Potemkin, Vladimir Petrovich
Born Oct. 7 (19), 1874, in Tver’, now Kalinin; died Feb. 23, 1946, in Moscow. Soviet statesman and party figure, historian, diplomat; member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the RSFSR (1943). Member of the CPSU from 1919. Son of a physician.
Potemkin graduated from the faculty of history and philology of Moscow University in 1898. From 1900 to 1917 he taught in Gymnasiums and other educational insititutions in Moscow and Ekaterinoslav (now Dnepropetrovsk). In 1918–19 he was a member of the collegium of the People’s Commissariat of Education of the RSFSR. He took an active part in the development of very important documents on public education. During the Civil War of 1918–20, he was a member of the revolutionary military council of the Sixth Army and headed political sections on the Western and Southern fronts.
After the war, Potemkin administered the Odessa provincial department of public education. In 1922 he began his diplomatic career. He was an envoy plenipotentiary of the USSR in Greece from 1929 to 1932, in Italy from 1932 to 1934, and in France from 1934 to 1937. From 1937 to 1940, Potemkin was first deputy people’s commissar of foreign affairs of the USSR. From 1940 to 1946 he was people’s commissar of education of the RSFSR. He took part in the establishment of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the RSFSR and served as its president from 1943. Under Potemkin’s leadership, the People’s Commissariat of Education of the RSFSR worked to preserve the network of schools and the student body during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45. It also brought about universal seven-year public education in the postwar period, developed schools for young workers and rural youth, and created textbooks for schools providing general education.
In his scholarly works Potemkin directed his attention to the history of France, the English labor movement, and international relations. He was editor in chief and one of the authors of the three-volume History of Diplomacy, for which he received the State Prize of the USSR in 1942 and 1946. He became a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1939 and of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR in 1935. He was also a deputy to the first and second convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Potemkin was awarded the Order of Lenin and two other orders. He was buried on Red Square near the Kremlin Wall.
WORKSIstoriia diplomatii, vols. 1–3. Edited by V. P. Potemkin. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941–45.
Stat’i i rechi po voprosam narodnogo obrazovaniia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.