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The standards used by Zhukov and Sokolovskii may have been a good deal higher than those used today, and the pervasiveness of “unsavory phenomena" is undoubtedly greater now than it was then. Some of these problems had been known earlier from the testimony of emigres/ defectors and occasional articles in the Soviet press.96 Nevertheless, it is striking (and comforting) to see that dissatisfaction about the state of military discipline was nearly as great in Moscow some 40-45 years ago as it is today.

Concluding Observations

This overview of the structure, context, and content of declassified materials from Central Committee plenums shows both the limitations and the potential value of these documents. So long as scholars bear in mind that the Central Committee was not a decision-making body and that the plenums were carefully managed by top CPSU officials for their own purposes, the documents can yield a good deal of useful information. Some of the materials provide fresh insights into key trends and events, including domestic changes in the Soviet Union and important episodes from the Cold War. Other documents are important mainly because of what they reveal about the manipulation of the plenums by senior officials. One of the most salient features of the plenums during the first five years after Stalin's death was the spillover from the leadership struggle. Even when the plenums were supposed to focus on crucial domestic or foreign issues, the divisions among top leaders had a far-reaching effect on the proceedings. By the late 1950s, after Khrushchev had dislodged his major rivals and consolidated his position as CPSU First Secretary, the plenums increasingly were devoted to the growing rift between the Soviet Union and China. This theme continued even after Khrushchev was unexpectedly removed in 1964.

The plenum materials cover only selected portions of Soviet history and Soviet foreign policy. Many topics were barely considered at all by the Central Committee. The plenum documents are no substitute for the vastly more important and far more voluminous records of the supreme decision-making body in the Soviet Union, the

| The materials at RTsKhIDNI for Central Committee plenums from 1918 to 1941 are stored in Opis' 2 of Fond 17. Unlike at TsKhSD, the items at RTSKLIDNI do not constitute a separate fond. 2 In the Soviet/Russian archival lexicon, the word opis' refers both to a segment of a fond and to the finding aid or catalog that specifies what is contained in that segment. 3

"Perechen' dokumentov Arkhiva Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii, Tsentra khraneniya sovremennoi dokumentatsii, Rossiiskogo tsentra khraneniya i izucheniya dokumentov noveishei istorii, Tsentra khraneniya dokumentov molodezhnykh organizatsii, rassekrechennykh Komissiei po rassekrechivaniyu dokumentov, sozdannykh KPSS, v 1994-1995," Moscow, 1996. A slightly abridged version of this list was published in Novaya i noveishaya istoriya (Moscow), No. 3 (May-June 1996), pp. 249-253. 4 Conversation in Moscow between the author and Natalya Tomilina, director of TsKhSD, 14 July 1997. This was not the only aspect of the commission's report that was highly misleading. The report contains fond and opis' numbers of collections that supposedly have been “declassified," but it fails to mention that a large number of dela in many of these opisi are in fact still classified. For example, the commission's list of “declassified documents” includes Opis' 128 of Fond 17 at RTsKhIDNI, which is divided into two volumes. One would expect, based on this listing, that all documents from both volumes of the opis' would be freely accessible, but it turns out that the entire second volume, amounting to 504 dela, is still classified, and even in the first volume only some of the 702 dela are actually available to researchers. (The only way to determine which files in the first volume are really declassified is to ask the head of the RTsKhIDNI reading room before submitting a request.) Similarly, at TsKhSD only a small fraction of the dela in many of the purportedly “declassified" collections are genuinely accessible. Even when files at TsKhSD are nominally “declassified,” they may still be off limits because they supposedly contain “personal secrets” (lichnye rainy), which have to be processed by an entirely separate commission. Because of the barriers posed by classified files and files that allegedly contain personal secrets, very few files from some of the “declassified” opisi at TsKhSD are actually given out. (This problem is compounded when, as in the case of Opisi 22 and 28 of Fond 5 at TsKhSD, only the film reels are lent out. If one delo on a reel is proscribed, all other dela on the reel are also off limits unless a researcher can convince the archivists to have a staff member serve as a monitor for several hours while the researcher uses the “permitted" dela on the reel.) 5

