flag of USSRIn Young Stalin, Montefiore described Andrei Yanuarevich Vyshinsky, circa 1906, as follows:

"(Joseph) Stalin's sidekick was a red-haired lawyer born in Odessa, son of a well-off Baku family with noble Polish antecedents, Andrei Vyshinsky. (He) had given up the law, organized gangs and had become a hitman in 1905."

But according to another author, he was not yet a lawyer when he met up with Stalin. In Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes in Europe, the authors note that in about 1901, Vyshinsky was kicked out of the Kiev University law school for his violent activities.

After the revolution, in 1908, he had returned to Odessa, married and had a child. He attended the University of Kiev and obtained a law degree in 1913 and for the next four years, busied himself with young lawyer duties.

In 1915,he moved to Moscow and gained prominence by signing the arrest warrant for Lenin. B y 1921, he had moved on to lecture law at Moscow University.

Starting in 1922, he became a state prosecutor and brought charges against numerous "enemies of the state", many of which ended in the execution of the accused. In one 1924 case in which 17 people were condemned to death, including a number of Leningrad judges, he argued:

Andrei Vynshinsky

"Punishment, that is the highest justice. I demand a punishment that is severe, merciless, which will bring down a hurricane of dread, which will liquidate this band of criminals who have disgraced the honour of the office of judgment...."

In 1935, he became state prosecutor of the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (USSR) during which time, he also wrote on his theory that judicial punishment need not relate to justice or morality but had as a primary goal the protection of government.

The 1936-1938 Great Purge which Vyshinsky managed for Stalin, resulted in the summary trial and death of many lawyers. Two great Russian jurists, Yevgeni Bronislav Pashukanis and Nikolai Vasilevich Krylenko were among those put to death.

He was the lawyer behind the atrocities of Stalin, eliminating any semblance of due process, implementing and fostering a police state where citizens were encouraged to inform on each other, and in facilitating Stalin's purges of enemies of the people, within which over 10,000,000 were entered in labour camps by 1953.

According to the Encyclopedia of Russian History:

"Archival sources reveal that Vyshinsky worked closely with Stain in manufacturing the charges and writing the scripts (of the show trials of 1936 through 1938)....

"Vyshinsky ... helped to develop ... a jurisprudence that supported the use of terror against political enemies."

From 1940 to 1944, he was vice-premier of the USSR. He is known in Latvia as the architect of genocide in the 1940 Russian occupation of Latvia.

At the conclusion of World War II, he led the organization of Russian participation in the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. From 1949 to 1953, was the USSR's foreign minister. He died in New York City, while attending to United Nations duties on behalf of the USSR, for whom he was permanent representative.

He went out of his way to influence his legacy, trying to come across as a dove of peace, during many speeches he gave at the United Nations, and encouraged other to think of him as a founder of the United Nations.


  • Borejsza, J. and others, Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes in Europe: Legacies and Lessons, pages 177-185
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Law's Hall of Shame
  • Millar, J., editor, Encyclopedia of Russian History, Vol. 4 (New York: Thomson- Gale, 2004).
  • Montefiore, Simon Sebag, Young Stalin (2007)
  • Time Magazine, Russia: The New Law, Jan. 5, 1959
  • Time Magazine, The Iron Heel, Dec. 14, 1953
  • Vyshinsky, Andrey, Theory of Evidence in Court under Soviet Law (1946)