Russia and the Soviet Union has long struggled with national anthems. The constant regime changes doesn’t exactly help with keeping a patriotic and political song relevant. Following the fall of the Tsar the Russian national anthem was the Internationale. While this song was influential and powerful during the revolution and the civil war it began to lose its punch by the 1930’s. You can listen to it here:
With Internationale losing its potency with the masses in the 1930’s a new anthem was needed. If you go to class then you probably saw the movie “Circus”. In this film we got to see and hear what the nations next anthem would be if not unofficially. Song of the Motherland by Isaak Dunaevskii would soon become popular with the masses and would replace the Internationale. It was so popular with the people it became the broadcast signal for Radio Moscow in the 1930s, and served as the national anthem until 1943. However the Internationale was retained as the song of the party. You can listen to it here:
As the war raged and the Soviet Union grew larger and stronger a new song of a victorious people was needed. Along with the Red Army chorus and their Commander: General A. V. Aleksandrov, Stalin created a new political and popular master piece that would stand the test of time. For now listen to both versions English and Russian and try not to hum it for the rest of the day.
Powerful stuff eh? This anthem was a new one for a new Soviet people, a people who had arisen from the great patriotic war, glorious and free. Looking at the lyrics we can see the standard propaganda but it is more than that. The anthem captures the spirit of a tough and proud people, just as unbreakable as their land. While the anthem clearly shifts to a more Russian centric culture and thinking it spoke of the union as a whole. An interesting note regarding the anthem is the input of Stalin’s name and leadership. This was just another episode of his Cult of Personality inflating his importance and relevance for years to come. ultimately the anthem would be changed after the deeds of Stalin were exposed to the Union by Khrushchev in the 1970’s. the last anthem of the union would essentially stay the same with the verse mentioning Stalin being changed. If you would like to take a closer look click here.
In the years following the Fall of the Soviet Union the new republic has gone through a few changes as well. there are actually some funny regarding the post collapse 1992 Olympics and Soviet athletes receiving medals. Ultimately though after some tweaking the president of Russia Vladimir Putin approved of the “new ” Russian anthem in 2000. Take a listen:
Seems Vlad drank quite a bit of the Kool-aid in his KGB days. Soviet Culture making appearances and shaping history even today!
Various YouTube Videos