5 May 1941 (Delo la); 10 October 1941 (Delo 2); 27 January 1944 (Dela 3-5); 11, 14, and 18 March 1946 (Dela 6-8); 21, 22, 24, and 26 February 1947 (Dela 9-20); 16 October 1952 (Dela 21-22); 5 March 1953 (Dela 23-24); 14 March 1953 (Dela 25-26); 2-7 July 1953 (Dela 27-45); 3-7 September 1953 (Dela 46-61); 23 February2 March 1954 (Dela 62-89); 21-24 June 1954 (Dela 90-109); 25-31 January 1955 (Dela 110-138); 4-12 July 1955 (Dela 139-180); 13


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February 1956 (Dela 181-184); 27 February 1956 (Dela 185-187); 22 June 1956 (Delo 188); 20-24 December 1956 (Dela 189-208); 13-14 February 1957 (Dela 209-221); 22-29 June 1957 (Dela 222259); 28-29 October 1957 (Dela 260-272); 16-17 December 1957 (Dela 273-284); 25-26 February 1958 (Dela 285-298); 26 March 1958 (Dela 319-327); 6-7 May 1958 (Dela 304-318); 17-18 June 1958 (Dela 319-327); 5 September 1958 (Dela 328-332); 12 November 1958 (Dela 333-338); 15-19 December 1958 (Dela 339360); 24-29 June 1959 (Dela 361-397); 22-26 December 1959 (Dela 398-448); 4 May 1960 (Dela 449-452); 13-16 July 1960 (Dela 453485); 10-18 January 1961 (Dela 486-536); 19 June 1961 (Dela 537543); 14 October 1961 (Dela 544-548); 31 October 1961 (Dela 549553); 5-9 March 1962 (Dela 554-582); 23 April 1962 (Dela 583587); 19-23 November 1962 (Dela 588-623); 18-21 June 1963 (Dela 624-658); 9-13 December 1963 (Dela 659-696); 10-15 February 1964 (Dela 697-743); 11 July 1964 (Dela 744-747); 10 October 1964 (Dela 748-753); 16 November 1964 (Dela 754-764); 24-26 March 1965 (Dela 765-786); 27-29 September 1965 (Dela 787-805); 6 December 1965 (Dela 806-812); 19 February 1966 (Dela 813-817); and 26 March 1966 (Dela 818-822). 6

See, for example, the standardized form (classified “sekretno") that was circulated along with appropriate transcript pages to each speaker, in TsKhSD, Fond (F.) 2, Opis' (Op.) 1, Delo (D.) 268, List (L.) 15. 7

The name of the CPSU CC Politburo was changed to the “CPSU CC Presidium” at the 19th Party Congress in October 1952. The name was changed back to the Politburo just before the 23rd Party Congress in March 1966. 8 See, for example, “Tov. Sukovoi E. N.,” 18 March 1958, memorandum on materials to include in the final stenographic account of the plenum held on 28-29 October 1957, in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 269, L. 79, as well as the attachment on Ll. 80-145. 9

This is in contrast to the plenum documents in Opis’ 2 of Fond 17 at RTsKhIDNI. RTsKhIDNI gives out only the microfilms of these documents. 10 Useful compilations of the materials published after Central Committee plenums from 1953 through the late 1980s are available in two sources: Kommunisticheskaya partiya Sovetskogo Soyuza v rezolyutsiyakh i resheniyakh sezdov, konferentsii, i plenumov TsK, various editions (Moscow: Politizdat, various years); and the 29 volumes of the CPSU yearbook published between 1957 and 1989, Spravochnik partiinogo rabotnika (Moscow: Politizdat, published biennially until the mid-1960s and annually thereafter). From 1989 to 1991, the new Central Committee journal Izvestiya TsK KPSS featured stenographic accounts of selected plenums, including some from the pre-Gorbachev era. Il The term “Central Committee” refers here exclusively to the body comprising 200-300 people who convened for plenums. Even when plenums were not in session, many resolutions and directives were issued in the name of the Central Committee, but these were actually drafted and approved by the Politburo or Secretariat, not by the Central Committee itself. Soviet officials also frequently used the term "Central Committee” to refer to the whole central party apparatus, but this, too, gives a misleading impression of the Central Committee's role. The term is used here only in its narrowest sense. 12

