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THE PRACTICE OF DENUNCIATION IN STALINIST RUSSIA

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TITLE: THE PRACTICE OF DENUNCIATIONIN STALINIST RUSSIAVolume 1AUTHOR: Sheila Fitzpatrick, University of ChicagoTHE NATIONAL COUNCILFOR SOVIET AND EAST EUROPEANRESEARCHTITLE VIII PROGRAM1755 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.Washington, D.C. 20036PROJECT INFORMATION:*CONTRACTOR: University of ChicagoPRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Sheila FitzpatrickCOUNCIL CONTRACT NUMBER: 808-04DATE: December 19, 1994COPYRIGHT INFORMATIONIndividual researchers retain the copyright on work products derived from research funded byCouncil Contract. The Council and the U.S. Government have the right to duplicate written reportsand other materials submitted under Council Contract and to distribute such copies within theCouncil and U.S. Government for their own use, and to draw upon such reports and materials fortheir own studies; but the Council and U.S. Government do not have the right to distribute, ormake such reports and materials available, outside the Council or U.S. Government without thewritten consent of the authors, except as may be required under the provisions of the Freedom ofInformation Act 5 U.S.C. 552, or other applicable law.The work leading to this report was supported in part by contract funds provided by the National Councilfor Soviet and East European Research, made available by the U. S. Department of State under Title VIII (theSoviet-Eastern European Research and Training Act of 1983). The analysis and interpretations contained in thereport are those of the author.THE PRACTICE OF DENUNCIATION IN STALINIST RUSSIASheila FitzpatrickUniversity of ChicagoCONTENTSVol. 1Executive Summary of the Project iIntroduction 1Social Class 9Abuse of Power 13Secrecy 17Manipulative Uses: The "Apartment" Denunciation 19Outcomes 21Concluding Remarks 24Appendix A: List of Denunciations 28Appendix B: List of Archives 32Appendix C: Characteristics of 94 Letters 33Vol. 2Summary and Full Text of Conference Paper by Dr. Vladimir Kozlov (State Archives ofThe Russian Federation), "Denunciations within the NKVD/MVD System of the USSR.1944-1953"Summary of Conference Paper by Dr. Herbert Reinke (Stasi Archives. Berlin). "STASI:The East German State Security. Its Organization and Its Informers"Conference Summary: "The Practice of Denunciation in Comparative Perspective"EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE PROJECTDenunciation by individuals or groups to high authorities is one of the continuitiesbetween the Tsarist regime and the administrative methods of the Soviet Communist state.Both regimes depended in large part upon the population's sense that local maladministrationwas the fault of local officials, and on its belief in the efficacy of appeals to the "good Tsar"at the center - in Soviet times the highest state authorities. The archetypical denunciation tookthe form of ordinary citizens informing the center of some local malfeasance, incompetence,or political unreliability. For central authorities in both eras it was a means of controllinglower levels of the state aparatus, especially in distant provinces, and as such served as asubstitute for the underdevelopment of many social institutions. In contemporary Russiadenunciation seems to have died out. On the face of it, this is a positive development.However, it also has a negative side, the population no longer believes in central authoritiesas higher arbiters and protectors of the people, and denunciation no longer serves as a checkon the arbitrary authority of local bureaucrats. The new institutions, formally established andnominally resembling the institutions of civil society, have failed to work at all effectively.These new institutions of civil society have not yet evolved to the point that they can providean alternate check on local officials. That bureaucracy has escaped the control of the centralpower and is now free to exploit the populace as it will1.Denunciation was pan of the fabric of life in Russian society for most of the 74 yearsof the existence of the Soviet Union, and the same was true of Eastern Europe and EastGermany under their postwar Communist regimes. The recent collapse of these regimes andconsequent opening of police archives has had painful repercussions in many of the new post-comrnunist states, especially the former GDR. and brought the whole subject of denunciationvividly to our attention.The purpose of this project was to re-examine the phenomenon of denunciation in theSoviet Union in the light of the new archival data now available to scholars. Its majorcomponent was a research project by the Principal Investigator on Stalinist denunciations inthe 1930s, including three months research in Russian archives in the spring and summer of1994. Vol. 1 of this Final Report contains the product of this research: "Signals fromBelow: Soviet Letters of Denunciation in the 1930s" by Sheila Fitzpatrick.1This line of analysis is taken, by Council staff, from the paper by Dr. Vladimir Kozlov inVolume 2 of this Council report. Volumes 1 and 2 are being distributed separately and seriatim.The second part of the project consisted of a conference, "The Practice of Denuncia-tion in Comparative Perspective," organized by Sheila Fitzpatrick (PI) and Robert Gellatellyat the University of Chicago on April 29-30, 1994. Six papers were presented by scholarsfrom North America, Russia, and Germany, and 20-30 invited faculty and graduate studentsattended the conference sessions and took part in the discussions. A summary of conferenceproceedings is presented in Vol. 2 of the Final Report, together with a summary and the fullEnglish text of a paper by Dr. Vladimir Kozlov (State Archives of the Russian Federation),and the summary of a paper by Dr. Herbert Reinke (Stasi Archives, Berlin).The PI's report, "Signals from Below," is a study of denunciations found in archivesin Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Novosibirsk. (For a complete listing of archives used, seeAppendix B.) There are large numbers of denunciations in many different archives inRussia, though they are not always readily locatable because "denunciation" was not a filingcategory. While the PI was unable to gain access to the archives of the former KGB (nowcalled the Federal Counter-intelligence Service), party and state archives contain manydenunciations received by other agencies, copied, and sent on to the NKVD (predecessor ofthe KGB), or, conversely, received by the NKVD and sent on to a party committee or stateagency. It is unlikely, therefore, that access to KGB archives would substantially change thepicture obtained


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