Life as a Girl in the Soviet Union

“Peasant girls. [Russian Empire] – Library of Congress,” accessed January 30, 2020, https://www.wdl.org/en/item/5624/#q=Prokudin+gorskii+woman&qla=en.

As we look at the gallery of pictures taken by Prokudin-Gorskii’s, you can see that many of his pictures were taken outdoors. As I analyzed this picture I can see that these three young peasant girls are wearing thick long dresses, shoulders covered, with head coverings, and on holding berries on a plate. This made me believe that they were religious or conservative especially since this picture was taken in 1909. It was interesting the facts I learned because after some research, Russia had the highest amount of women with higher education requirement jobs than any other country in Europe, many women were teachers, lawyers, doctors and many other professions (Wolanski). This was because Russia really wanted to improve their countries economic status. It was also mentioned that in 1918 the Russian Government created legislation that wanted to weaken the family and marriage, this was put in place so that people would focus on the country (Wolanski). When looking at this picture you would not think that that about any country let alone Russia. You can even see the crooked wood house in the background which shows where these girls lived. Peasants were the majority in the early 1900 and agriculture was their main source of their food and income (Simkin, 2020). Berries were very popular and grown in the rural areas, they symbolize the gifts of the forest and dacha which is very important in Russian culture (Every Culture). During the 1900s religion was a very big part of the Russian Empire and many belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church (Simkin, 2020). When I think of peasant, I picture people a low income person with clothes that look more worn out and look very old. The girls in this picture are wearing dresses that look like they are made from nice clothing. This picture is very interesting on the social and economic transformation.

Russia in 1900, 2020 Accessed 1/28/2020 https://spartacus-educational.com/RUS1900.htm

Russia, Accessed 1/28/2020 https://www.everyculture.com/No-Sa/Russia.html

The role of Women in Soviet Russia, Molly Wolanski Accessed 1/28/2020 https://blogs.bu.edu/guidedhistory/moderneurope/molly-wolanski/

Child’d Life in the 1930s

Evgeny Khaldey/MAMM/ https://www.rbth.com/history/328721-education-in-ussr-the-best

The 1930s was a life changing time for everyone. It began when Stalin created the “Stalin Constitution of 1936”, which guaranteed the civil rights and equality among everyone in the USSR. (Freeze) Not only did the lives of men and women change, but the lives of the young children. The children during the 1930s were known as the first Soviet generation. (SovietHistory.MSU) They experienced life under the socialist system which allowed them to have an eventful and knowledgeable childhood. 

The government gave civil rights and equality among genders because they believed that women would help improve the economy. As the industrialization period became important to improve the economy, they realized that it guaranteed survival of the nation and the cause of socialism that it represented. (Freeze) For an economy to grow and thrive in the future, the government knew it could not only rely on the men and women workers, they must also educate the young children who would be the future of the country.  This generation of children were the most educated the Russians had ever had, the most literate, and perhaps the militant (SovietHistory.MSU) A common game taught to young kids was a war game, Zarnista. This game stimulated military operations, which taught them how to navigate to certain  locations, work in teams, and follow their commanders orders. (Russian Beyond) One of the many things kids were taught during their time in school.

Stalin was believed to have a major influence to this generation, giving children the opportunity to a better education and recreational opportunities. Which led to the slogan “Thanks to Comrade Stalin for our happy childhood “ (SovietHistory.MSU) All this gave an unquestioning loyalty to the party, state, and leader. This generation did everything the government asked, without hesitation because they believed their country cared and supported them. Children were the future of the country. The government invested in the children’s lives so that they could have the best and loyal generation for the future.

“Childhood under Stalin.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, 18 June 2017, soviethistory.msu.edu/1936-2/childhood-under-stalin/.Beyond, Russia.

Freeze, Gregory, 3rd ed. Russia: a history. OUP Oxford, 2002.

“This Is How ‘Happy Soviet Childhood’ Looked like (PHOTOS).” Russia Beyond, 7 Oct. 2019, www.rbth.com/history/331096-happy-soviet-childhood.

