Soviet Historians in Crisis, 1928–1932 by John Barber

By John Barber

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Two issues of the journal later, early in 1929, a letter from Mints was published in which he recognised that his report was 'politically incorrect' and belittled the militant character of Marxism. 22 In autumn 1928, Pokrovsky renewed the offensive against nonMarxist historians. In an article in Istorik-marksist, he repeated his remarks at the Petrushevsky discussion, and then turned his fire on The Offensive Begins 35 another historian, Tarle. 23 Again, the choice of target was significant. No other non-party historian had so high a reputation in Marxist historical circles as Tarle.

First, Tarle had denied that there had been any intensification of the class struggle in Europe during the period 1872-1914. On the contrary, a 'relative weakening of the sharpness of the class struggle' had been reflected in a 'more or less widespread desire to reject active struggle against deliberate preparations for military offensives'. 28 Second, he had argued that the policies of Germany, and not of the Entente Powers, had been chiefly responsible for the outbreak of the First World War.

By spring 1928 disagreement was widening into a split. To the accompaniment of increasingly vociferous warnings of the Rightist danger, Stalin's group steadily undermined the positions of Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky and their supporters. Not until August 1929 were the leaders of the Right attacked publicly, but for more than a year earlier the conflict was common knowledge in party circles. Parallel with this process ran a sharp deterioration of relations between the regime and the specialists. With the news of the Shakhty affair early in March 1928, the perennial Bolshevik suspicion of the non-party 'bourgeois' specialists took a more hostile and threatening form.

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