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Lazar’ Moiseevich Kaganovich

Lazar’ Kaganovich, USSR Revolutionary, politician.

Background

  • Kaganovich, Lazar’ was born on November 22, 1893 in the village of Kabany, Kiev Gouvernement into a poor working-class Jewish family.

  • Career

    • Worked in shoe factories. Joined the Bolshevik Party in 1911. Conscripted into the army during World War I. Became a Bolshevik agitator.

      After the October Revolution 1917, proclaimed communist power in Gomel (Belorussia), elected Bolshevik member of the Constituent Assembly. Came to Petrograd and stayed there. During the Civil War, political commissar in the Red Army (fought against Denikin, later sent to Turkestan, 1920).

      Stalin recalled him, making him head of the organizational department of the Central Committee in 1922, shortly after becoming General Secretary. From then on, remained one of Stalin’s closest assistants and advisers, and throughout the 1930s was the second most powerful man in the USSR. Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, 1924. General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party, 1925.

      Active in the purges of the Ukrainian communist leaders, accusing them of nationalist tendencies and sending them to the Gulag. Recalled to Moscow during the power struggle between Stalin and the Old Bolsheviks. Again Secretary of the Central Committee, 1928.

      Used by Stalin to publicly attack Krupskaia, Lenin’s widow, 1930. During the collectivization campaign, repeatedly sent by Stalin on ruthless missions, wherever difficulties arose (Ukraine, Voronezh, Western Siberia, Northern Caucasus), conducting an unprecedented terror campaign against the rural population, leading to the death and exile of millions of peasants and their families. Appointed Moscow party chief and member of the Politburo, 1930-1935 (succeeded by Khrushchev).

      Behind the modernization of Moscow, including the building of the metro, and the ruthless destruction of many historically or religiously significant old buildings, including the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (built by general subscription among the people as a monument to the Russian victory over Napoleon). During the purges in the late 1930s, personally conducted many terror campaigns, demanding arrests, executions and deportations of victims of the purges. Extended his callousness to his own family — his older brother Mikhail, who had persuaded him to become a Bolshevik, and who was Minister of the Aviation Industry, shot himself when he heard of Beria’s decision to arrest and execute him.

      Jews complained about his anti-Semitism, while for the rural population at large, and in the Ukraine especially, he remains the most hated symbol of Stalinist oppression. In the late 1930s, appointed to many government postsMinister of Transport, 1935, Minister of Heavy Industry, 1937, Minister of the Fuel Industry, 1939, Minister of the Oil Industry, 1940, and Deputy Prime Minister. In all these capacities, tried to increase productivity by relentless and extreme exploitation and by terror.

      During World War II, sent to the front to organize the work of the Draconian military prosecution system, again resulting in countless executions. Minister of the Building Materials Industry, 1944. After the war, sent again to the Ukraine, 1947, as party boss.

      After Stalin’s death, one of the most prominent heirs to the throne. Apparently agreed to Beria’s execution, but later joined forces with Molotov, Malenkov and Shepilov in order to halt the deStalinization campaign. Was outmanoeuvred by Khrushchev, and expelled from the Central Committee (antiparty group).

      Sent as a factory director to Solikamsk in the Urals. Worked there until 1961. At the 22nd Party Congress, October 1961, Khrushchev raised the question of his role during the purges.

      He was dismissed, returned to Moscow, and expelled by his local party organization (Krasnopresnenskii Raikom in Moscow). After Khrushchev’s fall, re-applied for party membership, but was refused. His name does not figure in the 3rd edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia.

      Lived in Moscow on a state pension. Often seen by people but shunned by most. No official information on his death has been given, still alive in the early 1980s (R. Medvedev, Oni Okruzhali Stalina, USA, 1984).
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