Party Mobilizations

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Party Mobilizations


in the USSR, the call-up of Communist Party members, on a mass or individual basis, for service in the army or in some sector of the economy; an emergency technique in the organizational work of the Communist Party, used under difficult and complex political, military, or economic circumstances. Partywide mobilizations were carried out under decisions of the party Central Committee, and local ones, under the decisions of the appropriate party bodies. Party mobilizations were most widely used in the early years of Soviet power. A specific expression of the leading role of the working class in relation to the peasantry, they were an extremely important means of strengthening the army and increasing its combat ability (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 39, p. 208).

The first mass mobilization of party members into the Red Army was carried out under the July 1918 decree of the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik), in response to the serious situation on the Eastern Front. From July to October the Moscow party organization sent more than 1,500 members to the front to serve as commissars or to do various kinds of political work, and the Petrograd party organization sent approximately 800 members. During the summer and fall of 1918, tens of thousands of party members were sent to the front through party mobilizations, not counting those who went into the army as a result of general military call-ups. A decree issued on Nov. 26, 1918, by the Central Committee of the RCP(B) ordered that the center of gravity of the military effort be shifted to the Southern Front, where the White Cossacks and Denikin’s forces were on the offensive. In December 1918 and January 1919, 2,557 Communists—experienced party workers—were sent to the Southern Front. On Apr. 13, 1919, the Central Committee of the RCP(B), responding to the offensive by Kolchak’s army, announced another party mobilization for the Eastern Front. By May 1919 at least 10 percent of the party’s members had been mobilized: in most local areas, 20 percent; in areas near the front, 50 percent; and in the immediately threatened areas, 100 percent. The Petrograd organization sent 5,000 Communists to the front. Between April and July 1919 at least 20,000 party members arrived at the front, including 1,000 party workers in responsible positions. At the same time, a partial mobilization for the Western Front took place in May 1919. Directed against Iudenich’s forces, it was carried out under a decision of the Central Committee of the RCP(B).

In July 1919 the Central Committee announced a party mobilization on an individual basis for the Southern Front, where the situation had deteriorated sharply with the offensive by Denikin’s armies. During the same month, 438 Communists were sent to the front as commissars, commanders, or administrative and economic officials. In August, 431 Communists were sent to the front, and in September, 1,027. At a Central Committee plenum held on Sept. 21, 1919, Lenin proposed that a maximum number of the most prominent party personnel be assigned to military-political duties. From September through November 1919, 8,700 Communists were assigned to military-political positions; of these, 3,268 were from the Moscow organization alone. Beginning in the summer of 1919, a total of approximately 3,000 party members were sent to the Southern Front. On Apr. 26, 1920, after bourgeois Poland’s attack on Soviet Russia, the Central Committee of the RCP(B) passed a resolution mobilizing 3,000 Communists on an individual basis, including 100 personnel in responsible positions. More than 4,600 Communists were sent to the Western and Southwestern fronts, in accordance with this resolution. In view of the serious situation on the Polish and Southern fronts, in June 1920 the Central Committee adopted a decision calling for a mass party mobilization of 11,000 members. From the central regions of Soviet Russia alone, 7,291 Communists were sent to the front. On August 5 the plenum of the Central Committee of the RCP(B) ordered the assignment of another 1,000 party members to the Southern Front. On Aug. 20, 1920, the Orgburo (Organizational Bureau) of the Central Committee announced a mass party mobilization. More than 5,300 Communists were sent to the front in August and September alone. During the entire period of the struggle against Wrangel and the White Poles (April-November 1920), 24,244 party members joined the Red Army through party mobilizations; another 3,000 joined as a result of a party mobilization decreed by the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of the Ukraine. As a result of party mobilizations, more than 200,000 Communists went into the army during the Civil War of 1918–20.

