Research article
Issue: № 12 (31), 2014

Портер Т.Е.

Профессор, Сельскохозяйственный и технический университет Северной Каролины



Князь Львов Георгий Евгеньевич родился в 1861 году, в том же самом году, Царь Александр II отменил крепостное право и Россия медленно начала двигаться к становлению современного государства. Князь умер в изнании в 1925 году, в этом году жители России снова были несвободны. Не смотря на то, что многие историки изображают его в выйграшном свете, большинство свидетельств деяний Львова, особенно оценка его управления Временным Правительством практически стерают с него личину наивного и бездеятельного славянофила. Без сомнения, Временное Правительство не смогло выполнить свою задачу, но нельзя отрицать что Князь Львов посвятил свою жизнь улучшению жизни крестьян, и как прочие либералы, надеялся их окультурить и заставить жить по нормам цивилизованного обзества, в попытке преодалеть отсталость провинциальной жизни, и в конце концов интегрировать крастьянство в общегражданску жизнь современной и развивающейся нации. Львов сыграл важную роль в первом эксперементе с местным самооуправлением и именно поэтому его выбрали прводником российского либерализма когда пала Династия Романовых. Данная статья это попытка дать более точную оценку месту Львова в российской истории через анализ его деятельности в качестве чиновника.

Ключевые слова: земство, российский либерализм, Князь Львов Георгий Евгеньевич.

Porter T.E.

Professor, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University



Prince Georgii E. L’vov was born in 1861, the same year Tsar Alexander II emancipated the serfs and Russia began to move away from its static society of orders toward a more modern state. He died in exile in 1925 with Russia once again in thralldom. While some historians have portrayed him in a sympathetic light, most accounts of L’vov’s activities, especially appraisals of his admittedly unimpressive stewardship of the Provisional Government, have simply dismissed him as a somewhat naïve and indolent Slavophile. While it is incontrovertible that the Provisional Government failed, Prince L’vov dedicated his life to the improvement of the peasantry’s condition and, like many other liberals, had hoped to acculturate them to the norms and values of a civil society in an attempt to overcome the backwardness of provincial life and ultimately integrate them as ‘citizens” into a modern, vibrant “nation.” L’vov played an important role in Russia’s first experiment with local self-government and it was precisely because of his lifetime of dedicated public service that he was chosen as liberal Russia’s standard bearer upon the collapse of the Romanov dynasty. This article will attempt to present a more balanced appraisal of L’vov’s place in Russian history through an examination of his career as a public servant.

Keywords: zemstvo, Russian liberalism, prince georgii E. L’vov.

The vehicle he used to advance his vision of a progressive, modern Russia was the zemstvo.   The word zemstvo is derived from the Russian word zemlia, land. It has been used for centuries in Russia to refer to local government (see, for example, the system implemented by Ivan IV in the sixteenth century). The term generally used to describe the zemstvo, however, is mestnoe samoupravlenie, which might be translated as “local self-administration” or local self-government.” Although not found in either the Zemstvo Statute of 1864 or 1890 (there the organs of local self-government were referred to as zemskie uchrezhdeniia, or “local institutions”), it points up a basic contradiction which the Russian state has never reconciled – the intention on the part of the center merely to deconcentrate power so that it could retain ultimate control over the localities as opposed to the desire on the part of some elements of Russian educated society (obshchestvo) to pursue its own interests through independent activity and civic initiative.   In short, the tsarist government sought to make the zemstvo but the final link in the administrative chain stretching from St. Petersburg to the countryside, while society hoped for the devolution of power. The government had built safeguards into the Zemstvo Statutes to preserve its primacy but these restrictions could not diminish the inherent contradiction embodied in the establishment of local self-government – its incompatibility with the very idea of autocracy.

But given its shortage of personnel, the regime needed the zemstvo to assist in rural administration and economic development, especially since the emancipation of the serfs had removed the noble landlords from their positions as virtual viceroys over the peasants. Both the elected delegates to the organs of local self-government and their hired professional and technical experts (collectively known as zemtsy) assumed that sheer logic would ultimately compel the government to grant them the wider latitude that they sought and to extend the zemstvo beyond its present provincial and county levels to the local level where the peasantry could be more fully integrated into the political life of a more “modern” Russia. They felt in particular that the prohibition on lateral contacts between the various zemstva would necessarily be removed as cooperation between neighboring provinces to alleviate the ravages of regional disasters such as crop failures was but common sense. But many officials in the state machinery, especially the bureaucrats of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, saw the zemstvo as a threat to their primacy and accordingly thwarted nearly every effort at independent zemstvo activity.  The occasional exceptions that allowed coordinated zemstvo activity were granted by the Ministry only grudgingly. The hopeful zemtsy then respectfully entreated Tsar Nicholas II (1894-1917) to allow conferences of representatives from all the zemstvo assemblies in order to more effectively combat famine and outbreaks of disease; their pleas were abruptly dismissed as “senseless dreams.”

By the turn of the century those zemtsy who shared a common concern for the defense of what they considered to be society’s prerogatives began meeting unofficially in a discussion group called Beseda, or Symposium. Like L’vov, these men “did not want to utilize their civic and patriotic feelings for work in the machinery of state,” which left them with the choice of being “either thrust into the social wilderness or into the ranks of the opposition.”  L’vov and the other members of the group called for a devolution of governing authority to the zemstva and an increase in its sphere of competence. They also advocated the abolition of all estate distinctions and the equalization of all citizens before the law, the restoration to the zemstvo of its original non-class based character, the creation of the small, local zemstvo unit (melkaia zemskaia edinitsa) and the education of the peasantry in order to hasten their acculturation to the norms and values of a civil society. In 1902 L’vov was elected chair of the Tula provincial zemstvo assembly executive board where he participated in public campaigns calling for the independence of local self-government, the abolition of Russia’s estate system and the end of the peasantry’s legal separation from society.  He also continued to press for an extension of society’s right to participate fully in the political life of the nation. But Japan’s attack on Port Arthur in 1904 galvanized Russian society and L’vov and the other zemtsy put aside their political struggle and pledged their unconditional support for the government’s war effort. They promised to do everything in their power to succor “all those who have suffered in the war and their families.”

The regime was forced to turn to society for assistance and it was here that Prince L’vov first became a prominent figure on the national political scene. The Moscow provincial zemstvo, led by Dmitrii Shipov, passed a resolution calling for “the formation of a society of zemstvo organizations to aid wounded soldiers.”  14 provincial zemstva sent delegates to Moscow and Shipov was made chair of the new General Zemstvo Organization (Obshchezemskaia Organizatsiia) by acclamation. He called for these zemstva “to recognize the need to take part in the organization of medical-sanitation aid in the Far East and to enter into this matter in union with the Moscow zemstvo.”   Careful to avoid violating the Zemstvo Statute’s prohibition against coordinated activity, it was further “resolved that each provincial zemstvo would organize its own medical detachments independently of each other, equipping them with all the necessary supplies , and inviting the assistance of local persons.”   However, Internal Affairs Minister Plehve refused to condone these efforts since “the Statute on Zemstvo institutions limited the sphere of the activity of these institutions to the boundaries of the province…a general, empire-wide zemstvo organization for aid to the wounded and sick troops must be recognized as being in direct contravention with the law’s demands….”  Society was shocked by this rejection of its well-intentioned relief efforts. Paul Miliukov, the famous liberal leader, recounts hearing a military officer complain: “Is not every spontaneous action doomed? Is there any room for conscious patriotism? Has not even the humble attempt of the self-governing assemblies to unite to help the sick and wounded been denounced as criminal, and forbidden by Plehve?”

