Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov

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Yuri Andropov (1983)
Andropov's signature
Andropow (left) next to Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev
Andropow and Wojciech Jaruzelski
The identity card of the Chairman of the KGB of the USSR Yuri Andropov.

Yuri Andropov ( Russian Юрий Владимирович Андропов ., Scientific transliteration Jurij Vladimirovič Andropov ; born June 2 . Jul / 15. June  1914 greg. In Staniza Nagutskaja , government Stavropol , Russian Empire , now Rajon Andropov, Stavropol Region ; †  9th February 1984 in Moscow ) was a Soviet politician. He headed the KGB from 1967 to 1982 and then from November 1982 until his death he was General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU and from June 1983, as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the head of state of the Soviet Union .


Childhood and youth

Andropov was born in 1914 in Nagutskaja, North Caucasus, as the son of railroad employee Vladimir Konstantinovich Andropov. The mother Evgenia Karlowna (nee Fleckenstein) was the daughter of a Moscow jeweler from Finland . According to Andropov, the Fleckensteins were of the Jewish faith . Yuri Andropov spent his early childhood in Nagutskaya from around the age of three. From 1920 Andropov lived with his family in Mozdok , where he became a member of the Communist Youth Association Komsomol after completing the seven-year middle school in 1930 .

In 1930 he began working at the local telegraph office and shortly afterwards became a cinema mechanic in the Moscow Railway Club. From 1932 Andropov served as a seaman in inland shipping and was delegated to study at the Technical School for Water Transport in Rybinsk on the Volga, where he was elected secretary of the Komsomol Committee of the Technical School a year later. At the same time he took courses at the historical faculty of the Rybinsk Institute for Distance Learning. After completing his training at the technical school for water transport, Andropow was youth leader in a Rybinsk shipyard from 1936 and was also elected a member of the Rybinsk City Committee of the Communist Youth Association.

In 1937 Andropov was a candidate of the WKP (B) and in the same year head of department and member of the permanent office of the Rybinsk Komsomol Committee. Soon afterwards, however, he was appointed head of the department for pupils and students in the Komsomol regional committee in Yaroslavl , of which he was appointed third secretary in 1937. In 1938, Andropov was elected First Secretary of the Yaroslavl Regional Committee of the Communist Youth Union.

Career until 1982

After a two-year candidate period, Andropov joined the WKP (B) as a full member in 1939. In 1940 he moved to Petrozavodsk (Finnish / Karelian: Petroskoi) in Karelia and until 1944 held the post of First Secretary of the Komsomol Communist Youth Union in the Karelo-Finnish SSR . In the same year he enrolled at the Petrozavodsk University, but soon had to abandon his studies because of the Second World War and the occupation of Petrozavodsk by Finnish troops in the Continuation War . During the Second World War, Andropov was one of the organizers of the Karelian partisan movement fighting against Germany .

In 1944 he was elected Second Secretary of the Regional Committee of the WKP (B) of Petroskoi / Petrozavodsk, and in 1947 he was elected Second Secretary of the WKP (B) in the Karelo-Finnish SSR.

In 1946 Andropov resumed his studies at the Petrozavodsk State University, where he completed five basic courses at the historical-philological faculty by 1951 as a distance student. From the late 1940s he studied at the Moscow party college of the Central Committee of the CPSU, where he initially completed four correspondence courses by 1950 and, after long interruptions, obtained a diploma in the late 1960s (already as chairman of the KGB ).

From 1951 he worked in the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the CPSU (B) in Moscow, initially as an inspector in a subdivision of the Central Committee department for affairs of party, trade union and Komsomol organs, from 1953 then as head of the subdivision mentioned.

In 1953 he switched to the diplomatic service, where he held various positions in a short time. After an internship in the Scandinavian Department of the Soviet Foreign Ministry, Andropov was head of the 4th European Department in the Foreign Ministry and finally Counselor at the Soviet representation in Budapest .

In 1954 Andropov was appointed Soviet ambassador to Hungary . The Hungarian uprising of 1956 fell during his term of office . It was from this time that he had a lifelong close friendship with the longstanding First Secretary (later: General Secretary) of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party, János Kádár .

