Bezprizorniki

In 1921, it was estimated that 4.5 million children were considered bezprizorniki, meaning homeless. Other sources suggest even higher numbers of homeless children at around 7.5 million. This large influx of homeless children was due to the wars, flight, hunger and disease, all of which either caused families to be unable to support their children any longer or the deaths of their parents leaving them as orphans.

Peasant child begging for food at a railway station.

Peasant child begging for food at a railway station.

Homeless children sleeping.

Homeless children sleeping.

These children not only needed help to survive, but they also needed to be taken off the streets because of the amount of crimes they ended up conducting. They joined gangs, road the railways, engaged in prostitution and gambling, among other crimes. So even though they were in need of help from others, they also instilled fear in others around them through their various criminal actions. The picture below is a warning describing that if something isn’t done to help these homeless children, they will resort to crime.

This is a terrible threat to the country and to the revolution ... Help organize labor for homeless teenagers. This warns warns that homeless children will resort to begging and crime if no one helps them.

This is a terrible threat to the country and to the revolution … Help organize labor for homeless teenagers. This warns warns that homeless children will resort to begging and crime if no one helps them.

The Soviet State comes into play during the civil war by providing things like food, medical help, and education to the homeless. One of the government’s commission’s created three stages for dealing with the high rate of homeless children. The first was in charge of taking kids off the street, next was observing and evaluating, and finally rehabilitation. Some children were put into orphanages, where there was a lack of resources and the shelters were not in good condition. Another placement was in labor communes, where they were provided food and shelter and worked in return. The conditions were usually harsh, but these children had little other choice. Here is a video link that portrays an example of a labor commune, showing the large quantity of kids and a small glimpse at their condition. It is interesting to see how many smoke at such a young age and I wonder why they were all getting their hair cut short.

Citations

Siegelbaum, Lewis. “1921: Homeless Children” 17 Moments in Soviet History, accessed September 21, 2014. http://soviethistory.macalester.edu/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1921bezprizornye&Year=1921&navi=byYear

image 1 “Dmitrii Baltermants: Peasant Child Begging (1920)” Dmitri Baltermants: Faces of a Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union, 1917-1991. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing. 1996.

image 2 “Homeless Children Sleeping (1922)” Russian State Film & Photo Archive at Krasnogorsk. 2000.

image 3 “Rudolf Frents: 6,000,000 Children Not Served By Schools (1923)” Hoover Political Poster Database. 2007.

video source: Russian State Film & Photo Archive at Krasnogorsk. 2000.

 

Red Army: Have You Volunteered?

Recruiting poster for the Red Army

Recruiting poster for the Red Army

In January 1918, the Worker-Peasant Red Army was created under Lenin and his government, The Council of People’s Commissar. Instead of using a draft, the Red Army started with peasant and worker volunteers, who were people Lenin felt were best to defend his government. This army also included former tsarist officers, because the man that constructed this new Red Army felt that they would be helpful in their success as an army because of their loyalty to Russia. They later created a training program and abandoned the volunteer motto, creating more efficient military units.

Red Army defending the Russian border.

Red Army defending the Russian border.

The Red Army’s numbers went from 700,000 to 3 million, which was partly the result of what was offered to those that served. While the soldiers did receive pay, a bigger incentive was the promise that their families would have rations and help with farming while the soldiers were gone. The Red Army also offered literacy and politics classes, which would have been a big incentive for the peasants who otherwise wouldn’t have had such an opportunity.

The victorious Red Army

The victorious Red Army

With the Red Army under Lenin, those opposed to communism were called the Whites, leading to a civil war in Russia between the two. An advantage of the Red Army was that they were more unified, while the Whites were split between various groups who opposed him and spread farther apart geographically, making it difficult to unite. Another advantage Lenin had was that he was in control of significant cities, both Moscow and Petrograd, which aided in their ending success of the civil war. The significance of this win was that it made the Red Army the “largest, most important institution in the new state” (Freeze, 300). This left the army as not only the state’s military force, but also influenced the government into a military-administrative state (Freeze, 300).

Citations:

“Dmitrii Moor: Have You Volunteered? (1920)” image source: I. I. Kuptsov: Idushchie vperedi. Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhnik. 1987.

“Dmitrii Moor: Be on Guard! (1920)” image source: Peter Paret, Beth Irwin Lewis, Paul Paret:Persuasive Images: Posters of War and Revolution from the Hoover Institution Archives. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1992.

“A. (Skif) Apsit: Long Live the Three-million Man Red Army! (1919)” image source: Peter Paret, Beth Irwin Lewis, Paul Paret:Persuasive Images: Posters of War and Revolution from the Hoover Institution Archives. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1992.

