Leaders of The Soviet Union

Written by Dr.Márián Zoltán on Tuesday, 06 January 2015. Posted in World Leaders

Fine article about the collection of Soviet Union autographs written by Dr.Márián Zoltán.

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich  Molotov  /1890-1986/
Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Soviet Union  /1930-1941/
Minister of Foreign Affairs  / 1939-1949,  1953-1956 / /

Molotov1

In 1930 Joseph Stalin appointed Molotov as his prime minister. He held this post for over a decade, adding the foreign affairs post in 1939. In the latter post he acquired an international reputation, first negotiating the infamous Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 but later serving as Stalin's top representative at the various wartime conferences: Teheran (1943), Yalta (1945), and Potsdam (1945), and at the founding conference of the United Nations in 1945.

In 1949. Molotov lost his post when Joseph Stalin appointed Andrei Vyshinsky as his Foreign Minister. After the death of Stalin in 1953, Vyshinsky was sacked and Molotov returned to his old job. In June 1956, Molotov joined the group that unsuccessfully tried to oust Nikita Khrushchev as the new leader of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev demoted him to the position of ambassador to Mongolia. In 1964, Molotov was expelled from the party. 

Expelled from the Communist Party in 1962, Molotov lived in retirement until his death in 1986. He was reinstated in the party in 1984. His wife, Polina Semenova  whom he had married in 1921 and with whom he had two children, also achieved high party and government positions but was incarcerated from 1949 to 1953. Molotov admitted that he had voted in the Politburo for her arrest. Vyacheslav Molotov died in Moscow on November 8, 1986 at age 96. 

Soviet leaders often used colour pencils for signing. I have a document signed by Molotov in blue colour pencil.

Nikolai Alexandrovich Bulganin / 1895-1975 /
Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Russian SFSR /1937-1938 /
Chairman of the Council of Ministers  / 1955-1958 /

Bulganin 2
Bulganin began his career as a Cheka (Bolshevik secret police) In 1937 he subsequently became premier of the Russian  Republic. During the the Second World War Bulganin served under Joseph Stalin in the war cabinet.He was also chairman of the State Defence Committee.After Stalin’s death when  Khrushchev won, Bulganin  in 1955, replaced Malenkov as chairman of the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R. Bulganin came to be closely identified with Khrushchev. He frequently appeared as a public spokesperson for the government and accompanied Khrushchev on numerous state visits throughout the world. In the summer of 1957 Bulganian joined with Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, in an attempt to oust Nikita Khrushchev. This was unsuccessful and Bulganian was forced into retirement. Nikolay Bulganin died on 24th February, 1975. I was lucky to receive a signed photo of him around 1970.

Nikita Sergeyevich Krushchev / 1894-1971/

First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union /1953-1964/
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union / 1958-1964 /

Krushchev
Nikita Khrushchev was born in 1894 at Kalinovka near to the Ukraine border. He was the son of a mineworker. After the Russian Civil War   Khrushchev became a miner. Khrushchev worked for the Communist Party in Kiev and then in Moscow. In 1935 he was appointed Secretary of the Moscow Regional Committee. During World War Two, he assisted military commanders fighting there, primarily in the Kursk Salient.

In 1947, Stalin selected Khrushchev to reorganise the Soviet Union’s agricultural production. After Stalin’s death in 1953, he was appointed First Secretary of the Communist Party.  

In January 1956, Khrushchev made his boldest move for power. At the XXth Party Congress he attacked Stalin and the ‘cult of personality’ he had developed. The 1956 Suez Crisis diverted the West’s attention away from the USSR for a short time while the USSR’s grip on the Warsaw Pact was increased when Hungary was invaded and the short-lived uprising brutally suppressed.

On March 27th 1958, Khrushchev  also became Prime Minister of the USSR. 

However, his seeming feelers for peace were mixed with more hostile statements and Khrushchev became a hard man to predict – whether it was taking off his shoe and banging it on a table as he did at the United Nations.

By 1962 Khrushchev was worried that the Soviet Union was falling behind in the arms race. To restore the balance he conceived of a plan to place nuclear missiles on Cuba. His military advisors had assured him that the installation work could be done secretly. However on October 22 American reconnaissance aircraft discovered the missiles and the world was thrown into crisis. Khrushchev at first thought US President Kennedy would give in and he adopted a hard line. As the days went on, however, it became clear that the Americans were determined and would invade Cuba to remove the missiles. He had not intended to start a war over the matter and in fact many now say he won the contest. In return for the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba he got the Americans to agree to remove theirs from Italy and Turkey and give a public promise not to invade Cuba.

