Yakov Sverdlov

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Yakov Sverdlov
Я́ков Свердло́в
Sverdlov Iakov Mikhailovich.jpg
Chairman of the Secretariat of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks)
In office
1918 16 March 1919
Preceded by Elena Stasova
(as Technical Secretary)
Succeeded by Elena Stasova
Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets
In office
21 November 1917 16 March 1919
Preceded by Lev Kamenev
Succeeded by Mikhail Vladimirsky
Member of the 6th, 7th Bureau
In office
29 November 1917 16 March 1919
Member of the 6th, 7th Secretariat
In office
6 August 1917 16 March 1919
Personal details
Born(1885-06-03)3 June 1885
Nizhny Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod Governorate, Russian Empire
Died16 March 1919(1919-03-16) (aged 33)
Moscow, Russian SFSR
Citizenship Soviet
Nationality Jewish
Political party Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik)
Spouse(s)Klavdia Novgorodtseva

Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov (Russian : Яков Михайлович Свердлов; 3 June 1885 – 16 March 1919) known by pseudonyms "Andrei", "Mikhalych", "Max", "Smirnov", "Permyakov"; was a Bolshevik party administrator and chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

The All-Russian Central Executive Committee, was the highest legislative, administrative, and revising body of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic from 1917 until 1937. Although the All-Russian Congress of Soviets had supreme authority, in periods between its sessions its powers were passed to VTsIK.


Early life

Yakov Sverdlov in 1904 Old Russia - Yakov Sverdlov 1904.jpg
Yakov Sverdlov in 1904

Sverdlov was born in Nizhny Novgorod as Solomon Mikhailovich Sverdlov to Jewish parents Mikhail Izrailevich Sverdlov and Elizaveta Solomonova. His father was a politically active engraver who produced forged documents and stored arms for the revolutionary underground. The Sverdlov family had six children: two daughters (Sophia and Sara) and four sons (Zinovy, Yakov, Veniamin, and Lev). After his wife's death in 1900, Mikhail converted with his family to the Russian Orthodox Church, married Maria Aleksandrovna Kormiltseva, and had two more sons, Herman and Alexander. Yakov's eldest brother Zinovy was adopted by Maxim Gorky, who was a frequent guest at the house.[ citation needed ]

Nizhny Novgorod City in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Russia

Nizhny Novgorod ; Russian: Ни́жний Но́вгород, IPA: [ˈnʲiʐnʲɪj ˈnovɡərət]), colloquially shortened to Nizhny, is a city in Russia and the administrative center (capital) of Volga Federal District and Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. From 1932 to 1990, it was known as Gorky, after the writer Maxim Gorky, who was born there.

Forgery is a white-collar crime that generally refers to the false making or material alteration of a legal instrument with the specific intent to defraud anyone. Tampering with a certain legal instrument may be forbidden by law in some jurisdictions but such an offense is not related to forgery unless the tampered legal instrument was actually used in the course of the crime to defraud another person or entity. Copies, studio replicas, and reproductions are not considered forgeries, though they may later become forgeries through knowing and willful misrepresentations.

Russian Orthodox Church autocephalous Orthodox Christian church, headquartered in Moscow, Russia

The Russian Orthodox Church, alternatively legally known as the Moscow Patriarchate, is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Christian churches. The primate of the ROC is the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus'. The ROC, as well as its primate, officially ranks fifth in the Orthodox order of precedence, immediately below the four ancient patriarchates of the Greek Orthodox Church; the Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Since 15 October 2018, the ROC is not in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, having unilaterally severed ties in reaction to the establishment of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was finalised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 5 January 2019.

Yakov Sverdlov joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1902, and then the Bolshevik faction, supporting Vladimir Lenin. He was involved in the 1905 revolution while living in the Ural Mountains.

Russian Social Democratic Labour Party political party in the Russian Empire

The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, also known as the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party or the Russian Social Democratic Party, was a revolutionary socialist political party founded in Minsk, Belarus.

Vladimir Lenin Russian politician, communist theorist, and founder of the Soviet Union

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by his alias Lenin, was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1922 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. Under his administration, Russia and then the wider Soviet Union became a one-party communist state governed by the Russian Communist Party. Ideologically a communist, he developed a variant of Marxism known as Leninism; his ideas were posthumously codified as Marxism–Leninism.

1905 Russian Revolution wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire

The Russian Revolution of 1905 was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire, some of which was directed at the government. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies. It led to constitutional reform, including the establishment of the State Duma, the multi-party system, and the Russian Constitution of 1906.

After four years of high school, he became a major activist and speaker in Nizhny Novgorod. For most of the time from his arrest in June 1906 until 1917 he was either imprisoned or exiled. During the period 1914–1916 he was in internal exile in Turukhansk, Siberia, along with Joseph Stalin. Both had been betrayed by the Okhrana agent Roman Malinovsky. Like Stalin, he was co-opted in absentia to the 1912 Prague Conference. [1]

Turukhansk human settlement in Turukhansky Selsovet, Turukhansky District, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia

Turukhansk is a rural locality and the administrative center of Turukhansky District of Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, located 1,474 kilometers (916 mi) north of Krasnoyarsk, at the confluence of the Yenisey and Nizhnyaya Tunguska Rivers. 4,662 (2010 Census); 4,849 (2002 Census); 8,869 (1989 Census); 200 (1897).

