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Sergo Konstantinovich Ordzhonikidze (Georgian: სერგო კონსტანტინეს ძე ორჯონიკიძე, translit. Sergo Konstantines dze Orjonikidze; Russian: Серго Константинович Орджоникидзе, romanizedSergo Konstantinovich Ordzhonikidze), born Grigol (Georgian: გრიგოლ; 24 October [O.S. 12 October] 1886 – 18 February 1937), was a Georgian Bolshevik.

Sergo Ordzhonikidze
სერგო კონსტანტინეს ძე ორჯონიკიძე (Georgian)
Серго Константинович Орджоникидзе (Russian)
Sergo Orjonikidze.jpg
Ordzhonikidze in 1926.
People's Commissar of Heavy Industry
In office
5 January 1932 – 25 February 1937
Preceded byPosition established
(himself as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy)
Succeeded byValery Mezhlauk
Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy
In office
10 November 1930 – 5 January 1932
Preceded byValerian Kuybyshev
Succeeded byPosition abolished
(himself as People's Commissar of Heavy Industry)
People's Commissar of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate
In office
5 November 1926 – 10 November 1930
Preceded byValerian Kuybyshev
Succeeded byAndrey Andreyev
Full member of the 16th, 17th Politburo
In office
21 December 1930 – 18 February 1937
Candidate member of the 14th Politburo
In office
23 July 1926 – 3 November 1926
Personal details
Grigol Konstantines dze Ordzhonikidze

24 October [O.S. 12 October] 1886
Ghoresha, Kutais Governorate, Russian Empire
Died18 February 1937(1937-02-18) (aged 50)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union

Born and raised in Georgia, Ordzhonikidze joined the Bolsheviks at a young age, and quickly rose within the ranks to become an important figure. Arrested and imprisoned multiple times by the Russian police, he was in Siberian exile when the February Revolution began in 1917. Returning from exile Ordzhonikidze helped with the October Revolution that brought the Bolsheviks to power. During the subsequent Civil War he took an active role, and was the leading Bolshevik in the Caucasus, leading the invasions of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia. Ordzhonikidze oversaw their union into the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, which helped form the Soviet Union in 1922, and served as the First Secretary until 1926.

Promoted to lead the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate (Rabkrin), Ordzhonikidze moved to Moscow and joined the inner circle of top Bolsheviks. Tasked with overseeing Soviet economic production, Ordzhonikidze led a massive overhaul of Rabkrin and its associated bodies, noting inefficiencies of the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy (Vesenkha). In 1930 Ordzhonikidze was transferred to lead Vesenkha, which was re-formed as the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry (NKTP) in 1932. While there Ordzhonikidze oversaw the implementation of the five-year plans for economic development, and helped create the Stakhanovite movement of model Soviet workers. At the same time he was named to the Politburo, the leading political body in the Soviet Union

Devoted to the workers within his fields, Ordzhonikidze was reluctant to take part in the campaigns against wreckers and saboteurs that began in the early 1930s, which caused friction between him and Joseph Stalin. Realizing the need to have experienced people in their fields, Ordzhonikidze refused to purge older workers, or disassociate himself from individuals deemed anti-Bolshevik. This further ruined his relationship with Stalin, and on the eve of a 1937 meeting where he was expected to denounce workers, Ordzhonikidze shot himself at his home. He was subsequently honoured as a leading Bolshevik, and several towns and cities were named after him.


Early lifeEdit


The house where Ordjonikidze was born in Ghoresha, Georgia.

