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Germans and Romanians fell victim to summary executions in the months fol-
lowing the war™s end. In total, between 1940 and 1953, more than 0.5 million
people were deported from the Ukraine.154 In the Baltic republics, reacquired
by the Soviet Union in 1944, Bolshevik leaders conducted a “campaign of
destruction” against national elites.155 In the collective memory of the Baltic
nations, Stalinism is synonymous with attempted genocide.
The fact that Soviet Jews were stigmatized as “agents” of Zionism and
were likewise held in captivity only corresponds to and con¬rms the perverse
logic of Stalinist xenophobia. All that mattered for leading Bolsheviks was that
the founding of the State of Israel created a homeland for Jews outside the
Soviet Union. As a result, Jews inside the Soviet Union fell under suspicion,
regardless of whether they recognized themselves as Jews or not. After 1947,
state-sanctioned anti-Semitism assumed hysterical proportions and essentially
merged with the existing anti-Jewish sentiment of many Russians and Ukraini-
ans. By early 1953, at the latest, Stalin considered expelling all Jews from cities
in the European portion of the Soviet Union. Only the death of the dictator
in March 1953 spared Soviet Jews from the same fate as the Germans and
Chechens.156 Stalin™s death was simultaneously the death of Stalinism. With

RGASPI, f. 82, op. 2, d. 897, ll. 106“23, 135“9, 143“5; Frank Golczewski, “Ukraine “

Burgerkrieg und Resowjetisierung,” in Kriegsende in Europa: Vom Beginn des deutschen
Machtzerfalls bis zur Stabilisierung der Nachkriegsordnung, 1944“1948, eds. Ulrich Herbert
and Axel Schildt (Essen: Klartext, 1998), 89“99; Sheila Fitzpatrick, “Postwar Soviet Society:
The ˜Return to Normalcy,™ 1945“1953,” in The Impact of World War II on the Soviet Union,
ed. Susan J. Linz (Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Allanheld, 1985), 134; Weiner, 59, 163“90; Pohl,
“Russian,” 295“7.
RGASPI, f. 82, op. 2, d. 897, ll. 143“5; Toivo U. Raun, Estonia and the Estonians (Stanford,

CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1991), 181“3; Laasi, 70“82; Zemskov, Spetsposelentsy v SSSR,
155“6; Baberowski, Der rote Terror, 248.
Weiner, 191“235; 287“90; RGASPI, f. 558, op. 11, d. 904, ll. 27“35, 39; RGASPI, f. 82, op.

2, d. 148, ll. 126“31; Andrej D. Sacharow, Mein Leben (Munich: Piper, 1991), 177“8; Shimon
Redlich, War, Holocaust and Stalinism: A Documented History of the Jewish Anti-Fascist
Commitee in the USSR (Luxembourg: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1995); Vladimir Nau-
mov, “Die Vernichtung des Judischen Antifaschistischen Komitees,” in Der Spatstalinismus
und die “judische Frage”: Zur antisemitischen Wende des Kommunismus, ed. Leonid Luks
(Cologne: Bohlau, 1998), 123“6; Vladimir Naumov, ed., Nepravednyi sud: Poslednyi stalin-
skii rasstrel: Stenogramma sudebnogo protsessa nad chlenami Evreiskogo Antifashistskogo
Komiteta (Moscow: Nauka, 1994); Iakov Etinger, “The Doctor™s Plot: Stalin™s Solution to
the Jewish Question,” in Jews and Jewish Life in Russia and the Soviet Union, ed. Ya™acov
Ro™i (Ilford: Cass, 1995), 103“24; Aleksander Lokshin, “The Doctors™ Plot: The Non-Jewish
Response,” in Ro™i, 157“67; Zhores A. Medvedev, “Stalin i ˜delo vrachei™: Novye materialy,”
Voprosy istorii 1 (2003): 78“103; Gennadii Kostyrchenko, Out of the Red Shadows: Anti-
Semitism in Stalin™s Russia (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995); Arno Lustiger, Rotbuch:
Stalin und die Juden (Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag, 1998), 108“22; Alexander Borschtschagowski,
Jorg Baberowski and Anselm Doering-Manteuffel

his death so too died the utopia of permanent cleansing and the desire to anni-
hilate all hostile collectives. Xenophobia, however, remained, and whenever
crises developed, resentment blossomed once again. By the 1960s or 1970s,
however, nobody anymore seriously considered the physical destruction of
imagined enemies.

