Tanks and Tractors

In the late 1930’s, the Soviet Union had an intense focus on military preparedness as well as loyalty. The Red Army went through a series of purges due to Stalin’s perceived lack of loyalty. His purges were especially focused on higher ranking leaders of the army. The military preparedness came from recent conflicts with Manchuria, Japan, Eastern European States, and their anticipation of conflict with Germany. The USSR preached military preparedness through various propaganda campaigns. A main point in much of their propaganda was how prepared they have made their citizens for transferring between average life and life as a solider. They put a focus on how they incorporated everyday technology into the military. For instance, the Soviet Union introduced tractor technology on collectivized farms that were similar to their tank technology. This allowed tractor drivers to easily transition to tank drivers for the army.

Dmitrii Moor: Tractors (1934) (1)

The above picture shows the death of farming by plow and the emergence of the tractor. This tractor also happens to resemble a tank, which implies that the technologies of the tank and tractor at that time period were nearly interchangeable.

The military preparedness of the Soviet Union, especially in reference to tractors and tanks was exemplified in the 1939 movie directed by Ivan Pyriev, Tractor Drivers. This popular movie was the story of three tank men who would return home from their victory in Manchuria to continue to live their life on collectivized farms as tractor drivers(1). This movie was an important cultural piece of its time as it sent various messages to the public. First of all, it was supported by Stalin and served as military propaganda to show preparedness as well as success. It gave the impression that the Soviets were ready for war and could defend themselves to the East and the West. “This movie also showed the amicable union of peoples in the healthy Soviet organism since the characters were a Georgian, a Ukrainian, and a Russian(1).”

Opening credits Ivan Priev: Tractor Drivers(1939)(2).

Works Cited.

1. Tractor Drivers. Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1939-2/tractor-drivers/

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzm06PabiDg&feature=player_embedded

3. http://thediplomat.com/2012/08/the-forgotten-soviet-japanese-war-of-1939/

6 thoughts on “Tanks and Tractors

  1. Great poster choice for this topic! “We were the land of the plow. We became the land of the tractor-combine.” The image suggests that famine stalked the land of the plow, while the tractor-combine-tank promises plenty for all.

  2. It seems like propaganda was heavily prevalent during Stalin’s reign. He obviously used it well to promote policies and ideas he wanted the Soviet Union to adopt. Good post on how he tried to promote military preparedness through different form of propaganda!

  3. I remember hearing about this in class and I had n idea why this was such a big thing. But after reading this post, it has turned my thoughts around. The Soviets still surprise me with their actions. It is actually very smart for the veterans returning, but it takes preparing for war to a new level. This is great!

  4. This is a really cool part of Soviet history that I had not really heard of before. The Soviet Union (Stalin) was so paranoid with the idea that he was going to be attacked, by not only outside powers, but those within his ranks as well that he began militarizing the entire country. Like the intense physical preparedness beginning in school, the tanks and tractors idea puts military like knowledge in the hands of the everyday farmer. By beginning the militarization process early and with as many people as possible it made the transition period from peace time to total war that much quicker.

  5. This was actually pretty smart. At the same time the Soviets were building a better equipped and trained labor force they were simultaneously building a military reserve. Really smart thinking to combine the two actions and tasks. As for the post it really fits along the lines that the Soviets made regarding technology. The advancement bringing the people out from dark hungry times.

  6. You make an excellent point about the soviet capacity to build a large military quickly, many factories were re purposed to produce engines of war instead of consumer goods and agrarian products. i once read a story about such a factory in stalingrad that was cranking out tanks as fast as possible, as soon as the welds cooled they would be provisioned and crewed and sent in to battle 200 yards from the factory, without paint or and sanding or finishing!

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