Leo Rosenfeld or Lev Borisovich Rozenfeld

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Lev Kamenev

Lev Borisovich Kamenev


 (born Leo

Rosenfeld or Lev Borisovich Rozenfeld;


18 July [O.S. 6 July] 1883 – 25 August

1936) was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a

prominent Soviet politician. He was one of

the seven members of the first Politburo,

founded in 1917 to manage the Bolshevik

Revolution: Lenin, 


, Kamenev,

Trotsky, Stalin, Sokolnikov and Bubnov.


Lev Borisovich Kamenev

Лев Бори́сович Ка́менев

Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's

Commissars of the Soviet Union

In office 

6 July 1923 – 16 January 1926


Vladimir Lenin 

Alexey Rykov

Director of the Lenin Institute of the Central


In office 

31 March 1923 – 1926

Preceded by

Post established

Succeeded by

Ivan Skvortsov-


Chairman of the Central Executive Committee

of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets

In office 

9 – 21 November 1917

Preceded by

Nikolai Chkheidze

Succeeded by

Yakov Sverdlov

Full member of the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th,

13th Politburo

In office 

8 March 1919 – 1 January 1926

In office 

10 October – 29 November 1917

Candidate member of the 14th Politburo

In office 

1 January – 23 October 1926

Full member of the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th,

11th, 12th, 13th, 14th Central Committee

In office 

17 January 1912 – 14 November 1927

Personal details


Leo Rosenfeld 

18 July [O.S. 6

July] 1883 

Moscow, Russian



25 August 1936

(aged 53) 

Kamenev was the brother-in-law of Leon

Trotsky. He served briefly as the

Moscow, Russian

SFSR, Soviet Union





Political party

RSDLP (1901-1903)  

RSDLP (Bolsheviks)


Russian Communist

Party (Bolsheviks)

(1912-1932), (1933-



Olga Bronstein 

Tatiana Glebova

equivalent of the first head of state of

Soviet Russia in 1917, and from 1923-24

as acting Premier in the last year of

Vladimir Lenin's life. Joseph Stalin viewed

him as a cause of discontent and

opposition to his own leadership.

Kamenev was executed on 25 August

1936 after a show trial during the period of

the Great Purges.

Early life and career

Kamenev was born as Leo Rosenfeld in

Moscow, the son of a Jewish railway

worker and a Russian Orthodox Christian



 His father used the capital he

earned in the construction of the Baku-

Batumi railway to pay for Lev's education.

Kamenev attended the boys' Gymnasium

in Tiflis, Georgia (now Tbilisi) and later

Moscow University where he became

involved in political activity. His arrest in

1902 interrupted his formal education.

From that point on, he worked as a

professional revolutionary, and was active

in the capital St. Petersburg, Moscow and

Tiflis. He adopted the surname Kamenev

during this period. In the early 1900s, he

married Olga Bronstein, a fellow Marxist

(and younger sister of Leon Trotsky, who

had also adopted a different surname).

The couple had two sons together.

Kamenev joined the Social Democrats in



 He took a brief trip abroad in 1902,

meeting Russian social democratic

leaders living in exile, including Vladimir

Lenin, whose adherent and close

associate he became. He also visited Paris

and met the Iskra group who published the

newspaper. After attending the 3rd

Congress of the Russian Social

Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) in

London in March 1905, Kamenev returned

to Russia to participate in the Russian

Revolution of 1905 in St. Petersburg in


He went back to London to attend the 5th

RSDLP Party Congress, where he was

elected to the party's Central Committee

and the Bolshevik Center, in May 1907, but

was arrested upon his return to Russia.

After Kamenev was released from prison

in 1908, he and his family went abroad

later in the year to help Lenin edit the

Bolshevik magazine 


. After

Lenin's split with another senior Bolshevik

leader, Alexander Bogdanov, in mid-1908,

Kamenev and 

Grigory Zinoviev


Lenin's main assistants abroad. They

helped him expel Bogdanov and his

Otzovist (Recallist) followers from the

Bolshevik faction of the RSDLP in mid-


In January 1910, Leninists, followers of

Bogdanov, and various Menshevik factions

held a meeting of the party's Central

Committee in Paris and tried to re-unite

the party. Kamenev and Zinoviev were

dubious about the idea, but were willing to

give it a try under pressure from

"conciliator" Bolsheviks like Victor Nogin.