See, for example, the marked-up draft “Postanovlenie plenuma TSK KPSS: Ob uluchshenii partiino-politicheskoi raboty v Sovetskoi Armii i Flote,” October 1957 (Secret), in “Materialy k Protokolu No. 5 zasedaniya plenuma TsK KPSS 28-29. 10. 1957 g.," in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 261, Ll. 69-74. 13 The term “circular flow of power” was coined by Robert V. Daniels in “Soviet Politics Since Khrushchev," in John W. Strong, ed., The Soviet Union Under Brezhnev and Kosygin (New York: Van Nostrand-Reinhold, 1971), p. 20. Daniels had developed the basic interpretation at some length more than a decade earlier in his The Conscience of the Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1960), and similar views had been elaborated by numerous

scholars such as Merle Fainsod and Leonard Schapiro. 14

On this general problem, see Mark Kramer, “Archival Research in Moscow: Progress and Pitfalls,” Cold War International History Bulletin, Issue No. 3 (Fall 1993), p. 34. 15

For an analysis and translation of these notes and supplementary materials, see Mark Kramer, “Special Feature: New Evidence on Soviet Decision-Making and the 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises,” Cold War International History Bulletin, Issue No. 8-9 (Winter 1996/ 1997), pp. 358-410. 16

Almost all of the transcripts that were released in the early 1990s are now accessible in Fond 89 of TsKhSD. For a convenient, crossindexed, and chronological list of these transcripts compiled by I. I. Kudryavtsev and edited by V. P. Kozlov, see Arkhivy Kremlya i Staroi Ploshchadi: Dokumenty po Delu KPSS—Annotirovannyi spravochnik dokumentov, predstavlennykh v Konstitutsionnyi Sud RF po Delu KPSS", (Novosibirsk: Siberskii Khronograf, 1995). 17

The two most valuable collections put out by the Gorbachev Foundation are Mikhail Gorbachev, ed., Gody trudnykh reshenii (Moscow: Alfa-Print, 1993); and A. V. Veber et al., eds., Soyuz mozhno bylo sokhranit'Belaya kniga: Dokumenty i fakty o politike M. S. Gorbacheva po reformirovaniyu i sokhraneniyu mnogonatsional'nogo gosudarstva (Moscow: Aprel -85, 1995). Some relevant items also have appeared in the Foundation's journal Svobodnaya mysl. The items published in Istochnik (e.g., about the Politburo's immediate reaction to the Chernobyl accident) seem to have been released for the same reason that materials were turned over earlier to the Constitutional Court. 18 In a typical case, Khrushchev attributed to Beria “dangerous and counterrevolutionary” policies that Khrushchev himself had devised only a few weeks earlier for Latvia, Estonia, and Moldavia. See “Voprosy Latviiskoi SSR (Proekt),” 7 June 1953 (Top Secret), "Voprosy Estonskoi SSR (Proekt)," 8 June 1953 (Top Secret), and "Voprosy Moldavskoi SSR (Proekt)," 8 June 1953, all from N. S. Khrushchev to the CPSU Presidium, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 30, D. 6, Ll. 20-29; F. 5, Op. 15, D. 445, Ll. 46, 267-277; and F. 5, Op. 15, D. 443, Ll. 29-59, respectively. 19

For the published version, see “Delo Beria,” two parts, in Izvestiya TsK KPSS (Moscow), No. 1 (January 1991), pp. 139-214, and No. 2 (February 1991), pp. 141-208. As discussed below, the published stenographic account differs substantially from the verbatim transcript, though the comments here apply just as much to the verbatim transcript. 20

For extensive evidence of this, see my forthcoming article on “The Post-Stalin Succession Struggle and Upheavals in East-Central Europe: Internal-External Linkages in Soviet Policy-Making." 21

