William Peyton Coates and Zelda Kahan Coates 1941

A Biographical Sketch of V. M. Molotov

Source: A book comprised of four speeches by VM Molotov, a foreword by DN Pritt, and a biographical sketch by William Peyton Coates and Zelda Kahan Coates. [2];
Published: for the Anglo-Russian News Bulletin by Lawrence and Wishart Ltd (London, 1941).

Scanned, prepared and annotated for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

As a Communist my first object has always been and still is the mastery of the teachings of Marx and Lenin, and my active participation in the practical application of these teachings in everyday life. (Molotov, December 1933)

The above quotation aptly summarises Molotov’s activities since 1906. An adequate account of his life would have to treat of the whole history of the Bolshevik Party since 1905, as well as the history of pre- and post-revolutionary Russia; here, however, we can only deal with a few of the more outstanding facts.

Molotov, whose full real name is Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Scriabin, was born in Kukarka (now Sovietsk) in Viatka Province, on 9 March 1890. He first went to school at Nolinsk, where he was noted for his excellent abilities, and later attended a Kazan secondary school. In 1905, he became deeply interested in social questions, and took an active part in the then illegal revolutionary Marxist youth circle of Kazan. It was not long before the workers of Kazan also came to know very well this slender, dark-haired boy in school uniform, for he was tireless in distributing revolutionary leaflets and proclamations in the factories, every entrance and exit of which he knew thoroughly. When he came home for his holidays, he soon used to be busy distributing leaflets at Nolinsk, and later (in 1907) he addressed secret meetings of workers there.

In 1906, when only 16 years of age, he joined the Bolshevik section of the Russian Social Democratic Party. In that and the following years, reaction, after the initial successes of the 1905 revolution in Russia, was in full swing. The representatives of the liberal bourgeoisie were thoroughly frightened at the spectre of the rise of the working class and were ready enough to make their peace with Tsardom, however unsubstantial the crumbs of constitutional liberty the autocracy might offer them. At the same time, a number of the Socialist intelligentsia and former revolutionary leaders also dropped all idea of further determined revolutionary work and prepared to settle down to the status of a comfortable legal opposition.

The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, contended that the real revolution had only just begun. They had no wish to become merely a respectable ‘Opposition’ in the thoroughly unrepresentative Tsarist Duma, but intended to fight the Tsardom, the bureaucracy, nobility and bourgeoisie for all they were worth with every weapon, legal or illegal, at their disposal.

When the young Scriabin (Molotov) joined the Bolsheviks in 1906, he knew what awaited him – prison, exile, suffering. But with the understanding, logic and courage so characteristic of him throughout his career he deliberately chose that difficult path because he considered that it alone would lead to his goal – the emancipation of the working class and the establishment of Socialism. And to this course he has remained faithful throughout his life.

According to the report of the Tsarist Secret Police (published subsequently by the Soviets), it was VM Scriabin, under the pseudonym ‘Dyadya’ (Uncle), who ‘directed the affairs of the Kazan revolutionary youth organisation’, and it was he, too, who ‘was empowered to maintain relations with the revolutionary youth organisations of other towns’.

When he first joined the Kazan revolutionary youth circle, the latter was conducted by Victor Tikhomirnov, at whose house the circle met. Molotov had a good excuse for his visits to Tikhomirnov as he was coaching the young nine-year-old brother of Victor for his entrance examination to the secondary school. He was an excellent teacher and the boy passed his examinations, although he nearly failed in the paper on religious instruction.

These youth organisations were not merely self-educational circles, for they not only undertook the serious study of the works of Marx and Engels, Lenin, Plekhanov, Dobroliubov, Herzen, Chernyshevsky, Belinsky, Mehring, etc, but they also did much propaganda work among the students, workers and peasants.

