Mekhlis, Lev Zakharovich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mekhlis, Lev Zakharovich


Born Jan. 13, 1889, in Odessa; died Feb. 13, 1953, in Moscow. Soviet statesman and party figure. Member of the Communist Party from 1918. Son of an office worker.

Mekhlis worked as a teacher. He was a member of the Jewish Social Democratic party Poale Zion from 1907 to 1910. He was a political officer in the Red Army during the Civil War of 1918–20. Mekhlis was involved in soviet and party work from 1921 to 1926. After graduating from the Institute of the Red Professoriate in 1930, he was chief of the Press Section of the Central Committee of the ACP (Bolshevik) and simultaneously member of the Pravda editorial board. He was chief of the Main Political Directorate of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army from 1937 to 1940. Mekhlis served as people’s commissar of state control of the USSR in 1940–41. In 1941 he was again appointed chief of the Main Political Directorate and deputy people’s commissar of defense. In May 1942, while serving as representative of the Headquarters of the Supreme Command on the Crimean Front, he failed to ensure the organization of the defense and was relieved of his responsibilities. Subsequently Mekhlis was a member of the military councils of several armies and fronts and from 1946 to 1950, minister of state control of the USSR.

Mekhlis was elected a candidate member of the Central Committee at the Seventeenth Party Congress and a member of the Central Committee at the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Congresses. He served as a member of the Organizational Bureau of the Central Committee of the ACP(B) and was deputy to and member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR at the first and second convocations. He received four Orders of Lenin, five other orders, and various medals. Mekhlis is buried in Red Square at the Kremlin Wall.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.