Ordzhonikidze was born in 1886 in Ghoresha, a village in the Kutais Governorate of the Russian Empire (now in the Imereti region of Georgia.[1] Named Grigol after his maternal grandfather, he was the second child, after brother Papulia (born 1882) of Konstantine Ordzhonikidze and Eupraxia Tavarashvili. Konstantine was part of a small, impoverished Georgian noble family, while Eupraxia was a peasant.[2] Six weeks after Ordzhonikidze's birth his mother died from an illness. Konstantine worked the family farm growing corn, but this was not enough to live on so began to work in Chiatura, a mining community, and drove manganese to Zestaponi, where it was refined.[1]

Unable to take care of his son, Konstantine sent him to live with relatives, David and Eka Ordzhonikidze, who also lived in Ghoresha. Konstantine would later marry Despine Gamtsemlidze and have three more children: Ivan (1889), Yulia (1980), and Konstantine (1896). Ordzhonikidze grew up with David and Eka, but as they lived close to his father, he would frequently visit, though Konstantine died when Ordzhonikidze was 10 years old, leaving him to his aunt and uncle.[3] He completed school and had medical training to become an orderly, and worked briefly as a medical assistant.[4]


Ordzhonikidze joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) in 1903 when he was 17, and worked for them in an underground printshop distributing leaflets. By 1905 he was given more dangerous assignments, and was arrested for the first time in December 1905 for transporting arms, spending several months in prison. Granted bail, he briefly fled to Germany to avoid trial, though soon returned to work in Baku.[5] There he helped organise the 1907 May Day parade, and was arrested again.[6] He may also have been involved in the assassination of Ilia Chavchavadze on 12 September 1907, but there is no conclusive evidence.[7] While imprisoned Ordzhonikidze shared a cell with a fellow Georgian revolutionary, Ioseb Jughashvili, who would later adopt the name Joseph Stalin. The two became close friends, and spent their time playing backgammon and discussing politics.[8] After his fourth arrest, in November 1907, Ordzhonikidze was exiled to Siberia, though he fled after several months and came back to work in Baku. He was then re-assigned to Persia to help with the revolutionary movement in 1910.[5] However the Bolsheviks were not able to gain sufficient support in Persia, and so Ordzhonikidze returned.[9]

In 1911 Ordzhonikidze traveled to Paris where he met Vladimir Lenin. He then attended classes at the Longjumeau Party School, set up to train Bolsheviks, though left after a short time due to party in-fighting.[5] He was sent back to Russia to help prepare the Sixth RSDLP Conference, which was held in Prague, Austria-Hungary in January 1912.[10] At this meeting the Bolsheviks, the majority faction of the RSDLP and led by Lenin, confirmed themselves to be a distinct party; while they had nominally split from the RSDLP back in 1903 they formally remained part of it.[11] Ordzhonikidze was elected to the Central Committee, and sent back to Russia to inform other Bolsheviks of the results of the Conference. He also visited Stalin, exiled in Vologda, and the two of them traveled back to the Caucasus, and then to Saint Petersburg, where Ordzhonikidze was arrested once again in April 1912.[12]

Recognised by the authorities as a revolutionary, Ordzhonikidze was sentenced to three years at Schlüsselburg prison.[12] Late in 1915 he was sentenced to permanent exile in Yakutsk in eastern Siberia.[13] In September 1916, while exiled in Yakutsk, Ordzhonikdze met his wife Zinaida.[14] They were married in 1917, and would adopt a daughter, Eteri (born 1923).[15][16] In exile Ordzhonikidze mainly spent his time reading; his favourites were Georgian classics as well as authors like Jack London, Lord Byron, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. He also was interested in statistics relating to the Russian economy, especially relating to the production of food and agriculture, as well as the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.[17]

Ordzhonikidze was still in Yakutsk when news of the February Revolution reached him. He quickly left for Petrograd (as Saint Petersburg had been named since 1914), reaching there by the end of May. Once in the city Ordzhonikidze took on an active role in the revolution: historian Oleg Khlevniuk has noted that "he joined the Petrograd Bolshevik Committee, often addressed rallies, and carried out party work at the city’s largest factories." In doing this Ordzhonikidze became closely associated with both Lenin and Stalin. He briefly returned to Georgia for a visit, but was back in Petrograd by October, and was there for the October Revolution when the Bolsheviks seized power.[18]

