Schlichter's grandfather, originally from western Germany (Württemberg), settled in what is the present-day Poltava Oblast of Ukraine in 1818. Schlichter was ethnically one-quarter German and three-fourths Ukrainian.
Following studies at Kharkiv University, Schlichter joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1891. He was involved in the technical production of the illegal Bolshevik paper Proletary while it appeared in the Russian Empire (1904-1906).
After the Bolshevik seizure of power he succeeded Vladimir Milyutin as People's Commissar for Agriculture. He also was People's Commissar for Food of the R.S.F.S.R., Commissar Extraordinary for Food in Siberia. In 1919 he became People's Commissar for Food of the Ukraine.
- Lenin to Kornev 19 October, 1920 accessed 21 December 2008
- Class Struggles in the USSR by Charles Bettelheim.
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