Monday, November 8, 2021

A story about Molotov's last days

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, the legendary Soviet politician and diplomat, an old Bolshevik revolutionary, died on November 8th, 1986 at the age of 96.  

At the time of his death, he was the last surviving major participant in the events of the 1917 October Revolution.

During the last weeks of his life the decline in his health had become noticeable. However he never lost his sense of duty. There is a story about elderly Molotov's reaction concerning a statement or decision of Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in 1986. 

In his book "Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremlin Politics", Molotov's biographer Felix Chuev writes:

"Shortly before his death, he read the last page of Pravda, laid down the paper, and said, "Invite Shevardnadze to see me at 5 p.m". Apparently Molotov was agitated over some international problem, and he reverted to his former role as a member of the Politburo, first deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers and minister of foreign affairs. Members of his household thought he would forget all about it by 5 p.m, but by that time he had put on his suit and necktie. They told him that Comrade Shevardnadze was busy and could not accept..." (p.418).

A modified version of this incident is described by an article in "The Espresso Stalinist": 

"Shortly before his death, as he was failing in mind and body, Molotov, who was cared for by his grandchildren, was watching TV one day when Soviet Foreign Minister, Edvard Shevardnadze came on the news making some statement. Molotov rose from chair in a rage, shouting “What the hell is he saying! That’s revisionism! Pure revisionism! Worse than revisionism! Has he gone off his head? I hope Stalin hasn’t gotten wind of this yet, or there’ ll be hell to pay. Tell Shevardnadze I want to see him in my office TODAY at 4:00 pm SHARP. And he better have a good explanation for this garbage!”

When they heard the shouting, his grandchildren rushed into the room and tried to calm him, saying “Grandpa relax! It’s just the news. You’re not Foreign Minister anymore. It’s 1986. Stalin’s been dead for 30 years.” Molotov calmed down and muttered “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I just got so worked up. My memory isn’t all it used to be anymore.”

However, later that afternoon, at about 3:45, his grandchildren saw that the old man had put on a suit and was busy knotting his tie. His grandchildren laughed and asked “Grandpa, are you thinking of going somewhere/” Molotov replied “Go somewhere? I wish I could go somewhere! I’m getting ready for Shevardnadze. I should put in a call to Stalin and let know that I’ll handle this.”

Once again, Molotov’s grandchildren had to intervene and tell the old man that he was no longer a party leader, that Stalin was long gone, and that the world had changed."
No matter which version is closer to reality, the issue remains the same: Vyacheslav Molotov remained a "soldier" of the October Revolution and a loyal servant of the Soviet people until the very end of his life.