Prince L’vov was elected by the commission to oversee the organization’s activities in the Far East and was now dispatched to St. Petersburg to meet with the tsar and ask for his personal permission to undertake relief operations. The tsar gave his consent and asked L’vov to “pass on to the personnel detachments my blessings and every hope for success in your holy cause of philanthropy.”  The General Zemstvo Organization formed 21 medical units with 1,050 available beds. They also opened 10 mobile canteens which served hot meals and snacks of bread and tea. Often the canteens were the only source of potable water at the front. During the course of the Russo-Japanese War the zemtsy received 50,385 sick and wounded for medical treatment. They also evacuated 9,068 on four zemstvo trains and provided hot meals for 389,579 men and distributed bread and tea to another 71,495 soldiers. In the last months of the campaign they had also supplied boiled water to 107,193 men. In order to pay for these endeavors the zemtsy had raised the sum of 2,080,894 rubles.  Prince L’vov declared that the loyal efforts of the zemtsy “had served to remove the obstacles which had hindered the further expansion of the zemstvo organization.”

It was here that Prince L’vov first displayed his talents for administration and the supervision and management of personnel and his activities were widely reported in the major newspapers of the empire. He had become a national political figure and upon his return to European Russia the following telegram was sent by the organization’s workers to Dmitrii Shipov:

        We ask you to express our fervent gratitude to Prince L’vov for everything that he

        has done for zemstvo affairs in the Far East…We are fully cognizant of the fact

        that it was the personal dignity of Prince L’vov, both as an individual and as a

        public activist, that made it possible for the zemstvo detachments to pursue their

        work unhindered and also resulted in the removal of the government’s  prejudices

        and their assumption of a proper attitude toward this zemstvo undertaking. We

        hope that the coming of favorable conditions in the internal life of Russia of will

        give Prince L’vov the opportunity to display properly his talents in the area of

        public activity and we ask you to express to him our fervent wishes that this

        activity will be developed as broadly as possible for the glory of the Russian

        zemstvo and Russian society.

L’vov’s  somewhat precipitous return had been occasioned by the turbulence that characterized Russian political life during the revolutionary year of 1905. He was elected as a member of a zemstvo delegation charged with presenting a petition to the tsar on June 6th that sought to encourage Nicholas to end Russia’s archaic system of estates and to summon elected representatives of the people chosen by a broadened franchise to establish a new political system based upon the rule of law.

Although Nicholas had seemingly agreed with these sentiments the government’s official account of the meeting (published in the June 7th ,1905 edition of Pravitelstvennyi Vestnik) noted only that the tsar had agreed to involve elected delegates in government work. The moderate zemtsy were aggrieved, and L’vov, as head of the Tula zemstvo executive board, wished to deliver a report on the meeting with the tsar to the entire provincial assembly which had been called into extraordinary session. But L’vov was shocked to learn of the changes that had swept over the zemstvo and that many of the newly elected deputies were opposed to his political activities. After prolonged and acrimonious debate it was agreed that L’vov could read his report by a vote of 27 to 25 but 17 of the latter walked out in protest. L’vov read his report and demanded the end to estate segregation, the establishment of the rule of law, and the granting of civil liberties as well as the broadening of the sphere of competence of the organs of local government.  But the zemstvo was by this time badly split between moderates and conservatives who, frightened by the marked increase in peasant uprisings and the specter of another Pugachevshchina, had ended their traditional disdain for zemstvo work and virtually took over the organs of local self-government.

Peasant unrest continued to escalate throughout the remainder of 1905. Combined with the general strike of October and the continued pressure of the Liberation Movement, the regime was finally forced to capitulate and promise to grant civil liberties as well as broadly elected assembly which would have legislative powers. The new chair of the council of ministers, Sergei Witte, sought to gain public support for the government by approaching the moderate zemtsy, including Prince L’vov, and inviting them to join his cabinet. Although the zemtsy refused to do so, thus missing a great opportunity, many of them participated in Russia’s constitutional experiment by standing for election to her first elected legislature, the State Duma. L’vov was made chair of the Duma’s famine relief committee where he made several impassioned speeches imploring the government to live up to its own laws and allow the zemtsy to participate as equals with the government bureaucracy in matters of local welfare and needs. He again called for the establishment of the “small zemstvo unit” and pleaded for a new policy of cooperation between state and society and an end to the bureaucracy’s tutelage over the organs of local self government.

Almost a year earlier the tsar had in fact already issued such a decree promising to extend the range of authority for the zemstvo; however, this promise was accompanied by an official warning that “zemstvo and municipal assemblies and all types of organizations must not exceed their prescribed limitations.”  The General Zemstvo Organization’s leadership had embraced the decree but studiously ignored the warning. At a congress of the zemtsy held on August 30, 1905 the assembled delegates had voted a resolution which read:

        The unification of the zemstva has been achieved at great cost and only after

        considerable struggle with the administration. Unification is now an accomplished

        fact and the General Zemstvo Organization represents a considerable force; it

        would be an egregious mistake not to make use of this. Until recently the admini-

        stration has always interpreted the Zemstvo Statute in such a narrow fashion as to

        prevent the various provincial zemstva from exceeding the sphere of local welfare

        and needs. The war forced the government to accept unification and joint activity,

        and even with the cessation of hostilities there are still circumstances which

        dictate the need for the continuation of the joint work of the Russian Zemstvo.

The organization had simply continued with their work throughout the revolutionary year of 1905 and engaged in practical relief efforts to succor those suffering from the continual crop failures and outbreaks of famine and disease which plagued Russia. Over the next decade the organization established canteens, bakeries and soup kitchens in the regions afflicted by these scourges. Over 11,000,000 rubles were spent on its famine relief campaigns; a total of 13.6 million rubles were spent on the organization’s famine relief operations between 1904-1914.  The zemtsy, however, rightly noted that the significance of their efforts could not be found in these figures, but instead lay in the fact that society had demanded and largely won a role in the governance of the nation as an independent force. They asserted that they had been forced “to enter into the struggle with a state which has exercised the highest developed form of supervision” over its people, and that the conflict between state and society, rooted in their differing perceptions of the nature of the zemstvo apparatus, would not be over unless and until “the center accepts societal forces in all governmental affairs.”

