USSR: Communist Party: Secretariat - Archontology

USSR: Communist Party: Secretariat

The Secretariat was formed on 6 Aug 1917, at the meeting of the party Central Committee. Composed of the Central Committee members - Dzerinskij, Muranov and Sverdlov, and candidate members - Ioffe and Stasova, the Secretariat exchanged information with regional party organizations and directed their activities. It also assumed all paper processing within the Central Committee and correspondence with regions. At that time the functions of secretaries were purely technical. After the Bolshevik coup in Petrograd (November 1917), the Secretariat was de facto run by Yakov Sverdlov and his closest aide, Yelena Stasova. The Secretariat activities report for the period August 1917 to February 1918 bears her signature. Sverdlov was in charge of all organizational work of the party and presided at many meetings of the Central Committee. During this period, he signed some documents as "chairman of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party," though he never had been confirmed at that post [1].

In March 1919, the 8th party congress empowered the Central Committee to form the Secretariat composed of Chief Secretary (otvetstvennyi sekretar), who had to be a member of the Orgburo, and staffed by five technical secretaries responsible for the actual execution of the various tasks. On 25 Mar 1919, the Central Committee elected Stasova chief secretary and a member of the Orgburo. The 8th party conference in December 1919 amended the party charter and incorporated the provisions on the Secretariat in this document. The Secretariat was to be headed by "a secretary, member of the Central Committee Organizational Bureau."

By 1922 the Secretariat became one of the most important parts of the Central Committee and remained responsible for the day-to-day administrative work of the party machine until the last days of the CPSU. In 1922-1934 and 1966-1991 the General Secretary and in 1953-1966 the First Secretary also were members of the Secretariat.

From 1926 to 1934 the Secretariat also included candidate members, but after the 17th congress (February 1934) the Central Committee elected only the full members. In 1952 the Secretariat was merged with the Orgburo.

[1] This unofficial title was in occasional use. For instance, Sverdlov signed a letter to the Vologda party committee on 26 Aug 1918, as predsedatel TsK RKP.