The Mother of All Departments: The History of the Department of Internal Affairs

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Saburov were drawn from outside the educational department. The final group of officials to whom attention must be paid is made up of those serving in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thirteen members of the Council served as ambassadors and two others became top officials in the ministry in Petersburg. As elsewhere in Europe, these men came from much more exclusive social backgrounds than did the bulk of the domestic civil service.

Seven of the 15 Dolgorukii and Count Paul Shuvalov were generals with exceptionally powerful connections who had no experience in the foreign ministry prior to appointment as heads of mission. Lambsdorff and Prince V. Obolenskii- Neledinskii-Meletskii had never left Petersburg. Zinov'ev, a rare example of considerable service both in Petersburg and abroad, illustrates how, even in this exclusive department, a "bourgeois" could rise to the top not only through brains, ambition and hard work, but also by choosing to specialise in Persian and Ottoman affairs, fields where specialised knowledge was rare and valuable, and where most aristocrats did not wish to serve.

Despite the large amount of information provided in this article, the map of the Russian civil service promised in the introduction remains somewhat blurred. Nevertheless, some. Firstly, it is worth stressing that the ruling elite was overwhelmingly bureaucratic, the great majority of its members having spent all or most of their careers in the civil service. The only major exception to this was the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which recruited also from landowning marshals and soldiers, though, to a much lesser extent, the Ministries of Education and Finance also drew on non-bureaucratic sources.

Numerous contrasts existed, as we have seen, between the various branches of the civil service. Thus senior officials from different ministries came from widely differing social and, to a lesser extent, educational backgrounds; in addition, career patterns in the various sections of the administration showed sharp contrasts between generaiists and specialists, as well as between those with and without experience of service outside Petersburg. From the evidence presented it is clear that, especially in the armed forces, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Ministry of Justice, strong correlations existed between career patterns on the one hand, and social and educational origins on the other.

While many significant points were made about career patterns in specific departments, perhaps the most striking overall conclusion about the nature of the ruling elite concerns the extent to which so many of its key members had legal training and experience. The effect of this on the mentality and opinions of Nicholas II' s ruling elite is a fascinating and scarcely explored subject.

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Nor is the issue of a "legal mentality" the only question to emerge from a study of career patterns within the ruling elite. What, for instance, can one say about the "military mentality" of many governors, or, still more, officers of the gendarmerie? What was the effect on the attitudes of procurators of their frequent switches to other departments?

Can one spot clear differences in outlook between those who had never served outside Petersburg and other members of the elite with many years of provincial service? The extent to which a ministry had many representatives in the State Council is not a perfect measure of its overall importance in Russian government. A legislative institution required jurists. The monarchs favoured the appointment of ex-governors to the Council.

Many senior financial officials disqualified themselves from membership by taking jobs in the private sector. Nevertheless, the statistics on membership of the Council provide at least some hints at the pecking order between branches of the civil service. Judicial and chancellery officials, together with those in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, were clearly closer to the administration's "commanding heights" than were men serving in the Ministries of State Properties, Communications and Education, or in the State Control.

Times had changed sharply since the days when the Emperor's Personal Chancellery or Kiselev's department of state properties were breeding grounds for an official elite. If one were to draw a chart of the Russian civil service on the basis of the information provided in this article a few departments would be represented by small dots, some distance from the core of the administration.

These dots would represent Ministries such as State Properties or Education which played little part in breeding Russia's administrative elite and whose own ministers were indeed often drawn from officials of other departments. Far larger dots, also however separated from the administration's core, would represent the Ministries of War, Marine and Foreign Affairs. Many generals, it is true, moved into civilian posts, but ordinary civil servants were never transferred into key positions in what, to use contemporary jargon, one might describe as the organs of national security.

These organs retained their independent lives, which in theory signified their close control by the monarch and in practice often rendered them beyond the supervision or even indeed comprehension of any overall governmental agency. Finally, at the core of the domestic administration one finds officials of the departments of internal affairs, justice and finance, together with men serving in the great central chancelleries. These four departments' officials can, to a certain extent, be split into three distinct camps. Firstly, one has the aristocratic, landed and often ex-Guards element predominant in the top provincial posts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, sometimes holding the highest positions in this ministry's central administration, but seldom pushing its way into other key departments.

Stolypin, Prince P. Sviatopolk-Mirskii and D. Sipiagin, to take but three important examples, belong in this camp. Secondly, there are, especially in the judicial and financial departments, specialists who had spent all or most of their careers in a single ministry. Shcheglovitov was one of these specialists who played an exceptionally important role in Nicholas II' s government, but in general even financial and judicial ministers from this group, of whom E. Pleske and S. Manukhin are good examples, 95 were of relatively limited significance. Finally, one has a group of officials who passed between the four key civil service departments, sometimes serving in three of them but seldom in all four.

