Veterans Dangerous?

Veterans had a very hard time when they returned home from World War Two. They came home to a country in shambles. The Veterans themselves were also in bad shape: significant portion of them needed prostheses, hospital care, and suffered from psychological illnesses, made worse by the absence of care for these illnesses. These were compounded upon by the fact that the country had a shortage on everything: hospital space, homes, jobs, medical supplies. This situation was made worse by the party’s decision to start demobilizing the military, thus depriving veterans a job. All of these things affected the veterans in one way: it demoralized them, and made them barely survive. The situation with the veterans made the party worry, because the military was the primary force that made the December revolution against the Tsars so successful. They worried because they wondered whether the World War 2 veterans would stage a revolution, removing the Soviets from power. Their solution was to release media painting the veterans in a good light, to try to show them that the country and the party still supported them. The “Cavalier of the Gold Star” (Page 442, Mass Culture in Soviet Russia) by Semyon Babaevsky is one such piece of media. (James von Geldern, seventeen moments [1947:Veterans Return])

The “Cavalier of the Gold Star ” is a story about a veteran from World War 2, named Sergei Timofeevich,  who came up a five-year plan for his home village, that was devastated by the German Occupation during World War 2, to rebuild it and to improve it as well. Sergei utilizes skills he learned about leading a Tank brigade and the logistics of it to come up with this plan. It is approved by the Deputy of the Supreme Soviet, Andrei Petrovich, and even used as a model for other villages to rebuild after World War Two.

Semyon Babaevsky’s story “Cavalier of the Gold Star” is one of the many ways the Party attempted to dispel any thoughts that Russia was not firmly behind the World War Two veterans. And hopefully stifle any chance of a revolution to take the Soviets from power.

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Technology the Key?

“The Front “(1942) by  Aleksandr Korneichuk   on p. 345 of the book Mass Culture in Soviet Russia. “The front” is a play that shows the reason why the military failed so early on in World War 2. This problem is that the military is led by Old Civil War Veterans refuse to learn how to wage war in the modern sense. Some examples of old civil war veterans who thought in this manner is Voroshilov and Budyonny. This play also shows what Stalin and the party did to fix the failures of the military. The solution was to replace them by younger officers that went through a traditional officer course.

It does this in the play by showing the stubbornness of the Old Civil War Veterans to learn about modern warfare, and learn about from every experience to improve on the part of a veteran of the civil war who is the General of the front (General Gorlev). It shows this by setting it during the time of the German advance into Russia, this particular section of the front has been broken through by the Germans because of the ignorance to modern warfare (tanks, artillery) of the General of the front. But the day is saved by a young major general who knows how to wage war in the modern age and learns from every encounter a general of a regiment (General Ognev) overseeing a certain column of the front. He does this by ignoring the order from the general of the front to pull back, and instead comes up with his own plan to destroy the German army near his position (approved by Moscow). After this Moscow recognizes his tactical genius and ability to succeed in the modern age of war and promotes him to General of the Front replacing the previous general.

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This is a T-34, the main tank in the russian arsenal, had such a high destruction rate early on in WW2 as a result of old civil war veterans refusing to use them as an advantage (https://www.worldwarphotos.info/gallery/ussr/tanks-2/t-34/).

This play brings an enormous problem within the military into the light. That is the commanders of the military are old civil war veterans that refuse to utilize the new technology (tanks, artillery, other machines) against the Germans who use these machines quite liberally. This is recognized by not only the party but also Stalin who starts replacing the civil war veterans who refuse to learn new tactics to defeat the Germans. He does this by replacing them with professional officers, who actually went through an officer training school and utilize technology in their favor, and learn from every encounter to become more tactically successful. He even elevate one of these professional officers to Deputy Commander of Soviet forces (Georgii Zhukov), who oversaw the defense of Stalingrad and had an important role in the Battle of Kursk. These new professional officers raised the efficiency of the military and the morale of it, because of their success compared to the failures of the old civil war veterans. This is from the seventeen moments article “Epaulettes Back on Uniforms

 

Red Army prepared for WW2?

I chose the piece “If Tomorrow Brings War” by Vasily Lebedev-Kumach and the Pokrass Brothers on pages 316-318 in the Mass Culture Book. This piece is from the movie of the same name, it was very popular because of its “self-congratulatory bravura” (Mass Culture, p.317), this ideology eventually led to the initial losses in the war with the Nazis.

This piece relates to the Seventeen Moments by the film section: 1939 Tractor Drivers. IT relates in the way that it works to accomplish the opposite affect on its audience that this section of the seventeen moments. The piece “If Tomorrow Brings War” attempts to show the military in an undefeatable position, and praises one of the Red Army’s Commanders Voroshilov. Where as the section of Seventeen Moments says that the Red Army’s Commanders [Vorshilov and Budennyi] came to command after all of the previous Commanders were “purged” for suspected conspiracies with the Facists. These new commanders were completely against the modern tank warfare. So this Seventeen Moments section says that the Red Army was very ill prepared for the war on fascism [in World War 2]. This Seventeen Moments section talks about the film “Tractor Drivers,” this film discusses the need for military preparedness, and the propaganda on how the military is prepared for war [when its not].  The two pieces (seventeen moments 1939 tractor drivers and “If Tomorrow Brings War”) says to different things on how prepared the Red Army is for war.If Tomorrow Brings War says that the military cannot be defeated because of Voroshilov’s great tactics and leadership. The Seventeen Moments Section says that because of the purges that killed all of the upper leadership and the subsequent promotions of Vorshilov and Buddenyi the Red Army is not at all prepared for war, and will lose because of the new commanders negative outlook on using modern tactics like the Tank.