A proclamation drafted by Molotov and issued by the Kazan revolutionary youth organisation in January 1909 throws a vivid light on the spirit of these young people:

This is not the first year we have lived through such bad times. After our breath of freedom in 1905 there followed ever more bitter years of reaction... The Tsarist government with its hordes of parasites derides all that is best in Russian public life. It is striving to seize by the throat and crush every living manifestation of freedom... but we feel we have sufficient strength to hold up our heads, not to bend them, not to bow down slave-like to every one of their gibes... They have succeeded in destroying many good honest fighters for the people... But the future will wipe them out – the Tsardom and its hangers-on – as mere dirty scum... The time is not far distant when a new wave of revolution will strike a powerful blow for a new life... Form revolutionary organisations! Make ready for a new social upsurge so that you may not be caught unprepared when it comes.

In the spring of 1909, a few months before the matriculation examinations, young Scriabin, together with other members, was arrested. Subsequently he was sentenced to two years’ exile to the Vologda Province, being sent first to Totma, a small town in the forests far from a railway station, and a few months later to Solvychegodsk, where the conditions under which the exiles were forced to live were particularly vile.

It is interesting to learn that in reply to an appeal for clemency by the parents of the students, the notorious Russian Prime Minister, Stolypin, declared:

Had they been workers I would have let them go abroad because it is hopeless to try and reform workers. We simply have to rid ourselves of worthless workers. But since they are students, members of the intelligentsia, exile, the quiet North, pure air, etc, may cure them, and they may still be of use to the state.

Stolypin evidently had some understanding of the realities of class antagonism and its effect on psychology, but although a number of the intelligentsia did indeed prove morally too weak to withstand the rigours of Tsarist persecution and exile, this was by no means true of all of them; and it was emphatically untrue of Molotov.

Whilst in exile, Molotov continued his theoretical studies of Marx and Engels, as well as of Bolshevist publications in which appeared the writings of Lenin, Stalin and other Bolshevik leaders. He also read deeply in history, science and general literature. At this time, as his letters to his friends reveal, he was full of hope and vigour, and he continued to prepare himself for matriculation to the university. Indeed, after much insistence, the authorities gave him permission to go to Vologda, in the spring of 1910, to sit for this examination as an external student. He passed it and remained in Vologda up to the end of his sentence of exile in the middle of June 1911.

While there he succeeded in establishing close secret contact with the railway workers of the town, and soon became known amongst them as a leading propagandist and a brilliant organiser. At the same time he was able to carry on a constant struggle against the Constitutional Democrats (Cadets), Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and anarchists, who were also exiles, and who were striving to win over the working class to their own parties or sections. Indeed, it has frequently been said by the workers in Vologda that it was in large measure due to Molotov’s work there in these earlier years that the town made so firm a stand in support of the Soviet revolution in November 1917. Moreover, his influence was fully understood at the time by the police, who recognised him for what he was. ‘The exile, Scriabin’, states a Vologda police report of those days, ‘is distinguished by his knowledge of the Social-Democratic Programme and literature and is a remarkable organiser.’

At the termination of his exile, Molotov went to Petersburg, where he entered the Polytechnical Institute. Petersburg, the capital, was then the centre of the revolutionary movement, in which Molotov was soon taking an active part. He was one of the leading spirits of the illegal students’ circles, wrote stirring proclamations for them, spoke at meetings, led students’ strikes. He also did much organising and propaganda work among the Petersburg workers, visiting factories and receiving visits from workers. From the beginning of 1912 he was also a constant contributor to the Bolshevist journal, Zvyezda (Star).

Zvyezda, and later even more Pravda (Truth), served as centres for the revolutionary movement of the working class and the Bolshevik Party, and here Molotov showed a special aptitude for attracting workers to participate actively in the organisation, printing and distribution of these journals, as well as in organising a body of workers’ correspondents who contributed valuable material to the paper in the form of letters and articles. Indeed, he played an active part in founding Pravda (5 May 1912) and, as secretary-in-chief to the editorial committee, contributed many articles under various nom-de-plumes – Mikhailov, Ryabin, Zvanov. During that time he was frequently in touch with Lenin, then living abroad, though as yet only by correspondence, and it was also while working on Pravda that he made the personal acquaintance of Stalin – an acquaintance which soon ripened into an intimate and enduring friendship.

