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Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

This article is missing information about the history of the Politburo from 1953-1991. Please expand the article to include this information. Further details may exist on the talk page.(November 2021)
Not to be confused with Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (bolsheviks).

The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (or Politburo, Russian:Политбюро, IPA: ; abbreviated:Политбюро ЦК КПСС, Politbyuro TsK KPSS) was the highest policy-making authority within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It was founded in October 1917, and refounded in March 1919, at the 8th Congress of the Bolshevik Party. It was known as the Presidium from 1952 to 1966. The existence of the Politburo ended in 1991 upon the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Emblem of the CPSU
Information
General SecretaryElena Stasova(first)
Mikhail Gorbachev(last)
Elected byCentral Committee
ParentCentral Committee
SeatsVaried
Meeting place
Kremlin Senate, Moscow, Russian SFSR

Contents

Background

On August 18, 1917, the top Bolshevik leader, Vladimir Lenin, set up a political bureau—known first as Narrow composition, and after October 23, 1917, as Political bureau—specifically to direct the October Revolution, with only seven members (Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Joseph Stalin, Grigori Sokolnikov, and Andrei Bubnov), but this precursor did not outlast the event; the Central Committee continued with the political functions. However, due to practical reasons, usually fewer than half of the members attended the regular Central Committee meetings during this time, even though they decided all key questions.

The 8th Party Congress in 1919 formalized this reality and re-established what would later on become the true center of political power in the Soviet Union. It ordered the Central Committee to appoint a five-member Politburo to decide on questions too urgent to await full Central Committee deliberation. The original members of the Politburo were Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Kamenev, and Nikolai Krestinsky.

Early years: 1919–1934

The Soviet system was based upon the system conceived by Lenin, often referred to as Leninism. Certain historians and political scientists credit Lenin for the evolution of the Soviet political system after his death. Others, such as Leonard Schapiro, argue that the system itself, from 1921, evolved an inner-party democratic system to a monolithic one in 1921, with the establishment of the Control Commission, the ban on factions and the power of the Central Committee to expel members they deemed unqualified. These rules were implemented to strengthen party discipline. However, the party continued under Lenin and the early post-Lenin years to try to establish democratic procedures within the party. For instance, by 1929, leading party members began criticizing the party apparatus, represented by the Secretariat headed by Stalin, of having too much control over personnel decisions. Lenin addressed such questions in 1923, in his articles "How We Should Reorganize the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate" and "Better Fewer but Better". In these, Lenin wrote of his plan to turn the combined meetings of the Central Committee and the Control Commission into the party's "parliament". The combined meetings of these two would hold the Politburo responsible, while at the same time guard the Politburo from factionalism. Admitting that organizational barriers may be inadequate to safeguard the party from one-man dictatorship, Lenin recognized the importance of individuals. His testament tried to solve this crisis by reducing both Stalin's and Leon Trotsky's powers.

Although some of his contemporaries accused Lenin of creating a one-man dictatorship within the party, Lenin countered, stating that he, like any other, could only implement policies by persuading the party. This happened on several occasions, such as in 1917 when he threatened to leave the party if it did not go along with the October Revolution, when he persuaded the party to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, or with the introduction of the New Economic Policy (NEP). Lenin, a noted factionalist before the Bolshevik seizure of power, supported the promotion of people he had previously clashed with on important issues to the Politburo; Trotsky and Lenin had had several years of violent polemics between them, while Grigori Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev both opposed the Central Committee resolution that initiated the October Revolution.

Stalin alongside allies at the 14th Conference, April 1925

From 1917 to the mid-1920s, congresses were held annually, the Central Committee was convened at least once a month and the Politburo met once a week. With Joseph Stalin's consolidation of power, the frequency of formal meetings declined. By the mid-1930s, the Central Committee met only once a month, and the Politburo convened at most once every third week. The Politburo was established, and worked within the framework of democratic centralism (that is a system in which higher bodies are responsible to lower bodies and where every member is subordinate to party decisions). The nature of democratic centralism had changed by 1929, and freedom of expression, which had been previously tolerated within the party, was replaced with monolithic unity. This was achieved with Stalin's defeat of rival factions such as the Left Opposition and the Right Opposition. It is generally believed that under Stalin the Politburo's powers were reduced compared to the General Secretary.

Stalin defeated the Left Opposition led by Trotsky by allying himself with the rightists within the Politburo; Nikolai Bukharin, Aleksey Rykov, and Mikhail Tomsky. After defeating the Left Opposition, Stalin began attacking the rightists (referred to as the Right Opposition) through his supporters in the Politburo, the Central Committee, and the Control Commission. Stalin and his companion supported an undemocratic interpretation of Lenin's What Is to Be Done?. Throughout the late-1920s, Politburo member Lazar Kaganovich (a Stalin ally), wrote and campaigned for a party organisational by-law which reduced intra-party democracy in favour of hierarchy and centralism. With the defeat of the other factions, these interpretations became party law. To strengthen the system of centralised decision-making, Stalin appointed his allies to high offices outside the Politburo. For instance, Vyacheslav Molotov succeeded Rykov as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars in 1930, to reduce the chance of another independent locus of centralised power forming form which could threaten Stalin and the Politburo, Secretariat, and Orgburo.