In 1957 he returned to the Soviet Union and was appointed head of the department for relations with the communist and workers' parties of the socialist states in the Central Committee. On the XXII. At the CPSU Congress in 1961, he was also elected a member of the CPSU Central Committee. From 1962 to 1967 Andropov was secretary of the Central Committee for the first time.

From May 1967 to May 1982 Andropov was chairman of the State Security Committee (KGB). After only a few weeks in office, he declared the "influence of foreign ideology" and the "political immaturity of Soviet citizens, especially among intellectuals and young people" to be the greatest threat to the state, whereupon the Security Council expanded the service to include a head office.

In a further development of the views of Felix Edmundowitsch Dzerzhinski , the founder of the Soviet secret and security service tradition in the early 1920s, Andropov understood the task of the security organs neither exclusively nor mainly in the protection of the state and its officials, but rather as comprehensive protection of society and their basic socialist order from external and internal attacks. With this in mind, he initiated the KGB's largest espionage campaign in the Cold War, Operation RJaN .

According to the new creed, the KGB achieved significant successes in counter-espionage, reconnaissance and counter-espionage, propaganda and counter-propaganda as well as in the fight against internal opponents of the socialist order in the Soviet Union, other socialist states and also in western states during Andropov's tenure In a number of cases, measures that violate human rights were also used, B. the admission of political opponents in psychiatric institutions .

At the same time as his appointment as chairman of the KGB, Andropov was elected a candidate for the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, of which he became a full member in April 1973.

In May 1982 he succeeded Mikhail Suslov as secretary of the CPSU Central Committee for the second time and was responsible for ideological issues in this function.

Party leader of the CPSU
Michail Sergejewitsch Gorbatschow Konstantin Ustinowitsch Tschernenko Juri Wladimirowitsch Andropow Leonid Iljitsch Breschnew Nikita Sergejewitsch Chruschtschow Josef Stalin Lenin

General Secretary of the CPSU

On November 12, 1982, Andropov was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union at the age of 68 . The election came just two days after Leonid Brezhnev's death. On June 16, 1983, he was also chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union and thus head of state.

Even when he was elected Secretary General, his health was very poor. He suffered from diabetes mellitus , high blood pressure and progressive kidney failure , which could not be improved by connecting to an artificial kidney . In the last six months of his life, Andropov stopped going to public meetings. After only 15 months of reign, of which he was barely able to govern for the last five months due to his health problems, he died in Moscow in early February 1984. He was buried at the Kremlin wall .

His successor, Chernenko, was three years older than him (* 1911); he, too, ruled only briefly until his death on March 10, 1985. The Soviet leadership at the time is also known as the gerontocracy .

Political positions

Characteristics of Andropov's policy

In contrast to his predecessor Leonid Brezhnev , in whose last few years there had been clear signs of stagnation, and his successor Konstantin Chernenko , who had only been in office for 13 months , Andropov was interested in a comprehensive revival of Soviet policy both internally and externally.

Due to his state of health and the short term of office, Andropov was only able to implement the program he had planned for the reform and renewal of socialism in practice in the first place. Andropov was convinced that before fundamental changes it was necessary to raise order and discipline in economic life and thus to increase labor productivity. He saw serious problems in this area, for example, in crime at the expense of state property, waste and corruption. Accordingly, the first measures in his political program consisted of stricter controls and tougher penalties (see Yuri Sokolow ). Uncovering and combating some grievances and unjustified privileges earned him considerable popularity. During Andropov's tenure, a package of measures against alcoholism was also adopted , including stricter penalties for alcohol in the workplace and a ban on selling alcohol before 2:00 p.m.

The law on labor collectives of June 1983 can be seen as the first step on the way to the democratization of economic life and social self-administration, which among other things increases the importance of internal democracy and thus the position of the workers as the actual bearers and administrators of the socialist ownership of the means of production. Further, more comprehensive reforms should have built on this basis, but could no longer be implemented.

