1897 – 1970
Who was Polina Zhemchuzhina?
Born Perl Karpovskaya to the family of a Jewish tailor in the village of Pologi, in the Aleksandrov uyezd of Yekaterinoslav Governorate, she joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party of Bolsheviks in 1918 and served as a propaganda commissar in the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. As a communist, she went by the surname Zhemchuzhina, which, like her birth name Perl in Yiddish, means "pearl".
In 1921, she married Vyacheslav Molotov, by then a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. She also made a successful career in the Soviet hierarchy, serving in the Narkomat of Food Industry under Anastas Mikoyan, to become in 1939 the first female Narkom in the government of the Soviet Union, and was elected a candidate to the Central Committee that year.
During the 1920s, her sister emigrated to the then-British Mandate of Palestine. According to historian Zhores Medvedev, Stalin was highly suspicious of Zhemchuzhina. He thought that she negatively influenced Molotov, and he recommended Molotov to divorce her. Her brother Karp was a successful businessman in the USA
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