Peljidiin Genden

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Peljidiin Genden
Пэлжидийн Гэндэн
7th First Secretary of the Central Committee of the People's Revolutionary Party of Mongolia
In office
13 March 1930 – 13 March 1931
Preceded byBat-Ochiryn Eldev-Ochir
Succeeded byZolbingiin Shijee
2nd Chairman of the Presidium of the State Little Khural
In office
29 November 1924 – 15 November 1927
General SecretaryTseren-Ochiryn Dambadorj
Preceded byNavaandorjiin Jadambaa
Succeeded byJamtsangiin Damdinsüren
9th Prime Minister of Mongolia
In office
2 July 1932 – 22 March 1936
General SecretaryBat-Ochiryn Eldev-Ochir
Jambyn Lkhümbe
Dorjjavyn Luvsansharav
Khas-Ochiryn Luvsandorj
Preceded byTsengeltiin Jigjidjav
Succeeded byAnandyn Amar
Personal details
Born1892 or 1895
Khujirt, Övörkhangai, Outer Mongolia,
DiedNovember 26, 1937
Moscow, Russian SFSR, USSR

Peljidiin Genden (Mongolian: Пэлжидийн Гэндэн; 1892 or 1895 – November 26, 1937) was a prominent political leader of the Mongolian People's Republic who served as the country's second President (1924 to 1927) and the ninth Prime Minister (1932–1936). As one of three MPRP secretaries, Genden was responsible for pushing rapid and forced implementation of socialist economic policies in early 1930s. In 1932 he secured Joseph Stalin's backing to become Prime Minister, but then increasingly resisted pressure from Moscow to liquidate institutional Buddhism and permit increased Soviet influence in Mongolia. His independent temperament, outspokenness (he became famous for fearlessly confronting Stalin during their public meetings in Moscow and was one of the few to stand up to Stalin's strong personality), and growing nationalist sentiments ultimately led to his Soviet-orchestrated purge in March 1936. Accused of conspiring against the revolution and spying for the Japanese, he was executed in Moscow on November 26, 1937.

Early life and career[edit]

Peljidiin Genden was born in present-day Khujirt district of Övörkhangai Province in either 1892 or 1895 (sources differ).[1] In 1922 he joined the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League (MRYL) and a year later he was appointed acting head of his local cell. He attended the first session of the Mongolian Great Khural in Ulaanbaatar in November 1924 as a delegate from Övörkhangai. There, Prime Minister Balingiin Tserendorj took notice of his outspokenness and based on his recommendation Genden was elected chairman of the Presidium of the State Small Khural or Baga Khural, the small assembly that controlled day-to-day matters of state. This made him the effective head of state of Mongolia, a position he would hold from November 29, 1924 to November 15, 1927, and served concurrently as the Chairman of the Central Bureau of Mongolia's Trade Unions.

Leftist Deviation[edit]

Genden served as one of three secretaries of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party's Central Committee from December 11, 1928 to June 30, 1932. Together with fellow secretaries Ölziin Badrakh and Bat-Ochiryn Eldev-Ochir (and later Zolbingiin Shijee) Genden pushed for rapid and forced implementation of socialist economic policies such as compulsory collectivization, the abolition of private enterprises and the closure of monasteries and the confiscation of church property.[2] The policy proved disastrous as traditional herders were forced off the steppe and into badly managed collective farms, destroying one third of Mongolian livestock.[3] Over 800 properties belonging to the nobility and the Buddhist church were confiscated and over 700 head of mostly noble households were executed.[4] As a result, open revolt broke out in several provinces between 1930 and 1932. In response, Moscow ordered the suspension of what it termed the "Leftist Deviation" policies of the Mongolian government and in May 1932 several party leaders (including Badrah, Shijee, and Prime Minister Tsengeltiin Jigjidjav) were purged for trying to implement socialist measures "prematurely".

Prime Minister[edit]

Genden deftly survived the purge by meeting with Joseph Stalin in 1932 and securing his favor.[5] Moscow then had Genden appointed prime minister (chairman of the Assembly of People's Commissaries) on July 2, 1932, replacing the purged Jigjidjav. Genden was charged overseeing execution of "New Turn" or "New Reform" policy, a relaxation of communist economic principles closely modeled on Vladimir Lenin's New Economic Policy in the USSR. Under the new policy, taxes were reduced, private enterprise grew, and religious institutions were left generally unmolested. Genden's popularity increased as the general economic situation improved and shortages were reduced. For the first time since the revolution the government was in a more dominant position vis-à-vis the MPRP.[5]

The Lkhümbe Affair[edit]

In 1933 a personal feud between two party functionaries led to trumped up accusations of widespread conspiring within the party with Japanese spies, especially among Buryats. Several of those arrested and interrogated by Soviet agents in Ulaanbaatar fingered Jambyn Lkhümbe, then secretary of the MPRP Central Committee, as their leader. Genden, party leader Eldev-Ochir, and Security Directorate Chief D. Namsrai backed the subsequent investigation that saw several hundred innocent persons, including Lkhümbe, arrested. 56 were eventually executed (including pregnant women), 260 were jailed for three to ten years and 126 were sent to the USSR. The vast majority of those persecuted were Buryats.[6] Public opinion at the time held that Genden and D. Namsrai, head of the Internal Affairs Committee, had initiated the affair to purge political enemies, but there is evidence that the affair was driven in large part by Soviet agents looking to weaken the Buryat population in Mongolia.[7]

Resisting Stalin[edit]

