Lev Borisovich Kamenev

(b. 1883)

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(22 July 1883, d. 25 Aug. 1936).

Soviet politicianBorn Lev Borisovich Rosenfeld in Moscow, he was forced to abandon his law degree at Moscow University in 1902 owing to his political activities. He went to Paris, where he became a friend of Lenin, and married Trotsky's sister. He returned to Russia in 1903, working for the Bolsheviks until 1908, when he became joint editor of the party newspaper, Proletaryi (The Proletarian) in Switzerland. Back in Russia in 1914, he became a member of the Duma in 1914 as well as editor of Pravda, but was arrested in 1915. He returned to Petrograd after the Russian Revolution of February 1917, and became chairman of the Second Congress of Soviets in 1917. In 1918–26 he served as chairman of the Moscow Soviet (i.e. Mayor of Moscow). In the politically tempestuous 1920s, he lacked the political judgement which alone could have saved him (or any other of Lenin's former associates) from Stalin's wrath. Thus, he first supported Zinoviev and Stalin against Trotsky, but then sided with his brother‐in‐law against Stalin, taking sides with the ‘Left Opposition’ within the party. In 1935 he was arrested and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. Then, he was retried in the first of Stalin's show trials which marked the beginning of the Great Purge. He was sentenced to death and shot, while Stalin's vindictiveness ensured the ‘disappearance’ of his entire family. He was rehabilitated in 1988.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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