Andrei Alexandrovich Zhdanov (1896-1948)

Figure 1.--Besides Kirov, Stlin was probably closest to Party cultural idealogue Andrei Zhdanov of all his top associates. Here we see Zhdanov about 1936 just as the Great Terror was about to be unleased. They are at one of Stalin's dachas with Stalin and the children of his second marriage-- Vasily and Svetlana. Vasily would die of alcoholism (1962) and Svetlana would deffect to the West (1967). Stalin would allow his oldest son Yakov to die in a German POW camp (1943). The intimacy of the portrait suggest just how close Zhdanov was to Stalin. Zhdanov's son, Yuri (19192006), would marry Svetlana (1949). The marriage lasted only a year. Zddanov was the scourge of Soviet intellectuals. After World War II many in the Soviet Union and West thought him to be Stalin's most likely successor. Instead he would ignominiously die of alcohomism (1948).

Andrei Alexandrovich Zhdanov (1896-1948) is not a name known to most Americans except a few Soviet scholars. He was a Soviet Communist Party official and leading Soviet cultural ideologist. We know nothing about his childhood. He became a membr of the Russian Social Democratic Labour (Bolshevik) Party during World War I (1915). He rose rapidly in Party ranks after the Revolution. He became the All-Union Communist Party manager in Leningrad after the assassination of Sergei Kirov (1934). This was important not only because Lennigrad was such an important city, but because Stalin probably ordered Kirov killed. Thus his choice of a replacement was especially important. Part of Stalin's manmagement strategy was to involve his associates in his crimes. Zhdanov seems to have been less active than others (Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich and Kliment Voroshilov), but he was one of the perpetrator of the Great Terror and purges. Zhdanov is known to have approved 176 documented execution lists. [Memorial] Zhdanov played a major role in the all importannt defense of Lenningrad with the NAZI World War II invasion (1941). He served as Chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet (193847). Control of Soviet culture was an important post. And it was Zhdanov's responsibility to ensure that Soviet intelectuals creating art conformed to the Party definded ideology. Ideology perhaps until recently may not seem very important to Americans. To the Soviets, however, it was important. Intelectuals could be shot or sent to the Gulag over questions of ideology. And Zhdanov was at the center of thius. First to work in the arts you needed Government apprival. Second all artistic work was government employment. Third, all artistic work had to confirm to the ideolgical mandates of the Party. And Zhdanov is the person who set the standards and oversaw the evluations and disclipining the artisistic community. Even more important, he became very close to Stalin to the point that there was talk of him being Stalin's sucessor. Zhdanov's relatinship with Stalin deteriorated as a result of the Yugoslav crisis and heavy drinking. Zhdanov' story did not and with his death. His doctor was one of the doctors Stalin had arrested and accused as part of the fabricated Western-Jewish conspiracy to kill the Soviet leadership the Dioctors' Plot.


Memorial Society. Stalin Lists.


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Created: 6:54 PM 7/4/2018
Last updated: 6:55 PM 7/4/2018