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these states we nonetheless contend that it is vital to take the stated ambitions
and institutional strategies of their leaders seriously. It was, in the ¬rst instance,
their distinctive leadership strategies that set the National Socialist and Bolshe-
vik movements apart from their wider political habitats. In 1926 it had been the
reorganization of the National Socialists around an unconditional allegiance
to Hitler that set the NSDAP apart from the host of tiny nationalist splinter
groups that populated the German political scene;15 in Russia, similarly, it had
been the fact that it ran against the grain of traditional modes of Russian social
organization that made Leninism as a creed and ideology so distinct.16 As we
shall see, once they had come to power the distinctive leadership strategies
of the two movements would also have a palpable impact on their regimes
by determining the shape and structure of their states and internal bureau-
cracies.
The Nazi and Bolshevik regimes shared many features in common. Both
were autocratic police states which within months of coming to power had
cracked down on opposition groups and imposed severe restrictions on civil
liberties. In both the state made far-reaching demands on its citizens and placed
severe limits on the private sphere. Further, the two states were both “move-
ment regimes” marked by a continuous tension between an authority-building
position, aimed at strengthening the economy and consolidating the state, and
a dynamic mobilizational element aimed at transforming attitudes and pre-
venting stagnation.17 The balance struck between these two tendencies would,
however, be very different. Over the longer term the Stalinist state showed that
it could contain the dynamic element of the party and subordinate it to the
longer-term goals of state-building. In the Nazi regime, however, it was the
mobilizational element which took over, with highly destructive consequences.
We shall argue that the divergent paths followed by the two dictatorships were

This point, often made of the early 1930s, is a major theme of Moshe Lewin™s “The Disappear-
13

ance of Planning in the Plan,” reproduced as chapter 5 of his Russia/USSR/Russia: The Drive
and Drift of a Superstate (New York: New Press, 1995), 95“113.
“Each dictatorship,” writes Overy, “exposed a wide gulf between the stated goal and the social
14

reality. Bridging the gulf was a process that lay at the heart of dictatorship as it distorted reality
and terribly abused those who objected.” Overy, The Dictators, xi.
See in particular Joseph Nyomarkay, Charisma and Factionalism in the Nazi Party (Minneapo-
15

lis: University of Minnesota Press, 1967), 70.
To cite Ken Jowitt: “In a society where personal attachments were an integral part of social
16

organization, Lenin™s detachment was culturally revolutionary” (italics ours). See his New
World Disorder: The Leninist Extinction (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 7.
This was a theme of Hannah Arendt™s, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1st ed. (New York:
17

Harcourt, Brace, 1951), esp. 389“91. The term “mass-movement regime” was coined by Robert
C. Tucker, The Soviet Political Mind: Stalinism and Post-Stalin Change (New York: Norton,
1971), 7“13.
Political (Dis)Orders 47

not a matter of chance, but were dictated by institutional factors which were
built into the two systems: namely, the contrasting roles of party and leader in
their respective societies.

state and party structures
The Nazis and Bolsheviks faced diverse historical challenges with differing
resources, facts which shaped their approach to the organization of the state.
Amidst the devastation of revolution and civil war, the main task confronting
the Bolsheviks was to construct uni¬ed and continuous political authority,
predicated on a new and “revolutionary” form of legitimacy, across the coun-
try™s territories. This was achieved by vesting authority in a new centralized Bol-
shevik apparatus. To this end, the core of the party was gradually transformed,
from a mere propaganda appendage to the state, to a powerful bureaucracy,
with new leading committees (the Politburo and Orgburo), a fast-growing
staff, and the emergence of a national system of party-controlled appoint-
ments.18 The tasks confronting the Nazis were markedly different. When the
Nazis came to power the authority of the central state was ¬rmly established.
At the same time, the Nazi leadership had formally operated within the bounds
of legality and, with the legitimacy earned from the March 1933 elections,
had little need to anchor their authority in alternative “revolutionary” struc-
tures. In taking over a well-functioning central state administration Hitler had
less need to embark on a wholesale program of state-building or to erect
central party-based decision-making structures with their attendant bureau-
cracies.19
One of the key differences between the two regimes concerned the role of
the party in managing the state and in overseeing the economy. In the Stalinist
system the party and state became progressively intertwined. This process was
spread out over two phases. The ¬rst, which lasted from 1919 to 1923, saw
the emergence of central party authority and the construction of a hierarchy of
party committees across the country. Without a central administration as such
or even properly constituted committees in many regions, the Bolshevik party
in the ¬rst months of the Civil War was in dire need of effective organization.20


The number of staff at the Central Committee rose twentyfold from March 1919 to March
18

1921. See T. H. Rigby, Political Elites in the USSR: Central Leaders and Local Cadres from
Lenin to Gorbachev (Aldershot: Elgar, 1990), 76.
This is not to say that there were no efforts toward centralization on Hitler™s accession. In 1933
19

