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The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)

History of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks): Short Course
Author Collective authorship
Original title История Всесоюзной Коммунистической Партии (Большевиков): Краткий курс
Country Soviet Union
Language Russian
Genre History
Publisher OGIZ Gosizdat (first edition)
Publication date
1 October 1938
Media type Print
Pages 350 (first edition)
OCLC 8504242
This is an article about the book. For the history of the party, see History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

History of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks): Short Course (Russian: История Всесоюзной Коммунистической Партии (Большевиков): Краткий курс), translated to English under the title The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), is a propagandist textbook on the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, first published in 1938. Colloquially known as "the Short Course", it was the most widely disseminated book during the rule of Joseph Stalin and one of the most important representing the ideology of Stalinism, which Stalin himself in the book dubbed "Marxism-Leninism".


The book was commissioned by Stalin in 1935.[1] Regarding the motives for compiling it, Robert Service quoted a Bolshevik official who said there was a need for a book which "instead of the Bible" would "give a rigorous answer... To the many important questions." At the time, Stalin was concerned with the abundance of publications about the AUCP (B)'s history and sought to have a single, authoritative book which would serve as an official interpretation of the subject. The book was written by a team of historians and party ideologues; the principal authors were Vilhelms Knoriņš, Yemelyan Yaroslavsky and Pyotr Pospelov. Stalin wrote the chapter about dialectical materialism and "closely supervised" the others: Service wrote that "to most intents and purposes he was the general editor."[2]

In 1937, a draft of the Short Course was submitted to Stalin, who in turn requested several revisions to the text, including more historical background. On 16 April, the Politburo decreed that Knoriņš, Yaroslavsky and Pospelov would be relieved from all their other party obligations for a period of four months in order to complete the Short Course.[3]

Between the 8th and 17th of September 1938, Pospelov, Yaroslavsky – Knoriņš was arrested in the Great Purge and executed on 29 July that year – Andrei Zhdanov and Vyacheslav Molotov met daily with Stalin in his office at the Kremlin to make the last edits to the manuscript. The first chapter appeared in Pravda on the 9th, and the rest of the text was published in serial form, the last chapter on the 19th. On that day, the Politburo decided to have a first edition of six million copies, to be sold at a particularly low price - three rubles a piece, equivalent to that of a liter and half of milk at the time.[4] On 1 October, the book was released.[5]

On 14 November, the Central Committee issued a resolution On Conduct of Party Propaganda in Connection with the Publication of the Short Course,[6] stating it "ends all arbitrariness and confusion in the presentation of Party history" and turning the book into mandatory reading in the curriculum of all university students and attendants of Party schools.[7]

Until Stalin's death in March 1953, the Short Course was reprinted 301 times and had 42,816,000 copies issued in Russian alone.[4] In addition to that, it was translated to 66 other languages.[8] In Hungary, 530,000 copies were printed between 1948 to 1950.[9] In Czechoslovakia, over 652,000 copies were printed from 1950 to 1954.[10] It was the most widely disseminated work in Stalin's time, and no Communist publication broke its record until Quotations from Chairman Mao.[11]

In 1956, Nikita Khruschev formally repudiated the Short Course in his Secret Speech. A new authoritative history of the Party, written by a team headed by Boris Ponomarev, was published in 1962 under the name The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Rappaport, Helen (1999). Joseph Stalin: A Biographical Companion. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1576070840. p. 130.
  2. ^ Service, Robert. A History of Modern Russia: From Nicholas II to Vladimir Putin. Harvard University Press (2005). ISBN 9780674018013. pp. 237-8.
  3. ^ Torchinov, Valeri ; Leontiuk, Alexei (2000). Vokrug Stalina: Istoriko-Biograficheskii Spravochnik. Filologicheskii Fakultet Sankt-Peterburgskogo Universitet. ISBN 5-8465-0005-6. p. 255.
  4. ^ a b Boterbloem, Kees (2004). Life and Times of Andrei Zhdanov, 1896-1948. McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 9780773526662. p. 176.
  5. ^ Volkogonov, Dmitri (1989). Triumf i tragediia : politicheskii portret I.V. Stalina. Novosti. OCLC 20665799. p. 147.
  6. ^ "О постановке партийной пропаганды в связи с выпуском "Краткого курса истории ВКП(б)""
  7. ^ Banerji, Arup (2008). Writing History in the Soviet Union: Making the Past Work. Berghahn Books. ISBN 9788187358374. pp. 143-144.
  8. ^ Bernstein‏, Thomas P.; Hua-Yu, Li (2010). China Learns from the Soviet Union, 1949-Present. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780739142226. p. 113.
  9. ^ Botos, János (1988). Magyar hétköznapok : Rákosi Mátyás két emigrációja között, 1945-1956. Minerva. ISBN 9789632234373. p. 304.
  10. ^ Elman Zareco, Kimberly (2011). Manufacturing a Socialist Modernity: Housing in Czechoslovakia, 1945-1960. University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 9780822944041. p. 309.
  11. ^ Eley, Geoff (2002). Forging Democracy: The History of the Left in Europe, 1850-2000. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195044799. p. 256.‏
  12. ^ Banerji. p. 148.

External links