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In his 1942 portrait of Ivan Maisky, the Expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka is presumed to have conveyed "a subtle warning against Soviet imperialism" [1].
The Soviet–Finnish Non-Aggression Pact signed in Helsinki on 21 January 1932. On the left the Finnish foreign minister Aarno Yrjö-Koskinen, and on the right the Ambassador of the Soviet Union in Helsinki Ivan Maisky.[1 ]

Ivan Mikhailovich Maisky (also spelled Maysky; Russian: Ива́н Миха́йлович Ма́йский) (1884, Kirillov – 1975) was a Soviet diplomat, historian, and politician, notable as that country's ambassador to London[2][3] during much of World War II. He is represented on one of the iconic portraits of the 20th century (illustrated, to the right).

Ivan Maisky was born Jan Lachowiecki to a Russified Polish family living in Imperial Russia. Shortly after graduating from the historical faculty of the Moscow university, in 1903 he joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party and then the Menshevik faction. In 1908 he left Russia for western Europe, where he learned English and French. At the outbreak of the Russian Civil War and the revolt of the Czechoslovak Legion in Siberia, Maisky returned to Russia and settled in Samara, where he joined the local communist government, for which he was banished by the Mensheviks.

In 1921, he officially joined the All-Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) which started his career within the communist system of power in Russia. In 1922 he started working as a diplomat at various posts. In 1927, he became the Soviet ambassador to Finland and then to Japan. In 1932 he became the envoy to the United Kingdom, a post he held until 1943.[4] A close collaborator of Maxim Litvinov, Maisky was an active member and the Soviet envoy to the Committee of Non-Intervention during the Spanish Civil War.

After the outbreak of World War II and the Soviet break-up with their former allies, Maisky was responsible for the normalization of relations with the Western Allies. Among other pacts, he signed the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement of 1941, which declared the Nazi-Soviet Pact null and void.[5] It also normalized relations between the Soviet Union and the Polish government-in-exile and allowed for hundreds of thousands of Poles to be released from the Soviet Gulags. In 1943, he was called off to Moscow, where he became the deputy commissar of foreign affairs. In this capacity, he was a member of Soviet delegations to the conferences in Yalta and Potsdam.

In 1945, he retired from active service in Soviet diplomacy and devoted himself to history. From 1946 onwards he was a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In 1953, shortly before Stalin's death, he was arrested[6] and sentenced to six years in prison for alleged espionage. In 1955, however, he was released, cleared of all charges and fully rehabilitated.


  1. ^ Turtola, Martti (1999). "Kansainvälinen kehitys Euroopassa ja Suomessa 1930-luvulla". in Leskinen, Jari; Juutilainen, Antti (in Finnish). Talvisodan pikkujättiläinen (1st ed.). Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö. pp. 13–46. ISBN 951-0-23536-9.  
  2. ^ Polish Deportees in the Soviet Union by Michael Hope Page 39 ISBN 0 948202 76 9
  3. ^ , Stanislaw Mikolajczyk The Pattern of Soviet Domination, Sampson Low, Marston & Co 1948, Page 17
  4. ^ Stalin Man of History by Ian Grey Page 305 ISBN 0-349-11548-6
  5. ^ Ivan Maisky Memoirs of a Soviet Ambassador: The War 1939-43 trans. Andrew Rothstem London: Hutchison & Co. Publishers Inc. 1967, pg. 174.
  6. ^ Robert Conquest Stalin Breaker of Nations ISBN 1-84212-439-0 Page 310

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