During this period, the office of the General Secretary became paramount. The Politburo, which was nominally responsible to the Central Committee and the Party Congress, became responsible to the General Secretary. The General Secretary, the formal head of the Secretariat and the Orgburo, "came to exercise enormous weight in decision-making." The Secretariat and Orgburo were responsible for personnel appointments in the whole party, and so were used as a machine by Stalin and his allies to promote like-minded individuals. Molotov and Kaganovich played a key role in strengthening the role of the Secretariat and the Orgburo in Party affairs.

Stalin years: 1934–1953

Excerpt of protocol of Politburo meeting of 17 January 1940 noting the decision to put 457 persons on trial and to execute 346 of them with the rest (111) being sent to the Gulags

The 17th Politburo was elected at the 1st Plenary Session of the 17th Central Committee, in the aftermath of the 17th Congress. Outwardly, the Politburo remained united, but on 4 February Grigory Ordzhonikidze, the People's Commissar for Heavy Industry, refused to acknowledge Stalin's projected economic growth targets, claiming that the majority in the Politburo supported his position. Sergey Kirov, who had turned down an offer to take Stalin's place as General Secretary before the 17th Congress, opposed many of Stalin's repressive policies, and tried throughout 1934 to moderate them. Several scholars have viewed Ordzhonikidze's and Kirov's outspokenness as the rise of a moderate Stalinist faction with the party. On 1 December 1934, Kirov was shot dead – whether he was the victim of a madman or killed on Stalin's orders remains unknown. Not long after, on 21 January 1935, Valerian Kuybyshev died of natural causes, and a month later, Anastas Mikoyan and Vlas Chubar were elected Politburo full members. Andrei Zhdanov, the First Secretary of the Leningrad City Committee and member of the Secretariat, and Robert Eikhe, the First Secretary of the Siberian and West-Siberian District Committee, were elected Politburo candidate members.

1936 signaled the beginning of the Great Purge, a nationwide purge of what Stalin deemed as anti-socialist elements. The first victims of the purge were members and leaders of economic organizations. Not everyone in the Politburo agreed with the purges, or the scope of them. Ordzhonikidze ridiculed the purge, and tried to save officials working in the People's Commissariat for Heavy Industry. Stalin expected that Ordzhonikidze would support the purges, at least officially, but instead he wrote a speech condemning them. On 18 February 1937, Ordzhonikidze was found dead in his house, having killed himself. At the Central Committee plenum in February 1937, Stalin, Molotov, Zhdanov and Nikolai Yezhov began accusing leading officials of anti-socialist behavior, but they met opposition. Pavel Postyshev, a Politburo candidate member and First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Branch, in response to them accusing a member of the Ukrainian Central Committee of being anti-socialist said; "I don't believe it." When Yezhov proposed killing Bukharin and Rykov, Postyshev along with Stanislav Kosior and Grigory Petrovsky, opposed such a measure, proposing instead of handing them over to the courts. Molotov and Kliment Voroshilov, supported a compromise brokered by Stalin, which handed over Bukharin and Rykov to the NKVD. Despite this opposition, Stalin and his closest associates began purging officials nationwide. In May 1937, Jānis Rudzutaks became the first Politburo member to be purged. In 1938, four other Politburo members were purged; Chubar, who personally telephoned Stalin crying trying to assure his innocence, Kosior, who confessed for anti-socialist crimes after his daughter was raped in front of him, Postyshev and Eikhe. Petrovsky in contrast, was rather lucky, instead of being purged he was not reelected to the Politburo at the 18th Congress. The purging of Rudzutaks, Eikhe, and Kosior testified to Stalin's growing power; the Politburo were not even notified of the decision. Postyshev was purged because "of too much zeal in persecuting people."

Khrushchev: 1953–1964

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Brezhnev Era: 1964–1985

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Gorbachev: 1985–1991

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Status

The Politburo was the highest organ of the party when the party Congress and the Central Committee were not in session. The Politburo, along with the Secretariat and the Organizational Bureau (Orgburo) until 1952, was one of three permanent bodies of the party. The General Secretary, the party leader, served as ex officio chairman of the Politburo (however, no formal rule stipulated such activity). 28 politburos were elected throughout the existence of the USSR.

While nominally subordinate to the Central Committee and the Party Congress, in practice the Politburo was the true center of power in the CPSU, and its decisions de facto had the force of law.