Here one finds V. Kokovtsov, A. Krivoshein, V. Durnovo, A. Stishinskii, S. Kryzhanovskii, A. Kulomzin and other key figures. No one who fails to penetrate their minds or to grasp their outlook on Russian affairs will fully understand Russia's history in the last decades of the Imperial regime. Londres, London School of Economics, As one would expect, this is the most heterogeneous group of all.

Spisok chinam chetvertogo klassa SPb, Even as regards the power they exercised, ministers differed enormously. The State Controller or Minister of Communications in general, for instance, had a far smaller role in overall governmental policy-making than the heads of key departments such as internal affairs or finance. On the other hand, it is dangerous even to generalise too firmly about the relative significance of heads of different ministries. A minister's role depended greatly on the degree to which he was trusted and respected by the monarch.

Armed with such trust and respect, it was, for instance, the Minister of Agriculture who played the key role within the Council of Ministers in formulating Russia's policy during the diplomatic crisis of July 19H. See chapters 3 and 5 of D.. For a brief summary of the State Council's history and functions, see D. Lieven, "The Russian civil service under Nicholas II; some variations on the bureaucratic theme", Jahrbucher fur Geschichte Osteuropas, 29 : On the Russian Empire's marshals of nobility a useful recent work is G.

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Hamburg, "Portrait of an elite: Russian marshals of the nobility. In this article I confine myself simply to mapping out different career patterns. For a discussion of the methods by which men rose to the top of the civil service i. The only slight exceptions are E. Alekseev's position as viceroy in the Far East, F. Dubasov's role in the suppression of the revolution, and D. Arsen'ev's post as governor to the Grand Dukes Serge and Paul.

On this important point, see page of D. Lieven, "Russian civil service The best single source for the information on which these distinctions were made are the service records referred to in footnote 6. On genealogy and ancestors' official posts N. Dolgorukov, Russkaia ro- doslovnaia kniga, U vols SPb, Lieven, "The Russian civil service On generals' careers the Spisok generalam po starshinstvu SPb published annually is a.

On clubs, etc. In addition, a great many of the memoirs, letters and diaries yielded information about individuals' status and connections, as indeed did conversations with remaining members of the White emigration, a source which is unfortunately fast disappearing. The great majority of my "aristocratic" group are magnates owning over 10, desiatiny, and the sons of knights of Saint Andrew, members of the State Council or aides-de-camp generals.

A few other individuals titled landowners with less than 10, desiatiny but very powerful connections were also included in this group. More than three-quarters of the gentry group in fact qualify under at least two headings, but in a very small number of cases I included men not in any of these categories whose connections entitled them to membership. The group I describe as "bourgeois" is made up of all those who fit into neither the aristocratic nor the gentry categories. Although it includes many people born into the Russian hereditary noble estate, the latter was a legal rather than a social category and contained many members of what in Western Europe would have been described as the professional middle class.

There was a strong tendency for the technical branches to be filled by those who passed out with the best marks from their cadet corps, many of whom later entered the various higher military academies. See e. Ignat'yev, A subaltern in old Russia London, : , On various elites within the army, see "Osnovy podgotovki ko- mandnogo sostava armii", in P. Statistics derived from Spisok generalam po starshin- stvu, op. Zaionchkovskii, op. Martynov, Moia sluzhba v otdel'nom korpuse zhandarmov Stanford, : 7, 16, Some officers complained that this helped to explain why many generals lacked the professional training and expertise needed for their jobs.

TsGIA, Fond , opis 6, ed. Zavarzin, Zhandarmy i revoliutsionery Paris, : In the Ministry of Internal Affairs provincial chiefs and gendarmes were generalists. Rowney writes that overall in the ministry generalists dominated the top positions, specialists being subordinated to them. See D. Rowney, "Organisational change and social adaptation", in W. Pintner and D. Rowney, Russian officialdom.

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The bureaucratisation of Russian society from the seventeenth to the twentieth century London, : espec. Lincoln, "The ministers of. Also V. Gurko's comment p. Stone's comment of "The historical background of the Red Army", in J. Erickson, ed. See also Polovtsov's comments in P. Zaionch- kovskii, ed. Polov- tsova Moscow, : , and in Krasnyi arkhiv 3 : ; and S.

Witte's comments, in Vospominaniia Moscow, I 2: On the marshals, see G. Hamburg, "Portrait of an elite Also A. Korelin, Dvorianstvo v porefor- mennoi Rossii, Sostav, chislennost ' , korporativnaia organizatsiia Moscow, : Marshals, for instance, held official ranks chin. According to G. The Council's 18 former district marshals averaged 10, desiatiny, the 16 provincial marshals 36, desiatiny. These averages are a little deceptive since they are inflated by the colossal estates of a handful of individuals.

