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Voznesensky, Nikolai Alexeyevich


(19031950), Soviet economic official who for many years was close to Stalin.

Born into a foreman's family near Tula on December 1, 1903, Nikolai Alexeyevich Voznesensky was appointed chief of Gosplan, the USSR State Planning Commission, in January 1938. He subsequently became first deputy prime minister, a member of Stalin's war cabinet, and a Politburo member, and until his arrest in March 1949 remained at the center of Soviet politics and economics.

Voznesensky advanced in the Soviet hierarchy because of his aptitude for economic administration, his undeviating loyalty to the party line, the patronage of Leningrad party chief Andrei Zhdanov, and good luck. He sponsored several measures designed to improve the economic outcome of the command system, including new monitoring systems to identify and manage the most acute shortages, the realignment of industrial prices with production costs, and detailed long-term plans. As a party loyalist he expertly rationalized each new turn in official thinking about the economic principles of socialism and capitalism. While many competent and loyal officials were repressed, Voznesensky benefited from Zhdanov's protection and had the good fortune to gain high office just as Stalin's purges were beginning to taper off.

Voznesensky's first task was to revive the Soviet economy, which had been stagnating since 1937. He was still trying when World War II broke out in 1941. The war exposed the inadequacy of prewar plans for a war economy, and for a while the planners lost control. While war production soared, the civilian sector neared collapse. The victory at Stalingrad in 1942 and Allied aid made it possible to restore economic balance in 1943 and 1944. Voznesensky was involved in every aspect of this story of failure and success.

By the end of the war Voznesensky had become one of Stalin's favorites. Stalin relied on his competence, frankness, and personal loyalty. The same attributes led Voznesensky to fall out with others, in particular Georgy Malenkov and Lavrenti Beria. The rivalry was personal; there is no serious evidence of differences between them on political or economic philosophy. After Zhdanov's death in September 1948, Voznesensky's good luck ran out. Malenkov and Beria were soon able to destroy Stalin's trust in him. He became ensnared in accusations relating to false economic reports and secret papers that ended in his dismissal, arrest, trial, and execution. Voznesensky was not the only prominent figure with connections to Zhdanov to disappear at this time in what was later known as the Leningrad affair.

See also: economic growth, soviet; leningrad affair; stalin, josef vissarionovich; zhdanov, andrei alexandrovich


Gorlizki, Yoram, and Khlevniuk, Oleg. (2004). Cold Peace: Stalin and the Soviet Ruling Circle, 19451953. New York: Oxford University Press.

Harrison, Mark. (1985). Soviet Planning in Peace and War, 19381945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sutela, Pekka. (1984). Socialism, Planning, and Optimality: A Study in Soviet Economic Thought. Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica.

Mark Harrison

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