Decision-making process

Arkady Shevchenko, like many Soviet technical experts, once attended the part of a Politburo meeting that touched on his area of expertise, and he often prepared his boss Andrei Gromyko for meetings. He described the working style of the Politburo's weekly meeting during the Brezhnev era as "quiet, orderly, and methodical. Although an agenda is prepared, there is no quorum call or other form of parliamentary procedure." Shevchenko's memoir makes it clear that the tense political struggle that could often occur among Politburo members usually did not take place openly during its meetings, but rather behind the backs of one's rivals. In practice, Soviet Leninism's democratic centralism often followed a style of unanimous consent rather than majority vote. This style of consensus decision-making had roots not only in the era of the Great Terror, also known as the Yezhovshchina, but also in Brezhnev's carefully cultivated culture of collective decision-making. Shevchenko said, "While the Politburo considered the item for which I was responsible, I sat with Kuznetsov, Kornienko, and [Vasily] Makarov, behind Gromyko at the long table in the Kremlin. Brezhnev asked whether all members of the Politburo had received the draft U.S.-Soviet documents in time and if they had studied them. Most of the members nodded silent assent. 'Can I assume that the draft is approved?' Brezhnev asked. No one spoke. 'The draft is approved,' said Brezhnev after a few more moments of silence. Makarov put his hand on my shoulder, whispering, 'Okay, Arkady, that's it. You can go.'"

Nevertheless, there were times where the General Secretary would override all the other members by making his opinion clear and implying that dissent wouldn't be tolerated. Mikhail Smirtyukov, recalled one such Politburo meeting. While Brezhnev was on vacation, Mikhail Suslov, who hated the idea that in front of the Lenin Mausoleum in Red Square there was a Department Store (GUM), attempted to turn GUM into an exhibition hall and museum showcasing Soviet and Communist history.

After the decision was drawn up, Brezhnev was immediately reported. When he returned from vacation, before the first meeting of the Politburo he said: "Some idiot here invented a plan to close GUM and open some kind of cabinet of curiosities there." After everyone sat down, he asks: "Well, has the GUM issue been resolved?" Everyone, including Suslov, nodded their heads. The problem was closed once and for all without discussion.

Relation to the Secretariat

Election

To be elected to the Politburo, a member had to serve on the Central Committee. The Central Committee formally elected the Politburo in the aftermath of a party Congress. Members of the Central Committee were given a predetermined list of candidates for the Politburo (having only one candidate for each seat); for this reason, the election of the Politburo was usually passed unanimously. The more power the CPSU General Secretary had, the stronger the chance was that the Politburo membership were passed without serious dissent.

Article 25 of the party Charter, said little to nothing on the actual relationship between the Politburo and the Central Committee. Until 1961, Article 25 stated (with several changes) that the Central Committee "forms" or "organizes" the Politburo. It was not until 1961, under Nikita Khrushchev, that the party Charter was amended; stating that the Politburo was appointed through "secret elections". The amended party Charter stated that at least one-third of the Politburo (as well as the Central Committee) had to step down at each election to the Politburo, and that no members could be elected for more than three terms. The initiator of these changes, Khrushchev, the CPSU General Secretary, had served in the Politburo for 22 years. Instead of stepping down, Khrushchev made a rule which stated that members "who enjoyed great authority and possessed exceptional ability" could serve more than three terms, if they received more than 75 percent approval votes from the Central Committee, upon elections. These amendments were removed from the party Charter under Leonid Brezhnev, and Article 25 now stated; "In the election of all party organs, from the primary party organization to the Central Committee of the CPSU, the principle of systematic replacement of personnel and the continuity of leadership is to be observed." The Brezhnev period saw, in complete contrast to Khrushchev's amendment, the greatest continuity in the Politburo in its history. Article 25 of the Charter remained unchanged under the successive leadership of Yuri Andropov, Konstantin Chernenko and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Between 1919 and 1990, 42 members who served as candidate members were not promoted to full member status of the Politburo. Similarly, 32 full members of the Politburo never served as candidate members. Six members who had served as full members were demoted to candidate status during the Politburo's existence.

Posts

Serving in the Politburo was a part-time function, and members served concurrently in either the party, state, trade union, security or military administrations (or all of them concurrently). Until the 1950s, most members served in state positions, but this changed at the 20th Congress (held in 1956) when 47% percent of Politburo members served in the central party apparatus while another 47% served in the state administration. From the 20th Congress until the 28th Congress, the share of Politburo members serving in the central party apparatus increased, while those serving in the state administration declined. The majority of Politburo members had leading central posts; the highest share of republican officials serving in the Politburo came at the 22nd Congress (held in 1961) when 50 percent of members held offices at the republican-level.

Security officials had historically had a low-profile on the Politburo. From 1953 until 1973, no officials representing the security sector served in the Politburo as full members; the last two being Lavrentiy Beria and Nikolay Ignatov. This tradition was put to an end with the elevation of Yuri Andropov, the KGB Chairman, to full membership (having served as a candidate member since 1967). Alexander Shelepin had served as KGB Chairman, but was elected to the Politburo through his work in the Komsomol, while Eduard Shevardnadze, who had served as the Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs until 1972, became a candidate member of the Politburo through his work as First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party. Similarly in 1973, the Minister of Defense Andrei Grechko was appointed to the Politburo. However, unlike the security sector, the military sector had had representatives in the Politburo since the 8th Politburo (in 1919). Defense ministers who had served in the Politburo are Leon Trotsky, Mikhail Frunze, Kliment Voroshilov, Nikolai Bulganin, Georgy Zhukov and Dmitry Ustinov among others. Similarly, several leading Politburo officials had participated in either the Russian Revolution, the Russian Civil War or World War II.

