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.
4 thoughts on “Veterans Dangerous?”
That’s a really interesting point you made about demobilization of the military. With so many former soldiers out of work, one could almost expect their to be issues. Interestingly enough, this was also a major problem in the most recent Iraq war. Why do you think they didn’t make a more gradual reduction in size of the military?
I think the Soviets didn’t gradually reduce the size of the military following World War 2 because they were scared the veterans would become angry with the government and start a revolution.
This is interesting as it is still a problem many countries have to this day.
Your analysis makes sense to me, and I appreciate how well you’ve connected the broader challenges of demobilization after the war to the story “Cavalier of the Gold Star,” which offers an example of how the “swords to plowshares” transformation might work at the individual level. Nice work!