Communist Party of the Soviet Union

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Communist Party of the Soviet Union Коммунистическая партия Советского Союза
Logo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Emergence Social Democratic Labor Party of Russia 1898
founding 1912
resolution August 29, 1991 successor in Russia KPRF
head office USSR , Moscow
Youth organization Komsomol
Alignment Communism
Marxism Leninism
Colours) Red
International connections Comintern (1919–1943)
Cominform (1947–1956)
Cyrillic ( Russian )
Коммунистическая партия Советского Союза (КПСС)
Transl. : Kommunističeskaja partija Sovetskogo Sojuza (KPSS)
Transcr. : Communisticheskaya partija Sovetskowo Soyusa (KPSS)

The Communist Party of the Soviet Union ( CPSU ) was a communist party in Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union . It was renamed in 1918 after the October Revolution in Russia from the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Russia (Bolsheviks) ( RSDLP (B) ) to the Communist Party of Russia (Bolsheviks) ( KPR (B) ). In 1925 it was named the Communist All-Union Party (Bolsheviks) ( WKP (B) ). In 1952 the party was renamed the Communist Party of the Soviet Union . After the failed August coup in Moscow in 1991, which accelerated the collapse of the Soviet Union , the activities of the CPSU on the territory of the RSFSR were banned by the decree of the Russian President of November 6, 1991 .

The party leader was Vladimir Ilyich Lenin from 1912 to 1924 . In 1922 Josef Stalin took over the newly created office of General Secretary of the party, which after Lenin's death in 1924 he increasingly endowed it with dictatorial power tailored to his person. After the end of the Stalin era in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev was the first party secretary to prevail in the following internal power struggles . In 1964 Khrushchev was overthrown and Leonid Brezhnev was his successor, again as Secretary General from 1966. From 1977 Brezhnev also acted as head of state of the Soviet Union.

After Brezhnev's death in 1982, the rule of Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Tschernenkos remained brief interludes. In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev took over the party leadership and tried to modernize the Soviet Union through reforms ( glasnost , perestroika ) while maintaining socialist structures. However, Gorbachev failed with these reform attempts; he neither succeeded in eliminating the autocratic leadership structures in the Soviet Union, nor was he able to reform the CPSU into a democratic party oriented in a pluralistic sense.

From around 1920 to 1990, the CPSU, as a state party in the Soviet one-party system, was the only relevant political power in the Soviet Union. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) can be seen as the successor party to the CPSU for Russia.

The policy of the CPSU was initially shaped by the ideology of Leninism , which represented an expansion of Marxism adapted to Russian conditions by Lenin, which was then replaced from 1927 by the Marxism-Leninism or Stalinism created by Stalin . After Stalin's death, a certain de-Stalinization began in 1956 under Nikita Khrushchev . This was canceled by his successor Leonid Brezhnev from 1964, instead the CPSU pursued a course of restalinization under him , which in turn was ended from 1985 by Mikhail Gorbachev, who relied on glasnost (openness and transparency) and perestroika (restructuring).

The Soviet youth organization Komsomol was the party's youth organization . There was also the Committee for Youth Organizations of the USSR, in which all youth organizations were represented.

The central party college "VI Lenin" existed in Moscow . Many cadres from the communist parties of friendly socialist countries and so-called people 's democracies also studied here .

History of the CPSU

Formation of the party (1898 to 1917)

In Russia in 1898 the RSDLP emerged from the amalgamation of six Marxist groups. However, it was banned shortly after it was founded; most of its members were arrested or exiled.

1905: Protesters on the way to the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg

The actual establishment of the RSDLP was to take place at the London (II) party congress in 1903. An important issue in the dispute was the question of party membership. While Lenin only wanted active members, professional revolutionaries , in the party under the conditions of tsarist repression , the moderate socialists (the later “ Mensheviks ”) sought open membership for all interested parties. After reunification, the final split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks followed in 1912. As at the same time and later in many socialist and social democratic parties in other countries, the reason for the split lay in the dispute between a revolutionary or reformist course for the party.

Although one of the most powerful countries in the world, tsarist Russia was still predominantly agricultural until the end of the 19th century. In many places, pre-capitalist feudal structures still prevailed . Increased industrialization began especially since the government of Tsar Nicholas II (from 1894). The rapidly growing proletariat suffered from miserable social conditions. In the 19th century, left opposition to tsarism in Russia was more strongly shaped than in most other European countries by anarchist and social-revolutionary currents of the Narodniki , whereas organized Marxist social democracy was still in its infancy at the beginning of the 20th century.

In January 1905, following the so-called “ Petersburg Blood Sunday ”, when around a thousand protesters were killed in the suppression of a mass demonstration by workers who wanted to petition the Tsar, revolutionary uprisings, strikes and demonstrations took place across the country. However, these uprisings were not yet under the leadership of any particular political party . They subsided when the tsar gave in and introduced some liberal reforms.

The year 1917

With the victims of the First World War and the worsening supply crisis in the cities, discontent among the Russian population increased again, especially among soldiers and workers. Russia was on the verge of economic ruin. The February Revolution of 1917 led to the overthrow of the Tsar, who after his abdication to Yekaterinburg in the Urals was banished, and the formation of the Provisional Government, but not to end the war against which the Central Powers Germany and Austria-Hungary was able to wrestle.

After February, the Bolsheviks were initially under the leadership of the Petrograd functionaries Molotov and Schljapnikov , and after their return from exile then under Stalin and Kamenev . These strove to cooperate with the Provisional Government and initiated negotiations on reunification with the Mensheviks.

With the help of the German Reich, Lenin was brought from his exile in Switzerland in a sealed railway wagon via Sweden to Petrograd in a secret operation . The imperial German government hoped a revolution of the Bolsheviks, whose central figure was Lenin, a victorious end to the war on the Eastern Front , so that they could use the associations that had become free for the war in the West.

Under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky , the Bolsheviks took power with the "Storming of the Winter Palace " in the October Revolution of 1917, after they had overthrown the Provisional Government under Kerensky , and founded the Russian SFSR (Russian Federative Socialist Soviet Republic) from which other Soviet republics after the civil war in 1922, the USSR emerged . As expected by Germany, the Bolsheviks ended the First World War in Russia in early 1918 with the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty .

The October Revolution, initially promoted by the Central Powers as a tactical maneuver intended to turn the First World War in their favor, however, formed the decisive beacon for left-wing revolutionary forces around the world and ultimately laid the foundation for the end, at least the loss of power most European monarchies. The consequences of the Russian October Revolution also had a decisive influence on the further history of the 20th century , in which the USSR, described as " real socialist ", was to dominate the further development of communist parties (CPs) in other countries for many decades. For many historians , this revolution applies to the termination of the so-called "bourgeois era" of the 19th century than the actual content marker separating the 19th from the 20th century.

