Purge of the Party

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Purge of the Party


(Russian, chistka partii), verification of the observance of the Rules of the Communist Party and the norms of communist morality by members of the party in order to increase members’ political activity and eliminate socially alien elements and persons who violate party and state discipline from the party ranks. V. I. Lenin pointed out that “careerists and charlatans . . . inevitably do all they can to insinuate themselves into the ranks of the ruling party” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 30). In the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, therefore, the party resorted several times to systematic purges and examinations of the party ranks.

The first party purge was a general purge; that is, it affected all party organizations. It was conducted in accordance with a resolution adopted by the Tenth Congress of the RCP(B), which was held in 1921, in response to the revival of capitalist elements in the country and the appearance of capitalist agents in the party during the transition to the New Economic Policy. To carry out the purge, the Politburo of the Central Committee formed a central commission, and local party bodies formed city and raion commissions, to check on the work of all party organizations and members. The purge was conducted at open party meetings with the participation of broad masses of nonparty workers, whose involvement Lenin especially valued. As a result of the purge, 24.1 percent of the party’s members were expelled.

A purge of nonindustrial party organizations, which made up 25 percent of the party membership, was carried out in 1925 in accordance with a resolution adopted by the Thirteenth Congress of the RCP(B), which was held in 1924. Six percent of the party’s members were expelled. A partial examination of rural party organizations was carried out in 1926 with a view to cleansing the party of kulak elements.

The second general purge was called for by the Sixteenth Party Conference, which was held in 1929. It took place in 1929 and 1930, during a period of a full-scale offensive against urban and rural capitalist elements and of an intensification of the class struggle; 7.8 percent of the party’s members were expelled.

The third general purge was carried out in implementation of a resolution of the United Plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the ACP(B) of January 1933. The purge affected 25 territorial party organizations; 18.3 percent of the members were expelled. The remaining 17 territorial party organizations were purged during the verification and exchange of party documents carried out in 1935 and 1936.

The purges produced beneficial results and increased the prestige of Communists among the masses, although some mistakes were committed, such as expulsion for “passivity.” These mistakes were subsequently corrected by the Central Control Commission and the Central Committee of the ACP(B). In view of the victory of socialism and the liquidation of capitalist elements, the Eighteenth Congress of the ACP(B) abolished the party purge in the belief that the party can cleanse its ranks in a routine manner of persons who violate the party program and the Rules and who are unworthy of the lofty name of Communist.


Lenin, V. I. “O chistke partii.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 44.
“X s”ezd RKP(b).” In KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 8th ed., vol. 2. Moscow, 1970.
“XI s”ezd RKP(b).” Ibid.
“XIII s”ezd RKP(b).” Ibid., vol. 3. Moscow, 1970.
“XVI konferentsiia VKP(b).” Ibid., vol. 4. Moscow, 1970.
“Ob”edinennyi plenum TsK i TsKK VKP(b) 7–12 ianv. 1933 g.” Ibid., vol. 5. Moscow, 1971.
“Plenum TsK VKP(b) 21–25 dek. 1935 g.” Ibid.
“Plenum TsK VKP(b), Moskva, 11,14,18,20 ianv. 1938g.” Ibid.
“XVIII s”ezd VKP(b).” Ibid.
Istoriia KPSS, vol. 4, books 1–2; vol. 5, book 1. Moscow, 1970–71.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Voisin makes a case that the purge of the Party was more thorough than that of the rest of the Soviet society (371-432).
A pre-emptive purge of the party, before Flood forces it, may prove the wisest course.