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Bill Thayer

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Part I
Chapter 12

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

Stalinist Rule in the Ukraine
by Hryhory Kostiuk

published in the U. S. A. by
Frederick A. Praeger, Inc.
New York

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Part I
Chapter 14

Part One
Stalinist Centralism and the Ukraine

 p60  Chapter XIII

The Objectives of the Purge of the CP(b)U in 1933

On December 10, 1932, the Central Committee of the All‑Union CP(b) resolved that a purge of the Party be carried out in 1933.1 The most important features of the resolution were:

1) During the course of 1933 a purge of members and candidate members of the Party is to be conducted.

2) The admission of members and candidate members of the Party throughout the USSR, in the cities as well as in the villages, is to be halted on the day this resolution is published.

This communique alone did not provide a clue to the nature of the forthcoming purge. All the major Party purges of the past (1921, 1924, 1925, and 1929) had had in each case a different but specific purpose. In 1921, the purge was initiated to cleanse the Party of non‑proletarian and criminal elements which had "accidentally" become members during the Civil War. In that purge 175,000 out of 600,000 Party members were cast out of the Party — almost 26 per cent.2 The purge of 1924 was primarily directed against intellectually critical elements and against the recalcitrant new student generation, sympathetic to the Trotsky left opposition which was gaining strength at that time. In the following year the purge swept Trotskyite and leftist elements out of the village cells. In 1929 the purge chiefly affected the adherents of Bukharin. Now, in 1933, the purge once more had a specific purpose. In May 1933,3 the Central Committee adopted a series of concrete directives for the execution of the purge and on May 22, 1933, Kaganovich revealed the Party's intention even more clearly in his speech to a Moscow Party meeting.4

According to him, there were five objectives in the current purge. The Party was to be cleansed of: 1) hostile class elements which had joined it by fraud; 2) open and hidden double-dealers; 3) those who broke the iron discipline of the Party; 4) degenerates, who had joined forces with the kulaks and the bourgeoisie; 5) bureaucrats, careerists, and self-seekers.

Directives more specifically concerned with the Ukraine came from Manuilsky, whom Trotsky once described as "the most repulsive renegade of Ukrainian  p61 Communism."5 In his report before the Party organization in Kiev, delivered on May 28, 1933, Manuilsky supplemented Kaganovich's instructions.6

He pointed out the presence of undesirable elements in the CP(b)U and hinted that they were primarily those who came to the CP(b)U from other parties (Borotbists, Ukapists). "Here, in the Ukraine," said Manuilsky, "there are a number of institutions which have the elevated titles of academies, institutes and learned societies, which frequently harbor not socialist science but class-hostile ideology . . . The task of building Ukrainian culture is often entrusted to double-dealers, men of the hostile class . . . The national problem has been leased to former members of nationalist parties who failed to join organically with the Party."

He reminded the Ukrainian Communists that the only correct interpretation of the national problem in the USSR was that of Lenin and Stalin.

Manuilsky's words made it clear that as far as the CP(b)U was concerned, the purge was directed above all against the "nationalist deviationists."

In practical terms, the purge was aimed at Skrypnyk, the leader of Ukrainian Communist scholars and thinkers, at the former Borotbists and Ukapists and other "undesirable elements." The final objective of the purge was to make the CP(b)U entirely subservient to Moscow.

The extent of the purge in the Ukraine was indicated in Postyshev's speech before the November Plenum of the CP(b)U in 1933.7 According to incomplete returns up to October 15, 1933, 27,500 members of the CP(b)U were expelled from the Party (23 per cent of the total member­ship). This general percentage was confirmed in 1934 by Sukhomlin, who told the Seventeenth Party Congress that in the four provincial Party organizations (Kiev, Odessa, Vinnitsa, Donets), 51,713 (out of a total of 267, 907) members of the CP(b)U were purged.8 In order to comprehend the magnitude of Postyshev's purge of the CP(b)U, it is necessary to bear in mind that most of those who were purged were not only expelled from the Party, but were arrested and liquidated.

The Author's Notes:

1 Resolution of the CC All‑Union CP(b), Pravda, December 11, 1932.

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2 L. Kaganovich, "O chistke partii" (On the Purge of the Party), Pravda, June 1, 1933.

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3 Visti, May 20, 1933.

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4 Kaganovich, op. cit.

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5 L. Trotsky, "Ob ukrainskom voprose" (On the Ukrainian Question), Byulleten oppozitsii, No. 77‑78, 1939.

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6 D. Manuilsky, "Zavdannya chystky kyivskoi partorhanizatsii" (The Tasks of the Purge of the Kiev Party Organization), Visti, June 5, 1933.

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7 Postyshev's speech, Pravda, November 24, 1933.

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8 Kovalevsky, op. cit., p150.

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