Russian Civil WarEdit

North CaucasusEdit

The outbreak of the Russian Civil War in 1917 saw Ordzhonikidze appointed as the Bolsheviks Commissar of Ukraine, South Russia, and the North Caucasus. In this role he saw action at the Battle of Tsaritsyn and the Western Front in Ukraine, but it was primarily in the Caucasus that he was most active. He was sent to the region in July 1918 to Vladikavkaz in the North Caucasus, but the city was occupied by Cossacks in August so Ordzhonikidze and other Bolsheviks fled to the mountains.[19] Attempts to convince Cossack soldiers to abandon their officers and join the Bolsheviks failed,[20] so Ordzhonikidze met with the local Chechen and Ingush population to join, arguing that the soviet (council) system was not unlike that used by the Chechens.[21] This was successful, and with Ingush help re-conquered Vladikavkaz in mid-August.[19]

By late 1918 Ordzhonikidze effectively controlled every Bolshevik organ within the North Caucasus and surrounding region: "the Crimea, Don, Kuban, Terek, Dagestan Oblasts, Stavropol, and Black Sea Gubernias, and the Black Sea Fleet," as historian Stephen Blank has noted, was subordinate to Ordzhonikidze.[22] He earned a reputation as a brutal leader, and would order the arrest or execution of many opponents associated with the Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries, or any other group fighting the Bolsheviks.[19]

To help co-ordinate control over the region, the Central Committee in Petrograd authorised the formation of the Caucasian Bureau (Kavbiuro) on 8 April 1920. It was tasked with establishing Bolshevik rule over the Caucasus (both the North, which was nominally under Bolshevik control, and the South Caucasus, which were the independent states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia), and assist other revolutionary movements in the region. Ordzhonikidze was named the chairman of the Kavbiuro, while Sergei Kirov was made vice-chairman.[23] He was also given a position on the Revolutionary Military Council of the Caucasian Front and named Chairman of the North Caucasus Revolutionary Committee.[24]

South CaucasusEdit

Orjonikidze's telegram to Lenin and Stalin: "The Red Flag of Soviet power flies over Tiflis..." This marked the consolidation of Bolshevik control in the South Caucasus.

In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the South Caucasus had broken away from Russia, and by mid-1918 was three independent states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.[25] Bolshevik activity in the region was limited, with only the city of Baku being controlled by them at that point.[26] With vast deposits of oil in the region around Baku, it was of vital importance to the Bolsheviks that they control the region and have a domestic supply of oil.[27] After consolidating control in the North Caucasus, Lenin issued an order on 17 March 1920 to Ordzhonikidze to prepare for an invasion of Azerbaijan.[28]

Using the pretext of a local Bolshevik uprising in Azerbaijan, Ordzhonikidze had the Eleventh Army invade on 27 April 1920; with most of the Azerbaijani army fighting Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh, Baku was occupied by the Bolsheviks by 11.00 that night.[29][30] The ease at which Azerbaijan was occupied emboldened Ordzhonikidze, and he began making preparations to launch similar invasions of Armenia and Georgia, and supported a failed coup attempt in Georgia on 2–3 May.[31] However it was not until 27 November that he was given approval from both Lenin and Stalin to prepare for the Eleventh Army to invade Armenia.[32] This was launched the next day, and with Armenia already defeated from earlier regional conflicts was unable to put up any resistance and surrendered on 2 December.[33]

There was serious discussion among the Bolshevik leadership on how to best approach Georgia, the remaining state outside of their control. While Ordzhonikidze wanted to repeat his earlier actions and invade, he was opposed by the Central Committee; Lenin in particular favoured a peaceful approach, noting the considerable strength of the Mensheviks within Georgia and the Bolsheviks weak position.[34] By early February 1921 Lenin had relented somewhat, and consented to Ordzhonikidze leading the Eleventh Army into Georgia, ostensibly to support a local Bolshevik uprising.[35] Concerned about gaining support of the Georgian populace, Lenin sent Ordzhonikidze a telegram outlining a policy to be implemented, which included seeking a compromise with the Menshevik leadership.[36] The invasion of Georgia began on 15 February.[37] The Georgians put up a strong fight, but were unable to stop the Bolsheviks, and on 25 February they occupied Tiflis. Ordzhonikidze sent a telegram to Lenin and Stalin the news, stating "The proletarian flag flies over Tiflis!"[38]

