Lev Kamenev Biography

(Revolutionary, Political Leader)

Birthday: July 18, 1883 (Cancer)

Born In: Moscow, Russia

Lev Kamenev was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a prominent Soviet politician who was one of the seven members of the first Politburo alongside Vladimir Lenin, Grigory Zinoviev, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Grigori Sokolnikov, and Andrei Bubnov. He worked as an associate of Lenin during the latter's exile in Europe and helped him in editing the Bolshevik magazine 'Proletariy', but later opposed his armed revolution against the Russian Provisional Government. In 1917, he briefly served as the Chairman of the permanent All-Russian Central Executive Committee, a position equivalent to the head of state of Soviet Russia. He was also the acting Premier during the last year of Lenin's life in 1923-24. He had formed the 'triumvirate' or 'troika' with Zinoviev and Stalin to marginalize his brother-in-law Trotsky during Lenin's illness, but later opposed Stalin, which eventually led to his execution during the Great Purges.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Lev Borisovich Kamenev

Died At Age: 53


Spouse/Ex-: Tatiana Glebova (m. 1928), Olga Kameneva (m. ?–1927)

children: Alexander L. Kamenev, Vladimir Glebov, Yuri Kamenev

Born Country: Russia

Revolutionaries Political Leaders

Died on: August 24, 1936

Cause of Death: Execution

More Facts

education: Moscow State University

Childhood & Early Life
Lev Kamenev was born as Lev Borisovich Rosenfeld on July 18, 1883, in Moscow, Russia, to a Jewish railway worker and a Russian Orthodox housewife, who were both involved in the 1870s radical student movement. While attending the boys' Gymnasium in Tiflis, Georgia, he participated in radical politics, which initially barred him from studying law at Moscow University until an appeal to the Minister of Education was made.
Joining the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) in 1901, he encouraged students to join workers in fighting for democracy, and took part in the February 1902 demonstrations against Nicholas II. One month later, he was arrested and imprisoned in Butyrki for participating in another demonstration, and was not allowed to continue his university education upon release.
He adopted the surname Kamenev (meaning 'stone') and began working as a professional revolutionary in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Tiflis. During this period, he got acquainted with fellow Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky and married his sister, Olga Bronstein.
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Early Career
In 1902, Lev Kamenev moved to Paris where he met with exiled Russian social democratic leader Vladimir Lenin and the group that published the Russian militant journal 'Iskra'. He became an associate of Lenin and in 1903, joined his Bolsheviks faction following the latter's disagreements with Julius Martov, leader of the Mensheviks.
He went to London in March 1905 to join the 3rd RSDLP Party Congress and subsequently returned to Russia to participate in the Russian Revolution in Saint Petersburg in October-December that year. He returned to London two years later to attend the 5th RSDLP Party Congress, where he was elected to the party's Central Committee and the Bolshevik Center.
Returning to Tiflis, he organized a strike on the Transcaucasian Railway for which he was arrested by the Okhrana but continued to write for Bolshevik newspapers from police custody. Upon release, he moved to Geneva in December 1908 to help Lenin in editing the Bolshevik magazine 'Proletariy', and along with Grigory Zinoviev, became his assistant following Lenin's disagreements with senior Bolshevik leader Alexander Bogdanov.
After an attempt at reuniting the party in January 1910, he was made a representative of the Bolsheviks to editorial board of the party newspaper 'Pravda', but he resigned in August amidst mutual accusations. In 1911, he briefly taught in the Longjumeau Party school near Paris and wrote the book 'The Two Parties', about the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.
He was sent to St. Petersburg in January 1914 to direct the Bolshevik delegates to the Duma, but was arrested for high treason in November. At his trial, he denied supporting Lenin's opposition of Russia’s participation in World War 2, but was exiled in Siberia in early 1915.
Kamenev, who was freed during the 1917 February Revolution, came to Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) with Joseph Stalin, and took over the revived Bolshevik 'Pravda'. He supported the Russian Provisional Government in March and strongly argued against Lenin’s anti-government April Theses, and with Zinoviev, voted against the armed uprising of October 1917.
He was elected Chairman of the permanent All-Russian Central Executive Committee at the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, and in November, entered negotiations with railroad labor union about dropping Lenin and Trotsky from the government. When the Committee abandoned the negotiations despite initial support, he resigned from his post like several other committee members.
In 1918, Lenin sent him to England and France representing the Soviet government, but his authority was not recognized and he was arrested in Finland, which traded him for captured Finns. Back in Moscow, he became chairman of the Moscow Soviet and was elected as a full member of the first Politburo in March 1919.
Kamenev, who had two sons with his first wife Olga, became involved in an affair with British sculptress Clare Sheridan during his visit to London with a Soviet Trade Delegation in 1920. After his first marriage ended in divorce in 1928, he married Tatiana Glebova and had another son with her.
Later Life & Execution
Lev Kamenev became Deputy Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars and the Council of Labor and Defense in 1922, and was appointed acting chairman of Council of People's Commissars and Politburo during Lenin's illness. His relationship with his brother-in-law Trotsky suffered as he sided with Zinoviev and Stalin in forming the 'triumvirate', which began criticizing Trotskyism for political advantage.
The triumvirate collapsed in April 1925 after Stalin pretended to play moderate, and subsequently formed an alliance with Communist Party theoretician and Pravda editor Nikolai Bukharin and Soviet prime minister Alexei Rykov.
Kamenev and Zinoviev formed the New Opposition with Lenin's widow Nadezhda Krupskaya and Grigori Sokolnikov, the People's Commissar for Finance, but Kamenev was demoted from the Politburo after trying to remove Stalin.
In early 1926, the New Opposition included supporters of Trotsky to form the United Opposition, but the faction was defeated at the XVth Party Conference, following which Kamenev lost his Politburo seat. He was evicted from the Central Committee in October 1927 for his continued opposition to Stalin and was eventually expelled from the Communist Party after Zinoviev and Trotsky.
As opposed to Trotsky, who was exiled for his firm opposition, Kamenev and Zinoviev acknowledged their mistakes in an open letter and were readmitted to the Communist Party six months later. However, they were expelled again in October 1932 for involvements in the Ryutin Affair, which was the final attempt to oppose Stalin within the party.
While they were readmitted to the party over a year later only to be demoralized at the XVIIth Party Congress in January 1934, they were expelled and arrested in December during Stalin's Great Purges. Kamenev was implicated in politician Sergei Kirov's assassination and sentenced to five years in prison, and was separately awarded 10-year prison-time in connection with the Kremlin Case.
Kamenev, Zinoviev, and 14 others were soon labeled as terrorists at a Moscow Show Trial, and Kamenev was executed by firing squad on August 25, 1936. He and the other co-defendants were formally cleared of all charges by the Soviet government during 'perestroika' ('restructuring') in 1988.
Lev Kamenev's two older sons were executed in 1938 and 1939, followed by his first wife's execution in 1941. However, his youngest son with his second wife, Vladimir Glebov, lived until 1994 despite going through Stalin's prisons and labor camps.

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