Ethnicity, age and sex

Ethnic Slavs dominated the Politburo from its establishment in 1919. This isn't surprising, since the three most populous republics within the Soviet Union were ethnic Slavic; Byelorussia, Ukraine and Russia. From 1919 until 1991, 89 members of the Politburo were Russians (which makes up 68 percent). In distant second were Ukrainians, who had 11 members in the Politburo, making up 8 percent. In third place are both ethnic Jews and Georgians, who had 4 members respectively. In general, in the first half of the Politburo's existence, there was a higher ethnic representation than the second half. It was not until the 28th Politburo that every republic had a representative at the Politburo. The Politburo never tried to fix the ethnic imbalance within the Politburo. Instead, the Soviet Union at the central level was mostly ruled by Russians.

Despite the ideological rhetoric about equality between the sexes, the Politburo came to be composed largely of men. Only four women ever served in the Politburo; Elena Stasova, Yekaterina Furtseva, Alexandra Biryukova and Galina Semenova. Furtseva, Biryukova and Semenova reached the Politburo under the leadership of reformist party leaders; Nikita Khrushchev and Mikhail Gorbachev.

The average age of the Politburo was 39 in 1919, and the Politburo continued to age more-or-less consistently until 1985. The reason for this being that the Central Committee treated Politburo replenishment as the responsibility of the Politburo itself. Politburo members usually picked successors who were around the same age, the end result being the establishment of the gerontocracy of the Brezhnev Era. While the age steadily crept up during Khrushchev's leadership, members were replaced; for instance, 70 percent of the members elected to the Politburo in 1956 lost their seats in 1961. In contrast, all the Politburo members elected in 1966 were reelected in 1971. Even more worrisome, 12 out of 19 members elected in 1966 were reelected in 1981. By the time of Brezhnev's death in 1982, the median age of the politburo was 70. This age development was finally put to a halt under Gorbachev. From 1985 onwards, the age of Politburo members steadily declined.

Origin and education

Fifty-nine percent of Politburo members (both candidate and full) were of rural origins, while 41 percent were urban. The first members of the Politburo were predominantly from urban areas. For instance, on the 9th Politburo, two out of eight (Trotsky and Mikhail Kalinin) were born in rural areas. From the 1930s onwards, the majority of Politburo members had a father who worked either as a peasant or as a worker. This is strange, considering that one would assume a rise in representation of the intelligentsia as the Soviet Union became more advanced. From the 1960s onwards the majority of new members had workers' backgrounds, as expected. What is strange, however, is that from 1975 to 1981, a sudden increase of people of peasant background took place. When looking at first profession, the majority of members had worked as workers, but the majority of them had attended higher education later in their life (the majority of them choosing engineering). 43 percent of Politburo members attained higher education credentials during their life, while in a close second place, 32 percent of members earned an education in technical engineering.

