We’ve had enough!

Workers gathering on the square, 1962

Causing “mass disorders” and “committing banditry”. These are the charges that convicted over a hundred people after the Novocherkassk Massacre that occurred in June of 1962. The whole thing started at  the Novocherkassk Electric Locomotive Works (NEVZ) in Novocherkassk. The plant workers had finally gotten sick of the rising food prices, wage cuts and the backlog of unresolved grievances. These included housing shortages, work safety, and the food poisoning of over 200 workers (Freeze 432).

Angered by these things, the workers marched to the center of Novocherkassk, where they gained the support of the townspeople and ended up with a group of about four thousand people. Because the group was so large, they managed to keep the local police and later even armored units at bay. However, in the end the crowd was dispersed by gunfire that killed twenty four and injured dozens of others.

After the shooting,  the government proceeded to cover up the whole affair. The first story on the massacre was not published until 1988 in a Soviet newspaper. What is particularly interesting about this is that the grievances

that the NEVZ workers experienced were not unique to them. They were issues that affected workers all over the country. So why then were they the only ones to rebel against them?


Seventeen Moments in History. 1961: Novocherkassk Massacre. Lewis Siegelbaum, 2013.
Freeze, Gregory L. Russia A History. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, 2009. 432-433. Print.

1 thought on “We’ve had enough!

  1. The knee-jerk answer I have to your question as to why the NEVZ workers were the only ones to revolt is that they actually weren’t the only ones to do so. With evidence that the Soviet government covered up the NEVZ rebellion, who is to say that they didn’t do so with other revolts as well? This is a good example of how the Soviet government under Khrushchev and during the thaw claimed to be more transparent, but really wasn’t. I have found that his regime seemed to be really good at wording policies to make them sound like departures from Stalinist policies, when in reality very little was changed, such as government cover-ups like this instance.

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