Plenum of the CC of the VKP(B), On the Mistakes of Party Organizations in Excluding Communists from the Party, on the Formal and Bureaucratic Attitude to the Appeals of Persons excluded from the VKP(B) and on Measures for Removing these Shortcomings. January 19, 1938
Original Source: KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, Vol. III (Moscow, 1954), p. 306.
The plenum of the Central Committee of the VKP(B) considers it necessary to draw the attention of party organizations and their heads to the fact that while doing much to clear the Trotskyite and rightist agents of fascism from their ranks, they commit, in the course of this work, serious mistakes and distortions which hinder the removal of double-dealers, spies and wreckers from the Party. Despite numerous instructions and warnings from the Central Committee of the VKP(B), party organizations in many instances approach the exclusion of Communists from the Party in a completely incorrect and criminally irresponsible manner.
The Central Committee of the VKP(B) has more than once demanded of party organizations and their heads an attentive, individual approach to members of the Party when exclusion from the Party or the re-admittance of those incorrectly excluded from the VKP(B) is being decided.
In its decision of 5 March 1937 on Comrade Stalin’s report ‘On shortcomings in party work and measures for liquidating Trotskyite and other double-dealers’ the plenum of the Central Committee of the VKP(B) indicated that:
Certain of our party leaders lack the care needed to deal with people, members of the Party, and officials. Moreover they do not study these officials, they do not know what interests them or how they are developing, they do not know their staff at all. It is precisely on account of this that they do not have an individual approach to members of the Party or party officials. But an individual approach is the main thing in our organizational work. And it is precisely because they do not have an individual approach in evaluating members of the Party and party officials that they usually act haphazardly; either they praise them immoderately and indiscriminately, or they assault them immoderately and indiscriminately, and exclude them from the Party in thousands and tens of thousands. Some of our party leaders try in general to think in tens of thousands, without worrying about ‘individuals’, separate members of the Party, or their fate. They consider the exclusion of thousands or tens of thousands from the Party as a trifling matter, and console themselves with the thought that our party is large, and tens of thousands of exclusions cannot do anything to change its standing. But only people who are in essence profoundly anti-party can approach members of the Party in this way.
As a result of this heartless attitude towards people, towards members of the Party and party officials, dissatisfaction and spite are being artificially engendered among some members.
Understandably, the Trotskyite double-dealers nimbly ensnare such embittered comrades and skillfully drag them into the bog of Trotskyite wrecking activities.
In the same decision of the plenum of the Central Committee of the VKP(B) it is stated:
The prevalence of a formal, heartless, and bureaucratic attitude in the matter of the fate of individual members of the Party, exclusions of members of the Party from party ranks, or the re-admittance of excluded party members, is to be condemned.
Party organizations are obliged to show maximum caution and comradely concern when deciding the matter of exclusion from or re-admittance to the Party.
In its letter of 24 June 1936 ‘On mistakes in examining the appeals of people excluded from the Party during the verification and exchange of party documents’ the Central Committee of the VKP(B) noted the superficial, and in many cases heartless and bureaucratic attitude of party organs to the examination of appeals of those excluded:
Despite the instructions of the Central Committee -it was stated in that letter-the appeals of persons excluded from the Party are examined extremely slowly. Many of these people spend months getting the appeals they have submitted examined. A large number of their appeals have been examined in their absence, without any check-up on the appellants’ declarations, and without giving appellants the opportunity to provide a detailed explanation of the reasons for their exclusion from the Party.
In many regional party organizations a totally intolerable arbitrariness has been permitted against persons excluded from the Party. Those excluded for concealing their social origins and for passivity, rather than for motives of hostile activity against the Party or Soviet power, have been automatically removed from their work, deprived of their homes, etc.
In this way party leaders of these party organizations who have failed to master properly the instructions of the Party on Bolshevik vigilance have, by their formal and bureaucratic attitude to the examination of the appeals of people excluded from the Party through the verification of party documents, played into the hands of the Party’s enemies.
As may be seen, warning instructions were indeed given to local party organizations.
Nevertheless, despite this, many party organizations and their heads continue to regard the fate of individual members of the Party formally, and in a heartless and a bureaucratic manner.
There are many known instances of party organizations, without any verification and consequently without proper grounds, having excluded Communists from the Party, and deprived them of their work; such organizations have frequently even declared them without basis to be enemies of the people, and have acted illegally and arbitrarily towards members of the Party …
The plenum of the Central Committee of the VKP(B) considers that all these, and similar facts, are widespread in party organizations mainly because there exist among the Communists, as yet concealed and unmasked, certain Communist-careerists who try to distinguish themselves and get promotion through exclusions from the Party, through repressions against party members. Such people try to ensure themselves against possible accusations of a lack of vigilance by applying mass repressions against party members …
Party organizations and their leaders, instead of tearing the mask of false vigilance from such ‘Communists’ and bringing them out into the open, themselves frequently create for them the halo of vigilant fighters for the purity of the party ranks.