Georgian AffairEdit

After the occupation of the South Caucasus, Ordzhonikidze took an active role in establishing Bolshevik authority, with Georgia in particular requiring considerable work.[39][40] As the head of the Kavburo Ordzhonikdze was the nominal leader of the Bolsheviks in Georgia, but had to work with the local leadership, which was split between Filipp Makharadze and Budu Mdivani.[41] Makharadze was well-respected in Georgia owing to his years of service as an organizer and theorist and , while Mdviani was a strong proponent of Georgian national sentiment.[42] This led to a clash between the two parties, especially as Ordzhonikidze would ignore the advice of the Georgians, who were familiar with the situation within the country.[43]

Ordzhonikidze and Stalin, both natives of Georgia, were concerned about the nationalism displayed by the Georgian Mensheviks, who were initially allowed to work with the Bolsheviks. They saw Georgian nationalism as a serious threat as Great Russian chauvinism, in that both variants dominated over ethnic minorities within their regions (Georgia over the Abkhazians and Ossetians, Russia over several different ethnic groups).[44] They wanted to bring Georgia into a union with the Russian Soviet Republic as soon as possible to eliminate any nationalist tendencies. However Lenin was also concerned about moving too quickly: independent Georgia had started to gain support in Europe, and with the weak position of the Bolsheviks there, the possibility of an uprising or civil war was a serious threat.[45]

Not wanting to allow this dispute to become public, the Central Committee largely stood behind Ordzhonikidze and allowed him to implement policies as he saw fit.[46] This involved uniting the three states of the South Caucasus into one federation, which he argued was the best option both militarily and economically, especially as it would make union with Russia simpler.[44] This saw the merging throughout Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia of the railways, post and telegraph, and foreign trade in April 1921.[47] Further economic ties, notably the removal of customs barriers, were made throughout May and June, causing resentment among the Georgian Bolsheviks.[48]

Tensions remained high until November, when the Kavburo announced that the three states would be united into the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic.[47] This caused an uproar among the Georgians, who protested such a move was premature; their arguments delayed the formation of the federation until March 1922.[49] This dispute, which later became known as the Georgian Affair, also delayed the creation of the Soviet Union, which was not proclaimed until December 1922.[50] From its formation until 1926, Ordzhonikidze would serve as the First Secretary of the Transcaucasus Federation.[51]


Sergo Ordzhonikidze (right) at the 14th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party in 1925

In 1926 Ordzhonikidze was named the head of the Central Control Commission and of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate, known by its Russian acronym of Rabkrin. Though initially reluctant to take up the positions, which meant a move to Moscow, he was forced to by Stalin, who told Ordzhonikidze to either accept the post or become First Secretary of the North Caucasus, a clear downgrade in status.[52] Khlevniuk speculates that Ordzhonikidze was not interested in taking over Rabkrin as it meant leaving the quiet of a low-key post in the Caucasus and getting intimately involved in the drama and politics at the highest levels.[53] He replaced Valerian Kuybyshev, who took over the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy, known as Vesenkha after its Russian initials VSNKh. At the same time of this appointment Ordzhonikidze was named as a candidate member of the Politburo, the executive committee of the Communist Party, though technically his position as head of the Central Control Commission should have precluded that.[51]

The purpose of Rabkrim was meant to ensure the Soviet economy worked properly, in that it oversaw planning and implementation, budgetary considerations, and administrative policies.[54] Under Kuybyshev Rabrkin had become rather ineffective and was primarily focused on administrative theory rather than firm action, in part due to the improving economic situation of the Soviet Union by 1926. Though unfamiliar with the field, Ordzhonikidze quickly educated himself on the best means to utilise Rabrkin, and re-oriented its focus towards industry, specifically the workings of Vesenkha.[55][56] In a speech he gave to Rabkrin officials shortly after taking over, Ordzhonikidze stated they had two main duties: to fight bureaucratization of the state and economic apparatus, and to "review the whole complex of the stat system."[57]

