Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

From Communism to Anti-Communism

 | 
Andre Liebich
, 
Svetlana Yakimovich

From the Revolution to the Comintern

Review of Military Academy Students, [Petrograd, Field of Mars?]

Mark Von Hagen

Texte intégral

The back of the document reads in Russian and French: “Смотр Красным Курсантам” – “La revue des élèves de l’école militaire” – [“The review of the military school students”]. Black and white photograph; 17 x 22.5 cm.

1The “élèves” were a new class of officer cadets but never called that, out of protest at the old régime. It was not until the 1930s that old ranks were restored and that, eventually, the Red Army became the Soviet Army. The person on horseback is, most likely, Nikolai Ilich Podvoisky.

2Podvoisky was a member of the Social Democratic Party since 1901. In 1917 he was a deputy to the Petrograd Soviet and head of the military organization of the Petrograd Party Committee. During the October Revolution he was chairman of the Revolutionary Military Committee and one of the leaders in the storming of the Winter Place. Podvoisky served as People’s Commissar for Military Affairs of the RSFSR from November 1917 to March 1918. From December 1919 to 1923 he acted as head of universal military training, Vsevobuch or Vseobshchee voennoe obuchenie, destined for urbanites who did not belong to exploiting classes. Presumably the students in the photograph are proletarians enrolled in the recently created schools for Red commanders. The women are, possibly, spouses or relatives of the new graduates or Party agitators and enthusiasts. The relatively healthy and well-dressed appearance of the cadets suggests that the photograph dates from a time when things were looking up for the Reds, possibly 1919 or 1920.

3That the young Soviet republic should be celebrating students of a military academy, was not how the Russian Revolution was supposed to turn out. The Bolsheviks, like all the revolutionary socialist and even anarchist parties throughout the Russian empire, had opposed not only the imperialist war of the old regime, but its standing army and a professional officer corps as bastions of despotism and defenders of the hated autocracy. Instead, the socialists advocated a citizens’ militia of volunteers who would rise up in defense of the Revolution from its enemies.

4Lenin’s government quickly realized that the makeshift military forces that had fled in the face of the Germans were not sufficient to defend the revolutionary state. It introduced conscription and, shortly thereafter, command ranks and the employment of former imperial officers as “military specialists”--both to avoid using the hated term “officer” which smacked of elitism and to distinguish the “bourgeois” former officers from the new “proletarian” commanders who would eventually take their places. The Red commanders were to be recruited among the workers and peasants. Other important political “insurance” measures that were adopted early in the Red Army’s history was the commissar, a political appointee, ideally, a tested member of the Bolshevik party, whose signature was required on all commanders’ orders in a system known as “dual command;” and the other important rival for power, the Cheka, which had “special sections” in the Red Army to watch over the commanders, commissars, and Red Army men. The word “soldiers” was also banned from the revolutionary lexicon for its association with the imperial army.

Bibliographie

Mark Von Hagen, Soldiers in the Proletarian Dictatorship: the Red Army and the Soviet Socialist State, 1917–1930, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990.

Table des illustrations

Légende The back of the document reads in Russian and French: “Смотр Красным Курсантам” – “La revue des élèves de l’école militaire” – [“The review of the military school students”]. Black and white photograph; 17 x 22.5 cm.
URL http://books.openedition.org/iheid/docannexe/image/6607/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 134k

Acheter

Volume papier

Chargement

Unavailable