Nikolay Bulganin

Nikolay Bulganin

Nikolay Bulganin, the son of a office worker, was born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, on 30th May, 1895. As a young man he joined the Bolsheviks and after the the October Revolution was employed by the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage (Cheka) in Turkestan.

Bulganian was later appointed to manage a leading electrical-equipment factory in Moscow. In 1931 he became mayor of Moscow. This was followed by positions as chairman of the Soviet Union's State Bank (1938-41) and deputy premier of the Soviet Union (1938-41).

During the the Second World War Bulganin served under Joseph Stalin in the war cabinet. He was also chairman of the State Defence Committee.

In 1947 Bulganian became minister of the armed forces. Granted the rank of marshal of the Soviet Union and became a full member of the Politburo of the Central Committee.

After the death of Joseph Stalin Bulganin served as deputy premier and minister of defence under Georgy Malenkov. However, he supported Nikita Khrushchev against Malenkov and in February, 1955, was rewarded with the post of chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union.

In the summer of 1957 Bulganian joined with Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, in an attempt to oust Nikita Khrushchev. This was unsuccessful and Bulganian was forced into retirement.

Nikolay Bulganin died on 24th February, 1975.

Primary Sources

(1) Herbert Morrison, An Autobiography (1960)

Kruschev is undoubtedly a clever man; either a dangerous one or a man who will be valuable to the cause of peace. It is impossible to know yet whether he is playing a part or being genuine. Bulganin was, on the other hand, much more easy to assess, and it is not hindsight to say that on that visit I felt convinced his days of glory were soon due for eclipse. A Soviet prime minister who is not also First Secretary of the Communist Party (as Mr. K. was and is) is, as things are, bound to be insecure.

I had met Bulganin, as Chairman of the Moscow Soviet, before the war when he came to study London's transport system and local government; it was my job as Leader of the L.C.C. to show him around. It was the time when the Russians were planning the Moscow underground railway system. I suggested that the then lesser size of Moscow made the enterprise a somewhat doubtful proposition either as a public service or as an economic asset. He made it clear that the Soviet Government intended to construct a tube railway if only for reasons of prestige. Indeed it is a fine job.

Bulganin gave the impression of being the type of level-headed man who could be a fairly important executive in a commercial firm, or more probably a higher civil servant, in any country and under any kind of regime. He seemed an incongruous and unnatural partner with Kruschev as joint ruler of Russia. It was obvious that Kruschev was more politically awake and he had by far the more dominating character. Bulganin was always ready to give way to Kruschev during conversation when both had the same opportunity to yield.