69 Facts About Sergei Witte


Sergei Witte served under the last two emperors of Russia, Alexander III and Nicholas II.


On 20 October 1905 Sergei Witte was appointed as the first chairman of the Council of Ministers.


Sergei Witte was fully confident that he had resolved the main problem: providing political stability to the regime, but according to him, the "peasant problem" would further determine the character of the Duma's activity.


Sergei Witte is widely considered to have been one of the key figures in Russian politics at the end of 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century.


Sergei Witte converted to Russian Orthodoxy upon his marriage with Yekaterina Fadeyeva.


Sergei Witte's father was made a member of the knighthood in Pskov but moved as a civil servant to Saratov and Tiflis.


Sergei Witte was raised on the estate of his mother's parents.


Sergei Witte's grandfather was Andrei Mikhailovich Fadeyev, a Governor of Saratov and Privy Councillor of the Caucasus, and his grandmother was Princess Helene Dolgoruki.


Sergei Witte studied at a Tiflis gymnasium, but he took more interest in music, fencing and riding than in academics.


Sergei Witte finished Gymnasium I in Kishinev and began studying Physico-Mathematical Sciences at the Novorossiysk University in Odessa in 1866 and graduated at the top of his class in 1870.


Sergei Witte initially planned to pursue a career in academia with the intention of becoming a professor in theoretical mathematics.


Sergei Witte's relatives took a dim view of that career path, as it was considered unsuitable for a noble or aristocrat at the time.


Sergei Witte was instead persuaded by Count Vladimir Pavlovich Machabelovy, Minister of Ways and Communication, to pursue a career in the Russian railroads.


At the direction of the Count, Sergei Witte undertook six months of training in a variety of positions on the Odessa Railways to gain a practical understanding of Ukrainian railways operations.


However, while he was still contesting the case in court, Sergei Witte directed the Odessa Railways and achieved extraordinary efforts towards the transport of troops and war materials in the Russo-Turkish War and attracted the attention of Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, who commuted his prison sentence to two weeks.


Sergei Witte had devised a novel system of double-shift operations in his efforts to overcome delays on the railways.


In 1879, Sergei Witte accepted a post in St Petersburg, where he would meet his future wife.


Sergei Witte's warnings were proven in the October 1888 Borki train disaster, Witte was then appointed as Director of State Railways.


Sergei Witte worked in railroad management for 20 years after he had begun as a ticket clerk.


Sergei Witte caught the attention of Finance Minister Ivan Vyshnegradsky, who appointed him as Russian Director of Railway Affairs within the Finance Ministry, where he served from 1889 to 1891.


Until then, less than one fourth of the small railway systems were under direct state control, but Sergei Witte set about expanding the rail lines and getting the railway service under control as a state monopoly.


Sergei Witte obtained the right to assign employees based on their performance or merit, rather than for patronage for political or familial connections.


In 1892 Sergei Witte became acquainted with Matilda Ivanovna Lisanevich in a theater.


Sergei Witte began to seek her favour, urging her to divorce her gambling husband and marry him.


Sergei Witte emphasized creation of an educational system to train personnel for industry, in particular, the establishment of new "commercial" schools.


Sergei Witte was known for appointing subordinates by their academic credentials or merit, rather than because of patronage political connections.


In 1895, on a crusade against the evils of drunkenness, Sergei Witte established a state monopoly on alcohol, which became a major source of revenue for the Russian government.


In 1896, Sergei Witte undertook a major currency reform to place the Russian ruble on the gold standard.


Sergei Witte enacted a law in 1897 limiting working hours in enterprises, and in 1898 reformed commercial and industrial taxes.


Sergei Witte's goal was peaceful expansion of trade with Japan and China.


Sergei Witte chose the second policy, and in 1894, Russia, Germany and France forced Japan to soften the peace terms that it had imposed on China.


Sergei Witte underestimated Japan's growing economic and military power and exaggerated Russia's military prowess.


Sergei Witte was brought back into the governmental decision-making process to help deal with growing civil unrest.


Sergei Witte recommended that the government issue a manifesto related to the people's demands.


The Tsar called upon Sergei Witte to negotiate an end to the Russo-Japanese War.


Sergei Witte was sent to the United States for the talks, as the Russian Emperor's plenipotentiary titled "his Secretary of State and President of the Committee of Ministers of the Emperor of Russia," along with Baron Roman Rosen, Master of the Imperial Court of Russia.


