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Vyacheslav Menzhinsky.

Vyacheslav Rudolfovich Menzhinsky (Russian: Вячесла́в Рудо́льфович Менжи́нский, Polish: Wiaczesław Mężyński; 19 (31) August 1874 - May 10, 1934) was a Polish-Russian revolutionary, a Soviet statesman and Party official who served as chairman of the OGPU from 1926 to 1934. Fluent in over ten languages (including Korean, Chinese, Turkish, the last one, Persian, learned especially in order to read works by Omar Khayyám), Menzhinsky was the second and last representative of the Russian nobility among the Lubyanka's leaders.

Biography

Wiaczesław Mężyński, a hereditary dvoryanin, was born to a Polish family of teachers. He graduated from the Faculty of Law, Saint Petersburg University in 1898 and joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) in 1902. In 1905 he became a member of the military organization of the Petersburg Committee of the RSDLP. In 1906 Mężyński was arrested, but was able to flee out of Russia. He lived in Belgium, Switzerland, France, USA, working in foreign branches of the RSDLP. After the February Revolution of 1917, Mężyński returned to Russia in the summer of that year.

As General consul in Berlin, 1918

After the October revolution Mężyński-Menzhinsky served as the People's Commissar of Finance. Since 1919 he was a member of the Presidium of Vecheka, and five years later became a deputy chairman of its successor, the OGPU. After Felix Dzerzhinsky's death in July 1926 Menzhinsky became the chairman of the OGPU. Menzhinsky played a great role in conducting secret Trust and Sindikat-2 counterintelligence operations, during which leaders of large abroad anti-Soviet centers, Boris Savinkov and Sidney Reilly, were lured to the USSR and arrested.

At the same time, as a senior Chekist, Menzhinsky was loyal to Joseph Stalin, whose personality cult had already begun to rise, coinciding with several important purges in 1930-1931.[citation needed] Trotsky, who met him before the revolution, thought him unremarkable: "He seemed more like the shadow of some other unrealized man, or rather like a poor sketch for an unfinished portrait."

Menzhinsky spent his last years as an invalid, suffering from acute angina which rendered him incapable of physical exertion. He conducted the affairs of the OGPU while lying upon a couch in his office at the Lubyanka.

Menzhinsky died of natural causes in 1934. When his successor, Genrikh Yagoda, made his public confession under duress at the Moscow Trial of the Twenty One in 1938, Yagoda stated that he had poisoned Menzhinsky.

Political offices
Preceded by
Ivan Skvortsov-Stepanov
People's Commissar of Finance
20 January (2 February 1918 – March 1918
Succeeded by
Isidore Gukovsky

Sources and references

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Vyacheslav Rudolfovich Menzhinsky (Russian: Вячесла́в Рудо́льфович Менжи́нский, Polish: Wiaczesław Mężyński; 19 (31) August 1874 - May 10, 1934) was a Polish-Russian revolutionary, a Soviet statesman and Party official who served as chairman of the OGPU from 1926 to 1934. Fluent in over ten languages (including Korean, Chinese, Turkish, and Persian, the last one learned especially in order to read works by Omar Khayyám), Menzhinsky was the second and last representative of the Polish nobility among the Lubyanka's leaders.

Biography

Wiaczesław Mężyński, a hereditary dvoryanin, was born to a Polish family of teachers. He graduated from the Faculty of Law, Saint Petersburg University in 1898 and joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) in 1902. In 1905 he became a member of the military organization of the Petersburg Committee of the RSDLP. In 1906 Mężyński was arrested, but was able to flee out of Russia. He lived in Belgium, Switzerland, France, USA, working in foreign branches of the RSDLP. After the February Revolution of 1917, Mężyński returned to Russia in the summer of that year.

After the October revolution Mężyński-Menzhinsky served as the People's Commissar of Finance.

According to G. von Schantz, "Menshinski personally conducted the wrecking of the Russian banks, a maneuver that deprived all opponents of Bolshevikism of their financial means of warfare."

"Since 1919 he was a member of the Presidium of Vecheka, and five years later became a deputy chairman of its successor, the OGPU. After Felix Dzerzhinsky's death in July 1926 Menzhinsky became the chairman of the OGPU. Menzhinsky played a great role in conducting secret Trust and Sindikat-2 counterintelligence operations, during which leaders of large abroad anti-Soviet centers, Boris Savinkov and Sidney Reilly, were lured to the USSR and arrested.

At the same time, as a senior Chekist, Menzhinsky was loyal to Joseph Stalin, whose personality cult had already begun to rise, coinciding with several important purges in 1930-1931.[citation needed] Trotsky, who met him before the revolution, thought him unremarkable: "He seemed more like the shadow of some other unrealized man, or rather like a poor sketch for an unfinished portrait."

Menzhinsky spent his last years as an invalid, suffering from acute angina which rendered him incapable of physical exertion. He conducted the affairs of the OGPU while lying upon a couch in his office at the Lubyanka.

Menzhinsky died of natural causes in 1934. When his successor, Genrikh Yagoda, made his public confession under duress at the Moscow Trial of the Twenty One in 1938, Yagoda stated that he had poisoned Menzhinsky.

Political offices
Preceded by
Ivan Skvortsov-Stepanov
People's Commissar for Finance
20 January (2 February 1918 – March 1918)
Succeeded by
Isidore Gukovsky

Sources and references


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