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Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Article Talk Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from Soviet Politburo This article is missing information about the history of the Politburo from 1953 1991 Please expand the article to include this information Further details may exist on the talk page November 2021 Not to be confused with Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party bolsheviks The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or Politburo Russian Politbyuro IPA pelʲɪtbʲʊˈro abbreviated Politbyuro CK KPSS Politbyuro TsK KPSS was the highest policy making authority within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 3 It was founded in October 1917 and refounded in March 1919 at the 8th Congress of the Bolshevik Party It was known as the Presidium from 1952 to 1966 The existence of the Politburo ended in 1991 upon the breakup of the Soviet Union 3 Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet UnionEmblem of the CPSUInformationGeneral SecretaryElena Stasova first Mikhail Gorbachev last Elected byCentral CommitteeParentCentral CommitteeSeatsVariedMeeting placeKremlin Senate Moscow Russian SFSR 1 2 Contents 1 History 1 1 Background 1 2 Early years 1919 1934 1 3 Stalin years 1934 1953 1 4 Khrushchev 1953 1964 1 5 Brezhnev Era 1964 1985 1 6 Gorbachev 1985 1991 2 Duties and responsibilities 2 1 Status 2 2 Decision making process 2 3 Relation to the Secretariat 3 Members 3 1 Election 3 2 Posts 3 3 Ethnicity age and sex 3 4 Origin and education 4 See also 5 Notes 6 Bibliography 7 Further reading 8 External linksHistory EditBackground Edit On August 18 1917 the top Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin set up a political bureau known first as Narrow composition and after October 23 1917 as Political bureau specifically to direct the October Revolution with only seven members Lenin Leon Trotsky Grigory Zinoviev Lev Kamenev Joseph Stalin Grigori Sokolnikov and Andrei Bubnov but this precursor did not outlast the event the Central Committee continued with the political functions However due to practical reasons usually fewer than half of the members attended the regular Central Committee meetings during this time even though they decided all key questions The 8th Party Congress in 1919 formalized this reality and re established what would later on become the true center of political power in the Soviet Union It ordered the Central Committee to appoint a five member Politburo to decide on questions too urgent to await full Central Committee deliberation The original members of the Politburo were Lenin Trotsky Stalin Kamenev and Nikolai Krestinsky Early years 1919 1934 Edit The Soviet system was based upon the system conceived by Lenin often referred to as Leninism 4 Certain historians and political scientists credit Lenin for the evolution of the Soviet political system after his death 4 Others such as Leonard Schapiro argue that the system itself from 1921 evolved an inner party democratic system to a monolithic one in 1921 with the establishment of the Control Commission the ban on factions and the power of the Central Committee to expel members they deemed unqualified 5 These rules were implemented to strengthen party discipline However the party continued under Lenin and the early post Lenin years to try to establish democratic procedures within the party 6 For instance by 1929 leading party members began criticizing the party apparatus represented by the Secretariat headed by Stalin of having too much control over personnel decisions 6 Lenin addressed such questions in 1923 in his articles How We Should Reorganize the Workers and Peasants Inspectorate and Better Fewer but Better 6 In these Lenin wrote of his plan to turn the combined meetings of the Central Committee and the Control Commission into the party s parliament 6 The combined meetings of these two would hold the Politburo responsible while at the same time guard the Politburo from factionalism 6 Admitting that organizational barriers may be inadequate to safeguard the party from one man dictatorship Lenin recognized the importance of individuals 6 His testament tried to solve this crisis by reducing both Stalin s and Leon Trotsky s powers 6 Although some of his contemporaries accused Lenin of creating a one man dictatorship within the party Lenin countered stating that he like any other could only implement policies by persuading the party 5 This happened on several occasions such as in 1917 when he threatened to leave the party if it did not go along with the October Revolution when he persuaded the party to sign the Treaty of Brest Litovsk or with the introduction of the New Economic Policy NEP 5 Lenin a noted factionalist before the Bolshevik seizure of power supported the promotion of people he had previously clashed with on important issues to the Politburo Trotsky and Lenin had had several years of violent polemics between them while Grigori Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev both opposed the Central Committee resolution that initiated the October Revolution 7 Stalin alongside allies at the 14th Conference 8 April 1925 From 1917 to the mid 1920s congresses were held annually the Central Committee was convened at least once a month and the Politburo met once a week 9 With Joseph Stalin s consolidation of power the frequency of formal meetings declined 9 By the mid 1930s the Central Committee met only once a month and the Politburo convened at most once every third week 9 The Politburo was established and worked within the framework of democratic centralism that is a system in which higher bodies are responsible to lower bodies and where every member is subordinate to party decisions 10 The nature of democratic centralism had changed by 1929 and freedom of expression which had been previously tolerated within the party was replaced with monolithic unity 10 This was achieved with Stalin s defeat of rival factions such as the Left Opposition and the Right Opposition 10 It is generally believed that under Stalin the Politburo s powers were reduced compared to the General Secretary 4 Stalin defeated the Left Opposition led by Trotsky by allying himself with the rightists within the Politburo Nikolai Bukharin Aleksey Rykov and Mikhail Tomsky 11 After defeating the Left Opposition Stalin began attacking the rightists referred to as the Right Opposition through his supporters in the Politburo the Central Committee and the Control Commission 12 Stalin and his companion supported an undemocratic interpretation of Lenin s What Is to Be Done 12 Throughout the late 1920s Politburo member Lazar Kaganovich a Stalin ally wrote and campaigned for a party organisational by law which reduced intra party