Lenin was adamantly opposed to re-

unification, but was outvoted within the

Bolshevik leadership. The meeting reached

a tentative agreement. As one of its

provisions, Trotsky's Vienna-based Pravda

was designated as a party-financed

'central organ'. Kamenev, Trotsky's brother-

in-law, was added to Pravda's editorial

board as a representative of the

Bolsheviks in this process. The unification

attempts failed in August 1910, when

Kamenev resigned from the board amid

mutual recriminations.

After the failure of the reunification

attempt, Kamenev continued working for

Proletariy and taught at the Bolshevik party

school at Longjumeau near Paris.


 It had

been founded as a Leninist alternative to

Bogdanov's party school based in Capri. In

January 1912, Kamenev helped Lenin and

Zinoviev to convince the Prague

Conference of Bolshevik delegates to split

from the Mensheviks and Otzovists.

In January 1914, he was sent to St.

Petersburg to direct the work of the

Bolshevik version of Pravda and the

Bolshevik faction of the Duma. Kamenev

was arrested in November and tried, where

he distanced himself from Lenin's anti-war

stance. In early 1915, Kamenev was

sentenced to exile in Siberia; he survived

two years there until being freed by the

successful February Revolution of 1917.

Before leaving Siberia, Kamenev proposed

sending a telegraph thanking the Tsar's

brother Mikhail for refusing the throne. He

was so embarrassed later by his action

that he denied ever having sent it.


On 25 March 1917, Kamenev returned

from Siberian exile to St. Petersburg

(renamed as Petrograd in 1914). Kamenev

and Central Committee members Joseph

Lev Kamenev reads 


. 1921

Stalin and Matvei Muranov took control of

the revived Bolshevik Pravda and moved it

to the Right. Kamenev formulated a policy

of conditional support of the newly formed

Russian Provisional Government and a

reconciliation with the Mensheviks. After

Lenin's return to Russia on 3 April 1917,

Kamenev briefly resisted Lenin's anti-

government April Theses, but soon fell in

line and supported Lenin until September.

Kamenev and Zinoviev had a falling out

with Lenin over their opposition to Soviet

seizure of power in October 1917.


 On 10

October 1917 (Old Style), Kamenev and

Zinoviev were the only two Central

Committee members to vote against an

armed revolt. Their publication of an open

letter opposed to the use of force enraged

Lenin, who demanded their expulsion from

the party.


 However, when the Bolshevik-

led Military Revolutionary Committee,

headed by Adolph Joffe, and the Petrograd

Soviet, led by Trotsky, staged an uprising,

Kamenev and Zinoviev went along. At the

Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets,

Kamenev was elected Congress Chairman

and Chairman of the permanent All-

Russian Central Executive Committee. The

latter position was equivalent to the head

of state under the Soviet system.

On 10 November 1917, three days after the

Soviet seizure of power during the October

Revolution, the executive committee of the

national railroad labor union, Vikzhel,

threatened a national strike unless the

Bolsheviks shared power with other

socialist parties and dropped the

uprising's leaders, Lenin and Trotsky, from

the government. Zinoviev, Kamenev and

their allies in the Bolshevik Central

Kamenev and 




, 1922

Committee argued that the Bolsheviks had

no choice but to start negotiations, since a

railroad strike would cripple their

government's ability to fight the forces that

were still loyal to the overthrown

Provisional Government.



Zinoviev and Kamenev briefly had the

support of a Central Committee majority

and negotiations were started, a quick

collapse of the anti-Bolshevik forces

outside Petrograd aided Lenin and Trotsky

to convince the Central Committee to

abandon the negotiating process. In

response, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Alexei Rykov,

Vladimir Milyutin and Victor Nogin

resigned from the Central Committee on 4

November 1917 (Old Style) and Kamenev

resigned from his Central Executive

Committee post. The following day Lenin

wrote a proclamation calling Zinoviev and

Kamenev "deserters."


 He never forgot

their behavior, eventually making an

ambiguous reference to their "October

episode" in his Testament.

Opposition to Trotsky

In 1918, Kamenev became chairman of the

Moscow Soviet, and soon thereafter

Lenin's Deputy Chairman of the Council of

People's Commissars (government) and

the Council of Labour and Defence. In

March 1919, Kamenev was elected as a

full member of the first Politburo. His

personal relationship with his brother-in-

law Trotsky, which was good in the

aftermath of the 1917 revolution and

during the Russian Civil War, lessened

after 1920. For the next 15 years, Kamenev

was a friend and close ally of Grigory

Zinoviev, who exceeded him in ambition.

