Grigory Zinoviev Timeline 1883-1936

Born – 23rd September 1883
Died – 25th August 1936 (executed)
Father – A dairy farmer
Mother – not known
Spouse – m. 1912 –  Zlata Lilina (1882 – 1929)
Children – Stefan

See Also: Stalin’s Russia 1922 – 1953


1883 (23rd September)
Grigory Yevseyevich Zinoviev was born Hirsch Apfelbaum to Jewish dairy farmers in Yelizavetgrad, Russia. He was also known by the name Ovsei-Gershon Aronovich Radomyslsky.
1880s (during)
Grigory was educated at home. At some point he studied philosophy, literature and history independently.
1897 (during)
Grigory began working as a clerk.
1901 (around)
Grigory became interested in politics and joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). He also became active in the trade union movement in Russia.
1902 (around)
Grigory left Russia to avoid being arrested by the police. He went firstly to Berlin then to Paris.
1903 (during)
Grigory Zinoviev became a member of the Bolshevik branch of the RSDLP.
1907 (17th May)
Grigory Zinoviev attended the two week RSDLP Party Congress in London along with Vladimir Lenin and Lev Kamenev. He was elected a member of the Central Committee of the Party.
1908 (December)
After Lenin disagreed with Alexander Bogdanov, Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev became Lenin’s main assistants. They moved to Geneva and made the city their base.
1909 (June)
Alexander Bogdanov was voted off the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party. This caused a split in the party between Bogdanov’s supporters and Lenin’s supporters. Zinoviev remained with Lenin.
1912 (during)
Grigory Zinoviev married Zlata Lilina, a teacher and member RSDLP.
1912 (5th January)
The sixth Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party was held in Prague. During the conference, Lenin and the Bolsheviks decided to form their own party independent to the Mensheviks. Zinoviev and Kamenev supported the split.
1914 (around)
A son, Stefan, was born to Grigory Zinoviev and Zlata Lilna.
1914 (1st August)
World War One
Germany declared war on Russia. Following the assassination of heir to the Austro-Hungarian Emprie, Franz Ferdinand and his wife, by Serbian nationalists, Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital, Belgrade. Russia then backed Serbia and mobilised troops. Germany was allied to Austria-Hungary and declared war on Russia to support its ally.
1914 (September)
After the outbreak of World War One, Zinoviev remained in Switzerland with Lenin.
1914 (1st September)
St Petersburg was renamed Petrograd because St Petersburg was considered too German.
1917 (January)
150,000 workers took to the streets of Petrograd (Saint Petersburg had been renamed) on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday to protest at the desperate situation many were in – lack of food, poor living conditions and Russia’s continued participation in a war that was going from bad to worse.
1917 (February)
February Revolution
Strikes and unrest continued in Petrograd amid calls for the Tsar to be overthrown.
1917 (22nd February)
February Revolution
20,000 workers from the Putilov Ironworks went on strike.
1917 (23rd February)
February Revolution
The annual International Women’s Day march from the suburbs to the centre of Petrograd turned increasingly political as they were joined by students, Putilov strikers and other disgruntled factory workers swelling the numbers of protesters to nearly a quarter of a million people.
1917 (23rd – 25th February)
February Revolution
People continued to demonstrate on the streets. Statues of the Tsar were toppled, people waved the red flags of the revolutionaries and called for an end to the Tsarist system. Many also sang the anthem of the French Revolution, the ‘Marseillaise’, sympathising with its call for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
1917 (27th February)
February Revolution
Tsar Nicholas ordered troops onto the streets to remove protesters by force. Although some complied killing around 40 protestors, Nicholas’s move worsened the matter by inflaming the mood of the protestors even more. Moreover, around 65,000 of the soldiers ordered onto the streets were new recruits who sympathised with the masses and they simply refused to fire on the demonstrators and joined them instead.
1917 (27th February)
February Revolution
A meeting of the Duma discussed the future of Russia. They established a Provisional Committee of The Duma and demanded that the Tsar abdicate immediately. At the same time the army generals ordered the soldiers off the streets telling them to support the Provisional Committee instead.
1917 (28th February)
February Revolution
A meeting took place and a Provisional Executive Committee was elected.