The party in the civil war (1918–1921)

The Communist Party of Russia (Bolsheviks) ( KPR (B) ) emerged from the Bolsheviks in 1918 . The theoretical basis of the CP was formed by the writings of Lenin, who expanded the theories of Karl Marx into Leninism , taking into account the situation in Russia .

After the October Revolution of 1917 and the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty , which ended the First World War for Russia, a devastating civil war broke out between the Red Army built by Trotsky and very different opposition groups, in particular the troops of the " whites " still relatively strong supporters of the former tsar. He and his family were murdered by the Bolsheviks in exile near Yekaterinburg in the Urals in 1918 by the Bolsheviks on behalf of Lenin, in order to weaken the cohesion of the generally rather inconsistent “whites” by removing their central symbolic figure and their potential successors.

Social revolutionary and anarchist movements that had initially supported the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution were also crushed during the civil war. A relatively well-known example of this is the suppression of the Kronstadt sailors' uprising . Less known, but larger in dimension, was the submission of the anarchist movement of Makhovshchina , a partisan movement led by the peasant leader Nestor Makhno in the Ukraine, which was strongly influenced by the ideas of the theorist Peter Kropotkins . The Machnovtsi, who had controlled most of the Ukraine for about three years , had to defend themselves against both the Tsarist "White Armies" and later against the Red Army of Trotsky, which was initially allied with them , until they were finally subject to the Bolsheviks in 1922.

The civil war, which also resulted in a great famine with several million deaths, weakened the young Soviet state and burdened it with enormous social problems. In the end, however, the Bolsheviks were successful and enforced the supremacy of the Communist Party in Russia and the affiliated Soviet republics .

Communist parties were formed worldwide after 1918. Since 1919, on Lenin's initiative, the Third International (Comintern) was founded as a distinction to the Second International with thirty member parties . The Comintern was decisively shaped by the KPR (B), which asserted its claim to leadership over the communist movement worldwide.

The experience of the October Revolution in Russia led within the KPR (B) to the position that, before a world revolution, the implementation of socialism would also be possible in one country in order to replace the capitalist state and social order with a communist one. Parties that withdrew from this position or the claim to leadership of the KPR (B) turned back to more social democratic positions in the period that followed. By 1924 at the latest, almost all communist parties were basically just national sections of the Comintern, aligned with the guidelines of the KPR (B).

"New Economic Policy" and Power Struggle (1921–1927)

Stalin's opponent Leon Trotsky (1929)

After the upheavals of the civil war, the party leadership switched to a policy of economic liberalization, the New Economic Policy (NEP). Proponents here were v. a. Lenin and Trotsky.

As a result of Lenin's progressive illness, the question of who should lead the party after him became acute. The main opponents were Leon Trotsky, who had distinguished himself in the October Revolution and the civil war, and Joseph Stalin, who had been general secretary and head of the party organization since 1922 . Shortly before his death in 1924, Lenin expressed reservations about Stalin and recommended that he be removed from office, but the Politburo and the Central Committee did not obey him. Stalin also succeeded in asserting himself through intrigues within the party : first he took advantage of the reservations of the rest of the Politburo members against Trotsky, and then played off the various currents within the executive committee against each other: first he eliminated the left wing under Zinoviev and Kamenev, which had meanwhile been allied with Trotsky ( 1927) in order to then take action against the right wing under Nikolai Bukharin and Alexei Rykov (1930), who had initially supported Stalin. Most of the actual and potential opponents were disempowered in the 1930s in the course of the " Great Purge " and ultimately executed.

Trotsky was banished and then expelled from the country. His emigration took him to Mexico , where he continued his theoretical work and sharply criticized the development of the CPSU and the bureaucratization of the communist idea in the Soviet Union under Stalinism, until he was finally murdered in 1940 by an agent of Stalin.

The party under Stalin (1927-1953)

Josef Stalin in military uniform at the Tehran Conference (1943)

Meanwhile, Stalin expanded the office of general secretary to a position with unrestricted powers. Stalin adapted Lenin's concept of democratic centralism in practice to his personal ideas and consolidated the leadership role of the CPSU. From 1924 until the Khrushchev reforms, this is a hallmark of Stalinism .

Under Stalin the new doctrine of Marxism-Leninism was established, which was a reinterpretation of Leninism by Stalin. The central dogma of the world socialist revolution was abandoned in the mid-1920s. In its place came Stalin's doctrine of " socialism in one country ", which was based on the XV. 1927 party congress was elevated to party and state doctrine.

Many communist parties in other countries followed the model of the CPSU. The Stalinist "democratic centralism" knew a party congress at which the delegates present elected a central committee , which then elected the Politburo . De facto , however, the Politburo represented an uncontrolled unit of power and dominated the Central Committee, which in turn ensured that the elections at the party congress took place “as requested”. In order to underpin his leadership role within the USSR and also of world communism, Stalin endowed himself with a dictatorial authority and built around himself a personality cult that was unprecedented until then and which almost assumed religious traits. Numerous cities in the USSR - and later in the Eastern Bloc countries - were renamed or re-established in his honor.

After the Second World War , the USSR endeavored to establish Stalinist regimes in other countries and thus helped many communist parties to power in Eastern Europe, opposition parties were banned or assimilated, and a one-party dictatorship based on the model of the CPSU was established. This Soviet sphere of power, generally known as the Eastern Bloc , remained in place until the turn of 1989/90.

On December 1, 1934, party secretary Sergei Kirov was killed in an assassination attempt . Stalin used this attack as an opportunity to eliminate actual and alleged opponents inside and outside the party in the so-called Stalinist purges ( Russian Чистка Tschistka , German: cleansing ), especially between 1935 and 1939, in part after spectacular show trials such as the Moscow trials . If they were not executed, they were sentenced to long prison terms or to exile. To this end, the " Gulag ", a system of penal and labor camps that had been set up under Lenin in the 1920s, was expanded: the writer and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn made this system known to a worldwide public through his publications since the 1970s. There are different estimates of the death toll in the gulag. They range from a few hundred thousand to several million.

Economically, Stalin tried to bring the USSR up to the level of the western industrial nations through massive industrialization and the expansion of the rail network. With rigorous means, Stalin organized the forced collectivization of agriculture , as a result of which many peasants lost their livelihoods. He also fought vigorously against the Orthodox Church in the USSR. Many members of the clergy were killed or exiled to labor camps. In many places there was an iconoclasm in the Orthodox churches and the destruction of Christian insignia.

