Lazar Kaganovich
Historical Figure
Nationality: Ukraine, Soviet Union (born in the Russian Empire)
Date of Birth: 1893
Date of Death: 1991
Cause of Death: Natural causes
Religion: Atheist (born into Judaism)
Occupation: Revolutionary, Politician, Soldier
Relatives: Mikhail Kaganovich (brother)
Military Branch: Red Army (Russian Civil War)
Political Party: Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Political Office(s): Deputy Prime Minister of the USSR
Fictional Appearances:
The Hot War
POD: November, 1950
Appearance(s): Armistice
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference
Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Both
Type of Appearance: Direct (as "Lazar Kagan")
Nationality: United States (born in the Russian Empire)
Occupation: Politician, diplomat
Political Party: Democratic Party

Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich (22 November 1893 – 25 July 1991) was a Soviet politician and administrator and a close associate of Joseph Stalin. His ruthless efficiency in carrying out Stalin's massive purges earned him the nickname "Iron Lazar". Indeed, Kaganovich took few steps to save his own brother when he was accused of counter-revolutionary activities. Historians generally hold Kanagonvich responsible for the 1932-3 famine in the Ukraine.

Kaganovich survived Stalin's death, for a time serving as a mentor of Nikita Khrushchev. When Khrushchev became increasingly critical of Stalin, Kaganovich joined with other Stalin loyalists in an attempt to oust Khrushchev from the Communist Party. However, the party coup failed, and Kaganovich was forced to retire from the Presidium and was eventually expelled from the party. He was the last of the Old Bolsheviks, dying at the age of 97 in 1991, just a few months before the Soviet Union itself collapsed.   

Lazar Kaganovich in The Hot War[]

Lazar Kaganovich was one of the very few Jewish Old Bolsheviks to survive Joseph Stalin's rise and the Great Purge. He also survived both the Second and Third World Wars.[1]

Lazar Kaganovich in Joe Steele[]

Lazar Kagan was the American son of Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine. He was a close associate of Joe Steele's, and helped Steele get elected President in 1932. He served as one of Steele's close aides through his 20-year presidency, and was part of the group that came to be called the "Pain Trust".

While Kagan wasn't as stand-offish as Vince Scriabin, he was still considerably less approachable than Stas Mikoian. Still, Kagan was willing to speak to the press. In mid-1933, Steele proposed legislation for electrifying the Tennessee Valley, and asked the people for support in a radio speech.[2] Days after Steele announced his plan, Kagan had lunch with reporter Charlie Sullivan, who'd been pro-Steele for some time. Kagan implied, on background, that the Administration also took the liberty of composing letters, claiming to be from citizens, and sending them to Congress.[3] Kagan also confirmed that Steele still saw Charlie Sullivan as fair to the administration, and wished that Mike Sullivan could be as "fair".[4]

Kagan remained indispensable to Steele for Steele's entire 20-year presidency. He attended Steele's first meeting with Winston Churchill in 1941, the Basra Conference, and the Wakamatsu Conference in 1946.

When Steele died on March 5, 1953, his successor John Nance Garner got resignation letters from the entire Cabinet as a matter of form, including Kagan, Mikoian and Scriabin, and as well as speechwriter Sullivan. However, once they'd signed the form letters, Garner announced that he accepted Kagan, Mikoian and Scriabin's resignations effective immediately. Sullivan he let stay on. While both Kagan and Scriabin were indignant, Mikoian had the presence of mind to ask why Garner was doing this. Garner admitted that he was angered by the shabby treatment he'd received from the three. He offered them ambassadorships to soften the blow, with Mikoian going to Afghanistan, Kagan to Paraguay, and Scriabin to Outer Mongolia. He kept Charlie Sullivan around because Sullivan had in fact talked to him and even drank with him over the past 20 years.[5]

Kagan went to Paraguay without further complaint.[6]

Literary Comment[]

In the short story, Kagan's first name isn't given. While he is important to Steele's victory in 1932, he vanishes after the first pages.


  1. Armistice, loc. 3886, ebook.
  2. Joe Steele, pg. 67-68.
  3. Ibid., pgs. 69-70.
  4. Ibid., pg. 70.
  5. Ibid., pgs. 416-417.
  6. Ibid., pg. 423.