When I first looked at this photo, all I saw was a family of Russians from Zlatoust, near the Ural Mountains. After reading the caption next to the picture and seeing the what this family’s job in the Russian society was, it became evident to me that that these three people were much more than just a family. Towns like Zlatoust , which made armaments for the Russian military, were imperative to the Imperial Russian society in the wary 20th Century.
The world of weapons was changing radically in the European world. The Germans recently released the Mauser in 1888 and the British released the Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle in 1889. Revolutionary weapons like the Lee-Enfield and the Mauser tremendously increased the firepower of nations such as Britain and Germany.Russia could not afford to fall behind the other world powers in the industrial race during the dawn of The Great War.
To combat their lack in firepower, Russian Captain, Sergei Mosin developed the Mosin Nagant bolt-action rifle. While not as accurate as the Mauser and the Lee-Enfeild, the Mosin Nagant was very cheap to manufacture and extremely durable in the field.
The family in the picture above comes into importance because there was an extreme lack of people who were skilled manufacturing workers. The land of Russia was tied in the hands of the aristocrats who were making plenty of money selling grain to western countries; therefore, keeping Russia an agrarian state. Ideas of industrialization were often proposed, but rarely were they put into action by the Czar or the wealthy aristocrats. Holding up industrialization had serious negative effects once The Great War started.
The lack of industrial action led to only a small amount of manufactured rifles for the soldiers on the front. Russian soldiers marched into battle with pitchforks to combat the Germans who were armed with the Mauser. Consequently, the Russian death rate was very high. The death of fathers, husbands, brothers, and cousins was frowned upon by the proletariat class of Russians which led to soldiers dropping their weapons to go home and join the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution.
If Imperial Russia would have more readily embraced industrialization and created more towns like Zlatoust, the leaders of Russia could have had better armed their soldiers and prevented communism from ever taking over the country.