Even so the median figures for the district and provincial marshals are 5, desiatiny and 14, desiatiny respectively. The zemstva at the turn of the century were dominated by men owning between and 5, desiatiny. Half the provincial marshals, including some of the Empire's greatest landed magnates, had been educated at Petersburg University, 3 at Moscow University, 2 at the Nicholas Cavalry School and 1 at the School of Law. The provincial marshals were elected at an average.

All but one of these men had considerable service experience prior to election as provincial marshals. The exception was A. Samarin, who after finishing his compulsory service in the army had been active only in local affairs e. On Bobrinskii, see e. Minutes of the sessions of the congresses of the united nobility contain some speeches by him.

Those he made on 28 March and 15 March are the most notable. See Trudy tret 'ego s'ezda upol' nomochennykh dvorianskikh obshchestv 32 gubernii SPb, : ; Trudy shestogo s" ezda upol 'nomochennykh dvorianskikh obshchestv 33 gubernii SPb, : ff. Also G. Simmons, The Congress of representatives of the nobles associations A case study of Russian conservatism Columbia, Ph.. D, : On Krivskii, see especially the comments of A.

Golombevskii in S. Panchu- lidzev, ed. Also those of A. Polovtsov in Dnevnik A speech by Krivskii and V. Meshcherskii's comments on it in gives one something of the man's flavour. See Grazhdanin, 97 15 Dec. On Arsen'ev, see e. Bogdanovich, Tri poslednikh samoderzhavtsa Moscow, : TsGIA, Fond , opis 1, ed. The letters are dated 15, 23 and 25 October. Alexis Obotenskii details his debts and the reasons why his estate is proving unprofitable. In his service record he is recorded as owning 1, desiatiny in Kaluga and 3, desiatiny in Saratov, but the record dates from and it is possible that the Saratov estate was still under his mother or brother's control in Bekhteev also entered state service in after a long career as a marshal because his estate of 2, desiatiny in Orel could not adequately support his family.

This is the theme of the letter dated 23 Oct.


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Alexis Obolenskii's letters breathe optimism about his chances, Alexander's replies which are not preserved but which Alexis tries to refute at length show he was much less enthusiastic about his brother's schemes, for which he was going to have to foot the bill. He inherited 16, desiatiny, owned a large glass factory and married a woman A.

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Polovtsov1 s daughter with 7, desiatiny and considerable stocks and bonds. In the glass factory alone realised 76, rubles profit, and in his estate brought in a profit of , rubles. For Obolenskii's comments on noblesse oblige, see e. On his father, see W. Lincoln, In the vanguard of reform. Russia's enlightened bureaucrats De Kalb, : espec. On his love for life on the estate at Nikol'skoe, see in particular ed.

One could document these statements by hundreds of references in Obolenskii's letters to his wife.

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An interesting example of his useful role in local affairs was his activity during the famine years of as he tried to anticipate and provide for local needs: see e. Anna Obolenskii's letters of 19 Dec. Another former marshal with a similar experience was Obolenskii's brother-in-law, A. He wrote to his daughter on 22 Sept. I work from morning until night This reflects the ministry's importance and the scale of its activities. These were so broad that Novoe vremia in claimed that the ministry "directs the course of almost the whole of Russian life" 28 Sept.

On the contrasts between the centre and the provinces, see the comments of the Peretz Commission on civil service reform TsGIA, Fond , opis l6ii, ed. Also the comments of V. Kokovtsov ibid. Kulomzin ibid. Most of the vice-governors were ex-marshals and officers. Of the 27 marshals for instance 16 Many of the officers were present of former Imperial aides-de-camp. Five men of whom 2 were judicial officials had been serving in other ministries. In addition, 4 men had estates of unknown size. Among the governors in office in , there was a tendency for men who had long served in the Ministry of Internal Affairs to be found in Asiatic or Polish provinces rather than in the more comfortable and prestigious European Russian ones.

There was too few long-serving Ministry of Internal Affairs officials who became governors in the group of to make generalisation safe but N. Zinov'ev, P. Polto- ratskii and A. Trubnikov, on the other hand, jumped straight from being a district marshal in Petersburg province to the plum governorship of Orel. Four governors became assistant ministers, 10 headed departments, etc. See P. Polovtsov, Dnevnik Also the memoirs of A. See N. Maklakov's comments about his appointment as minister in Padenie tsarskogo rezhima Leningrad, , 3: Eleven of the 40 The same was true of 14 of the 41 governors.

