David Petrovsky

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
David Petrovsky (Lipetz)
Petrovsky in 1917 as part of the Jewish Socialist Federation, seated second from left
Born David Lipetz
(1886-09-24)September 24, 1886
Berdychiv, Russian Empire
Died September 10, 1937(1937-09-10) (aged 50)
Moscow, USSR
Cause of death Execution
Citizenship Russian;
Education Doctor of Economics
Alma mater Free University of Brussels
Spouse(s) Rose Cohen
Children Alexey

David Petrovsky (Lipetz) (also Max Goldfarb, Bennett, Humboldt, Brown, born September 24, 1886, in Berdychiv, Russian Empire — September 10, 1937, Moscow, USSR) — a member of the Central Committee of the Jewish Socialist Federation of America, a member of the Socialist Party of America, the editor of the Jewish Daily Forward newspaper, journalist, political and economic scientist, a member of the Central Committee of the General Jewish Labour Bund in Lithuania, Poland and Russia (Bund) until 1919, the statesman of the Soviet Union.

Throughout his life Petrovsky (Lipetz) was wearing the following names: Goldfarb, Bennett, Humboldt, Brown, each of these corresponds to a specific period of the life and work of this man.


Early life[edit]

David Lipetz was born in 1886 in Berdychiv in a cloth shop owner's family, a merchant 2nd guild, Efraim Lipetz, he studied at a Jewish school, and at home with the teachers passed the gymnasium course, was the chairman of the literary and theatrical society of Berdychiv. He soon became interested in revolutionary activities and in 1902 he joined the General Jewish Labour Bund in Lithuania, Poland and Russia (Bund). Since the autumn of 1903 he began to study in Paris in the Russian Higher School of Social Sciences[1], where he became acquainted with many of the revolutionaries.[2]

Since the beginning of the 1905 Russian revolution he returned to Russia, he worked among workers of Dvinsk, Bialystok, Gomel, was one of the leaders of the strike at Libava-Romny railroad. At the 7-th Congress of the Bund, where he first came under the pseudonym Max Goldfarb, he was elected as a candidate for the Central Committee, at the end of 1906 he was arrested by police and spent three months in prison. This was followed by the departure from Russia - first at the London Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP), and then to Brussels, where in 1912 he graduated from the Faculty of Economics of the Free University of Brussels with the degree of Doctor of Economic Sciences (supervisor Emile Vandervelde - the future statesman of Belgium).[3]

Along with his studies he lectures (as a member of the Bund) in the cities of Belgium and France. Back in Russia he was engaged in party work, at the end of 1912, he was arrested in Odessa and sentenced to exile, which was then replaced with expulsion from Russia.

Work in the US[edit]

By agreement between the Central Committee of the Bund and the Jewish Socialist Federation (JSF) of the Socialist Party of America, in 1913 David Lipetz came in New York City to conduct work among the Jewish workers and to raise funds for the Bund as well. In America Lipetz worked and published as Max Goldfarb, in which name he was elected to the Central Committee of the JSF, he was sent on a national speaking tour under the auspices of the JSF in early 1914, during which he addressed more than 15,000 in about 40 engagements according to the report of JSF Secretary Jacob Salutsky.[4]

In addition to his role as a functionary of the JSF, Goldfarb worked as labor editor of Abraham Cahan's Yiddish-language daily, Forverts (The Forward).[5]

Petrovsky (Max Goldfarb) in 1917 at the Stockholm International Socialist Congress, first from left

In the summer 1917 after the bourgeois-democratic February revolution in Russia, he returned to Russia with a passport in the name of David Lipetz, on the way he stopped in Stockholm to the International Socialist Congress.[6][7]

After the February revolution 1917 in Russia[edit]

Upon arrival, he was actively involved in the political life of Russia and the Ukraine: ran for Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917, wrote political articles in Bund magazines, was elected the mayor of the city of Berdichev and chairman of the Jewish community of Berdichev. In January 1919, he survived the pogrom of haidamaks, almost did not finish the death of himself and his loved ones.

