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Joffe, Adolph Abramovich


JOFFE, ADOLPH ABRAMOVICH (1883–1927), Russian revolutionary and diplomat. Born in Simferopol to a very rich merchant, he studied medicine at the universities of Berlin and Vienna. Joffe joined the Mensheviks in 1903, lived abroad, and was a member of the committee of the rsdrp (Russian Social Democratic Workars Party.) In 1908, after meeting *Trotsky, by whom he was greatly impressed, he became coeditor and contributor to the Bolshevik periodical Pravda in Vienna. He organized the smuggling of Pravda into Russia and was arrested while trying to get into Russia, and imprisoned by the Czarist authorities in 1912. Joffe was released by the Kerensky government following the February revolution of 1917 and in July of that year joined the Bolsheviks, and was elected a member of the Central Committee of the party. After the October revolution, he led the Soviet delegation to the peace talks with Germany at Brest-Litovsk, but as he was in favor of continuing the war he was replaced by Trotsky, but remained there as adviser. He was made ambassador to Germany in the following year. In 1920 he headed the Russian delegation at the peace talks with Poland and the Baltic republics, and subsequently was Soviet ambassador to Peking (Beijing) (1922–23), Vienna (1923–24), and Tokyo (1924–25). In the years 1925–27 he was one of the leaders of the left (Trotskyist) opposition. As a supporter of Trotsky, Joffe was not favored by *Stalin when the latter came to power, and he was relegated to professor at the Oriental Institute at Moscow. After Trotsky's expulsion from the Communist Party, Joffe committed suicide. A letter he left for Trotsky giving the reason for his suicide was considered an important document in the history of the Soviet Union.

His wife, maria joffe, was a member of the Bolshevik party from 1917 and worked as a journalist and editor in the Soviet press. In a meeting in 1929 she protested against the expulsion of Trotsky and the attacks on him in the press. She was arrested in the same year and spent 28 years in camps and exile. From 1975 she lived in Israel, where she published her memoirs (1977).


L. Trotsky, My Life (1930), passim; The Last Words of Adolf Joffe, a Letter to Leon Trotsky, tr. by Max Eastman (1950).

[Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]

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