Cover Osteuropa 5-6/2013

In Osteuropa 5-6/2013

Communism and the National Question
The Soviet Union as a Multiethnic Empire

Gerhard Simon

Deutsche Fassung


The Bolsheviks reestablished the Russian Empire as a multi-ethnic empire. In the form of the Soviet Union, the empire existed until the end of the 20th century. In addition to ruthless violence during the Civil War of 1918-1921 and the Stalinist terror, the Bolsheviks developed specific instruments for integrating the nationalities. These included korenizatsiia (offering a form of positive discrimination for the non-Russian peoples) and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (providing a kind of powerpolitical framework). Contrary to the Bolsheviks’ intentions and expectations, the nation-building process continued unabated. The Soviet leadership under Mikhail Gorbachev was no longer in a position to channel and integrate the demands of the peoples – not least of all the Russians – for national self-determination.

(Osteuropa 5-6/2013, pp. 107–124)