of Joseph Stalin.-Early life:Kaganovich was born in 1893 to Jewish parents in the village of Kabany, Radomyshl uyezd, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire...

 was removed from all positions and expelled from the Communist Party. In 1962 all of Molotov's party documents and files were erased by the authorities.

In retirement, Molotov remained totally unrepentant about his role during Stalin's rule. He suffered a heart attack in January 1962. After the Sino-Soviet split
Sino-Soviet split
In political science, the term Sino–Soviet split denotes the worsening of political and ideologic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the Cold War...

, it was reported that he agreed with the criticisms made by Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 of the supposed "revisionism" of Khrushchev's policies. According to Roy Medvedev
Roy Medvedev
Roy Aleksandrovich Medvedev |Georgia]]) is a Russian historian renowned as the author of the dissident history of Stalinism, Let History Judge , first published in English in 1972...

, Stalin's daughter Svetlana
Svetlana Alliluyeva
Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva , later known as Lana Peters, was the youngest child and only daughter of Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva, Stalin's second wife...

 recalled Molotov and his wife telling her: "Your father was a genius. There's no revolutionary spirit around nowadays, just opportunism everywhere. China's our only hope. Only they have kept alive the revolutionary spirit".

Rehabilitation, death, beliefs and legacy

The first signs of a rehabilitation
Rehabilitation (Soviet)
Rehabilitation in the context of the former Soviet Union, and the Post-Soviet states, was the restoration of a person who was criminally prosecuted without due basis, to the state of acquittal...

 were seen during Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

's rule, when information about him was again allowed inclusion in Soviet encyclopaedias. His connection, support and work in the Anti-Party Group
Anti-Party Group
The Anti-Party Group was a group within the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that unsuccessfully attempted to depose Nikita Khrushchev as First Secretary of the Party in May 1957. The group, named by that epithet by Khrushchev, was led by former Premiers Georgy Malenkov and...

 was mentioned in encyclopaedias published in 1973 and 1974, but eventually disappeared altogether by the mid-to-late-1970s. Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko
Konstantin Chernenko
Konstantin Ustinovich Chernenko was a Soviet politician and the fifth General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He led the Soviet Union from 13 February 1984 until his death thirteen months later, on 10 March 1985...

 further rehabiliated Molotov; in 1984 Molotov was even allowed to seek a membership in the Communist Party. A collection of interviews with Molotov from 1985 was published in 1994 by Felix Chuev as Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremlin Politics. Molotov died, during the rule of Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

, on 8 November 1986. He was 96 years old at the time of his death, and was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery
Novodevichy Cemetery
Novodevichy Cemetery is the most famous cemetery in Moscow, Russia. It is next to the 16th-century Novodevichy Convent, which is the city's third most popular tourist site. It should not be confused with the Novodevichy Cemetery in Saint Petersburg....

, Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

.

Molotov, just as Stalin, was pathologically mistrustful of others, and because of it, much crucial information disappeared. As Molotov once said "One should listen to them, but it is necessary to check up on them. The intelligence officer can lead you to a very dangerous position... There are many provocateurs here, there, and everywhere." Like Stalin, he never recognised the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 as an international event. Molotov saw the Cold War as, more-or-less, the everyday conflict between communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 and capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

. It is important to note that Molotov divided the capitalist countries into two groups, the "smart and dangerous imperialists" and the "fools". Molotov was also a staunch Russian nationalist, claiming that Russians, unlike the Hungarians, liked "to do things large-scale". Before his retirement, Molotov proposed establishing a socialist confederation with the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 (PRC); Molotov believed socialist state
Socialist state
A socialist state generally refers to any state constitutionally dedicated to the construction of a socialist society. It is closely related to the political strategy of "state socialism", a set of ideologies and policies that believe a socialist economy can be established through government...

s were part of a bigger, supranational entity
Supranational union
Supranationalism is a method of decision-making in multi-national political communities, wherein power is transferred or delegated to an authority by governments of member states. The concept of supranational union is sometimes used to describe the European Union, as a new type of political entity...

. In retirement, Molotov criticised Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 for being a "right-wing deviationist".

The Molotov cocktail
Molotov cocktail
The Molotov cocktail, also known as the petrol bomb, gasoline bomb, Molotov bomb, fire bottle, fire bomb, or simply Molotov, is a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons...

 is a term coined by the Finns during the Winter War
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

, as a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons
Incendiary device
Incendiary weapons, incendiary devices or incendiary bombs are bombs designed to start fires or destroy sensitive equipment using materials such as napalm, thermite, chlorine trifluoride, or white phosphorus....

. During the Winter War, the Soviet air force made extensive use of incendiaries and cluster bombs against Finnish troops and fortifications. When Molotov claimed in radio broadcasts that they were not bombing, but rather delivering food
Food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

 to the starving
Starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

 Finns, the Finns started to call the air bombs Molotov bread basket
Molotov bread basket
The RRAB-3, nicknamed the Molotov bread basket , was a Soviet-made droppable bomb dispenser that combined a large high-explosive charge with a cluster of incendiary bombs. It was used against the cities of Finland during the Winter War of 1939–1940...

s
. Soon they responded by attacking advancing tanks with "Molotov cocktails" which were "a drink to go with the food". According to Montefiore the Molotov cocktail was one part of Molotov's cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

 which he highly disliked.

At the end of 1989, two years before the final collapse of the Soviet Union, the Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union and Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

's government formally denounced the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, acknowledging that the bloody annexation of the Baltic States and the partition of Poland had been illegal.

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 in his wartime memoirs lists many meetings with Molotov. Acknowledging him as a "man of outstanding ability and cold-blooded ruthlessness", Churchill concluded: "In the conduct of foreign affairs, Mazarin, Talleyrand, Metternich, would welcome him to their company, if there be another world to which Bolsheviks allow themselves to go."

See also

  • Molotov cocktail
    Molotov cocktail
    The Molotov cocktail, also known as the petrol bomb, gasoline bomb, Molotov bomb, fire bottle, fire bomb, or simply Molotov, is a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons...

  • Molotov Line
    Molotov Line
    The so-called Molotov Line was a system of border fortifications built by the Soviet Union in the years 1940–1941 along its new western borders. These borders where the result of the Occupation of the Baltic States, Eastern Poland and Bessarabia in 1940....

  • Molotov Plan
    Molotov Plan
    The Molotov Plan was the system created by the Soviet Union in 1947 in order to provide aid to rebuild the countries in Eastern Europe that were politically and economically aligned to the Soviet Union...

  • Soviet-German relations before 1941

External links

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