Even a prominent scholar like Amy Knight, who is deservedly skeptical of many of the charges lodged against Beria, uncritically accepts the statements made about East Germany. See her Beria: Stalin's First Lieutenant (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 193-200. 22 “Plenum Tsentral'nogo Komiteta KPSS, 2-7 iyulya 1953 g.," July 1953 (Strictly Secret), in TsKhSD, Fond (F.) 2, Opis' (Op.) 1, Delo (D.) 29, List (L.) 51. 23 This was the case, for example, with the plenum on 24-26 March 1965. A new, 22-page text was inserted by Mikhail Suslov in place of his original report to the plenum, “Soobshchenie ob itogakh Konsul’tativnoi vstrechi kommunisticheskikh i rabochikh partii,” in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 766, LI. 81-102. Suslov indicated at the bottom of the new version that “[t]his text should be used in place of the stenogram.” 24 Sometimes, the changes that turn up can be both amusing and revealing about events and individual leaders. For example, at the plenum in late October 1957, a few weeks after the Soviet “Sputnik” had been hed into orbit, Khrushchev boasted that "we now have European missiles, which can strike targets all over Europe without leaving our territory." In the left-hand margin of the verbatim transcript, the first editor wrote a large question mark next to this

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Review, Vol. III, No. 17 (April 1960), pp. 14-22. 46

See, for example, the interview with the former head of the Soviet “missile group” in China, General Aleksandr Savel’ev, in Aleksandr Dolinin, “Kak nashi raketchiki kitaitsev obuchali,” Krasnaya zvezda (Moscow), 13 May 1995, p. 6. 47

For a lively account of the Bucharest session, which includes details omitted from the official transcript, see Edward Crankshaw, The New Cold War: Moscow v. Peking (Baltimore: Penguin, 1963),

pp. 97-110. 48


passage. The second editor changed it to read: “We now have medium-range missiles, that is, European missiles, which can strikes targets all over Europe after being launched from our territory." See the marked-up verbatim transcript “Rech' tov. N. S. Khrushcheva na plenume TsK KPSS, 29 oktyabrya 1957 goda,” 29 October 1957 (Strictly Secret), in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 269, L. 66. 25 Khrushchev's speech, “Doklad Pervogo sekretarya TsK KPSS Khrushcheva N. S. 'Ob itogakh sovetsko-yugoslavskikh peregovorov”," is in “plenum TSK KPSS—XIX Sozyv: Stenogramma desyatogo zasedaniya 9 iyulya 1955 g. (utrennego)," July 1955 (Strictly Secret), TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 172, LI. 1-138. 26

Ibid., L. 105. 27 “Plenum Tsk KPSS—XIX Sozyv: Stenogramma trinadtsatogo zasedaniya 11 iyulya 1955 g. (vechernego),” July 1955 (Strictly Secret), in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 175, LI. 135-136. 28

Ibid., L. 149. 29

Ibid., LI. 172-183. 30 Ibid., L. 179. 31

The sessions on Yugoslavia in July 1955 were designed to inform the Central Committee about actions already taken, not to consult it in advance. This is fully in line with the analysis above of the Central Committee's role in Soviet policy-making. 32 “Deklaratsiya Soveshchaniya predstavitelei kommunisticheskikh i rabochikh partii sotsialisticheskikh stran, sostayavshegosya v Moskve 14-16 noyabrya 1957 goda," Pravda (Moscow), 22 November 1957, pp. 1-2. 33 “Plenum TSK KPSS–XX Sozyv: Stenogramma tret'ego i chetvertogo zasedanii plenuma TsK KPSS 16-17 dekabrya 1957 g.," in F. 2, Op. 1, D. 282, Ll. 161-182. 34

Ibid., L. 172 35 "Plenum Tsk KPSS–XX Sozyv: Stenogramma tret'ego zasedaniya 7 maya 1958 g. (vechernego),” May 1958 (Top Secret), in TsKhŞD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 317, L1. 57-93.

