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Category: History

Leaflets and brochures of times of Civil war in Siberia: some aspects of a social role


UDC 94 (571)

BBK 63.3 (2P5)


© A.N. Nikitin, 2005

Moscow University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation 105062, Moscow, Volgin St., 12

Revolution and Civil war of 1917-1919 caused the edition in Siberia of a huge number of "small" publishing products - leaflets and brochures. They, making a considerable part of editions of an era, are the important object of study for bibliologists and historians as the evidence of the greatest public confrontation.

The printed materials appearing in the east of the country in days of revolution and Civil war, are also actively studied long ago by bibliologists. The historiography of the specified subject is extensive and presented by numerous articles, monographs, theses. In the scientific literature created for several decades there are data on origin, authorship, ideological and political orientation and the actual contents of books and other types of the printing editions appearing during the specified period in the Urals in Siberia, in the Far East.

Despite undoubted achievements in a research of so important problem having not only scientific, but also cultural value, it is still far from the comprehensive and full decision. Moreover, the refusal of traditional ideas of the nature of the processes and events which were taking place in Russia in 1917-1920 forces to study anew its separate aspects, especially those from them which were not an independent object of a research, were considered casually, by the way. Similar aspect are printed materials of "small forms", in particular its such types as the leaflets and brochures published in 1918-1920 in Siberia by participants of both antibolshevist, and insurgent and guerrilla movements.

The complexity of this subject is that the vast majority of leaflets and brochures was lost irrevocably. Only single copies remained, but also they are dispersed on different storages, generally central libraries and archives.

Other, not less essential difficulty is that accounting of acyclic editions neither "white", nor "red" long time was not conducted. Only with arrival to the management of the Ministry of Internal Affairs data on circulation and subject leaving in the territory controlled by the kolchakovsky mode, editions, including leaflets and brochures began to gather in Kolchak's government of the minister V.N. Pepelyaev.

The Siberian insurgents and guerrillas, perhaps, too tried to adjust accounting of the printed materials published by them, but confirmation to it us is not found. Nevertheless on the remained sources it is possible to make certain notion of the place and value of the acyclic press of Siberia as data carrier about the Civil war in the region, about the circulation and subject of leaflets and brochures, their authorship.

First of all it should be noted the following: in 1918-1920 in Siberia, leaflets and brochures not only political contents, but also on far from Civil war (professional, economic) subjects were printed. So, in July, 1919 in Tomsk the brochure "Pontoon Business" with a circulation of 1,000 copies came out. Then "The charter of the Tomsk union of employers of apartments, rooms, corners and other rooms" was published. Its circulation equaled the 500th copy/1/. In any of the cities of Siberia of such editions several dozen were produced annually.

And yet the basic purpose of the specified types of products, in particular leaflets, consisted in informing the population on actions and orders of the central and local bodies of authority and management, in explanation in spirit, pleasing for them, of the taking place events, in formation at readers, and through them - at general public of the corresponding ideological and political views and mental sets.

Especially actively military commandants and heads of bodies of protection of public order used leaflets. By means of leaflets they informed the population the orders containing various bans and permissions reported about time of action of a curfew if that was entered, about mobilization, about need to hand over weapon, etc.

Were widely used in the specified years of the leaflet and as operational means of promotion and propaganda. And the ideological office of warring parties obviously gave them preference before newspapers.

The audience to which leaflets were addressed was various that affected as appropriate both in contents, and execution of leaflets, and even their sizes. For example, the "National leaves" which were issued kolchakovsky propagandists were designed for the reader who obviously is not tempted in policy. How much it was published these leaves and what circulation, it was not succeeded to establish. One is undoubted - the importance was attached to this sheet material, it was produced systematically. In total we revealed 65 issues of such editions. The subject of "National leaves" was various. So, the first number was entitled "About gangs" and narrated about crimes of guerrilla groups. The last, the 65th, was called "Release from the power of Bolsheviks", previous represented the address to soldiers of white army/2/.