Imperial Russia’s last great statesmen, Peter Stolypin, was aware of the tsarist regime’s limited social underpinnings and was familiar with the zemstvo from his tenure as governor of Saratov province. He too envisioned a new social and civic order in the countryside. Along with a new peasant stratum of individual farmers freed from the stultifying grip of the peasant commune, he supported a program of broader peasant enfranchisement in local government. While no liberal, Stolypin shared the zemtsy’s belief that only a fundamental reform of local self-government could provide vital connections between the village and state and make the peasants into (conservative) citizens. He thought that in large part the future of Russia would depend upon the close cooperation of the zemstvo administration with the government. Stolypin believed that the government’s “supervision over the activity of public activities must be confined predominantly to the observation of the legality of these agencies’ activity.”  In point of fact, according to Tikhon Polner, the secretary of the General Zemstvo Organization, after 1905 “the zemstvo won the unconditional and definite recognition of the government.”

One enterprise the regime needed assistance with was Stolypin’s program of peasant resettlement to Siberia and the Far East. Though not as well known as his effort to break up the commune and create a peasant class of smallholders in the “American” style, this program was a vital part of his attempt to bring the peasantry into the modern era in both the political and economic sense.

The government was not able to handle the flood of peasants who were willing to participate in the resettlement program and Stolypin and Prince Vasil’chikov (the head of the Chief Administration of Land Settlement and Agriculture) quickly accepted the organization’s offer of assistance. The 1907 congress of the General Zemstvo Organization formally adopted a resolution that described the organization as “a permanent general zemstvo union,” despite the fact that article 3 of the Zemstvo Statute still forbade such an association. The executive board, headed by Prince L’vov, did note, however, that it had

Entered into negotiations with the government about this question in order to ascertain whether it envisaged a bill which would be laid before the legislative

institutions and therefore it remained only to wait for a new law concerning the

reform of the zemstvo institutions.

The tsarist government and the organization jointly devised a blueprint for action which involved the union establishing medical-alimentary stations along the Trans-Siberian Railway from Irkutsk to the Far East, as well as along he Amur River. By the end of March 1908 the union had dispatched 160 personnel to the Far East. Their mandate was to dispense medicines, feed and in general attempt to render every possible assistance.”

Over the next several years L’vov and the General Zemstvo Organization played a vital role in Stolypin’s resettlement program. Recognizing the crucial importance of this program for Russia’s future, L’vov penned an article in Russkie vedomosti in which he called upon society to recognize its responsibility “and take upon itself the necessary first steps for the colonization of the region,” since it was “only here, because of the absence of the landlords and government officials that the peasantry can discover a sense of their own capabilities and become a true part of the vital forces of our society.”

L’vov had by now become the public symbol of educated society’s independent initiative and capabilities. Ironically, his work as head of the General Zemstvo Organization was funded by the very same reactionaries that had captured control of the zemstvo apparatus. Paradoxically, the years leading up to World War I saw the most dramatic expansion of zemstvo activity since the era of the Great Reforms. As many scholars of the period have pointed out, the zemstva swung sharply to the right in the aftermath of the 1905 revolution and a broad array of programs and services were shut down.  This development was often coupled with the rightist nobility’s defeat of Stolypin’s efforts to democratize the zemstvo and presented as proof positive of the essentially moribund nature of local self government and thus the eclipse of its potential as an engine of progress in rural Russia. The problem with this interpretation is that those scholars largely confined their research in this regard to B.B. Veselovskii’s seminal work Istorii zemstva na sorok let which ceased its comprehensive narrative right after the likvidatorstvo and basically missed the unprecedented and steady increases in the zemstva budgets up to 1914 (spending basically doubled over the period 1907-1914) and the reinstitution and expansion of these “liquidated” programs by the very same zemtsy that had cut them in the first place. Not only were programs restored or expanded but new ones in fields such as agronomy or adult education were created, often at the behest of the peasantry itself. Observes were impressed by the independence of this new “peasant intelligentsia” which they explained by the spread of literacy and by changes in the rules on peasant elections which restored direct peasant voting in zemstvo elections. In other words, despite the failure to democratize local self government, zemstvo programs touched ever-widening circles of peasants who began pressing for wider inclusion and participation in local government.

As with Russia as a whole, the zemstva faced their biggest test during the war that engulfed Europe in the summer of 1914. Military conscription adversely affected their ability to provide services to the countryside. State subsidies for schools and other projects dried up and a significant proportion of spending and resources was diverted to the war effort such as provisioning the army with food, horses and other supplies, organizing medical relief for the troops and the evacuation of refugees from the western provinces. Medical personnel and veterinarians, both in high demand in the army, were hit hard. As a result, many provinces faced outbreaks of smallpox and myriad other diseases.  With cruel irony, the war greatly intensified peasant demand for services while diminishing those institutions’ capacity to satisfy local needs. And the war itself piqued peasant interest in the world beyond their horizon as they sought to comprehend their place in it and their connection with other “citizens” beyond the village. The army conscripted some 30,000 male schoolteachers and the zemstva struggled to find replacements. Peasant interest in the war stimulated popular demand for rural libraries, newspapers and the lectures that were organized by the zemstva. Frontline soldiers sent letters home urging their wives to send their children to school and by 1916 zemstvo schools were besieged with applicants, many of whom had to be turned away.  In every field, zemstvo services were imploding by the third year of the war as the crisis that devastated local government reflected the catastrophe engulfing the country at large.

But Russian society had in fact responded to the opportunities presented by the conflict and had once again displayed a sense of civic responsibility and public initiative that belies the idea that Russia went into the war without hope for social and political regeneration. With the outbreak of the First World War the regime was again forced to acknowledge its weakness and turn to society for assistance.  35 of the 43 provincial zemstva sent delegates to Moscow to transform the informal coordinating body that was the General Zemstvo Union into the dynamic and centralized All-Russian Zemstvo Union (Vserossiiskii zemskii soiuz) to be headed once again by Prince L’vov.  The zemstsy dispatched him for yet another audience with Tsar Nicholas II. In the course of the conversation, L’vov explained the new union’s mission:

In a whirlwind of events, the All-Russian Union of Zemstva was formed a week ago. Its

Organization is the simplest possible. A central committee has been formed in Moscow and provincial and county ones in the countryside. The whole organization has been constructed, not according to rigid and elaborate statutes, but on the basis of a firm and spiritual unity. The zemstva have been able to allocate 12 million rubles for the relief of the wounded. Our task is to receive the wounded from the army, transfer them to the hospitals, heal our wounded brothers and send them to convalesce in the interior of Russia.

The tsar’s imperial decree of August 28, however, made it clear that the union was to exist “only for the duration of the war…and only under the flag of the Red Cross.”  But within a month of the start of hostilities it became clear that official plans for the evacuation of the wounded and medical supply beyond points immediately adjacent to the battlefield were virtually non-existent. The Council of Ministers was shamefacedly forced to turn to society for the purpose of organizing victory in the rear.

