Georges Bortoli: Moscow and Leningrad Observed. New York: Oxford University Press. 1975.

Georges Bortoli: Moscow and Leningrad Observed. New York: Oxford University Press. 1975.

The Dacha is now a staple of Russian life. City Dwellers flee the confines of skyscrapers for the countryside nearly every weekend, fighting traffic, just to get to there little country home. Dachas are also a popular place to spend holidays such as Russia day. In fact, while I was studying abroad in Russia, my group spent Russia Day at a Dacha about an hour outside of Moscow eating, drinking, and singing traditional Russian folk songs. However, until the days of Khrushchev, Dachas were only for the wealthy soviet citizens.

Virgina Tech Study Abroad Group (My Group) at Dacha on Russia Day.

My Virginia Tech study abroad group with our hosts at a Dacha for Russia Day.

Dachas were considered a “great spoil” of the Soviet System (“Dachas”). Dachas were given to the workers of trade unions, institutes, factories and other professional organizations (“Dachas”). Technically, the state owned the 600 or so square meter plots in the countryside, but, they rarely if ever invoked property rights (“Dachas”).In fact, tenants of the country homes put as much blood, sweat, and tears into their dachas as if they owned them (“Dachas”).

With the rapid growth of cities, like Moscow, the need for a countryside escape became great, espicaly in the summer. On sweltering summer weekends, Moscavites would flee the city for the peaceful countryside (“Dachas”). In fact, the state even provided a transit line called green trans, a supposedly “green” way to get to dacha country. The dachas close to Moscow were primarily for high up Soviet leaders (“Dachas”). The dachas located farther from the city were for average workers, however no one seemed to mind the difference (“Dachas”). As more and more Dachas began to pop up across the countryside, Dacha communities began to form. One of the well known dacha communities is Peredelkino, the writers community (“Dachas”). Many famous Russian writers spent their weekends relaxing and writing in this community. Even today, the concept of dacha communities for writers, artists, actors, etc. still exist.

However, although many citizens were estatic to finally have a small piece of the Russian countryside, others feared that dachas were overtaking other important goals. An article published in the “Current Digest of the Russian Press” raised concern that too much time and resources were being spent on building dachas for Soviet leaders rather than building housing in the cities for workers (“Meet the Housing Construction Plan”). The author states that “39 dachas had been built by the beginning of the season… this ‘success’ was achieved at the expense of the plan for the completion of housing for plant and trust personnel which, according to the collective contracts, they should have received in the first six months. Construction of a lunchroom in a plant settlement has also been disrupted” (“Meet the Housing Construction Plan”). Therefore, although the dacha was a highly valuable commodity, it came at a cost for the rest of society.

Here is a song that captures the importance of the dacha to Russian and Soviet Society: At the Dacha

“Dachas”: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1956dachas&Year=1956&navi=byYear

“Meet the Housing Construction Plan”: http://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/13848809