If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly

On the question of new concept of history of the peasant rebellion in Western Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan at the beginning of the 1920s.


Long ago it was noted that almost all history of mankind is a history of wars, conflicts, violence and cruelty. Peace is just a short period between wars. The 20th century was not an exception. On the contrary, the mankind survived the tragedy of two world wars, horror of genocide, racism and nationalism, revolutionary shocks and civil fratricidal wars.

Interpretation of the events of the 20th century in the Soviet historical science mostly performed the social order and solved rather ideological then scientific task.

The Civil War in the Soviet Russia (1918-1922) was one of the most important events in the 20th century as it had a great impact on further political, social and economic development of the country. The Civil War attracted researchers because of its public and political significance, breadth, dynamism, contradictoriness and dramatic character of events. Its historiography accounts thousands of publications. Among the wide range of questions anti-Soviet armed rebellions never considered to be a priority. The main questions of national historiography of the Civil War were the following: the role of the Communist Party, victorious experience of the Soviet leaders and the Red Army. Foreign and emigrant scientific literature mostly researched the reasons of defeat of the White movement. Therefore, initially the data on the Civil War was one-sided. Peasant armed protests at a final stage of the Civil War (1920-1922), also called "Minor Civil War" in modern historical science, were interpreted as riots of representatives of the Socialist Revolutionary Party and the White Guard, kulaks (rich farmers) and bandits. Anti-communist armed protests, erupted in different parts of the country, became unprecedented. One of the biggest anti-Soviet riots at the beginning of the 1920s was the rebellion on the territory of Western Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan.

Despite the scale and all-Russian meaning, this rebellion was not reckoned among typologically similar events and attracted not so many researchers. Probably, this was connected with both remoteness of major scientific and research centers and undeserved definition as provincial event of minimal importance.

First works published in the 1920-1930s were written by those who didn’t have historical education, with the exception of P. Ye. Pomerantsev. He interpreted anti-communist riot of 1921 on the territory of Western Siberia as anarchic protest against the policy of "military communism" (he economic and political system that existed in Soviet Russia during the Russian Civil War). The author believed that the rebellion wasn’t leaded by agents of the Siberian Peasant Union established by representatives of the Socialist Revolutionary Party in Omsk city. According to him, peasants used them as military experts.

Other publications of that period described the rebellion on the basis of private memories and information from communist periodic press processed by ideological principles and requirements of the Party.

New stage in the Soviet historiography on West-Siberian rebellion began in the mid-1950s. Bogdanov M. A. made the most significant contribution to the study of that event. In 1961 he published his monograph "Defeat of West-Siberian Riot". He introduced well-composed and consistent concept describing the reasons and results of the rebellion. The main reasons of West-Siberian riot were weakness of local authority, prosperity of Siberian peasants and their great share in kulaks’ group, activity of counter-revolutionary powers which established illegal Siberian Peasant Union, violation of revolutionary law by representatives of the Soviet Government during prodrazvyorstka (confiscation of agricultural product for a nominal fixed price according to specified quotas). However, this work was one-sided. Activity of rebels was negatively evaluated while another side obtained positive characteristics.

In the mid-1950s — 1980s researchers published works dedicated to the rebellion event on the territory of separate districts. West-Siberian rebellion was illustrated in the context of Soviet struggle against counter-revolutionary riots.

Perestroika (political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s) and subsequent collapse of ideological prohibitions opened new opportunities in the study of the national history. As a result, series of publicistic articles and more serious researches of West-Siberian rebellion appeared in periodic press. First fruitful works on rethinking of separate episodes of the rebellion were published by Lagunov K. Ya and Petrushin A. A. The researchers affirmed that the case about illegal organization in Tyumen was falsification of members of the All-Russian Emergency Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage made with the aim to shift the responsibility for the riot onto counter-revolution.

In the 1990-s the interest of Russian historians to this theme increased. There were organized several conferences.

Over the last few years attention of Russian historians was attracted by the study of rebellion on the territory of Western Siberian occurred in 1921.

However, this topic still requires further analysis. Nowadays there are so many questions which should be answered by historians during reconstruction of the events of that time on the territory of Kazakhstan. Researchers had to develop an objective opinion concerning the event of 1921 in Kazakhstan, based on analysis of given scientific works and using new authentic sources, and approach to the truth.

1. Kozybayev M. K. Otechestvennaya istoriya XX veka: mify i realnost. Almaty: Gylym. 2000. Pp. 194-221
2. Pomerantsev P. E. Zapadno-Sibirskoye vosstaniye 1921 goda. Novonikolayevsk. 1922. Pp. 40-42
3. Bogdanov M. A. Razgrom zapadnosibirskogo kulatsko-eserovskogo myatezha 1921 g. Tyumen: Tyumen publishing house. 1961. 112 p.
4. Ibid.
5. Trifonov I. Ya. Klassy i klassovaya borba v nachale nepa (1921-1922 gg.). Leningrad: Leningrad publishing house. 1964. 311 p.
6. Grigoryev V. K. Razgrom melkoburzhuaznoy kontrrevolyutsii v Kazakhstane (1920-1922 gg.) Alma-Ata: Kazakhstan. 1984. 176 p.

Grivennaya L. A.

(North Kazakhstan state university named after Manash Kozybayev)