Andrei Zhdanov

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Andrei Zhdanov
Андре́й Жда́нов
Andrei Zhdanov.jpg
Chairman of the Soviet of the Union
In office
12 March 1946 – 25 February 1947
Preceded by Andrey Andreyev
Succeeded by Ivan Parfenov
Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR
In office
15 July 1938 – 19 July 1938
Preceded by Mikhail Kalinin
Succeeded by Mikhail Tarasov
Head of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Central Committee
In office
21 March 1939 – 6 September 1940
Preceded by Post established
Succeeded by Georgy Aleksandrov
Full member of the 18th Politburo
In office
22 March 1939 – 31 August 1948
Candidate member of the 17th Politburo
In office
10 February 1934 – 22 March 1939
Member of the 17th, 18th Secretariat
In office
10 February 1934 – 31 August 1948
Member of the 17th, 18th Orgburo
In office
10 February 1934 – 31 August 1948
Personal details
Born Andrei Alexandrovich Zhdanov
(1896-02-26)26 February 1896
Mariupol, Russian Empire
Died 31 August 1948(1948-08-31) (aged 52)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Citizenship Soviet
Nationality Russian
Political party All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks)
Occupation Civil servant

Andrei Alexandrovich Zhdanov (Russian: Андре́й Алекса́ндрович Жда́нов; IPA: [ɐnˈdrej ɐlʲɪˈksandrəvʲɪtɕˈʐdanəf]; 26 February [O.S. 14 February] 1896 – 31 August 1948) was a Soviet politician. After World War II, he was thought to be the successor-in-waiting to Joseph Stalin, but Zhdanov predeceased Stalin.


The Soviet leadership signed a treaty with the Finnish Democratic Republic. Standing, from left to right are Andrei Zhdanov, Klim Voroshilov, Stalin, and Otto Kuusinen. Seated is Vyacheslav Molotov.

Zhdanov enlisted with the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolshevik) in 1915 and was promoted through the party ranks, becoming the All-Union Communist Party manager in Leningrad after the assassination of Sergei Kirov in 1934. He was Chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet from 20 July 1938–20 June 1947. Though somewhat less active than Vyacheslav Molotov, Joseph Stalin, Lazar Kaganovich and Kliment Voroshilov, Zhdanov was a major perpetrator of the Great Terror and personally approved 176 documented execution lists.[1] In June 1940, he was sent to Estonia[2] to supervise the establishment of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic and its annexation by the USSR.

Zhdanov took a leading role during the Siege of Leningrad during World War Two[citation needed]. After the cease-fire agreement between Finland and the USSR was signed in Moscow on 4 September 1944, Zhdanov directed the Allied Control Commission in Finland until the Paris peace treaty of 1947.

Zhdanov was appointed by Joseph Stalin to direct the Soviet Union's cultural policy in 1946. His first action (in December 1946) was to censor Russian writers such as Anna Akhmatova and Mikhail Zoshchenko. He formulated what became known as the Zhdanov Doctrine ("The only conflict that is possible in Soviet culture is the conflict between good and best"). During 1946–1947, Zhdanov was Chairman of the Soviet of the Union. In 1947, he organized the Cominform, designed to coordinate the communist parties of Europe. In February 1948, he initiated purges among musicians, widely known as a struggle against formalism. Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, Aram Khachaturian and many other composers were reprimanded during this period. In June 1948, Stalin sent Zhdanov to the Cominform meeting in Bucharest. The purpose of the meeting was to condemn Yugoslavia, but Zhdanov took a more restrained line, in contrast to his co-delegate and rival Georgy Malenkov. This infuriated Stalin, who removed Zhdanov from all his posts and replaced him with Malenkov. Zhdanov was transferred to a sanatorium, where he died. It is possible that his death was the result of an intentional misdiagnosis.[3]

Zhdanov died on 31 August 1948 in Moscow of heart failure; Nikita Khrushchev recalled in Khrushchev Remembers that Zhdanov was an alcoholic, and that during his "last days," Stalin would shout at him to stop drinking and insist that he drink only fruit juice.[4] Stalin had talked of Zhdanov being his successor but Zhdanov's ill health gave his rivals, Lavrentiy Beria and Georgy Malenkov, an opportunity to undermine him.

He was one of those accused during the U.S. House of Representatives' Kersten Committee investigation into the annexation of the Baltic States in 1953.[5]


Originating in 1946 and lasting until the late 1950s, Zhdanov's ideological code, known as the Zhdanov doctrine, Zhdanovism or zhdanovshchina, defined cultural production in the Soviet Union. Zhdanov intended to create a new philosophy of artistic creation valid for the entire world. His method reduced all of culture to a sort of chart, wherein a given symbol corresponded to a simple moral value. Zhdanov and his associates further sought to eliminate foreign influence from Soviet art, proclaiming that "incorrect art" was an ideological diversion.[6] This doctrine suggested that the world was split into two opposing camps, namely, the “imperialistic”-led by the United States and the “democratic”-led by the Soviet Union, using Cold War terminology that also began in 1946. The one sentence that came to define Zhdanovshchina was “The only conflict that is possible in Soviet culture is the conflict between good and best". This cultural policy became strictly enforced, censoring writers, artists, and the intelligentsia, with punishment being applied for failing to conform to what was considered acceptable by Zhdanov’s standards. This policy officially ended in 1952, seen as having a negative impact on culture within the USSR. The origins of this policy can be seen before 1946 when critics proposed (wrongly according to Zhdanov) that Russian classics had been influenced by famous foreign writers, but the policy came into effect specifically to target “apolitical, ‘bourgeois’, individualistic works of the satirist Mikhail Zoshchenko and the poet Anna Akhmatova”, respectively writing for the literary magazines Zvezda and Leningrad. On 20 February 1948, Zhdanovshchina shifted its focus towards anti-formalism, targeting composers such as Dmitri Shostakovich. That April, many of the persecuted composers were pressed into repenting for displaying “formalism” in their music in a special congress of the Composers' Union. These composers were not rehabilitated by the Soviet Union until 28 May 1958.[citation needed]

Family ties

Zhdanov's son, Yuri (1919–2006), married Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, in 1949. That marriage ended in divorce in 1950. They had one daughter, Yekaterina.

Honours and awards

Andrei Zhdanov's birthplace, Mariupol, was renamed Zhdanov in his honor at Joseph Stalin's instigation in 1948, and a monument to Zhdanov was built in the central square of the city. The name reverted to Mariupol in 1989, and the monument was dismantled in 1990.

Political offices
Preceded by
Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Russia
Succeeded by
Mikhail Tarasov
Preceded by
Andrey Andreyev
Chairman of the Soviet of the Union
Succeeded by
Ivan Parfenov

See also


  2. "Analytical list of documents, V. Friction in the Baltic States and Balkans, June 4–21 September 1940". Telegram of German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office. Retrieved 2007-03-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Haslam, Jonathan. Russia's Cold War. Yale University Press: 2011. 104.
  4. Simon Sebag Montefiore, in "Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar," ISBN 1-4000-4230-5
  5. The Iron Heel, Time Magazine, 14 December 1953
  6. Stites, Richard. Soviet Popular Culture. Cambridge University Press: 1992. 117.

External links