Historical Congresses, International

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Historical Congresses, International


congresses prepared and conducted since 1926 by the International Committee for Historical Sciences (ICHS), a standing body, and by the national committee of historians of the country in which the congress is to be held. A congress is called once every five years, although this schedule was disturbed by the two world wars. Along with international historical congresses, international congresses of such specialists as Orientalists (since 1873) and Byzantinists (since 1924) are held. International historical congresses promote the expansion of scholarly contacts, and they bring under review the sum of research work in the field of history. The general development of historical science—the takeover of leading positions by various historical schools, the relative importance of different problems in different periods, the struggle of methodological tendencies—are all reflected in the work of the congresses.

The first congress took place in 1900 in Paris, under the official name of the International Congress of Comparative History. The second congress (sometimes considered the first) took place in Rome in 1903 and was one of the most imposing, with approximately 2,500 participants. It was devoted mainly to the archaeological history of Rome and Italy. The third congress was held in Berlin in 1908, with 1,045 delegates present. The fourth congress took place in London in April 1913 and had 1,000 delegates. The third and fourth congresses reflected the political situation taking shape in the world: the split of Europe into two hostile imperialist groups. The majority of the speeches at the four congresses were devoted to problems in the history of the country in which the congress was being held. Russian scholars, including M. M. Kovalevskii, V. I. Modestov, I. V. Tsvetaev, Iu.. A. Kulakovskii, B. A. Turaev, and A. S. Lappo-Danilevskii, took an active part in the congresses.

Eight hundred delegates were present at the fifth congress, held in Brussels in 1923. Soviet historians were not officially invited. E. V. Tarle, V. V. Bartol’d, and N. P. Ottokar, the Soviet historians who participated in the congress, were recognized as representatives not of the USSR but of the Russian Academy of Sciences. A resolution creating the ICHS was adopted at the fifth congress. Soviet scholars participated officially in an international historical congress for the first time at the sixth congress, held in Oslo in 1928. A group of 17 Soviet scholars, led by M. N. Pokrovskii, were among the 1,033 delegates present at the congress. The seventh congress took place in Warsaw in 1933, with the participation of 1,100 delegates from 40 countries. Soviet historians participating included V. P. Volgin (one of the chairmen of the congress), N. M. Lukin, P. F. Preobrazhenskii, and A. M. Pankratova. Sharp discussions unfolded in the sections on methodology and on modern and contemporary history. The eighth congress was held in Zurich in 1938, with 770 delegates present. The leadership of the ICHS proposed that the themes of reports to the congress be limited to events prior to 1914. Soviet historians did not participate in the work of this congress, nor in that of the ninth congress, which was held in Paris in 1950, from August 28 to September 3. At the ninth congress the ICHS became part of the International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies of UNESCO.

The tenth congress took place in Rome on Sept. 4—11, 1955, with 2,000 delegates from 34 countries. The 24 members of the Soviet delegation were involved in all sections of the congress and the international commissions and gave more than 50 reports. The active work of Soviet historians secured contacts and the development of scholarly ties between scholars of the USSR and other countries and played an important role in publicizing the achievements of Soviet historical science. The eleventh congress was held in Stockholm, on Aug. 21–28, 1960, with more than 2,000 delegates from 49 countries. The congress demonstrated the unquestioned success of Marxist-Leninist historical science. A characteristic feature of the congress was the growing representation of historians from the socialist countries. Over 230 delegates attended from the socialist countries, including a Soviet delegation of 44 members. Approximately one-fourth of the reports were given by representatives of the socialist countries. There were sharp discussions in all the sections of the congress. The twelfth congress took place in Vienna in 1965, from August 29 to September 5, with 2,400 delegates from 42 countries. Of 33 papers presented to the congress, 11 were prepared by scholars of the socialist countries. A distinctive feature of the Vienna congress was the increased interest in problems of modern and contemporary history.

The thirteenth congress was held in Moscow, on Aug. 16–23, 1970, and was the largest of the congresses, with 3,307 delegates from 50 countries, including 1,283 from the USSR and 859 from other socialist countries. Soviet historians and historians from other socialist countries actively participated in all sections and commissions, defending the fundamental tenets of Marxist historical science and subjecting to criticism bourgeois conceptions of the historical process. At the congress the positions of bourgeois historiography were expressed mainly in moderate-liberal and objectivist forms. Sharp discussions took place at the meetings on methodology, the history of continents, contemporary history, and the history of World War II. Various aspects of Leninist teachings were revealed at the symposium “V. I. Lenin and Historical Science.” The results of the scholarly discussions at the congress demonstrated the achievements of Soviet historians in work on numerous problems of domestic and world history. At the meeting of the assembly, Soviet historians were elected to leading positions of the ICHS and to the bureaus of different commissions of the ICHS.

The Soviet scholar A. A. Guber was elected president of the ICHS and occupied this post until his death in June 1971. The Soviet scholar E. M. Zhukov was elected president of the ICHS at a meeting of the assembly in July 1972.


Zhelenina, I. A. “Mezhdunarodnye kongressy istorikov.” In Sovetskaia istoricheskaia entsiklopediia, vol. 9. Moscow, 1966.
Guber, A. A. “Moskovskii kongress istorikov.” Voprosy istorii, 1970, no. 3.
“K XIII Mezhdunarodnomu kongressu istoricheskikh nauk.” Ibid.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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