In the field of reform of the economic mechanism, in July 1983 a joint decision of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR to carry out a large-scale experiment was taken, on the basis of which, with effect from January 1, 1984, the two important Union Ministries and two each of the Ukrainian, Companies subordinated to Belarus and Lithuanian SSR were given greater independence and more rights in the areas of planning and production, and at the same time their responsibility for fulfilling planning tasks, achieving high-quality end results and generally for acting in the interests of society as a whole increased. The main objective of the experiment was to create moral and material incentives for the introduction of new technology, equipment and modern production processes at the level of scientific and technical progress, for an increase in the quality of the products and the effectiveness of production as well as for a rational, economical use of material and labor resources. The experiment achieved considerable success in a short time and led to a noticeable increase in labor productivity in the industries concerned. In 1984 and 1985 it was therefore extended to other branches of industry with appropriate adaptations, but later discontinued under Gorbachev in favor of completely different reforms.

Also in 1983 a reform of the Soviet education system was tackled. The June plenary session of the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1983 was all about the further development and improvement of ideological work, and the re-editing of the party program of the CPSU from 1962 began.

Andropov and personnel issues

In his short term in office, Andropov tried to bring about personnel changes, above all in order to suppress the influence of the bureaucratic layer in the party and state, which was strengthened in the late Brezhnev era and in some cases discredited by corruption and dishonest behavior, and the often lamented principle of "cadre stability" to break through.

According to unanimous statements by former employees, Andropow's long-term goal would have been to gradually train a large number of new, young and unspent cadres over the years who would have been up to the tasks at hand.

In fact, Andropov had to limit himself to - by no means insignificant - personnel changes in the few months that remained. Among the personalities promoted by Andropov in this way, who moved up to top positions during his tenure as General Secretary and thus belonged to the circle of Andropov's close collaborators, peripheral Gorbachev was also included because of his function as Secretary of the Central Committee, who was responsible for agriculture (since 1978) , which Andropov - according to several sources - wanted to build up as his direct successor. However, he did not succeed in ousting the favorite of the Brezhnev group, Konstantin Chernenko, from his position as Second Central Committee Secretary (a position that Andropov himself had assumed under Brezhnev after Suslov's death in January 1982 and in which Chernenko succeeded him) and to be replaced by Gorbachev. For various reasons, however, he also promoted other personalities, who should be named on behalf of numerous others because of their fame and the importance of the positions they hold:

  • Grigori Wassiljewitsch Romanow (member of the Politburo and, under Andropov, was promoted to Secretary of the Central Committee in 1983, responsible for industry and defense)
  • Nikolai Ivanovich Ryschkow (appointed Secretary of the Central Committee responsible for economic issues in 1982, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR from 1985–1991 )
  • Yegor Kuzmich Ligatschow (promoted to Secretary of the Central Committee responsible for personnel issues in 1983, later member of the Politburo)
  • Geidar Aliyevich Aliyev (elected a full member of the Politburo in 1982 and appointed First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR in 1983)
  • Vitaly Ivanovich Worotnikow (appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Russian SFSR in 1983 and candidate since May 1983 and full member of the Politburo from December)

Political projects and reception

Andropov's role is now the focus of research again. Both through his work as chairman of the KGB and in particular as ideology secretary of the Central Committee and as general secretary as well as through his speeches and writings and traditional personal statements and plans, it can be considered as certain that he too is pursuing a comprehensive reform policy in the state, economy, society and culture and foreign policy, but without leaving the soil of Soviet socialism . Andropov's goal was not to give up the basic postulates of Marxism-Leninism (as should be characteristic of Gorbachev's "perestroika"), but to develop them organically and adapt them to the new circumstances. It must be emphasized that Andropov himself expressly stated that he had no “ready-made formulas” for solving all problems, which in his opinion was natural, since the Soviet Union and its allied states were the first to tread the path of socialism since the October Revolution and could not follow any paths that have already been trodden, any existing models. Rather, the solution to the questions at hand can only be achieved through collective considerations and efforts and creative experimentation with manifold and different approaches and models. Incidentally, Andropov spoke much more openly than usual about the various valuable, individually very different experiences of the other socialist states and that the Soviet Union could not only be a role model for others, but could also learn a lot from its allies.