1917 (2nd March)
February Revolution
Nicholas II reluctantly abdicated as Tsar. He named his younger brother Mikhail as the new Tsar, a position which Mikhail refused. The Royal family were placed under virtual house arrest.
1917 (2nd March)
The First Provisional government was formed, led by Prince Lvov, a member of the Kadet party.
1917 (3rd April)
Zinoviev returned to Russia with Lenin.
1917 (7th April)
Lenin’s April Theses which set out his ideas for Russia were published in Pravda.
1917 (May)
The Provisional Government lost popularity because it had not taken Russia out of World War One.
1917 (May to June)
Workers saw no improvement in their working conditions and were becoming increasingly dissatisfied. In June 175,000 workers went on strike.
1917 (2nd July)
Leon Trotsky, joined the Bolsheviks.
1917 (3rd – 4th July)
July Days
Josef Stalin helped to organise a series of demonstrations against the government. Workers were joined on the streets by soldiers and the Kronstadt sailors calling for power to the Soviets.
1917 (4th July)
Prince Lvov, head of the Provisional government resigned.
1917 (5th July)
The Government blamed the July days on Bolshevik leaders and many, including Trotsky, were arrested. Zinoviev escaped to Finland with Lenin.
1917 (18th July)
The Socialist Alexander Kerensky took over as head of the Provisional government.
1917 (August)
The Russian royal family were moved to Tobolsk in Western Siberia.
1917 (18th August)
Lenin established the Narrow Composition to direct the Revolution. There were just seven members, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Stkolnikov and Bubnov.
1917 (September)
Alexander Kerensky was persuaded to release those Bolsheviks that had been imprisoned following the July Days.
1917 (September)
Leon Trotsky became leader of the Petrograd Soviet. He worked closely with Lenin to plan a Bolshevik takeover. Zinoviev and Kamenev did not support an armed revolution.
1917 (September)
Throughout the late Summer and early September support for the Bolsheviks had grown and by the end of September membership had reached 200,000.
1917 (7th October)
Lenin returned to Petrograd.
1917 (9th October)
The Bolsheviks established a Military Revolutionary Committee led by Trotsky.
1917 (10th October)
Zinoviev and Kamenev were out-voted and the Bolshevik Central Committee called for a Bolshevik Revolution. Lenin called for them to be expelled from the party but it was not carried out.
1917 (24th October)
October Revolution
Armed workers, Bolshevik Red Guards and the Kronstadt sailors occupied key buildings around the city of Petrograd.
1917 (25th October)
October Revolution
Armed Bolshevik supporters entered the Winter Palace and arrested members of the Provisional Government.
1917 (26th October)
October Revolution
A congress of Soviets was held at which Kamenev was Chairman. The Congress appointed the first Soviet government. Lenin was voted Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, Kamenev was voted Chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, Joseph Stalin was made Commissar for Nationalities and Leon Trotsky was made People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs.
1917 (late October)
Stalin countersigned many of Lenin’s decrees which included the closing of newspapers that were critical of Communism.
1917 (5th November)
Zinoviev and Kamenev disagreed with Lenin over whether or not to negotiate with the railroad union that had threatened a strike. They resigned their positions. Lenin was furious and called them both deserters.
1917 (6th December)
The Cheka (Communist secret police) was established. Its main purpose was to arrest, imprison and execute opponents to Lenin.
1917 (14th December)
Lenin used the Red Army to take control of all the banks.
1917 (22nd December)
A Bolshevik peace delegation led by Alfred Joffe began negotiating a peace with Germany to take Russia out of World War One.
1918 (January)
Lenin changed the name of the Bolshevik party to the Russian Communist Party.
1918 (7th, 8th January)
The harsh demands placed on Russia by Germany were not well received. Germany wanted to take the Baltic states as well as Poland and Ukraine from Russia, a move that would result in the loss of one third of Russia’s population and agricultural land as well as half of its industry. Lenin faced opposition in his government over the continuation of the peace negotiations but eventually won the opposition over.
1918 (23rd February)
Trotsky formed the Red Army. It was comprised of workers and peasants.
1918 (3rd March)
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
This treaty ended Russian involvement in World War One. The signing of the treaty ended the left Socialist Revolutionary’s support of Lenin.