Among numerous other examples of the important ideological role that Yugoslavia played in Soviet policy-making was the close attention that Soviet leaders paid in 1968 to Yugoslavia's influence on the reformist officials in Czechoslovakia. See, for example, the plethora of documents in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 60, Dd. 279 and 284. Whenever Soviet leaders detected hints (or what they construed as hints) that “Titoist” ideology was filtering into Czechoslovakia, they raised the issue with the Czechoslovak authorities and discussed the matter at length during CPSU Politburo meetings. 37 See Kramer, “New Evidence on Soviet Decision-Making and the 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises,” pp. 360-362. 38 “Plenum TsK KPSS-XX zyv: Stenogramma tret'ego i chetvertogo zasedanii plenuma TsK KPSS 16-17 dekabrya 1957 g.," in F. 2, Op. 1, D. 282, Ll. 173-174. 39 lbid., L. 174. 40

"O poezdke sovetskoi partiino-pravitel’stvennoi delegatsii v Kitaiskuyu Narodnuyu Respubliku,” plus extensive modifications and insertions incorporated by Suslov, in “Materialy k Protokolu No. 15 zasedaniya plenuma TSK KPSS,” 22-26 December 1959 (Strictly Secret), in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 447, Ll. 57-91. For background on this trip, see Mark Kramer, “Sino-Soviet Relations on the Eve of the Split,” Cold War International History Bulletin, Issue No. 6-7 (Winter 1995/1996), pp. 170-186. 41 “O poezdke sovetskoi partiino-pravitel'stvennoi delegatsii v Kitaiskuyu Narodnuyu Respubliku,” L. 71. The sentence referring to the interception of secret documents and the U.S. government's alleged readiness to surrender Quemoy and Matsu did not appear in Suslov's initial draft. It was added during the revisions shortly before the plenum. 42 Ibid., L. 80. 43

Ibid., L. 81. 44

Ibid., LI. 88-89. 45 “Long Live Leninism!" was first published in Hongqi (Beijing), No. 8 (16 April 1960), and then republished in translation in Peking

“Doklad na plenume TSK KPSS ob itogakh Soveshchaniya predstavitelei bratskikh partii v Bukhareste i ob oshibochnykh pozitsiyakh rukovodstva TsK KPK po nekotorym printsipial'nym voprosam marksistsko-leninskoi teorii i sovremennykh mezhdunarodnykh otnoshenii,” 13 July 1960 (Strictly Secret), in TsKHSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 472, LI. 2-74. 49

For a useful account of this process by a participant, see Mikhail A. Klochko, Soviet Scientist in Red China (Montreal: International Publishers Representatives, 1964), esp. pp. 164-188. See also Dolinin, “Kak nashi raketchiki kitaitsev obuchali," p. 6. 50 --Ob itogakh Soveshchaniya predstavitelei kommunisticheskikh i rabochikh partii,” in “Materialy k Protokolu No. 18 zasedaniya plenuma TsK KPSS, 10-18 yanvarya 1961 g.,” January 1961 (Strictly Secret), in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 495, LI. 11-85. The quoted passage is on L. 12. 51

Ibid., L. 33. 52 lbid., LI. 55-57. 53

Ibid., L. 45 54 Ibid., LI. 65-66. 55

Ibid., LI. 78, 87. 56

See the marked-up versions of the presentations in “Materialy k Protokolu No. 6 zasedaniya plenuma TSK KPSS, 13 dekabrya 1963 g.: O deyatel'nosti Prezidiuma TSK KPSS po ukrepleniyu edinstva kommunisticheskogo dvizheniya, postanovlenie Sekretariata Tsk KPSS ob izdanii tekstov vystuplenii na plenume Tsk Ponomareva B. N., Andropova Yu. V., i Il'icheva L. F., rechi sekretarei TSK KPSS Ponomareva, Andropova, Il'icheva, i Khrushcheva N.S.,," 9-13 December 1963 (Strictly Secret), F. 2, Op. 1, D. 665. 57