In April 1913, Molotov was again arrested and forbidden to live in Petersburg. Nothing daunted, however, he settled in various small towns in the vicinity, working on Pravda as well as doing propaganda work for the Bolshevik Party, and in spite of several subsequent arrests he continued his illegal work for the party in Petersburg until March 1915. He was then sent by the Petrograd branch of the party to Moscow, where, according to the report of the Tsarist secret police, ‘after the arrival of Scriabin and his comrades there was a very distinct increase in revolutionary activity’. Here he helped in organising the Moscow Party Conference in 1915, of which, the police reported, ‘Scriabin was the soul’.

In the summer of 1915, however, Molotov was once more arrested and this time sentenced to three years’ exile to Irkutsk. But though the village of Manzurka, to which he was sent, was as miserable and primitive a place as most villages in Siberia then were, Molotov did not lose heart: he was able to continue his studies and his room became a meeting-place for his fellow exiles.

In a letter written soon after his arrival at Manzurka, Molotov said:

The Irkutsk administration is horrible and stupid. I have been here a month and have so far received 4 roubles 20 kopecks [at the then rate of exchange, about 8s 2d] for food... The local ‘public’ library has been closed... and I am terribly in need of books.

He described the painful journey (by ‘etap’, that is, mostly on foot) to Irkutsk, the squalid conditions in which the exiles lived, both on the journey and later in Irkutsk, and the brutality of many of the officials and guards. The one thing that buoyed them up was the warm comradeship of the exiles amongst themselves and, he added:

I look hopefully towards the future. My spirits are good, particularly now that I have heard from many dear friends, and I have no intention at all of getting ill... Now there are 12 of us at Manzurka, mostly excellent fellows... My aim is to use the next few months for the benefit of my mind.

In addition to books he asked for information as to the working-class movement in Russia, the temper of the workers, their attitude towards the latest arrests and the rise in the cost of living. He also wanted to know the details of a big strike in Petrograd he had heard about. Finally he expressed disgust at the pro-war, patriotic speeches being made by Plekhanov [36] and Alexinsky [37] and once again emphasised how interested he was in the Marxist press and how delighted he would be if they could send him books and journals.

In June 1916, Molotov succeeded in escaping from Irkutsk and, in order to cover his traces and to take a much-needed rest, he spent a couple of months with the Tikhomirnovs at their country cottage on the Volga, near Kazan. Here he continued his assiduous reading and study, but in company with the Tikhomirnovs he also spent much time fishing, of which he was very fond, particularly night fishing. Having enjoyed his rest he returned to active secret party work in Petrograd, and in the autumn of 1916 he became a member of the Russian Bureau of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, which, on the eve of and during the March Revolution, was at the head of the whole practical work of the party organisations. Thus between 1914 and 1917, Molotov played a most important part in the Russian Bolshevist organisation, Lenin being at that time abroad, and Stalin, as well as Sverdlov and others, being for the most part in exile. Throughout this period Molotov carried out the anti-war, revolutionary Socialist line laid down by Lenin and the Bolshevik Party.

After the March revolution Molotov became once again one of the leading members of the Bolshevik Petrograd Committee, a member of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet and one of the leaders of the Bolshevik Party in the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. It was on his initiative that, in March 1917, the soldiers’ garrisons in Petrograd elected their own deputies to the Soviets (this practice was soon copied in other towns) and that the Soldiers’ and Workers’ Deputies formed joint Soviets. This was an important step in winning over the soldiers to the support of the revolution.

The Petrograd Soviet, of which Molotov was one of the outstanding leaders, never ceased to prepare for the moment when the Soviets could seize power and establish a Soviet workers’ and peasants’ government. Together with Stalin and Dzerzhinsky, Molotov was a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee which directed the preparation for and the carrying out of the November 1917 Revolution as well as the consolidation of the latter in the months immediately following. He supervised the formation of Red Guards among the factory workers and was at the head of the propaganda work amongst the masses, and there can be little doubt that his work in this field was an important factor in establishing the success of the November 1917 Revolution.

