Lakha Nevri, Chechnya, Russian Empire
|Died||April 24, 1997
|Occupation||Historian, Political scientist|
|Subject||Chechen society, Soviet history|
Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov (Chechen: Автoрхан КIант Iабдурахьман ) (c. 1908/10 - April 24, 1997) was an acclaimed historian who worked primarily in the fields of Soviet history and History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).
Biography and works
Avtorkhanov's date of birth is unknown. According to his memoirs he was born between 1908 and 1910 in the small Chechen village of Lakha-Nevri, which was destroyed by Soviet troops during the deportation of the Chechen and Ingush population in 1943. He was given the last name of Avtorkhanov in 1923 when he was registered for an orphanage.
The young Avtorkhanov enthusiastically joined the Communist Party in 1927 and served as a high-ranking party functionary.. He graduated from the elite Moscow Institute of Red Professors with a major in Russian history in 1937, during which time he wrote six books on the history of the Caucasus. He was arrested and falsely accused in 1937 during Great Purge, but released in 1942. The NKVD assigned him to infiltrate the anti-Soviet Chechen movement in which his school friend Khasan Israilov was a leader, but Avtorkhanov crossed the front line to Germans, was arrested by Gestapo, released and lived until the end of the war in Berlin. After the war, Avtorkhanov became a co-founder of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in 1951.
Autorkhanov authored numerous books and articles on the history and core issues of Communism. His book Staline au pouvoir (The Reign of Stalin), published in French in 1951, described Joseph Stalin's reign of terror. His book Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party is regarded as a primary source for the political background of Stalin's rise to power. He was one of the first authors to claim, in his 1976 book on Stalin's death, that Stalin had been murdered by the head of NKVD Lavrentiy Beria. In his books he emphasized the leading role of Soviet security services in keeping the regime alive:
It is not true that the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party is a superpower (...) An absolute power thinks, acts and dictates for all of us. The name of the power—NKVD—MVD—MGB. The Stalin regime is based not on Soviets, Party ideals, the power of the Political Bureau, Stalin’s personality, but the organization and the technique of the Soviet political police where Stalin plays the role of the first policeman.
To tell that NKVD is a state secret police—means to tell nothing to the point. Intelligence Service is also a secret police, but in the eyes of the Britons its existence is as natural as the Health Ministry. To tell that NKVD is a body of mass inquisition also means to tell nothing to the point, because Gestapo also was a mass inquisition, although its chief Himmler —would not have fit a sergeant of the State Security Service. To tell that NKVD is «a state in the state» means to belittle the importance of NKVD, because this allows two forces: a normal government and an abnormal NKVD state, whereas the actual universal force is only Chekism. A state Chekism, a Party Chekism, a collective Chekism, an individual Chekism; Chekism in ideology, Chekism in practice. This is Chekism from the top to the bottom, Chekism from the almighty Stalin to a paltry.
One of his books named "Murder of Chechen-Ingush nation" (in Russian: "Убийство чечено-ингушского народа") is still very popular among Chechens and Ingush today. A few months before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Avtorkhanov was granted honorary citizenship by the Chechen-Ingush ASSR. At the time of the First Chechen War he maintained a correspondence with the Chechen president Dzokhar Dudayev. He also urged peace negotiations on Russian President Boris Yeltsin. He died shortly after the end of the war, in 1997.
(Russian Wikipedia has a more complete list.)
- К основным вопросам истории Чечни: к десятилетию Советской Чечни [Fundamental Issues of the History of Chechnya] (Grozny, 1930)
- Alexandre Ouralov (pseud.), Staline au pouvoir (Paris: Les Iles D'Or, 1951); tr. Alexander Uralov, The Reign of Stalin (London: Bodley Head, 1953)
- Технология власти (München: ЦОПЭ, 1959); tr. Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party: A Study in the Technology of Power (New York: Praeger, 1959); 2nd ed. Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag, 1976; 3rd ed. 1983
- The Communist Party Apparatus (Chicago: H. Regnery, 1966)
- Загадка смерти Сталина: заговор Берия [The Mystery of Stalin's Death: Beria's Plot] (Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag, 1976); 5th ed. 1986
- Сила и бессилие Брежнева [The Power and Powerlessness of Brezhnev] (Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag, 1979); 2nd ed. 1980
- Мемуары [Memoirs] (Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag, 1983)
- От Андропова к Горбачеву: Дела и дни [From Andropov to Gorbachev] (Paris: YMCA-Press, 1986)
- Ленин в судьбах России: Размышления историка [Lenin in the Destiny of Russia] (Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Prometheus-Verlag, 1990)
- (coauthor) The North Caucasus Barrier: The Russian Advance Towards the Muslim World (New York: St Martin, 1992)
- A. Avtorkhanov. Memuary [Memoirs] (Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag, 1983), p. 5.
- A. Avtorkhanov. Memuary [Memoirs] (Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag, 1983), p. 160 (Russian text online)
- A. Avtorkhanov. Tekhnologiya vlasti [The Technology of Power] (Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag, 1983), back cover
- A. Avtorkhanov. Memuary [Memoirs] (Frankfurt/Main: Possev-Verlag, 1983), pp. 611ff.
- Technology of Power
- "Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party" online text (Russian)
- Interview with Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov (Russian)
- Biographical Entry (Russian)