1918 (5th March)
Fearing a possible foreign invasion in support of the Romanovs, Lenin moved the capital of Russia to Moscow. The royal family were moved to Ekaterinburg.
1918 (8th March)
Zinoviev was re-elected to the Central Committee and was given charge of the government of Petrograd.
1918 (April)
Lenin’s government was facing opposition from a number of forces collectively known as the ‘White’ forces. Based in the south, they had been led by Kornilov but following his death were led by Deniken. Another ‘White’ force led by General Yudenich were forming near Petrograd.
1918 (22nd April)
Compulsory military service was introduced for all workers and peasants that did not hire labour.
1918 (17th July)
The Romanov family were executed and buried in shallow graves.
1919 (25th March)
Grigory Zinoviev was elected a member of the Politburo.
1919 (July)
The Red Army had virtually defeated the White force led by Kolchak.
1919 (late)
The Bolshevik Reds had won the war against the whites.
1920 (late August)
Following defeat in the Russo-Polish War, there was conflict between Stalin and Trotsky. Trotsky blamed Stalin for failures in his handling of the Russo-Polish war while Stalin blamed Trotsky for signing a peace with Poland. Kamenev leaned towards supporting Stalin.
1920 (September)
Znoviev presided over the Congress of the Peoples of the East which was held in Baku.
1921 (16th March)
Znoviev was made a full member of the Politburo.
1922 (October)
Zinoviev made a four hour speech in German to the Halle congress of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany.
1922 (1st January)
In a bid to combat rising inflation a new Russian Ruble was introduced. 1 new ruble was worth 10,000 old rubles.
1922 (April)
Lenin created a new post, General Secretary and chose Joseph Stalin for the post.
1922 (25th May)
Lenin suffered a stroke while recovering from surgery to remove a bullet that had been lodged in his neck since a failed assassination attempt in 1918.
1922 (June)
Lenin’s health began to recover.
1922 (August)
Lenin began a part time return to work.
1922 (December)
Lenin suffered a second stroke that left him paralysed on his right side. He withdrew from politics though he remained leader of the Communist Party. Zinoviev worked with Kamenev and Stalin to sideline Trotskyism. The alliance was known as the Triumvirate.
1922 (29th December)
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was created. It comprised the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian Social Republic, the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Republic.
1923 (January)
The Testament
Lenin completed his Testament. A document that proposed changes to the structure of Communism and also gave his thoughts on his possible successors. Lenin indicated that he was uncomfortable with Joseph Stalin and suggested that he be replaced as General Secretary. The document was to be read out at the 12th Party Congress.
1923 (March)
Lenin suffered a third stroke that left him totally paralysed and unable to speak.
1923 (after March)
Although Lenin remained the leader of the Communist Party he could take no part in the actual government of the country. There emerged a power struggle between the Right and Left of the party. Stalin formed an alliance with Zinoviev and Kamenev known as the Triumvirate which became the dominant faction. Trotsky who was left wing opposed the Triumvirate.
1923 (April)
The Testament
Lenin’s wife kept the Testament secret in the hope’s that Lenin would recover and be able to deliver it himself.
1923 (October)
Declaration of the Forty Six
This was a document written by forty-six left-wing communists expressing their concern about the lack of democracy in the party.
1924 (21st January)
Lenin died following a heart attack.
1924 (26th January)
Petrograd was renamed Leningrad to honour Lenin.
1924 (7th March)
A new gold ruble was introduced to stop inflation. This new ruble was equivalent to 50,000 old rubles.
1924 (23rd May)
Lenin’s wife handed over Lenin’s Testament for it to be read out at the 13th Party Congress. The document was critical of the main contenders for party leader but they were reluctant to suppress it so soon after Lenin’s death especially as Lenin’s widow was insistent that his wishes should be carried out. A compromise was reached where it was read out but largely ignored. Zinoviev and Kamenev stated that Stalin had changed and that Lenin’s comments were no longer relevant. Trotsky was defeated and Stalin accepted as new leader.
1924 (25th October)
Zinoviev Letter
A letter, claimed to have been written by Grigory Zinoviev, was published in the Daily Mail newspaper. The letter called for the Communist Party of Great Britain to rise up in revolution. The letter was believed to have been genuine at the time but is now thought to have been a forgery.