Society’s response was immediate and staggering. By November, some 90 days after the mobilization order, 1,667 hospital units of varying size and description stood under union aegis.  Simultaneously, the army implored the union to outfit and operate the evacuation trains, including those trains running inside the war zone. By 1915 the union maintained 50 trains spread across European Russia which carried as many as 16.000 sick and wounded at one time.  Incredibly, the army only had two dozen hospital trains; thus it was

        forced to use those means which were found at hand…freight train after freight train was sent to the interior of the country. There was not any kind of equipment in the box cars, often lacking even straw for bedding; the sick and wounded lay on the bare floor. Medical personnel were absent; usually such trains were accom- panied by only one doctor or medical assistant…when such trains arrived in Moscow after several days’ journey, the condition and appearances of the passen- gers produced a horrifying impression.

This desperate situation changed for the better as soon as the unions took over the management of medical evacuation efforts. They set up a network of relief stations alongside of the major railways.

As each train arrived “it was serviced, those personnel who had fallen ill were left behind, money was received, the wounded had their dirty linen exchanged for clean, the wagons and equipment was disinfected after the transport of diseased patients.”   In marked contrast to the army’s trains, the union’s were better equipped and fully staffed. Each train had its own store of medical supplies, a kitchen, and a pharmacy. All the trains were staffed by several doctors, a team of nurses, and an even larger assortment of volunteers acting as orderlies. These volunteers were generally Mennonites who had been classified as conscientious objectors and were fulfilling their service requirements. By May 1915 the Medical Evacuation Detachment of the zemstvo union was composed of 99 doctors, 194 interns, 323 nurses, 144 cooks, and over 2000 orderlies. By the end of the war more than four million men would be evacuated on the zemstvo railroad.

The municipal counterpart of the zemstva, the city councils, also organized a relief society. The Moscow city council convened in order to consider a resolution soliciting the support and assistance of municipal councils throughout Russia; two weeks later the All-Russian Union of Cities (Vserossiiskii soiuz gorodov) was born. Prince L’vov participated at the founding congress held at the Moscow city hall. Thus, he was the only public figure involved in the formation of both the unions. In addition, the Zemgor, a joint committee of the two unions, was set up to take an active part in the organization of the army’s supply needs through the mobilization of industry. Prince L’vov was named head of this body as well. Its work included acting as a liaison between the ministry of war and local enterprises, the evacuation of threatened industries and the construction of new ones designed to meet the needs of the war effort. To some extent this duplicated the work of the War Industries Committees set up by Russia’s industrialists, and Polner concedes that the Zemgor was only a qualified success.

The point to be made here is that the tsarist government quickly proved to be incapable of meeting its most basic obligations to the Russian people during the war. Unlike the other belligerents in the conflict, where the authorities moved to centralize all governmental functions in order to meet the needs of total war, the public in Russia stepped forward and took on the responsibility:

        not only for a broad expansion of [its] sphere of works formerly planned,

        not only for the extension of the union’s activity up to the front as far as the

        advance positions, but it also took upon itself such functions, the fulfillment of

        which had been undertaken as purely governmental tasks and which in all

        preceding wars had been fulfilled exclusively by governmental organs.

This important development during the last three years of Romanov Russia has often

been glossed over in the scholarly literature, perhaps because in so many ways the fighting was directly and decisively related to the collapse of the monarchy in 1917. This relative omission is curious when it is recalled that modern wars often have proved to be accelerators of change; more than that, and paradoxically, they have become instruments of modernization.  World War I was no exception.

Just as the stresses and strains of modern warfare had inaugurated the era of reforms after Crimea and the semi-constitutional monarchy after the Russo-Japanese fiasco, the Great War could also have brought further political concessions as the increasing irrelevance of the regime was laid bare during the course of the conflict and Russia’s increasingly civic-minded entrepreneurial and professional classes stepped forward and virtually ran the war effort. After nearly a year of repeated follies and misadventures by the government, Prince L’vov declared:

The duty of supplying the army with munitions, the organization of its transport,

and the problem of supplying food in the interior are tasks in which formerly

unofficial forces were not allowed to have any part. But they have proved to be

beyond the unaided strength of the government officials. We must mobilize our

forces, and all Russia must be welded into one military organization.

To be sure it was the unexpected protractedness of the war that engendered the endless series of problems which defied official solution: nationwide epidemics, millions of displaced persons from the western provinces lost to the Germans in 1915, food and fuel shortages and inflation. As with the provisioning of medical supplies and personnel for the soldiers, the regime now asked the union to take a more significant role in safeguarding the general population against epidemic diseases and in instituting welfare programs for refugees that exceeded traditional systems of private charity and government sponsored philanthropy.

The union had but 12 million rubles in its coffers at the outbreak of the war. These funds had been transferred from the accounts of its predecessor organization, the General Zemstvo Organization. By the end of the war there were over 100,000 employees of the Zemstvo Union who staffed not only hospitals and field canteens but also munitions workshops and factories, abattoirs, dairy farms, pharmaceutical warehouses, labor exchanges, nurseries for the children of refugees etc. Each provincial zemstvo was expected to contribute money and men and they did so by virtually cannibalizing zemstvo operations in the provinces. Huge sums of money were made available to the union from the tsarist government right from the start. During the first year of the war alone the union was reimbursed 72, 241,051 rubles and by January 1, 1916 the union had received another 187,467,244 rubles from the regime.  The regime’s dependence on the union can be seen in the increasing amounts of money that were funneled into the union’s accounts over the remaining 15 months of the regime’s existence; the monthly expenditure was 60,000,000 rubles and the total funding provided by the government to the union over the course of the war was well over a billion rubles.  This total, however, does not include the hundreds of millions of rubles provided to individual provincial zemstva over the course of the war to provide for the relief of refugees, orphans and war invalids as well as funding necessary to fight epidemics and provide essential services to local populations. This was done deliberately so as not to enhance the profile of the union any further. While there is no evidence that the government ever seriously considered cutting off the flow of money to the union this possibility obviously was of concern to the zemtsy as Prince L’vov himself noted that although they were “scared because they could be wiped out financially…we are joined by money and self-interest. The only obligation is accountability…we must not fight…but defend ourselves.