Not only leaflets were designed for the ordinary reader - the rural and city inhabitant-. They were used and at the address to political opponents and to those who were in opposition to the mode. As authors of similar printed materials various instances, including supreme authority acted. So, summer of 1919 on behalf of the Supreme governor A.V. Kolchak the leaflet entitled "3a that we fight" was issued. Though in the text of the leaflet directly it was not said that it is addressed first of all to representatives of socialist parties - Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, but all its contents confirmed it. In this document it was emphasized that the government not only does not place obstacles in way to free activity of territorial and city institutions, but also sees in their work and in strengthening of the beginnings of self-government an indispensable condition of revival of the country/3/.

It is known that the question of local governments was a stumbling block in relationship of the government of Kolchak, cadets, on the one hand, and socialists - with another. Socialist parties, especially Social Revolutionaries, in thoughts and zemstvoes saw the support, considered self-government institutions the most important element of democracy. Meanwhile with Kolchak's arrival to the power the local governments, as well as socialist parties, appeared under strict control, were exposed to various oppressions and even prosecutions. The leaflet was political gesture of the government, the invitation of opposition to cooperation. Such reading of the leaflet was spoken well also by the following fact: in the text further it was reported that it is created and the commission on preparation of elections to the Constituent assembly which will establish their conditions and an order on bases of universal suffrage/4/works. Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks declared need to call the Constituent assembly repeatedly, moreover, they considered that necessary guarantees of democratic transformations in the country both in the course, and after the end of Civil war thereby will be provided.

The leaflets similar to considered above, not the single phenomenon. In general all leaflets published at white in Siberia can be consolidated in two groups. The first are decrees and Kolchak's orders, the central and local authorities issued in this way. In the conditions of wartime it was one of forms of distribution of decrees of supreme authority and also orders, addresses, announcements, appeals of managing directors of provinces, counties, chiefs of militia and commanders of military units and garrisons.

Decrees of the Supreme governor bred not only in the capital of "the reviving Russia" - Omsk, but also on places. Circulation of similar printed materials was defined by opportunities which local authorities had, but anyway government documents were given preference. For example, the authorities of Kostanay in March, 1919 published the decree of Kolchak with a circulation of 1,000 copies whereas orders of the chief of district militia were printed only by the 300 and 500 copy/5/.

Those leaflets which explained sense and orientation of actions and decisions of the highest and local bodies of authority and management also can be ranked as the specified group. So, in Irkutsk in the summer of 1919 information department of the managing director of the province published two leaflets devoted to agrarian, financial and tax policy of the Omsk government. The first, entitled "About the earth and taxes", left with a circulation of 10 thousand copies/6/, the second, about kerenkas, was multiplied with a circulation of 100 thousand copies/7/.

The second group was made by the leaflets devoted to general political and ideological problems or concrete events of Civil war. Already mentioned information department of the managing director of the Irkutsk province released 15-thousand circulation the leaflet "As Is under the power of Bolsheviks" and an appeal to citizens of Buryatia in number of 5 thousand copies/8/.

It is necessary to emphasize that the publicistic works printed in the form of leaflets were not a rarity in Siberia in 1918 — 1920. Their authors were not only the staff of information departments of provincial managements and central office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Sometimes in a propaganda field also managing directors of provinces and counties, and on own initiative acted. The message of the managing director of the Ka-insky county of the Tomsk province sent them in October, 1919 to the Ministry of Internal Affairs is indicative in this regard. The managing director reported to the administration that the appeal "with the purpose to paralyze criminal propaganda of Bolshevist agents is written to them and to pacify the population". The author of an appeal found necessary to especially note the following - on a turn of speech and the use of demotic expressions it "is written in relation to understanding of country masses"/9/.

It is not possible to define in what measure the statement of the managing director of the Kainsky County was true i.e. in what measure the appeal considered the political experience gained by peasants. The leaflet written to them is not found. It is known, however, that many appeals prepared by kolchakovsky officials both according to contents, and on "turn of speech" were quite weak, did not give that effect which their authors and publishers expected.

