Underground Poetry in the 1930s USSR

From Everyday Life in Moscow during the Stalin Period by Georgy Andreevsky.

Whoever penned this was arrested in 1939:

Кто кричал «вся власть Советам!», / All you who shouted “All power to the Soviets!”,
Кто стрелял по юнкерам, / You who fired at the Junkers,
Кто по Зимнему при этом / You who bombarded Winter Palace
Приказал бить крейсерам? / From the cruisers?
Кто старался в ряд три года / You who three consecutive years
Коммунистов защитить? / Defended the Communists?
Кто считал, что всем свобода —/ You who thought that all should get freedom
Лишь отнять да разделить? / To confiscate and redistribute
Значит, ты теперь не кайся, / This means, it’s too late for repentance
Кто виновник — понимай. / Who is guilty – you understand.
Знай живи да улыбайся, / Know, live your life, and smile,
Вечно руки поднимай. / With your hands eternally up.
Кто сумел создать Советы, / You who managed to create the Soviets,
Тот колхознику сродни, / You are akin to the kolkhoznik worker,
Поищи его в себе ты, / Find him in yourself,
Что посеял, то и жни! / For what you sowed, you now must reap!

Here is another telling example:

Йоффе, Кац, Леон Бронштейн, / Ioffe, Kats, Leon Bronstein,
Розенфельд, Минор и Дан, / Rozenfeld, Minor, and Dan,
Гоц, Нахамкес и Эпштейн, / Gots, Nakhamkes, and Epstein,
Шнейдер, Ге и Апфельбаум, / Schneider, Ge, and Appelbaum,
Шпицберг, Либер и Коган, / Spitsberg, Lieber, and Kogan,
Абрамович, Цедербаум, / Abramovich, Tsederbaum,
Шрейдер, Блехман, Карахан, / Shreyder, Blekhman, Karakhan,
Кто они? Зачем так много / Who are they? Why are there so many
Семитических имен? / of these Semitic names?
Может быть, то синагога? / Is it a synagogue?
Может быть, синедрион? / Or a sanhedrin?

У украинцев есть гетман, / The Ukrainians have their hetman,
У поляков тоже — круль, / The Poles have their krul,
А у русского народа / But the Russians
Не то Мойша, не то Сруль. / Have either Moishe, or maybe Srul.

Needless to say, it’s difficult to know how widespread these anti-Soviet sentiments were – it’s not like there were independent opinion polls on the matter, and I am not aware of attempts to reconstruct Stalin’s approval rating on the basis of other indicators of social sentiment, as has been done for Nazi Germany (e.g. naming children Adolf).

Still, they certainly existed, and could have been exploited if Nazi ideologues were smarter in 1941-42.

Comments

  1. Very nice catch!

  2. Why are there so many

    I was just wondering, why did so many jews end up in Russia?

  3. anonymous coward says

    Russia inherited them after conquering Poland.

    Why Poland had all those Jews is a thornier question.

  4. Swarthy Greek says

    Prior to Catherine II there were few Jews in Russia, and most of Jews’ roles (trading, banking) were fulfilled by Tatars. Jews ended up in russia due to the partition of Poland. European Jews appeared in Italy, started migrating from Italy to the Rhineland during the early middle ages. Then the various Kings of Poland/ Lithuania brought them to eastern Europe.

  5. German_reader says

    You who fired at the Junkers

    What does “junkers” mean in this context?
    I see that it existed as a loan word in late Tsarist Russia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junker_(Russia)
    but does this refer to some specific incident during the revolution?

  6. German_reader says

    Why Poland had all those Jews is a thornier question.

    Polish kings (e.g. Casimir the Great) invited them, similarly to how some East European rulers invited German settlers.
    It was also partly due to the expulsion of Jews from many Western European states during the late 13th/14th centuries (e.g. Jews were completely banned from England in the 1290s, and there were occasional massacres or expropriations and expulsions of Jews in Germany during the plague epidemics; Heidelberg university was partly funded with property confiscated from expelled Jews).

