Vyshinsky was born in Odessa into a Polish Catholic family, who later moved to Baku. His father, Yanuarii Vyshinsky (January Wyszyński), was a pharmaceutical chemist. A talented student, he married Kapa Mikhailova, and became interested in revolutionary ideas. He began attending the Kiev University but was expelled for participating in revolutionary activities.
Vyshinsky returned to Baku, became a Menshevik in 1903 and took an active part in the 1905 Russian Revolution. As a result, in 1908 he was sentenced to prison and a few days later was sent to Bailov prison to serve his sentence. Here he first met Stalin: a fellow inmate with whom he engaged in ideological disputes. After his release, he returned home to Baku for the birth of his daughter Zinaida in 1909. Soon thereafter, he returned to Kiev University and did quite well. He was even considered for a professorship, but his political past caught up with him, and he was forced to return to Baku. Determined to practice law, he tried Moscow, where he became a successful lawyer, remained an active Menshevik, gave many passionate and incendiary speeches, and became involved in city government.
Russian Civil War
In 1917, as a minor official, he undersigned an order to arrest Vladimir Lenin, according to the decision of the Russian Provisional Government, but the October Revolution quickly intervened, and the offices which had ordered the arrest were dissolved. In 1917, he became reacquainted with Stalin, who had become an important Bolshevik leader. Consequently, he joined the staff of the People's Commissariat of Food, which was responsible for Moscow's food supplies, and with the help of Stalin, Alexei Rykov, and Lev Kamenev, he began to rise in influence and prestige. In 1920, after the defeat of the Whites under Denikin, and the end of the Russian Civil War, he joined the Bolsheviks.
Bolsheviks in Power
Becoming a member of the nomenklatura he...