Sergei Witte is credited with negotiating brilliantly on Russia's behalf during the Treaty of Portsmouth discussions.


Sergei Witte was dissatisfied with proposals by Bulygin, the successor of Sviatopolk-Mirsky.


Sergei Witte told Nicholas II, "that the country was at the verge of a cataclysmic revolution".


In later 1905 Sergei Witte was approached by the Tsar's advisers, in an effort to save the country from complete collapse, and on 9 October 1905, he went to the Winter Palace for a meeting.


Sergei Witte presented the Tsar with two choices: either appoint a military dictator, or agree to broad and major reforms.


Sergei Witte argued for the following reforms: creation of a legislative parliament elected via a democratic franchise; granting of civil liberties; establishing a cabinet government and a 'constitutional order'.


Sergei Witte emphasised that repression would be only a temporary solution to the problem and a risky one because he believed that the armed forces, whose loyalty was now in question, could collapse if they were to be used against the masses.


Only when Nicholas II's cousin Grand Duke Nikolai threatened to shoot himself if he did not agree to Sergei Witte's demands, following the Tsar's request for him to accept appointment as dictator, would the Tsar agree.


Sergei Witte was embarrassed to have been forced by a former "railway clerk", a man who was a bureaucrat and "businessman," to relinquish his autocratic rule.


Sergei Witte later said that the Tsar's court were ready to use the Manifesto as a temporary concession, and later return to autocracy "when the revolutionary tide subsided".


Sergei Witte had to form his cabinet from 'tsarist bureaucrats and appointees lacking public confidence'.


Sergei Witte ordered an official investigation, where it was revealed that the police in the former city had organised, armed and gave vodka to the anti-Semitic crowds, and even participated in the attacks.


Sergei Witte demanded the prosecution of the chief of police in St Petersburg, who was involved in the printing of anti-Semitic pamphlets, but the Tsar intervened and protected him.


Sergei Witte believed that anti-Semitism was 'considered fashionable' among the elite.


Milyukov once confronted Sergei Witte to ask why he would not commit himself to a constitution; Sergei Witte replied that he could not 'because the Tsar does not wish it'.


Sergei Witte was worried that the court was only using him, as emerged in talks with members of the Kadet Party.


Trepov and Bulygin were dismissed and, after many discussions, Pyotr Nikolayevich Durnovo was appointed as Minister of Interior on 1 January 1906; his appointment is considered one of the greatest errors Sergei Witte made during his administration.


Sergei Witte acted immediately by urging the release of political prisoners and the lifting of censorship laws.


Sergei Witte later wrote in his Memoirs about the empire's ethnic minorities:.


Sergei Witte promised an eight-hour working day and tried to secure vital loans from France to keep the "regime" from bankruptcy.


Sergei Witte sent his envoy to the Rothschild bank; they responded that.


The Minister of Agriculture Nikolai Kutler resigned in February 1906; Sergei Witte refused to appoint Alexander Krivoshein.


When Sergei Witte discovered that Nicholas never intended to honour those concessions, he resigned as Chairman of the Council of Ministers.


Sergei Witte confessed to Polovtsov in April 1906 that the success of the repressions in the wake of the Moscow uprising in 1905 had resulted in his losing all influence over the Tsar.


On 30 April 1905 Sergei Witte proposed the Law of Religious Toleration, followed by the edict of 30 October 1906 giving legal status to schismatics and sectarians of the Russian Orthodox Church, the established state church.


Sergei Witte argued that ending discrimination against religious rivals of the Orthodox Church 'would not harm the church, provided it embraced the reforms that would revive its religious life'.


Sergei Witte had made that demand in the hope of 'wooing' the important commercial groups of the ethnic minorities of Jewish and Old Believer communities.


Sergei Witte destroyed the Autocracy not from the outside, as revolutionaries do, but from the inside.


Sergei Witte failed to retain the confidence of the Emperor, but continued in Russian politics as a member of the State Council but he was never again appointed to an administrative role in the government.


Sergei Witte died in February 1915 at his home in St Petersburg; his quick death was attributed to meningitis or a brain tumor.


Sergei Witte had no children, but he had adopted his wife's by her first marriage.


Sergei Witte's reputation was burnished in the West after his secret memoirs were published in translation in 1921.


Sergei Witte had left orders that they could not be published during the lifetimes of him and his contemporaries.