Weinstein, Gregory Isaakovich (1880-1940)

A Russian Revolutionary who took part in the American revolutionary movement from 1915 to 1918 and later became a Soviet diplomat.

Gregory Weinstein was born in Vilna, in the Russian Empire (now Vilnius, Lithuania), on July 1, 1880. He joined the Socialist revolutionary movement while he was a student at the Vilnius Teachers Institute and, after his graduation in 1900, became a professional revolutionary and a member of the Jewish Socialist Federation, commonly known as The Bund. In 1905, Weinstein was arrested by the Russian authorities at Brest-Litovsk, incarcerated and later exiled to Siberia for four years. But in 1906 he managed to escape to Paris and subsequently moved to Switzerland. He studied at the University of Geneva, earning masters’ degrees in law and social science in 1911.

In 1912 or 1913, Weinstein immigrated to the United States, where he worked in New York for two years as a statistician at a labor union statistics office. In 1913, he joined the American Socialist Party and became active in its left wing. 1 In 1914, Weinstein became an associate editor of the Socialist newspaper, Novyi Mir (New World), which was published in New York and predated the organized Russian Socialist movement. 2 In March 1918, Weinstein was one of five signatories to a resolution sent to President Woodrow Wilson by the Executive Committee of the First United Russian Convention, which brought together liberal, socialist and anarchist members of the “Russian colony” in America. The resolution expressed deep indignation about a prospective attack on revolutionary Russia with the consent of the Allies. 3

In January 1919, the Government of Soviet Russia (RSFSR) opened a mission in New York to work towards the establishment of diplomatic and commercial relations with the United States. (The mission was commonly known in the States as the “Martens Bureau.”) Weinstein was appointed its chief clerk, with the official title of Director of the General Office Department. He was listed simultaneously as a staff member of the Soviet Commissariat of Foreign Affairs (NKID). In September 1919, Weinstein joined the newly founded Communist Labor Party of America, and in 1920 he became a member of the United Communist Party of America. 4 The Martens Mission was not recognized by the U.S. government, however, and its head, Ludwig Martens, was eventually deported to Soviet Russia. 5 Weinstein was remembered by Benjamin Gitlow, his friend and fellow party member, as “an able writer, well versed in the movement, a good lecturer and speaker and in addition a fairly capable politician.” 6

In early 1921, Weinstein went to Moscow and became head of the Department of Anglo-Roman countries of the NKID. From 1926 to 1928, he served at the Soviet Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey, and in 1929 he was appointed as the NKID diplomatic agent in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Weinstein remained in Leningrad until the late 1930s, when he was summoned back to the NKID Moscow Central apparatus to serve briefly as the head of its Second Western Department. He was soon arrested and was executed in 1940 – to be rehabilitated in the 1950s. 7

  1. Rethinking the Red Scare. The Lusk Committee and New York’s Crusade Against Radicalism, 1919-1923, by Todd J. Pfannestiel, New York: Routledge, 2003, p. 41; Gregory Weisntein’s CV in Potemkin to Andreev, May 19, 1938, in Fund 05 (M. Litvinov Secretariat Records), description 18 (1938), P. 138, folder 3 (“Letters of Potemkin, the First Deputy of the People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs to the CC VCP (b), 4 January – 31 Dec., 1938.” ), p. 123, AVP RF.
  2. Early American Marxism website, http://www.marxists.org/history/usa/eam/lf/fedrussian.html.
  3. Ibidem.
  4. Gregory Weisntein’s brief biography in Potemkin to Andreev, Op. Cit.
  5. Instructions to Ludwig Martens, in Fund 129 (Information on the USA), description 4, P. 3, folder 6, p. 10, AVP RF.
  6. Rethinking the Red Scare, Op. cit., p. 41.
  7. G.I. Weinstein brief profile in Soviet-American Relations, 1934-1939, Moscow: International Foundation “Democracy,” 2003, p. 57.