State Defense Committee

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

State Defense Committee


in the USSR, the extraordinary supreme state body in which, during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), all power was concentrated. It was formed on June 30. 1941. by a decision of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the Central Committee of the ACP(Bolshevik). and the Sovnarkom (Council of People’s Commissars). Included in it were J. V. Stalin (chairman), V. M. Molotov (deputy chairman). K. E. Voroshilov. and G. M. Malenkov; later N. A. Bulganin. N. A. Voznesenskii. L. M. Kaganovich, and A. I. Mikoyan were added.

The State Defense Committee managed the activity of all state departments and institutions, directing their efforts to make every possible use of the material, spiritual, and military capabilities of the country to achieve victory over the enemy: it undertook to convert the country’s economy to provide for the needs of war. Among the economic tasks it supervised were mobilizing the country’s human resources for the needs of the front and the national economy, training reserves and cadres for the armed forces and industry, evacuating industry from threatened areas, moving industrial enterprises to regions liberated by the Red Army, restoring the war-ravaged national economy in the western areas of the country, and establishing the volume and time of delivery of military and other types of output by industry. Each member of the State Defense Committee had a specific area of responsibility. The decrees of the committee had the force of wartime laws. All soviet, state, party, military, economic, and trade union bodies were obligated to carry out its decisions and instructions absolutely. As the highest body of state control, the State Defense Committee defined military and political missions for the Supreme High Command and the armed forces of the USSR as a whole, refined the structure of the armed forces, assigned commanders, and determined the general nature of the use of the armed forces in the war. The committee devoted a great deal of attention to managing the struggle of the Soviet people in the enemy’s rear.

In its activity the State Defense Committee relied on the administrative apparatus of the Sovnarkom and on authorized representatives of the committee in local areas. As a rule these representatives were secretaries of the party committees of large industrial areas and regions, local city defense committees, and party and state bodies. The People’s Commissariat for Defense and its directorates were the working agencies of the State Defense Committee on military questions and the immediate organizers and executors of its decisions. The highest executive agency of the State Defense Committee for operational-strategic management of the armed struggle was the Staff of the Supreme High Command. Upon conclusion of the Great Patriotic War the State Defense Committee was abolished by a decision of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on Sept. 4, 1945.


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