During the civil war Molotov filled a number of important party and Soviet posts and carried out many responsible and dangerous tasks; amongst others he played an important part in the organisation of the Red Army.

At the beginning of 1918, he was for the first time appointed to an economic post, viz, Chairman of the Council of National Economy of the Northern District – a very important part of Russia, including the Petrograd Province. Here, although he had hitherto had no practical economic experience, he was nevertheless in a position to show his ability for applying his Socialist principles in practice. He directed the carrying out of a number of measures nationalising industry, establishing workers’ control and training the workers in the administration of their industries.

Speaking later in the year on his experience during the short time he had worked in the economic field, he said, very characteristically:

Only now at last we see that we have the opportunity of realising in actual life all those ideas of which we at one time dreamt, of which we spoke in very guarded terms in our circles, in our secret organisations.

In 1919, he was at the head of a party of leading Bolsheviks, including NK Krupskaya (Lenin’s wife), on a propaganda voyage along the Volga in the vessel Krassnaya Zvyezda, the purpose of which was to give Bolshevist instruction to members of the Soviets and the party in the towns and villages along the Volga and Kama Rivers. Amongst other activities this expedition published a periodical journal, in one issue of which they informed the population that:

The voyage of the Krassnaya Zvyezda has been organised by the Soviet government in order to help the workers and peasants in the districts of the Volga and Kama to arrange their lives better and to consolidate the gains of the October (November) Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolution.

Early in 1920 he was appointed Chairman of the Nizhni-Novgorod Provincial Executive Committee. Here he applied his energy to the restoration of the national economy of the province, which had been devastated by the civil war. To help him in his task he organised and inspired an army of voluntary workers. In a proclamation he called upon them:

... to devote their voluntary labour for the building and defence of Socialism in the same spirit as the freedom of the country had been defended in the first months of the revolution by the volunteers of the Red Army – the most important thing is work for the common good, for the happiness of our Soviet country.

Molotov was also one of those who inspired the members of the Communist Party and others to give their labour voluntarily during holidays in order the sooner to complete urgent tasks for the restoration and upbuilding of the national economy.

Later, when it was decided to start the mechanisation of the Donets, Molotov became Secretary of the Donets Provincial Committee and towards the end of 1920 he was elected Secretary of the Communist Party of the Ukraine.

In 1921, at the Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party, he was elected a member and Secretary of the Central Committee of the party, and from that date up to 1930 he was mainly occupied in party work. Since 1924 he has also been a member of the Political Bureau of the party; in 1927 he became a member of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the RSFSR; [38] and in 1929 a member of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR.

Molotov did tremendous work in consolidating and unifying the party and was tireless in revealing the real anti-Marxist and anti-Leninist nature of the Trotskyites as well as of other opposition platforms, both of the ‘Left’ and ‘Right’. He took a leading part in clearing the party of all doubtful and unreliable elements and in increasing the authority of, and respect and love for, the party among the masses of the workers and peasants of Russia. Whenever there were special difficulties to overcome there Molotov was sent. Thus in 1926, together with Kirov, Kalinin, Voroshilov and others he went to Leningrad to combat the party opposition there. In 1928-29, when difficulties arose in the Moscow organisation, Molotov took up the secretaryship of the Moscow Party Committee and soon smoothed things out. His organising talent, particularly his ability to choose the right man for the right job, was of the utmost importance in this sphere. He demanded honest, devoted work from his colleagues and subordinates, but he was always ready to give advice, sympathy and practical help when necessary. He never shirked difficulties but, on the contrary, undertook many journeys through the whole length and breadth of the country in order to help local organisations smooth out their knotty problems. During this period he wrote numerous articles and gave many lectures on questions of party organisation.

Molotov’s appointment to the position of Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars in 1930 was no chance thing. It was the logical consequence of all his previous activities, his fine organising talent, his success in overcoming obstacles whether of a political or economic nature.