The authorities, however, were in fact quite apprehensive as from their perspective the union clearly served as an agent for change in the structure and functioning of the old regime. Minister of Internal Affairs N. A. Maklakov warned that, unless constrained the Union of Zemstva and the Union of Cities “obviously were preparing themselves for work on the reconstruction of public life which must come, they feel, at the conclusion of the war.”  The government was also becoming increasingly alarmed at the “mission creep” of the public organizations. For example, by 1917 there would also be more than six million refugees in need of assistance. The army’s general staff had, in an effort to deny foodstuffs or materiel to the enemy, emulated Kutuzov’s scorched earth policy which had helped defeat Napoleon. This entailed the complete destruction of all livestock, crops and dwellings as the army retreated. Unfortunately, the generals had not recognized the enormity of their folly; where Napoleon had advanced on the few available roads, the German army moved along a broad front. The resultant chaos provoked an anguished debate among the government’s ministers. Iakhontov, secretary to the Council of Ministers, relates how they discussed the impact of the policy

Being expelled forcibly by the order of the military authorities for the purpose

of the depopulation of the areas being abandoned to the enemy…they tear people

from familiar surroundings…and force them into the unknown vastness. They set

fire to remaining grain reserves right in front of their eyes, and not infrequently to

their homes as well…the exasperated, exhausted crowd moved like an unbroken

stream all along the roads, interfering with military movements and introducing

complete disorder into the rear. To feed, water and provide housing for this entire

horde is, of course, unthinkable. People perish by the hundreds, from hunger, cold

and disease. The children’s death rate has reached terrible proportions. Unburied

corpses are left along the sides of roads…and this mass of humanity is spreading

over Russia.

Krivoshein, Minister of Agriculture, summed up the feelings of horror and apprehension evinced by all of the ministers when he declared that “this great migration of peoples organized by Headquarters is leading Russia to the abyss, toward revolution and toward perdition.”  The refugees, who had “become aware of their predicament and began to become conscious of an entitlement to assistance and dignity” by virtue of their being citizens of the nation, forged ties with others who shared their suffering despite conventional distinctions of social status and education. Consequently, these people were “afforded access to a broader national community, built on the foundations of a common sense of violation and loss and sustained by the need for collective effort to regain what had been forfeited in wartime.”  Unfortunately, the belated recognition of the enormity of the refugee crisis by the government did not lead to any action being adopted by the ministers and the legitimacy of the tsarist regime was diminished still further. Once again, it was the zemstvo union that stepped forward.

The union formed a “dense network of organs at the front and in the immediate rear of the army and worked effectively among the civilian population and provided them not only with medical assistance, but also with food.”  The first units had actually been set up as early as February 1915, six months before the problem was discussed by the government. In the union’s journal dated 1 March 1915, the Warsaw committee of the union reported its chief purpose was not only to aid sick and wounded soldiers but also “to develop a completely new operation directed towards the rendering of aid to the civilian population.” The refugee crisis necessitated a significant expansion of these plans. Having established medical and food supply centers already in Russia’s major cities, the union now built, equipped and staffed hospitals and canteens along the roads and railways to assist the refugees. The hospitals were erected to combat the spread of infectious diseases, while the canteens “provided fodder for cattle, set up baths and laundries, and sometimes distributed clean underclothes and clothing in addition to bread, tea and other foodstuffs.”  The zemtsy built nurseries and shelters for the refugees, and even provided services such as labor exchanges and information bureaus.

The economic consequences of the First World War also led to a public clamor for a streamlined apparatus to coordinate the civilian and military sectors of the war effort. By 1916 the food supply crisis had dispelled any illusions that Russia’s existing  supply system was adequate. Food riots had broken out in Orenburg, followed by similar disorders in Ufa and Krasnoiarsk. From Tbilisi came word of acute bread shortages despite the fact that 1800 tons of grain stood undistributed at the nearby train station, and meat rationing had to be introduced in Khar’kov. By then, clearly, the exigencies of the moment were such as to demand nothing short of a massive and coordinated civic campaign to save Russia from economic collapse. The Duma had earlier established four special councils to plan production and food supply; the government had allowed representatives from the unions to sit on all four councils. Kimitaka Matsuzato has shown that the government was willing to cooperate with society out of sheer necessity; the tsarist government actively sought to enlist society’s help by incorporating municipal social movements into the total war regime.

Broad powers were in fact devolved upon city and zemstvo organizations in an attempt to coordinate the grain requisitioning process. Unfortunately, it seems that the middlemen in this mechanism were far more concerned with their own profits than with the national welfare; their lack of civic responsibility, combined with interregional competition for the grain which led to hoarding and stockpiling, served only to exacerbate the crisis. In fact, the disarray in the food transport system (which was often supervised by the zemstvo) due to protectionist transport regulations, was, according to Matsuzato, the main reason for the food crisis which led ultimately to the collapse of the monarchy in 1917.   The army had also turned to the unions for assistance in procuring food. In May 1916, Stavka, the Army High Command, placed the zemstva in charge of meat supply within the war zone. By this decision, rural zemstva, along with the unions, were authorized to fix procurement prices, to requisition, if necessary, and to organize food deliveries. They did their work well. The army, often desperately short of meat in 1915, was amply supplied by the fall of 1916, thanks to the expertise of zemstvo professionals.  This cooperation was endorsed by the Ministry of Agriculture.

But interministerial conflict prevented a rapprochement between state and society; the Ministry of Agriculture, under both Krivoshein and Naumov, had been willing to share power with nonbureacratic elements and both had expressed their sympathies with the aspiration of society to play a more prominent role in the governance of the nation. Other ministers, by contrast, were frightened by the possibility that the union’s programs would widen the political arena with perhaps fatal consequences for the power of the imperial bureaucracy. In November 1916 The Minister of Internal Affairs hinted that the appointed governors ought be entrusted with more responsibility for food supply and a week later the Minister of Agriculture resigned. In December union representatives gathered in Moscow to try, once again, to bring the regime to its senses. The Ministry of the Interior refused to countenance the continued devolution of a substantial portion of wartime administration to society; it had undoubtedly alarmed the conservatives when, earlier in the year, Prince L’vov had called for the resolution of supply problems by the union to be implemented “from a supreme, state like point of view.”  The government resorted to strong arm tactics and, in a stormy confrontation, the union congress was shut down and the delegates forcibly dispersed.

Of course, the government had some legitimate reasons for its concern. Prince L’vov had also called earlier for reforms that would “cement Russian society and channel human resources along useful lines; anarchy was the only alternative…to do otherwise would simply invite disaster.”  By this time L’vov and the other zemtsy had realized that Russia could not delay the further modernization of its social and political relations. The tsar had then refused to meet with a delegation which represented almost all of educated society and was headed by L’vov. This “Progressive Bloc,” which included nearly three quarters of the members of Russia’s elected legislature, the Duma, and had ties to both the unions and the War Industries Committee, now demanded the establishment of a government which would be “capable of organizing real cooperation between all citizens….”  L’vov now declared boldly that society needed to find the “will to develop a state-like might”  since the public was “charged with the execution of a wide series of missions of general state significance.”  He wrote:

The activity of the union long ago acquired state significance. The public-spirited forces have been attracted to it in very large numbers, and the work of the union has proved that much of what is unfeasible for the government is feasible

when undertaken by the people’s organized forces. It has proved that the people attracted to state work display the great latent forces hidden within it and that the government mechanism of state administration is far from conforming with the living force of the country.