Between 1927 and 1930 Rabkrin launched hundreds of investigations into the workings of the Soviet economy.[57] Historian Sheila Fitzpatrick has noted that in this time it looked at "the oil industry, the chemical industry (twice), precious metals, capital construction in industry, repair and re-equipment of industry, planning in industry, delivery of imported equipment, use of foreign experts, the design bureau of the metallurgical industry, diesels, coal, steel, textiles Vesenkha's major industrial trusts, in addition to drafting a radical reform structure of industrial administration."[56] Reports would be presented to the highest authorities, frequently including the Politburo and Central Committee. At the other end Ordzhonikidze was sought out by factory managers, who would present grievances and petitions in hopes of getting help from Rabkrin.[58]

Ordzhonikidze revitalized Rabkrin, taking a "moribund institution, transforming it into a powerful political, administrative, and policy-making instrument," as historian David R. Shearer described. It became a powerful tool within the Soviet Union, and by the end of the 1920s was the centre of state industrial policy-making, usurping that role from Vesenkha.[59] This was made more notable during the first five-year plan, an economic development plan that began in 1929. While Vesenkha was tasked with implementing the high targets of the plan, Rabkrin oversaw everything, ensuring that "industrial production could be maximised with minimum new investment," to quote Fitzpatrick.[58] This caused friction between the two bodies, with Vesenkha complaining that they could not work with such interference, made worse by Rabkrin investigations for wreckers and counter-revolutionaries.[60] These critiques reached a peak at the 16th Party Congress in June 1930, where Ordzhonikidze gave a speech outlining Kuybyshev and Vesenkha's failures in industry.[61]


Likely in response to his critique of Kuybyshev, Ordzhonikidze was made the new head of Vesenkha on 13 November 1930, with Kuybyshev being moved to the State Planning Committee (Gosplan).[62] Shortly after his new appointment Ordzhonikidze was also named to the Politburo, as he had also been removed from his post at the Central Control Commission.[63] As Fitzpatrick notes, on his arrival at Vesnkha Ordzhonikidze had "a mandate to purge and raise the quality of the industrial cadres."[64] Khlevniuk has also argued that it "signaled that Stalin sought to consolidate territory which had been ‘neglected’ by Kuibyshev" by putting a close ally in charge of the department.[65] Replacing Ordzhonikidze at Rabkrin was Andrei Andreyev; with Stalin firmly in control of the Soviet Union Rabkrin had lost its importance, and it was eventually made subordinate to the Central Committee.[66]

Ordzhonikidze was not an expert on the work of Vesenkha, but immediately began to familiarize himself with it. As Khlevniuk notes he "was of limited education but made up for it with energy, assertiveness and brashness."[67] Devoted to his workers, he brought with him many of the senior staff from Rabkrin: by 1931 nine of eighteen sector heads in Vesenkha were either from Rabkrin or the Control Commission.[68] Tasked with finding "wreckers" within Vesenkha, Ordzhonikidze initially took a harsh stance on the matter, eagerly trying to clean up the organisation.[69] However within a few months his position had softened, and he came to defend the branch; Fitzpatrick suggests he "became painfully aware of the shortage of trained personnel in industry and the demoralization of engineers and managers associated with the arrests."[70]

It was around this time that Ordzhonikidze's relationship with Stalin began to change; while previously quite close, Ordzhonikidze's favourable opinion of his workers was not in line with what Stalin wanted to see.[71] Despite calls by Stalin to remove senior workers, Ordzhonikidze relied on them as they had the technical experience required, and so he would downplay their previous political affiliations and back them up.[72] While new engineers were being trained within the Soviet Union at this time, Ordzhonikidze felt they were not yet ready to take on senior positions yet, thus the need to keep the older workers.[73]