Unlike leaflets, brochures had no wide circulation in the territory controlled by the Omsk government. For their writing both time, and the corresponding literary skills were required, though drawing up leaflets required too ability to own a feather, to have the gift of the propagandist and especially the propagandist. It is established that some brochures published in Siberia during the considered period belonged to authors, famous in the All-Russian literary environment. For example, the brochure about A.V. Kolchak in whom the political credo of the last revealed was a product of works of the famous journalist and writer S.A. Auslender.

About significance what was attached by the kolchakovsky authorities to the edition of the specified type of printed materials, can be judged by such fact. On April 20, 1919, i.e. when white armies achieved the highest success in fight against red troops of East front, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the government of Kolchak sent the telephone message to managing directors of provinces with the requirement to inform the population by "the edition and distribution of brochures on political subjects and mainly the Bolsheviks lighting criminal activity and the parties adjoining them"/10/.

The answer given to managing directors of the Semipalatinsk region is interesting. He addressed to the Ministry of Internal Affairs with the message in which he specified that the population "belongs suspiciously and with prejudice against conversations and printing articles on the subjects which are directly exposing the Bolshevism and the directions adjoining it"/11/. To perform directly, but not indirectly, with accusation of opponents of the mode, the oratorical or writer's talent and a huge step is necessary, the author of the message noted further. According to him, "it is more preferable to discredit Bolshevist ideology and to bring decomposition in a Bolshevist system of feelings by means of conversations on universal religious, moral, scientific subjects, without concerning directly political affairs". As a successful example of application of the specified approach to an objective the managing director called the brochure written by his subordinated V. Koltynin. The brochure was called "Christianity and socialism". The contents of the brochure represented attempt to discredit the Bolshevism, using very simplified explanations of the reasons of political shocks and revolutionary moods of a wide people at large of Russia and the countries of Europe.

Characterizing in general contents of the brochures published white in Siberia first of all it should be noted a variety of subject to which they were devoted. For example, in June, 1919 in Tomsk the brochure in protection of church under the name "Obscuring of Idols" was published. Its circulation contained 2 thousand pieces. In Irkutsk there was a monarchistic in fact brochure "Listen, the Russian People". The brochures devoted to foreign policy, economic plans of the kolchakovsky mode, the brochure on historical philosophical (orthodox patriotism) subjects were issued.

Both leaflets, and brochures were reflection of those efforts which were made by the mode for achievement of the purposes and interests. Moreover, the specified printing material acted as a peculiar indicator of what problems most of all concerned the power and a general population of edge.

Numerous data demonstrate that the Omsk government directed significant forces and funds for creation of the corresponding advocacy device and establishing activities for the edition of the necessary literature, including leaflets and brochures. The huge sums were spent for these purposes.

Much attention was paid to distribution of printed materials, especially among country people. In particular, the provincial, regional and district commissions on distribution among the population of informative literature were created. Their commission, interdepartmental for the press, headed. Managing directors of provinces, areas, counties were at the head of the local commissions. Also representatives of Department of national education, territorial justices, city self-departments, diocesan and parish councils, chiefs of military garrisons, the Cossack formations were a part of the called institutions. The commissions had the right to invite in the structure heads of "government establishments, the public cultural and educational organizations, volost zemstvoes", etc.

Tasks of the commissions were formulated very widely: distribution and distribution among the population, especially rural (stanitsa), by mailing, sticking-up, posting, through individuals, messengers, couriers, pupils of the informative literature received from press department of Council of ministers, news department of General staff, special office of the Rate of General headquarters, the Highest church management. All expenses on the organization of the commissions, a reprint of materials were financed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Originally 200 thousand rubles were allocated for the specified purposes

The system of distribution of printing material repeatedly changed. However the tasks facing the propaganda device of the regime of Kolchak and other anti-Bolshevist governments were not solved. In what measure the defeat of opponents of the Soviet power was caused by imperfection, isolation from needs of a general population of the ideological designs which were defended them, a difficult question. Its consideration is not included into a task of the present article.

It should be noted that warring party, in particular participants of the insurgent and guerrilla movement, also attached great value to the acyclic press of "small forms". Especially actively leaflets were used by the southern Yenisei, Altai and Irkutsk guerrillas, and at the final stage of fight against Kolchak's regime - Poe-litcentre who arose in Irkutsk.