“Russia 1918-1921.” History Learning, accessed September 13, 2014. Site. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/russia_1918_to_1921.htm.

Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Siegelbaum, Lewis. “1917: Red Guard into Army.” 17 Moments in Soviet History, accessed September 13, 2014. http://soviethistory.macalester.edu/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1917army&Year=1917&navi=byYear.

Bloody Sunday

January 9, 1905, now known by most as ‘Bloody Sunday,’ was a significant moment in Russia that amplified the unrest of the people in the empire. On this day in history, a petition for Tsar Nicholas was marched to his Winter Palace by a mass from St. Petersburg (Freeze, 251). The petition was asking for higher wages, shorter hours, a constitution and free elections (Freeze, 251). With the march unarmed and including women and children, the Tsar’s response was to have his military open fire on the masses, killing over a hundred people (Freeze, 251).

A still from the Soviet movie "9th of January" showing armed soldiers facing the march approaching the Winter Palace.

A still from the Soviet movie “9th of January” showing armed soldiers facing the march approaching the Winter Palace.

The Chicago Daily Tribune described this event as making “the deepest impression here upon all the classes.” It included Germany’s foreign office’s opinion that considering the lack of leadership and the difficulty of communication due to the empire’s large geographic area, the chances of this event evolving to a full fledged revolution was unlikely. But to give the opposite opinion, a Russian refugee in a cable to the Tribune warned that this initial bloodshed is just the beginning of what will happen to take this Tsar from the throne. This shows how strongly the revolutionists feel about getting what they want, and that maybe Germany and others are wrong to assume that communication troubles would be enough to stop a revolution. If the masses have enough determination, the revolution could spread throughout the empire.

Just like the refugee had warned, strikes broke out in more places around the empire, with Moscow being one of them. In Moscow, a march was carried out that closed down plants, factories, and mills along their travel, with each stop gaining more workers in joining. More and more workmen were feeling motivated to join the uprising. Bloody Sunday acted as a model for other cities with masses on the verge of uprise, igniting uprisings around the empire, creating the Revolution of 1905.

Works Cited:

“Flame of Revolt Sweeping Empire.” 1905. Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jan 24, 1. http://ezproxy.lib.vt.edu:8080/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/173243534?accountid=14826.

“Revolution, Says Vienna.” 1905. Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jan 24, 2. http://ezproxy.lib.vt.edu:8080/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/173299138?accountid=14826.

Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Image retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Sunday_(1905)

Prokudin-Gorskii’s Photographic Record

A Group of Workers Harvesting Tea

I chose this photo because I wanted to look into how these people farming were affected by the growing change to industrialization.  While reading the assigned chapter in Russia A History, I became interested in the famine that started in 1891. Twenty provinces were affected, with hundreds of thousands of deaths (Freeze, 238). While the weather was a clear contributor due to the frost killing the grain crops, the country had enough grain to feed those in need, but was more focused on the transition to industrialization instead of paying more attention to their starving people (Russian Famine of 1891-92). The government was also already hard on the peasants by doing things like raising taxes to make them sell more grain and having peasant sons taken away to join the military (Russian Famine of 1891-92). With their sons gone, there were far less people with the strength to do the hard manual labor involved in agriculture.

Russia A History discusses how the famine sparked resentment against state programmes (Freeze, 238). The state wasn’t taking proper care of all the people, clearly taking little concern with the poorer ones in the country considering they weren’t giving the famine the attention it needed. Peasants were in a rough time, and without aid from the government in their time of need, of course many would end up resenting the current administration.

Once the government realized that more needed to be done, they looked to the zemstvo for assistance (Freeze, 239). The zemstvo was a type of local government that had become inactive during this time period (Freeze, 239). With the government reenlisting the zemstvo’s aid, “society was summoned back to life to take part in a national war on poverty” (Freeze, 238). I think that this was a critical moment for Russia because if society becomes more involved, they’ll want to have more control in what happens in the government, which increases the likelihood of people speaking out against the government.

This image is titled: A Group of Workers Harvesting Tea (1907-1915)

They were created by:  Prokudin-Gorskiĭ, Sergeĭ Mikhaĭlovich, 1863-1944, photographer

The Permanent record here: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/prk2000001021/

Additional Resources:

Wikipedia contributors, “Russian Famine of 1891-92,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_famine_of_1891%E2%80%9392 (accessed August 30, 2014).

Freeze, Gregory. Russia A History. New York: Oxford University Press Inc, 2009.