Since April 1919 David Lipetz in Kiev, he starts to serve with the Red Army, and becomes the lecturing instructor in the school in the Red Army. At the end of 1919, David Lipetz left from Bund and joined the Bolsheviks, from the book of D.Petrovsky "Military schools during the revolution (1917-1924)": "I was charged the head of speakers bureau in the General Directorate of military educational institutions (GUVUZ)[8] in fall of 1919, since the end of 1919 I'm starting to come into contact with the general operational activity of the military schools, first as the head of the political department of GUVUZ (1919 - early 1920), and then as the chief of the General Directorate of military educational institutions, from March 1920 to April 1924."

Petrovsky in 1922 at the Moscow meeting of chief commanders of the Red Army.
Low row (from left to right): 1-st D.P. Oskin, 2-й August Kork, 3-d N.N. Petin, 4-th Alexander Yegorov (soldier), 5-th Mikhail Frunze, 6-th Sergey Kamenev, 7-th Kliment Voroshilov, 8-th Pavel Pavlovich Lebedev, 9-th A.A. Iordanskiy, 10-th Iona Yakir, 11-th David Petrovsky, 12-th Mikhail Tukhachevsky

David Lipetz becomes David Petrovsky, or just General Petrovsky, as soon as possible military educational institutions of the Russian Empire, destroyed by the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War, were rebuilt and began to prepare the young generation in military academies, colleges, training centers. Ideas of Petrovsky for the establishment of Soviet military schools for boys met with resistance, the time for them to come only twenty years later, when the Suvorov Military School and the Nakhimov Naval School will be opened, his point of view on the problems of a single military doctrine has caused sharp negative reaction of Mikhail Frunze.[9] Yet in 1924 Mikhail Frunze expresses gratitude to him for "the fruitful work done over the matter of raising the military power of the Soviet Union."[10]

In 1924 he has sent to work in the Communist International as Communist International representative in the communist parties of Great Britain, France and United States. Petrovsky comes in England under the name of Bennett, and everyone - even the British Communists and his future wife Rose Cohen, consider him as an American - the Yankees from the East Coast of the United States. Western intelligence agencies not managed to declassify him; in France he was known as Humboldt, and he had passports on the other names. He led the Anglo-American Secretariat, and controlled the communist movements in Great Britain, Ireland, US, India, South Africa, Canada, Japan, Korea and Dutch Indonesia, he worried the situation of black people in the US and South Africa. In 1928, Petrovsky was elected and served as a member of the presidium of the Executive Committee of the Communist International . "God Goldfarb" - called him old friends in US [11]

In 1929 D.Petrovsky was transferred to the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy - a member of the Presidium and the Chief of the General Directorate of higher and secondary technical educational institutions (GLAVVTUZ). His experience in organizing and managing the military education (1920-1924) after the revolution 1917 in Russia became useful;[12] in the USSR it was necessary to prepare 435,000 engineers and technicians for 5 years (1930-1935) during the industrialization period, while their number in 1929 was 66,000.[13]

The old party comrades didn't believe that he will succeed with higher and secondary technical educational institutions in the USSR, because he as a former Bundist will not dare to take on the work of former Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionary Party members, the former right-wing and the Trotskyists (see:Trotskyism), and he will only take those who know how to properly vote, but not able to work.

But he has once again everything turned out, on the basis of large multi-faculty educational institutes, in the early 1930s, branch institutes were established. For example, on the basis of the Moscow Mining Academy - Moscow Mining Institute (Moscow State Mining University), Geological Prospecting Institute (Russian State Geological Prospecting University), Moscow Oil Institute (Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas), Institute of Steel (National University of Science and Technology MISiS), Institute of Nonferrous Metals and Gold. On the basis of Bauman Moscow State Technical University - Moscow Aviation Institute, Moscow Power Engineering Institute, Moscow University of Civil Engineering, and other institutions in the USSR.[14] From 1930 to 1940, the number of higher and secondary technical colleges and institutions in the USSR grew 4 times and exceeded 150.[15]

Arrest and execution[edit]

David Petrovsky (a prison photo), 1937

In March 1937 he was arrested (as the head of the General Directorate of educational institutions in the Ministry (People's Commissariat) of Soviet Heavy Industry and was accused for "counterrevolutionary" activity, and shot September 10, 1937. In August 1937 his London-born wife Rose Cohen, a former Comintern courier, was arrested as an alleged British spy, and on November 28, 1937 she was also shot (rehabilitated in the USSR in 1956), she was the head of the Department and the editor in the "Moscow Daily News" (The Moscow News) newspaper.