 

This is the Song “If Tomorrow Brings War,” though it is an updated version. The song was updated during World War 2 to be focused on the fight against Fascism instead of a general focus on all enemies.

Bezbozhniki

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Anti-Religion Propaganda Poster, Bezbozhnik u Stanka Magazine, Illustration by Dmitry Moor, Russia, 1925
Vintage, J. (2017, December 05). Anti-Religion Propaganda Poster, Bezbozhnik u Stanka              Magazine, Illustration by Dmitry Moor. Retrieved from                                                                https://www.agefotostock.com/age/en/Stock-Images/Rights-Managed/GSV-jtv009595

The cultural artifact I chose is from the book “Mass Culture in Soviet Russia” it is: “Granddaddy Sebastian went Godless.” This reflects the early thirties in Soviet Russia by showing an example of the people pushing back against something that they saw was backwards.

“Granddaddy Sebastian went Godless” shows backwardness by bringing to light how not only the church but also the priests of the church is corrupt. In the text the Granddaddy Sebastian’s wife dies and he goes to the priest to have a ceremony setup for her burial, the priest says it will cost 10 rubles and four loaves of bread, Sebastian doesn’t have this but offers what he has, and the priest refuses. This shows backwardness by showing that the priest takes of advantage of people already in hard times to make himself wealthier(Geldern Stites, 216).

People turning to atheism was common in this period because the people were being shown and being more attentive to what the priests and the church were doing by the propaganda the Bolsheviks were putting out. They termed it Bezbozhniki or Godless Ones. The Bolsheviks were doing this because it was another step in the direction of Marxism.

Propaganda at its Finest

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Police. Roman Catholic Priest. Tsar. Pope. Rabbi. Bourgeois, 1919

What is Revolutionary Culture?

Revolutionary culture is a tool used for shaping the views of the Russian citizens in favor of the Bolsheviks. This is from “Toward a World Commune” page. 29 “Mass Culture in Soviet Russia.”

This shaping of Russian views is done in a way that the average Russian reader sympathizes with the Bolsheviks.

One way it does this is by using phrases like: workers’ forced labor,” “the horror and moans of workers,” to get the reader’s sympathies on the proletariat.

Another way it accomplishes this is painting the bourgeoisie in an unending, unsympathetic light: “Gendarmes, the bodyguards of the bourgeoisie, exult and tear the hated red banner apart. The horror and moans of workers.” This shows that the bourgeoisie and its guards are non-emotional, unsympathetic people who do not care about the cries of the overworked and tired proletariat.

Another way that this “Toward a World Commune” accomplishes the goal of gaining the support of the Russian people is showing the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie: “The workers patience is over. Revolution begins. Automobiles, bristling with bayonets, charge by flying red banners. The crowd swept away by revolutionary wrath, topples the Tsar, then stops dead in amazement.” This shows the pouring out of the hatred towards the Tsar and the bourgeoisie from the proletariat. “But the bourgeoisie does not want to accept the loss of its supremacy, and begins an embittered fight with the proletariat…..,” “….The commune is saved only by a great surge of heroism of the worker Red Guard. Foreign imperialists send the Russian White Guard and mercenaries into battle…” The excerpt goes on to graphically explain the struggle between the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie with the Proletariat (Bolsheviks/ red army) winning the conflict. These quotes work to accomplish the goal of using the graphic explanation of the revolutions to gain greater support in the Russian People for the Bolsheviks.

In all “Toward the World Commune” from “Mass Culture in Soviet Culture” works and accomplishes the goal of building the support of the Bolsheviks. So, in this context revolutionary culture is another tool in the “toolbox” of the Bolsheviks to build support for themselves, and it does this hidden in an entertaining and engrossing story about the revolutions that the Proletariat went through to overthrow the Tsars, Capitalists, and Bourgeoisie.

 

Russian Wanderers

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The above painting is by Isaak Levitan it is named:  Over Eternal Peace. Isaak Levitan is a painter in the Russian Wanderers ( Peredvizhniki) who is known for creating landscape paintings of Russia that invoke intense emotions.

I picked this particular piece because I feel it is showing the relative peace before the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. And because it also shows the importance of the Russian Orthodox Church to the people. It does this by having the subject of the painting a Russian Orthodox Church, and opens up to still water meaning there is more to life and even death if you accept the Russian Orthodoxy way of life. This painting does not show the strength of the Russian Orthodox Church but of the beliefs and way of life it represents.