Leonid Brezhnev and other members of the Politburo dismissed Khrushchev on October 14, 1964, after Khrushchev's vacation at the Communist Party owned Black Sea resort. He was stripped of all privileges and lived under house arrest outside Moscow. After his death on September 11, 1971, Khrushchev was not buried officially like other Politburo members near the Kremlin. Instead, he was buried without an official ceremony at the Novodevichy Cemetery. The Cold War continued.

Krushchev travelled a lot. He met President Eisenhower, President Kennedy, de Gaulle, Adenauer, Indira Gandhi and the communist countries leaders of course. He visited Hungary four times. In his last visit he spent several days in Budapest in March-April 1964. He was popular in Hungary, he was interested in everything, he smiled always and he was very friendly.  He and his wife Nina Petrovna did not like protocol they were much more different than other Soviet leaders. Hungarian town Bábolna was famous for horses. They presented a coach-and five horses show for Krushchev.  He enjoyed the show very much. At the end, the leaders of the town gave the five horses with the coach to Krushchev – as a gift. He was very surprised but very happy.

Going back to Moscow – he travelled by train – his train stopped at the city of Debrecen railway station. Many thousand people were waiting for him including the delegation of Debrecen Pioneer Movement. Young teenagers belonged to this movement and they were lucky to talk to Krushchev for a minute. The delegation gave a small gift to the Soviet leader, who kindly signed the pioneer movement card – by red ball point pen. A photo was taken of Krushchev while he was standing on the train’s step and this picture was fitted to the card next to the signature.

Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan  / 1895-1978 /
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union / 1964-1965 /

Mikoyan
Mikoyan was an   „Old Bolshevik”  and Soviet statesman during the mandates of Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev.  After Stalin's death, he backed Nikita Khrushchev and his de-Stalinization policy. He was instrumental in the important "Secret Speech" at the 20th Party Congress in which Khrushchev denounced Stalin's "cult of personality." He helped Khrushchev to outmaneuver the Stalinist hardliners Vyacheslav Molotov and Georgy Malenkov.

In October 1956, Mikoyan was sent to Hungary to resolve the crisis caused by the revolution against the communist government there. He strongly opposed the decision by Khrushchev and the Politburo to use Soviet troops believing it would destroy the Soviet Union's international reputation, instead arguing for "military intimidation" and economic pressure to be applied towards Hungary's government.The crushing of the revolution by Soviet forces nearly led to Mikoyan's resignation. In 1964, Khrushchev was forced to step down in a coup that brought Leonid Brezhnev to power. Mikoyan's influence was retained under Brezhnev as he was appointed Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1964 until his retirement in 1965.  Mikoyan died in 1978, at the age of 82, from natural causes and was buried at Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. He received six commendations of the Order of Lenin. I have got a signed card with a photo of him.

Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev /1906-1982/
Secretary-General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union /1964-1982/
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union /1977-1982/

BrezhnevKadar 2

Brezhnev was born in 1906 in Dneprodzerzhinsk in the Ukraine. He studied engineering at his birthplace and worked in a metallurgical factory.  He joined the Komsomol (Communist Youth Organization) in 1923. In 1931 Brezhnev became member of  the Communist Party  and he worked under Nikita Khrushchev. During the Second World War he served as a political commissar.

In 1952 Stalin invited him to join the Politburo. In 1964 Khrushchev was ousted and by the early 1970s Brezhnev had emerged as the most important political figure in the Soviet Union.

His term in office was hallmarked by Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia (1968) and Afghanistan (1977), domestic economic stagnation and persecution of dissidents. Brezhnev's health worsened in the winter of 1981–82. He rarely appeared in public during the spring, summer and the autumn of 1982. The official explanation by the Soviet government was that Brezhnev was not seriously ill, while at the same time doctors were surrounding him. He suffered a severel stroke in May 1982, but refused to relinquish office. Brezhnev died on 10 November 1982 after suffering a heart attack.

Brezhnev was “the great friend” of the communist Hungary, and a good friend of János Kádár, /1912-1989/ the First Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Worker Party (Communist Party) . 

I was a 15 year old student when I first wanted to have a Brezhnev signature.  In the grammar school my Russian language teacher translated my letters into Russian language, but I never got any answer from Moscow. Soviet leaders did not respond private letters, and I understood that I would never receive his autograph this way.

In 1972 Brezhnev paid an official visit to Budapest. In a newspaper I saw a black and white photo showing both Brezhnev and Kádár. I wrote a letter to the Hungarian News Agency asking them, to send me a good quality photograph of the two leaders.  The Agency sent me a big size photo.