Heavy IndustryEdit

In 1932 Vesenkha was re-organised as the People's Commissar of Heavy Industry, also known by the Russian acronym NKTP; Ordzhonikidze remained as the head of the new commissariat.[74] As head of NKTP Ordzhonikidze played an important role in the Soviet economy, and oversaw the main aspects of defence production; thus the needs of NKTP were considered before nearly every other commissariat.[75] This was made even more apparent with the launch of the Second Five-Year Plan in 1933, in which Ordzhonikidze took a leading role in planning.[76] He argued against Stalin in setting realistic targets, eventually settling on yearly industrial growth of 13–14%.[77][78] In this he was heavily dependent on the technical skills and knowledge of his deputy, Georgy Pyatakov.[79]

The depth of Ordzhonikidze's devotion to Stalin is disputed.[42][80]


Plaque indicating Ordzhonikidze's interment in the Kremlin Wall
External video
  In Memory of Sergo Ordzhonikidze a film directed by Dziga Vertov

A Central Committee plenum was scheduled to start 20 February 1937, and Ordzhonikidze was expected to discuss widespread sabotage and wrecking in heavy industry at these sessions.[81] On 17 February Ordzhonikidze spoke to Stalin privately on the phone. Ordzhonikidze then left for the Kremlin to see Molotov and a subsequent Politburo meeting.[82] At the meeting he again repeated his beliefs that charges of wrecking within his Commissariat were exaggerated; though ordered by Stalin to leave after making these remarks, the meeting was not seen as unusual. After Ordzhonikidze left he visited Lazar Kaganovich and Alexander Poskrebyshev, and was home that night by 19.00, though he left for his Commissariat office at 21.30.[83] He met a deputy there and was home again by 00.20. As Khlevniuk notes: "All of the events that took place up to this time testify that Ordzhonikide’s work followed a normal routine, and that nothing presaged a tragic outcome."[84]

The details of the last few hours of Ordzhonikidze's life are unclear. What is known is that upon arriving back home he discovered the NKVD had searched his house, so he phoned Stalin to complain about this intrusion. The two talked angrily, switching between Russian and Georgian, with Stalin explaining that the NKVD had the power to search anyone's residence, even his own. Ordzhonikidze was then invited to visit Stalin, and did so for about 90 minutes.[85] The following day, 18 February, Ordzhonikidze stayed at home in bed for most of the day. In the evening Zinaida heard a gunshot from the room, and found Ordzhonikidze dead, apparently shooting himself.[86][87]

Grigory Ordzhonikidze on a 1952 Soviet Union postage stamp

Stalin and other leaders quickly arrived to Ordzhonikidze's apartment, where they determined to announce the death as heart failue.[88] An official bulletin was released the following day; it detailed Ordzhonikidze's troubled health history, and concluded by stating that "[o]n the morning of 18 February Ordzhonikidze made no complaint about his health, but at 17.30, while he was having his afternoon rest, he suddenly fell ill and a few minutes later died of paralysis of the heart."[89]

The announcement of Ordzhonikidze's death came as a surprise to the public. Seen as the driving force behind the industrialization of the Soviet Union, he was regarded in high esteem.[81] His body was laid in state in the House of the Unions on 19 February, and over 250,000 people visited the memorial.[90] The funeral was held on 20 February, and his body was subsequently cremated and interned within the Kremlin Wall alongside other leading Soviet figures.[91]

Cause of deathEdit

Immediately after Ordzhonikidze's death was announced, the cause of death was disputed. Exiled Mensheviks publicized the idea that Stalin was the reason behind the death, either directly ordering Ordzhonikidze's death, or forcing him to kill himself.[92] The recent arrests of figures within NKTP also gave currency to these rumours, suggesting Ordzhonikidze would be targeted next.[93] Some Old Bolsheviks insisted he was killed, though details from Zinaida and others refuted any plausible explanation for a murder.[94] Khlevniuk has suggested that Ordzhonikidze was reluctant to openly challenge Stalin regarding wrecking in NKTP, and instead only wanted to change his mind on the subject. Even to do that would take a massive toll on Ordzhonikidze's health, which was already in a weakened state.[95] That several other Bolsheviks had committed suicide over political affairs previously also gave credence to the idea that Ordzhonikidze killed himself.[96] That details of Ordzhonikidze's death were not widely discussed within the Soviet Union until Nikita Khrushchev gave his "Secret Speech" criticizing Stalinism in 1956 also helped keep rumours of a targeted killing alive. In the speech Khrushchev suggested Ordzhonikidze shot himself because of the stress from Stalin's persecutions.[97]


