Pragmatists and Puritans: The Rise and Fall of the Party Control Commission

J. Arch Getty


At its widely celebrated "Congress of Victors" in 1934, the Soviet Communist Party reorganized and redeployed its disciplinary and verification efforts into a Party Control Commission Komissiia partiinogo kontrol'ia, KPK. With a strong explicit mandate and considerable publicity, the party leadership put the KPK in charge of investigating party malfeasance at all levels and of ensuring "fulfillment of decisions" throughout the party. Stalin assigned high-ranking and authoritative party leaders (first L. M. Kaganovich, then N. I. Ezhov) to lead the new body, whose agents were vested with the power to give "obligatory instructions" to any party or state body. Almost immediately, the KPK began a struggle with regional party leaders over contested prerogatives of center and periphery, as well as attitudinal and juridical differences between uncompromising, straitlaced inspectors and more pragmatic, flexible administrators. Yet despite its high-level mandate and the destruction of many of its enemies in the purges, by 1938 the KPK had failed to fulfill its promise and was essentially discarded as an inspection agency. This essay looks at the Party Control Commission in the 1930s as an ultimately unsuccessful Stalinist political tactic.

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.