It is worth remembering that some officials switched departments more than once. So too did S. Kryzhanovskii who also made this move. See his comments in Vospominaniia Berlin, n. For N. Maklakov's comment, see Padenie Zavarzin, Rabota tainoi politsii Paris, : 8. Two men owned estates of unknown size. Eight men attended Petersburg University On the issue of promotions and appointments, see footnote 5.

RO, Fond , karton 39 Kireev's diaries. On this, see D. On this first generation of judicial officials, A. So too is the correspondence between A. Kulomzin and his friend A. Popov from the late ' s and early 's. This correspondence expresses well an idealistic young man's disgust with the existing civil service and his hope that the reform of the judiciary will provide an opening for young men of his type. Gurko, op. It was, for instance, typical that when Prince Alexander Obolenskii himself a "jurist" was looking for a candidate to appoint as head of chancellery to the governor- general of Poland he should write to his wife, "I'll search in the judicial department and I want to write to Kapnist so that he can recommend someone to me.

See also S. Kryzhanovskii, op. The Committee of Ministers was abolished in The newly created Council survived until Both were designed to provide top-level co-ordination of the executive branch of government, but the Council had more teeth. Korkunov, Russkoe gosudarstvennoe pravo, 2 vols SPb, 2: This is especially true since, firstly, the statistics include officials belonging to the administration of the Empress Maria's institutions and, secondly, those working closest to the monarch ought to have had a better than normal chance of securing appointment to the State Council.

Eleven Among the former, for instance, there were no "bourgeois". Ivone Kirpatrick, The inner circle London, : x. Twenty-two transfers were shared equally by the Ministries of Justice, Internal Affairs and Finance, 8 by all other government departments. In addition, 11 officials from the chancelleries were promoted thence to the State Council. Eroshkin, Istonia gosu- darstvennykh uchrezhdenii Rossii do velikoi oktiabr'skoi.

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Cherevanskii, a minor dramatist, a rather less minor novelist and an expert on Central Asia, was an interesting character. He had a reputation as a realistic writer with sharp powers of observation of everyday life and a fine sense of humour. Polovtsov, no lover of the run-of-the-mill official, describes him as "decent, honest, hardworking Cherevanskii". Polovtsov, art. Almanakh sovremennykh russkikh gosudarstvennykh deiatelei SPb, : Levinson, Gosudarstvennyi sovet SPb, : Livshin, "K voprosu o voenno-promysh- lennykh monopoliiakh v Rossii v nachale XX veka", Voprosy istorii, 7 : Kokovtsov comments are in his thoughts on the recommendations of the Peretz Commission on civil service reform, also in ibid.

The closest anyone got to this was probably Prince A.

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Kurakin, a landowning magnate who devoted most of his time to running his own huge estates. Khilkov, one of the Council's most interesting and endearing members, was educated at home and in the Corps des Pages but gained years of practical experience as an engine-driver in South America and as a metal-worker in Liverpool.

Witte, op. I feel J. Armstrong in The European administrative elite Princeton, : ff. There is of course absolutely no comparison possible with their role in the Soviet elite. The 6 Ministers of Education among the were an odd assortment: 3 were professors, one was a "jurist", one was a chancellery official and one was a general. The latter two had some experience in running educational institutions outside the Ministry of Education.

Drafting in these men may well suggest that the Emperor and those from whom he took advice lacked confidence in the department's own officials. Schwartz, for instance, complained to Nicholas II that the talented officials in his ministry were almost all "Kadet either by conviction or by imitation" RO, Fond , opis 3, delo 2: On the other hand, 7 of the 15 had no land and only 4 had over 1, desiatiny. Some of the 15 e. Count V. Lambsdorff came from impoverished aristocratic families who owned no lands. On the other hand, the service records are particularly unreliable as regards landowning in this department.

Prince A. Lobanov-Rostovskii is another supposedly landless diplomat whom other sources state to have owned an estate. Compare e. Spisok grazhdanskim chinam pervykh trekh klassov SPb, : 18 with N. Ikonnikov, op. See chapter 4, section 2 of D. Lieven, op. Bestuzhev, Bor'ba v Rossii po voprosam vneshnei politiki Moscow, , writes that men generally served their whole careers either in Petersburg or abroad.

Brings to life the history of the most important agency of government in New Zealand for much of the last century. It traces the evolution of the Department of Internal Affairs from its genesis as the Colonial Secretary's Office in Sir Joseph Ward was the leading political figure during the forty-year life of the Liberal Party in New Zealand. He was a member of Ballance's first Cabinet, twice Prime Minister and , and was still a Cabinet Minister at the time of his death.

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