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Maxim Maximovich Litvinov

Litvinov, Maxim Maximovich (məksyēmˈ mäksēˈməvĭch lyĭtvēˈnəf) [key], 1876–1951, Russian revolutionary and Soviet diplomat. A Jew, he changed his name from Wallach after joining the Social Democratic party. He became a member of the Bolshevik wing after the party split (1903). He took part in the Revolution of 1905 and subsequently spent years in exile in Great Britain and Switzerland. Imprisoned in England after the Bolshevik Revolution, he was released in exchange for the British consul general, Bruce Lockhart, who had been arrested in Moscow. As chief assistant to the commissar for foreign affairs, Chicherin, he assumed much of his superior's work, and in 1930 he succeeded Chicherin. He pursued a policy of collective security and cooperation with the great powers. In 1933 he obtained American recognition of the USSR, and in 1934, Russia entered the League of Nations, where Litvinov continued to promote a peace policy and called for joint action against the aggression of Germany, Italy, and Japan. His policy was abandoned by Stalin after the Munich Pact of 1938, when Great Britain and France capitulated to German demands in Czechoslovakia, and in May, 1939, he was replaced by Molotov as foreign commissar. In 1941, Litvinov was named ambassador to the United States, where he served until 1943.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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