With the Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 1939, in the secret additional protocol of which Poland and other areas of Eastern Europe were divided up between Germany and the USSR, Stalin hoped to prevent his ideological opponent Hitler from going to war against the USSR. Stalin defenders take the view that Stalin only wanted to gain time to strengthen the Red Army until the impending war. When in 1941 the German attack on the USSR came with the " Operation Barbarossa ", Stalin and the Red Army were initially surprised and taken by surprise. Stalin was dependent on the support of the USA with arms deliveries over the Arctic Ocean. The German Wehrmacht was able to advance in an extermination campaign as far as Moscow and Stalingrad (today: Volgograd ). The turning point came in the winter of 1942/43 after the Battle of Stalingrad . The Germans were pushed back and eventually defeated. The victory over the Nazi dictatorship in the "Great Patriotic War" gave Stalin new impetus from 1945 onwards.

Picture of Josef Stalin in Dresden (1953)

In the course of the war in 1943, the Comintern was dissolved out of consideration for the western allies USA and Great Britain. In 1947, after the beginning of the Cold War, after the USSR had expanded its political influence over the new Eastern Bloc states, it was replaced by the “Communist Information Office” ( Cominform ), which the communist parties, especially Eastern Europe, comply with even more closely than before the requirements of the CPSU tried to subordinate. Finally, the Cominform also dissolved by 1956/57 in the course of the later de-Stalinization and the communist ideologies that the CPSU could no longer prevent, especially Maoism in the People's Republic of China. Nevertheless, until the fall of the USSR around 1990/91, the CPSU continued to maintain an important, albeit gradually waning, influence on many communist parties in other countries.

After the Allied victory over Germany and the end of World War II, the USSR gained the upper hand over the Eastern European states of Poland , Czechoslovakia , Hungary , Romania , Bulgaria and the Soviet-occupied part of Germany (1945–1955 also included Eastern Austria). The German Democratic Republic (GDR) emerged in 1949 from the Soviet occupation zone, in which the SPD and KPD parties, which were banned under the Nazi dictatorship , were (forcibly) united to form the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) under Wilhelm Pieck and Otto Grotewohl .

Together with the GDR, the aforementioned states, under the sovereignty of the USSR, formed the Warsaw Treaty Organization as a military alliance in 1955 as a response to NATO, which had recently been founded by the USA and its Western allies . Albania was one of the signatories to the Warsaw Treaty, but left it again in 1968.

In economic terms, the states of the Eastern Bloc came together in 1949 in the Council for Mutual Economic Aid (Comecon). The Comecon formed the economic alliance to compete with the western OECD and the European Economic Community (EEC). By 1978, other communist states joined the Comecon, such as the Mongolian People's Republic in 1962, Cuba in 1972 and Vietnam in 1978. In the 1970s and 1980s, cooperation agreements were also concluded with some non-communist states, such as Finland , Mexico and Iraq . Albania, member since 1949, left in 1968. The Warsaw Pact countries were all ruled by communist parties.

Still under Stalin, the party had renamed itself at its 19th congress in October 1952 from Communist All- Union Party (Bolsheviks) ( WKP (B) for short ) to Communist Party of the Soviet Union . The Politburo was transformed into a Presidium of the Central Committee. Of the 16 new members, only two were to remain after 1953.

Reforms under Khrushchev (1953–1964)

Nikita Khrushchev (1961)

After Stalin's death in 1953, Georgi Malenkov was for a short time from March 5th to 14th party leader of the CPSU. On March 14th, Nikita Khrushchev became First Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee after Malenkov had been forced to choose a government or party office; he chose the apparently more influential office of prime minister and was ousted by Khrushchev in the following years. Khrushchev introduced various reforms in the party and in the USSR, especially after his secret speech on the personality cult and its consequences on the XX. CPSU party congress in February 1956, at which he exposed and criticized the policy of Stalinism and a large part of the crimes committed during this period. The de-Stalinization did not affect the CPSU's claim to sole rule, but made the party again a collective decision-making body and thus gradually weakened the position of the First Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee.

Despite the de-Stalinization, reform communist efforts within the Eastern bloc that questioned or could question the dominance of the CPSU continued to be suppressed. Corresponding reformist efforts or uprisings, such as those in Hungary in 1956 or in Czechoslovakia in 1968 , were suppressed with military force. Even the workers' uprising in the GDR on June 17, 1953 - only a few months after Stalin's death - after the SED no longer seemed to be in control of the situation, was ended with the help of Soviet troops. Within the Soviet Union, after an increase in food prices , the Novocherkassk uprising broke out in early June 1962 and was suppressed by the armed forces.

In terms of foreign policy, de-Stalinization led, among other things, to an ideological conflict and finally to a break with China under Mao Zedong by the end of the 1950s , which resulted in a kind of communist schism because two different communist great powers now took on leading roles in world politics. Overall, Khrushchev's reforms were able to withstand varying degrees of restalinization under his successors Leonid Brezhnev (1964–1982), Yuri Androvpow (1982–1984) and Konstantin Tschernenko (1984/85). Further decisive reforms that were generally serious for Soviet real socialism were finally introduced from 1985 under the Mikhail Gorbachev government.

Khrushchev had undeniably achieved several things with his reforms:

  • The one-person dictatorship of Stalin was followed by a collective party leadership.
  • The mass terror was stopped.
  • The crimes of the Stalin era have been partially exposed.
  • Numerous prisoners of the Gulag were released and some were rehabilitated.
  • The almost limitless power of the secret service under Stalin was curbed.
  • The party (especially the Central Committee) was brought back into the political decision-making process.
  • The cult of personality was restricted.
  • In the arts and literature, liberalization occurred despite continued severe restrictions.
  • Relations with the West improved despite various crises.
  • The standard of living of the population had increased significantly.
  • Agriculture was upgraded compared to heavy industry.
  • The Soviet Union became a world power in space travel.
  • But: Khrushchev (unlike later Gorbachev) never insane the cornerstones of the Soviet system, in whose superiority over the West he always believed; so he justified massive use of force (1956 Hungary, 1962 Novocherkassk) to save the system.

Stagnation and restalinization under Brezhnev (1964–1982)

After the overthrow of Khrushchev in October 1964, the reforms he introduced were hardly further developed; largely remained with what had been achieved. Many internal party reforms were even withdrawn if they jeopardized the power of the functionaries. Politburo members, Brezhnev, as first secretary of the Central Committee, Kosygin as prime minister, Podgorny as the (only representative) head of state, Suslov as “party ideologist” and “gray”, but powerful eminence in the background , shared power in the leadership of party and state Kirilenko .

Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev was able to increase his power somewhat compared to Khrushchev, but he did not become the sole ruling dictator - like Stalin once did. Instead of first secretary, the party leader was again named general secretary from 1966 onwards . In 1977 he was also head of state , replacing Podgorny. He also became Chairman of the Defense Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Marshal of the Soviet Union. The office of Prime Minister remained with Kosygin; he was followed in 1980 by Tikhonov . The party and the state were led by the collective Politburo (with twelve full members).

