The Dacha is one of the most iconic Russian terms, alongside matryoshka dolls and cheburashka. If you begin to study Russian, it will be one of the first words you will learn, as it is scattered across beginners text and workbooks. So what exactly is a dacha? According to Websters’s dictionary its “a Russian country cottage used especially in the summer”, what the dictionary definition fails to encapsulate is how desirable it is to own a dacha. Similarly to how Americans typically want to own a mansion Russians want to own a small summer house in the countryside.
The picture to the left is an old abandoned Dacha that I found on my trip to Estonia. I have no idea what year its from, unfortunately I wasn’t brave enough to hop the fence and take a look inside to see if there are any clues to the origins .
If you do enjoy visiting abandoned places and would like to do it in a more legal way, you can go on a guided tour of abandoned dachas outside of Moscow. The dachas are from the 80’s and encapsulate life before the crash of the Soviet Union, complete with Cheburashka dolls and pictures of Lenin.
In a newspaper article from the “Current Digest of the Russian Press” the author Stepanyan discuses the issue of socialism vs private property such as the dacha. Stepanyan quotes from Marx frequently through out the article such as,
“The distinguishing feature of communism is not the abolition of property in general but the abolition of bourgeois property.*** We Communists have been reproached for wanting to abolish personally acquired property earned by one’s own labor, property that is alleged to be the basis of all personal freedom, activity and independence.*** But does wage labor, the labor of the proletarian, createany property for him? Not at all.*** Webyno means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labor that serve directly for the reproduction of human life, leaving no surplus wherewith to command the labor of others. All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation.***”*