Grigory Konstantinovich Ordzhonikidze (Georgian: გრიგოლ
ორჯონიკიძე Grigol Konstantines dze Orjonikidze;
Russian: Григо́рий Константи́нович
Орджоники́дзе Grigori Konstantinovich Ordzhonikidze),
generally known as
Sergo Ordzhonikidze (სერგო
Орджоники́дзе); 24 October [O.S. 12
Kutais Governorate – 18 February 1937, Moscow)
was a Georgian Bolshevik, later member of the CPSU Politburo and close
associate of Joseph Stalin. Ordzhonikidze, Stalin and Anastas Mikoyan
comprised what was jokingly referred to as the "Caucasian Clique."
1.1 Before 1917
1.2 Early political career
1.3 Politburo member
3 Honours and awards
5 Further reading
6 External links
Ordzhonikidze was born in the upper Imeretian village of Ghoresha, in
present-day Kharagauli District, western Georgia, into a Georgian
noble family. According to some sources he graduated as a doctor
from the Mikhailov Hospital Medical School in Tiflis, but other
sources characterise him as poorly educated and state that he
qualified only as a medical orderly.
He became involved in radical politics in 1903, joined the Bosheviks,
and took part in the Revolution of 1905-1907. He was arrested for
smuggling arms in December 1905, but when released on bail after
five months he fled to Germany. In 1907 he returned to the Caucasus
and settled in Baku, where he worked as a medical assistant while
involved with Stalin and others in
Bolshevik activity. Historians have
come to believe that Ordzhonikidze played a role in the 1907
assassination of Prince Ilia Chavchavadze, a prominent Georgian poet
and intellectual. In 1907 he was arrested at a May Day
demonstration and served 26 days in prison under the pseudonym
"Kuchishvili". He later spent 18 months in prison in
Sukhumi as a
result of his 1905 arrest.
Ordzhonikidze participated in the
Persian Constitutional Revolution
Persian Constitutional Revolution of
1905-1911 while on a mission for the
Bolshevik party and stayed in
Tehran for a time around 1909. Following the establishment of the
Longjumeau Party School in 1911,
Lenin sent Ordzhonikidze back to the
Russian Empire to help organise an "all party conference". After
visiting Kiev, where he persuaded local members of the RSDLP to
support the proposal, he went on to Baku, where he set up the Russian
Organising Committee (ROC), whose claims to be a representative body
were very thin, but which served as a vehicle for
Lenin to control the
organisation of the sixth party conference of the RSDLP in
1912, which cemented the organisation of the Bolsheviks as a distinct
He was arrested for membership of the Social Democratic Party
(November 1907) and deported to Siberia, but managed to escape three
years later. He returned with Stalin to
Saint Petersburg in April
1912, but was again apprehended and sentenced to three years' hard
Early political career
During the course of the Russian Civil War, he became a commissar for
Ukraine and took part in fighting against the
White Army of Anton
Denikin in the Caucasus. Appointed chairman of Kavbiuro, the Caucasian
Bureau of the Russian Communist Party in 1920, he was instrumental in
the incorporation of the
Caucasus in the nascent Soviet Union. After
the Azerbaijan and Armenia had been taken over by the Bolsheviks, in
1921, Ordzhonikidze led an
Bolshevik invasion of the Democratic
Republic of Georgia and established the Socialist Republic of
Georgia. Later, he fought to reduce Georgian autonomy from the
Russian SFSR and hence became a key figure involved in the Georgian
Affair of 1922. His brutal treatment of Georgian communists
Lenin who proposed he be expelled from the Communist
Party. During the same period, he also aided
Mirza Koochak Khan
Mirza Koochak Khan in
establishing the short-lived Socialist Republic of Gilan in northern
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For a time[when?] Ordzhonikidze served for the collegium of the new
Ordzhonikidze became a candidate (non-voting) member of the Politburo
in 1926, but was relieved of his duties the same year. He became a
full member in 1930.
He was appointed People's
Commissar of Heavy Industry in 1932. ,
an important role as the Second Five-Year Plan gave priority to the
development of heavy industry. However Conquest states that he was
entirely dependent on the technical skills and knowledge of his
deputy, Georgy Pyatakov. Conquest reports that he knew the
allegations against Pyatakov were false and had Stalin’s assurance
that he (Pyatakov) would not be executed.
The depth of Ordzhonikidze’s devotion to Stalin is disputed. In
1932, with other Politburo members, he reportedly opposed the
persecution of those involved in publishing the “Ryutin Platform”,
bringing him into conflict with Stalin who was anxious to destroy
“rightists” in the Party. Sent to the provinces during the
Great Famine he reported correctly that it was a disaster.
According to historian Roy Medvedev, Ordzhonikidze also opposed the
purges of Stalin,
Lazar Kaganovich and
Nikolai Yezhov and the arrest
of his deputy Pyatakov. However historian Oleg Khlevniuk
reports finding no evidence in Soviet archives that Ordzhonikidze
disagreed with the
Moscow Trials, including that of Pyatakov.
According to the archives, Ordzhonikidze questioned Pyatakov
personally, and was convinced of his guilt.
Ordzhonikidze was named as the target of one of many assassination
plots alleged to have been formed by defendants in the
Zinoviev-Kamenev trial, which the
Great Soviet Encyclopedia
Great Soviet Encyclopedia alleges,
shortened his life. 