During Lenin's illness, Kamenev was

appointed as the acting Council of

People's Commissars and Politburo

chairman. Together with Zinoviev and

Joseph Stalin, he formed a ruling

'triumvirate' (or 'troika') in the Communist

Party, and played a key role in the

marginalization of Trotsky. The triumvirate

carefully managed the intra-party debate

and delegate selection process in the fall

of 1923 during the run-up to the XIIIth

Party Conference, securing a vast majority

of the seats. The Conference, held in

January 1924 immediately prior to Lenin's

death, denounced Trotsky and


In the spring of 1924, while the triumvirate

was criticizing the policies of Trotsky and

the Left Opposition as "anti-Leninist", the

tensions between the volatile Zinoviev and

his close ally Kamenev on one hand, and

the cautious Stalin on the other, became

more pronounced and threatened to end

their fragile alliance. However, Zinoviev

and Kamenev helped Stalin retain his

position as General Secretary of the

Central Committee at the XIIIth Party

Congress in May–June 1924 during the

first Lenin's Testament controversy,

ensuring that the triumvirate gained more

political advantage at Trotsky's expense.

Lev Kamenev, Director of the 

Lenin Institute

 of the

Central Committee 1923

In October 1924, Stalin proposed his new

theory of Socialism in One Country in

opposition to Trotsky's theory of

Permanent revolution, while Trotsky

published "Lessons of October,"



extensive summary of the events of 1917.

In the article, Trotsky described Zinoviev

and Kamenev's opposition to the Bolshevik

seizure of power in 1917, something that

the two would have preferred left

unmentioned. This started a new round of

intra-party struggle, with Zinoviev and

Kamenev once again allied with Stalin

against Trotsky. They and their supporters

accused Trotsky of various mistakes and

worse during the Russian Civil War.

Trotsky was ill and unable to respond

much to the criticism, and the triumvirate

damaged Trotsky's military reputation so

much that he was forced out of his

ministerial post as People's Commissar of

Army and Fleet Affairs and Chairman of

the Revolutionary Military Council in

January 1925. Zinoviev demanded

Trotsky's expulsion from the Communist

Party, but Stalin refused to go along with

this and skillfully played the role of a


At the XIVth Conference of the Communist

Party in April 1925, Zinoviev and Kamenev

found themselves in a minority when their

motion to specify that socialism could

only be achieved internationally was

rejected, resulting in the triumvirate of

recent years breaking up. At this time,

Stalin was moving more and more into a

political alliance with Nikolai Bukharin and

the Right Opposition, with Bukharin having

elaborated on Stalin's Socialism in One

Country policy, giving it a theoretical


Break with Stalin (1925)

With Trotsky mostly on the sidelines

through a persistent illness, the Zinoviev-

Kamenev-Stalin triumvirate collapsed in

April 1925, although the political situation

was hanging in the balance for the rest of

the year. All sides spent most of 1925

lining up support behind the scenes for the

December Communist Party Congress.

Lev Kamenev, acting Chairman of the Council of

People's Commissars (Premier) Soviet Union, greeted

on the military parade to celebrate 6th anniversary of

the October revolution, 7 November 1923

Stalin struck an alliance with Nikolai

Bukharin, a Communist Party theoretician

and Pravda editor, and the Soviet prime

minister Alexei Rykov. Zinoviev and

Kamenev strengthened their alliance with

Lenin's widow, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and

also aligned with Grigori Sokolnikov, the

People's Commissar for Finance and a

candidate Politburo member. Their alliance

became known as the 

New Opposition


The struggle became more open at the

September 1925 meeting of the Central

Committee, and came to a head at the

XIVth Party Congress in December 1925,

when Kamenev publicly demanded the

removal of Stalin from the position of the

General Secretary. With only the Leningrad

delegation (controlled by Zinoviev) behind

them, Zinoviev and Kamenev found

themselves in a tiny minority and were

soundly defeated. Trotsky remained silent

during the Congress. Zinoviev was re-

elected to the Politburo, but Kamenev was

demoted from a full member to a non-

voting member, and Sokolnikov was

dropped altogether. Stalin succeeded in

having more of his allies elected to the


Opposition to Stalin (1926–


In early 1926, Zinoviev, Kamenev and their

supporters gravitated closer to Trotsky's

supporters; with the two groups forming

an alliance, which became known as the

The photo shows the leadership of the USSR: 



, General Secretary of the Communist Party;

Alexei Rykov

, Chairman of the Council of People's

Commissars (Prime Minister); Lev Kamenev, Deputy

Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars

(Deputy Prime Minister); 

Grigory Zinoviev

, Chairman

of the Comintern's Executive Committee. Apr 1925.