"Vypiska iz protokola No. 90/257gs zasedaniya Sekretariata TSK ot 16.XII.1963 g.,” 16 December 1963 (Top Secret), in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 693, L. 4. 58

“Ob itogakh Soveshchaniya predstavitelei kommunisticheskikh i rabochikh partii,” Ll. 61-62. 59 “Rech' Sekretarya TsK KPSS tov. Andropova Yu. V. na dekabrskom (1963 g.) plenuma TSK KPSS,” No. P2002, (Top Secret), 9-13 December 1963, in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 665, L. 30. 60 “Bor'ba KPSS za splochennost' mirovogo kommunisticheskogo dvizheniya: Doklad tovarishcha M. A. Suslova na plenume TSK KPSS 14 fevralya 1964 goda,” P. 480, in TsKHSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 731, L. 158ob. 61 Romanian Press Agency, Statement on the Stand of the Romanian Workers' Party Concerning Problems of the World Communist and Working Class Movement (Bucharest: Agerpres, 1964). 62 “Soobshchenie ob itogakh Konsul’tativnoi vstrechi kommunisticheskikh i rabochikh partii," LI. 98-99. 63

Ibid., LI. 105-106. 64

For an excellent analysis of the Zhukov affair written long before the archives were opened, see Timothy J. Colton, Commissars, Commanders, and Civilian Authority: The Structure of Soviet Military Politics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979), pp. 175-195. Colton's account holds up very well in the light of the new evidence. 65 "Plenum TSK KPSS 28-29 oktyabrya 1957 g. XX Sozyv: Stenogramma vtorogo zasedaniya,” 27-29 October 1957 (Strictly Secret), in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 266, L. 57. 66 One item that has been released in the materials gathered for the plenum, a letter from the Soviet minister of culture, Nikolai Mikhailov, to the CPSU Presidium, indicates that Zhukov's ouster

"always gotten along well” with him), but then offered a highly critical assessment. “Plenum TsK KPSS, oktyabr' 1957 goda, XX Sozyv: Stenogramma vtorogo zasedaniya plenuma TsK KPSS,” 28 October 1957 (Strictly Secret), in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 267, LI. 63-64. 89

Ibid., L. 64. 90

"Plenum TsK KPSS, oktyabr' 1957 goda, XX Sozyv: Stenogramma pervogo zasedaniya plenuma TSK KPSS,” 28 October 1957 (Strictly Secret), in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 266, LI. 123-124. 91

See, for example, the speeches recorded in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, Dd. 267, 268, and 269. 92 “Rech tov. N. S. Khrushcheva," LI. 4-5. 93

“Materialy k Protokolu No. 5 zasedaniya plenuma TSK KPSS 2829. 10. 1957 g.," in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 261. The drafts of the closed letter, **Zakrytoe pis’mo Tsentral'nogo Komiteta KPSS ko vsem partiinym organizatsiyam predpriyatii, kolkhozov, uchrezhdenii, partiinym organizatsiyam Sovetskoi Armii i Flota, k chlenam i kandidatam v chleny Kommunisticheskoi partii Sovetskogo Soyuza,” are found on Ll. 99-1220b. 94

“Prikaz Ministra oborony SSSR No. 0090, 12 maya 1956 g., O sostoyanii voinskoi distsipliny v Sovetskoi Armii i Voenno-Morskom Flote i merakh po ee ukrepleniyu," 12 May 1956 (Top Secret), signed by G. Zhukov and V. Sokolovskii, in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 261, LI. 31-35. 95 Ibid., L. 32. 96 Herbert Goldhamer, The Soviet Soldier: Soviet Military Management at the Troop Level (New York: Crane, Russak & Company, 1975), pp. 141-169.



