Sunday, October 26, 2008

Zinovy Peshkov

My brother depends on me to research the
ancestors. In every family, it seems
that someone is selected for this purpose.
For me, it's made easier because my mother's
family has some of their history in the history
of the 20th Century.

This information is rapidly updated as
translations from old Russian archives
are added to the Internet databases.

I read tonight that Solzhenitsn
considered my grandfather one of
the 50 worst mass murderers in Russia.
That was depressing. But, that's just his opinion.
He was quite an Anti-semite.

I know he wasn't a saint, but, "mass murderer"
seems harsh.

To balance this depressing tidbit, I found a great
translated French site which features
his brother, the French general. He
was more palatable, considered a hero.

This article was translated, so it's clumsy, and
hard to read with fluidity, but, it has some very
cool information on my mom's family, and

It relates to how unusual this family of eight
children were, some remaining in the Soviet Union,
in high places, while others went to the West.
Those like my grandfather went to England and
then the USA for subversive assignments,
and then became Westernized.

This French uncle was a four star general
close aid to DeGaulle, during the Cold War,
in an ironically similar way that his communist
brother Yakov was the right hand to
Lenin during the early days of the USSR.

Zinovi Alekseyevich Pechkoff

(Russian: ЗиновийАлексеевичПешков, English:
Zinovy Pechkov),
born with Nijni-Novgorod the October 16th 1884
and died in Paris the November 27th 1966, is a
Général and Diplomate French of Russian origin.

Protected from Gorki

Born under the name of Yeshua Zolomon Movshevich
(name Russianized : Zinovy Mikhailovich
, ЗиновийМихайловичСвердлов), the future
Zinovi Pechkoff is born within an Jewish family of
Nijni-Novgorod. His father Mikhaïl Moïsevitz (1846?
- 1921, in Hebrew, Moshe Ben Yisra' eil ) is an
ironmonger and copper plate engraver itinerant
relatively prosperous, itself originating in the area
of Białystok, in Poland, with the borders of the borders
Belorusse and Lithuanian. His/her mother, Elisabeth
Solomonovna (1864 - 1900), is related to the
commercial families of a city which experiences since
the beginning of the 19th century a vigorous economic

The generation of Zinovi is emblematic destiny
of the Jewish families located in contact with the
central empires to the hinge of the XIX° and XX°
centuries. Indeed, of the eight known children of
Mikhaïl and Elisabeth, a part will be established in
Soviet Russia -sometimes by adopting the new
mode - while the remainder, having made
the choice of the emigration, will make stock,
after a passage in Western Europe, in the United
States. Thus, Sarah, the older sister, born with
Polotsk close to Vitebsk in Bielorussia
in 1876, emigrates in New York since 1913.
She dies there in 1947. The Zinovi, oldest
of the boys, born in 1884, is followed by Iakov,
future collaborator of Lénine.
Lenin, Sverdlov, and Trotsky
After these two brothers with the singular
and opposed destiny, several boys and girls come
who will separate in their turn by the policy and
the emigration.

Zinovy and Gorky

Not very inclined to follow studies, loan as of its
adolescence with all the adventures, the Zinovi
young person trails in the streets of Nijni-Novgorod,
with the edges of legality, attending hooligans then
many at the edge of the the Volga. In 1896, safety
comes from its meeting with a character who undoubtedly
had bonds with the Sverdlov family without the true
nature of these relations being known.

Originating in the area where it is assigned with
residence (Nijni-Novgorod, its birthplace, is with
100 kilometers in the north of Arzamas where it
is exiled), Maxime Gorki - which is then 28 years old
- takes under his protection the Zinovi young person
of which it undoubtedly sees a kind of double of his
personality and a shifted reflection of his own
course. Their ways any more will not separate.