Ordzhonikidze's family was targeted in the aftermath of his death. Papulia was tortured and eventually shot in November 1937, while his wife Nina was arrested and sentenced to ten years imprisonment on 29 March 1938, and re-sentenced to death on 14 June.[98][99] His other brother, Konstantine, was also arrested and sent to the Gulag before being executed along with his nephew Gvakharia, while Zinaida was sentenced to ten years in camps.[100] Zinaida was released in 1956 and lived a relatively quiet life afterwords.[98] She published a memoir of Ordzhonikidze's life that was first released in 1956, and died in 1960.[15][101]


Several towns and districts in the USSR were renamed after Ordzhonikidze; the largest city was Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, which became Ordzhonikidze in 1931).[102] Throughout the 1930s many factories and plants also asked to take on his name, which is something Fitpatrick notes may have annoyed Stalin.[103] After Ordzhonikidze's death the process was reversed, so by 1942 nearly every town had changed names again.[99] The only exception was Vladikavkaz: it took on Dzaudzhikau, the Ossetian variant of the name, from 1944 to 1954, before returning to Ordzhonikidze until 1990, when it returned to the original name.[104]


Throughout his time in the Caucasus Ordzhonikidze was known as a difficult commander. Historian Alex Marshall has noted that he was controversial for "his authoritarian tendencies and propensity for forming personal alliance networks."[105] Near the end of 1920 Vadim Lukashev, the Cheka special representative for the Caucasus had asked for Ordzhonikidze to be replaced, accusing him of policy errors, specifically his appointing nationalists to positions of authority, which went against Bolshevik policy that frowned upon nationalism.[106] At the Tenth Party Congress, held in March 1921, there were calls to not have Ordzhonikidze re-elected; delegates from the North Caucasus stated Ordzhonikidze, who was not able to attend due to the invasion of Georgia, "yells at everyone, orders everyone around him, ignores the opinions of loyal party members."[107] However he was defended by Lenin and Stalin, with the former revealing Ordzhonikidze was deaf in one ear so had to shout, even at Lenin himself. With this backing Ordzhonikidze was re-elected as a delegate.[108]

During the invasions of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, Ordzhonikidze also acted rather independently. He would often ignore any advice, including that from the leadership in Moscow, and would only listen to those close to him.[42] During the invasion of Georgia he would make demands from Moscow, rather than ask for assistance, and ignored calls to work with local Georgian Bolsheviks, which served to cause tension between them and Ordzhonikidze.[109]

