Reassessments of the 1917-21 Revolution

Quaestio Rossica · Vol. 9 · 2021 · № 1, p. 91–108

During the Civil War, the Communist Party and its activists had to constantly adapt to ever–changing situations. This paper aims to study their reaction in Ukraine in 1919 after Denikin took control of the country. It will focus on the 800 activists sent behind enemy lines from July to November 1919. Using the paperwork of special bodies created by the Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine (CP(b)U) to tackle this task (Zafrontbyuro – rearguard bureau; Voenotdel – military department; Otdel Svjazi – communications department), the article will first question the way underground activists were selected. Second, it will highlight how missions behind enemy lines were designed and organized. Third, it will consider the missions themselves and the hardships endured once activists reached Denikin–controlled territory. Fourth, one has to wonder what activists tried to do, questioning what they thought about their dangerous job and what their missions effectively brought to the Bolsheviks. This will help us understand how the Civil War was indeed a “formative experience” (in Sheila Fitzpatrick’s words) for the communists, shaping their worldview and behavior.

Post-Revolutionary Syndromes: review in English of the three following books: Read HERE

Gianni Haver, Jean-François Fayet, Valérie Gorin, and Emilia Koustova, eds., Le spectacle de la Révolution: La culture visuelle des commémorations d’Octobre (The Spectacle of the Revolution: The Visual Culture of the Commemorations of October). 301 pp. Lausanne: Antipodes, 2017. ISBN-13 978-2889011353. CHF 36.

Aleksandr Reznik, Trotskii i tovarischi: Levaia oppozitsiia i politicheskaia kul´tura RKP(b), 1923–1924 (Trotskii and Comrades: The Left Opposition and the Political Culture of the RCP[b]). 382 pp. St. Petersburg: Evropeiskii universitet v Sankt-Peterburge, 2017. ISBN-13 978-5943802249.

Andy Willimott, Living the Revolution: Urban Communes and Soviet Socialism, 1917–1932. 203 pp. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. ISBN-13 978-0198725824. £60.00.

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Behind and Beyond Lenin and Dzerzhinskiy: Soviet-Polish Cooperation in Historical-Revolutionary Cinema (1960s–1980s)
Connexe #5 2019
Lenin and Dzerzhinskiy were the most promoted “divinities” in Soviet popular culture. The two leaders also had valuable characteristics for propagandising the “friendship of peoples” between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of Poland: Lenin had lived two years in the Krakow region whereas Polish revolutionary Dzerzhinskiy became a statesman in Soviet Russia. Between the 1960s and 1980s, Soviets and Poles coproduced three movies featuring Lenin and Dzerzhinskiy as transnational heroes: Lenin in Poland, by Sergey Yutkevich and Evgeniy Gabrilovich (1966), No Identification Marks (1979–1980) and Fiasco of Operation “Terror” (1981–1983) by Anatoliy Bobrovskiy and Yulian Semënov. The paper considers the interactions between Soviet and Polish professionals during the preparation, the shooting and the release of these movies as examples of the “State socialist Mode of Production” and of its “micro-politics” (Szczepanik 2013). In the 1960s, Soviets and Poles officially got along well at the ideological level. Yet a muffled antagonism continued about the representation of their nation. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, revolutionary history about Dzezhinsiy was a mere setting for mainstream movies. Once political issues had been driven to the background, the professional advantage of joint movie productions became more obvious. Co-production offered professionals multiple opportunities: to enjoy tourism abroad, go shopping, improve skills by working with foreign colleagues and cutting-edge technologies. Although the involvement of some might have been motivated by personal interests, both countries ended up benefiting from the joint projects..

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Constructing a Revolutionary State. The Example of Soviet Ukraine in Early 1919

slides of the presentation here.

The Ukrainian Experiment: State-Building in Practices (1917–1922)
Workshop at the German Historical Institute in Paris, 12.12.17
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Questioning the Use of Marxism: Yuli Martov’s Analysis of 1917

Socialist History, No 52, Autumn 2017, 
« Legacies of October » (Ed. by Francis King & Matthew Worley) 

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Polish Leftists in the Russian Revolution in Ukraine. From Militancy to Memory

13-15/09/2017, Bâle, 
Russia 1917 and the Dissolution of the Old Order in Europe. 

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1917 in Russia and Ukraine: A matter of noun and adjective 

slides of the presentation here.
31/08-3/09/2017, Budapest, Ruptures, Empires and Revolutions
Fifth congress of the European Network in Universal and Global History (ENIUGH),

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Commemorating an event that never occurred: Russian October in Soviet Ukraine in the 1920’s

International conference The InternationalEchoes of the Commemorations of the October Revolution(1918-1990) 

Switzerland, University of Lausanne, Géopolis (Room: 2227) 14-16 September 2016

As a matter of fact, оctober/november 1917 in Ukraine was not a time for revolution nor for upheaval: as the old state apparatus was continually challenged by various self-proclaimed local institutions since february, one could only witness on november 20th the creation of the Ukrainian National Republic by the Central Rada in response to the bolsheviks’ coup. Even though a Ukrainian soviet republic was firstly proclaimed on december the 25th 1917, the communists didn’t take over Ukraine until the beginning of 1919 and their power was only secured in 1920 in the course of a cruel civil war.

Nevertheless October was a crucial part of the identity and mythology for the ukrainian bolsheviks as it was for their russian counterparts. From the very beginning, October was celebrated and commemorated in red Ukraine, regardless to its fairly remote nature.

We would like to emphasize this paradox by studying commemorating practices in the early 1920’s. We will analyze how the Central committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine monitored the anniversaries of October from 1921 to 1927.

Text here

Slides of the presentation here.

27 août 2018, 09:16