democracy in favour of hierarchy and centralism 12 With the defeat of the other factions these interpretations became party law 12 To strengthen the system of centralised decision making Stalin appointed his allies to high offices outside the Politburo For instance Vyacheslav Molotov succeeded Rykov as Chairman of the Council of People s Commissars in 1930 to reduce the chance of another independent locus of centralised power forming form which could threaten Stalin and the Politburo Secretariat and Orgburo 13 During this period the office of the General Secretary became paramount 12 The Politburo which was nominally responsible to the Central Committee and the Party Congress became responsible to the General Secretary 12 The General Secretary the formal head of the Secretariat and the Orgburo came to exercise enormous weight in decision making 12 The Secretariat and Orgburo were responsible for personnel appointments in the whole party and so were used as a machine by Stalin and his allies to promote like minded individuals 12 Molotov and Kaganovich played a key role in strengthening the role of the Secretariat and the Orgburo in Party affairs 12 Stalin years 1934 1953 Edit Excerpt of protocol of Politburo meeting of 17 January 1940 noting the decision to put 457 persons on trial and to execute 346 of them with the rest 111 being sent to the Gulags The 17th Politburo was elected at the 1st Plenary Session of the 17th Central Committee in the aftermath of the 17th Congress 14 Outwardly the Politburo remained united but on 4 February Grigory Ordzhonikidze the People s Commissar for Heavy Industry refused to acknowledge Stalin s projected economic growth targets claiming that the majority in the Politburo supported his position 14 Sergey Kirov who had turned down an offer to take Stalin s place as General Secretary before the 17th Congress opposed many of Stalin s repressive policies and tried throughout 1934 to moderate them 15 Several scholars have viewed Ordzhonikidze s and Kirov s outspokenness as the rise of a moderate Stalinist faction with the party 16 On 1 December 1934 Kirov was shot dead whether he was the victim of a madman or killed on Stalin s orders remains unknown 16 Not long after on 21 January 1935 Valerian Kuybyshev died of natural causes and a month later Anastas Mikoyan and Vlas Chubar were elected Politburo full members 16 Andrei Zhdanov the First Secretary of the Leningrad City Committee and member of the Secretariat and Robert Eikhe the First Secretary of the Siberian and West Siberian District Committee were elected Politburo candidate members 16 1936 signaled the beginning of the Great Purge a nationwide purge of what Stalin deemed as anti socialist elements 17 The first victims of the purge were members and leaders of economic organizations 17 Not everyone in the Politburo agreed with the purges or the scope of them 17 Ordzhonikidze ridiculed the purge and tried to save officials working in the People s Commissariat for Heavy Industry 17 Stalin expected that Ordzhonikidze would support the purges at least officially but instead he wrote a speech condemning them 17 On 18 February 1937 Ordzhonikidze was found dead in his house having killed himself 17 At the Central Committee plenum in February 1937 Stalin Molotov Zhdanov and Nikolai Yezhov began accusing leading officials of anti socialist behavior but they met opposition 17 Pavel Postyshev a Politburo candidate member and First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Branch in response to them accusing a member of the Ukrainian Central Committee of being anti socialist said I don t believe it 17 When Yezhov proposed killing Bukharin and Rykov Postyshev along with Stanislav Kosior and Grigory Petrovsky opposed such a measure proposing instead of handing them over to the courts 17 Molotov and Kliment Voroshilov supported a compromise brokered by Stalin which handed over Bukharin and Rykov to the NKVD 17 Despite this opposition Stalin and his closest associates began purging officials nationwide 18 In May 1937 Janis Rudzutaks became the first Politburo member to be purged 18 In 1938 four other Politburo members were purged Chubar who personally telephoned Stalin crying trying to assure his innocence Kosior who confessed for anti socialist crimes after his daughter was raped in front of him Postyshev and Eikhe 18 Petrovsky in contrast was rather lucky instead of being purged he was not reelected to the Politburo at the 18th Congress 18 The purging of Rudzutaks Eikhe and Kosior testified to Stalin s growing power the Politburo were not even notified of the decision 18 Postyshev was purged because of too much zeal in persecuting people 18 Khrushchev 1953 1964 Edit This section needs expansion You can help by adding to it November 2017 Brezhnev Era 1964 1985 Edit This section needs expansion You can help by adding to it November 2017 Gorbachev 1985 1991 Edit This section needs expansion You can help by adding to it November 2017 Duties and responsibilities EditFurther information Organization of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Status Edit The Politburo was the highest organ of the party when the party Congress and the Central Committee were not in session 19 The Politburo along with the Secretariat and the Organizational Bureau Orgburo until 1952 was one of three permanent bodies of the party 20 The General Secretary the party leader served as ex officio chairman of the Politburo however no formal rule stipulated such activity 19 28 politburos were elected throughout the existence of the USSR 19 While nominally subordinate to the Central Committee and the Party Congress in practice the Politburo was the true center of power in the CPSU and its decisions de facto had the force of law Decision making process Edit Arkady Shevchenko like many Soviet technical experts once attended the part of a Politburo meeting that touched on his area of expertise and he often prepared his boss Andrei Gromyko for meetings He described the working style of the Politburo s weekly meeting during the Brezhnev era as quiet orderly and methodical Although an agenda is prepared there is no quorum call or other form of parliamentary procedure 21 Shevchenko s memoir makes it clear that the tense political struggle that could often occur among Politburo members usually did not take place openly during its meetings but rather behind the backs of one s rivals In practice Soviet Leninism s democratic centralism often followed a style of unanimous consent rather than majority vote This style of consensus decision making had roots not only in the era of the Great Terror also known as the Yezhovshchina but also in Brezhnev s carefully cultivated culture of collective decision making Shevchenko said 21 While the Politburo considered the