Honours and awardsEdit


  1. ^ a b Ordzhonikidze 1967, p. 5
  2. ^ Ordzhonikidze, 1967 & 4
  3. ^ Ordzhonikidze 1967, p. 6
  4. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, pp. 9–10
  5. ^ a b c Khlevniuk 1995, p. 10
  6. ^ Scott 2016, p. 37
  7. ^ Montefiore 2007, p. 187
  8. ^ Montefiore 2007, pp. 212–214
  9. ^ Reiber 2015, p. 32
  10. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, pp. 10–11
  11. ^ Swain 1983, pp. 136–139
  12. ^ a b Khlevniuk 1995, p. 11
  13. ^ Scott 2016, p. 38
  14. ^ Dubinskiy-Mukhadze 1963, p. 151
  15. ^ a b Zenkovich 2005, p. 299
  16. ^ Fitzpatrick 2015, p. 325
  17. ^ Scott 2016, p. 39
  18. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, pp. 11–12
  19. ^ a b c Pipes 1964, p. 198
  20. ^ Marshall 2010, p. 77
  21. ^ Marshall 2010, p. 130
  22. ^ Blank 1994, p. 63
  23. ^ Pipes 1964, p. 224
  24. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, p. 12
  25. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, p. 330
  26. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, pp. 37–38
  27. ^ Altstadt 1992, p. 97
  28. ^ Swietochowski 1985, p. 177
  29. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, p. 283–284
  30. ^ Kotkin 214, p. 366
  31. ^ Pipes 1964, p. 227
  32. ^ Pipes 1964, p. 232
  33. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, pp. 288–290
  34. ^ Smith 1998, p. 523
  35. ^ Suny 1994, p. 210
  36. ^ Suny 1994, pp. 210–211
  37. ^ Kazemzadeh 1951, p. 319
  38. ^ Pipes 1964, p. 239
  39. ^ Rayfield 2012, pp. 339–340
  40. ^ Suny 1994, pp. 210–212
  41. ^ Suny 1994, p. 214
  42. ^ a b c Smith 198, p. 522
  43. ^ Smith 1998, p. 521
  44. ^ a b Smith 1998, p. 526
  45. ^ Kotkin 2014, p. 397
  46. ^ Smith 1998, p. 531
  47. ^ a b Pipes 1964, p. 267
  48. ^ Suny 1994, p. 213
  49. ^ Smith 1998, p. 530
  50. ^ Pipes 1964, p. 275
  51. ^ a b Fitzpatrick 1985, p. 155
  52. ^ Khlevniuk 2009, p. 22
  53. ^ Khlevniuk 2009, pp. 23–24
  54. ^ Rees 1987, p. 23
  55. ^ Rees 1987, p. 140
  56. ^ a b Fitzpatrick 1985, pp. 155–156
  57. ^ a b Shearer 1996, p. 85
  58. ^ a b Fitzpatrick 1985, p. 156
  59. ^ Shearer 1996, p. 77
  60. ^ Fitzpatrick 1985, pp. 156–157
  61. ^ Bailes 1978, p. 271
  62. ^ Fitzpatrick 1985, pp. 162–163
  63. ^ Khlevniuk 2009, p. 36
  64. ^ Fitzpatrick 1979, p. 389
  65. ^ Khlevniuk 1997, p. 96
  66. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, p. 42
  67. ^ Khlevniuk 1997, p. 94
  68. ^ Fitzpatrick 1985, p. 163
  69. ^ Fitzpatrick 1985, pp. 163–164
  70. ^ Fitzpatrick 1985, p. 164
  71. ^ Bailes 1978, p. 146
  72. ^ Siegelbaum 1988, p. 30
  73. ^ Fitzpatrick 1979, pp. 391–392
  74. ^ Fitzpatrick 1985, p. 165
  75. ^ Khlevniuk 1997, p. 94
  76. ^ Khlevniuk 2009, pp. 106–107
  77. ^ Bailes 1978, pp. 273–275
  78. ^ Kotkin 2017, p. 115
  79. ^ Shearer 1996, p. 81
  80. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, p. 7
  81. ^ a b Schlögel 2012, p. 160
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  84. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, p. 147
  85. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, p. 148
  86. ^ Kotkin 2017, p. 384
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  88. ^ Kotkin 2017, pp. 384–385
  89. ^ Schlögel 2012, p. 162
  90. ^ Schlögel 2012, p. 163–166
  91. ^ Schlögel 2012, p. 166–167
  92. ^ Kotkin 2017, p. 384
  93. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, pp. 150–151
  94. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, pp. 154–156
  95. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, p. 158
  96. ^ Schlögel 2012, p. 167–168
  97. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, pp. 153–154
  98. ^ a b Khlevniuk 1995, p. 173
  99. ^ a b Conquest 1990, p. 172
  100. ^ Scott 2016, p. 82
  101. ^ Ordzhonikidze 1967
  102. ^ Bursa 1985, p. 171, 190
  103. ^ Fitzpatrick 2015, p. 77
  104. ^ Murray 2000, pp. 110–111
  105. ^ Marshall 2010, p. 153
  106. ^ Marshall 2010, p. 154
  107. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, p. 14
  108. ^ Khlevniuk 1995, p. 15
  109. ^ Smith 1998, p. 524


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