The development of the state and the party visibly stagnated. The ideological process of de-Stalinization was not continued; instead, restalinization was pursued again . Freedom of expression was again massively restricted by arresting writers critical of the regime such as Andrei Donatowitsch Sinjawski or Juli Daniel . The laws on political crimes have also been tightened again, introducing new penalties for "knowingly spreading lies" that denigrate the Soviet state and order. Furthermore, attempts were made to rehabilitate Stalin again and to make it appear positive by highlighting his great services during the Second World War.

Within the party, a tougher pace was also shown, so the office of First Secretary was renamed "General Secretary", a title that only Stalin had; likewise the party presidium, which was now called the “Politburo” again, as it was in Stalin's time. The rotation principle introduced by Khrushchev, which provided for a regular exchange of persons in state and party offices, was also abolished. As in previous years under Khrushchev, the Central Committee - once the center of power - lost more and more importance. The conservative economic policy was not successful, and the necessary reforms were not carried out. The fear of new trends paralyzed political development. However, the leadership continued to ensure a steadily increasing standard of living for the population. In 1969 the human rights activist Andrei Amalrik wrote the prophetic essay Will the Soviet Union live in 1984? and was sentenced to three years in a labor camp. In 1974 the writer and Nobel Prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn was expelled.

Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker on a GDR postage stamp

In terms of foreign policy, too, the USSR froze. The USSR's claim to leadership and power over its satellite states in the Warsaw Treaty was underpinned by the Brezhnev doctrine . As early as 1968, the efforts of Czechoslovakia for more independence were militarily suppressed in the “ Prague Spring ”. Even Poland could do little to change around 1980 in order to embark on a more liberal political path. In 1979 the Soviet armed forces invaded Afghanistan to maintain the communist government there. On the other hand, the first Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) took place in Helsinki from July 3, 1973 on the initiative of France and the Warsaw Treaty. It led to the “Helsinki Final Act” of August 1, 1975, a lever for improving human rights. It is true that the USSR endeavored to adopt a policy of détente and disarmament in order to bring about a "respite" in the arms race ; on the other hand, it retrofitted extensively with SS-20 missiles.

The average age of the “old men” in the Central Committee, in the Central Committee Secretariat and in the Politburo of the Central Committee was 57 to 61 years in 1971 and increased considerably by 1981 (62 to 70 years). On the XXVI. At the March 1981 party congress, there was not a single change in the governing bodies. Often only through illness (Kosygin) or death (Rudakow, Kulakow, Suslow) a change in leadership positions could occur - a development that Khrushchev had anticipated and tried to prevent (with the party statute of 1961), but which the new leadership after 1964 accepted. This is another reason why immobility and paralysis were the result. Gorbachev , born in 1931 - Central Committee Secretary since 1978 and in the Politburo since 1982 - was the youngest member of this “old man” .

The transition from 1982 to 1985: From Andropov via Chernenko to Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev (1987)

Since 1973 the head of the "Committee for State Security" ( KGB ), Yuri Andropov , was a full member of the Politburo. Towards the end of the 1970s he appeared more and more clearly in public appearance and was "number two" in the party's leadership hierarchy after Suslow's death in 1982. He spoke out against immobility, corruption and cliques in the USSR and in favor of an improvement in the management cadre, for better utilization of economic reserves and for greater independence of the companies. After Brezhnev's death, Andropov became general secretary of the Central Committee on November 10, 1982, and soon afterwards also head of state. In the 14 months that he then still had to live, he was only able to realize the rather cautious changes he was aiming for in small rudiments - also due to illness. A few new Politburo members were appointed, but the will, the time and the leaders were still lacking for a thoroughgoing reform. Andropov died on February 9, 1984.

His successor was elected four days later. From February 13, 1984 to March 10, 1985 Brezhnev's confidante, the 73-year-old conservative Konstantin Tschernenko, headed the Soviet Union as General Secretary of the Central Committee and head of state. Historically, Chernenko's election as head of state and party must be viewed against the background of the power struggle between reformers and the conservative “old guard” in the party leadership. Since the reformers did not yet have a candidate who was accepted by a large majority of the Politburo after Andropov's death, the conservative wing was able to prevail again. Chernenko was also seriously ill, and there were no particular initiatives for change in his day. He responded to the boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow by the Western powers with a boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles . The rigid political ice age remained.

Gorbachev and the beginning of reforms

Reagan and Gorbachev (1986)

The death of Chernenko in 1985 made it possible for the 53-year-old Mikhail Gorbachev to be General Secretary of the Central Committee. The former Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko was head of state until 1988 . Gorbachev was able to push through a number of personnel changes. The old guard of Politburo members and Central Committee secretaries - such as Ustinow († 1984), Tichonow , Romanow , Grischin , Zamyatin - were replaced by younger ones.

In particular, the Politburo members Alexander Jakowlew , Vadim Medvedev , Eduard Shevardnadze , Mikhail Solomenzew , Vitaly Worotnikow , Viktor Chebrikov and Lev Saikov supported the Secretary General in his reform work.

From 1985 to 1991 Nikolai Ryschkow was Prime Minister.

In 1987 Nikolai Bukharin and others who had previously opposed Stalin were rehabilitated. Leon Trotsky's forbidden writings were partially published from 1987 onwards.

In 1988 Gorbachev became chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (from 1990 president), replacing Andrei Gromyko .

New party politics

The party tried to stop the decline of real socialism by introducing glasnost (openness and transparency) and perestroika (restructuring). This process began during the XXVII. Party congress of the CPSU in February 1986. The programs introduced by Gorbachev from 1985 onwards were intended to reform real socialism and led to new, critical thinking in all regions of the Soviet Union. The development became independent and increasingly slipped out of the control of the party. Bottlenecks in the areas of production, investment, energy and consumer goods characterized the economic situation from 1985 to 1987. An anti-alcoholism campaign had only one pathetic result. Ecological problems widened.

In 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster overshadowed political developments in the USSR . In 1987 the first economic reforms were announced, but not implemented enough. The great miners' strikes in Siberia in 1989 and 1991 showed how socialism had changed in the seventy years of its rule: the rule of a privileged clique of functionaries ( nomenklatura ) had alienated itself from the interests of the workers. The necessary restructuring (perestroika), however, took too long and exacerbated the conflicts between the population, the party and the state.

Foreign policy

Bush and Gorbachev (1990)

The Geneva Summit Conference (1985), the 1986 meeting in Reykjavík , the 1987 visit to Moscow by US Secretary of State George Shultz , Gorbachev's 1987 state visit to Washington and the return visit of US President Ronald Reagan to Moscow in 1988 were the stages of rapprochement and disarmament between the Eastern and Western Powers.

In Malta (1989) and Washington (1990) the dialogue between George Bush and Gorbachev was continued and supplemented by economic issues.

