*** Soviet Communism Stalinization agriculture

Stalinist Era: Stalin's Principal Associates

Stalin's associates
Figure 1.--Here Stalin is with with some kind of celebration in Moscow with Young Pioneers giving recitations. With many of his key associates during the mid-1930s. The men are Kalinin, Khrushchev, Zhdanov, Mikoyan. Molotov, Kaganovich, Voroshilov, and Stalin.

A Russian reader writes, "In fact, all Stalin's mates - Beria, Khrushev, Molotov, Malenkov and so on - were fanatic communists and true servants of 'the Master' and are gulity in repressions and deaths of millions. In particular, by Khruschev's signature millions of people in Russia and Ukraine were put to death. But after Stalin's death this 'Rustic Harlequin' (as Stalin called Khruschev) managed to dispose all former associates (including Beria, Molotov, Malenkov, Vyschinky and so on) and to declare himself as 'the only savior of Soviet state from Stalin's tyranny'. 'There's no blood on my hands' -- he declared and lied." It strikes me that there was a difference between Stalin's henchmen and the top NAZIS, although I know much more about about Germany than Russia. In Germany you did not have to participate in the killing process. Hitler did arrest the Communists and some individuals who had opposed him, but for the most part other politicians and important figures were not arrested--as long as they kept their mouths shut and retired gracefully from public life. And some of the more hideous operations were brought to Hitler by men like Heydrich and Himmler for his approval and not conceived by Hitler on his own. There was relatively little (in relative terns) killing of Germans by the NAZIs in the German concentration camps. The Holocaust and other NAZI crimes were conducted by willing if not enthusiastic associates. In the Soviet Union, the operations like the Great Famine, and Great Purges seem to have been ideas that Stalin himself conceived of. And advisers who questioned Stalin's policies are even showed insufficient enthusiasm were likely to be arrested themselves. Stalin's associates may have been enthusiastic, but it strikes me that this was often self protection or career advancement, not because they really believed in Stalin's major terror programs. I agree with you that many of Stalin's associates were brutal men and complicit in his crimes, but they seem primarily willing to use force against groups who resisted like Khrushchev's suppression of the Hungarians. Stalin it seems to me actually enjoyed using terror and used it against mostly Soviet citizens, the vast majority of whom were innocent of any act of resistance. What ever the crimes of his associates, this use of terror ended with Stalin's death.

Lavrenity Beria (1899-1953)

Lavrenity Beria was like Stalin not a Russin but Georgian. He was born in Merkheuli, near Sukhumi, in Georgia (1899). He grew up in a Georgian Orthodox family. His father was a landowner, which was not helpful in establishing his working class credentials. He has some knowledge of the petroleum industry and became involved with fighting in Azerbaijan. He began working in the security service, but was almost executed for backing the wroing side. It was a mistake he never made again. He soon joined the Chekka. He helped supress a Georgian national revolt (1924). He executed some 10,000 rebels, essentially making his career.Stalin noticed him and Beria becme a staunch spporter. And Stalin turned to him whn he launched the Freat Terror (1934). The terror ended as Stalin decided to scale it back (1938). Stalin finally decided to stop the mass killing operations. It is not clear just why. It may have gone beyond what he had planned. Or he may have decided that he had achieved his goals. He relieved the overseer of the purges, Yezhov, and then had him purged. This had two advantages for Stalin. It made it look like he was not resonsible and the execution of Yezhov destoyed much of the evidence of his envolvement. Stalin appointed Lavrenty Beria, a fellow Georgian and close confidant, as the new NKVD chief. This period is thus called the Beria thaw. Beria ordered mass operations ended. He abolished the units set up for extrajudicial executions. Stalin reduced the terror, although he never completely abandoned it. Beria along with Yagoda is one of the true evil figures in the history of the 20th century. Stalin appointed Beria head of the NKVD (1938). Beria as NKVD chief became Stalin's chief administrator to continue the Terror. Beria was involved in all aspects of the Terror. He is known to have even participated in the torturing of those arrested. He personally organized mass operations such as the murder of the Polish officers in the Katyn Forrest. Like Himmler, Beria was a gifted administrator and organizers. Stalin gave him other key assignments such as building an atomic bomb. By all accounts he was a loving father and granfather. His attributes as a husband, however, were very different. He is known to have kidnapped countless women off the streets of Moscow and raped them. In the end when he learned that Stalin was about to have him arrested, he poisoned Stalin. Beria was no fool. He knew what Stalin did with NKVD chiefs who possessed so much knowledge of his apalling acts. His Politboro colleagues knowing him all to well, before he could effectively use the NKVD to place himself in power, had him tried and executed for actions comitted while head of the KNVD. Beria was the most feared man in the soviet Union, including by those in tlin's inner circle. The warned their children to be careful around him. A Russian reader writes, "Somewhy western historians often think that Beria was a kind of monster, but Khruschev was white and fluffy angel. Yes, after Stalin's death Khruschev began to soften Soviet totalitarism. But Beria too planned to soften it - and even he succeed to make some important steps, for example, a 'great amnesty' of summer 1953 when more than 1.2 million prisoners of the Gulag were released. All Stalin's servants after 'the Master's' death made some steps to lesser their part in repressions and, well, "to rebrand" themselves."

