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Lev Kamenev

KAMENEV, LEV (pseudonym for Lev Borisovich Rosenfeld; 1883–1936), Soviet state and party activist. He was born in Moscow to a father who was an engineer and a Russian mother. Kamenev joined the Social Democratic Party in 1901, while studying law at Moscow University, and in 1903 the Bolshevik faction. Until 1914 he worked in the foreign press of the party, and returned to Russia to head the editorial board of Pravda. In 1915 he was exiled to Siberia and returned to Petersburg after the February 1917 revolution; he headed the Bolshevik Party until Lenin's return. He was against armed uprising and for a coalition with socialist parties, which countered Lenin's ideas. As a protest he resigned from the Central Committee of the party, and was restored only in mid-1918. In the years 1919–26 he was a member of the Politburo, and at the same time chairman of the Moscow Town Council, and chairman of the Council of the People's Commissars. In 1926 he was Commissar of Trade, and chief editor of Lenin's writings. In 1927 he was ambassador to Italy.

In 1922–24 he was, together with Zinovyev and Stalin, involved in a struggle with *Trotsky for the leadership of the party. In 1925 he headed together with Zinovyev the new opposition, and in 1926 he joined Trotsky. For that he was banished in 1927 from the Central Committee and the party. In 1928 he admitted his "mistakes," and was reinstated in the party, but given second-rate jobs. In 1932 he was again banished from the party and exiled to the Urals. He was freed but arrested again in December 1934, after the assassination of S. Kirov, and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. In July 1935 Stalin organized a closed trial, and only due to M. Gorki's intervention was he not executed but sentenced to ten years in prison. In August 1936 in the first show trial he was accused together with Zinovyev and others of conterrevolution, terror, and espionage, and under physical and psychological pressure he admitted his guilt and was shot, according to an official announcement on August 25, 1936.

In the 1920s he promoted the Habimah theater, helped Prof. Shor of the Moscow Conservatory to immigrate to Ereẓ Israel, and was active in reducing the arrest of Zionists to expulsion from the Soviet Union.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.