Dr Peter Whitewood

A picture of Peter Whitewood

I completed my PhD at the University of Leeds in 2013 and joined York St John University soon after. My research interests focus on the political and diplomatic history of the early Soviet state and Stalin period. My first book, The Red Army and the Great Terror: Stalin'€™s Purge of the Soviet Military, provided an entirely new explanation for Stalin'€™s purge of the Red Army in 1937-1938. Taking a broader view of Soviet civil-military relations from 1917, I argued that this purge was launched from a position of panic and weakness, rather than being simply an expression of Stalin'€™s desire to consolidate power. The book argues that without the military purge, there would have been no escalation of the Great Terror in 1937.

My current project explores how the Soviet-Polish War was understood and articulated by the Bolshevik Party and what impact this had on the evolution of the Soviet state in the 1920s. Rather than analyse the Soviet-Polish War just as a military campaign, the project will focus on how the aftershocks of war contributed to the emergence of an repressive authoritarian system and the transformation of the Revolution. Related to this project, I am co-editing a book on the emergence of the Soviet dictatorship with James Harris and Lara Douds.



1HI503: Researching and Presenting the Past

1HI500: War and Society

1HI502: Empires

2HI503: The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union

2HI506: The Sleeping Dragon: China 1911-1997

3HI516: The Empire Strikes Back: Gorbachev and the Collapse of the Soviet Union

MHI200: Main Currents in International History

MHI202: Decolonisation and the Post-Colonial World



The Red Army and the Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Soviet Military (University Press of Kansas, 2015)

Journal articles

‘Nationalities in a Class War: Foreign Soldiers in the Red Army during the Russian Civil War’, Journal of Modern European History, 14. 3 (2016), pp. 342-358

‘Stalin’s Purge of the Military and the Soviet Mass Operations’, Slavonic and East European Review, 93. 2 (2015), pp. 286-314

‘Subversion in the Red Army and the Military Purge of 1937-1938’, Europe-Asia Studies, 67. 1 (2015), pp. 102-122

‘Towards a New History of the Purge of the Military, 1937–1938’, Journal of Slavic Military Studies, 24. 4 (2011), 605-620