The successful CSCE successor negotiations in 1989 also led to an improvement in relations between the states involved.

In 1988 Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union would give up the Brezhnev Doctrine . The new freedoms led to a series of mostly peaceful revolutions in Eastern Europe in 1989.

Decay and Fall (1990–1991 and after)

With his concept of perestroika and glasnost, Mikhail Gorbachev wanted to reform the policies of the CPSU in the USSR domestically and abroad in order to prevent the isolation of the Soviet Union. In terms of foreign policy, this policy of opening up was welcomed by the West, while Gorbachev encountered opposition from the old cadres domestically . 1989 and 1990 also orthodox communist members of the Politburo and the Central Committee Secretariat were able to establish increasingly more, including Kryuchkov , Yanayev , Shenin , Pugo and Hurenko . In 1990 the Supreme Soviet of the USSR abolished the party's monopoly on power as set out in Article 6 of the 1977 Constitution.

The endeavor to reform the CPSU itself led to increasing tensions in the party. Reform-oriented politburo and government members have given up their offices since 1990. In August 1991 there was a coup attempt by Orthodox-Communist members of the Soviet leadership, against Gorbachev, among others. KGB chief Kryuchkov, Defense Minister Yasov , Vice President Janayev, Central Committee Secretary Shenin, Interior Minister Pugo, Prime Minister Pavlov and the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Lukyanov . After the coup failed due to resistance from Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Moscow population, the CPSU was banned across the Union by the Supreme Soviet on August 29, 1991 - Gorbachev resigned as General Secretary on August 24.

On December 31, 1991, the USSR dissolved. Gorbachev thus lost his office as their president.

Succession development

In the course of the events in the following years there were also changes in the communist parties in Eastern Europe.


Party congresses

The party conventions of the CPSU were loud statute the supreme organ of the CPSU. They had to be convened once per (calendar) year since 1919 (not adhered to as early as 1926) and since 1961 at least once in a five-year period. The 1st party congress took place in Minsk in 1898 (establishment of the SDAPR). After the October Revolution on November 7th, 1917 (old Russian calendar: October 25th), the VIIth Party Congress took place in Petrograd in March 1918 . The XXVIII. The party congress in July 1990 was the last before the dissolution of the CPSU. The party congress set the party's line in domestic and foreign policy. He received the report from the Central Committee and the Control Commission and had the right to change the party's program and statute. He elected the Central Committee as the highest party body for the period between party congresses (about five years).

Party congress date location summary
I. Party Congress of the RSDLP 1st - 3rd March 1898 Minsk 9 delegates at the founding party convention of the RSDLP. Due to the ideological conflict in 1903 the party split into Bolsheviks (majority) ( Lenin : "Give us an organization of revolutionaries!") And Mensheviks (minority) ( Martov : "For a broad people's party!"). In 1913 the split is final. After Lenin's victory in the October Revolution in Russia, the name was changed.
II. Party congress June 17 -
August 10, 1903
Brussels and London Fight between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Resolutions on party statutes (including party membership). The following are elected as central party organs: The Central Committee in Russia (Bolsheviks only), the editorial staff of the Iskra newspaper (Der Funke) and a five-member party council (two Central Committee , two Iskra and one party congress representatives).
III. Party congress 12.-27. April 1905 London No participation of the Mensheviks, who met for themselves in Geneva.
IV. Congress April 23 -
May 8, 1906
Stockholm Unification convention; Attempt at reconciliation between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.
V. Party Congress April 13 -
May 19, 1907
London The strength ratio between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks is more or less balanced with the Bolsheviks slightly overweight, who are criticized for their practice of " expropriation " in Russia (bank robberies, counterfeiting of banknotes, etc. to raise money). The Central Committee now consists of five Bolsheviks, four Mensheviks, two Bundists , two Polish and one Latvian Social Democrats.
All-Russian ( All-Russian ) Party Conference of the RSDLP (B) January 1912 Prague Conference of the Bolsheviks; under Lenin's leadership, the “rump parliament” decides to split the party. The central committee elected at the fifth party congress is regarded as dissolved and replaced by the simultaneous election of a purely Bolshevik central committee under Lenin's leadership. RSDLP party congress.
Conference with the powers of a party congress April 24, 1917 Petrograd A central committee with nine members of the Bolsheviks is elected. From now on Lenin led the party unchallenged, Sverdlov was the party's secretary during the revolution.
VI. Party congress July 26 -
August 3, 1917
Petrograd New slogan: Instead of a peaceful takeover of power by the Soviets, preparations are now to be made for an armed uprising. The Central Committee is expanded to 21 members.
VII. Party Congress of the KPR (B) 6-8 March 1918 Petrograd First post-revolutionary party congress, 104 delegates (46 entitled to vote, 58 advisory). The party changes its name to Communist Party of Russia (Bolsheviks) ( KPR (B) ). Violent disputes over the question of a separate peace with Germany.
VIII Party Congress 18.-23. February 1919 Moscow New draft of the party manifesto adopted. Foundation of the Comintern .
IX. Party congress March 29 -
April 5, 1920
Moscow Violent arguments with the opposition group of " Democratic Centralism ".
Xth Party Congress 8-16 March 1921 Moscow Turning away from war communism , decision on the new economic policy (NEP). Resolution "On the unity of the party" (= prohibition of the formation of factions). Fight against the union opposition.
XI. Party congress March 27 -
April 2, 1922
Moscow Change of course to NEP confirmed.
XII. Party congress 17th - 21st April 1923 Moscow The sick Lenin is not present. NEP confirmed again. Stalin begins to build up his power.
XIII. Party congress 23–31 May 1924 Moscow After Lenin's death, Stalin fought for more and more power in the party.
XIV Party Congress of the WKP (B) 18.-31. December 1925 Moscow Great factional struggles, decision on the industrialization program; "Industrialization Party Congress". In connection with the establishment of the Soviet Union, the party is renamed the Communist All- Union Party (Bolsheviks) ( WKP (B) ).
XV. Party congress 2nd-19th December 1927 Moscow 1669 delegates (898 voting, 771 advisory) turn the party convention into a major event, real discussions become impossible, the formative decisions are made elsewhere (especially in the Politburo ). Fight against the " kulaks " (medium-sized and larger farmers).
XVI. Party congress 25/26. June
13th - July 13th 1930
Moscow Party congress of the "unfolded offensive of socialism". Decision to implement the first five-year plan at the expense of the population's standard of living. Fight against the kulaks and, as a result, their physical annihilation. "Meeting of the broad socialist attacks in all areas" and "Realization of collectivization ".
XVII. Party congress January 26 to
February 10, 1934
Moscow So-called "victory over the resistance of the peasants". Stalin: “Party Congress of the Victors”. The party apparatus and the people are separate.
XVIII. Party congress 10-21 March 1939 Moscow The opposition has been completely destroyed. Stalin: "Transition from socialism to communism" as a reason for strengthening the state apparatus.
XIX. Party congress of the CPSU 5th - 14th October 1952 Moscow First party congress after the war, unlimited homage to Stalin. Adoption of the (already ongoing) 5th five-year plan (1951–1955), amendment of the party statutes (stricter obligations for officials). The name Bolsheviks is removed from the party name and the party is renamed the Communist Party of the Soviet Union ( CPSU ). Further resolutions at a subsequent Central Committee plenum: The Politburo and the Orgbüro are replaced by a “Presidium”. It has 25 full members and 11 candidates from party and state leadership; In addition, all 10 Central Committee secretaries, all 13 deputy prime ministers and important party representatives from the regions, the trade union, the Komsomol and other bodies are represented in the Presidium.
XX. Party congress 14.-25. February 1956 Moscow Khrushchev proclaims that the party's main task is to ensure economic recovery (party work = economic work). Anastas Mikojan criticized Stalin publicly for the first time. Nikita Khrushchev's “secret speech” in a closed session immediately after the party congress initiated the de-Stalinization of the CPSU against the opposition of Molotov, Voroshilov , Kaganowitsch and Malenkov .
XXI. Party congress January 27 -
February 5, 1959
Moscow Extraordinary party congress “the builders of communism” on economic policy: Abolition of the five-year plan and adoption of a seven-year plan (1959–1965) with the aim of surpassing the USA in per capita production of consumer goods by 1970 at the latest. Continuation of the de-Stalinization campaign . Khrushchev at the height of his power and authority; Beginning of a new "personality cult" around Khrushchev.
XXII. Party congress 17.-31. October 1961 Moscow More than 4800 delegates in the newly built Congress Palace of the Kremlin . Khrushchev's leadership position remains undisputed. New party program and statute (regular re-election of party officials is made more difficult). Another settlement with the Stalinist opponents, among other things. through Podgorny and Spiridonow. Liberalization in dealing with writers is being initiated. On October 31st, Stalin's body is removed from the Lenin mausoleum and buried at the Kremlin wall .
XXIII. Party congress March 29 -
April 8, 1966
Moscow The Presidium is renamed Politburo again. As in Stalin's time, Leonid Brezhnev was given the title of General Secretary of the Central Committee (instead of the previous “First Secretary of the Central Committee”). Withdrawal of various internal party reforms of Khrushchev (including in the party statute) gives officials security of office. Harder pace in domestic politics is set → Neo-Stalinism .
XXIV Party Congress March 30 -
April 9, 1971
Moscow Brezhnev will hold the keynote address. Alexei Kosygin explained the Gosplan 1971–1975.
XXV. Party congress February 24 -
March 5, 1976
Moscow The keynote address is held by Brezhnev again.
XXVI. Party congress February 23 -
March 3, 1981
Moscow Party congress of stagnation with around 5,000 party congress delegates. No changes in the leadership, Leonid Brezhnev was confirmed as General Secretary of the Central Committee. Order to the Central Committee (ZK) for a revision of the party program. The disarmament and détente proposals explained at the party congress will be transmitted to the USA and the western states on March 6th.
XXVII. Party congress February 25 -
March 6, 1986
Moscow Introduction of the party reforms of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) by Gorbachev: "Without glasnost there is no democracy ... It is important to let glasnost become a properly functioning system."
XXVIII. Party congress 2nd - 13th July 1990 Moscow Last party congress of the CPSU before the party disbanded. In addition to the CPSU, the Communist Party of the Russian Soviet Republic was founded for the Russian SFSR (now Russia ), from which the KPRF emerged in 1993 .

