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Maxim Litvinov

(1876—1951)


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(b. 17 July 1876, d. 31 Dec. 1951).

Soviet Foreign Commissar 1930–9 Born Max Wallach of a Jewish family in Belostok (Russian Poland), he joined the Russian Social Democratic (Workers') Party on its foundation in 1898. A firm supporter of Lenin, he was soon imprisoned, but escaped in 1902 and then acted abroad as an arms agent for the 1905 Russian Revolution. He returned to Russia but was deported and went to France and then London. After the Russian Revolution of October 1917 he was appointed the first Bolshevik representative in London, from where he was deported in 1918. He then worked in the Soviet Foreign Office and from 1926 was virtually in control of Soviet foreign policy, although not appointed Foreign Commissar until 1930. He brought the USSR into the League of Nations and, through his rhetorical emphasis on disarmament and anti-Fascism, played some part in portraying a more acceptable face of a country ravaged by Stalin's terror and the Great Purge. A strong advocate of collective security against the Axis Powers, he was replaced by Molotov before the signing of the Hitler-Stalin Pact. He served as Soviet ambassador to the USA between 1941 and 1943.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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