Stalinism was an attempt to establish an order devoid of ambivalence and uncer-
tainty. In this manner, it was similar to the racial purity utopia of the National
Socialists. The Bolsheviks, though, were not racists. They had a concept of race;
they understood that there were people with different biological characteristics;
but this insight had no practical meaning for them. Race was not destiny; Rus-
sians did not belong to a racially superior community.157 Leading Bolsheviks
considered the attempt to breed superior humans a diversion. Indeed, Stalin
executed the Soviet Union™s top geneticists in 1937 and dissolved their institute.
V. N. Starovskii, the chief statistician in the central planning agency, Gosplan,
summarized his thoughts on Nazi biological thought as follows: “If a person
who by blood is a negro was brought up in such a society and with such a
language and culture that he calls himself Russian, there is nothing incorrect
about this even if his skin color is black.”158
According to Bolsheviks, nations were cultural communities of descent.
Whoever belonged to such a nation could not simply relinquish one™s mem-
bership. One was trapped in one™s own genealogy. But one could work to
overcome oneself, and, thus, one could become another. Note, for example,
that it was Lazar Kaganovich, a Jew, who had to implement the anti-Semitic
strategy of late Stalinism. The Bolshevik utopia of ethnic cleansing lived off the
idea of ethnically homogeneous territories. They wanted to isolate enemies and
to separate nations from one another. The Stalinist ordering project sought eth-
nic homogeneity, but it never succeeded because ethnic particularism always
creates new cultures of difference. And in this contradiction lies the origins
of Stalinist mass terror.159 Why, though, did the Stalinist spiral of violence
never descend into industrially organized mass murder? Because the Bolsheviks
had an alternative solution. They could and did send stigmatized collectives
to Central Asia and, in this way, deliver them from the “danger zone.” How-
ever, the ethnic and social “reordering” of Soviet society was only possible

Orden fur einen Mord: Die Judenverfolgung unter Stalin (Berlin: Propylaen, 1997); Yakov
Rapoport, The Doctors™ Plot; Jonathan Brent, Valdimir Naumov, Stalin™s Last Crime: The
Plot against the Jewish Doctors, 1948“1953 (New York: HarperCollins, 2003), 283“311.
Compare with the debate initiated by Eric Weitz vis-a-vis Bolshevik “racism”: Weitz, “Racial

Politics,” 1“29. For a critique of Weitz: Hirsch, “Race,” 30“43.
Mark B. Adams, “Eugenics in Russia, 1900“1940,” in The Wellborn Science: Eugenics in

Germany, France, Brazil, and Russia, ed. Mark B. Adams (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1990), 194“5; Hans-Walter Schmuhl, “Rassenhygiene in Deutschland “ Eugenik in der
Sowjetunion: Ein Vergleich,” in Im Dschungel der Macht: Intellektuelle Professionen unter
Stalin und Hitler, ed. Dietrich Beyrau (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2000), 360“77.
Weiner, 138, 207. Quoted in Hirsch, “The Soviet Union,” 274“5.
The Quest for Order and the Pursuit of Terror 227

because those in power created new spaces of ambivalence in the Asian parts
of the Soviet Union. Central Asia became a reservation of outcasts; it became
a ghetto for enemy nations and “socially foreign elements.” Thus could the
Bolsheviks refrain from the complete physical annihilation of their imagined
The National Socialist war of annihilation and the Stalinist campaign of eth-
nic cleansing celebrated their greatest triumphs when and where their respective
concepts of order confronted a rather more complicated reality, when unequiv-
ocal order confronted an ambiguous environment.160 Thus, it is within empire
that Stalinist and National Socialist crimes are to be located. It is only within
empire that Bolsheviks and National Socialists could continually work to cre-
ate and destroy ever-new collective enemies. One could also argue that empire
be¬tted them. Had empire not existed “ National Socialists and Bolsheviks
would have had to invent it.