Ordzhonikidze is reported to have suffered a heart attack in November
Plaque indicating Ordzhonikidze's interment in the Kremlin Wall
Ordzhonikidze died during the night of 18 February 1937. Upon
returning to his apartment in Amusement Palace on 17 February,
NKVD officers searching his apartment. He then
phoned Stalin and the two began a heated argument.  After
returning to the commissariat later in the day for more meetings,
leaving for home at 12:20am. Later that morning, he did not emerge
from his bedroom to take breakfast. When one of his subordinates tried
to meet with him later that day, Ordzhonikidze refused to receive him.
In the early evening, his wife, Zinaida, heard a gunshot in the
bedroom, and Ordzhonkidze's body was discovered soon after. 
On 19 February
Pravda published a report signed by three doctors and
by the People's
Commissar for Health Grigory Kaminsky, affirming that
Ordzhonikidze "died of paralysis of the heart." Conquest says
the certificate “is known to be a fake”, and one witness is said
to have been “unwilling” to sign.
A further version is that Ordzhonikidze was killed, or forced into
suicide, on Stalin’s orders. This was reported from soon after World
War II. Conquest reports that witnesses saw men fleeing
Ordzhonikidze's residence just after his death. This version has some
plausibility given political conditions in the
USSR at the time, and
events such as the death of Kirov. Ordzhonokidze had reportedly become
another of Stalin’s targets by late 1936. In 1955/56, former NKVD
officers were tried on charges of “collecting slander” against
Ordzhonikidze at this time, presumably as a prelude to his trial, and
Stalin liquidated many of Ordzhonikdze’s associates, an indication
that he had fallen from favour.
Grigory Ordzhonikidze on a 1952
Soviet Union postage stamp
Several towns and districts in the
USSR were renamed Ordzhonikidze
after him, such as
Vladikavkaz in Russia and
Vahdat in Tajikistan
(both names later reverted). Sokol plant, the main producer of MiG
fighters, was named in honour of Ordzhonikidze, as well as the Moscow
Aviation Institute (MAI). A
Sverdlov-class cruiser named after him
took Khrushchev on his 1956 visit to the UK, where the vessel was the
target of a botched espionage attempt by frogman ”Buster” Crabb.
Honours and awards
Order of the Red Banner
Order of the Red Banner (1921)
Order of the Red Banner
Order of the Red Banner of the Georgian SSR
Order of Red Banner of the Azerbaijani SSR
Order of Red Banner of the Azerbaijani SSR (1921)
Order of Red Banner of Labour
Order of Red Banner of Labour (1936)
^ Grigoryan, Marianna (23 May 2014). "Armenia: Controversial Communist
to Get Statue in Yerevan?". Eurasia.net. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
^ Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2004). Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar.
New York: Knopf. p. 123. ISBN 1-4000-7678-1.
^ a b c d e f g h i j Conquest, Robert (1968). The Great Terror.
^ a b "Орджоникидзе, Григорий (Серго)
Константинович". Большая Русская
Биографическая энциклопедия. ИДДК, 2007
г. (Big Russian Biographical Encyclopedia, 2007). Archived from the
original on 2016-03-04.
^ Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2007). Young Stalin. New York: Knopf.
p. 179. ISBN 1-4000-9613-8.
^ Gregor Yaghikiyan, Showravi va jonbesh-e jangal (The Soviet Union
and the Jungle Movement) (Persian), Editor: Borzouyeh Dehgan, Tehran:
^ Swain, Geoffrey (1983). Russian Social Democracy and the Legal
Labour Movement, 1906-11. London: Macmillan Press. access-date=
requires url= (help)
^ Montefiore. The Court of the Red Tsar, p. 123.
^ Figes, Orlando (1998). A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution:
1891–1924. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 798–799.
^ Ebrahim Fakhrayi, Sardar-e Jangal (The Commander of Jungle)
(Persian), Tehran: Javidan,1983.
^ List of members of the Politburo of the All-Union Communist Party
(bolsheviks) in the 1930s
^ Service, Robert (2003). A History of Modern Russia: From Nicholas II
to Vladimir Putin. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
p. 194. ISBN 0-674-01801-X.
^ Medvedev, Roy A (1971). Let History Judge: The Origins and
Consequences of Stalinism. New York: Knopf.
^ Khlevniuk, Oleg (1995). In Stalin's Shadow: The Career of "Sergo"
Ordzhonikidze. New York: M.E. Sharpe.
Great Soviet Encyclopedia
Great Soviet Encyclopedia 2nd ed.
^ Kotkin. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941, p. 384.
^ Kotkin. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941, ibid.
^ Montefiore. The Court of the Red Tsar, p. 213.
^ Dubinsky-Rukhadze, I (1963). Ordzhonikidze.
^ "Na Rubezhe" (3-4). 1952.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, "Ordzhonikidze's Takeover of Vesenkha: A Case
Study in Soviet Bureaucratic Politics," Soviet Studies, vol. 37, no. 2
(April 1985), pp. 153–172. In JSTOR
Vladimir L. Bobrov "The Mystery of Ordzhonikidze’s Death"
Dziga Vertov 1937 film "Памяти Серго
Орджоникидзе (In Memory of Sergo Ordzhonikidze)"
Media related to
Sergo Ordzhonikidze at Wikimedia Commons
Quotations related to
Sergo Ordzhonikidze at Wikiquote
First Secretaries of the Transcaucasian SFSR
ISNI: 0000 0001 0801 5344
BNF: cb110798693 (data)