Ties between Stalin and Genden began to fray as early as 1934 when, at a meeting with Genden in Moscow, Stalin pressured him to destroy Mongolia's Buddhist clergies by exterminating more than 100,000 of the country's lamas,[8] which Stalin called "the enemies within". Genden, a deeply religious man who once said "On earth there are two great geniuses – Buddha and Lenin," had openly declared his desire in 1933 "not to fight against religion" and allowed lamas to practice their faith openly in defiance of Stalin's instructions.[9]

Weary of growing Soviet domination in Mongolia, Genden worked to postpone both a 1934 bilateral Gentlemen's Agreement in which the USSR promised the Soviet protection of Mongolia in the event of an invasion as well as the 1936 "Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation" that allowed Soviet troops to be stationed in Mongolia. Genden's hoped to stave off Soviet domination by exploiting USSR-Japanese tensions to Mongolia's benefit, but the policy would later backfire as accusations in 1936 that he was working with the Japanese would lead to his downfall.[10] Genden likewise hesitated on Stalin's recommendations that he elevate Mongolia's internal affairs committee to a fully independent ministry and that he increase the size of Mongolia's military.

In December 1935, Genden was called back to Moscow where Stalin again rebuked him for failing to act on his guidance. Later, a heavily intoxicated Genden publicly scolded Stalin at a Mongolian Embassy reception, shouting "You bloody Georgian, you have become a virtual Russian Czar". Genden then allegedly snatched Stalin's pipe and smashed it, while hinting that Mongolia was considering an alliance with Japan.[11]


Upon Genden's return to Mongolia, Khorloogiin Choibalsan, acting under Stalin's orders, organized the second plenary meeting of Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party in March 1936 in Ulaanbaatar to remove him from office irreversibly. Party members led by Dorjjavyn Luvsansharav heavily criticized Genden for his actions in Moscow and accused him of sabotaging Mongol-Soviet relations. He was subsequently removed from his offices of the prime minister and the foreign minister and placed under house arrest. Anandyn Amar was appointed as the prime minister for the second time in his place. With the purge of Genden, Choibalsan became Stalin's new favorite in Ulaanbaatar and was named head of the new Internal Affairs Ministry, becoming de facto the most powerful person in Mongolia.[12]


Genden was "invited" to the USSR, ostensibly for medical treatment, in April 1936. He then spent a whole year at the Black Sea resort town of Foros. In summer 1937, he was arrested as part of Stalin's Great Purge [13] and under interrogation admitted to conspiring with "lamaist reactionaries" and "Japanese spies" [14] He was executed in Moscow on November 26, 1937 by the order of Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR for 'his attempt to political coup and being a spy of Japan'.[15]


Genden was declared a non-person. He was rehabilitated by the order of Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR in 1956.[16] However, his history remained obscured until the country's democratic revolution in 1990.

His daughter Tserendulam opened the "Memorial Museum for Victims of Political Repression" in his house in 1993. It offers information on the victims of the political prosecutions, which according to some estimates affected up to 14% of the population.


  1. ^ Sanders, Alan J. K. (1996). Historical Dictionary of Mongolia. Scarecrow Press. p. 76. ISBN 0810844346.
  2. ^ Sanders, Alan J. K. (1996). Historical Dictionary of Mongolia. Scarecrow Press. p. 117. ISBN 0810844346.
  3. ^ Palmer, James (2008). The Bloody White Baron. London: Faber and Faber. p. 235. ISBN 0-571-23023-7.
  4. ^ Becker, Jasper (1992). Lost Country, Mongolia Revealed. London: Hodder and Stoughton. p. 123. ISBN 0-340-55665-X.
  5. ^ a b Baabar, B. (1999). History of Mongolia. Monsudar Pub. p. 325. ISBN 9992900385.
  6. ^ Baabar, B., History of Mongolia, 1999, ISBN 978-99929-0-038-3, OCLC 515691746. p. 329
  7. ^ Baabar, B., History of Mongolia, 1999, ISBN 978-99929-0-038-3, OCLC 515691746. p. 332
  8. ^ Baabar, B., History of Mongolia, 1999, ISBN 978-99929-0-038-3, OCLC 515691746. p. 345
  9. ^ Baabar, B., History of Mongolia, 1999, ISBN 978-99929-0-038-3, OCLC 515691746. p. 322
  10. ^ Baabar, B., History of Mongolia, 1999, ISBN 978-99929-0-038-3, OCLC 515691746. p. 349
  11. ^ Baabar, B., History of Mongolia, 1999, ISBN 978-99929-0-038-3, OCLC 515691746. p. 348
  12. ^ Sanders, Alan J. K., Historical Dictionary of Mongolia, 1996, ISBN 0-8108-3077-9.
  13. ^ Atwood, Christopher (2004). Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire. New York: Facts on File. p. 196. ISBN 0-8160-4671-9.
  14. ^ Brown, William A. and Onon, Urgunge (translators), History of the Mongolian People's Republic, 1976, ISBN 0-674-39862-9. p 813, n94.
  15. ^ Display in Genden's office room, Memorial Museum for Victims of Political Repression, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
  16. ^ Display in Genden's office room, the Museum for Victims of Political Repression, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bat-Ochiryn Eldev-Ochir
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Mongolian People's Party
13 March 1930 - 13 March 1931
Succeeded by
Zolbingiin Shijee
Political offices
Preceded by
Navaandorjiin Jadambaa
Head of state of Mongolia
November 29, 1924 - November 15, 1927
Succeeded by
Jamtsangiin Damdinsüren
Preceded by
Tsengeltiin Jigjidjav
Prime Minister of Mongolia
July 2, 1932 - March 2, 1936
Succeeded by
Anandyn Amar