Lazar Kaganovich 1893-1991)

Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich was botn in Kabany, a village near Kiev to Jewish parents (1893). He was a Soviet politician and administrator and one of the main associates of Joseph Stalin throuout the Soviet era. His highet ranking post was was after Stalin's death--First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers (1953-57). He proved to be was the last surviving Old Bolshevik at his death (1991). The Soviet Union lasted only 5 months after Kaganovich 's death.

Mikhail Kalinin (1875-1946)

Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin was born in (1875). He was known affectionally as as 'Kalinych'. He was one othe Old Bolshevik that sided with Stalin. He served as as the nominal head of state of Russia and later of the Soviet Union from (1919-46). . He was appointed a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1926). He acquiesed in Stalin seizure of power and became a member of Stalin's inner circle.

Khrushchev, Nikita (1954-64)

A power struggle followed Stalin's death in 1953. Ukranian Party boss Nikita Khrushchev emerged victorious in that struggle. Khrushchev was a true believer in Communism. Like many of his generation, the Revolution had provided opportunities thast were incoceibanle under the Tsarist regime, He was convinced that the Communist system was a scientifically based system that if properly managed would out produce the West. He was perplexed when confronted with the Soviet Union's deep seated economic problems. Perhaps his single most important achievement was launching the De-Stalinization process in 1956 with the 20th Party Congress. This too, however, resulted in difficulties as disorders in both Poland and Hungary soon followed. While Stlalin was a mass murder, Khrushchev was even more dangerous. His behavior was often crude such as when he took his shoe off and banged his desk at the United Nations when a speaker displeased him. He told Americans n"we will bury you". He rarely listen to advisors, often making important decissions on whim. Also he actually believed in Communist ideology. This combined with his mercurial personality and willingness to gamble brought the world close to nuclear war over Cuba in 1962. He once confided with Nassar that aideast crisis was like "playing chess in the dark". He was finally replaed by faceless party aparatcheks in 1964 for "adventurism". [Taubman] Conservatives in the Party leadership were concerned about the de-Stalinization process as well as dangerous adventure in Cuba, but what seems to have caused his removal was Khrushchev's efforts to reform the beaureacracy, especially fixed terms in office--a convern to an aging leadership generation. Khrushchev had essentially made Soviet officials safe from purges through his de-Stalinization program. These very same officials replaced him (October 1964).

Kirov, Sergi ( -1934)

The Popular Leningrad leader Sergi Kirov was murdered in 1934. Most historians believe that Stalin was probably responsible, but no actual evidence exists. Kirov was one of Stalin's important associates as he seized control of the Party. The two were very close. Kirov gradually came to question Stalin's methods. This probably was why he was killed. Stalin is known to have derived satisfaction over many of the executions. Kirov seems to have been different. The decesion to have him killed seems to have affected him deeply. Stalin used the Kirov assasination as an excuse for launching a campaign of teror perhaps unequaled in histoy.

Georgy Malenkov

Anastas Mikoyan (1895-1978)

Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan was born in (1895). Mikoyan was an early convert to Bolshecism and early supporter of Stalin. He held several important posts inder Stalin, the imprtntg being Minister of Foreign Trade. In Stalin's finl years, Mikoyan like Beria and Molotov began to lose favor with Stalin. Stalin replaced him as foreign trade minister, a post he had held for many yers. And at the 19th Party Congress Stalin attacked Mikoyan personally (1952). Stalin's unexpected death was a reprieve. He became one of Stalin's cicle tht vied for power and took an important role in policy-making. He backed Khrushchev and his De-Stalinization policy. He was appointed First Deputy Premier under Khrushchev. This made him for a time the second most important figure in the Soviet Union. Mikoyan proved to be the only Old Bolshevik who managed to work with Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev. He was the only Old Boshevik to continue holding high positions througout the Communist era. He went along with Khrushchev's De-Stalinization policy. Mikoyan made several highly publicized trips to Communist Cuba and to the United States becoming one of the vestknown Soviet officials. He became known for his skill in exercising soft power to further Soviet interests. Khrushchev was forced to step down in a coup that brought Brezhnev to power (1964). Mikoyan served as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the nominal Head of State after Khrushchev' removal, apparently to provide a sense of continuity. Brezhnev eased hom out peacefully (1965). He retired peacefully.

