Control By Sports

One problem that is faced by the leaders of a communist or authoritarian state is what to do with the free time of their citizens. Free time is dangerous to to these types of states as it can lead to various forms of opposition since the citizens have time to form groups and realize that they don’t like the situation that they are living in. This became a matter of concern for the Soviets in the fifties with their labor reforms. For example, the implemented,”the reduction of the work-day from eight to seven hours and (for some) the work week from six to five days meant more leisure time”(1).  One way the Soviets decided to fix this was though the emergence of sports and spectatorship.

They accomplished this task through the building of thousands of stadiums across the Soviet Union. They grew from 1020 stadiums in 1952 to 3065 in 1968(1).  The most notable of all was the Luzhniki Complex, which included various stadiums and fields for an array of different sports. The most notable and prestigious stadium in the Soviet Union, and one of the largest in the world with 103,000 seats was of course the Lenin Stadium.

Luzhniki Complex(2)

Surprisingly, the Lenin Stadium was built for soccer. Soccer was the most popular sport during that era, with the amount of spectators far outnumbering any other sport. The most popular teams were Dinamo and Spartak.  The average citizen looked forward to soccer all year long. They would have been more than ok if all of the stadiums built were for soccer only. It would not be until the next decade that hockey became the go to sport for the Soviets. In fact, the second indoor ice hockey rink in the Union, called the Palace of Sport, was not built until 1956(1). However, Soviet weather probably made indoor/artificial rinks a waste.

Image(3)

This rapid increase of stadiums and therefore sports teams and athletes helped to keep the population occupied and happy. It also helped to foster a growing and ultimately important sense of nationalism within the Soviet Union.

 

Works Cited:

1. Siegelbaum, Lewis. The Palace of Sport. Seventeen Moments in Soviet History.

2. Luzhniki Stadium 1957. Sunsite Moscow images.

3. http://pesstatsdatabase.com/viewtopic.php?f=182&t=14115

Car Trouble

Most of the time it is hard to say what was worst; communism or fascism. However, sometimes it is really easy. Communism was the worst. If fascist states have one thing going for them, it is their superiority in the automotive industry. Germany alone had more car companies than the Soviet Union had car models. The car industry thrived under Hitler. Germany had Opel, BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and Bugatti. Even the fascist state of Italy had Alpha Romero, Maserati, and Fiat, and eventually led to the creation of companies such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Pagani.  Russia however was not so fortunate.

From the beginning of Stalin’s rise to prominence in 1922 as General Secretary of the Communist party the Soviets began a tragic downfall in regards to their automotive industry. Their only noteworthy car company, Dartz Motorz Company was halted until 1998. From then on the USSR produced only a select number of cars and types of cars until decades later. Their automotive section is still crippled comparatively to other superpowers. “Between the beginning of Stalin’s power until a little after WWII, the soviets only manufactured two types of cars in the largest factory in Europe; the Ford Model A and the Ford model AA truck(1)”. The truck saw far more production since it was useful during the war and for moving items.

(2,3)

After the War, Stalin approved of a few more cars; the GAZ Podeba, the Moskvich, and the ZIS-110 and its armored and convertible variants meant for only the most important people in Soviet society. The ZIS-110 were built in the Stalin Factory in Moscow with Stalin owning five armored versions. For the average Soviet citizen, acquiring a car was very difficult. First they had to have enough money for the car, which was between 9,000 and 16,000 rubles. It would take the average Soviet worker over two years to acquire that money; if they didn’t spend a single ruble on anything else.  If the citizen managed to have enough money, they would still have to wait for the car. Car production in the USSR was very low and the demand was very high. “Trade unions organized waiting lists that could mean the deferment of one’s dreams of owning a car for upwards of six years”(1).  The next car model didn’t come until the late 50’s with the Zaporozhet. The automotive system within the USSR changed very little under communism. Unfortunately there is no happy ending to Russia’s poor automotive history. They still produce very few cars and have a horrific interstate system.