One of the first party mobilizations for the labor front was for work on the transportation system. The country’s fate depended on the rapid reconstruction of transportation facilities. On Mar. 2, 1920, the Central Committee passed a resolution mobilizing 5,000 Communists. The Ninth Party Congress (1920) mobilized 10 percent of its delegates for work in transportation. A total of 900 leading party workers and 6,000 rank-and-file members were assigned to transportation work. In 1920 and 1921 there were partial mobilizations for various branches of industry (for example, the mobilization for the fuel industry, November 1920). At the same time, in the major industrial centers of Soviet Russia there were mobilizations of party members, local residents of various nationalities. They were sent to strengthen the party organizations of the nationalities. For example, in September 1920, Azerbaijani Communists were mobilized; in October, Zyrians (Komi); in November, Yakuts; and in December, Armenians. On Oct. 31, 1921, the Orgburo of the Central Committee of the RCP(B) decreed a mobilization of 250 party members, sending them to the People’s Commissariat of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection for assignment on an individual basis as inspectors and auditors at the oil refineries and in the Donbas mines, for example.

Several party mobilizations were aimed at boosting agricultural production and reorganizing agriculture on a socialist basis. In August 1920 there was a mobilization for work in food requisitioning. In January 1921, 18,000 party members took part in a mobilization for a sowing campaign. On Feb. 13, 1924, the Central Committee proposed that the local party organizations mobilize 3,000 members for work in the cooperatives and in rural cultural and educational, soviet, and party bodies. A plenum of the Central Committee passed a resolution on Oct. 27, 1924, mobilizing the most responsible party and soviet personnel for work in the countryside for three- to four-month periods. In April 1925 the Fourteenth Party Conference adopted a resolution to send at least 3,000 propagandists to the countryside to strengthen the party’s educational work. The resolution also ordered that 1,000 party workers be assigned to reinforce the instructional staff of the district party committees. After the Fifteenth Party Congress in 1927, the Central Committee of the ACP(B) mobilized approximately 11,000 party and soviet workers and members of cooperatives for permanent or temporary assignments in the countryside. The November 1929 plenum of the Central Committee of the ACP(B) found it necessary to assign 25,000 worker-Communists to the villages to help organize the kolkhoz movement.

A decree issued on Mar. 25, 1931, by the Central Committee of the ACP(B) and the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR put an end to the practice of mobilizing workers for current campaigns.

In the initial period of the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 the party again resorted to the method of party mobilizations, in order to strengthen the party’s influence in army and navy units of various sizes. On June 27 and June 29, 1941, the Central Committee of the ACP(B) passed resolutions to mobilize Communists and Komsomol members for service at the front as political fighters (politboitsy). During the first three months of the war more than 95,000 Communists and Komsomol members entered the army as a result of party mobilizations; more than 58,000 of them joined units and subunits of the Western, Northwestern, and Southwestern fronts.

In the first months of the war 500 secretaries of the central committees of Union-republic Communist parties and of krai, oblast, raion, and municipal party committees were mobilized for political work in the army, as were 270 personnel from the Central Committee bureaucracy, approximately 1,300 responsible staff workers from the oblast and raion levels, and as many as 2,500 students in the Lenin Courses, the Higher School for Party Organizers, and the Higher Party School attached to the Central Committee of the ACP(B). A total of 9,000 party personnel in responsible positions were mobilized during the first six months of the war.

On Nov. 10, 1941, the Central Committee decided to assign 2,600 more Communists to the Main Political Directorate for duties with the political staff in the Soviet Army. During the first year of the war the party sent more than 1 million of its members into the Soviet armed forces. At the end of 1941 more than 1.3 million Communists—more than 40 percent of the entire party membership—were fighting in the army.

From early 1943 the party directed a large number of Communists to establish party and government bodies in areas liberated from the fascist German occupation forces. After the end of the war, hundreds of thousands of Communists were assigned to various branches of industry for work in economic reconstruction. Tens of thousands of managerial, engineering, and technical personnel were sent from the cities to the kolkhozes, MTS’s (machine-tractor stations), and sovkhozes after the decision of the September 1953 plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The decree Measures for the Further Strengthening of the Kolkhozes With Managerial Cadres, adopted by the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR on Mar. 25, 1955, recommended that local party and soviet bodies select from among party, government, and economic cadres and engineering and technical personnel at enterprises and offices 30,000 volunteers capable of providing the kolkhozes with managerial leadership. As a result of the implementation of the decree, there was substantial improvement in the quality of managerial personnel in the villages.

Party mobilizations ensured the rapid deployment of party forces and the concentration of Communists at the most important sectors of military, party, soviet, and economic work.


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