Creation, organisation and work of the Red Army's political apparatus during the Civil War (1918-1920)
Main, Steven John
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The main aim of this dissertation has been to examine the creation, organisation and work of the Red Army's Civil War political apparatus and assess its overall contribution to the Bolshevik war effort. To this end the dissertation itself consists of 4 main chapters and a number of appendices, detailing not only the work of the main political organs of the Red Army, but also the main personalities involved. The first chapter is an introductory chapter, examining the organ, which many Soviet historians have for a long time considered to be the Bolsheviks' first attempt at the creation of a centralised political organ for the Red Army, namely the Organisation-agitation department of the All-Russian Collegiate for the Formation and Organisation of the Red Army. The work carried out for the first chapter then leads to a discussion of the work of arguably the first real attempt by the Bolsheviks to create a properly functioning political organ specifically for the Red Army, namely the All-Russian Bureau of Military Commissars (VBVK). The chapter has been sub-divided into a number of sections, in order to allow a greater detailed examination of the work, personalities and difficulties that the central political apparatus faced in its attempts to exert some sort of control over the various constituent parts of the front political apparatus-the military commissars, the Party cells and the ever-increasing important political departments in the period 1918-1919. That VBVK was not to be a crowning success is revealed by the necessity that the Bolsheviks felt towards the beginning of 1919 to abolish VBVK and create arguably the centralised political organ of the Red Army during the Civil War period-the Political Administration of the Revolutionary Military Soviet of the Republic (PUR). Created in May 1919, PUR was to face many of the same problems that had beset VBVK a year or so earlier but, on the whole, coped with them better and political and cultural-educational work in the Red Army proceeded apace. The final, conclusive chapter brings all the threads together and assesses the claims made for the political work carried out in the front-line Red Army units during 1918-1920 and, whilst admitting that the Bolsheviks did spend much time on promoting the apparatus in a number of ways, the assertions made by generations of Soviet historians concerning the overall value of the political and cultural-educational work carried out in the Red Army are still too grandiose and that there is a lack of concrete evidence available, proving the worth of the political work carried out and its positive military consequences.