The Progressive Bloc argued that reforms, long overdue in any case, were now essential in order to provide for the more efficient utilization of Russia’s resources and thus a more effective prosecution of the war. Many members of society realized that there could be no return to the status quo ante bellum. They had undoubtedly expected an increase in their influence after the war but had formerly been willing to wait for the end of hostilities to press their claim; now it was imperative that reforms be implemented immediately if Russia was to survive the war intact. Thus, by 1916 the unions had come to embody the initiative and public spirit of society. As head of the Zemstvo Union, Zemgor and the Progressive Bloc L’vov represented the legitimate demands and aspirations of Russian liberalism. This was recognized even by the obtuse Empress Aleksandra, who hoped “to send Prince L’vov to Siberia.”  And the near hysterical response of the Council of Minister’s to L’vov’s growing stature was indeed telling the prince is almost the chairman of some kind of special government; at the front they talk only of him and say that he saved the situation, he supplies the army, feeds the hungry, heals the ill, sets up barber shops for the soldiers, in a word, he seems to be some kind of ubiquitous Muir and Mereliz. All his work is out of our control, even though hundreds of millions of dollars from the treasury are being thrown at him. It is necessary either to put an end to this or put all power in his hands.

Thus, the government recognized that its superordinate powers were being challenged. Minister of Internal Affairs warned Tsar Nicholas that the public activists were “systematically moving toward their own goal…to black out the lights of your glory…and to weaken the strength of the significance of the holy, immemorial and in Russia always saving idea of autocracy.”  But no matter how much the government wanted to curtail or even shut down the unions, it was acknowledged that “it was impossible to liquidate this problem because the administration cannot manage without them.”  This was graphically illustrated when Minister of War D. S. Shuvaev refused to follow orders from the Tsar himself to cease cooperating with the War Industries Committee. Shuvaev gave as his reason that he “did not have enough chinovniki (government officials) to replace all the public workers.”    The regime’s fear of the union’s reached such proportions that the ministers devoted considerable time to the discussion of their activities and possible responses to the threat to their primacy.

The ministers often expressed their concerns over the “self-abolition” of the government and their helplessness in the face of the dynamism of society. Prince Shcherbatov, acting as Minister of Internal Affairs late in the war, requested instructions on measures to be taken to limit the activities of the unions. He agreed that it was “necessary to tolerate them as an existing fact…since their dispersal would create serious complications.” However, he also asserted that

In general, I cannot help but repeat that the zemstva and city unions, which I found already in full bloom by the time I became minister, are a colossal government mistake. It is impossible to allow such organizations without a statute and determination as to the limits of their activities. From a philanthropic beginning they have turned into enormous institutions with the most varied functions, in many cases of a purely governmental character, and they are replacing government institutions with themselves.

Thus, the government’s increasing alarm concerning the transformation of Russian society was indeed well placed. It’s inability to meet the needs of its people made it reliant upon the unions to prosecute the war; for their part, the liberal zemtsy were, of course, forced to turn to tens of thousands of non-noble technical experts to in order to conduct its business. Whether it came to staffing hospitals, outfitting trains, or coordinating evacuations from the front to the rear, the union had to range far beyond the narrow limits of the zemstvo class franchise and call in technical experts who were debarred by law from voting in the provincial and county assemblies. Once the union entered the fighting zone, non-noble consultants hired by the zemstvo – the so called Third Element (the first element being the state itself and the second element being the elected zemtsy) – were placed in positions of authority. The government worried about the loyalty of these Third Element professionals and the influence they now wielded over the union. B.V. Shtiurmer, Chair of the Council of Ministers, averred that “the zemstvo union is culled from persons of a definite coloration, each free unit is saturated with the Third Element…moreover, it is impossible to liquidate this problem because the administration could not manage without them.”  He rightly feared that this would ultimately “lead to the transformation of the zemstva from institutions dealing with the local economy under the supervision of the government, into organs of local government, independent of the authorities.”

By this time many zemtsy had come to the conclusion that Russia could no longer afford to delay the modernization of its social and political relations. L’vov and the other liberal zemtsy had long advocated the elimination of the estate system and the democratization of the zemstvo as being the first steps toward the acculturation of the peasantry to the norms and values of a civil society. But L’vov had not wanted to undertake meaningful reforms until after the war had been concluded as he thought a political struggle would serve only to undermine the war effort. He had advised his colleagues simply “to continue with their work…for we believe it is precisely in real action and work that our salvation and the salvation of the country lies.”  But after the tsar refused to meet with the Progressive Bloc the time had come to wrest reforms from the regime so that society would be “capable of organizing real cooperation among all citizens….”  The zemtsy proposed a reform project that would establish a more modern and inclusive system of local self-government that would necessarily entail the decentralization of the Russian state political order and allow for the further development of its nascent civil society. L’vov and the other zemtsy realized that “a new infrastructure had to be created and this demonstrated that the old zemstvo was too circumscribed and limited to handle the tasks before it; a greater segment of the public had to be mobilized.”

In a remarkable display of public discourse, N.I. Astrov (the head of the Union of Towns) organized a three day conference in Moscow that saw workers, tsarist bureaucrats, townspeople, and zemtsy meet to discuss the situation. It was here that the deep fissures in Russian society were made apparent to L’vov and the other members of society. L’vov and Astrov spoke of the need to galvanize Russian society in order to meet the needs of the war effort; however, the workers, led by Alexander Kerenskii, another future minister-president of the Provisional Government, demanded social justice and their rights. One delegate went so far as to warn L’vov that “all educated Russia” was on trial and that “the truth must be told, the people are turning away from you. And this must be recognized.”  Astrov would later warn L’vov that “the people below us hate us and are irritated.”  He also warned L’vov that if liberal Russia could not educate the people politically, radicals would become not only the probable, “but the legitimate spokesmen for the future.”

The radicalization of the Third Element was problematic for both the union leadership and the bureaucracy. Within the war zone these professionals had developed considerable autonomy. They had concluded that there could be no return to the status quo ante bellum; Russian society, galvanized in good measure by the unions to win the war because of the government’s manifest incompetence, had been too severely shaken to avoid a further modernization of social and political relations. In their campaign for a political voice, these activists found an ally in the Pirogov Society, which represented Russia’s medical community. The Society appealed for “the politicization of the Third Element and a movement of doctors to the people.” The convention also ended with a call for the “reconstruction of our urban and rural institutions on the basis of universal suffrage.  The wartime activities of the union and especially the activities of the Third Element highlighted the beginnings of a new reform tradition, one based on the underpinnings of a nascent civil society. Amazingly, the unique size, composition and function of the All-Russian Zemstvo Union, a uniqueness grounded in the nature of modern war and magnified by the existence of a parallel municipal organization and other voluntary associations, provided a vehicle for professional specialists to take over the war effort. From this perspective then, the story of the zemstvo union illustrates the beginnings of a civil society that might have served to guide the political and economic development of the country.

