Tallinn University Press in cooperation with the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory published Stefan Gužvica’s Master’s thesis Learning Leninism: Factional Struggles in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia during the Great Purge (1936–1940) that won the Institute’s communism-themed research competition. The thesis that received high marks from the jury was defended at Central European University’s History Department (supervised by Professor Alfred J. Rieber).

Soviet Union’s Great Purge has been one of the most controversial and under-researched periods in the history of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ). Due to the executions of most leading members of the party from the interwar era, the period has been surrounded by secrecy. In 1939, Josip Broz Tito became the party’s general secretary, a position he would hold until his death in 1980. Using newly released archival sources from Moscow, Stefan Gužvica offers the first academic and systematic analysis of this crucial formative period in KPJ’s history.

Gužvica presents the overthrow of Tito’s predecessor Milan Gorkić in great detail, as well as the downfall of his closest colleagues and rivals, most of whom were deposed during the Purge. Rather than focusing on Tito alone, Gužvica shows that the Comintern considered a wide array of candidates from the Yugoslav Party, including Kamilo Horvatin, Ivo Marić, and Petko Miletić, before settling for Tito in early 1939. Gužvica explains the reasons behind Tito’s success, examines the policies and failures of his rivals, and pays particular attention to the long-term consequences of Tito’s appointment, culminating in the Soviet-Yugoslav split of 1948.

The book is available at a discount price in the Tallinn University Press online store.

A total of 18 papers from 13 countries were entered in the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory International Research Papers Competition. Eight of these were articles, six were Masters theses and four were Doctoral dissertations. Prizes were awarded in two categories (Master’s and Doctoral dissertations; published articles). The commission selected Elena Kochetkova’s (National Research University Higher School of Economics’ St. Petersburg branch) article Industry and Forests: Alternative Raw Materials in the Soviet Forestry Industry from the mid-1950s to the 1960s, which appeared in the periodical Environment and History, Vol. 24, 2018, pp. 323-347, as the best of the articles. Kochetkova’s study reveals the extent of intensive deforestation in the USSR and the economic and political processes that brought it about.

Further information on the research competition and its winners can be found here.

The commission consisted of Estonian Institute of Historical Memory’s member of Council Tõnu-Andrus Tannberg, University of Stockholm’s Professor Emeritus Enn Tarvel, and the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory’s Senior Researcher Peeter Kaasik (PhD). Estonian Institute of Historical Memory’s Research Director Toomas Hiio, Researcher Hiljar Tammela and Editor of Socialia section Mart Orav of the academic periodical Akadeemia Humaniora participated as experts in the work of the commission.