Sverdlov adopts the idealism and the faith in the
social progress of his/her friend, which division
resolutely the existence of humble, respected
and celebrated matter of its work. Gorki organizes
meetings, promotes its ideas a little everywhere in
Russia with a not very common energy. Left secretary,
odd-job man”, Zinovi gives a support to him as
enthusiastic as effective. It shares the arrests,
the imprisonments issued by a all the more hostile
mode as Gorki is then at the beginning of an immense
success in and out of Russia, success which is based
on a radical criticism of the Autocratie. Under the cane
of his mentor, the young man, perhaps on the council
of Stanislavski, tests himself in Moscow with the
Théâtre, with the writing. It collects also the female
conquests, opens in the world.Gorky and Zinovy (in the middle)

The year 1902 is a date hinge in the cross lives
of Gorki and Sverdlov. It marks, with the presentation
on the scene of the Théâtre of Moscow of the “Hollows” ,
the first triumph of the writer. To the same moment,
its election with the Academy of literature - cancelled
by Nicolas II - important public event, is added to
another the more private, the adoption with Arzamas,
under the orthodoxe rite, of the Zinovi young person.
To circumvent the law which limits displacements and
the establishments of the Juif S in the empire but
also to mark its bond with the writer, Zinovy Sverdlov
is made baptize on September 30th, 1902 in the church
of the city. It changes officially name, adopting the true
patronym of Gorki, Pechkoff, this one being its official

Wanting to avoid enrôlement in the armies of the
Tsar at the time of the War Russo-Japanese war
in 1904, Zinovi Pechkoff leaves abroad. After the
Finland, the England, the Sweden, it ends up being
established with the Canada where it exerts many
small trades. Few details are known among this
wandering life if not those which the letters addressed
to Gorki make it possible to know. The revolution of
1905 and its sudden starts push the writer with the

In April 1906, Zinovi finds his/her friend
on the quay of New York, first step of a round
where crowd has a presentiment of itself to
listen to its conferences. Unfortunately, the American
opinion initially charmed by the capacities oratories
of Gorki, to which the intermediary of Pechkoff give
a picturesque relief, is quickly turned over when she
learns, undoubtedly informed by the police force tsarist,
that the writer travels not with his wife but with his
mistress, Maria Andreeva. Persona non grata , it
is necessary for Gorki, which is expelled of its hotel,
to find a foot with ground improvised in New

Zinovy and Gorky with Mark Twain... Zinovy is on the
first row to the left.

As of October, it leaves the United States for Italy,
leaving Zinovi on the spot.

After one year of wandering through the Pacific,
of San Francisco and the New Zealand, Pechkoff
joined his/her adoptive father in Italy in May 1907.
This time is that of " the School of Capri"
particularly formative for him because is had
a presentiment of with the Blaesus villa of many
intellectuals and artists (Chaliapine, for
example, already met in Russia) but
also all the revolutionists Bolchéviques then
exiled - Lénine, Bogdanov, Lounatcharsky,
Bazarov etc -liberally received by the writer
who assumes all the expenses of these stays in
which theory and political action join daily for the
greatest danger of the empire starist.

Zinovi, more than ever secretary of Gorki,
organizes this collective life, takes care of the
details, benefits also fully from the exceptional
meetings of which he is the witness. It côtoie
Lénine which he appreciates little and of which
he will state later that its relations with Gorki
were complicated by often divergent opinions.

It is at that time, there still without one knowing
the exact details of them, that it meets the girl of
a colonel cossack with whom it Marie rather quickly.

He emigrates with her in the United States where he
pains to be made a situation. A little later separation is
consumed. Of this short connection, Pechkoff then had
a girl, Elisabeth, whose destiny remains badly known.

It turns over in 1913 to Capri where it takes again its
activities at Gorki, which a little later benefitting from
the amnesty offered by the Romanov to the guilty
writers of offense of opinion, returns to Russia. The
world war surprises Zinovi in Italy in August 1914.
As in 1905, it does not want any to serve the tsar.
Without one being able to know the major reasons of
them - it did not have particular bonds with France
during its exile out of the Empire, having rather
resided on the other side of the Atlantic and in
Italy - it goes to the consulate of France
to Genoa to engage in the Foreign legion. Guided
towards the station of recruitment of Nice, it is
built-in on August 31st, 1914 (the war is declared
since the 3) with the Bataillon of walk of the 1
{{er}} Étranger.

