Maxim Litvinov
Historical Figure
Nationality: Soviet Union (born in the Russian Empire)
Date of Birth: 1876
Date of Death: 1951
Cause of Death: Heart attack following a vehicular collision
Religion: Officially atheist, originally Judaism
Occupation: Journalist, Revolutionary, Diplomat, Politician
Spouse: Ivy Lowe
Children: Two
Political Party: Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Political Office(s): Soviet Foreign Commissar
Fictional Appearances:
The War That Came Early
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
Appearance(s): Hitler's War;
The Big Switch
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references
Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Novel only
Type of Appearance: Direct

This article is about the historical Soviet ambassador. For the similarly-named character in Southern Victory, see Max Litvinoff.

Maxim Maximovich Litvinov (born Meir Henoch Wallach, 17 July 1876 – 31 December 1951) was a Jewish revolutionary in the Russian Empire, and later a prominent Soviet diplomat. He participated in the Russian Revolution. From 1930-1939, he served as the Soviet Union's Foreign Commissar, a major success being establishing diplomatic relations with the US in 1933. For a time, he attempted to fulfill a foreign policy built on opposition to Nazi Germany. By 1938, however, it was clear that neither the United Kingdom nor France were willing to stand against Germany. After the Munich Conference in September 1938, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin began a policy of rapprochement with Germany. Litvinov was removed from office so as not to antagonize the Nazis, although he did continue in diplomacy, acting as Soviet Ambassador to the United States from 1941 to 1943.

Maxim Litvinov in The War That Came Early[]

As Foreign Commissar, Maxim Litivinov was frequently called upon to condemn the enemies of the Soviet Union after the Second World War broke out between the USSR and Germany in October 1938. Later, the list of enemies denounced by Litvinov expanded to include Poland in December 1938 and Japan in April 1939.[1] As the USSR had grudges with both, most of Litvinov's public statements harkened back to past Russian defeats and promises that the USSR would not be defeated this time.[2]

Litvinov maintained a low public profile throughout 1939 and into 1940.[3] A few months after Vladivostok fell to Japan in the summer of 1940, Litvinov traveled to Tokyo to broker a cease-fire[4] in the wake of the USSR's nominal allies, Britain and France accepting Germany's offer for an alliance against Russia.[5] A final peace was agreed to that autumn, when Litvinov met with Japanese officials at Khabarovsk. The peace treaty which Litvinov managed to secure, stipulating a mutual demilitarization of 21 km of the new border, put the best face on the humiliating loss of Vladivostok and the eastern portion of Siberia. Moreover, the end of the war with Japan enabled the USSR to concentrate resources on the more dangerous Allied invasion to its west and leave regaining Vladivostok to some later time. Litvinov did not succeed, however, in securing the release of the Soviet troops captured at Vladivostok, effectively abandoning them to be horribly mistreated, killed out of hand and used for experiments in bacteriological warfare.[6]

Maxim Litvinov in Joe Steele[]

Maxim Litvinov was a Soviet diplomat. He served as Soviet envoy to the United Kingdom for a time, even marrying an English woman. He became the foreign commissar for the Soviet Union for most of Leon Trotsky's reign. In August 1939, with Nazi Germany demanding the Polish Corridor, Trotsky sent Litvinov to Berlin to negotiate a non-aggression pact with Litvinov's German counterpart, Joachim von Ribbentrop.[7] (Some found it ironic that the Jewish Trotsky had sent the Jewish Litvinov into the "world's capital of anti-Semitism."[8]) Germany invaded Poland a week later, setting off World War II.[9] The Soviet Union attacked Poland from the east a few weeks later.[10]

However, in June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union, forcing the Soviet Union to align with the U.K. and the United States. Litvinov attended the momentous Basra Conference, where he was the only senior Russian official who spoke English. During the banquet on the first evening, Litvinov got into a row with Vince Scriabin, one of U.S. President Joe Steele's close advisers, over a proposed Second Front in Europe.[11]


  1. Hitler's War, e.g., pg. 194, 354.
  2. Ibid., pg. 490.
  3. The Big Switch, pg. 88.
  4. Ibid., pg. 296.
  5. Ibid., pg. 238.
  6. Ibid., pgs. 320-321.
  7. Joe Steele, pg. 212.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid. pg. 214.
  10. Ibid., pg. 215.
  11. Ibid., pg. 280.
Political offices
Preceded by
Georgy Chicherin
Foreign Commissar of the Soviet Union
Succeeded by
Vyacheslav Molotov
Political offices
(Joe Steele)
Preceded by
Georgy Checherin
People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Political offices
(The War That Came Early)
Preceded by
Georgy Chicherin
Foreign Commissar of the Soviet Union
Succeeded by
Incumbent(?) at series end, 1944