As 1916 wore on the cry for change escalated. Frustrated with L’vov, who, convinced that zemstvo work could not be interrupted, had refused to countenance proposals to utilize work stoppages to prod the Duma to join them in a campaign to effect political change, the Third Element took matters into its own hands. In Minsk, along the front lines, where the Third Element was heavily involved with food supply and refugee relief, doctors and statisticians walked off the job “to protest the class dominated unions.”  Momentarily unnerved and under pressure from the regime, L’vov at first threatened to fire the strikers, but soon dispatched an assistant to intercede with the workers. This gesture did not serve to pacify them because the police intervened and arrested two dozen employees of the Mogilev provincial zemstvo.  Three months later, at a conference of consumer cooperatives in Moscow, with union physicians and statisticians in attendance, a resolution was passed condemning the union for its “estrangement from the democratic intelligentsia.”

With the collapse of the Romanov dynasty in 1917 L’vov’s contributions made him the logical choice to represent society as minister-president and interior minister of the Provisional Government. When Nicholas finally took the decision to abdicate he reluctantly charged L’vov with the formation of a new government.  When L’vov was introduced to a crowd of workers and soldiers assembled at the Taurida Palace, however, and it was noted that he had been placed a head of the government because his “very name signifies organized Russian society,” cries of “”privileged (tsenzovoe) society” filled the hall. When the speaker continued, saying “Prince (!) L’vov, head of the Russian zemstvo, will be our example,” the crowd knowingly again responded “privileged!” Thus, the depth of antagonism between the masses and society stood revealed, as did the potential for the social revolution which would eventually consume Russia.

And it was here, at the eleventh hour, that L’vov also acknowledged the legitimacy of the democratic aspirations of Russian society. In 1917 the Provisional Government, under L’vov’s leadership, would radically restructure the zemstva in accordance with the people’s demands. He felt it necessary “to liberate the people from all the bonds that enchained it and of then giving it the opportunity to demonstrate all its spiritual forces.”  To that end L’vov dismissed the tsarist governors from their posts and appointed the chairmen of the provincial zemstva boards as “commissars” in their stead. He also issued decrees which implemented a local zemstvo and instituted equal suffrage in elections to local self-government. Unfortunately, the belief that the democratization and extension of the zemstvo would ensure the peasantry’s acculturation to the norms of a civil society and allow for the establishment of a Western style political order proved unfounded. The peasants bitterly resented having zemstva chairmen appointed over them as viceroys and chose instead to exercise “peasant rule” through their traditional organizations and committees.  They considered the zemstva to be bastions of privilege and largely eschewed them until they realized that they could be yet another vehicle by which to assert their autonomy and the primacy of their own interests. Ultimately, many of the zemstva would be converted to Soviets after the Bolshevik seizure of power. Once again, in keeping with Russian political culture, they would simply be links in an administrative chain stretching from the center to the countryside.

The Great War served to discredit finally the tsar and his government, but society’s victory over the state, symbolized by Prince L’vov’s assumption of the post of Prime Minister in the Provisional Government, proved to be ephemeral when the pleas of Russia’s peasant majority went unheeded. The peasantry pursued their own interests intelligently and consistently; it would be a mistake to conclude that they did not have a coherent vision of Russia’s future. This vision included an end to the war and the distribution of the land, policies which L’vov’s government refused to implement until after the election for a constituent assembly which they themselves purposefully postponed. L’vov, his government and Russian liberalism failed utterly, but in the final analysis this was not due simply to their concern for legalistic proprieties or temporizing. The failure of liberalism in Russia was the result of the schism between Russia’s unacculturated peasant masses and educated society. Russia proved unable to integrate the narod as citizens into its nascent civil society. It was the failure of all those things for which Prince L’vov had worked so selflessly for as a dedicated public servant.