Vyacheslav Molotov

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a leading Soviet politician and diplomat amd staunch supporter of Josef Stalin. He was born in Kukarka (now Sovetsk in Kirov Oblast). His father was a shop clerk--not the best credetials for a Soviet leader. He developed revolutionary ideas at an early age. Molotov like Stalin was a revolutionary nom de guerre. He was also one of the few Old Bolsheviks to die a ntural death. He becme a leading figure in the Soviet government as a a prot�g� of Joseph Stalin (1920s). Molotov served as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars (Premier) (1930-41). As such, it wasMolotov as Primier who announced Stalin's Collectivization Program leading to the murdereous NKVD campaign against the peasantry and the Ukranian Famine. He then served as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1939-49 and again after Stalin's death (1953-56). He also served as First Deputy Premier from (1942-57). Nikita Khrushchev after achieving control of the Soviet Union dismissed him from the Presidium of the Central Committee for opposing his Destaninization effort. Molotov became the foreign ace of the Soviet Union. First this was with the NAZIs. As Foreign Minister, he was the principal Soviet signatory of the infamous NAZI�Soviet Non-aggression Pact which essentially launced Woeld war II. It was also referred to as the Molotov�Ribbentrop Pact. The key provisions were a secret protocol that setout the partioning of Poland and essentialy Eastern Europe. The Soviets also agreed to supply vast quantities of critical war material to the NAZI war machine. Molotov knew of the attrocities and war crimes committed by the NKVD in the Soviet Union and areas occupied by the Red Army such as the Katyn massacre. Molotov negotiated with the NAZIs, primaru on issues concerning the partioning of Eastern Euroe, visting Berlin, meeting with Hitler (November 1940). The Non-aggression Pact made the Soviet Union and NAZI Germany allies until the German invasion (June 1941). At this pont, Molotob began diplomatic contats with the Western Allies and this continued after the War. He was regognized for his diplomatic skills and his blunt, determined, and forceful opponent of Western policies.. this continued until 1948 when he abrutly lost Stalin's favor. the first sign was stalin ordering the arrest of his Jewish wife, Polina Zhemchuzhina for treason (1948). And then Stalin replaced him as Forign Minister with Andrei Vyshinsky (1949). It is not known with any certainty what caused Stalin' state of mind. Stalin also was upset with mentioned Molotov's speech at the 19th Party Congress (1952). here is no way of knowing what was involvd here, but because Beria also had lost Stalin's favor, it was probably Stalin's way of beginning the process of doingway with the two men most of aware of stalin;s involvement in terible attrocitoes. In Molotov's case, he was an uncomfotable remoinder of stalin's alliance with Hitler. Khrushchev reports that Stalin had plans for 'finishing off' Molotov and Mikoyan. surprisingly, as he was about to be purged, Molotov after Stalin's death was a leading opponnt of Khrushchev's De-Stalinization effort. Molotov staunchly defended the policies and legacy of Stalin until his death in 1986. He sharply criticised Stalin's successors, especially Khrushchev. Apprently he did not object to the killing and Gulag, he just did not want to be one of the victims. a factor here is that if he repudiated Stalin, he would have been repudiating his own political carer and achievements.

Kliment Voroshilov (1881-1969)

Kliment (Klim) Voroshilov was born in Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine (1881). He was the son of a railway worker, He worked as a turner and became active in revolitionary politics. He paricipated in the 1905 Revolution and then joined the Bolsheviks. At this time, Voroshilov became a close friend of th then relatively unknown Joseph Stalin. He also became acquaintd wuth Leon Totsky. Voroshilov was elected to the Central Committee during Lenin's rule (1921). He became a loyal supporter of Stalin and played an important role in his rise after Lenin's death. Many thought that Trotsky would rplace Lennin. Stlin's strategy was to quietly get his supporter (Voroshilov, Molotov and Ordzhonikidze) appointed to importnt posts. [Montefiore] As Stalin began his murderous Red army purges, he appointed Voroshilov People's Commissar for Defence (1934) and a Marshal of the Soviet Union (1935). Voroshilov, along with Molotov, Kaganovich, Georgy Malenkov played important roles in the Great Purge. [Medvedev] They not only did not restrain Stalin but actively promoted and asitd in his terror. The calculation was this helped improve Stalin's regard for them. Documents how that Voroshilov personally signed 185 execution lists. He played a key ole in the murder of the Polish officers, some of whom were found iin mass graves in the Katyn Forrest. Voroshilov proved an inefectual commander during the Great Patriotic War, but unlike others did not pay for his incomptence, presumbly because of his loyalty to Stalin.

Andrei Zhdanov


Medvedev, Roy A. Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism (1971)

Montefiore, Simon Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar (2003)


Navigate the Children in History Website:
[Return to Main Stalinist era page]
[Return to Main Great Patriotic War page]
[Biographies] [Campaigns] [Children] [Countries] [Deciding factors] [Diplomacy] [Geo-political crisis] [Economics] [Home front] [Intelligence]
[POWs] [Resistance] [Race] [Refugees] [Technology]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Return to Main World War II page]
[Return to Main war essay page]

Created: 6:10 AM 10/25/2015
Last updated: 6:10 AM 10/25/2015