Zinovy Peshkov file photo [23142]

Zinovy Peshkov

Given NameZinovy
Born16 Oct 1884
Died27 Nov 1966
CountryRussia, France


ww2dbaseYeshua Zalman Movshevich Sverdlov was born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia in Oct 1884 to a Jewish metal engraver originally from Bialystok, Poland. His younger brother, Jakov Sverdlov, would later become a high level Soviet official. In 1902, he worked as Russian writer Maxim Gorky's private secretary; Gorky had been a friend to the Sverdlov family since 1896. As a response to anti-Semitism, Yeshua Sverdlov adopted the Eastern Orthodox religion and changed his name to Zinovy Alekseyevich Peshkov, thus naming himself after Gorky, whose original birth name was Alexei Maximovich Peshkov. In 1904, Zinovy Peshkov emigrated to Canada to avoid being conscripted for the Russo-Japanese War. In 1906, he moved to New York, New York, United States to join Gorky. Gorky left New York for Capri, Italy in late 1906, and Peshkov joined him there in May 1907. He married the daughter of a Cossack colonel and had a daughter, Elisabeth; they traveled extensively before rejoining Gorky at Capri in 1913. During WW1, he volunteered for the French Foreign Legion in Apr 1915. In May 1915, he was seriously wounded near Arras, France, leading to the amputation of his right arm. In 1916, after being made a lieutenant, he was sent to the United States to join a French team dedicated to persuading America into joining the war. In 1917, he was awarded the Légion d'honneur. Shortly after the war, he joined the French diplomatic service and was posted to Russia, Romania, China, Japan, and Georgia. Between 1921 and 1926, he served with the French Foreign Legion in French Morocco. Between 1926 and 1929, he served at the French embassy in the United States. During this period, he married his second wife, Jacqueline Delaunay-Belleville. Between 1929 and 1937, he served with the Foreign Ministry in France and in French Lebanon. Between 1937 and 1940, he returned to the French Foreign Legion, serving in French Morocco and French Syria. In 1940, he declared allegiance to Charles de Gaulle, who made him the Free French Ambassador to South Africa, where he coordinated arms shipments to Free French forces. In Apr 1944, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and was posted to Chongqing, China to head up the French Military Mission. Ostensibly a military attaché, he was actually the chief of de Gaulle's spy network in China. Striking up a good rapport with President Chiang Kaishek, Chiang personally recommended de Gaulle make Peshkov the ambassador, a request that de Gaulle complied with. Using his influence with de Gaulle and Chiang, he successfully made the Meynier Group, a French intelligence network in China and French Indochina loyal to de Gaule's political rival Henri Giraud, irrelevant. After the war, he was made the French Ambassador to Japan. He retired in 1950. In 1964, as France established relations with Communist China, he was made a special envoy to the Republic of China at Taiwan to appease the betrayed Chiang Kaishek. Peshkov passed away in Paris, France in Nov 1966 and was buried at the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery south of Paris.

Linda Kush, The Rice Paddy Navy

Last Major Revision: Jun 2015

Zinovy Peshkov Interactive Map


Maxim Gorky and Mark Twain at a dinner at Club A House, New York, New York, United States, 12 Apr 1906; note Zinovy Peshkov seated next to GorkyMajor Zinovy Peshkov, 20 Jan 1926

Zinovy Peshkov Timeline

16 Oct 1884 Yeshua Sverdlov was born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.
1 Apr 1915 Zinovy Peshkov was made a corporal in the French Foreign Legion at Nice, France.
27 Nov 1966 Zinovy Peshkov passed away in Paris, France.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. SP says:
10 Sep 2018 12:45:37 PM

Please correct his name spelling. His name is Zinovy

(Зиновий - in original Russian language)
2. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
11 Sep 2018 05:29:31 AM

SP, thank you for pointing this out, the typographical error has been fixed.
3. SP says:
15 Sep 2018 06:22:16 PM

the Link to share this webpage to Facebook is coming with title Zivony instead of Zinovy
4. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
17 Sep 2018 05:56:21 AM

SP, unfortunately there are elements on various social media sites that disallowed us from editing after-the-fact. The correction I referred to was done locally on the WW2DB site only in this case. Thank you once again for letting us know of the misspelling!

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Zinovy Peshkov Photo Gallery
Maxim Gorky and Mark Twain at a dinner at Club A House, New York, New York, United States, 12 Apr 1906; note Zinovy Peshkov seated next to Gorky
See all 2 photographs of Zinovy Peshkov

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