Valery Ivanovich Mezhlauk (Russian: Валерий Иванович Межлаук; Latvian: Valērijs Mežlauks) (1893-1938) was a Ukrainian-born political activist, engineer, and economic planner in the Soviet Union during the decades of the 1920s and 1930s. Mezhlauk is best remembered as the Chairman of the State Planning Committee (Gosplan) from 1934 to 1937. Mezhlauk was arrested, interrogated, summarily tried, and executed as a so-called "enemy of the people" during the secret police terror of 1937-1938.
Valery Ivanovich Mezhlauk was born February 7, 1893 in Kharkov in the Kharkov Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine) in 1893, the son of an ethnic Latvian teacher and German mother. Mezhlauk attended Kharkov University, from which he graduated in 1917 with a degree in engineering and joined the Russian Communist Party (bolsheviks).
In August 1923 Mezhlauk 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 (Vesenkha), Soviet Russia's chief economic planning agency. Mezhlauk continued his stint at Vesenkha throughout most of the decade of the 1920s, gaining promotion to vice chair of the agency on July 14, 1928.
In Dearborn, Michigan, Mezhlauk negotiated the US$40m contract between the Ford Motor Company and Supreme Council of National Economy which was signed on 31 May 1929 for a Ford plant to be built in Nizhni Novgorod.
In 1929, amidst the industrialization drive of the First Five-Year Plan, Mezhlauk was named editor of the leading Soviet economics newspaper Torgova-promyshchlennaia gazeta (Commerce and Industry Newspaper), a periodical which changed its name at the first of 1930 to Za industrializatsiiu (For Industrialization). Mezhlauk would remain at this post until replaced by the publication's previous editor, V. S. Bogushevsky, on January 11, 1930. In the fall of 1929 Mezhlauk was additionally made a member of the Commission for Regulating Grain Freight as part of the regime's effort to establish mass collectivization of agriculture. He would remain a high functionary in the Soviet transport bureaucracy for more than a year.
On November 11, 1931, when Mezhlauk left Vesenkha to become the new 1st vice chair of the State Planning Agency (Gosplan), an institution which was emerging as the most powerful economic planning department in the Soviet bureaucratic labyrinth. He was promoted to the chairmanship of Gosplan sometime in 1934. He was also made a full member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union at this time and served as vice chair of the Council of Labor and Defense (STO).
Death and legacy
Mezhlauk was executed on July 29, 1938.
- R.W. Davies, "Valeriy Ivanovich Mezhlauk," in Archie Brown (ed.), The Soviet Union: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Macmillan, 1990; pg. 249.
- R.W. Davies, M.J. Ilič, H.P. Jenkins, C. Merridale, and S.G. Wheatcroft, Soviet Government Officials, 1922-41: A Handlist. Birmingham, England: Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham, 1989; pp. 340-341.
- R.W. Davies, The Industrialization of Soviet Russia, Volume 3: The Soviet Economy in Turmoil, 1929-1930. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989; pp. 167 (fn. 31), 555.