Soviet state and party figure
February 7, 1893|
Kharhov (Ukraine, Russian Empire)
|Died||July 29, 1938
Kommunarka, Butovo, USSR
Cause of death
|Executed during Stalin's Great Purge|
|Spouse(s)||Charna Markovna Mezhlauk (Maers-Mikhailova) (1902–1941)|
Valery Ivanovich Mezhlauk (Russian: Валерий Иванович Межлаук; Latvian: Valērijs Mežlauks) (1893–1938) was a government and party official in the Soviet Union during the decades of the 1920s and 1930s. He is best remembered as the Chairman of the State Planning Committee (Gosplan) from 1934 to 1937. He became a victim of Stalin’s Great Purge and was executed on July 29, 1938. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1956.
Valery Ivanovich Mezhlauk was born February 7, 1893, in Kharkov in the Kharkov Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine), one of five sons of an ethnic Latvian nobleman, a teacher, and German mother. In 1914 he earned a degree in history and philology and in 1917 a degree in jurisprudence from Kharkov University, where he also taught from 1913 to 1916. He joined the revolutionary movement and became a member of RSDRP in 1907 and of the Communist Party or VKP(b) in July 1917.
In 1917, after the Russian Revolution, Mezhlauk became a member of the Kharkov committee of the VKP(b) and of the city’s soviet and military revolutionary committee. From 1918 to 1920, during the Russian Civil War, he served as provincial military commissar in Kazan; people’s commissar of finance of the short-lived Donetsko-Krivorozhskaya Soviet Republic in Ukraine; a member of the regional committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party of the Donbas; a member of the military commandment in Donets; a member of the Revolutionary Military Council (Revvoensovet) of the Fifth, Tenth, Fourteenth, and Second armies of the Red Army; a member of the Revvoensovet of the Southern Front; people’s military commissar of the Ukraine; and a member of the Revvoensovet of the Tula region. In 1920–24, Mezhlauk was commissar of the Moscow-Baltic, Moscow-Kursk, and Northern railroads, including, in 1921–1922, as a deputy to the Chief People’s Commissar for Transport, Felix Dzerzhinsky. In August 1923 he was made a member of the governing collegium of the People's Commissariat of Transport. He would remain at that post until November 1924 when he was moved to the Presidium of the Supreme Council of National Economy (VSNKh), the Soviet chief economic planning agency. He remained at VSNKh throughout most of the decade, gaining promotion to vice-chairman of the Council on July 14, 1928.
On May 31, 1929, in Dearborn, Michigan, in his capacity as vice-chairman of VSNKh, Mezhlauk, together with President of Amtorg, Saul Bron, signed the historic agreement with the Ford Motor Company for assistance in building the first Soviet automobile plant (GAZ) near Nizhnii Novgorod (Gorky).
In November 1931, Mezhlauk was appointed the first vice-chairman of the State Planning Agency (Gosplan), an institution which was emerging as the most powerful economic planning department in the Soviet bureaucratic labyrinth. He became the chairman of Gosplan in April 1934. He was also made vice-chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR and a full member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 1934–1937 he also served as vice-chairman of the Council of Labor and Defense (STO).
In 1929–1930, amidst the industrialization drive of the First Five-Year Plan, Mezhlauk was a chief editor of the leading Soviet economics newspaper Torgovo-promyshchlennaia gazeta (Commerce and Industry Newspaper), a periodical which changed its name in 1930 to Za industrializatsiiu (For Industrialization). He was the author of many works on the socialist economy and was well known for his expressive caricatures of Soviet officials, including Nikolai Bukharin and Leon Trotsky, that he made during official meetings and Party conferences.
Arrest and death
Mezhlauk was arrested on December 1, 1937. He was accused of treason, industrial sabotage, contacts with the German government, and heading a Latvian counter-revolutionary terrorist organization. He was sentenced to death on July 28, 1938, and executed the next day. He was posthumously rehabilitated in March 1956.
Father, Ivan Martinovich Mezhlauk (John Mežlauks), Latvian; mother, Rosa Schiller, German. Wife, Charna Markovna Mezhlauk (Maers-Mikhailova) (1902–1941), was arrested following the arrest of her husband in 1937 and executed in 1941. Younger brother, Martin Ivanovich Mezhlauk (1895–1918), was a Commissar of Jurisprudence in Kazan; he was killed by the White Army during the Russian Civil War. The older brother, Ivan Ivanovich Mezhlauk (1891–1938), also a Soviet government official, was arrested on December 3, 1937, and executed on April 25, 1938. Another brother, Valentine Ivanovich Mezhlauk, committed suicide in 1938. The youngest brother, Cornelius Ivanovich Mezhlauk (1905–1952), in 1938 officially denounced his older brothers and survived as a state and party official in Kazakhstan; died in Moscow, buried at Novo-Devichye Cemetery.
- Davies, R.W. (1990). "Valeriy Ivanovich Mezhlauk". In Brown, Archie. The Soviet Union: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Macmillan. p. 249.
- Davies, R.W.; Ilič, M.J.; Jenkins, H.P.; Merridale, C.; Wheatcroft, S.G. (1989). Soviet Government Officials, 1922-41: A Handlist. Birmingham, England: Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham. pp. 340–341.
- Melnikova-Raich, Sonia (2011). "The Soviet Problem with Two 'Unknowns': How an American Architect and a Soviet Negotiator Jump-Started the Industrialization of Russia, Part II: Saul Bron". IA, The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology 37 (1/2): 10. ISSN 0160-1040. JSTOR 23757906.
- Davies, R.W. (1989). The Industrialization of Soviet Russia, Volume 3: The Soviet Economy in Turmoil, 1929-1930. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 167 (fn. 31), 555.
- Vatlin, A. Yu. (2006). Malashenko, Larisa, ed. Piggy Foxy and the Sword of Revolution: Bolshevik Self-portraits. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300108491. OCLC 65165425.
- Eremina, L. S.; Roginskii, A. B., eds. (2000). Rasstrel'nye spiski: Moskva, 1937–1941: "Kommunarka", Butovo: kniga pamiati zhertv politicheskikh repressii (in Russian). M: Memorial – Zven'ia. ISBN 9785787000443. OCLC 78216573.
- Vecvagars, Maris (2013). Antīkās filozofijas recepcija Latvijā. Riga, Latvia: Latvijas Universitāte. p. 34. Also Smykov, G. O. (1967). "Bratia Mezhlauki" [Brothers Mezhlauk]. Bortsy za schastie narodnoe. Kazan: Tatknigoizdat. pp. 314–324.