Siberia Geographical region in Russia

Siberia is an extensive geographical region spanning much of Eurasia and North Asia. Siberia has historically been a part of modern Russia since the 17th century.

Joseph Stalin Soviet leader

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was a Georgian revolutionary and Soviet politician who led the Soviet Union from the mid–1920s until 1953 as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–1952) and Premier (1941–1953). Initially presiding over a collective leadership as first among equals, by the 1930s he was the country's de facto dictator. A communist ideologically committed to the Leninist interpretation of Marxism, Stalin formalised these ideas as Marxism–Leninism, while his own policies are known as Stalinism.

Party leader

Yakov Sverdlov and Vladimir Lenin open the statue of Karl Marx 1918 Old Russia - Yakov Sverdlov 1918 & Lenin & Avanesov.jpg
Yakov Sverdlov and Vladimir Lenin open the statue of Karl Marx 1918

After the 1917 February Revolution Sverdlov returned to Petrograd from exile and was re-elected to the Central Committee of the Communist Party. He played an important role in planning the October Revolution. He first met Lenin in April 1917 and was subsequently trusted as the chairman of the Central Committee Secretariat. [2] Sverdlov was elected chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee in November, becoming thereby de jure head of state of the Russian SFSR until his death. He played important roles in the decision in January 1918 to end the Russian Constituent Assembly and the subsequent signing on 3 March of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

February Revolution first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917

The February Revolution, known in Soviet historiography as the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution and sometimes as the March Revolution, was the first of two revolutions which took place in Russia in 1917.

Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the executive leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, acting between sessions of Congress. According to own party statutes, the committee directed all party and governmental activities. Its members were elected by the Party Congress.

October Revolution Bolshevik uprising during the Russian Revolution of 1917

The October Revolution, officially known in Soviet historiography as the Great October Socialist Revolution and commonly referred to as the October Uprising, the October Coup, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Bolshevik Coup or the Red October, was a revolution in Russia led by the Bolshevik Party of Vladimir Lenin that was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917–23. It took place through an armed insurrection in Petrograd on 7 November 1917.

Sverdlov had a prodigious memory and was able to retain the names and details of fellow revolutionaries in exile. His organizational capability was well-regarded, and during his chairmanship, thousands of local party committees were initiated. [2] Sverdlov is sometimes regarded as the first head of state of the Soviet Union although it was not established until 1922, three years after his death.

Romanov family

A number of sources claim that Sverdlov played a major role in the execution of Tsar Nicholas II and his family on 17 July 1918.

Yakov Sverdlov and Grigory Zinoviev on The Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets Zinoviev Sverdlov Lashevich Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets.jpg
Yakov Sverdlov and Grigory Zinoviev on The Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets

A book written in 1990 by the Moscow playwright Edvard Radzinsky claims that Sverdlov ordered their execution on 16 July 1918. This book and other Radzinsky books were characterized as "folk history" (Russian term for pseudohistory) by journalists and academic historians. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] However Yuri Slezkine in his book The Jewish Century expressed a slightly different opinion: "Early in the Civil War, in June 1918, Lenin ordered the killing of Nicholas II and his family. Among the men entrusted with carrying out the orders were Sverdlov, Filipp Goloshchyokin and Yakov Yurovsky". [8]

The 1922 book by a White Army general, Mikhail Diterikhs, The Murder of the Tsar's Family and members of the House of Romanov in the Urals, sought to portray the murder of the royal family as a Jewish plot against Russia. It referred to Sverdlov by his Jewish nickname "Yankel" and to Goloshchekin as "Isaac". This book in turn was based on an account by one Nikolai Sokolov, special investigator for the Omsk regional court, whom Diterikhs assigned with the task of investigating the disappearance of the Romanovs while serving as regional governor under the White regime during the Russian Civil War. [9]

According to Leon Trotsky's diaries, after returning from the front (of the Russian Civil War) he had the following dialogue with Sverdlov: [10]

My next visit to Moscow took place after the [temporary] fall of Ekaterinburg [to anti-Communist forces]. Speaking with Sverdlov, I asked in passing: "Oh yes, and where is the Tsar?"

"Finished," he replied. "He has been shot."

"And where is the family?"

"The family along with him."

"All of them?," I asked, apparently with a trace of surprise.

"All of them," replied Sverdlov. "What about it?" He was waiting to see my reaction. I made no reply.

"And who made the decision?," I asked.

"We decided it here. Ilyich believed that we shouldn't leave the Whites a live banner to rally around, especially under the present difficult circumstances."

I asked no further questions and considered the matter closed.

The investigating magistrate in Ekaterinburg in 1918 saw the signed telegraphic instructions to murder the Imperial Family came from Sverdlov. These details were published in 1966. [11] In 1924, Yekaterinburg was renamed Sverdlovsk in his honour.


Snow-covered statue of Sverdlov in Yekaterinburg, formerly Sverdlovsk. Ekaterinbourg.jpeg
Snow-covered statue of Sverdlov in Yekaterinburg, formerly Sverdlovsk.

Sverdlov is commonly believed to have died of either typhus or most likely influenza, during the 1918 flu pandemic, after a political visit to Oryol. [12] [13] He is buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis, in Moscow.

His son Andrei had a long career as an officer for the Soviet security organs (NKVD, OGPU). His niece Ida married NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda.


See also

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  2. 1 2 Kotkin 2014, pp. 193–194.
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Political offices
Preceded by
Lev Kamenev
Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets
Succeeded by
Mikhail Vladimirsky