Tomsk Judge Alexander Levberg: The Facets of Collaboration with Bolsheviks at the Beginning of the Civil War
In 1917, the Soviet regime began to introduce new forms of state and legal relations. The former system of justice was being violently destroyed, which led to a split in the judicial community and caused significant changes in the legal culture of practitioners, who were thrown into unavoidable political and professional choices. In this article, the author refers to the story of judge A. E. Levberg and studies the professional paths of Siberian judicial figures who joined Soviet institutions, finding out the motives governing their actions and evaluating the repressive measures employed. The study makes it possible to add new information to data on the mechanisms of revolutionary transformations, helps explain the patterns of how state legal systems functioned, and increases knowledge about human behaviour during a deep social and political conflict. A central focus on everyday life, micro-historical analysis, and the use of various sources (print media, private sources, and archival documentation introduced into scholarly circulation for the first time) make it possible to comprehensively consider reports on the liquidation of pre-revolutionary courts and the transfer of their employees to work for the Bolsheviks. Such decisions did not necessarily entail the intentional participation of judicial personnel in the construction of the new regime, as it could have been caused by material need; moreover, it allowed judges to continue their judicial practice and fulfill their professional duty to society. Many might have considered their work in the Soviet state apparatus as subversion against it. The judicial community itself considered cooperation with the Soviets a betrayal of the principles of corporate solidarity and ideals of justice. After the Bolsheviks had been overthrown, their collaborators from among the judiciary were prosecuted. Despite social and professional hostility towards them, these people avoided severe punishment: the legal framework did not classify their actions as a crime, and no provision existed for sanctioning moral or political choices.
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