United Opposition. During a new period of

intra-Party fighting between the July 1926

meeting of the Central Committee and the

XVth Party Conference in October 1926,

the United Opposition was defeated and

Kamenev lost his Politburo seat at the


Kamenev continued to oppose Stalin

throughout 1926 and 1927, resulting in his

expulsion from the Central Committee in

October 1927. After the expulsion of

Zinoviev and Trotsky from the Communist

Party on 12 November 1927, Kamenev

was the United Opposition's chief

spokesman within the Party, representing

its position at the XVth Party Congress in

December 1927. Kamenev used the

occasion to appeal for reconciliation

among the groups. His speech was

interrupted 24 times by his opponents -

Bukharin, Ryutin, and Kaganovich, making

it clear that Kamenev's attempts were



 The Congress declared United

Opposition views incompatible with

Communist Party membership; it expelled

Kamenev and dozens of leading

Oppositionists from the Party. This paved

the way for mass expulsions in 1928 of

rank-and-file Oppositionists, as well as

sending prominent Left Oppositionists into

internal exile.

Kamenev's first marriage, which had begun

to disintegrate in 1920, as a result of his

reputed affair with the British sculptress

Clare Sheridan, ended in divorce in 1928

when he left Olga Kameneva and married

Tatiana Glebova



 They had a son

together, Vladimir Glebov (1929–1994).


Submission to Stalin and


While Trotsky remained firm in his

opposition to Stalin after his expulsion

from the Party and subsequent exile,

Zinoviev and Kamenev capitulated almost

immediately and called on their supporters

to follow suit. They wrote open letters

acknowledging their mistakes and were

readmitted to the Communist Party after a

six-month cooling-off period. They never

regained their Central Committee seats,

but they were given mid-level positions

within the Soviet bureaucracy. Kamenev

and, indirectly, Zinoviev, were courted by

Bukharin, then at the beginning of his short

and ill-fated struggle with Stalin, in the

summer of 1928. This activity was soon

reported to Joseph Stalin and used

against Bukharin as proof of his


Zinoviev and Kamenev remained politically

inactive until October 1932, when they

were expelled from the Communist Party

for failure to inform on oppositionist party

members during the Ryutin Affair. After

again admitting their alleged errors, they

were readmitted in December 1933. They

were forced to make self-flagellating

speeches at the XVIIth Party Congress in

January 1934, where Stalin paraded his

erstwhile political opponents, showing

them to be defeated and outwardly


The murder of Sergei Kirov on 1 December

1934 was a catalyst for what are called

Stalin's Great Purges, as he initiated wide-

sweeping show trials and executions of


Grigory Zinoviev

, Kamenev and

their closest associates were again

expelled from the Communist Party and

were arrested in December 1934.

During this time Kamenev wrote a letter to

Stalin, saying:

Bust of Kamenev by 

Clare Sheridan

At a time when my soul is filled

with nothing but love for the

party and its leadership, when,

having lived through hesitations

and doubts, I can boldly say that

I learned to highly trust the

Central Committee's every step

and every decision you,

Comrade Stalin, make,"

Kamenev wrote. "I have been

arrested for my ties to people

that are strange and disgusting

to me.

The men were tried in January 1935 and

were forced to admit "moral complicity" in

Kirov's assassination. Zinoviev was

sentenced to ten years in prison and

Kamenev to five. Kamenev was charged

separately in early 1935 in connection with

the Kremlin Case and, although he refused

to confess, was sentenced to ten years in


In August 1936, after months of careful

preparations and rehearsals in Soviet

secret police prisons, Zinoviev, Kamenev

and 14 others, mostly Old Bolsheviks, were

put on trial again. This time the charges

including forming a terrorist organization

that allegedly killed Kirov and tried to kill

Stalin and other leaders of the Soviet

government. This Trial of the Sixteen (or

the trial of the "Trotskyite-Zinovievite

Terrorist Center") was one of the Moscow

Show Trials, and it set the stage for

subsequent show trials. Old Bolsheviks

were forced to confess increasingly

elaborate and monstrous crimes, including

espionage, poisoning, sabotage, and so

on. Like other defendants, Kamenev was

found guilty and executed by firing squad

on 25 August 1936.

In 1988, during perestroika, Kamenev,

Zinoviev and his co-defendants were

formally cleared of all charges by the

Soviet government.

Fate of the family

After Kamenev's execution, his relatives

suffered similar fates. Kamenev's second

son, Yu. L. Kamenev, was executed on 30

January 1938, at the age of 17. His eldest

son, air force officer A.L. Kamenev, was

executed on 15 July 1939, at the age of 33.

