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at the workplace and that they achieve production targets and ful¬ll policies
laid down by the party™s Central Committee underlined the important eco-
nomic and managerial responsibilities of the party in the administration of the
party-state. In Germany, even at the local and district levels, where the party™s
administrative presence was at its greatest, relations between party and state
were marked by a continual tension which appears, according to Noakes and
Pridham, to have been “built into the system.”75 By contrast, the activities of
the local party organization in the USSR, which included administering the
of¬cial patronage system, the nomenklatura, were closely harmonized with
those of the local state. The Communist Party™s relative smallness underlined
its self-identi¬cation as an elite force whose membership were entrusted with,
in effect, running the Soviet state.76
The contrasting roles of the party in state-building also found expression in
two quite different ideologies. In the Soviet case the state embraced a program-
matic class-based ideology, which, by means of a variety of structures of class-
based discrimination, had quite tangible implications for the ways in which
its own population was treated. Although there was a disjuncture between the
ideological underpinnings of Leninism “ which had argued that capitalism had
fostered a clear class structure in Russia “ and a reality in which, after years of
social upheaval, the country™s already frail class structure came close to disin-
tegration, the class issue continued to be taken seriously and was a thorn in the
leadership™s side until well into the 1930s.77 Further, Leninist ideology “ unlike
traditional Marxism “ attributed a key role to the vanguard party in leading
the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” As its custodian, the party apparatus was
to play the pivotal part in disseminating the of¬cial ideology and in realiz-
ing its stated ambitions. Even later, “under Stalin,” according to one eminent
neo-Weberian theorist, “the emphasis on the leader . . . always remained subor-
dinate to the Party as the agent capable of formulating a correct line, a program


while that of Germany, prior to the annexation of Bohemia-Moravia, ranged from about 66
million to 80 million.
Overy, The Dictators, 146“7, 155. Overy cites the work of C. W. Reibel, Das Fundament
74

der Diktatur: Die NSDAP-Ortsgruppen 1932“1945 (Paderborn, 2002); and D. Schmiechen-
¨
Ackermann, “Der ˜Blockwart,™” Vierteljahrshefte fur Zeitgeschichte 48 (2000): 575“602.
Noakes and Pridham, Nazism, vol. 2, 61“4, quote from 64.
75

For the very high party saturation in 1933 of the local state apparatus and of the management of
76

local industry and agriculture, see T. H. Rigby, Communist Party Membership in the U.S.S.R.,
1917“1967 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968), 200, 418, 420, 427“8.
For a useful discussion of these issues and of how class was eventually incorporated into a
77

“soslovie model,” see Sheila Fitzpatrick, “Ascribing Class: The Construction of Social Identity
in Soviet Russia,” Journal of Modern History 65, no. 4 (1993): 745“68.
Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen
60

separate from the personal insight of the leader.”78 The Nazis™ ruling ideology
was altogether different. Fiercely exclusive and ultranationalist, it was in its
early stages inseparable from the utterances of its leader. Never grounded in a
canonical text and defying theoretical systematization, the “abstract, utopian
and vague National Socialist ideology,” writes Broszat, “only achieved what
reality and certainty it had through the medium of Hitler.”79 For this reason
the “ideology” of the regime merged, to a far greater degree than did its equiva-
lents in the USSR, with the Hitler cult which enveloped the state™s propaganda
machine.80 To the extent that a secondary programmatic ideology that was
relatively independent of Hitler did emerge in the 1930s “ that of the “racial
state” “ it found no core institutional expression of the kind achieved by the
Communist Party as the embodiment of Leninism in the Soviet Union.81
The Nazi and Stalinist states operated along very different lines. The Stal-
inist state was built on a Leninist foundation which involved the construction
of a highly centralized party with a well-staffed bureaucracy. In exercising
patronage, formulating policy, and discharging other statelike responsibili-
ties, the party became fully intertwined with the state. The Leninist legacy also
included the institutional means of con¬‚ict resolution in the form of a hierarchy
of committees, including the Central Committee and the Politburo, at which
ideological and policy differences could be thrashed out. However removed its
actions were from its utopian aims, the regime sought to justify its policies in
terms of a Marxist-Leninist system of ideas which attached particular impor-
tance to the notions of class and ruling party. The Nazi regime by contrast had
its origins in the decentralized and amorphous NSDAP movement of the 1920s
in which central headquarters had relatively little authority over either regional
party bodies or the party™s auxiliary combat organizations.82 In the absence of
clear decision-making structures or of an integrated programmatic ideology the
movement, both in its time of struggle and immediately after assuming power,
was held together almost entirely by its leader and his cult. Rather than becom-
ing systematically fused with the state, as was the case in the Soviet Union,
the Nazi party, despite its many public duties, did not, as an institution, mesh
smoothly with the cogs of the German state.83 While regional party leaders, as

