Polina Zhemchuzhina

Polina Zhemchuzhina
Полина Жемчужина

Polina Zhemchuzhina (left) and her family

People’s Commissar for Fisheries

In office
19 January 1939 – 21 November 1939

Preceded by
Post established

Succeeded by
Alexander Ishkov

Personal details

Perl Karpovskaya
(1897-02-27)27 February 1897
Polohy, Yekaterinoslav Governorate, Russian Empire

1 April 1970(1970-04-01) (aged 73)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union

Soviet Union


Vyacheslav Molotov

Polina Semyonovna Zhemchuzhina (Russian: Поли́на Семё́новна Жемчу́жина) (27 February 1897 – 1 April 1970) was a Soviet politician and the wife of the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov. Zhemchuzhina was the director of the Soviet national cosmetics trust from 1932 to 1936, Minister of Fisheries in 1939, and head of textiles production in the Ministry of Light Industry from 1939 to 1948.
In 1949 Zhemchuzhina was arrested by the Soviet secret police, charged with Zionism and sent into internal exile, where she remained until after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953.
Zhemchuzhina was born Perl Karpovskaya to the family of a Jewish tailor in the village of Polohy, in the Aleksandrov uyezd of Yekaterinoslav Governorate (today Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine). She joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party of Bolsheviks in 1918 and served as a propaganda commissar in the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. As a communist, she went by the surname Zhemchuzhina, which, like her birth name Perl in Yiddish, means “pearl” in Russian.
In 1921, she married Vyacheslav Molotov, by then a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). She also made a successful career in the Soviet hierarchy, serving in the Narkomat of Food Industry under Anastas Mikoyan, to become in 1939 the first female councillor of Narkom (of Fishing Industry) in the government of the Soviet Union, and was elected a candidate to the Central Committee that year.
During the 1920s, her sister emigrated to the then-British Mandate of Palestine. According to historian Zhores Medvedev, Stalin was highly suspicious of Zhemchuzhina. He thought that she negatively influenced Molotov, and he recommended Molotov divorce her.[1]
Her brother Sam Carp was a successful businessman in the USA [2]
The Molotovs shared an apartment with the Stalins. Zhemchuzhina and Stalin’s wife Nadezhda Alliluyeva