Besides giving his name to the Molotov cocktail (Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, 1890 –1986) was probably the second most powerful man in the Soviet Union in the past 15 years of Stalin’s regime. Learning about Molotov gave me a whole new insight into the absolute horror of life under Soviet rule. Molotov was frequently required to countersign Stalin’s execution and arrest lists. One day, Stalin gave Molotov an exile order with Molotov’s wife’s name on it. Molotov later wept, but he did not dare even protest that order. After Stalin’s death, Molotov wound up on the wrong side of a power struggle with Nakita Khrushchev’s faction and found himself stripped of his title of Foreign Minister. He then received a dramatic demotion. He was sent to be the Soviet Ambassador in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia — 3,669.7 miles and 4 times zones from Moscow. After a couple of years in that post, Khrushchev had Molotov expelled from the Communist Party. While Molotov wept at the news, he was by Soviet standards incredibly lucky. He had another 25 years to live and did not receive a bullet in the back of the head as had the millions of other Soviet citizens whose death warrants he had cosigned.
P.S. While researching Molotov I came across an amazing coincidence about Molotov’s wife. She was Jewish and one of her childhood friends was a woman now known as Golda Meir.