Some basic lines of Andropov's political plans for renewal and reform are listed in the following in brief:

  • Gradual democratization of state and economic life; massive increase in the importance and actual influence of elected representative bodies (soviets) at all levels in accordance with their constitutional role as basic building blocks of the Soviet state structure and revitalization of their parliamentary ( legislative and controlling) activities; clearer delimitation of the responsibilities of state, party and social organizations; increased influence of the latter on political decisions
  • Promotion of initiative and creativity of individuals, collectives and social organizations of all kinds; Increasing the importance, equipment and effectiveness of such initiatives in all areas of government, economic and cultural life
  • Struggle against the “cadre stability” of the Brezhnev era; greatly expanded fluctuation in senior management; Limitation of term of office and permitted mandate periods; more frequent (democratically legitimized) personnel changes; Reform and democratization of the electoral law (e.g. nomination of more than one candidate per constituency); Promotion of the advancement of women, young people and members of the various social classes and nationalities into leading positions
  • Fight against the overflowing bureaucracy (including a decided downsizing of the administrative apparatus), against authoritarian traditions and tendencies, against authoritarian structures and a policy of “directing and administrating” from above, against rigidity, corruption, nepotism and nepotism
  • Increased public and public scrutiny; Striving for real participation of ever broader sections of the population in the administration of the state in the sense of a continuous transition to the ultimate goal of social self-administration
  • Enforcement of the actual equality of all members of society before the law and in relation to the means of production; Fight against all kinds of privileges, inequalities, class differences, against disadvantages based on social origin , occupation, rank, gender, nationality; The early creation of an essentially classless socialist society (i.e. a society that no longer knows any differences in relation to its members, to the state and to the means of production), overcoming the existing material disadvantage, undersupply and poorer social position of certain population groups; Until further notice, strict adherence to the principle of the distribution of material goods according to the same level of labor contribution for all, but with an emphasis on the economic and cultural "working towards" society's complete social equality (including free access to material goods) of the future communist order; Overcoming the concept of “wage labor” in favor of the Marxist principle of equal “free associated producers”; Improvement of the system of moral and material incentives, not simply to increase production, but especially to consolidate the "socialist consciousness" of producers and their sense of real involvement in the plans and efforts of their immediate work collective, their company and, ultimately, the whole country
  • Raising the standard of living of the population, understood not only as the satisfaction of their material needs, but as the totality of all material, spiritual, cultural and interpersonal living conditions, creation of conditions for the "free and all-round" development of the personality of every person
  • Mechanization and automation of production, wide application of modern computer and other contemporary technologies; Reduction of the high proportion of monotonous and hard physical work in the economy with the aim of ultimately eliminating the differences between intellectual and physical work
  • Reform of the economy by combining a more independent appearance of the economic units with central and decentralized planning that continues to dominate; Increasing the independence of companies and strengthening internal democracy; diverse experimentation with new planning, management and organization methods in business life; Creation and promotion of a cooperative or communal sector in the commercial and service sector, combined with the long-term perspective of a merger of state and cooperative property into the (according to Marxist view) higher form of property as a whole as well as property subject to actual social control and disposal; possibly also temporary approval of a very limited and controlled private sector
  • Improved international economic cooperation with socialist and capitalist states; Catching up the economic, scientific, technological and cultural lagging behind the West
