220px-Bundesarchiv Bild 102-08858, Nikolai Nikolajewitsch Krestinski

Nikolay Nikolayevich Krestinsky (Russian: Никола́й Никола́евич Крести́нский; October 13th, 1883 – March 15th, 1938) was a Russian Bolshevik revolutionary and Soviet politician.


  • 1 Origins
  • 2 Rise
  • 3 Fall from power
  • 4 Show trial


Krestinsky was born in the town of Mogilev,[1][2] in what is now Mahilyow Voblast of Belarus. According to Russian archivist A. B. Roginsky, Krestinsky was of ethnic Russian origin.[1] Other sources suggest ethnic Ukrainian origins,[2] while according to Felix Chuev, Vyacheslav Molotov maintained that Krestinsky's family had converted from Judaism to Eastern Orthodoxy.[3]


Krestinsky joined the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party in 1903 and sided with its Bolshevik faction. After the February Revolution, which overthrew monarchy in Russia, he proved to be a capable organizer and was elected to the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party on 3 August 1917 (Old Style). He was made a member of the first Soviet Orgburo on 16 January 1919 and the first Politburo on 25 March 1919. He was also made a member of the Central Committee Secretariat on 29 November 1919 and served as the party's Responsible Secretary for the next year and a half.

Fall from power

In late 1920 to early 1921, after the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Civil War, Krestinsky supported Leon Trotsky's faction in an increasingly bitter dispute over the direction of the country. After Vladimir Lenin's victory at the tenth party congress in March 1921, Krestinsky lost his Politburo, Orgburo and Secretariat posts and became Soviet ambassador to Germany. The post was an important and sensitive one because of Soviet Russia's crucial and delicate relationship with Germany at the time, but not nearly as important as his previous posts.

Krestinsky supported Trotsky and the Left Opposition in 1923 – early 1927, but distanced himself from Trotsky later in 1927. He completely broke with the opposition [4] in April 1928.

Show trial

Krestinsky continued working as a diplomat until 1937, when he was arrested during the Great Purges. He was put on trial (as part of the Trial of the Twenty One) on 12 March 1938. While almost all other defendants admitted their guilt during the Moscow Show Trials, Krestinsky at first denied everything, but reversed himself the following day.

On 2 March he said to the presiding judge, Vasili Ulrikh:

The following day, he made a total reversal of his position:

Such a reversion was a rare episode in the show trials of the late 1930s. Krestinsky was sentenced to death and executed in March 1938[citation needed]. He was partially exonerated during Nikita Khrushchev's partial destalinization and was cleared of all charges during perestroika[citation needed].