Jowitt, New World Disorder, 9“10. Earlier Jowitt writes: “It is not in the appreciation of
78

heroism that Leninism differs from Nazism; it is in the designation of the heroic agent. For
Lenin, the Party is hero “ not the individual leader.” See 6“7.
Broszat, 18, 29.
79

Ian Kershaw, Der Hitler-Mythos: Volksmeinung und Propaganda im Dritten Reich (Stuttgart:
80

Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1980), 46“71.
Here our emphasis differs from that of Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wipperman, who attach
81

priority to the quest for racial puri¬cation as an independent unifying principle of the Nazi
regime. See their The Racial State, Germany 1933“1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1991).
The main exception were the ¬nancial controls exercised by the Munich organization under
82

Franz Xaver Schwarz, who supervised party ¬nances at all levels.
Even at the municipal level, where the party was able to monopolize staf¬ng policy, its prerog-
83

atives were partly neutralized by the intensi¬cation of supervision by the Lander governments.
Political (Dis)Orders 61

individuals, may have ¬lled leading positions in the state, their authority did
not stem from their party of¬ces, and their policies were rarely coordinated
with those of the wider state system.
Despite their very different origins the Nazi and Soviet regimes did, in some
respects, converge during the 1930s, the era of full-blown Stalinism. It was
at the beginning of this decade that Stalin, like Hitler, assumed the powers
of a full-scale dictator and began to brush aside the institutions of con¬‚ict
resolution and decision making that had existed within the party and to lean
toward more informal modes of policy formation. It was at this stage too
that the Stalin cult gathered pace and that an increasingly malleable Marxist-
Leninist ideology took on a Stalinist coloring and, with it, conservative and
nationalist overtones.84 In terms of their structure and dynamics, however, the
Nazi and Soviet states never fully converged. One reason was that even at
the height of Stalin™s dictatorship the party retained the characteristics of an
integrated bureaucracy and continued to discharge a large variety of statelike
functions. A second key difference, however, concerned the leaders themselves.
Stalin and Hitler were linchpins of their respective states. Although the states
over which they presided were dictatorships de¬ned, in large part, by the nature
of their dictator™s rule, they were dictatorships of a different sort. The fact that
Stalin and Hitler had different personalities and behavioral patterns would
have major implications for the organization of their respective states. It is to
these implications that we now turn.

leaders
As man and ruler, Stalin differed markedly from Hitler. This is important for
our understanding of the political system, since Stalin™s success as a politician
corresponded closely with the institutional and political environment in which
he had risen and prospered. From his prerevolutionary days Stalin had been a


Albeit less so than Jowitt, our approach shares a certain amount in common with the work of
84

Joseph Nyomarkay (Charisma and Factionalism in the Nazi Party [Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press, 1967]), who distinguishes the Nazi form of “charismatic totalitarianism” from
its Soviet “ideological” counterpart. According to Nyomarkay, the Nazi Party was little more
than a “charismatic group” whose organization was based on organic rather than bureaucratic
lines and whose primary function was to “generate, maintain and enhance Hitler™s charismatic
personality” (26, 33, 151). However, to the extent that Nyomarkay™s is a study of the “political
movement primarily in its pre-power stage” rather than as an “established political order,” his
comparison of the Nazi and Soviet systems becomes somewhat blurred for the mid-1930s (10
and fn. 1, 147). One difference between our approach and his relates to the role Nyomarkay
assigns to Marxist “ideology” as the source of authority in communist systems. “Communist
leaders,” Nyomarkay wrote, “always justify themselves by claiming to be the correct interpreters
of the Marxist ideology, and on this basis they claim the loyalty of their followers” (149). This,
however, seems inappropriate for the Soviet Union in the 1930s. We suggest that in the USSR in
this period authority was equally grounded not only in Stalin™s leadership but in the conventions
and institutional continuities of the party itself, which often had little or nothing to do with
Marxist ideology as such.
Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen
62

committee man and party functionary, who had built a reputation for admin-
istrative effectiveness. In the early phase of the Bolshevik regime Stalin had
not only sat on and chaired the overlapping administrative committees of the
party, such as the Orgburo and Secretariat, but had, with the help of allies such
as Molotov and Kaganovich, in effect designed these institutions by setting out
new roles and responsibilities for them. In doing so, Stalin also built up a small
army of party functionaries. “Koba is training me magni¬cently,” the head of
the bureau to the Secretariat, A. M. Nazaretian, wrote to Ordzhonikidze in the
summer of 1922:
He is turning me into an absolute clerk and overseer of the decisions of the
Politburo, the Orgburo and the Secretariat. . . . Il™ich [i.e. Lenin] has in him a most
reliable Cerberus, intrepidly standing at the gates of the TsK [Central Committee].
What we found here was indescribably bad, but now the work of the TsK has
visibly changed . . . now everything has been shaken up. Come in the autumn and
you will see.