was assured as of 25 October, the day before the CPSU Presidium formally approved the measure. See "V Prezidium TsK KPSS,” 25 October 1957 (Secret), from N. Mikhailov, in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 261, Ll. 45-51. No doubt, other documents, not yet released, will shed greater light on the timing and motives of Khrushchev's actions. 67 - Informatsionnoe soobshchenie o plenume Tsentral'nogo Komiteta KPSS” and “Postanovlenie plenuma TsK KPSS ob uluchshenii partiino-politicheskoi raboty v Sovetskoi Armii I Flote,” Pravda (Moscow), 3 November 1957, pp. 1-3. 68 Yu. P. Petrov, Partiinoe stroitelstvo v Sovetskoi Armii i Flote (1918-1961) (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1964), pp. 460-462; and Yu. P. Petrov, Stroitelstvo politorganov, partiinykh i komsomol'skikh organizatsii Armii i Flota (1918-1968) (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1968), 88.434-439

“Doklad tov. Suslova M. A.: Ob uluchshenii partiinopoliticheskoi raboty v Sovetskoi Armii i Flote,” 28 October 1957 (Strictly Secret), in "plenum TsK KPSS 28-29 oktyabrya 1957 g., XX Sozyv: Stenogramma pervogo zasedaniya (utrennego),” 27-29 October 1957 (Strictly Secret), in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 266, L. 14. 70

Marshal S. F. Akhromeev, et al., eds., Voennyi entsiklopedicheskii slovar', 2nd ed. (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1986), p. 146. 71 “Doklad tov. Suslova M. A.,” LI. 15-16. 72

Ibid., L. 16. 73 Ibid., L. 21.

Ibid. For the letter from Mikhailov, see “V Prezidium TsK KPSS,” as cited in Note 61 supra. When evaluating Mikhailov's letter, it is important to bear in mind that the letter was not written spontaneously. Mikhailov had been instructed by Khrushchev to write such a letter, and his detailed assertions must be judged accordingly. 75 "Doklad tov. Suslova M. A.," LI. 4, 17-18. 76 "Materialy k Protokolu No. 5 zasedaniya plenuma TsK KPSS,” L. 72. 77 “Rech'tov. N. S. Khrushcheva,” Ll. 60-61. This passage in the verbatim transcript was deleted from the stenographic account. 78

Ibid., L. 61. 79 Doklad tov. Suslova M. A.," L. 21. 80

Lieut.-General V. M. Chebrikov et al., eds., Istoriya sovetskikh organov gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti, No. 12179, Top Secret (Moscow: Vysshaya Krasnoznamennaya Shkola Komiteta Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti, 1977), p. 532 (emphasis added). This lengthy textbook is still classified in Moscow, but a copy was unearthed in Riga by the Latvian scholar Indulis Zalite, who is now head of the Center for Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism, a leading research institute in Riga. He generously allowed me to photocopy it and many other Soviet KGB documents that are currently inaccessible in Moscow. 81 "Plenum TsK KPSS, oktyabr' 1957 goda: Stenogramma tret'ego zasedaniya (utrennego),” in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 266, L. 60. 82 - Rech' tov. N. S. Khrushcheva na plenume TSK KPSS, 29 oktyabrya 1957 g.,” 29 October 1957 (Strictly Secret), in “plenum TsK KPSS, oktyabr' 1957 goda: Stenogramma chetvertogo zasedaniya plenuma TsK KPSS,” in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 269, L. 45. 83 lbid., L. 65. This passage in the verbatim transcript was toned down in the final stenographic account. 84

Ibid., LI, 58-59. 85 “Plenum TsK KPSS 28-29 oktyabrya 1957 g. XX Sozyv: Stenogramma vtorogo zasedaniya,” L. 76. 86 “Plenum TsK KPSS, oktyabr' 1957 goda, XX Sozyv: Stenogramma tret'ego zasedaniya plenuma TsK KPSS, 2829.10.1957 g.," in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 268, L. 77. 87

See the comments to this effect in “Rech' tov. N. S. Khrushcheva," LI. 5-6. 88

Malinovskii, who had been a first deputy minister during Zhukov's tenure, started his remarks with a positive observation (saying that “he had no ill feelings toward Com. Zhukov” and had


Central Committee Plenums, 1941-1966:

Contents and Implications

By Gael Moullec


ince the collapse of the USSR, the doors of the
Soviet archives are partially open to Russian and

foreign researchers and we can say that the balance sheet is, for today, “on the whole, positive." At the same time, however, faced with the multiplicity and diversity of meticulous scientific publications, the historian has the

1 right to ask: Is Soviet history hiding collections of unedited documents, worthy of publication in full?