¨
and early 1934 the autonomy of the Lander assemblies was destroyed. At the same time the
Ministry of Interior under Wilhelm Frick tried to get the Nazi¬ed state governments under its
control, for example, through the installment of central plenipotentiaries, the Reich Statthalter.
However, the Reichsreform pursued by Frick failed. One reason for this was that Hitler was
unwilling to submit the Gauleiter, who by now operated with some independence as minister
¨
presidents or Oberprasidenten, to governmental control.
This is a point made forcefully by Robert Service, The Bolshevik Party in Revolution, 1917“
20

1923 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1979), 51“2, 54“5, 57“8, 61, 72“5.
Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen
48

At the VIII Party Congress in March 1919 two executive bodies, the Polit-
buro and the Orgburo, were established and a major expansion of the Central
Committee™s staff authorized. Over the following year, two departments, the
organization and instruction department and the record and assignment depart-
ment, were created. In order to stamp the central party™s authority on regional
party organizations, the Bolshevik leadership pressed on two fronts. First, to
ensure that their policies accorded with those of the Central Committee, a
Moscow-based apparatus was erected to monitor the regional and republican
tiers of the party. In some areas, most notably in Ukraine and Samara, repub-
lican and regional committees were entirely disbanded and replaced, while in
others, for example in Siberia, where party representation was thin on the
ground, scores of party functionaries were conscripted from the center to shore
up the authority of the regional party committee.21 Working through periodic
inspections, personal reports from regional secretaries, and occasional visits
from high-ranking central plenipotentiaries, the organization and instruction
department under Lazar Kaganovich sought to ensure that regional and repub-
lican committees complied with the central party line.22 Secondly, the Central
Committee built up an of¬cial system of patronage. The lapsing of elective
procedures, evident in 1920, when many of¬cials were already either co-opted
or directly selected by plenipotentiaries, had by 1923 been widened and for-
malized into a general system for the selection and appointment of of¬cials.
In April 1923, at the XII Party Congress, Stalin announced that “we need to
choose functionaries who are able to implement the party line . . . who are able
to accept the [party™s] directives as their own and are able to bring them to
life.”23 Shortly afterward, as part of Stalin™s efforts to improve the ef¬ciency of
the party-based patronage system, a resolution “On appointments” of 12 June
1923 laid down procedures for the selection and transfer of senior of¬cials who
were now formally grouped in two lists (nomenklatury), the ¬rst consisting of
posts which could change hands on a resolution of the Central Committee and
the second consisting of posts to be cleared with the newly created organiza-
tion and assignment department (orgraspred).24 The importance to Stalin of

Robert V. Daniels, “The Secretariat and the Local Organizations in the Russian Communist
21

Party, 1921“1923,” American Slavic and East European Review, 16, no. 1 (1957): 41“2, 46“7.
Daniels, 37“40. Even Moshe Lewin, who tends to emphasize the ¬‚uidity of party organizations
22

during the Revolution and the early Civil War, accepts that by its end, “the party was well on its
way toward becoming an administrative machine dominated by its top leaders and, increasingly,
by its apparaty, with little or no say left for the rank and ¬le.” Lewin, “The Civil War: Dynamics
and Legacy,” in Party, State and Society: Explorations in Social History, eds. Diane Koenker,
William G. Rosenberg, and Ronald Grigor Suny (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989),
417.
Joseph Stalin, Sochineniia, vol. 5 (Moscow: Gos. izd-vo polit. lit-ry, 1946), 210, cited in Alek-
23

sandr Livshin and Igor™ Orlov, Vlast™ i obschestvo: dialog v pis™makh (Moscow: ROSSPEN,
2002), 64.
Stalin™s efforts at rationalizing the appointments system relied on reducing the number of
24

decisions made in Moscow, so that Central Committee departments could concentrate their
resources on the most important cases. As a result, the number of cadres assigned from Moscow
Political (Dis)Orders 49

gaining central party control of regional party committees was underscored
by his appointment in the mid-1920s of a variety of trusted of¬cials, most of
whom had served under him at the Central Committee in Moscow, as secre-
taries of strategic regional committees. This process would include the transfer
of Lazar Kaganovich to Ukraine in 1925; of Sergei Kirov, Sergei Syrtsov, and
Iosif Vareikis, respectively, to Leningrad, Saratov, and Siberia in 1926; and of
Andrei Andreev to the North Caucasus in 1927.25
Recent research suggests that the assertion of central party controls in the
1920s was highly uneven and often quite super¬cial. This was particularly true
of some of the outlying regions of the country, where, in the wake of the Civil
War, local populations continued to view the Red Army and the Bolsheviks as
an occupying force. To bolster the party™s presence in these areas thousands of
Communists were often drafted in, sometimes from relatively far-off regions.26
For many regions it may also be premature to accept conventional chronologies
which date the end of the Civil War in 1921. In some areas partisan wars ¬‚ared
up for much of the 1920s and continued, albeit on a lower key, until the violent
uprisings of the collectivization period.27 As important in these areas as the
imposition of party controls were the presence of Red Army detachments and
the arrival of secret police units, many of which played a key role in overseeing
the collection of the “tax in kind” from famine-stricken peasants in the early
1920s.28 In some outlying provinces the establishment of party rule was thus a
joint operation in which the authority of the party, often acting on the ground
through proxy agencies, was propped up through quasi-military techniques. In