Weitz, “Racial Politics,” 26“9; Baberowski, Der rote Terror, 12“16, 257.
part iii


Frameworks for Social Engineering
Stalinist Schema of Identi¬cation and the Nazi

Christopher R. Browning and Lewis H. Siegelbaum

All modern states engage in the practices of identifying and categorizing their
populations. This organizational work seems critical to the achievement and
maintenance of states™ authoritativeness. The power of the state as an “identi-
¬er” has been related to its possession of “the material and symbolic resources
to impose the categories, classi¬catory schemes, and modes of social counting
and accounting with which bureaucrats, judges, teachers, and doctors must
work and to which non-state actors must refer.”1 So unlike in other respects,
the USSR under Stalin and Nazi Germany both experienced radical recatego-
rizations of their respective populations. In this essay we seek to clarify the
nature of the relationship between the identifying practices that each state
employed and its agenda for massive social engineering.
Both the Stalinist schema of identi¬cation and the Nazi ideal of Volksge-
meinschaft were animated by the desire to transform society in the image of
certain ascribed qualities. In the case of Soviet Russia, these revolved around
class, later to be supplemented and even supplanted by nationality. For the
Nazis, puri¬cation of the racially de¬ned community became the paramount
objective of social policy. Identi¬cation in this sense was a necessary (but not
suf¬cient) activity in the production of new social identities that lay at the
core of both the Stalinist and Nazi agendas for social change. The degree to
which each realized its agenda is highly debatable, but there is little doubt
that these “illiberal” regimes impinged on and legitimated new identities.2 In
what follows, we pay particular attention to the ideological underpinnings

Rogers Brubaker and Frederick Cooper, “Beyond ˜Identity,™” Theory and Society 29, no. 1

(2000): 15“17.
Mabel Berezin, “Political Belonging: Emotion, Nation, and Identity in Fascist Italy,” in George

Steinmetz, ed., State/Culture: State Formation after the Cultural Turn (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Uni-
versity Press, 1999), 357“63; Anna Krylova, “The Tenacious Liberal Subject in Soviet Studies,”
Kritika 1, no. 1 (2000): 119“46. Within Soviet studies, the ¬rst to explore “the Stalinist soul”
was Jochen Hellbeck. See his “Fashioning the Stalinist Soul: The Diary of Stepan Podlubnyi
¨ ¨
(1931“1939),” Jahrbucher fur Geschichte Osteuropas, 44, no. 3 (1996): 344“73.

Christopher R. Browning and Lewis H. Siegelbaum

of social identi¬cation; the speci¬c practices designed to make more legible
and thereby promote the inclusion, exclusion, and marginalization of social
groups;, and how “ordinary” Germans and Soviet citizens experienced these

