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Politics and the Soviet Army: civil-military relations in Soviet Union the Khrushchev Era, 1953-1964

Andy, Joshua Charles (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

Structure, organisation, an idea of esprit de corps, and hierarchy characterised the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Throughout the history of the Soviet Union only the Soviet Armed Forces had the potential to rival the CPSU in those qualities and were able to be an organised locus for potential opposition. A sense of professionalism was instilled in the Soviet Armed Forces, not only from those ‘Red Commanders’ of the Revolution and Civil War, but also from those junior, noncommissioned officers who were holdovers from the tsarist regime. The primary focus of this study is on the immediate post-Stalinist era while Nikita Khrushchev was First Secretary of the CPSU. Bridled by Stalin’s hold over strategic and armed forces policy, after his death, the Soviet Armed Forces became an institution that illustrated a strong sense of military professionalism, while at the same time serving the Soviet regime.

With a focus on five case studies that occurred during the Khrushchev era 1953-1964, this thesis argues that the military attempted to remain apolitical throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Previous studies of Soviet civil-military relations have focused on the levels of cooperation or competition between the CPSU and the Soviet armed forces. This study argues however, that the ebb and flow of that relationship can be explained by the selection of personalities, or agents, by Khrushchev to posts of military command. Officers were promoted based on several factors. However, Khrushchev increasingly promoted officers to positions of command who he deemed were more personally loyal to him and were willing to put that loyalty above their duty to the Soviet armed forces. Khrushchev chose personal loyalty over an officer’s military professionalism and expertise when appointing them to posts at the Ministry of Defence, the Soviet General Staff, and to the command posts in the branches of the Soviet military and key military districts around the Soviet Union.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Smith, Jeremy and Ilic, Melanie
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Centre for Russian and East European Studies
Subjects:DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
JN Political institutions (Europe)
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:2929
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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