item for which I was responsible I sat with Kuznetsov Kornienko and Vasily Makarov behind Gromyko at the long table in the Kremlin Brezhnev asked whether all members of the Politburo had received the draft U S Soviet documents in time and if they had studied them Most of the members nodded silent assent Can I assume that the draft is approved Brezhnev asked No one spoke The draft is approved said Brezhnev after a few more moments of silence Makarov put his hand on my shoulder whispering Okay Arkady that s it You can go 21 Nevertheless there were times where the General Secretary would override all the other members by making his opinion clear and implying that dissent wouldn t be tolerated Mikhail Smirtyukov recalled one such Politburo meeting While Brezhnev was on vacation Mikhail Suslov who hated the idea that in front of the Lenin Mausoleum in Red Square there was a Department Store GUM attempted to turn GUM into an exhibition hall and museum showcasing Soviet and Communist history After the decision was drawn up Brezhnev was immediately reported When he returned from vacation before the first meeting of the Politburo he said Some idiot here invented a plan to close GUM and open some kind of cabinet of curiosities there After everyone sat down he asks Well has the GUM issue been resolved Everyone including Suslov nodded their heads The problem was closed once and for all without discussion 22 Relation to the Secretariat Edit Further information Secretariat of the Communist Party of the Soviet UnionMembers EditSee also Lists of members of the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Election Edit To be elected to the Politburo a member had to serve on the Central Committee 23 The Central Committee formally elected the Politburo in the aftermath of a party Congress 23 Members of the Central Committee were given a predetermined list of candidates for the Politburo having only one candidate for each seat for this reason the election of the Politburo was usually passed unanimously 23 The more power the CPSU General Secretary had the stronger the chance was that the Politburo membership were passed without serious dissent 23 Article 25 of the party Charter said little to nothing on the actual relationship between the Politburo and the Central Committee 23 Until 1961 Article 25 stated with several changes that the Central Committee forms or organizes the Politburo 23 It was not until 1961 under Nikita Khrushchev that the party Charter was amended stating that the Politburo was appointed through secret elections 23 The amended party Charter stated that at least one third of the Politburo as well as the Central Committee had to step down at each election to the Politburo and that no members could be elected for more than three terms 23 The initiator of these changes Khrushchev the CPSU General Secretary had served in the Politburo for 22 years 23 Instead of stepping down Khrushchev made a rule which stated that members who enjoyed great authority and possessed exceptional ability could serve more than three terms if they received more than 75 percent approval votes from the Central Committee upon elections 23 These amendments were removed from the party Charter under Leonid Brezhnev and Article 25 now stated In the election of all party organs from the primary party organization to the Central Committee of the CPSU the principle of systematic replacement of personnel and the continuity of leadership is to be observed 24 The Brezhnev period saw in complete contrast to Khrushchev s amendment the greatest continuity in the Politburo in its history 25 Article 25 of the Charter remained unchanged under the successive leadership of Yuri Andropov Konstantin Chernenko and Mikhail Gorbachev 25 Between 1919 and 1990 42 members who served as candidate members were not promoted to full member status of the Politburo 26 Similarly 32 full members of the Politburo never served as candidate members 26 Six members who had served as full members were demoted to candidate status during the Politburo s existence 27 Posts Edit Serving in the Politburo was a part time function and members served concurrently in either the party state trade union security or military administrations or all of them concurrently 28 Until the 1950s most members served in state positions but this changed at the 20th Congress held in 1956 when 47 percent of Politburo members served in the central party apparatus while another 47 served in the state administration From the 20th Congress until the 28th Congress the share of Politburo members serving in the central party apparatus increased while those serving in the state administration declined 29 The majority of Politburo members had leading central posts the highest share of republican officials serving in the Politburo came at the 22nd Congress held in 1961 when 50 percent of members held offices at the republican level 30 Security officials had historically had a low profile on the Politburo 31 From 1953 until 1973 no officials representing the security sector served in the Politburo as full members the last two being Lavrentiy Beria and Nikolay Ignatov 31 This tradition was put to an end with the elevation of Yuri Andropov the KGB Chairman to full membership having served as a candidate member since 1967 31 Alexander Shelepin had served as KGB Chairman but was elected to the Politburo through his work in the Komsomol 31 while Eduard Shevardnadze who had served as the Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs until 1972 became a candidate member of the Politburo through his work as First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party 31 Similarly in 1973 the Minister of Defense Andrei Grechko was appointed to the Politburo 31 However unlike the security sector the military sector had had representatives in the Politburo since the 8th Politburo in 1919 31 Defense ministers who had served in the Politburo are Leon Trotsky Mikhail Frunze Kliment Voroshilov Nikolai Bulganin Georgy Zhukov and Dmitry Ustinov among others 31 Similarly several leading Politburo officials had participated in either the Russian Revolution the Russian Civil War or World War II 32 Ethnicity age and sex Edit Ethnic Slavs dominated the Politburo from its establishment in 1919 33 This isn t surprising since the three most populous republics within the Soviet Union were ethnic Slavic Byelorussia Ukraine and Russia 33 From 1919 until 1991 89 members of the Politburo were Russians which makes up 68 percent 34 In distant second were Ukrainians who had 11 members in the Politburo making up 8 percent 33 In third place are both ethnic Jews and Georgians who had 4 members respectively 33 In general in the first half of the Politburo s existence there was a higher ethnic representation than the second