Grigori Sokolnikov (1888-1939)
|People's Commissar for Finance of the USSR|
6 July 1923 – 16 January 1926
|Premier||Vladimir Lenin (until 1924)
|Preceded by||None—post created|
|Succeeded by||Nikolai Bryukhanov|
|People's Commissar for Finance of the RSFSR|
22 November 1922 – 6 July 1923
|Preceded by||Nikolay Krestinsky|
|Succeeded by||Myron K. Vladimirov|
|Full member of the 6th, 7th Bureau|
11 March – 25 March 1919
10 October 1917 – 29 July 1918
|Candidate member of the 13th Politburo|
2 June 1924 – 1 January 1926
15 August 1888|
Romny, Poltava Governorate, Russian Empire
|Died||21 May 1939
Verkhneuralsk, Tyumen Oblast, Soviet Union
|Political party||All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks)|
|Alma mater||Saint Petersburg State University|
Grigori Sokolnikov was born Girsh Yankelovich Brilliant (Гирш Я́нкелевич Бриллиа́нт) to a railway doctor in Romny on 15 August [O.S. 3 August] 1888. Sokolnikov was Jewish by birth. He moved to Moscow as a teenager and joined the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1905. He served time in prison and studied economics whilst at the Sorbonne.
Grigori Sokolnikov was a member of the legendary first Politburo, with seven members: Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Stalin, Sokolnikov and Bubnov. After the October Revolution, he held various government positions. He was a member of the delegation for peace negotiations with Germany (he replaced Leon Trotsky as chairman, and signed the Brest-Litovsk treaty in 1918). Later, alongside Rosalia Zemlyachka, he became commissar of the Eighth army, using this position to order mass shootings during the Russian Civil War. He was appointed People's Commissar of Finance following the introduction of the New Economic Policy and became a candidate member of the Politburo of the Communist Party in May 1924. According to Boris Bajanov, as minister of finance Sokolnikov proved himself to be a capable administrator, accomplishing every task he was asked to do, such as creating the first stable Soviet currency. Bajanov also notes that despite Sokolnikov's past in the Red Army, he was not ruthless in his personality. Privately, Sokolnikov lost faith in the Soviet Union under Stalin and later described the Soviet economy as "state capitalist". He was removed from his position in the Sovnarkom (Council of People's Commissars) and demoted from the Politburo after calling for Joseph Stalin's removal as General Secretary of the Communist Party at the Fourteenth Congress of the Bolsheviks in December 1925. Sokolnikov was appointed instead as vice-chairman of Gosplan, the new economic planning agency (an appointment that carried cruel irony since Sokolnikov himself was a bitter opponent of heavy-handed centralized planning) and later as head of an oil company. He was the Soviet ambassador to England from 1929 to 1932.
During the Great Purge, Sokolnikov was arrested in 1937 and tried at the Trial of the Seventeen. He was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. Reportedly, he was killed in a prison by other convicts on 21 May 1939. A post-Stalin investigation during the Khrushchev Thaw revealed that the murder was orchestrated by the NKVD. In 1988, during perestroika, he was rehabilitated along with many other victims of the Great Purge.
- Trotsky, L. 'A New Moscow Amalgam' in "Writings of Leon Trotsky (1936-37)", pg.120, Pathfinder, New York
- Dmitri Volkogonov, Lenin. A New Biography, translated and edited by Harold Shukman (New York: The Free Press, 1994), p. 185.
- Boris Bajanov, Bajanov révèle Staline, Gallimard, 1979
- Soviet Policy in Public Finance, 1917–1928, by Gregory Y. Sokolnikov & Associates; translated by Elena Varneck, edited by Lincoln Hutchinson & Carl C. Plehn. Stanford University Press. 1931.
- Grigory Sokolnikov Archive, part of Marxists Internet Archive.
- Grigorii Yakovlevich Sokolnikov and the development of the Soviet state, 1921–1929
|People's Commissar for Finance