A considerable part of the remained leaflets of insurgent and guerrilla origin directly or indirectly is connected with a problem of providing law and order in the territory freed from white. So, from 20 leaflets revealed by us published in Minusinsk by guerrillas (are stored in funds of the Minusinsk museum of local lore of N.M. Martyanov), 8 represent announcements, orders, appeals of the military commandant of Army council and are devoted to questions of law and order and discipline. The data which are available in these leaflets are of special interest, are an important source for studying such difficult and low-studied problem as a condition of legality and law and order in guerrilla areas.

It is known that lawlessness and terror white were one of the main reasons which caused the powerful insurgent guerrilla movement in the east of the country. In turn, formation and development of the insurgent and guerrilla movement happened in the most severe fight not only against the repressive device of defenders of white business. Not the smaller danger was concealed in the spontaneous anarchism of masses strengthened by a condition of Civil war and also in actions of the insurgents and guerrillas directed finally against workers. The criminal offenses committed by participants of guerrilla fight, such as robberies, theft, rapes, murders were frequent. The nutritious soil for any abuses and crimes was the alcoholism threatening with decomposition and death to separate groups including such large as Kravchenko's army - Shchetinkina. Leaflets allow to estimate objectively scales of this threat, in total with other sources to investigate the reasons which generated it.

The special place among sheet material of the considered period belongs to printed materials of the Irkutsk political center. Practically it remained out of sight of researchers. Meanwhile the leaflets published by various institutions which arose under the auspices of the Political center open the political platform of the last, plans and intentions of his leaders and representatives on places. Unfortunately, it was not succeeded to establish the circulation and total number of leaflets of the Political center. The question demands a further research, as well as a question of whether were published by participants of the insurgent and guerrilla movement of the brochure. Certain data in this respect neither in literature, nor in documentary sources it was not succeeded to reveal.

In conclusion it is obviously necessary to note the following: the leaflets and brochures which appeared in Siberia in the years of Civil war contain the valuable information disclosing many aspects of their social role. The quantity characteristic of the called printing material is so indicative. Circulation of leaflets and brochures reflects indirectly

Material came to edition of 14.11.2004

Information about the author: Alexey Nikolaevich Nikitin is a doctor of historical sciences, professor, ph. (095) 156-91-41


Subject: Technique and methodology of carrying out bibliotekovedchesky researches.

In the program: Category of problematical character in scientific research. The organization of scientific research in library. Research methodology. Preparation of the program of a research, report on research. Methods of carrying out research (experiment, content analysis, monitoring, observation, bibliometrichesky, sociological methods). Scientific publications: structure, features of language and style. Main genres of scientific publications (article, theses), technology of their preparation. Thesis as qualification work: structure, language, style. Preparation and its registration. Methodology and methods of library and bibliographic researches in a mirror of abstracts. Representation of results of scientific research: presentation, technique of its preparation.

For heads of libraries.

Venue: State Public Scientific Technical Library of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, Novosibirsk.

Carrying out time: On June 27-29, 2005

Teachers: Dr. ped. N.I. Gendin's sciences, Dr. ped. O.L. Lav-rik's sciences, edging. ped. E.B. Artemyev's sciences, edging. ped. G.B. Parshukov's sciences, edging. ped. N.S. Redkin's sciences, edging. ped. E.B. Sobolev's sciences.

Phone for reference: (383-2) 66-83-76; e-mail:

not only relevance of subject to which they were devoted, but also possibilities of the advocacy office of warring parties.

List of sources

1. State Archive of the Russian Federation (SARF), t. 148, op. 6, 9, l. 26.
2. In the same place, op. 8, 9, l. 7.
3. In the same place.
4. In the same place.
5. In the same place, op. 6, 75.
6. State Archive of the Irkutsk Region (SAIR), t. R-2, op. 1, 3, l. 6.
7. GARF, t. 148, op. 6, 6, l. 4.
8. In the same place.
9. In the same place.
10. In the same place.
11. In the same place.
Montgomery Charles
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