was reduced from approximately 22,500 between March 1921 and April 1922 to 6,000 from
April 1923 to May 1924. By 1926, however, the number of nomenklatura posts had expanded
again by a half. See James Harris, “Stalin as General Secretary: The Appointments Process and
the Nature of Stalin™s Power,” in Stalin: A New History, eds. Sarah Davies and James Harris
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 69“70; and Oleg Khlevniuk, “Sistema tsentr-
regiony v 1930“1950e gody: Predposylki politizatsii ˜nomenklatury,™” Cahiers du Monde russe
44, no. 2“3 (2003): 255.
James Hughes, “Patrimonialism and the Stalinist System: The Case of S. I. Syrtsov,” Europe-
25

Asia Studies 48, no. 4 (1996): 551“68. On Kirov™s arrival in Leningrad, see A. V. Kvashonkin
et al., eds., Bol™shevistskoe rukovodstvo: Perepiska: 1912“1927 (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 1996),
323; and 314“15, 318.
Thus, for example, three-quarters of the 4,606 communists of the Podolya region in Ukraine
26

in 1924 had been conscripted from other regions. See Valery Vasil™ev, “Vinnitsa Oblast,” in
Centre-Local Relations in the Stalinist State, 1928“1941, ed. E. A. Rees (Basingstoke: Palgrave,
2002), 168.
The argument that the “war” continued after 1921, even though it did not assume a “front-line”
27

form, is made in S. A. Pavliuchenkov, “Ekonomicheskii liberalizm v predelakh politicheskogo
monopolizma,” in Rossiia nepovskaia (Moscow: Novyi khronograph, 2002), 15. In Podolya the
partisan war against Soviet power continued until 1925, only to be followed, shortly afterward
in the autumn of 1927. by the application of “harsh repressive measures” in the region™s grain
procurement campaign and by the onset, in the ¬rst three months of 1930s, of violent peasant
resistance. Vasil™ev, “Vinnitsa,” 168“9, 171. On long-running con¬‚icts in the border regions,
also see Terry Martin, The Af¬rmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet
Union, 1923“1939 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001), 313“14.
Vasil™ev, 168; Pavliuchenkov, 38“9.
28
Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen
50

addition, the controls afforded the center by its manipulation of appointments
were often less substantial than they seemed. Some of the ¬ercest opposition
to Stalin in the late 1920s would come from those, such as Uglanov, Syrtsov,
and Bauman, who had earlier been hand-picked at the Central Committee
apparatus to bring provincial party organizations into line.29 Despite the many
efforts to subordinate regional party organizations, it was in the 1920s that the
relative autonomy of provincial party committees, many of which were courted
by the contending power factions in Moscow, reached its peak.30
The second stage of Stalinist state-building began in the late 1920s. Much
of it centered on the goal, heralded by the First Five-Year Plan, of centralizing
authority over the economy, as republican and regional tiers of administration
surrendered important prerogatives, such as the right to allocate resources, to
set targets, and to manage large- and medium-scale heavy industrial enterprises,
to their new all-union superiors.31 Ever concerned that the central directives
emanating from Moscow existed only “on paper,” Stalin attached particular
importance to the apparatus for the “veri¬cation of implementation.”32 The
forces of centralization seized not only the economy, but also the political
sphere proper. The restructuring of party committees at all levels according to
the branch system at the XVII Party Congress in 1934 was designed to bring all
lines of command under the central party apparatus in Moscow. Furthermore,
the formation of a department of leading party organs, also in 1934, and the
widening of the Central Committee™s nomenklatura a year later, were designed
to beef up the Central Committee™s oversight over provincial, city, and district
committees.33 In other ¬elds as well, such as education, the arts, the security
police, the armed forces, and the criminal justice system, newly established
Moscow-based all-union authorities usurped administrative powers previously
held by republican and regional bodies.34 The creation of these new centralized
hierarchies was accompanied, in the mid-1930s, by a ¬nely differentiated and
quite traditional system of ranks and titles which would not have been out of
place in the Tsarist era. As Terry Martin rightly observes, however, while the
cultural and social sectors may have taken a “traditionalist” turn after 1933, in

E. A. Rees, “The Changing Nature of Centre-Local Relations in the USSR, 1928“1936,” in
29

Centre-Local Relations in the Stalinist State, 1928“1941, ed. E. A. Rees (Basingstoke: Palgrave,
2002), 15.
On the widespread lack of control by the center of regional authorities, see Livshin and Orlov,
30

66, 82; on the degradation at the lower levels of administration, as re¬‚ected in high levels of
drunkenness and corruption, see ibid, 76“9.

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