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Olga Kameneva
Olga Davidovna Kameneva ( , ; 1883 - September 11, 1941) (née Bronstein [Бронштейн], sometimes translated as Olga Kamenev) was a Russianmarker Bolshevik revolutionary and a Sovietmarker politician. She was the sister of Leon Trotsky and the first wife of Lev Kamenev.

Childhood and Revolutionary Career (1883-1917)

Olga Kameneva was born in Yanovka, Kherson Province, Ukrainemarker, a small village 15 miles from the nearest post office. She was one of two daughters of a wealthy but illiterate farmer, David Leontyevich Bronstein (or Bronshtein, 1847 - 1922), a Jewish colonist, and Anna Bronstein (1850 - 1910). Although the family was of Jewish extraction, it was not religious and the languages spoken at home were Russian and Ukrainian, not Yiddish.

Olga Bronstein joined the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party in 1902 and soon married Lev Kamenev, a fellow Marxist revolutionary. In 1908, after Lev Kamenev's release from prison, the Kamenevs left Russia for Genevamarker and then Parismarker, where Lev Kamenev became one of Vladimir Lenin's two deputies. The couple helped Lenin edit the main Bolshevik magazine Proletariy. In January 1914 the Kamenevs moved to St. Petersburgmarker so that Lev could be in immediate control of the Bolsheviks' legal newspaper Pravda and their Duma faction.

Theater and Women's Issue Work (1918-1920)

In early 1918, after the October Revolution of 1917, Kameneva was put in charge of the Theater Division (TEO) of the People's Commissariat for Education. Working with theatrical director and theorist Vsevolod Meyerhold, she tried to radicalize Russian theaters, effectively nationalizing them under Bolshevik control. However, Meyerhold came down with tuberculosis in May 1919 and had to leave for the south. In his absence, the head of the Commissariat, Anatoly Lunacharsky, secured Lenin's permission to revise government policy in favor of more traditional theaters and dismissed Kameneva in June.

From the time it was organized in October 1919, Kameneva was a member of the board of directors of the Soviet Communist Party's Women's Section. In 1920 she supported People's Commissar of Public Health Nikolai Semashko's opinion that contraception was "unquestionably harmful" and should not be advocated.

Managing Soviet Contacts with the West (1921-1928)

In 1921-1923 Kameneva was a leading member of the Central Commission for Fighting the After-Effects of the Famine and oversaw a propaganda campaign against the American Relief Administration (ARA) under Herbert Hoover in the Soviet press. In 1923-1925 she was the head of the short-lived Commission for Foreign Relief (KZP), a Soviet governmental commission that regulated and then liquidated remaining Western charities in the Soviet Unionmarker. . In 1926-1928 Kameneva served as chairman of the USSR Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries ("Voks", Vsesoiuznoe Obshchestvo Kul'turnoi Sviazi s Zagranitsei) In that capacity she greeted many prominent Western visitors to the Soviet Union, e.g. Le Corbusier and Theodore Dreiser , represented the Soviet Union at the festivities in Viennamarker commemorating the centennial of Ludwig van Beethoven's death in March-April 1927 , etc. Throughout the 1920s she also ran a leading literary salon in Moscow .

In the early 1920s the Kamenevs' family life began to disintegrate starting with Lev Kamenev's reputed affair with the Britishmarker sculptress Clare Frewen Sheridan in 1920 . In the late 1920s he left Olga Kameneva for Tatiana Glebova , with whom he had a son, Vladimir Glebov (1929-1994). .

Fall from power and execution (1928-1941)

Kameneva quickly lost her influence after Kamenev's and Trotsky's fall from power in 1927. On July 27, 1935 the NKVD (Soviet secret police) Special Board banned her from Moscowmarker and Leningradmarker for 5 years in connection with the Kremlin Case . After Lev Kamenev's show trial and execution on August 25, 1936, she was arrested and imprisoned. Her younger son, Yu. L. Kamenev, was executed on January 30, 1938, at the age of 17. Her older son, Air Force officer A.L. Kamenev, was executed on July 15, 1939 at the age of 33.

Olga Kameneva was shot on September 11, 1941 on Joseph Stalin's orders in the Medvedev forest outside Orelmarker together with Christian Rakovsky, Maria Spiridonova and 160 other prominent political prisoners. This execution was one of the many NKVD massacres of prisoners committed in 1941.


  • See Chapter 1 of Leon Trotsky's autobiography, My Life, New York, Charles Schribner’s Sons, 1930.
  • See Robert Leach and Victor Borovsky. A History of Russian Theatre, Cambridge University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-521-43220-0 p. 303.
  • See Elizabeth A. Wood. The Baba and the Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia, Indiana University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-253-21430-0 p. 80-81
  • See Elizabeth A. Wood, op. cit, p. 110
  • See Eugene V. Debs. Gentle Rebel: Letters of Eugene V. Debs, edited by J. Robert Constantine, University of Illinois, 1995, ISBN 0-252-06324-4 , pp. 223-224.
  • See Margaret A. Trott, Passing through the Eye of the Needle: American Philanthropy and Soviet Medical Research in the 1920s in Rockefeller Philanthropy and Modern Biomedicine: International Initiatives from World War to the Cold War, Bloomington, IN, Indiana University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-253-34151-5 p.148
  • See Samuel N. Harper. The Russia I Believe In: The Memoirs of Samuel N. Harper 1902 to 1941, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1945, p. 143.
  • See Jean-Luis Cohen, Le Corbusier and the Mystique of the USSR, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1992, pp. 41-43, 54, 117, quoted in Alice T. Friedman, Glamour a MoMo: Women's Roles in the Modern Movement in Back from Utopia: The Challenge of the Modern Movement, Uitgeverij 010 Publishers, 2002, ISBN 90-6450-483-0 p. 321.
  • See Theodore Dreiser: Interviews, eds. Frederic E. Rusch and Donald Pizer, University of Illinois, 2004, ISBN 0-252-02943-7 , pp. 172-173.
  • See Amy Nelson. Music for the Revolution: Musicians and Power in Early Soviet Russia, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-271-02369-4 p. 193. Also see Kameneva's article "Beethoven als Erzieher in Sowjetrussland" in Neue Freie Press, March 29, 1927.
  • See Sheila Fitzpatrick. Education and Social Mobility in the Soviet Union 1921-1934, Cambridge University Press, 1979, ISBN 0-521-89423-9 , p. 83.
  • See Elisabeth Kehoe. The Titled Americans: Three American Sisters and the English Aristocratic World Into Which They Married, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2004, ISBN 0-87113-924-3 , p.325.
  • See Robert Conquest. The Great Terror: A Reassessment, New York, Oxford University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-19-505580-2 and ISBN 0-19-507132-8 (pbk), p. 76.
  • See Robert Conquest, op. cit., p. 78.
  • See Michael Parrish. The Lesser Terror: Soviet State Security, 1939-1953, Westport, CT, Praeger Publishers, 1996, ISBN 0-275-95113-8 p. 69.

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