Joe 4

JOE-4: The Soviet Union’s first thermonuclear device. http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/hbomb/page_14.shtml

The use of atomic bombs in World War II gave more and more countries reason to investigate and gather knowledge about their own nuclear capabilities, even how to begin the construction of them. After the Germans created their very own nuclear bombs and the United States started to mention that they had weapons of mass destruction, the Soviet Union knew they had to gather their scientist and engineers to quickly finish their own nuclear and atomic bombs. (Soviet Atomic Program) Especially preparing weapons of mass destruction during the Cold War. This led to the Soviet Union to testing their first nuclear bomb called the RDS-1 at Semipalatink on August 29, 1949. Eventually the United States launched its hydrogen bomb program in the early 1950s, which led the USSR to follow and initiate their own hydrogen bomb programs. (Soviet Atomic Program) Stalin promoted the creation and future use of atomic and nuclear bombs. When he died his legacy continued with Nikita Khrushchev. August 12, 1953, three months after Stalin’s death, the Soviet Union detonated their first, original design, thermonuclear bomb; in the exact same location where their first atomic bomb was tested, in northern Kazakstan. (Seventeen Moments in Soviet History) Stalin’s top priority for his country was to the improve nuclear arm program and before his death, the Soviet Union tested three nuclear bombs. His successor allowed sixteen, which included 3 hydrogen bombs, to explode between 1953 and 1955. (Hydrogen Bomb) It was clear that that Khrushchev continued the legacy of Stalin. During the experimental trials of the hydrogen bombs, the government had to make an announcement to the people of what was going; the explosions of the hydrogen bomb were of such great strength, and was then discovered that it was a lot greater than the power of atomic bombs. (GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT) With the nuclear capabilities of this country, the death of Stalin only increased the testing and creation of deadly weapons.

https://dlib-eastview-com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/search/simple/doc?pager.offset=1&id=13833946&hl=

Hydrogen+Bomb“Hydrogen Bomb.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, 5 Oct. 2015, soviethistory.msu.edu/1954-2/hydrogen-bomb/.

“Soviet Atomic Program – 1946.” Atomic Heritage Foundation, 5 June 2014, www.atomicheritage.org/history/soviet-atomic-program-1946.

The Dry Law

In many countries, alcohol is used during celebrations among family, get together with friends, and other hospitality purposes but when used in moderation. Alcohol generated an enormous revenue from indirect taxes for the Soviet Union and in 1979 the state received twenty-five billion rubles in taxes from alcohol beverage. (Anti-Alcohol Campaign) Even though alcohol is legal, when abused, it can be a very dangerous drug. With high amounts of revenue going to the economy, their citizens were struggling. Alcoholism was linked to high rates of child abuse, more reported accidents in the workplace, suicide, divorce, employees not showing up for shifts, and an increase in mortality rates among Soviet men. (Anti-Alcohol Campaign) This raised concern among the Soviet Union Government, and came to the conclusion that alcohol was causing disruption to everyday life to the Soviet citizens.

A 1977 design from “Alcohol: Soviet Anti-Alcohol Posters” reads, “Much evil and wrongdoing to the family.” The text on the bottle says vodka. (I. Fridman / Fuel Publishing) https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-ca-cm-soviet-posters-20170430-htmlstory.html

Thinking of ways to restore the Soviet Union back to its original health and productivity, the Soviet leader of 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev, set in motion a partial ban on alcohol. (Maczewski, 2017) He wanted to control the amount of alcohol being served within the country and its production. During his campaign against alcohol, there were many propaganda posters created to deter alcohol, just like the image above. The artists were tasked to create propaganda to help sober citizens and teach them the dangers of excessive amounts of alcohol. (Bradner, 2017) The images created during this time period did not help end the excessive alcohol consumption but rather ruin the economy and created more mass drinking. To remedy the decline in taxes alcohol brought, the government started printing more money which cause a sore on inflation. (Anti-Alcohol Campaign)

During the campaign, Gorbachev set limits to shops that were permitted to sell alcohol, closing number distillers in the country, destroying vineyards, and banning the sell of alcohol in restaurants before 2 pm. (Anti-Alcohol Campaign) This was the governments attempt to control the production and consumption of alcohol to helps its citizens. The government also banned the making of alcohol that contained over 12% ethyl alcohol, this was a way to prevent people from getting side effects from liquor with higher percentage of alcohol. (Bronza) The campaign against alcohol did not go in favor of leader Gorbachev. After the partial ban, there was an increase of organized crime and high production rates of moonshine. (Anti-Alcohol Campaign) The worst of it all was citizens turned to other dangerous substances to cope with the restrictions on alcohol. Soviet Union Government believed that the campaign against alcohol would be beneficial to the state but it was actually harmful to their people and economy. Which is why they abandoned the campaign after 1987.

https://dlib-eastview-com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/search/simple/doc?pager.offset=0&id=13563458&hl=ANTI

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-ca-cm-soviet-posters-20170430-htmlstory.html

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/vv53q9/the-soviet-posters-meant-to-keep-russians-from-drinking