Lazar Kagonovich or Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich (Template:Lang-ru) was formally the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union but better known as one of Joseph Stalin's chief henchmen. He rose from being a show repairman without formal education to become one of the most powerful individuals in the Soviet Union.
He was born on November 22, 1893 to Jewish parents in the village of Kabany, Radomyshl uyezd Kiev Guberniya, Russian Empire, which is now in Ukraine). A shoe repairman without formal education, Kaganovich was an autodidact who became a Bolshevik in 1911. , and in 1924 became a member of the Central Committee.
In 1930, he became a member of the Soviet Politburo. He also supervised the implementation of many of Stalin's economic policies, including the collectivization of agriculture and rapid industrialization. Kaganovich organized and greatly contributed to the building of the first Soviet metro system in Moscow, which was named after him until 1955. At that time he also oversaw the destruction of many of the city's oldest monuments.
According to historican Robert Conquest and some modern Ukrainian historians of the period, Kaganovich and Vyacheslav Molotov were responsible for causing the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine, also called the Holodomor, which claimed the lives of millions of peasants. Other scholars such as Moshe Lewin, Alexander Dallin and Alec Nove dismiss the idea that the famine was a deliberate state policy.
Kaganovich was, until 1957, a full member of the Politburo and the Presidium. Kaganovich was an early mentor of Nikita Khrushchev, who first rose to prominence as his Moscow City deputy in the 1930s. In 1947, when Khrushchev was stripped of the Party leadership in Ukraine (he remained in the somewhat lesser head of government job), Stalin dispatched Kaganovich to replace him until the former was reinstated late that year.
Kaganovich was a rigid Stalinist, and though he remained in the Presidium, quickly lost influence after Stalin's death in March 1953. In 1957, along with fellow hard-line Stalinists Vyacheslav Molotov, Kliment Voroshilov, and Georgy Malenkov (the so-called Anti-Party Group), he participated in an abortive party coup against his former protege Khrushchev, who had over the preceding two years become increasingly harsh in his criticism of Stalin. As a result, Kaganovich was forced to retire from the Presidium and the Central Committee, and in 1964 he was expelled from the party.
In 1987, a book titled "The Wolf of the Kremlin: The First Biography of L.M. Kaganvich, the Soviet Union's Architect of Fear" was written by American journalist Stuart Kahan, in which Kahan claims to be a long lost nephew of Kaganovich. Kahan also claimed to have interviewed Kaganovich during a previous visit to Moscow, in which interview he alleges Kaganovich admitted to being partially responsible for the death of Stalin in 1953 (via poisoning). A number of other claims were made as well. The truth of all of these allegations have been brought into question by a letter, Statement of the Kaganovich Family, written by Kaganovich's surviving family members (including his daughter) in which they state that these claims are all false.
Kaganovich survived to the age of 97, dying just before the events that led to the final unravelling of the Soviet Union in 1991.
- Jeffrey J. Rossman. 2005. Worker Resistance Under Stalin: Class and Revolution on the Shop Floor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674019261. Pp. 207-230.