Central Committee

The Central Committee (ZK) of the CPSU was elected by the party congress and was accountable to it. According to the statutes, it had to meet in plenary at least once every six months. For the time between the meetings, the policy was determined by the Politburo and the Secretary General (1922 to 1952 and 1966 to 1991) or 1st Secretary (1952 to 1966) of the Central Committee (from 1922). The Central Committee dealt among other things. with the cadre policy of the party ( nomenklatura ) and elected the general secretary, the members and candidates of the Politburo and the secretaries of the secretariat of the Central Committee. He directed the work of the central state organizations.

Initially, the manageable Central Committee was the party's decisive collective leadership body. But after the Politburo and the Secretariat of the Central Committee were established (1917 to 1919) and the Central Committee grew considerably, it completely lost its power under Stalin. After 1953, at Khrushchev's instigation, it was able to gain in importance for a while, but then again became meaningless as a power body due to its constant expansion to ultimately 412 members.

Historical development of the Central Committee
  • 1903 (2nd party congress): The RSDLP party congress set up the following central organizations with relatively equal rights: the party council (5 members: two Central Committee, two Iskra and one party congress representatives), the central committee in Russia and the editorial staff of the Iskra newspaper ( The spark).
  • 1906 (IV. Party Congress): The Central Committee consisted of 7 Mensheviks, 3 Bolsheviks, the editorial staff of the party newspaper and representatives of the Jewish Workers' Union and the Polish and Latvian Social Democrats.
  • 1907 (Fifth Party Congress): The Central Committee with 14 members consisted of five Bolsheviks, four Mensheviks, two Bundists, two Polish and one Latvian Social Democrats.
  • 1917 (April Conference) The Central Committee had 9 - only Bolshevik - members (and 4 representatives): Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Milyutin, Nogin, Sverdlov, Smilga, Stalin, Fedorov.
  • 1917 (VIth Party Congress): The Central Committee with 21 members (including Lenin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Nogin, Kollontai, Stalin, Sverdlov, Rykow, Bukharin) and 10 representatives elected the first Politburo in October. The Central Committee's secretariat was set up.
  • 1919 (Eighth Party Congress): The Party Congress instructed the Central Committee to create a Politburo with 5 members and an Organization Bureau (headed by Stalin) with 5 members and a Secretariat with a responsible secretary (Krestinski) and up to 5 other secretaries. The party's leadership increasingly shifted to these organizations.
  • The number of members of the Central Committee increased steadily from party congress to party congress. 1921: 25 members and 15 candidates; 1923: 40 members and 17 candidates; 1924: 53 members and 34 candidates; 1925: 63 members and 43 candidates.
  • 1934: The Central Committee had 139 members and candidates, 98 of them were arrested and liquidated between 1937 and 1939. The Central Committee was powerless under Stalin.
  • 1952: The Central Committee had 125 members and 111 candidates; 1956: 133 members and 122 candidates; 1961: 175 members and 155 candidates. After Stalin's death (1953), the Central Committee held plenary sessions every six months. Despite its size, it initially gained massively in importance again because Khrushchev upgraded the Central Committee to the state apparatus in the internal power struggle after Stalin's death and used it for his own advancement.
  • On March 14, 1953, Khrushchev was elected 1st Secretary of the Central Committee instead of Malenkov.
  • In June 1957 the Central Committee prevented Khrushchev's overthrow by a conservative majority of the presidium. In the following years Khrushchev began to curb the power of the Central Committee, which had grown through his own efforts (by inflating the bodies and upgrading the formerly downgraded state apparatus) in order to retain more political freedom of movement himself. Especially with the change of the party statute in 1961 and a party reform in 1962, he massively disgruntled the members of the Central Committee.
  • On October 14, 1964, the Central Committee supported Khrushchev's dismissal by the Presidium without further discussion and thus finally accepted its role as the organizing body.
  • During the Brezhnev era (1964–1982) and afterwards, the Central Committee grew larger and larger and lost the last remnant of its importance. In 1990 the last CC finally had 412 members.