1925 (April)
Stalin announced that he wanted to pursue a new theory of Socialism in one country. Zinoviev and Kamenev could not accept this, both sharing Lenin’s ideal that Russia was just the first of many countries to embrace Socialism and so the Triumvirate split. Zinoviev and Kamenev now formed a new opposition to Stalin who allied himself with Nikolai Bukharin.
Stalin removed Trotsky from government and also from his position as head of the Red Army.
1925 (December)
At the fourteenth party congress Zinoviev and Kamenev opposed the NEP and advocated large scale industrialisation. They also put forward arguments in favour of World socialism rather than socialism in one country. However, their arguments were easily put down by Stalin and Bukharin and they were removed from the Politburo.
1926 (early)
Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev became closer to Trotsky and together they formed the United Opposition.
1926 (May)
Stalin told his supporters to accuse Zinoviev of using the Comintern to further his own ideals.
1926 (July)
Grigory Zinoviev was dismissed from the Politburo.
1926 (October)
The United Opposition were defeated during the fifteenth Party Conference and Zinoviev was removed from the Central Committee.
1927 (during)
As a result of strikes and the unrest of the past few years there had been a shortfall in grain production. As a result the price of grain had risen alarmingly. The United Opposition again argued for a change in policy but were defeated.
1927 (December)
At the fifteenth Party Congress Kamenev called for a reconciliation between the factions. His plea was ignored. He, Zinoviev, Trotsky and many other Oppositionists were removed from the Communist Party.
1927 (Spring)
After making a statement saying that they had been mistaken in their opinions Zinoviev and Kamenev were re-admitted to the Communist Party.
1928 (during)
Stalin rejected Lenin’s New Economic Policy, split with Bukharin and began working against him. Bukharin tried to ally himself with Kamenev and by association with Zinoviev, but when Stalin discovered this he used it to dismiss Bukharin.
1928 (after)
Kamenev was excluded form the inner workings of the Party and confined to a clerical role.
1928 (January)
Leon Trotsky, who had not apologised for his opposition to Stalin, was exiled to Kazakhstan.
1928 (October)
Stalin introduced his first five year plan.
Stalin knew that Russia needed to modernise to become more efficient and also self-sufficient. Steel and iron production was to be increased considerably as was the production of energy and tools. To achieve his aims factories were to name and shame those that did not meet required production quotas. Any worker that was absent due to illness or who did not output quotas required was deemed to be working against the state and could be imprisoned or executed.
1929 (February)
Trotsky was found guilty of being a counter-revolutionary and was banished from the Soviet Union. He was given refuge in Turkey and settled near Istanbul. While in Turkey he published his “History of the Russian Revolution“.
1929 (28th May)
Grigory Zinoviev’s wife, Zlata, died in St Petersburg of lung cancer.
1932 (October)
Kamenev and Zinoviev were again expelled from the Communist Party for failing to inform on the oppositionist activities of Martemyan Ryutin.
1933 (December)
Kamenev and Zinoviev were readmitted to the Communist Party after admitting to their mistakes.
1934 (1st December)
Great Terror
Sergei Kirov was assassinated at his office. Kirov was a member of the Politburo who had disagreed with some of Stalin’s policy. It is likely that the assassination was carried out on Stalin’s orders. Stalin had become increasingly distrustful of those close to him. This event marked the beginning of the Great Terror
1934 (December)
Zinoviev and Kamenev were among a number of Russians accused of complicity in Kirov’s assassination.
1935 (January)
Zinoviev, Kamenev and others were tried.Zinoviev was given ten years imprisonment and Kamenev five years.
1936 (19th – 26th August)
The first ‘show trial’, The Trial of the Sixteen saw Zinoviev, Kamenev and fourteen others who had been arrested in January 1935, confess and be found guilty of crimes against the state, notably the assassination of Kirov, plotting to disrupt the five year plans and conspiring with foreign powers to overthrow the government.
1936 (25th August)
Grigory Zinoviev was executed by firing squad.


Published Mar 11, 2019 @ 12:05 pm – Updated – [last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2019 – 2020). Grigory Zinoviev 1883 – 1936. Last accessed [date]

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