  7. In Britain, wartime propaganda was very focused on moustache-twirling Junker aristocrats and alleged warlike Prussian elements in Germany as the object of hatred and source of the war, so I assumed that Russians developed the same image of them.

  8. German_reader says

    In Britain, wartime propaganda was very focused on moustache-twirling Junker aristocrats and alleged warlike Prussian elements in Germany

    I know, but “junkers” in this anti-Soviet poem seems to refer to Russian nobility since it’s clearly about the October revolution…I wonder if it became a loan word in Russian via Baltic German nobles? And apparently during late Tsarism it was even used as a term for various ranks in the army and at court.
    So I wondered if there was some specific incident during the revolution in which “junkers” were the target.

  9. German_reader says

    Thanks, that’s interesting.

  10. There were also ethnic Russian merchants on the Volga. The famous Kustodiev panting depicts a woman from such a family:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/58/Boris_Kustodiev_-_Merchant%27s_Wife_at_Tea_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

  11. ‘Needless to say, it’s difficult to know how widespread these anti-Soviet sentiments were…’

    Solzhenitsyn recounts the case of ‘the true Tsar Mikhail’ or something. A young Russian appeared in nineteen-forties Moscow, claiming to be the true tsar — even distributing flyers to ‘his people.’ He circulated among the workers, calmly preaching.

    The thing is, no one turned him in. It was six months before the authorities caught him.

  12. anonymous coward says

    Good lord, what a stupid post. (All I want for Christmas is for Americans to stop posting stupid shit about ‘the old country’.)

    Jews in Russia were never businessmen or traders. Traditional Jewish roles were criminals, alcohol peddlers and artists. (Also some niche related things like trading gemstones or speculating in art.)

    Businessmen in Russia were almost 100% ethnic Russian, and of those a huge chunk were Old Believers. (Who are Russia’s equivalent of Protestants, with the corresponding work ethic.)

  13. How did my post contradict what you wrote?

  14. Йоффе, Кац, Леон Бронштейн, / Ioffe, Kats, Leon Bronstein,
    Розенфельд, Минор и Дан, / Rozenfeld, Minor, and Dan,
    Гоц, Нахамкес и Эпштейн, / Gots, Nakhamkes, and Epstein,
    Шнейдер, Ге и Апфельбаум, / Schneider, Ge, and Appelbaum,
    Шпицберг, Либер и Коган, / Spitsberg, Lieber, and Kogan,
    Абрамович, Цедербаум, / Abramovich, Tsederbaum,
    Шрейдер, Блехман, Карахан, / Shreyder, Blekhman, Karakhan,
    Кто они? Зачем так много / Who are they? Why are there so many
    Семитических имен? / of these Semitic names?
    Может быть, то синагога? / Is it a synagogue?
    Может быть, синедрион? / Or a sanhedrin?

    У украинцев есть гетман, / The Ukrainians have their hetman,
    У поляков тоже — круль, / The Poles have their krul,
    А у русского народа / But the Russians
    Не то Мойша, не то Сруль. / Have either Moishe, or maybe Srul.

    And then IyI Dmitry Bykov claims that Hitler would have been popular in Russia if he had not focused on killing Jews (and Gypsies).

    https://youtu.be/y896C42O0iA?t=741

  15. John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan says

    Solzhenitsyn argued quite vehemently that the Germans were welcomed with reasonably open arms, depending on the region and village, but that the Germans blew it, as we Americans say, by being unduly brutal to the Russian peoples.

  16. John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan says

    This is great stuff, Anatoly, thank you very much for sharing it with us.

  17. This is a weird list. Ok, Bronstein, Rosenfeld, and Apfelbaum (Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev) I understand. Nakhamkes (Steklov) edited Izvestia – not a major figure but ok, fine.

    Karakhan was Armenian and a minor figure (a diplomat.)

    But Gots and Minor were SR. Gots organised resistance to Bolsheviks during the Civil War and was sentenced to death in 1922 (but actually killed in 1939.) Liber, Dan, and Tsederbaum (Martov) were Menshevik leaders, all of whom also tried to resist the Bolsheviks. What are they doing in this list?

    And who the hell are the others?