  • Complex efforts in the field of environmental and nature protection; greatest possible economy in dealing with natural resources and raw materials; Promotion of environmentally friendly and economical technologies in energy generation, industry and agriculture; Elimination of environmentally harmful influences and modernization of existing systems for this purpose; Consideration of environmental compatibility and possible ecological consequences when planning economic projects
  • Raising the legal level of Soviet legal norms; Modernization of the legal system; increased compliance with the rule of law
  • More modern nationality policy; Fight against all forms of chauvinism and nationalism; clear and unconditional commitment to the Soviet Union as a multinational, multicultural and multilingual society; conscious care and promotion of all languages ​​and cultures of the Soviet Union; extreme sensitivity in dealing between the nationalities; Strengthening the autonomy of the individual Union Republics, Autonomous Republics and other autonomous units; Demographically appropriate representation of all nations and nationalities at all levels of state administration and party organizations, including the central bodies of state and party at Union level (e.g. Central Committee and Politburo of the CPSU , Council of Ministers of the USSR )
  • Improving the system and functioning of the Soviet mass media and other means of communication; Promotion of an active and critical journalism and publishing industry that is nevertheless committed to the basic principles of the socialist social order
  • Comprehensive modernization and reform of the Soviet school and education system
  • Strong focus on principled, but at the same time creative further development in the field of ideology; Rejection of uniformity and schematic approaches; Fight against dogmatic tendencies and unnecessary shackles in ideology, science, culture and art; Promotion and active use of scientific, especially social science research to solve social problems
  • Reform of art and cultural policy: commitment to free artistic creativity, benevolent and respectful treatment of artists and their works, open-minded relationship to modern or previously frowned upon art movements, non-interference by the party in the style, form and content of artistic works; nevertheless responsibility for the ideological content of art, which the party cannot be indifferent to, and corresponding influence on the development of art and culture; but not through administrative measures, regulation and paternalism - the main means of influencing the development of art by parties can only be Marxist art criticism; Recognition of the increasing importance of art for public life and the possibilities of its active interference in social issues; In this context, emphasis on the growing personal responsibility of artists for the ideological orientation of their works and their conformity with the "interests of the people"
  • Realistic and sober assessment of the path covered so far (its positive sides as well as the gross errors and serious deformations) and the level of development achieved in politics, economy, science and culture; Critical review of the theorem introduced in the 1970s of the “developed socialist society” as the last stage already reached before the “all-round construction of communism”. Andropov was convinced that the Soviet Union was at best at the beginning of a long historical period of "developed socialist society" and had to make great efforts in many areas to meet the declared ideal of socialism as a highly developed transition society and with the most developed (capitalist) To draw countries level.
  • In this context open and self-critical naming of existing shortcomings, difficulties and mistakes; sober and objective language without whitewashing; Admission of visible differences of opinion in detailed questions; open search for suitable ways to solve problems
  • Modernization of methods and content of agitation and propaganda, which in order to be effective must be based on people's real living conditions
  • Despite all the desire for openness, reform and productive debate, Andropov left no doubt that he was ready and willing to defend the socialist social order at any time against attacks from within and without, that he did not shy away from confrontations with principled political opponents and that he would go away of fundamental principles would not tolerate
  • Expansion of human, tourist, scientific and cultural contacts to other countries, including those of the West
  • Improvement of the relationship with the People's Republic of China; Expansion of contacts to non-aligned developing countries such as India
  • Commitment to the peaceful coexistence of states with different social systems and readiness for disarmament and a policy of détente, but resolute rejection of unjustified and one-sided concessions on questions of principle with a strictly anti-capitalist attitude and orientation towards overcoming capitalism and neocolonialism around the world, combined with the support of and the commitment to global socialist change

