Berzin, Ian

Berzin, Ian Antonovich


(also I. A. Berzin’; party pseudonyms: Ziemelis, Pavel Vasil’evich, Pavlovskii, Vinter, and others). Born Sept. 29 (Oct. 11), 1881; died Aug. 29, 1938. Soviet statesman and party figure, publicist, one of the earliest participants in the Latvian revolutionary movement. Communist Party member since 1902. Born into the family of a Latvian peasant. He was a teacher.

In December 1905, Berzin led the strike in the city of Valka. From 1906 to 1907 he was a member and secretary of the St. Petersburg RSDLP Committee. He was a delegate to the fifth (London) congress of the RSDLP (1907). He emigrated in 1908. Berzin was a member of the European bureau of the RSDLP Central Committee, a member of the Bolshevik bureau of the groups of the social democrats of the Latvian Krae (SDLK) living abroad, editor of the party’s newspaper Biletens (Bulletin), secretary of the SDLK foreign committee, and a member of the editorial board of Cina (Struggle), the central organ of the SDLK. In 1915 he attended the Zimmerwald Conference and was one of the founders of the Zimmerwald Left. In 1917 he was a member of the central committee of the Social Democratic Party of Latvia; at the sixth congress of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) he was elected a member of the party’s central committee and at the seventh congress, candidate member of the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik). At the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets he was elected a member of the All-Union Central Executive Committee. He was (ambassador) plenipotentiary to Switzerland in 1918, commissar of education of Soviet Latvia in 1919, secretary of the Comintern executive committee in 1919–20, and (ambassador) plenipotentiary to Finland in 1921. He was deputy (ambassador) plenipotentiary to Great Britain in the years 1921–25 and from 1925 USSR (ambassador) plenipotentiary to Austria; from 1927 he was a representative of the USSR People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs at the Ukrainian SSR Soviet of People’s Commissars and a member of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party (Bolshevik). In 1932 he became director of the USSR and RSFSR Central Archive Administration. Berzin was the author of works on the history of the Party and of the international workers’ movement.


Tolstoi, I. “Ia. A. Berzin-Ziemelis.” In Geroi Oktiabria, vol. 1. Leningrad, 1967.