It is time to unmask such so-called Communists and brand them as careerists who are trying to advance themselves by bringing about exclusions from the Party, and who are trying to re-insure themselves with the help of repressions against party members.
Furthermore there are many known instances of hidden enemies of the people, wreckers and double-dealers organizing, for provocative purposes, the submission of slanderous statements against party members, and bringing about, under the guise of ‘spreading vigilance’, the exclusion of honest and devoted Communists from the ranks of the VKP(B). By so doing they avert the blow against themselves and remain in the party ranks …
In many oblast and krai organizations a large quantity of unexamined appeals lies without any movement whatever. In the Rostov Oblast more than 2,500 appeals have not been examined, there are 2,000 in the Krasnodar Krai, 2,300 in the Smolensk Oblast, 1,200 in the Voronezh Oblast, 500 in the Saratov Oblast, and so on.
Obkoms, kraikoms, and the Central Committees of national Communist parties which have refused to examine the appeals of persons excluded from the Party have, despite the statutes of the Party, transformed the decisions of raikoms and gorkoms of the VKP(B) on this question into final decisions not open to appeal.
All this means that the obkoms, kraikoms, and Central Committees of national Communist parties have in fact divorced themselves from the management of the work of local party organizations in this most important and acute question, which concerns the fate of members of the Party; they have left this matter to take its own course, and sometimes to arbitrary decision.
The obkoms, kraikoms, and Central Committees of national Communist parties themselves encourage the practice of mass exclusions from the Party by leaving unpunished those party leaders who permit arbitrary action against Communists …
The plenum of the Central Committee of the VKP(B) demands of all party organizations and their heads the greatest possible improvement in Bolshevik vigilance in the party masses, the unmasking and final uprooting of all willing or unwilling enemies of the Party.
The plenum of the Central Committee of the VKP(B) considers that a most important condition for the successful solution of this task is the complete liquidation of the anti-party practice of dealing with people and members of the Party in a mass, impersonal or undifferentiated manner.
The plenum of the Central Committee of the VKP(B) decrees that:
1. Obkoms, kraikoms, the Central Committees of national Communist parties and all party organizations should resolutely put an end to mass, indiscriminate exclusions from the Party and really adopt an individual, differentiated approach when deciding questions of exclusion from the Party or readmitting excluded members.
2. Obkoms, kraikoms, and the Central Committees of national Communist parties should remove from party posts and call to account before the Party those party leaders who do not fulfill the directives of the Central Committee of the VKP(B), who exclude members and candidates from the Party without a detailed check-up on all relevant materials, and who make arbitrary decisions with regard to party members.
3. It be suggested to obkoms, kraikoms, and the Central Committees of the national Communist parties and party collegiums of the KPK attached to the Central Committee of the VKP(B), that they complete, in the course of three months, their examination of the appeals of all persons excluded from the Party.
4. All party committees should be obliged to set out clearly and exactly in their decrees on the exclusion of Communists from the Party the motives which served as the basis for the exclusion, so that higher party organs have the opportunity to check up on the correctness of these decrees. The raikom, gorkom, obkom and Central Committee of a national Communist party must be obliged to publish every decree of this kind in the press.
5. To establish that party organs, when readmitting members incorrectly excluded by local party organizations, are obliged to indicate in their decrees exactly which raikom or gorkom of the VKP(B) must issue party documents to the person readmitted to the Party.
6. Raikoms and gorkoms of the Party must issue party documents immediately to persons readmitted to the Party, involve them in party work, and explain to all members of primary party organizations that they are responsible for the Bolshevik education of persons readmitted to the ranks of the VKP(B).
7. Party organizations must arraign before the Party persons guilty of slandering party members, rehabilitate these party members, and publish the decrees in those cases when material discrediting the member of the Party had already appeared in the press.
8. Party organizations are forbidden to enter on the Communist’s party card the fact of his exclusion from the Party before his appeal has been investigated and a final decision on exclusion reached.
9. The incorrect and harmful practice of immediately removing persons excluded from the VKP(B) from their job is forbidden.
In all instances when it proves necessary to release an official from his job in connection with his exclusion from the VKP(B), this release must be effected only after he has been given other work.
10. Obkoms, kraikoms, and the Central Committees of national Communist parties are obliged to ensure, not later than 15 February 1938, through the corresponding Soviet and economic organs, that persons excluded from the VKP(B) are given employment, and that persons excluded from the VKP(B) should not henceforth be left without work.
Source: Mervyn Matthews, ed., Soviet Government: a selection of official documents on internal policies (New York: Taplinger, 1974), pp. 171-175.