It will no doubt be recalled that in 1930 the Soviet government was coping with many exceptional difficulties. The carrying out of the First Five-Year Plan which aimed at laying the foundation for the industrialisation of the country, the further development of agriculture and the organisation on a larger scale than hitherto of the small and middle peasant farms into large collective farms which could conveniently be mechanised, the extension of the educational system, etc – all this was, of course, in itself a tremendous task in a backward country which but a few years ago had emerged from the ravages of the world and civil wars, foreign armed intervention and blockade and one of the worst famines in Russian history. Apart from the inherent difficulties of the tasks, the Soviets had to cope with the faint-hearts amongst some of their own adherents, the still prevalent bourgeois psychology of very large sections of the peasantry, not to speak of the hostility of the various remnants and hangers-on of the former propertied classes in the towns and villages of Soviet Russia. Added to all this, or perhaps more correctly because of it, sabotage and wrecking raised their ugly heads in almost every branch of the national economy. The carrying out of the Five-Year Plan necessarily required many sacrifices. The production and importation of goods for consumption were reduced to a minimum in order to spend as much energy and time as possible on the production of capital goods. In 1930-32, all the resulting privations were felt at their maximum, whilst, on the other hand, there had not yet been time for the long-term benefits of this policy to make itself felt. Hence every hostile element at home and abroad started working overtime to influence the timid, short-sighted and ignorant, and to put as many spokes as possible in the still creaking machinery of the Soviet national economy.

In such a situation, none but the best organiser was good enough to be head of the national economy, and Molotov was chosen – this fact speaks for itself.

It is characteristic that when he was appointed to the position of Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, he declared: ‘Up to now I have been engaged mainly in party work, but I declare to you, comrades, that in taking up my duties in the Council of People’s Commissars I do so as a party worker, as one who will carry out the will of the Party and its Central Committee.’

Exactly. His principles and party membership and work had not been simply a stepping stone to high office but, on the contrary, he looked upon this high office as an opportunity to put his principles and the party programme into practice. It is this which has permeated all his work on the Council of People’s Commissars as elsewhere.

As the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, Molotov is often regarded abroad as connected mainly with the industrialisation of the country. Undoubtedly he has contributed much in this sphere, but his work in the agricultural field has been no less important. Actually, even when still mainly a party worker, much of his attention was given to work in the villages, and this in Soviet Russia did not mean simply organising the Bolshevik Party there – it meant an intimate study of the organisation of agriculture and the everyday conditions of life of the peasants.

In 1924, and subsequent years, he spent months in the rural areas studying the economic position of the peasants, their political outlook, the work of the rural Soviets, cooperatives, etc, and as a result of these studies he suggested various measures for helping the poor and middle peasants, for the development of rural trade and cooperation and for the organisation of associations for the collective working of the soil, collective use of machinery, etc. In the teeth of fierce Trotskyite and other opposition, Molotov also devised ways and means of organising the poor, as well as the middle, peasants for joint action against the kulaks.

Under Molotov’s leadership the rural party organisations were made the centre of all these activities, thus paving the way for the Socialist reorganisation of agriculture and strengthening the bond between the workers and the peasantry. Subsequently in 1927, under the guidance of Stalin, ably seconded by Molotov, a more detailed plan was adopted for the consolidation and extension of the kolkhozy (collective farms) and sovkhozy (state farms), calculated to put an end to the slow progress of agriculture in comparison with that of industry.