Political rehabilitation and family[edit]

On January 25, 1958 the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR quashed the judgment of September 10, 1937, all charges were dropped and the case was dismissed for lack of corpus delicti. David A. Petrovsky (Lipetz) was posthumously rehabilitated in the USSR.[16]

He married Rose Cohen (1894-1937) a British feminist and suffragist, a founder member of the Communist Party of Great Britain.[17] They had a son - Alexey D. Petrovsky (1929-2010)[18] - PH.D. in Geological and Mineralogical sciences, an academician of Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. They have a grandson - Michael A. Petrovsky[19] - PH.D. in Physics and Mathematics, and great-grandchildren: Maria Petrovskaya and Alexey M. Petrovsky.[20]


David Petrovsky is the author of many publications, including more than ten monographs, the most significant works:

  • Military schools during the revolution (1917-1924), M. 1924.
  • Revolution and counterrevolution in Ukraine, M. 1920.
  • Capitalism and socialism (from Thomas More to Lenin), M. 1920 - the book is stored in the memorial office-library of Lenin in the Moscow Kremlin, Russia.
  • The class struggle in postwar England, M. 1928.


Honorary cadet of the Moscow Higher Military Command School named after the RSFSR Supreme Council


  1. ^ The Russian Higher School of Social Sciences https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Русская_высшая_школа_общественных_наук
  2. ^ Salman Rejsin, Lexicon of Yiddish Literature, Vilna, 1928, Volume 1 (p.p. 485-7)
  3. ^ Official History of the Jewish Labour Bund, Volume II (New York, 1962)
  4. ^ Jacob Salutsky in The Party Builder, March 21, 1914, pg. 1.
  5. ^ Theodore Draper, American Communism and Soviet Russia. New York: Viking Press, 1957; p. 168
  6. ^ "Dr. M. Goldfarb Will Return to Russia," Advance, 18 May 1917, pp. 1-2.
  7. ^ Stochholm Conference, The Public. 1917, 29 June, p.p.628-629
  8. ^ The General Directorate of military educational institutions: Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation - Encyclopedia http://encyclopedia.mil.ru/encyclopedia/dictionary/details_rvsn.htm?id=5376@morfDictionary
  9. ^ Ster Elisavetskiy. General Petrovsky biography, Institute of Jewish Studies, Kyiv, 2002, the International Solomon University, Ukraine
  10. ^ The Order № 565 of April 15, 1924. The Deputy Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR M.Frunze, Military Gazette, number 16, 1924, p. 66
  11. ^ Archive of Jewish history, Volume 7, (p.p. 225-241)
  12. ^ Labour list of D.Petrovsky, Main Archival Administration of the USSR, Ministry of Internal Affairs, letter number 2284 of 08/04/1958
  13. ^ David Petrovsky “A reconstruction of engineering and technical education” 1930 http://alkruglov.narod.ru/z-petrovsk.pdf
  14. ^ S.I. Zinoviev, V.B. Panov, A.G. Gorshenev.Higher education institutions, Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition, 1969-1978
  15. ^ A.L Arefiev, M.A. Arefiev Engineering and technical education in Russia in figures. 2012 http://www.socioprognoz.ru/files/File/publ/Inkzenerno_technicheckoe.pdf
  16. ^ The Central Archive, Federal Security Service, Russia
  17. ^ Francis Beckett: Stalin’s British victims, United Kingdom, 2004
  18. ^ Francis Beckett: Stalin’s British victims, United Kingdom, 2004, p.184
  19. ^ Francis Beckett: Stalin’s British victims, United Kingdom, 2004, p.184
  20. ^ Francis Beckett: Stalin’s British victims, United Kingdom, 2004, p.185