Central Committee Secretariat

The Secretariat of the Central Committee had existed since 1917 and was formally installed by the 8th Party Congress in 1919. From 1919 to 1952 there was also the " Orgbüro " (organization office). The secretariat directed the day-to-day work of the Central Committee. It was responsible for selecting the cadres and for monitoring the implementation of the Central Committee's instructions. In 1987 there were eleven members of the Central Committee's Secretariat, including Secretary General Gorbachev.

The Secretariat of the Central Committee directed the day-to-day tasks of the party leadership, especially the selection of personnel, the control of the implementation of decisions of the Central Committee and the supervision of the activities of the employees of the Central Committee. It had the following organization:

  • Initially there were six to nine departments for general, cadre, organization and instruction, propaganda, training, agriculture, special, which were mostly headed by Central Committee secretaries.
  • In 1948 the secretariat was divided into eleven departments for general, organs, propaganda and agitation, heavy industry, light industry, agriculture, traffic, planning and finance, foreign countries, armed forces and special.
  • In 1987 there were eleven Central Committee secretaries, including the General Secretary.

The Central Committee secretaries were mostly men, women ( Ekaterina Furzewa , Galina Semjonowa , Jelena Stassowa , Alexandra Biryukova ) were only rarely active as Central Committee secretaries. Most of the secretaries were also full members or candidates of the Communist Party's Politburo.

Establishment and initial leadership

From August 1917 to 1919 there was already a resolution of the VI. At the party congress a secretariat of the Central Committee as an institution of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Russia (Bolsheviks) under the leadership or from 1918 under the chairmanship of Sverdlov , who died on March 16, 1919. In February 1919, the Eighth Party Congress created the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russia (B) as a permanent establishment of the party. The now responsible secretaries were:

In April 1922, by resolution of the XI. At the party congress the designation General Secretary of the Central Committee of the KPR (B) was introduced and Josef Stalin was elected General Secretary. The Secretary General ran the Secretariat until 1991 and the First Secretary between 1952 and 1966.

The org office

In addition to the more important secretariat of the Central Committee, the so-called Orgbüro existed for a time from the spring of 1919 . The party's organizational office was elected by the plenum of the Central Committee and was composed of members of the Central Committee. Some members of the Central Committee were active in both bodies. The XIX. The party congress of 1952 transferred the purely organizational competencies of the organ bureau to the secretariat of the Central Committee.


The Politburo (from 1952 to 1966 "Presidium") was the narrower leading body of the party - provisional since 1917 and firmly established by the 8th Party Congress in 1919. It was elected by the Central Committee. It had between 5 and 24 full members.

It was created as a permanent governing body by resolution of the 8th Party Congress in 1919. In the period from 1917 to 1919 there was already a Politburo set up by the Central Committee, which had the task of organizing the uprising in Russia.

From 1919 onwards, the task of the Politburo was to lead the party between the plenary sessions of the Central Committee and the party congresses. It was thus the real power and leadership body of the party and the state.

In the years from 1936 to 1940, twelve former members of the Politburo (Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin, Rykow, Krestinsky, Sokolnikow, Serebryakov, Tomsky, Rudsutak, Kossior, Chubar) and three candidates were executed or murdered during the Stalinist purges ; one member committed suicide ( Ordzhonikidze ). In 1949 another Politburo member ( Vosnesensky ) was shot without trial.

In 1952 the Politburo and the Organization Bureau were merged to form the “Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU” in order - according to Stalin - to enlarge the management body and to initiate a rejuvenation. Veteran Politburo members saw this as a sign of another impending purge and feared for their lives. The Presidium / Politburo was therefore downsized again immediately after Stalin's death.

In 1961 (at the XXII Party Congress), a new party statute established a limit on the re-election of members of the Presidium / Politburo. A quarter of all members had to be replaced by new members. What Khrushchev thought of as a measure against sluggishness was (rightly) perceived by the officials as a threat to their security of office. At the next party congress after Khrushchev's overthrow (XXIII party congress, 1966), this passage in the party statute was therefore changed again (in addition to renaming the Presidium to Politburo) - the obsolescence of the Politburo in the coming decades under Brezhnev and his successors was thus mapped out.


The Politburo consisted of full members ( see the list of full members ) and candidates of the Politburo . It was composed of secretaries from the Central Committee and leading members of the government of the USSR. It was supplemented at times, e.g. B. by the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (nominal head of state), or the chairman of the trade union or some First Secretaries of the Party from larger Union Republics or the chairman of the Party Control Commission.

In 1919 - at the time of Lenin - there were only five full members of the Politburo, from 1940 to 1949 nine to 13, then even 25 in 1952, after Stalin's death in 1953 only nine, at Khrushchev's ten to twelve during the Brezhnev period eleven (1964) to 14 (1980) and finally 24 full members (9 elected and 15 CP chairmen of the Union Republics ).

The only women who were full members of the Politburo were Ekaterina Furzewa and Galina Semyonova .

Politburo candidates

The candidates for the Politburo (1952–1966 Presidium) were not members of this body with voting rights. Most of the candidates later became full members of the Politburo. Their number fluctuated considerably from a maximum of eleven (1952–1953) to four (after 1953) or again nine (1957).

Party leadership

The Communist Party was initially led by Lenin, who headed the Central Committee and the Politburo. After his death, the secretariat of the Central Committee became the center of power and its head, usually referred to as the General Secretary , became the leader of the party.