The hero of the Foreign legion

Two months are enough to equip and train the
volunteers at this beginning of conflict. Pechkoff
which was distinguished - it knows in addition
to Russian, French, English, Italian and German,
which can be useful in a troop where men of the
whole world gather - is named 1st class on October
21st, 1914. In early November, it leaves for the
Champagne face. Named corporal on April 1st, 1915,
Zinovi takes the command of a section. A few days
later, in May 1915, at the time of the combat carried
out by its division in front of Arras, it is seriously
wounded. At the time of an attack, a ball crashes
to pieces the arm to him as soon as it leaves distinct
to the head its soldiers.

Looked after close to the face, it must with its energy
find its safety backwards. Succeeding in borrowing a
train, it finds with the American hospital of Neuilly
where the amputation saves it, in extremis , of death.

Decorated, the Pechkoff corporal then is reformed
then pensioned. He sets out again then for the Italy.
Introduced into the high society where it makes
wonder, it presents conferences on the horrors of
the war, conferences probably inspired of
the meetings organized with Gorki a few years
earlier and which have a great public success.

It finds then Paris, where it meets Philippe Berthelot,
celebrates it general secretary of the Quay of Orsay,
which seizes what this barded young person mutilated
of decorations can bring in terms of propaganda near
the neutral countries, initially with the United
States, area that the Pechkoff corporal knows well.

Convinced of the interest of this strategy, the Foreign
Minister, Briand send Zinovi near the ambassador
of France, Jusserand, with the rank of " lieutenant
interprets temporarily for the duration of his mission"
At the end of nine months, Pechkoff which, as of June
1916, signed a new engagement, “for the duration of
the war”
(but without belonging to the Foreign legion)
returns to Paris misson accomplished. In fact, in April
1917, president Wilson makes vote the declaration
of war by the Senate. The United States joins the
allies in the conflict.

At this moment, the diplomatic attention goes on
the continent of Europe. Appointed captain, Pechkoff
attends the events which plunge Russia in the revolution.
In May, the government sends a mission near the
Provisional government. It is then requested to
a ccompany it, the objective being for France to
convince the new Russian capacity to continue the
war against the German Empire. This return to the
sources is for Zinovi the occasion to join again with its
native land and its family.

By his brother Iakov it has contacts with the Bolsheviks
but does not share in any manner their point of view.
There also probably see his Vienamine brother
and his sisters remained in Russia, all favorable
to the revolution

Stamp commemorating
Yakov Sverdlov

The contacts with Gorki are cold but this climate
does not call into question it solid friendship
which binds the two men.

The seizure of power by Lénine in October is quickly
followed in December by the armistice of Brest-Litovsk
which puts an end to the war Russo-allemande, which
signs the failure of the French diplomatic mission.
Zinovi returns to Paris but the French government,
conscious of the diplomatic capacities of the Pechkoff
captain, sends it at once to advise the White Armies
on all fronts Civil war which ensanglante then Russia.
It meets thus the Ataman cossacks Semenov starting
from Vladivostok, then the admiral Koltchak in the
to help it to reorganize its army. The defeat of
this last, sends it in February 1920 to the the Caucasus
where it vainly tries to play a part near the general
Wrangel. The final victory of the Red Army over the
White in November obliges Pechkoff to return to

Always related to Russia, Zinovi, general secretary
of an organization " " against the famine" ,
relays the desperate call of Gorki near the press of the
whole world to obtain to international opinion an
food aid for its country. This countryside - and the
stay which the writer then begins in Germany
where it makes look after - bring closer the father and his
adoptive son. At that time still, Pechkoff is a man
with the mode, " lancé" according to the expression
of the time, which is received in the largest houses
in company of the princess Salome Andronikov
that it met in the Caucasus, brought back to Europe
and which shares its life.

In May 1922, Zinovi, which forever ceased preserving
its bonds with the Foreign affairs, is placed at the
disposal of the marshal Lyautey, ordering troops of
Morocco. Once again, all, in this nomination, is
astonishing. Pechkoff, which will be French only
the following year, finds the Foreign legion with
the rank of commander while at the same time it
does not have any formation of command and
any experiment at this station. At all events, it can
take up the challenge. The " " penguin magnifique"
such that call it its soldiers leads its troops to the
combat with valiancy. In June 1925, it is wounded
with the left leg at the time of an attack (combat
of Bab Taza), " by symétrie" has said it by showing
the right sleeve of its useless uniform for ten years.

