Rehabilitation of Cossack Divisions

The life of Russians in the 1930’s is truly interesting. The people of Russia have finally become one with their halfway communistic society. Although a large majority of people had become adjusted to the Soviet, certain portions of society weren’t warming up to the Reds like everyone else. One of these groups is the well-known Cossacks.


As we have seen in our previous lessons in Russian history, the Cossacks have been a group that actually sort of supported the monarchy (not so much support, but definitely some animosity towards the Bolsheviks) during the civil war. Because the Cossacks supported the Whites during the war, the Reds decided that it would be beneficial to the cause to completely cut the Cossacks out of any sort of military training; therefore, they could not obtain the skills necessary to start any sort of rebellion. Now that Stalin is in control in the 1930’s and has collectivized everything, people have started to lose motivation to work hard because they have “lost” all of their property (possibly a natural flaw of communism). This is much more likely with groups (the Cossacks) who are not being treated equally long with others. In order to fix this problem, the mandate stating that Cossacks could not serve in the armed forces was repealed. After the mandate was repealed a report was made saying, “Before the discussion of the Government’s decision to lift restrictions on service in the RKKA, kolkhoz farmer Roman Brekhov of Brigade No. 2 at the KIROV Kolkhoz under the Mrykhovskii Village Soviet did no more than 5 hectares of row planting, but the day after a study session on the Government’s decision and the order by the People’s Commissar he began to do 7.8 hectares of planting in a shift without changing oxen.” By creating an option for Cossack men to be able to fight and do the communist state a service, the Soviet government successfully created a more positive work atmosphere for Cossack men. This is essentially a double whammy for the Russians. With WW2 on the horizon, the Russian army was going to need these men much more than they originally intended with the undoing of this mandate.


Although not all the Cossacks sided with the Russians during the upcoming war, I am sure that the reinstating of the Cossacks in the Soviet Army helped to put a handle on a majority of their population. The Russians could have easily silenced the Cossacks, but instead decided to not make them an example and try to embrace their faction as a means of support for the Soviet cause.




Cool post. I like that the Cossacks were actually given reinstatement instead of being flushed into history. It is unusual to see that the Soviets would allow a faction that supported the white army to be reinstated, but I suppose that lends to the intricacy of the party’s dealing with the vulnerability created from collectivization and popular discontent.


It is interesting to note that even the Bolsheviks had respect for the Cossacks as a warrior culture, as fighting was what they were good at. Too bad they were on the wrong side of history, if only because they wanted to overthrow the Soviets and have a “true” Russia once again.


I found this very interesting in that rather than eliminate the Cossacks, as they did with many other groups which had opposed the Reds, they decided to help the Cossacks and bring them back into the military. This would have helped to build the support of the Cossacks for the new Soviet Union, and aid in winning them over rather than just crushing them out.