Of course, the difficulties in the organisation of Soviet agriculture could not be overcome by the mere adoption of a plan. Much ignorance and sheer stupidity, prejudice, backward psychology, narrow self-interest, dishonesty, sabotage and wrecking had to be overcome. Molotov’s grasp of both theoretical and practical questions, as well as his knowledge of men, were invaluable in dealing with all these difficulties. Whenever in any area sowing, harvesting or state grain collection went badly, Molotov would arrive to investigate matters on the spot, interview Soviet and party officials as well as many peasants and in practically every case was able to put his finger on the weak spot. In many cases he revealed direct sabotage; in others, inefficiency was due to errors in judgement, ignorance, want of energy or a bureaucratic approach to urgent problems. In all cases, Molotov was able to devise measures to overcome the difficulties, patiently explaining their causes, and the imperative need to deal with the latter promptly and energetically. In this way not only did he often convert chaos into order, but he was able to train Soviet and party officials, and also the peasants, in the right methods of approach to problems, to enhance their political horizon and increase their respect for the party and for the Soviet government.

All those who have worked with Molotov or had dealings with him – workers, managers, scientists, aviators, writers, peasants, party comrades – all bear testimony to his remarkable grasp of the essence, as well as of the important details, of every question he has had to tackle. He never takes a decision until it has been well thought out in consultation with experts, and he demands from his colleagues and subordinates the same serious and thorough approach to every question as he gives himself. He pays very special attention to the constant verification of how the work assigned to subordinates is being fulfilled and, after he became Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, a special committee was formed for the verification of the fulfilment of party and Soviet decisions. In this way many idlers and bureaucrats were exposed and eliminated from the state machine.

He hates bureaucracy, and he has brought to his work in the economic field the same sympathy and understanding of men which stood him in such good stead during the years he worked as a party official. As in those years, so in his economic work since 1930, he has never shirked difficulties, but accepted them as things to be overcome by hard work, well-thought-out plans and sympathy.

An interesting sidelight is thrown on Molotov’s attitude towards the work of people in managerial positions by a story told by the agronomist, N Tsitsin. After an interesting interview on various scientific agricultural questions, Molotov offered him the post of Director of the Moscow Agricultural Exhibition. Tsitsin was diffident, and said he hardly thought himself sufficiently experienced for such an important position. ‘That’s all right’, replied Molotov, ‘I shall do everything possible to help you.’ Then as Tsitsin was leaving, Molotov said, laughing: ‘Now don’t worry, act boldly. You have broad shoulders and your head seems to be screwed on the right way.’

During the organisation of the exhibition, Molotov indeed took a deep interest in every detail and gave much valuable advice and help. Later when Tsitsin and he had gone the round of the exhibition Molotov said, half-jokingly; ‘There is one thing I don’t like. Nobody has any complaints against you.’ ‘But surely’, Tsitsin replied with amazement, ‘that’s not a bad thing?’ ‘Well, you see, it is both good and bad’, Molotov explained. ‘You evidently satisfy everybody and so there are no complaints. This may lead to too much self-satisfaction and in this way one may well come to slur over quite serious deficiencies in one’s work...’

‘And’, adds Tsitsin, very justly, in relating this episode, ‘what care for the training of workers is shown by this warning, this precept.’

Molotov is very far removed from the traditional idea foreigners have of Russians. He never leaves letters or requests unanswered, is very punctual in all his appointments, and when statistics are given him by the department he insists on the strictest accuracy. The most noteworthy thing about his speeches and articles is the fact that they are permeated by a deep and serious understanding of the subject with which he is dealing. He never uses words, as so many statesmen do, to conceal thought. On the contrary, one would search his writings in vain for any obscure paragraph. All his articles, speeches and reports are worded simply, so that every worker, every peasant can understand him – there is no room for lawyers’ interpretations in any of the reports or decrees which Molotov has had a hand in drafting.

In May 1939, without relinquishing his post as Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, Molotov was also appointed People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. As this booklet gives his principal speeches since this appointment it is not necessary to dwell here on his activities in this sphere. We need only remark that in his foreign policy, as in his party and economic work, he has remained true to his Socialist principles, to Marxist-Leninist teaching.

Himself a highly cultured man, Molotov has always taken a keen interest in the progress of Soviet education and has not grudged his time in giving advice and help when necessary to students. One extract from the speech he delivered on 6 November 1940, at a mass meeting of the Moscow Soviet in celebration of the Twenty-Second Anniversary of the November 1917 revolution, may be quoted here as revealing his attitude towards culture.