setting parameters
Class analysis, rooted in a Marxist understanding of the “laws” of history, was
central to Bolshevik leaders™ attempts to comprehend and shape the society
over which they presided. The problem was that the revolution and civil war
had effectively declassed Russian society.3 The expropriation of capitalists and
landowners had left the proletariat, oxymoron-like, without a class antagonist.
Moreover, as a result of the breakdown of industry, recruitment into the armed
forces, and ¬‚ight to the countryside, the industrial proletariat had become a
nearly empty shell of its former self. The peasantry, comprising the vast majority
of the population, remained more or less intact (as did the pastoralists of
Central Asia, the mountain societies of the Caucasus, and what would come to
be referred to as the “small peoples of the North”), but peasants ¬t awkwardly
into the Bolsheviks™ notion of a proletarian dictatorship, to say nothing of the
postcapitalist future envisioned for Soviet Russia.
Still, class distinctions were made for both ideological and practical reasons.
The RSFSR™s constitution of 1918, de¬ning as its “principal object” “the dicta-
torship of the urban and rural proletariat and the poorest peasantry . . . and the
complete suppression of the bourgeoisie,” enshrined class in law. Whereas “the
laboring masses” were granted the full rights of citizenship, “parasitic strata”
were denied the right to vote or stand for elected of¬ce (hence, the popular
term lishentsy “ the disenfranchised).4 The latter included inter alia persons
employing hired labor for the sake of pro¬t or living on income not derived
from their own labor, private businessmen, clerics of all denominations, and
members of the tsarist police, gendarmes, secret police, and ruling dynasty,
who collectively were known as “former (byvshie) people.”5
Class not only had legal status. During the civil war and for some time
thereafter, it was tied to ration levels, housing provision, and other everyday

See Sheila Fitzpatrick, “The Bolsheviks™ Dilemma: Class, Culture and Politics in the Early Soviet

Years,” Slavic Review 47, no. 4 (1988): 599“613, reprinted in Fitzpatrick, The Cultural Front
(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992), 16“36; idem, “The Problem of Class Identity in
NEP Society,” in Russia in the Era of NEP: Explorations in Soviet Society and Culture, eds.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, Alexander Rabinowitch, and Richard Stites (Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 1991), 12“33, and especially idem, “Ascribing Class: The Construction of Social Identity
in Soviet Russia,” Journal of Modern History 65, no. 4 (1993): 745“68. These articles are the
vade mecum of understanding questions of class after the 1917 Revolution.
Rex Wade, ed., The Triumph of Bolshevism, 1917“1919. Vol. 1: Documents of Soviet History

(Gulf Breeze, FL: Academic International Press, 1991), 192“200.
See, respectively, Golfo Alexopoulos, Stalin™s Outcasts: Aliens, Citizens and the Soviet State,

1926“1936 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003), and T. M. Smirnova, “Byvshie liudi”
Sovetskoi Rossii: strategii vyzhivaniia i puti integratsii, 1917“1936 gody (Moscow: Mir istorii,
Frameworks for Social Engineering 233

concerns. It saturated public discourse and was an inescapable part of social
identities. Of available identities none was more advantageous than proletarian.
Because the state that was being erected in such haste and with so much fanfare
was de¬ned as proletarian, and because its social foundations were so ¬‚imsy,
proletarianness was available to a far larger proportion of the population than
industrial workers. In Moshe Lewin™s terms, the proletariat encompassed both
“hidden” and “hiding classes.”6
The Bolsheviks, without much controversy, identi¬ed the landless (batraki)
and poor (bedniaki) among the peasantry as proletarians even if many of them
did not identify themselves as such. Employees of the rapidly expanding soviet
administration, commercial agents, and many in the free professions claimed
proletarian status, although from time to time this was rejected by Bolshe-
vik watchdogs who worried that such groups were “infecting” the working
class with their “petty bourgeois” attitudes.7 Finally, the Bolsheviks, consist-
ing mainly of industrial workers, landless peasants, Red Army soldiers, and
(especially in leadership positions) the intelligentsia, considered themselves the
vanguard of the proletariat. As such, they projected onto themselves the prole-
tariat™s idealized (male) qualities: “hardness,” the merging of the self into the
collective, and a revolutionary, scienti¬c worldview.8
Proletarian status proved more problematic in other cases and circum-
stances. It generally was denied to so-called middle peasants (seredniaki).
Although toilers, they at best (in the Bolsheviks™ estimation) wavered in their
af¬nity to the proletarian cause and at worst succumbed to the ideological in¬‚u-
ence of their rich, kulak neighbors.9 The intelligentsia also presented problems
of class de¬nition. While permitted, indeed encouraged, to serve the proletar-


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