Ordzhonikidze, Grigory Konstantinovich

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(18861937), leading Bolshevik who participated in bringing Ukraine and the Caucasus under Soviet rule and directed industry during the early five-year plans.

Grigory Konstantinovich ("Sergo") Ordzhonikidze was born in Goresha, Georgia, to an impoverished gentry family. In 1903, while training as a medical assistant, he joined the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, and in 1906 met Josef Stalin, with whom he formed a close, lifelong association. After a time in prison and exile, Ordzhonikidze traveled to Paris where in 1911 he met Vladimir Lenin and studied in the party school. In January the following year, Ordzhonikidze became a member of the Bolshevik Central Committee and organizer of its Russian Bureau. Returning to Russia, he was again arrested in April 1912 and spent the next five years in prison and then Siberian exile. During 1917 Ordzhonikidze was a member of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet. After the Bolshevik takeover, he participated in the civil war in Ukraine and southern Russia and played a leading role in extending Soviet power over Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia. A close ally of Stalin, Ordzhonikidze was promoted to the Central Committee of the Communist Party in 1921. He remained in charge of the Transcaucasian regional Party organization until 1926, when he became a Politburo candidate member, chairman of the Party's Central Control Commission and commissar of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate (Rabkrin). During the First Five-Year Plan, Ordzhonikidze organized the drive for mass industrialization. In 1930 he was promoted to full Politburo membership and in 1932 was appointed commissar for heavy industry. During the mid-1930s, Ordzhonikidze sought to use his proximity to Stalin to temper the Soviet leader's increasing use of repression against party and economic officials. Although Ordzhonikidze's sudden death in early 1937 was officially attributed to a heart attack, it is more likely that, in an act of desperate protest at the impending terror, he committed suicide.

See also: bolshevism; industrialization, soviet; stalin, josef vissarionovich


Haupt, Georges, and Marie, JeanJacques, eds. (1974). Makers of the Russian Revolution. London: Allen and Unwin.

Khlevniuk, Oleg V. (1995). In Stalin's Shadow: The Career of "Sergo" Ordzhonikidze. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

Nick Baron