The present volume is unique in at least one very special respect. It is the first such putevoditel', or archival guidebook, to be published in the West in the Russian language. This came about as a result of the developing and unprecedented cooperation between East View Publications and the officials of the Central State Archive of the Soviet Army, or TsGASA, as it is known by its Russian acronym.
By publishing this volume in the West (its companion second volume is due out in early 1992), we have helped its creators circumvent the painfully slow Soviet publishing schedule for books of this kind. In this case the publication date has been hastened by some two or three years. Consequently, researchers and analysts in all countries of the world will be able to savor the fruits of one of the USSR's richest and most interesting archives much earlier and in a much more systematic way than would otherwise have been the case.
The Central State Archive of the Soviet Army contains some of the most important and sensitive documents relating to the early history of the Soviet state. Its holdings — some 2,000,000 documents in almost 33,000 record groups — document the years 1917 through 1941 for the Soviet military. This turbulent and profoundly interesting era saw numerous events that shaped the future of the USSR and the world: the end of World War I; the Soviet civil war and Allied intervention; nationalist uprisings on the Soviet periphery; the great debates about Soviet military doctrine and military reform in the 1920s; the technical transformation of the Red Army into one of the world's most formidable military powers; the Great Purges; and the frantic initial years of World War II.
Researchers will be pleased to discover much that has never been available before: detailed references to records on key events of the late interwar period, including the Soviet-Finnish war; records from the central Soviet military organs of the entire period; and documents from organizations dealing with mobilization, war plans, field regulations and much more. The extent of the declassification process of recent years is strongly evident in each chapter.
A number of people played critical roles in bringing this book to print. Greatest credit of all goes to Mikhail V. Stegantsev and Liudmila V. Dvoinykh, the chief and deputy chief of TsGASA, respectively, for their willingness to initiate cooperation with a Western publisher in an area not traditionally the subject of East-West cooperation. Their efforts have established TsGASA as perhaps the model example for the transition of a Soviet archive formerly inaccessible and closed — and not just to foreigners — to a status more nearly that of the freely researchable archives of the major Western countries. Additional goals do remain to be accomplished, but the publication of a contemporary and detailed guidebook in the context of direct interaction with the West has vastly accelerated the questions of accessibility.
Others deserving of thanks include Olga Litvinova, who keyed in the manuscript to our word-processing program of choice; Vladimir Strezhnev of Glaucus, Ltd., who typeset (and reset) the book; Sergei Stelmashenok, who designed the book jacket; and Andrei Sannikov of the Belorussian Foreign Ministry, who brought Mr. Stelmashenok to our attention. Special thanks goes to the staff at TsGASA, led by Tatiana Kariaeva, who meticulously reviewed the typeset manuscript for grammar, style and factual correctness. East View staffpersons in Moscow, led by Dr. Vladimir Frangulov and Yuri Usachev, deserve enormous credit for coordinating all aspects of the book's production in Moscow, and for much else as well. Don Kocina and his able staff at Print/ Design Services brought the final product together in Minneapolis. Finally, special thanks goes to General-Major Viktor Filatov, former editor of Voennoistoricheskii zhunal, who served as the liaison for the critical initial meeting in 1990 between East View and TsGASA at a time when the latter was still strictly off-limits to Westerners.
The present volume is only the first of a two-volume set. The second volume will provide further details on TsGASA's holdings relating to major units below the level of frontsand armies, that is, corps and divisions. Special attention will be given to rifle and cavalry troops, as well as to special forces, military academies, and the organizations and units of the little-known Far Eastern Republic. In addition it will include a comprehensive set of appendices providing information on all territorial changes of Soviet military districts from 1918-1941; detailed tables illuminating the organization over time of all armies down to the division level; and a bibliography of TsGASA's own publications. An index covering the entire two-volume set will also be included.
The publication of this archival guidebook set is part of East View's continuing effort to promote a greater culture of freedom of information in Soviet society. We believe that access to important archival records is fundamental to the development and maintenance of the democratic process; political leaders and the institutions they run must be subject to thorough scrutiny. In the Soviet case, secrecy and unaccountability have reigned far too long, in military matters especially. It is our fervent hope, then, that publication of this work can be at least a small wave in the aiming of that tide. With this in mind, we wish the best to historians and researchers as they enter these fascinating and previously uncharted waters.