half 33 It was not until the 28th Politburo that every republic had a representative at the Politburo 35 The Politburo never tried to fix the ethnic imbalance within the Politburo Instead the Soviet Union at the central level was mostly ruled by Russians 36 Despite the ideological rhetoric about equality between the sexes the Politburo came to be composed largely of men 37 Only four women ever served in the Politburo Elena Stasova Yekaterina Furtseva Alexandra Biryukova and Galina Semenova 38 Furtseva Biryukova and Semenova reached the Politburo under the leadership of reformist party leaders Nikita Khrushchev and Mikhail Gorbachev 39 The average age of the Politburo was 39 in 1919 and the Politburo continued to age more or less consistently until 1985 39 The reason for this being that the Central Committee treated Politburo replenishment as the responsibility of the Politburo itself 39 Politburo members usually picked successors who were around the same age the end result being the establishment of the gerontocracy of the Brezhnev Era 39 While the age steadily crept up during Khrushchev s leadership members were replaced for instance 70 percent of the members elected to the Politburo in 1956 lost their seats in 1961 40 In contrast all the Politburo members elected in 1966 were reelected in 1971 40 Even more worrisome 12 out of 19 members elected in 1966 were reelected in 1981 By the time of Brezhnev s death in 1982 the median age of the politburo was 70 40 This age development was finally put to a halt under Gorbachev 39 From 1985 onwards the age of Politburo members steadily declined 40 Origin and education Edit Fifty nine percent of Politburo members both candidate and full were of rural origins while 41 percent were urban 41 The first members of the Politburo were predominantly from urban areas 42 For instance on the 9th Politburo two out of eight Trotsky and Mikhail Kalinin were born in rural areas 42 From the 1930s onwards the majority of Politburo members had a father who worked either as a peasant or as a worker 43 This is strange considering that one would assume a rise in representation of the intelligentsia as the Soviet Union became more advanced 43 From the 1960s onwards the majority of new members had workers backgrounds as expected 43 What is strange however is that from 1975 to 1981 a sudden increase of people of peasant background took place 43 When looking at first profession the majority of members had worked as workers but the majority of them had attended higher education later in their life the majority of them choosing engineering 43 43 percent of Politburo members attained higher education credentials during their life while in a close second place 32 percent of members earned an education in technical engineering 44 See also EditOrganisation of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Secretariat General Secretary OrgburoNotes Edit Senatskij dvorec mesto raboty prezidenta i vrucheniya nagrad Putidorogi nn ru Retrieved 27 January 2018 GLAVNYJ KORPUS KREMLYa The VVM Library Archived from the original on 28 January 2018 Retrieved 27 January 2018 a b Politburo Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc 2014 Retrieved 4 November 2014 a b c Rees 2004 p 3 a b c Rees 2004 p 4 a b c d e f g Rees 2004 p 5 Rees 2004 p 6 ru XIV konferenciya RKP b a b c Wheatcroft 2004 p 85 a b c Rees 2004 p 2 Rees 2004 pp 6 7 a b c d e f g h i Rees 2004 p 7 Rees 2004 p 8 a b Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 30 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 pp 30 31 a b c d Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 31 a b c d e f g h i j Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 32 a b c d e f Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 33 a b c Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 85 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 pp 85 87 a b c Shevchenko 1985 pp 207 208 Thelman Joseph December 2012 The Man in Galoshes Jew Observer Retrieved 28 February 2021 a b c d e f g h i j Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 87 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 pp 87 88 a b Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 88 a b Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 140 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 141 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 152 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 153 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 154 a b c d e f g h Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 155 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 pp 155 156 a b c d e Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 136 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 139 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 167 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 pp 139 140 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 128 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 pp 129 amp 161 a b c d e Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 129 a b c d Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 131 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 143 a b Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 145 a b c d e Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 147 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 149 Bibliography EditLowenhardt John van Ree Erik Ozinga James 1992 The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Politburo St Martin s Press ISBN 0312047843 Rees E A ed 2004 Introduction PDF The Nature of Stalin s Dictatorship The Politburo 1924 1953 Routledge pp 1 18 ISBN 1403904014 Shevchenko Arkady 1985 Breaking with Moscow ISBN 978 0394520551 OCLC 11680691 Wheatcroft Stephen G 2004 From Team Stalin to Degenerate Tyranny PDF In Rees E A ed The Nature of Stalin s Dictatorship The Politburo 1924 1953 Routledge pp 79 107 ISBN 1403904014 Further reading EditSee also Bibliography of the Russian Revolution and Civil War Bibliography of Stalinism and the Soviet Union and Bibliography of the Post Stalinist Soviet Union Brown Archie 1996 The Gorbachev Factor Oxford University Press ISBN 0192880527 Bialer Seweryn 2001 Stalin s Successors Leadership Stability and Change in the Soviet Union Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521289068 External links EditLeadership of the CPSU Full list of members and candidate members of the Politburo includes dates on the body and year of death or execution Succession of Power in the USSR from the Dean Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs Archives Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union amp oldid 1061604967, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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