Official Term of office Offices
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin 1917 - January 21, 1924
Joseph Stalin April 2, 1922 - March 5, 1953 Secretary General
After Stalin's death, the office of general secretary remained vacant. The business of the secretariat was initially headed by Georgi Malenkov , who had largely represented Stalin during his lifetime. Malenkov succeeded Stalin as prime minister , but had to resign on March 14th from the secretariat, whose business was now led by Nikita Khrushchev .
Nikita Khrushchev September 14, 1953 - October 14, 1964 First secretary
Leonid Brezhnev October 14, 1964 - November 10, 1982 First Secretary (1964–1966)
General Secretary (1966–1982)
Yuri Andropov November 10, 1982 - February 9, 1984 Secretary General
Konstantin Chernenko February 13, 1984 - March 10, 1985 Secretary General
Mikhail Gorbachev March 11, 1985 - August 24, 1991 Secretary General
Vladimir Ivashko August 24-29, 1991 Managing Secretary General
(since July 11, 1990 Deputy Secretary General)

Membership development

Membership card (1989)
  • Initially, the number of members of a party that was initially still banned was understandably low.
  • In 1906 around 36,000 workers elected the 111 voting delegates (62 Menshiviki and 49 Bolsheviks) for the 4th Unification Party Congress. The number of members is likely to have been just over 40,000.
  • In 1917 (in March) only the Bolsheviks for their part of the party had 23,600 members, of whom only 7.6% were farm workers.
  • In 1918 there were 115,000 members, of whom only 14.5% were agricultural workers, but 57% were manual workers and 28.5% were salaried employees and others.
  • In 1919 there were 251,000 members, in 1920 there were 431,000 and in 1921 already 576,000 members.
  • The new party statute of December 1919 tightened admission to the party and introduced a candidate period (two months for workers and peasants, six months for the other shifts). As a result, 410,430 members and 117,924 candidates were registered in 1922.
  • In 1926 there were 639,652 members and 440,162 candidates. The proportion of young people is noticeably high at 25%, but the level of education is very low. The proportion of women increased, but was low at around 15%, with the proportion then stagnating.
  • In 1930 there were 1,184,651 members and 493,259 candidates, of which around 62% were workers, 21% peasants and 17% others.
  • In 1933 there were 2.2 million members and 1.3 million candidates.
  • As a result of the party revision and the Stalinist purges, the number of members fell continuously to 1.4 million by 1938. The admission of the "technical intelligentsia" increased the level of education considerably.
  • During the Second World War, as many new members as possible were randomly accepted; between March 1939 and October 1952 the number of full members and candidates (according to Malenkow at the XIXth Party Congress) rose from 2,477,666 to 6,882,145.
  • From 1949 (3.9 million members and 1.8 million candidates), but especially after the death of Stalin and a revision of membership policy, the number of members rose rapidly.
  • 1965 10.8 million members and 0.9 million candidates. The social composition broadened, which party ideologist Suslow criticized in 1956. However, in line with general social change, there were fewer workers and more salaried employees in the party in the 1960s. The proportion of women remained consistently low. As in society as a whole, the level of education continued to rise. The average age was significantly higher than in the 1920s. The proportion of party members in the RSFSR (today Russia) was highest with 6% of the population and lowest in Lithuania and Tajikistan with 3% (Ukraine 4.1%, Belarus 3.7%, Kazakhstan 3.8%, USSR in total . 5.2%)
  • In 1987 the CPSU finally had 19 million members.
  • From 1990 to the August coup of 1991 , after which the party's activity in the RSFSR area was banned, an increasing number of members resigned from the party; many joined the newly founded KPR.

International relations of the CPSU

  • The RSDLP became a member of the Second International, which did not recognize the split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks and sought to promote the reunification of both groups in one party.
  • 1914 to 1918: The World War encouraged the Bolsheviks to break away from global social democracy and widened the gap between them and the Mensheviks. Besides the Serbian socialists, the Bolsheviks were the only socialist party that refused to cooperate with their government during the World War by agreeing to war credits. Lenin was of the opinion that in this situation, not ending the war through negotiations, but transforming it into a civil war against the ruling classes of the respective countries was the best option for the socialists. The socialist opponents of the World War met at the conferences of Zimmerwald and Kienthal , at which Lenin took the most radical position without being able to fully assert himself.
  • In 1919 the Bolshevik party leadership took the initiative to found the Communist (Third) International - a project that Lenin had been pursuing since the Second World War. The RKP (B) was next to the young KPD the most important communist party. Their delegation turned against an immediate establishment of the III. International, but in the course of the conference Lenin prevailed.
  • In 1925 the Executive Committee of the Comintern decided on the suggestion of the RKP (B) theses on the “Bolshevization” of the member parties of the International.
  • 1928 were on the VI. World Congress of the Comintern the interests of the worldwide communist movement finally and clearly subordinated to the interests of the Soviet Union and its industrialization policy.
  • In 1943 the Comintern was dissolved. Its apparatus and relations with the communist parties around the world were entrusted to the International Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The influence of the CPSU as the leading communist party in the world remained unaffected until the death of Stalin (1953).
  • The Cominform was founded in 1947. It was supposed to ensure closer control of the parties in the Soviet bloc, but it was not a continuation of the Comintern.
  • In 1960, after a lengthy crisis, the conflict between the CPSU and the CCP broke out openly at a meeting of the communist parties in Bucharest. The consequence in the following years was a further split in the world communist movement between parties loyal to Moscow and Beijing-oriented parties.
  • The euro communism in the Communist Parties of Italy and France meant their integration into the political system of their countries, and with it the relaxation of relations with the CPSU. Eurocommunism was clearly criticized by the CPSU.

See also


  • Alfred Anderle : Communist Party of the Soviet Union, historical overview, statistical material, historiography, bibliography . Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1967 (from: Soviet historical encyclopedia . Volume 7)
  • Klaus Westen: The Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet State. A constitutional investigation . (= Treatises on Eastern Law, Volume 6). Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1968
  • History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Dietz-Verlag, Berlin 1985.
  • Leonard Schapiro, Günter Danehl: The history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1962.
  • Georg von Rauch : History of Bolshevik Russia. (= Fischer library. Books of knowledge. Volume 512/513). Edition revised, supplemented and brought up to date by the author for the Fischer-Bücherei. Frankfurt am Main and others 1963.
  • Merle Fainsod : How Russia is governed. Supplemented and updated by Georg Brunner . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne and others 1965.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev : Memories. Siedler-Verlag, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-88680-524-7 (source, not research literature).
  • Manfred Hildermeier : History of the Soviet Union 1917–1991. The rise and fall of the first socialist state. CH Beck, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-406-43588-2 .

Web links

Commons : Communist Party of the Soviet Union  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. From: Wolfgang Leonhard : Die Dreispaltung des Marxismus. Origin and Development of Soviet Marxism, Maoism & Reform Communism. Econ-Verlag, Düsseldorf and others 1970, pp. 251-256.
  2. From: Wolfgang Leonhard: Die Dreispaltung des Marxismus. Origin and Development of Soviet Marxism, Maoism & Reform Communism. Econ-Verlag, Düsseldorf and others 1970, p. 253.
  3. ^ Ian Jeffries: The New Russia . A Handbook of Economic and Political Delevlopments. Routledge Shorton, London 2002, ISBN 0-7007-1621-1 , pp. 315 (English, limited preview in Google Book Search).