“The latest fashionable phrase in Moscow,” he went on, “relates to those
employed by the TsK who have not yet received assignments, who are hanging
as it were, in mid-air. About them we say: ˜[They are] under Stalin.™”85
Over the course of the 1920s Stalin, along with Molotov, devoted consider-
able attention to management of the Central Committee apparatus, allowing
himself to be drawn into lengthy discussions on appointments and on the
division of responsibilities among Secretaries and between departments.86 By
the end of the decade Stalin had consolidated his reputation as an institution
builder. Over the next few years his horizons would broaden. The expansion
and recon¬guration of the state apparatus in the late 1920s and early 1930s
entailed a complex process in which Stalin would play a key role. At the same
time, in this period Stalin strongly consolidated his position as the country™s
undisputed leader. The relationship between these processes is not incidental,
for it shows how Stalin™s own authority was grounded in the internal institu-
tional structures and ideological conventions of the Leninist party-state.
By the end of the 1920s Stalin had ¬rmly established his position as the
effective head of the Politburo.87 He was not yet, however, a dictator; nor
did he have things all his own way.88 Stalin™s defeat of the “Right Opposi-
tion” demonstrated both his command of internal organizational issues and his

Kvashonkin et al., eds., Bol™shevistskoe rukovodstvo, 262“3.
85

See, for example, Khlevniuk et al., eds., Stalinskoe politbiuro v 30-e gody, 113; and Lih et al.,
86

eds., 88.
Referring to Lenin™s comments in his “Testament” of 1922 that Stalin had, as General Secretary,
87

“concentrated immense power in his hands,” Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomskii, in their declaration
of 9 February 1929, asserted that “since these words were written, this ˜immense power™ has
become even more ˜immense.™” V. P. Danilov et al., eds., Kak lomali NEP: Stenogrammy
plenumov TsK VKP(b) 1928“1929 gg., vol. 4 (Moscow: MFD, 2000), 614“15.
For a recent assessment, see Yoram Gorlizki and Oleg Khlevniuk, “Stalin and His Circle,”
88

in The Cambridge History of Russia, vol. 3, ed. Ronal Grigor Suny (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2006), 246“8. For speci¬c examples, also see A. V. Kvashonkin et al., eds.,
Political (Dis)Orders 63

astute manipulation of the party™s ideological conventions. More than merely
controlling appointments, Stalin, together with Molotov, used organizational
measures, such as calling ad hoc meetings of Secretaries, brie¬ng against oppo-
nents at regional bureaus, and organizing lower-level resolutions, to foster an
atmosphere of ideological orthodoxy ahead of the crucial April 1929 plenum of
the Central Committee. “Without notifying the Politburo,” Bukharin, Rykov,
and Tomskii claimed in their statement of 9 February 1929, “the Secretariat
has summoned a large number of gubkom Secretaries and created an atmo-
sphere in which anyone holding a particular opinion is ipso facto an opponent
of the Central Committee.”89 At the same time, one reason that Stalin was able
to deploy these procedural mechanisms to such effect was that he had a better
grasp of the salience of ideological conventions at the party™s lower ranks. Thus
a key thrust of the charges laid at Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomskii by Stalin™s
allies was that the triumvirate had neglected the unfolding “class struggle” in
the countryside.90
Even after the defeat of the “right-deviation,” in the early 1930s Stalin
still had to contend with those powerful members of the Politburo, such
as Ordzhonikidze, who headed important departments, and who, especially
where the interests of their department came under threat, were known to take
issue with him.91 The way that Stalin dealt with resistance of this kind again
reveals something about the nature of his power in this period. In the numerous
confrontations over resource allocation which marked the latter stages of the
First Five-Year Plan, Stalin routinely displayed an impressive command of the
details of economic organization and policy. To this end he was often drawn
into matters, usually quite technical, of policymaking, especially those involv-
ing the setting of industrial plans and the attainment of procurement targets.92

Sovetskoe rukovodstvo: Perepiska, 1928“1941 (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 1999), 8, 22“2, 58“9;
Lih et al., eds., 149; and Khlevniuk, Politbiuro, 37“40, 46.
(Italics ours) Danilov et al. , 613. Molotov also arranged resolutions from the provinces critical
89

of the triumvirate to be passed and subsequently deployed at the April plenum. At the plenum
itself Yaroslavsky, in the opening speech, alluded to highly critical resolutions from regional
party organizations in Ukraine, the Urals, and the Far East, against the triumvirate. Danilov et
al, eds., 42“3.
Danilov et al., eds., 236“42, 295“6, 299“300, 445“7. For a work that persuasively highlights
90

Stalin™s distinctive and popular presentation to the party™s rank and ¬le of the industrialization
drive as a form of “class war,” see Hiroaki Kuromiya, Stalin™s Industrial Revolution (Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), esp. 109“13.
For more on this see Gorlizki and Khlevniuk, “Stalin and His Circle,” 249“51; and, more
91

generally, Oleg Khlevniuk, In Stalin™s Shadow: The Career of ˜Sergo™ Ordzhonikidze, edited

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