Study Guide

Vyacheslav Molotov in The Marshall Plan

By George C. Marshall

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Vyacheslav Molotov

Let's get this out of the way right up front: Molotov was born with the last name Skryabin. You might be thinking that he named himself after the explosive cocktails, but in fact it's the other way around. He named himself after the Russian word for "hammer" because he thought it sounded cool.

He's not wrong.

Molotov was, basically, a professional revolutionary until his side somehow managed to win. He met Joseph Stalin, future dictator of the Soviet Union, while working as an editor for the underground newspaper Pravda ("Truth," in Russian). Molotov ended up being imprisoned and exiled at various times during his early career because that's what happens when you advocate the violent overthrow of your government.

In any case, he became a political protege of Stalin's, and, when Stalin seized power, Molotov got to come along. When World War II was ready to break out, Molotov was the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, which is basically the equivalent of the Secretary of State. He helped negotiate the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which was another name for the non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

When Germany broke that with the invasion of the Soviet Union, well, all of a sudden Molotov had a bunch of uneasy capitalist allies. It was a tough time for him.

After the war, he tried to counter the USA's Marshall Plan with a plan of his own. The plan was pretty simple actually. It was a simple rejection of Marshall plan money and the creation of their own economic sphere. Basically giving cash to other nearby Communist nations including Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, and Poland.

Personally, Molotov was having a tough time. His wife was arrested and exiled in 1948, and Molotov was removed from his position as Foreign Minister in the following year. Stalin's death in 1953 allowed a brief return to power, as his wife was allowed to return and he was made Foreign Minister again. Unfortunately for him, he and Khrushchev never got along and he was fired in 1955.

He served in a few lesser positions, but couldn't keep quiet about what a jerk Khrushchev was. This led to Molotov being kicked out of the Communist Party in 1962, and he was only let back in in 1984 after some serious persistence. He died two years later, but he got to die as a Communist, which is what he would have wanted.

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