In order to better grasp the importance of this question, we must keep in mind the fact that we are studying a system that made a veritable religion of secrecy. Currently, we are only in possession of very weak documentation on Soviet decision-making and on the exact terms of the decrees adopted at the top of the State-Party pyramid. In contrast to historians of France, we have neither an official journal nor a complete anthology of laws. Thus, after five years of a democratic regime, the collection of the joint decisions of the Soviet Central Committee and Council of Ministers is still stamped "for official use" and doesn't include any secret decisions, clearly the most important ones.2 Still more serious, the titles, (let alone the texts) of Politburo resolutions made after 1953 have not yet been declassified and the preparatory materials for these resolutions (notes, reports, etc.) remain inaccessible in the Archive of the President of the Russian Federation (APRF).

Happily, in February 1995, the files containing the documents of the plenary sessions of the Central Committee of the VKP(b)-CPSU3 which took place between 1941 and 1966 were declassified and transferred from the APRF to the Center for the Storage of Contemporary Documentation (TsKhSD).4

material to meet the needs of the population. This subject deserves a special study of its own.

These transcripts also offer a view into the innerworkings of the nomenklatura. Personnel changes at the head of the Soviet Party and State resulted in particularly violent settlings of accounts. Strong language was employed to discredit adversaries in the eyes of the Party “Parliament” which at least on paper made the final decision regarding the nomination and dismissal of leaders. Plenum transcripts concerning the dismissal of Beria, the demise of the antiparty group, and the removal of Khrushchev have already appeared in the journal Istoricheskii archiv.) Therefore I use as an example the

5 dismissal of Bulganin, decided by the 26 March 1958 plenum without even a hint of discussion. During the 5 September 1958 plenum, Suslov returned to this issue in order to justify this decision, certainly imposed by the Presidium on a Central Committee that possibly still needed convincing.


[The full citation is available on the CWIHP website.)

Another aspect of these transcripts is to present, from the inside, the formulation of Soviet foreign policy. One cannot hope to find in these transcripts “revelations” on the diverse interventions of Soviet troops which adorned the period or on major international crises. These subjects are part of the “private preserve” of the Politburo and they never directly appear in the plenum debates. These documents, however, do furnish us with supplementary information about specifics of Soviet foreign policy. An example of this is the angry altercation given below between Khrushchev and Molotov during the 4-12 July 1955 plenum devoted to the results of the Soviet-Yugoslav discussions. 6

[A chronological classification of plenum files follows and can be found in the CWIHP Electronic Bulletin.]

[The citation is available on the CWIHP website.)

Four major themes run through the plenum materials. The first has to do with major reports about the economic life of the country, especially agricultural reforms. Thus, we note the importance of the plenary session of 23 February to 2 March 1954 dedicated to the development of the “virgin lands” of northern Kazakhstan, of Siberia, of the Altai, and of the southern Urals. Less than a year later, at the 25-31 January 1955 plenum, Khrushchev returned again to the necessity of launching a major campaign to grow corn. In addition to agricultural reform, Khrushchev's project also emphasized expanding the production of consumer goods. In this respect, the 6-7 May 1958 plenums sanctioned the reorientation of the chemical industry towards the production of synthetic

The question of Soviet-Chinese relations was also broadly discussed during the 13-16 July 1960 plenums on the eve of the withdrawal of Soviet experts from China. [Ed. note: On this, see Chen Jian, “A Crucial Step Toward the Sino-Soviet Schism: The Withdrawal of Soviet Experts from China, July 1960” in CWIHP Bulletin 7, pp. 246250.) More than Suslov's report on the ideological differences between the two parties, it is the statements of Khrushchev which clarified the lack of understanding between Mao and the Soviet leader.7

Finally, these transcripts also shed some light on more specific questions about the organization of cultural life in

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