The Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute, launched in Moscow in 1919 as the Marx-Engels Institute (Russian: Институт К. Маркса и Ф. Энгельса), was a Soviet library and archive attached to the Communist Academy. The institute was later attached to the governing Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and served as a research center and publishing house for officially published works of Marxist doctrine.
The Marx-Engels Institute gathered unpublished manuscripts by Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, V.I. Lenin, and other leading Marxist theoreticians as well as collecting books, pamphlets, and periodicals related to the socialist and organized labor movements. By 1930 the facility's holdings included more than 400,000 books and journals and more than 55,000 original and photocopy documents by Marx and Engels alone, making it one of the largest and richest holdings of socialist-related material in the world.
In February 1931 director of the Marx-Engels Institute David Riazanov and others on the staff were purged for ideological reasons. In November of that same year the Marx-Engels Institute was merged with the larger and less scholarly Lenin Institute (established in 1923) to form the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
The institute was the coordinating authority for the systematic organization of documents released in the multi-volume works Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (Marx-Engels Collected Works), the Lenin Polnoe sobranie sochineniia (Complete Collected Works), I.V. Stalin Sochineniia (Works), and numerous other official publications. The institute was officially terminated in November 1991, with the bulk of its archival holdings now residing with a successor organization, the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (RGASPI).
The Marx-Engels Institute was established in 1919 by the government of Soviet Russia as a branch of the Communist Academy, intended as an academic research facility to conduct historical studies and to collect documents deemed relevant to the new socialist regime. First director of the facility, located in Moscow, was David Riazanov.
The institute assembled and maintained a research library devoted to socialist-related theme, amassing in a little over 10 years a collection of some 400,000 books, pamphlets, and journals, 15,000 manuscripts, and 175,000 photocopies of original documents held elsewhere. Among these were 55,000 manuscripts by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels alone — far and away the single most important accumulation of such material.
The Institute included an academic staff which engaged in research on historical and topical themes of interest to the regime. The institute included sections devoted to the history of the First and Second Internationals, the history of Germany, the history of France, the history of Great Britain, the history of the United States, the history of the countries of Southern Europe, and the history of international relations. Also included were sections working in philosophy, economics, political science, and the history of socialism in Slavic countries.
The main research orientation of the facility was towards history rather than other social sciences. By 1930 of the 109 employed by the Marx-Engels Institute, fully 87 were historians. While working under the watchful eyes of the All-Union Communist Party, the Marx-Engels Institute was not a one-party affair in its formative decade, with just 39 of its staff members also members of the Communist Party in 1930.
During its first decade the institute published an array of books by the likes of Georgii Plekhanov, Karl Kautsky, Franz Mehring, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, David Ricardo, and Adam Smith as well as the anticipated multi-volume works of Marx and Engels. The institute also published two regular academic journals, Arkhiv Karla Marksa i Friderikha Engel'sa (Archive of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels) and Letopis' marksizma (Marxist Chronicle).
The Lenin Institute began as an independent archival project, established by the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party in 1923 to gather manuscripts with a view to publication of a scholarly edition of Lenin's collected works. This work was accomplished through the publication of a thick periodical called Leninskii sbornik (Lenin Miscellany), some 25 numbers of which were published between 1924 and 1933.
The mission of the Lenin Institute was expanded in 1924 by the 13th Congress of the Russian Communist Party to include the "study and dissemination of Leninism among the broad masses within and outside the party" — an enlarged purview which rendered obsolete the previously existing Commission on the History of the October Revolution and the History of the Communist Party (Istpart). In 1928 Istpart was dissolved, its functions fully absorbed by the Lenin Institute.
The Lenin Institute was a slightly larger entity than the Marx-Engels Institute, with a staff of 158 in 1929, but did not share the reputation for impartial scholarship enjoyed by the older research library and scholarly think tank. The Lenin Institute was initially headed by Lev Kamenev, followed by Ivan Skvortsov-Stepanov and, after his death in 1928, by M. A. Savelev.
In February 1931 as part of the sensational Menshevik Trial, economist Isaak Rubin — a former employee of the Marx-Engels Institute — implicated the head of the institute David Riazanov as part of the conspiracy, with Riazanov accused of having hidden Menshevik documents in the facility. Although modern scholars consider the accusation in the February show trial to have been extremely dubious, Riazanov was nevertheless arrested and sent into exile outside of Moscow. A purge of Marx-Engels Institute staff deemed to be ideologically suspicious followed.
In November 1931 in the wake of the ideological purges of the Marx-Engels Institute that entity was merged with the larger Lenin Institute to form the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
Later name changes
The Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute was subsequently renamed multiple times. In 1952 the facility's formal attachment to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was formally noted with the expanded moniker "Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute of the CC CPSU" (Russian: Институт Маркса—Энгельса—Ленина при ЦК КПСС). The name of deceased Soviet leader I.V. Stalin was added in 1956, with the institute formally becoming the Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin Institute of the CC CPSU.
This remained in place until the onset of destalinization following the so-called Secret Speech of Nikita Khrushchev in 1956. At this point the name changed to Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the CC CPSU (IML, Russian: Институт марксизма-ленинизма при ЦК КПСС). This name remained unaltered for nearly 35 years, when turmoil in the USSR brought about a name change to Institute of the Theory and History of Socialism of the CC CPSU (Russian: Институт теории и истории социализма ЦК КПСС). The institute formally ceased to exist in November 1991, following the fall of the Soviet Union, with the institute's library and archive transferred to control to a new entity called the Russian Independent Institute for Social and National Problems.
The Central Party Archive of the IML was placed under the control of the Russian Ministry of Culture and eventually emerged as the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (RGASPI, Russian: Российский государственный архив социально-политической истории).
- John Barber, Soviet Historians in Crisis, 1928-1932. London: Macmillan, 1981; pg. 15.
- Barber, Soviet Historians in Crisis, pp. 15-16.
- Barber, Soviet Historians in Crisis, pg. 16.
- Thirteenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party Bolshevik in the The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979) It quotes (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 8th ed., vol. 3, 1970, p. 122
- Barber, Soviet Historians in Crisis, pp. 16-17.
- Barber, Soviet Historians in Crisis, pg. 17.
- Barber, Soviet Historians in Crisis, pg. 122.