  1. Orlando Figes, in his A People’s Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution (New York: Viking Press, 1996), attributes his poor reputation to the disdain that urban elites (who wrote most of the memoirs of the period), held for this phlegmatic, taciturn “country bumpkin” or shliapa, 51. Richard Pipes, like most other historians, preferred to concentrate on L’vov’s more flamboyant successor and simply dismissed him as being “ineffectual and bland.” Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), 301.
  2. The arguments over state control versus local initiative are discussed in S. Frederick Starr, Decentralization and Self-Government in Russia, 1830-1870 (Princeton , New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1972), 69-71, 75, 83-88; W. Bruce Lincoln, In the Vanguard of Reform: Russia’s Enlightened Bureaucrats 1825-1861 (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1982) , 172, 177, 183-86; Thomas Pearson, Russian Officialdom in Crisis: Autocracy and Local Self-Government, 1861-1900  (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 10-13, 39-59 passim.
  3. This is well described in B. B. Veselovskii’s seminal work Istoriia zemstva na sorok let (St. Petersburg: Izdatel’stvo O. N. Popovoi, 1911), 4 vols.
  4. D. Dolgorukov, Velikaia razrukha: vospominaniia osnovatelia partii kadetov (Moscow: Tsentropoligraf, 2007), 331.
  5. Polner, Zhiznennyi put’ kniazia G. E. l’vova (Paris: Imp. De Navarre, 1932), 32-37.
  6. Polner, Russian Local Government During the War (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1930), 57.
    1. Belokonskii, Zemskoe dvizhenie (Moscow: Zadruga, 1914), 198.
  7. Polner, Obshchezemskaia organizatsiia na dal’nem vostoke (Moscow: Tipografiia Russkogo Tovarichestvo, 1908), vol. 1, 7.
  8. Polner, Zhiznennyi, 66.
  9. Quoted in Idem.
  10. N. Miliukov, Russia and its Crisis (New York: Collier Books, 1906), 221.
  11. Polner, Zhiznennyi, 67.
  12. Obshchezemskaia, 2: 408-414.
  13. Obshchezemskaia, 1: 377-378.
  14. Zhurnaly chrezvychainago tul’skago gubernskago zemskago sobraniia (Tula: Tipografiia I. D. Fortunatova, 1905), 17-18.
  15. Gosudarstvennaia duma, Stenograficheskie otchety, Sosyv I, Sessiia 1 (St. Petersburg, 1906), 1648, col. A.
  16. Quoted in S. S. Oldenburg, Last Tsar! Nicholas II, His Reign and His Russia (Gulf Breeze, FL: Academic International Press, 1977), 91.
  17. Obshchezemskaia, 2:414.
  18. Desiatiletye Obshchezemkoi Organizatsiiblagotvoritel,noi pomoshchi naseleniiu 1904-1914gg. (Moscow: Tipografiia Russkogo Tovarichestvo, 1914), 36.
  19. Quoted in Mary Schaeffer Conroy, Peter Arkad’evich Stolypin (Colorado: Westview Press, 1976), 64.
  20. Tikhon Polner, Russian Local Government During the War and the Union of Zemstvos (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1930), 33.
  21. Conroy, Stolypin, 47.
  22. Desiatiletye , 24.
  23. Russkie vedomosti, Sept. 19, 1908.
  24. Roberta Manning, The Crisis of the Old Order in Russia: Gentry and Government (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982); Ruth Delia MacNaughton and Roberta Manning “The Crisis of the Third of June System and Political Trends in the Zemstvos, 1907-1914,” in Leopold Haimson, ed., The Politics of Rural Russia, 1905-1914 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979), 184-218.
  25. For a detailed explication of this topic see Thomas Earl Porter and Scott Seregny, “The Zemstvo Reconsidered,” in Alfred Evans, Vladimir Gel’man, ed., The Politics of Local Government in Russia (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), 19-44.
  26. “Tekushchaia zemskaia zhizn’,” Zemskoe delo, No. 2 (1916), 98-100; Polner, Russian Local Government, 295-296.
  27. See Scott J. Seregny, “A Wager on the Peasantry: Anti-Zemstvo Riots, Adult Education and the Russian Village During the First World War: Stavropol’ Province,” Slavonic and East European Review 79, no. 1 (January 2001), 90-126.
  28. Obzor deiatel’nosti glanogo komiteta vserossiiskogo zemskogo soiuza, 1 avgutsa 1914-1 fevralia 1915, 18. Seven of the eight unrepresented provinces sent telegrams in support of the union and eventually 43 of the 43 provincial zemstva did in fact affiliate with the union, the onlyu exception being the notoriously reactionary Kursk provincial zemstvo.
  29. Kratkii ocherk deiatel’nosti vserossiiskogo zemskogo soiuza (Moscow, Gorodskaia Tipografiia, 1916), 6.
  30. Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Rossiiskii Federatsii (GARF), fond. 102, opis’ 17, ed. khr. 343, August 16, 1914, 1ist 51. This archival source, a police report, contains the recommendation of Minister of the Interior N. Maklakov that the union be “closely supervised and monitored.”
  31. Izvestiia vserossiiskogo zemskogo soiuza, no. 1 (1914): 1-16. This task was made easier by the fact that zemstvo doctors and junior medical officers automatically obtained exemption from the draft, a sorely needed privilege in view of the overall shortage of medically trained personnel.
  32. Stanley Washburn, Field Notes from the Russian Front (London: A Melrose, 1915),57.
  33. Izvestiia vzs, no. 3 (15 November 1915), 15.
  34. Polner, Zhiznennyi, 182.
  35. Polner, Russian Local Government, 285. The scholarly literature on this subject has often erroneously referred to the Zemgor as a joint relief agency of the unions of towns and zemstva when in fact it was a distinctly separate organization devoted to mobilizing industry. Bernard Pares first made this mistake in his The Fall of the Russian Monarchy (London: Cape, 1939) and it has been repeated ever since.
  36. Kratkii ocherk, 8.
  37. Thus, writing on the war’s impact on the industrial economy, Norman Stone sees the conflict not “as a vast rundown of most accounts, but as a crisis of growth, a modernization crisis in thin disguise.” See Norman Stone, The Eastern Front, 1914-1917 (London and New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975), 14.
  38. Quoted in S. O. Zagorsky, State Control of Industry in Russia During the War (New Haven, CT.: Yale
  39. University Press, 1928), 82.
  40. Polner, Russian Local Government, 72.
  41. Quoted in Willaim Gleason, The All-Russian Union of Towns and the All-Russian Union of Zemstvos in World War I (unpublished Ph.D dissertation (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International), 259.
  42. GARF, fond 102, opis’17, ed. khr. 343, November 18, 1914, list 10.
  43. N. Iakhontov, “Tiazhelye dni,” Arkhiv russkoi revoliutsii, vol. 18 (Berlin, 1926), 23.
  44. Peter Gatrell, A Whole Empire Walking: Refugees in Russia During World War I (Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999), 141-142,170.
  45. Polner, Russian Local Government, 160.
  46. Kratkii ocherk, 33.
  47. Kimitaka Matsuzato, “Interregional Conflicts and the Collapse of Tsarism: The Real Reason for the Food Crisis after the Autumn of 1916,” in Mary Conroy (ed.), Emerging Democracy in Late Imperial Russia (Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1998), 243-300.
  48. Minister of Agriculture Naumov’s memoirs are clear on this point. He notes that when he came into office in November 1915 there was no meat provisioning plan for the army, and that “only in the spring of 1916, due to the statistical and organizational endeavors of the zemstva, were improvements made.” See A. N. Naumov, Iz utelevshikh vospominanii 1868-1917g. (New York: Izdanie A. K. Naumova O. A. Kusevitskoi, 1955), 471.
  49. Izvestia vzs, no. 39, May 1, 1916, 2.
  50. GARF, f. 102, op. 17, ed. khr. 343 (3c), v. 4, ll. 31-34.
  51. Izvestiia vzs, No. 47, Sept 15, 1916, 2.
  52. Krasnyi arkhiv, 50-51 (1932), 133-136.
  53. Izvestiia vzs, Nos. 37-38, April 15, 1916, 1-2.
  54. Kratkii ocherk, 33.
  55. From 1914 to 1916, the Empress continually accused the union of seeking to take major credit for relief efforts simply in order to extract reforms once the war ended. See A.L. Hynes, trans.,Letters of the Tsaritsa to the Tsar, 1914-1916 (London: John Lane, 1923).
  56. Michael Cherniavsky, ed., Prologue to Revolution: Notes of A. N. Iakhontov on the Secret Meetings of the Council of Ministers, 1915 (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1967), 228. Muir and Mereliz was a prominent Russian department store along the lines of the old Sears, Roebuck and Company.
  57. P. Semennikov, Monarkhiia pered krusheniem, 1914-1917 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo, 1927), 95-96.
  58. “Soveshchanie gubernatorov v 1916 godu,” Krasnyi arkhiv, vol. 33, part 2, 152.
  59. Semmenikov, Monarkhiia, 144-145.
  60. N. Iakhontov, “Tiazhelye dni,” 33.
  61. Krasnyi arkhiv, no. 2 (1929), 150-151.
  62. Semennikov, Monarkhiia, 124.
  63. Izvestiia vzs, Nos. 35-36, March 15-April 1, 1916, 26.
  64. Krasnyi arkhiv, vol. 50-51, 1932, 133-136.
  65. Polner, Russian Local Government, 80.
  66. Vserossiisskii soiuz gorodov, Trudy ekonomicheskogo soveshchaniia 3-4 ianvaria 1916 goda, 48.
  67. Krasnyi arkhiv, vol. 52, 1932, 145.
  68. Izvestia vzg, no. 33, 1916, 2.
  69. As early as 1914, union doctors and statisticians had formed a clandestine body within the Moscow provincial zemstvo “to mobilize and unify the Third Element of the All-Russian Union of zemstva.” See GARF, f. 102, op.17, ed. khr, t.4, l.305 and ed. khr. 338, ll. 83-84.
  70. ed. khr. 343, t.4, l. 99.
  71. Polner, Zhiznennyi, 225.
  72. Rech’, no. 57, March 8, 1917, p.5.
  73. See William Rosenberg’s “The Zemstvo in 1917 and Its Fate Under Bolshevik Rule,” in Terence Emmons & Wayne Vucinich, eds., The Zemstvo in Russia: An Experiment in Local Self-Government (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).