Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich


(real name, Max Wallach; party pseudonyms include “Papasha,” Maksimovich, and Feliks). Born July 5 (17), 1876, in Białystok, present-day Poland; died Dec. 31, 1951, in Moscow. Soviet statesman and party figure, diplomat. Member of the Communist Party from 1898.

The son of an office worker, Litvinov began to carry on Social Democratic propaganda in workers’ circles in the city of Klintsy, Chernigov Province, in 1898. In 1900 he was a member of the Kiev Committee of the RSDLP. He was arrested in 1901. In 1902, Litvinov was one of the organizers and participants in the escape of 11 Iskra supporters from the Luk’ianov prison in Kiev. He then emigrated to Switzerland. As an agent of Iskra, he handled transportation of the newspaper to Russia. He was a member of the administration of the League of Russian Revolutionary Social Democracy Abroad. After the Second Congress of the RSDLP in 1903, Litvinov was a Bolshevik and a member of the Riga and Northwestern party committees and of the Bureau of Committees of the Majority. He was a delegate to the Third Congress of the RSDLP in 1905 and helped organize the first legal Bolshevik newspaper, Novaia zhizn’ (New Life), in St. Petersburg.

In 1907, Litvinov was secretary of the RSDLP delegation to the Stuttgart Congress of the Second International. In 1908 he became secretary of the London group of Bolsheviks. He was the Bolshevik representative to the International Socialist Bureau. In February 1915, on instructions of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, Litvinov addressed the conference of Socialists of the Entente countries in London and delivered a declaration condemning the imperialist war; V. I. Lenin had drafted the speech. In 1918, Litvinov was appointed diplomatic representative of the RSFSR to Great Britain, but the British government did not recognize his credentials and detained him as a hostage. He was subsequently exchanged for the English intelligence agent B. Lockhart, then under arrest in Russia.

From 1918 to 1921, Litvinov was a member of the collegial board of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. At the end of 1918 he spoke for the Soviet government in Stockholm, making peace proposals to the Entente powers that subsequently came to be known as the Litvinov Declaration. In 1920 he became ambassador to Estonia. In 1921, Litvinov was appointed deputy commissar at the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, while at the same time holding the post of member of the collegial board at the People’s Commissariat of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection and the post of deputy chairman in the Central Concessions Committee. In 1922 he was the deputy of G. V. Chicherin, who headed the Soviet delegation at the Genoa Conference (April-May), head of the delegation to the Hague Conference (June-July), and chairman of the Moscow International Disarmament Conference (December). From 1927 to 1930, he was head of the delegation to the Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference in Geneva.

From 1930 to 1939, Litvinov was people’s commissar of foreign affairs of the USSR. He helped to establish diplomatic relations with the USA and to win admittance of the USSR to the League of Nations, where he represented the USSR from 1934 to 1938. Litvinov was an outstanding Soviet diplomat who skillfully carried out the Leninist foreign policy. From 1941 to 1943, he was deputy commissar of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and simultaneously ambassador of the USSR to the USA; in 1942 and 1943, he was also envoy of the USSR to Cuba. Litvinov took part in the Moscow conference of foreign ministers of the USSR, the USA, and Great Britain in October 1943. He was a delegate to the Eighth and Fourteenth through Eighteenth Party Congresses. At the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Party Congresses he was elected a member of the Central Committee of the ACP (Bolshevik). He was a member of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR and a deputy to the first and second convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He was the author of many works on the foreign policy of the USSR. Litvinov was awarded the Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.


Vneshniaia politika SSSR. Rechi i zaiavleniia. 1927–1935. Moscow, 1935.
“Neopublikovannye pis’ma M. M. Litvinova V. I. Leninu (1913–1915 gg.).” Novaia i noveishaia istorila, 1966, no. 4.


Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch. 5th ed. (See reference volume, part 2, p. 450.)
Gnedin, E. “Revoliutsioner-diplomat leninskoi shkoly.” Novyi mir, 1970, no. 2. Pages 256–61. (Bibliography.)
Sheinis, Z. S. “V Genue i Gaage (Stranitsy diplomaticheskoi deiatel’nosti M. M. Litvinova).” Novaia i noveishaia istorila, 1968, nos. 3–4.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.