His first wife, Olga, was executed on 11

September 1941, in the Medvedev forest

outside Oryol, together with Christian

Rakovsky, Maria Spiridonova, and 160

other prominent political prisoners.



his youngest son, Vladimir Glebov,

survived Stalin's prisons and labor camps,

living until 1994.



a. Russian: Лев Бори́сович Ка́менев,

IPA: [ˈlʲɛf bɐˈrʲisəvʲɪtɕ ˈkamʲɪnʲɪf] 

( listen)

b. Russian: Ро́зенфельд, Rozenfeld


1. Dmitri Volkogonov, Lenin. A New

Biography, translated and edited by

Harold Shukman (New York: The Free

Press, 1994), p. 185.

2. Lindemann, Albert S. Esau's Tears:

Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of

the Jews. Cambridge University Press.

p. 430. ISBN 0-521-79538-9.

3. For a key profile of Kamenev search

the AQA Oxford History 'Revolution

and Dictatorship: Russia 1917-1953' -

Pg 18 "key profile of Lev Borisovich


4. See Adam Bruno Ulam. Stalin: The

Man and His Era, Boston, Beacon

Press, 1973, ISBN 0-8070-7005-X


5. Simon Sebag Montefiore, Young

Stalin, p. 262

6. David Evans and Jane Jenkins, Years

of Russia and the USSR 1851-1991,

Hodder Murray, 2001, p.221.



8. For an account of the discussions

within the Bolshevik leadership in

November 1917, 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. 70




Lenin, Written on November 5 or 6 (18

or 19), 1917, as published in From V. I.

Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English

Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow,

1964 Vol. 26, pp. 303-307.

10. "The Lessons of October"  Archived

2005-12-27 at the Wayback Machine

by Leon Trotsky

11. Lewis H. Siegelbaum, Soviet State and

Society Between Revolutions, 1918–

1929, Cambridge University Press,

Cambridge, 1992, p.189-190.

ISBN 978-0-521-36987-9

12. 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,


13. 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.

14. See Michael Parrish. The Lesser

Terror: Soviet State Security, 1939-

1953, Westport, CT: Praeger

Publishers, 1996, ISBN 0-275-95113-8

p. 69.

Further reading

Corney, Frederick C., ed. Trotsky's

Challenge: The "Literary Discussion" of

1924 and the Fight for the Bolshevik

Revolution. (Chicago: Haymarket Books,


Debo, Richard Kent. "Litvinov and

Kamenev—Ambassadors Extraordinary:

The Problem of Soviet Representation

Abroad." Slavic Review 34.3 (1975): 463-

482. online

15. Geert Mak, In Europa, 2009. Episode

"1933, Russia"

Isaac Deutscher. Stalin: a Political

Biography (1949)

Isaac Deutscher. The Prophet Armed:

Trotsky, 1879–1921 (1954)

Isaac Deutscher. The Prophet Unarmed:

Trotsky, 1921–1929 (1959)

Haupt, Georges, and Jean-Jacques

Marie. Makers of the Russian Revolution:

Biographies (Routledge, 2017).

Kotkin, Stephen. Stalin: Paradoxes of

Power, 1878-1928 (2015) excerpt

Lih, Lars T. "Fully Armed: Kamenev and

Pravda in March 1917." The NEP Era:

Soviet Russia 1921-1928, 8 (2014), 55-

68(2014). online

Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the

Bolshevik Regime (2011)

Pogorelskin, Alexis. "Kamenev and the

Peasant Question: The Turn to

Opposition, 1924-1925." Russian History

27.4 (2000): 381-395. online

Rabinowitch, Alexander. Prelude to

Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks

and the July 1917 Uprising (1968).

Volkogonov, Dmitri. Lenin. A New

Biography (1994),

Other languages

Ulrich, Jürg: Kamenew: Der gemäßigte

Bolschewik. Das kollektive Denken im

Umfeld Lenins. VSA Verlag, Hamburg

2006, ISBN 3-89965-206-1.

"Unpersonen": Wer waren sie wirklich?

Bucharin, Rykow, Trotzki, Sinowjew,

Kamenew. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1990,

ISBN 3-320-01547-8.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media

related to 

Lev Kamenev


Lev Kamenev Archive  at marxists.org

Examination of Kamenev  during his

trial, 20 August 1936.

Leon Trotsky on Kamenev and Grigory


Newspaper clippings about Lev

Kamenev  in the 20th Century Press

Archives of the ZBW

Political offices

Preceded by 



Chairman of

the Central


Committee of

the All-Russian

Congress of



Succeeded by 



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