Gaz Podeba(4)

File:Moskvich-2140 Uzhhorod.jpg

Moskvich(5)

http://www.autogallery.org.ru/k/z/zis110_IgorGuzienko.jpg

ZIS-110 Convertible(6)

Zaporozhet(7)

 

This legacy of automotive superiority/let down has lasted to this day, as nobody would say I’d rather have a Russian car over a German or Italian car. (unless you’re a dictator and want a million dollar armored Dartz SUV).

 

Dartz Prombron(8)

 

 

Works Cited:

1.Siegelbaum, Lewis. Cars for Comrades. Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. http://soviethistory.macalester.edu/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1947cars&Year=1947&navi=byYear

2. Ford Model A Image. http://www.autoblog.com/2011/03/18/365-days-of-a-one-mans-quest-to-drive-a-ford-model-a-for-entir/

3. Ford Model AA Truck Image. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1928_Ford_Model_AA_Truck_FLW963.jpg

4. GAZ Podeba Image. http://www.cars-directory.net/gallery/gaz/pobeda/1954/gaz_pobeda_a1273552203b3624539_5_p.html

5.Moskvich Image. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Moskvich-2140_Uzhhorod.jpg

6.ZIS-110 Convertible Image. http://www.autogallery.org.ru/k/z/zis110_IgorGuzienko.jpg

7.Zaporozhet Image. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/04/Saporoshez_ZAZ_965_A.JPG

8. Dartz Image. http://www.boldride.com/ride/2012/dartz-prombron-aladeen-edition#gallery/4

The Soviets Loved to Drink…Champagne?

Local Soviet Confectionery(1)

 

When one thinks of things synonymous with Russia or the Soviet Union , vodka  is one of the first images to pop into mind. However, the Soviets experienced fancier times when it came to their high levels of alcohol consumption.  The Mid 1930’s up until the war was an easier time for may of the people in the Soviet Union. Collectivization and the Five Year Plan, for all intensive purposes was successful, as it showed when it came to the food industry. Markets had requirements on what they must carry, which can be seen in this food advertisement.  These markets carried a much wider variety of food than what was seen in earlier parts on the century.

Among these fine items in during food surpluses across the Soviet Union was Soviet Champagne.  The drink became a staple of diet and culture in the mid thirties after the brilliant discovery of mass champagne production. “Anton Mikhailovich Frolov-Bagreev, an aristocrat and chemist was able to change the fermentation process from occurring in bottles to occurring in large reservoirs. This upped production from around 300,000 bottles in 1934 to around 12,000,000 bottles in 1942.  It became so popular and accessible that it was sold on tap in local food stores”(3).  The quantity of Soviet champagne during this era impressive, but it was also said that the quality of the champagne was to that of France.  A majority of the Champagne produced during this period came from the Northeast Coast of the Black Sea across from Crimea.

As well as having a taste for champagne, Soviets also indulged on incredible amounts of caviar and oyster. We can thank the Soviets for the rarity, price, and exclusivity of caviar and a large destruction of oysters in the region. Back then caviar was eaten very frequently; many had it everyday. Even the poorest of Soviets spread it on their bread like jam. This rapid consumption of fish eggs(sturgeon) along with their consumption in other ways helped to severely reduce their population since they are a fish that live long(100 yrs) and reproduce slowly.  This realization was not made until decades later, which results in caviar being so expensive currently; up to $250/oz on the legal market.  For Soviets, the change from bread rationing to cheap champagne and caviar in their local stores was a widely supported change that improved their happiness, but also their support of Stalin.

Caviar Tins

 

Sources:

1. Bertha Malnick, comp.: Everyday Life in Russia. London: George G. Harrap. 1938

2. Moscow Food Advertisements. 1937. Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. <http://soviethistory.macalester.edu/index.php?page=article&ArticleID=1934malnick1&SubjectID=1934champagne&Year=1934>.

3.  Geldern, Von James. Soviet Champagne. Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. <http://soviethistory.macalester.edu/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1934champagne&Year=1934&navi=byYear>.

4. Caviar Tins. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caviar_tins_%28Russian_and_Iranian%29_%28cropped%29.jpg>