From this period, Pechkoff alternates periods of
command with diplomatic missions. Its stay with
the embassy of France in the United States of 1926
to 1929 does not prevent it from returning visit in
Gorki to Sorrente, at the time of permissions, before
the final departure of the writer for the USSR. At the
time of several stays intersected with commands in
Morocco, he plays a big role with Raising in particular
while intervening with Shiite groups of Gabal `Amil
(current Lebanon-South).

At that time, it meets his second wife,
Jacqueline Delaunay-Belleville,
widow of a diplomat, but this marriage, like
the precedent, will be quickly dissolves. The day
before the world war, the major Pechkoff
orders a unit in Morocco, chief full with plume
and strength whose celebrity is worth to him côtoyer
regularly of many personalities, society peoples or
journalists. It is in this position of North Africa,
ordering 3rd battalion of the 2 {{E}}
Foreign Régiment, which he learns
collapse from the French troops vis-a-vis the
Wehrmacht, in May 1940.

The diplomat gaullist

After having heard the Call of June 18th of the
General de Gaulle then taken refuge with London,
it decides to join it. Its project succeeds but its
first contacts with the chief of the Free France
are difficult. However, at the end of 1941, De Gaulle
promotes it with the rank of colonel (it will have
remained nearly 20 years major) and on mission
in South Africa where it sends it organizes the
transport of armament bound for the allied troops,
while keeping an eye on Madagascar
near. As often, Pechkoff succeeds in establishing
relationships of trust with the chief of the armies
in the area, the general Smuts. The British
occupation of the large island precipitates the
events. Not very interested per a critical
intervention and polemic near the to be sent
in AOF from where he organizes with
brilliance the rallying of the colonies in
Free France.

Promoted General of brigade in April 1944,
Pechkoff is sent at once as delegated French
committee of national release in République
of China near Tchang Kaï-chek which has just
broken with Vichy. Arrived at Chongqing,
new capital of the country because of Japanese
occupation, Zinovi must manage the presence
of another French mission emanating from the
general Giraud, competition which it can with
flexibility marginalize. Ambassador in November
1944, his presence, once more, gives the
opportunity to him to show his capacity to be
made appreciate leaders of any origines which
is had a presentiment of many in China in full

After this Chinese period, Pechkoff is named in
1946 ambassador of France in Japan. It cotoie
the general Mac Arthur which it admires while
in return the hero of Guadalcanal cannot hide
the interest which it tests towards this officer
who imposes some to him by his atypism.

Anxious to spare overcome, the diplomat
endeavors to create bonds of confidence
with the Japanese government, which it
succeeds in little by little obtaining with
the length of his mandate. In 1950, the
Pechkoff general is put at the retirement.

He leaves Japan for a final return to Paris.
Two years later, the government the Large
fact Cross of the Legion of Honor,
distinction which touches with deepest
of itself the young hooligan of

The return to the business of the General de Gaulle
in May 1958 charms the Pechkoff General who
always appreciated the chief of Free France.
In return, the Head of the State does not forget
his faithful allied difficult time. He charges it with
various diplomatic missions before sending it in
1964 near Tchang Kaï-chek. rance having decided
to support China Populaire - i.e. to recognize it
diplomatically - the advertisement of this reversal
must be done with the most possible respect for
the old taken refuge marshal with Taiwan.

The choice of Zinovi is a cross homage paid to these
two soldiers with the exceptional destiny.

Last pictures of Zinovy in 1966.

Zinovi Pechkoff dies in Paris in November 1966.
Its ashes rest with the Russian cemetery of
Holy-Genevieve-of-Wood. Its tomb carries the
following inscription: " Zinovi Pechkoff Légionnaire" .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've written this note about Zinovi in wikipedia (by you translated) and I see that Sverdlov was a relative of you, how is it possible ? Can you explain to me ?