- P. A. Zaionchkovskii:High Society Subversive
No Soviet historian deserved a festschrift more than Petr Andreevich Zaionchkovskii (1904–83), but the closest he came to one in his lifetime were things like a personal entry in the third edition of the Bol'shaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia and the publication of a list of his writings on his seventieth birthday (see the first of the two bibliographies at the end of the work under review, 453). In September 1994 a number of his colleagues, pupils, and friends – Russian, American, German, and Japanese – gathered at Moscow State University to remedy the omission. After a brief preface by Iu. S. Kukushkin (3–4), the resulting miscellany contains a substantial introduction by Larisa Zakharova (5–20); two chapters from the monograph Zaionchkovskii was working on at the time of his death (24–98); 15 reminiscences (101–93); 17 scholarly articles in fields related to Zaionchkovskii's own (197–449); and lists of appraisals of the historian and of his own publications (453–54, 455–61).1 The book invites reflection both on Zaionchkovskii as a person and on the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russian Empire to which he devoted himself.
"Fate would appear to have prepared P. A. Zaionchkovskii for almost any career other than an academic one."2 On his father's side he was a Russified Polish nobleman (his grandfather was called Czes∏aw ). Through his paternal grandmother he was related to Admiral P. S. Nakhimov, one of the three great defenders of Sevastopol' in the Crimean War (114, 122, 172). Although, after paying off their debts, his forebears received only about a ruble for the part of [End Page 167] their land in Smolensk that they had to sell to peasants at the abolition of serfdom (170), they managed to hold on to their relatively prominent place in tsarist society. Two of Zaionchkovskii's uncles rose to the rank of privy councilor (173).3 His father, an army doctor, tried to ensure that the young Zaionchkovskii would perpetuate the family tradition of service to the state by sending him to military schools in Moscow and Kiev (5).
These schools gave Zaionchkovskii an affection for the tsarist officer corps which never left him. He "never cried so much" as when Denikin fell back from Kiev in 1918 (135; or, more likely, from Orel in 1919 ); he confessed to a Communist Party recruiting officer in 1931 that if he had been a little older at the time of the Civil War he would have gone to fight for the Whites on the Don (123, 173); he wrote two monographs on pre-revolutionary military matters and was engaged on a third at the time of his death; he recalled incidents from his schooldays in that final monograph (35–36, 60–62, 64–65); he talked his way past the guards at the Malinovskii Tank Academy in Moscow in 1982 to take a final look at what had been the first of his military schools (171–72); and he was reading Denikin's memoirs when he died in the Lenin Library in 1983 (19). Many contributors to the volume under review convey a sense of the importance Zaionchkovskii attached to the soldier's belief in precision, duty, honor, and formal manners. Some speak also of his religiosity and monarchism, which seem to belong to the same code of ethics.
A person of Zaionchkovskii's background and beliefs could not gain admission to a Soviet institution of higher education in the years immediately after the revolution. In the 1920s and 1930s he worked as a fireman, on the railways, and as a metalworker. In 1931, however, he joined the Communist Party; in 1937 he took his first degree as an extramural student at the Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature, and History; and in 1940 he took his candidate's degree there and started work as a junior professor at the Moscow Regional Pedagogical Institute.