I sent the photo to Kádár asking him to sign it, and I also asked him to forward the picture to “Comrade Brezhnev” for his autograph also. Some days later I received a letter from Kádár’s Office telling me, that ”Comrade Kádár has already signed the photo, and now we are going to comply with the second part of your request. It needs some time, so we ask your kind patience”. About two months later, I received my photo back with both Kádár’s and Brezhnev’s signatures.

Alexei Nikolayevich  Kosygin  /1904-1980/
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union / 1964-1980/

Kosygin
Kosygin was born in 1904 in St. Petersburg. 

Between 1938 and 1939 he served the city as mayor. In 1939, Kosygin became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party when he was appointed Commissar for the Textile Industry. 

After World War Two, Kosygin made his way up the party. Between 1948 and 1953 he was Minister of Finance and Minister of Light Industry as well as being a member of the Politburo. In 1957, he was given responsibility for economic planning and in 1960 was appointed Chairman of the State Economic Planning Commission and First Deputy Prime Minister. 

After the Cuban Missile Crisis Kosygin took over Khrushchev’s position as Chairman of the Council of Ministers. This effectively made him the USSR’s Prime Minister. 

As Prime Minister, he wanted to decentralise the control exerted by Moscow in industry and agriculture. Kosygin also wanted to provide the people of the USSR with more consumer goods. In this he was unsuccessful as the country was spending vast sums of money trying to keep up with the USA in military expenditure. 

Kosygin resigned on October 23rd 1980 as a result of poor health. He died eight weeks later.His death was not announced for three days, as Kosygin died on the eve of Brezhnev's birthday. He was buried in Red Square, Moscow.

His autograph is rare. Similar to Brezhnev, he did not answer for my letters either. Finally I  met the Soviet Ambassador in Budapest, Hungary, who forwarded my letter and  photo to  the Prime Minister. Kosygin signed and dated the photo and it was returned to me via the Ambassador.

Nikolai Viktorovich Podgorny / 1903-1983 /
Chairman of the Presidium of Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union / 1965-1977/

Podgorny
Podgorny was born in the city of Karlovka in 1903 .

An engineer, trained at the Technological Institute of the Food Industry in Kiev, he became deputy commissar of the Ukrainian food industry . In 1956 he was elected a member of the central committee of the party  and of the presidium in 1960. In 1965 he became head of state. He traveled widely and enhanced the position of president of the USSR. His meetings with Pope Paul VI in 1967 helped bring about more openness for the Catholic Church in Eastern Europe.

He was relieved of his chairmanship and removed from the politburo in a 1977 power struggle with Brezhnev, who wished to combine the posts of presidium chairman and party secretary-general.
Podgorny died of cancer on 12 January 1983, and was buried in Moscow at the Novodevichy cemetery.

In 1974 I got a signed card with a photo from him.

Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko / 1909-1989/
Chairman of the Presidium of Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union /1985-1988/
Minister of Foreign Affairs / 1957-1985/

Gromyko
Gromyko, the son of peasants, was born near Minsk in Russia in 1909. After studying agriculture and economics he became a research scientist at the Soviet Academy of Science. He later joined the diplomatic service and went to Washington during the Second World War.

In 1943 Gromyko was appointed as the Soviet ambassador in the United States. In this post he attended the conferences in Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam. After the war he was made the Soviet permanent delegate to the United Nations. He also served as ambassador to Britain .Gromyko became Foreign Minister in 1957. He held the post for 28 years and during this period was the main Soviet negotiator with the United States government.

In 1985 Gorbachev relieved Gromyko of his duty as foreign minister and replaced him with Eduard Shevardnadze and Gromyko was appointed to the largely honorary position of Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. In 1988 Gromyko decided to leave Soviet politics for good. Gromyko recounts in his Memoirsthat he told Gorbachev that he wished to resign before he made it official. The following day, 1 October 1988, Gromyko sat beside Gorbachev, Yegor Ligachev and Nikolai Ryzhkov in the Supreme Soviet to make his resignation official.

During his twenty-eight years as Minister of Foreign Affairs Gromyko became the "number-one" on international diplomacy at home, renowned by his peers to be consumed by his work. Henry Kissinger once said "If you can face Gromyko for one hour and survive, then you can begin to call yourself a diplomat".  An article written in 1981 in The Times said, "He is one of the most active and efficient members of the Soviet leadership. A man with an excellent memory, a keen intellect and extraordinary endurance.  Maybe Andrey is the most informed Minister for Foreign affairs in the world”.

He met 9 American Presidents from FDR to Ronald Reagan.

I am happy to have his signed photo he sent me as a Foreign Minister.

Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov / 1914-1984/
Secretary-General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union / 1982-1984/

Andropov 0001
Andropov was the son of a railway official. He was educated at the Rybinsk Water Transport Technical College. He became a member of the Communist Party in 1939 and was First Secretary of the Central Committee of from 1940 to 1944. During World War II, Andropov took part in partisan guerrilla activities in Finland.

In 1954, he was appointed Soviet Ambassador in Hungary and held this position during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Andropov played a key role in crushing the Hungarian Revolution. He convinced a reluctant Nikita Khrushchev that military intervention was necessary. In 1957, Andropov returned to Moscow from Budapest.  In 1967, he was relieved of his work in the Central Committee apparatus and appointed head of the KGB. Two days after Leonid Brezhnev's death, on 12 November 1982, Andropov was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party. During 15 months in office, Andropov dismissed 18 ministers, and 37  communist first secretaries. In August 1983 Andropov made a sensational announcement that the country was stopping all work on space-based weapons. One of his most notable acts during his short time as leader of the Soviet Union was in response to a letter from a 10 year old American child from Maine named Samantha Smith, inviting her to the Soviet Union. Smith made friends with children in Moscow. This resulted in Smith becoming a well-known peace activist.

For the last two months of his life Andropov did not get out of bed, except when he was lifted onto a couch while his sheets were changed. He was physically finished but his mind was clear. Throughout his last days Andropov still worked, even if it meant little more than signing papers or giving his assent to his aides' proposals. On 31 December 1983 Andropov celebrated the New Year for the last time. Andropov died on 9 February in his hospital room.

Because of his short period in office, I did not receive his autograph. Adropov wrote several books. His last one was published in 1983 and he gave a copy to a Lady who worked for Hungarian communist leader János Kádár.  Many years later I met the old lady and she was so kind to add the Andropov book to my collection. The book is dedicated to her name by  an other hand – but signed by Andropov.

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev / 1931- / 

President of the Soviet Union / 1988-1991/ Secretary-General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union / 1985-1991/

Gorbachev-Kadar

He was the last head of state of the Soviet Union, and father of „Glasnost” / Opennes/ and „Perestroika”./ Restructuring/Gorbachev was born in the  village of Privolnoye. He was ten years old when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. At age 14, Gorbachev joined the Komsomol (the Communist League of Youth) and became an active member. Joined to the Communist Party  in 1952. In 1978, Gorbachev, age 47, was appointed as the secretary of agriculture on the Central Committee of the Communist Party. By 1980, he had become the youngest member of the Politburo. After Chernenko’s death he  became the leader of the Soviet Union at his age 54.

Gorbachev brought a fresh new spirit to the Kremlin. Young, energetic and married to an attractive, stylish, and educated woman, he represented a new generation of Soviet leaders, free from the direct experiences of Stalin's terror which so hardened and corrupted many of his elders.
Gorbachev also sought to establish better relations with the United States, which might allow some reduction in Soviet defense spending in favor of consumer goods. In November 1985 he met with President Reagan  in Geneva .
The clearest signs of improving Soviet-American relations came in 1988 when Gorbachev visited to Washington.
 While Gorbachev's political initiatives were positive for freedom and democracy in the Soviet Union and its Eastern bloc allies, the economic policy of his government gradually brought the country close to disaster. On 9 November 1989, people in East Germany were suddenly allowed to cross through the Berlin Wall into West Berlin, following a peaceful protest against the country's dictatorial administration. Gorbachev, who came to be lovingly called "Gorby" in West Germany, now decided not to interfere with the process in Germany. He stated that German reunification was an internal German matter.Between 20 August and 22 September, 1991. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan declared their intention to leave the Soviet Union. Following his resignation and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev remained active in Russian politics.

His 80th birthday on 2 March  2011 has been celebrated  all the World.

In February 1986 Hungarian leader Kádár paid an official visit to Gorbachev. It was the second time I asked for Kádár’s help. / first time was Brezhnev/. I wrote a kind letter to Kádár, enclosing a photo showing him with Gorbachev and I  asked him to sign the photo and to ask Gorbachev in Moscow to autograph the picture as well.  Kádár did it, a little time later the photo was returned to me having both Kádár’ and Gorbachev’ signatures on  it.

written by Zoltán Márián

About the Author

Dr.Márián Zoltán

Dr.Márián Zoltán

Is a jurist for criminal law.

He started collecting autographs in the 1960s and only collect World Leaders.
He hold 3 autograph exhibitions of his collection, latest one in 2009 in the Official Building of Members of Parliament of Hungary.