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People's Commissariat for Education or Narkompros (Russian: Народный комиссариат просвещения, Наркомпрос) was the Soviet agency charged with the administration of public education and most of other issues related to culture. In 1946, it was transformed into the Ministry of Education. Its first head was Anatoly Lunacharsky. However he described Krupskaya as the "soul of Narkompros".[1] Mikhail Pokrovsky and Evgraf Litkens also played important roles.

Lunacharsky protected most of the avant-garde artists such as Vladimir Mayakovsky, Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin and Vsevolod Meyerhold. Despite his efforts, the official policy after Joseph Stalin put him in disgrace.

Narkompros had a seventeen sections,[2] in addition to the main ones related to general education, e.g.,

  • Likbez, a section for liquidation of illiteracy,
  • "Profobr", a section for professional education,
  • Glavlit a section for literature and publishing (also in charge of censorship in publishing),
  • "Glavrepertkom" (Главрепертком), a commission for approval of performers' repertoires.
  • Department of the Mobilsation of Scientific Forces, to which the Russian Academy of Sciences reported to after 1918.
  • A Theatre Department which published Vestnik Teatra
  • Vneshkol'nyi Otdel, the adult Education Department run by Krupskaya

Some of these evolved into separate entities, others discontinued.

Relationship with Proletkult

Pavel Lebedev-Polianskii, as chair of the organizing bureau for the national Proletkult argued that Narkompros, as a state organ, had responsibilities for the whole of society, whereas Proletkult asserted its autonomy as an organisation set up spefically for workers. However there was concern with "parallelism" - the situation which arose when similar work was carried out in parallel by different organisations. In early 1918 Narkompros gave Proletkult a budget of over 9,200,000 rubles, whereas the entire Adult Education Division received 32,500,000 rubles.[3]


The Izo-Narkompros (Изо-наркомпрос), or the section of visual arts (отдел изобразительных искусств) created in May 1918, consisted of two parts: the collegium (deliberative organ) and the section proper (executive organ). The first collegium was headed by Vladimir Tatlin and included Kasimir Malevich, I. Mashkov (И. Машков), N. Udaltsova (Н. Удальцова), O.Rozanova (О. Розанова), Alexander Rodchenko, Wassily Kandinsky. It was subdivided into a number of subsections.

Lunacharsky directed some of the great experiments in public arts after the Revolution such as the Agit-Trains and Agit-boats, that circulated over all Russia spreading Revolution and revolutionary arts.

He also gave support to Constructivism's theatrical experiments and the initiatives such as the ROSTA Windows, revolutionary posters designed and written by Mayakovsky, Rodchenko, and others.

See also


  • The Governments of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 1917-1964
de:Volkskommissariat für Bildungswesen

fr:Commissariat du Peuple à l'éducation it:Narkompros pt:Narkompros ru:Народный комиссариат просвещения РСФСР

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