Learn more about Sergei Witte
Count Sergei Yulyevich Witte (Сергей Юльевич Витте) (June 29, 1849 – March 13, 1915), also known as Sergius Witte, was a highly influential policy-maker who presided over extensive industrialization within the Russian Empire. He was also the author of the October Manifesto of 1905, a precursor to Russia's first constitution, and Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister of Russia) of the Russian Empire.
Witte's family from his father's side was russified Lutheran German and his mother's side Russian nobility. Sergei Witte's maternal grandfather was Andrei Mikhailovich Fadeyev, a Governor of Saratov and Privy Councillor of the Caucasus, his grandmother was Princess Helene Dolgoruki, and the mystic Madame Blavatsky was his first cousin. His father was Julius Witte, his mother was Catherine Fadeyev. He was born in Tiflis and raised in the Caucasus region of Russia, in the house of his mother's parents. He graduated from Novorossiysk University in Odessa with a degree in Mathematics. He then spent the greater part of the 1870s and 1880s involved in private enterprises, particularly the administration and management of various railroad lines in Russia.
 Impact on Russian economics
Witte served as Russian Director of Railway Affairs within the Finance Ministry from 1889 – 1891, Transportation Minister (1892), where he pursued an ambitious program of railway construction and oversaw the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway.
He was appointed Russian Finance Minister in 1892, a position he held until 1903. During his tenure as Finance Minister the nation saw unprecedented economic growth. Witte strongly encouraged foreign capital to invest in Russia, and to do so he put Russia on the gold standard in 1897. Witte encouraged the growth of Russian industry, as a result the industrial sector of the economy expanded rapidly, especially the metals, petroleum, and transportation sectors. To improve the economy and to attract foreign investors Witte also advocated curbing the powers of the Russian autocracy.
Witte was transferred to the relatively powerless position of Chairman of the Committee of Ministers in 1903, a position he held until 1905. This position was also called Secretary of State in the US . In an attempt to keep up the modernization of the Russian economy Witte called and oversaw the Special Conference on the Needs of the Rural Industry. This conference was to provide recommendations for future reforms and the data to justify those reforms. Despite these efforts the lot of the peasants slowly declined and unrest increased in the peasant population.
 Impact on Russian politics
Witte returned to the forefront in 1905, however, when he was called upon by the Tsar to negotiate an end to the Russo-Japanese War. Witte traveled with Baron Rosen to the United States, where the peace talks were being held, and negotiated brilliantly on Russia's behalf. Despite losing dramatically on the battlefield, Russia lost very little in the final settlement.
After this success Witte was brought back into the governmental decision-making process to help deal with the civil unrest following the war and Bloody Sunday. He was appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers in 1905. During the Russian Revolution of 1905, Witte advocated for the creation of an elected parliament, the formation of a constitutional monarchy, and the establishment of a Bill of Rights through the October Manifesto. Many of his reforms were put into place, but they failed to end the unrest. This, and overwhelming victories by left-wing political parties in Russia's first elected parliament, the State Duma, forced Witte to resign as Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister).
Witte continued in Russian politics as a member of the State Council but never again obtained an administrative role in the government. Just prior to the outbreak of World War I he urged that Russia stay out of the conflict. His warning that Europe faced calamity if Russia became involved went unheeded, and he died shortly thereafter.
- Out of My Past by Vladimir Kokovtsov
- Memoirs of Count Witte, translated and edited by Sydney Harcave
- Biographical notes on Peter von Hahn, etc.
Ivan Nikolayevich Durnovo
|Prime Minister of Russia|
1903 — 5 May 1906
de:Sergei Juljewitsch Witte et:Sergei Witte es:Sergei Witte eo:Sergej Vitte ko:세르게이 비테 he:סרגיי ויטה nl:Sergej Witte ja:セルゲイ・ヴィッテ pl:Siergiej Witte ro:Serghei Witte ru:Витте, Сергей Юльевич fi:Sergei Witte tr:Sergei Vitte