For many more recent historians, Andropov is therefore considered to be a representative of a measured, orderly policy of reform, renewal and further development of socialism on his own basis, without fundamentally questioning it, as Gorbachev later did. It is therefore wrong to call him the “predecessor” or “mentor” of Gorbachev, whose policy was based on a fundamentally different mindset and objectives from 1987 at the latest and no longer resulted in reforming socialism, but in eliminating it. According to statements from close associates of Andropov, he had kept a clear distance from Gorbachev in his last months and - contrary to persistent rumors - was by no means interested in Gorbachev being elected as his successor as General Secretary.

In public as well as in private life, Andropov was generally known as a modest, almost ascetic personality and was characterized by a fundamental aversion to any kind of corruption, adulation and pompous, low-content productions (as had in some cases become common in the late Brezhnev era) out. Andropov was considered to be very intelligent and educated, to have spoken several languages ​​(including Hungarian and English) and to have been very interested in science, art and literature and - it is often rumored - to have composed lyrical works himself.

On the occasion of Konstantin Chernenko's takeover of power, Der Spiegel retrospectively called Andropov “intellectual” and ironically described the change in political direction after Andropov's death as “revenge of the apparatus ”.

Work editions

In Russian language

During Andropov's lifetime, two editions appeared in the Soviet Union with collected speeches and writings in Russian, as well as numerous collections and individual editions in other languages ​​of the Soviet Union:

  • Ju. V. Andropov: Izbrannye reči i stat'i. Izdatel'stvo političeskoj literatury, Moscow 1979.
  • Ju. V. Andropov: Izbrannye reči i stat'i. Izdatel'stvo političeskoj literatury, Moscow 1983 2 .

After Andropov's death, a third, significantly more extensive and overall the most complete edition of his speeches and writings in Russian appeared in 1984, which, in addition to some older texts from the period before 1982, which were not included in the first two editions, also included all speeches and essays from Andropov's time General Secretary of the CPSU contains:

  • Ju. V. Andropov: Leninizm - neisčerpaemyj istočnik revoljucionnoj ėnergii i tvorčestva mass. Izbrannye reči i stat'i. Izdatel'stvo političeskoj literatury, Moscow 1984.

In German language

In 1983, one edition of Andropov's speeches and writings was published in German in the GDR and in the FRG. The FRG edition contains a limited selection of partially abbreviated texts up to April 1983, the one from the GDR is a complete translation of the second Russian edition and lasts until June 1983:

  • Yuri Andropov: Selected Speeches and Writings. Dietz-Verlag, East Berlin 1983.
  • Yuri Andropov: Speeches and Writings. Pahl-Rugenstein, Cologne, 1983, ISBN 3-7609-0792-X .

At the beginning of 1984 a more extensive German edition was published in Moscow covering the period up to November 1983:

  • JW Andropov: Selected speeches and essays. Progress Publishing House, Moscow 1984.

In English

In 1983 two editions of an edition of Speeches und Schriften in English were published by Pergamon Verlag. They are based on the Russian edition from 1983; the extended second edition extends until June 1983. In mid-1984, the Soviet Progress Verlag published an edition that covers the period up to November 1983:

  • YV Andropov: Speeches and writings ; Pergamon Press, Oxford / New York, 1983 2
  • Yuri Andropov: Selected speeches and articles ; Progress Publishers, Moscow 1984


Andropov was awarded the honorary title "Hero of Socialist Labor" in 1974 and a total of four times with the Order of Lenin, once with the Order of the October Revolution and the Order of the Red Banner and three times with the Order of the Red Banner of Labor .


In 1983, Andropov was named Man of the Year by Time Magazine, along with Ronald Reagan . The city of Rybinsk was named after Andropov from 1984 to 1989.

The fourth ship of the Kirov class was named after Andropov, but was named Pyotr Velikij (Peter the Great) after the collapse of the Soviet Union and is the flagship of the Russian northern fleet .

Individual evidence

  1. Юрий Андропов. Retrieved November 5, 2018 .
  2. ^ "The State Security Committee has ..." , Novaya Gazeta , September 4, 2016
  3. Der Spiegel 46/1982: Soviet Union - from Brezhnev to Andropow
  4. Chernenko - The Revenge of the Apparatus. In: Der Spiegel 8/1984


This book, mainly written by former employees, provides a good overview of Andropow's program:

  • AA Zdanovič, VK Bylinin: Komanda Andropova. Izdatel'stvo Rus', Moscow 2005.
  • The bibliographic internet database RussGUS (freely accessible) offers over 160 references to literature on “Andropov” (search for subject notations under form search: 16.2.2 / Andropov *).
  • Lothar Kölm (ed.): Kremlin chiefs - political-biographical sketches from Lenin to Gorbachev. Dietz, Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-320-01697-0 .
  • Dimitri Volkogonow : The Seven Leaders. Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt 2001, ISBN 3-7973-0774-8 .
  • Roi Alexandrowitsch Medvedev : Yuri Andropow , awarded the FSB Prize for Literature in 2007 .

Web links

Commons : Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov  - collection of images
predecessor Office successor
Leonid Brezhnev General Secretary of the CPSU
Konstantin Chernenko
Vasily Kuznetsov (interim)
Leonid Brezhnev
Head of State of the Soviet Union
Vasily Kuznetsov (interim)
Konstantin Chernenko