The term "Old Bolshevik" refers to those who joined the Bolshevik party before the Russian Revolution of 1917. According to D. A. Chygayev (as quoted by Mark Deutsch), in 1922 there were 44,148 living Old Bolsheviks. It is known that many of these were targeted by the Great Purge of the 1930s. Some sources go far as to say that nearly all of them were prosecuted and/or executed.

However, there do seem to be exceptions. Elena Stasova, for example, was a member of the Bolsheviks from the beginning, and served on the Central Committee before and during the revolution. She was untouched by the purge, retired peacefully in 1946, and died twenty years later.

Are there any estimates of the exact number of Old Bolsheviks who, like Stasova, survived the purges (i.e., were never charged, or were charged but fully acquitted) and outlived Stalin? If not, is there at least a list of some of the more notable ones?

  • 2
    Molotov, Kaganovich, Voroshilov, Mikoyan etc. - they all were "old bolsheviks". It's true that the biggest part died in purges, but those who chose "right side" early were OK. These are relevant pages from Russian wiki: Старые большевики and Ленинская гвардия
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 16:54
  • The answer of sds gives some general idea, but to answer this question precisely one needs access to the CPSU archives. They certainly have this statistics: how many of party members in 1953 joined before 1917.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 0:04
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    And certainly, many of them would die of the "natural" causes not related to the purges.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 0:06

3 Answers 3


For "top of the pile", Wiki claims that

  1. 58% of the 1917 Party Central Committee was eliminated by 1938.
  2. 63% of the first Bolshevik government was executed by that time.
  3. Out of 267 1917-1934 Central Committee members, 34 died before 1937, 36 survived the Purge, the rest (74%) were executed.

Of course, the "rank and file" Old Bolsheviks (the definition changed in time - from joining before 1904, to joining before 1917, to having been in the party for 18+ years) suffered less than the top crust (just like in the military: 60% of Marshals executed, but fewer than half the Comandarms).

The point is that everyone who had their own opinion instead of being Stalin's puppet was killed, and those on the top are also more likely to have their own opinion.

  • I am not sure how useful these figures are—surely only a very tiny minority of the 44,148 Old Bolsheviks alive in 1922 were ever members of the government or Central Committee.
    – Psychonaut
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 19:25
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    @Psychonaut: This is about as useful an answer as you are likely to get +1.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 0:45
  • 2
    why the downvote?
    – sds
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 1:25

One example:

Molotov was an old Bolshevik, and a prominent figure. He lived until 1986!

There must be some who survived through the 90's.


How can you answer a sad question like this? Maybe by the words of Alexander Barmine:

When I work on my book, I feel as though I were walking in a graveyard. All my friends and life associates have been shot. It seems to be some kind of a mistake that I am alive.

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