After giving a sketch of the cultural progress made by the various nationalities comprised in the USSR, Molotov declared:

The profoundly revolutionary character of this new [Socialist] culture does not, however, mean that we deny the cultural achievements of the past, or reject the cultural heritage of other nations. On the contrary, all the really great cultural achievements of the past, however distant, are highly valued in the Socialist State and are now revealed in all their true ideological splendour to all the peoples of the USSR. The Bolsheviks are not the sort to forget their kinship with the people. We, Bolsheviks, have come from the very heart of the people, and value and love the glorious deeds recorded in the history of our people as well as those of all other peoples. We know well that real progress, which is possible only on the basis of Socialism, must rest upon the entire history of the peoples and upon all their achievements in past ages, that it must reveal the true meaning of the history of the peoples in order to insure a glorious future for one’s own people, and at the same time a bright future for all peoples.

In spite of his manifold duties, Molotov loves various sports, including tennis and skiing. He is deeply interested in, and has a fine appreciation of, literature, music and art, and himself plays the violin very well. He never misses a good film and frequently visits the theatre, opera and concerts. His favourite Russian author is Gorki, and next comes Chekhov. He is, of course, also well acquainted with foreign literary classics.

Molotov loves children and children love him and after the first few moments with him even the shyest child is at ease. Whenever he goes for a holiday to the Crimea he invariably visits the pioneers’ holiday camp ‘Artek’, where the welcome he gets is noisy, joyous and sincere, and only such as children are ready to give to one they love and who, they feel, instinctively loves them. Sometimes he invites a party of children to visit him at his dacha (country home) near Moscow; and there he is at his happiest. He sings with them their favourite songs, plays their games, goes swimming with them, tells them interesting stories and also listens attentively to theirs, drawing them on to talk about their own ideas, their problems, their hopes and plans for the future.

This, in brief, is the story of the man who is at the head of the Soviet government and who now also conducts the foreign policy of the USSR.


2. William Peyton Coates (1883-1963) and Zelda Kahan Coates (1886-1969) were both members of the Social Democratic Federation, then the British Socialist Party and finally the Communist Party of Great Britain. They formed the Anglo-Russian Parliamentary Committee in 1924, were very active in the field of British-Soviet relations, and wrote several books, including From Tsardom to the Stalin Constitution (London, 1938); A History of Anglo-Soviet Relations (London, 1945); A History of Anglo-Soviet Relations, Volume 2 (London, 1958). It is very likely that they wrote the introductions to each of Molotov’s speeches reproduced here – MIA.

36. GV Plekhanov: a noted Russian Marxist who has been regarded as the father of Russian Social-Democracy. He has to his credit a number of very fine works but, although he fought those in the European labour movement who sought to ‘revise’ Marx, he himself later committed a number of grave errors in his estimation of tendencies and events in Russia. Lenin, whilst appreciating Plekhanov’s earlier works, criticised his attitude towards the Russian peasantry, the bourgeoisie, the dictatorship of the working class, etc. In the war of 1914-18 Plekhanov took up a ‘patriotic’ attitude. On returning to Russia after the March 1917 revolution he was a determined opponent of the Bolsheviks, but after the November revolution he refused to join in any ‘White’ Guard activities against the Soviets. He died in 1918. Although his mistakes are pointed out and analysed, Plekhanov’s works are published and read widely in the USSR. [Authors’ note]

37. GA Alexinsky: a member of the Second Duma, he was at one time a member of the Bolshevik Party, but broke with the latter in 1909. At the outbreak of the war in 1914, he became a rabid supporter of the war, and bitterly opposed the revolution in 1917, making slanderous attacks on Lenin and the Bolsheviks. He was arrested by the Soviet authorities in 1918 but was soon after released on parole. He escaped and subsequently became an avowed monarchist. [Authors’ note]

38. RSFSR is the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic. It includes what is usually termed Russia proper, and is the largest of the Republics which constitute the Soviet Union. [Authors’ note]