5 February 2014, 08:48

Alexandra Kollontai, first woman ambassador in the world

Alexandra Kollontai, first woman ambassador in the world

Alexandra Kollontai was the first woman ambassador in the world. She was an excellent orator and had a good head which helped her destroy one of the popular views of the then times – that diplomacy is for men. During the Second World War Kollontai, who was the Ambassador of the Soviet Union to Sweden, managed to neutralize Germany's influence in the Scandinavian countries and to pull Finland out of the war with the USSR. Ahead of February 10th, which is said aside in Russia as Diplomats' Day the Voice of Russia has something to say about the prominent diplomats of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Alexandra Kollontai was often called the most talented and mysterious woman in Soviet Russia. The point is that she destroyed the conviction that was widespread in the former times - that diplomacy is men's business. At first, she became an envoy and then - the first woman – ambassador of the former USSR to Sweden.

There was much talk about Alexandra Kollontai in the Russian Empire and then – in Soviet Russia. The newspapers controlled every step she made, calling her "Valkyrie of the Revolution". Alexandra Kollontai had a good command of six foreign languages and was an excellent orator. The inspired speeches she delivered at numerous meetings became a legend, and people always met her with delight and admiration.

Soon after Alexandra Kollontai became popular in the USSR, she became known in Europe and the USA too. Lenin instructed her to translate his book and help him publish it in America. After she successfully fulfilled his request, she visited 123 American cities with lectures. Her excellent knowledge of English and an attractive appearance produced a good impression on her listeners. "Kollontai has conquered America!" – Western newspapers wrote at that time. That woman left nobody indifferent. For her appeals to revolutionary struggle in Sweden in 1914 Kollontai was arrested and expelled from the country without the right to return by the decree of King Gustaf V of Sweden.

Despite that, she returned to Stockholm, where she reached the peak of her diplomatic career. And it was exactly King Gustaf V of Sweden to whom she presented her credentials and who continued to admire her until his last day. This episode and many other episodes from the life of Alexandra Kollontai were included in the film "The Ambassador of the Soviet Union" by film director Georgi Natanson, which made its way to the screens in Russia in 1969.

Alexandra Kollontai was a prominent figure in the Soviet leadership. She fought against women's illiteracy and for the equality of rights of women and men.

Alexandra Kollontai started her diplomatic career in 1922 and came to an end in 1945. At the very beginning of her career she was the Soviet Ambassador to Norway. She did much for the political recognition of the Soviet Union by Norway. Then she worked in Mexico, where she also achieved tangible results in the improvement of the Soviet –Mexican relations, Head of the Department of International Relations at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry Boris Shmelyov says.

"Alexandra Kollontai was a talented diplomat, who showed her exceptional worth as the Ambassador of the Soviet Union in Norway, Mexico and especially, in Sweden. And what can be put down to her credit is the fact that when the relations between Soviet Russia and Western states were in the making, she actively represented and defended the interests of the former USSR. She won the trust of the Western countries' political elites and relying on her political authority and the previously mentioned trust, promoted the establishment of friendly and mutually advantageous relations and cooperation between the Soviet Union and Western countries".

In 1930 Kollontai became an envoy and then the first woman ambassador of the Soviet Union to Sweden. Her main political victories were her mediation in the completion of the Finnish –Soviet War, 1939-40 and the neutralization of the influence of Hitler's Germany in the Scandinavian countries during WWII, Vadim Roginsky, Doctor of Historical Sciences, says.

"There's no doubt that Alexandra Kollontai promoted the completion of the Finnish –Soviet Winter War, in March of 1940. She took an active part in the talks. And then, in 1944, she promoted the completion of the second Finnish-Soviet war which broke out in 1941 and was in progress at that time. She had held secret talks with representatives of the Finnish government and added much to bringing that war to a halt. This was very important for the Soviet Union at that time. To withdraw one of the Soviet Union's enemies from the war in 1944 and to enable it to transfer its troops to the main battle ground against Hitler's Germany was of great importance."

Both Russian and Scandinavian historians are unanimous in their opinion: Alexandra Kollontai is on the list of the top Soviet and Russian diplomats. The first Soviet woman diplomat did much for the strengthening of her country's might.

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