Three roads of the Soviet Bolshevik press (1921-1953)

Three roads of the Soviet Bolshevik press (1921-1953)
Three roads of the Soviet Bolshevik press (1921-1953)

The publication in VO of A. Volodin's article and the controversy that followed on the pages of the site once again show that the citizens of Russia are tired of myths, both “on the right” and “on the left,” that the history of the Fatherland is very important for them, like those sources, on which the historian can rely when studying it. And it turned out that my graduate student S. Timoshina is working on the topic of informing Soviet citizens about life abroad and, while working on her dissertation, she looked through almost all of our regional and central newspapers from 1921 to 1953. Well, and of course I read them along with her. And we decided to acquaint VO readers with the results of the just completed study. At the same time, we did not give page-by-page links to articles in newspapers, since this takes up a lot of space. But I will emphasize again, there are links to almost every word, figure and fact. After all, this material is, in fact, a "piece of dissertation". And this is what the analysis of newspaper materials undertaken by the authors showed: instead of one information flow striking one target, there were three of them, and they diverged in different directions and contradicted each other! The consequences of such an information policy turned out to be sad and make us think about many things.


“On the first road to go - to be married;

On the second road to go - to be rich;

On the third road to go - to be killed!"

/Russian folktale/

"Road number 1:" My dear, world revolution!"

To begin with, the period 1921-1927 could well be called the time of maximum democratization and freedom of speech for the Soviet press. So, both in the central press and in the regional publications, detailed news about the famine in the Volga region was published. It was reported which states and public organizations of foreign states are helping the starving. That in the Samara region all the gophers have been eaten and people are eating up cats and dogs, and hungry children abandoned by their parents wander the streets in search of a piece of bread, workers live in appalling conditions, and “workers of universities and scientific institutions - professors, teachers and technical employees stand in terms of his wages in the last place”. Frequent manifestations of "labor desertion" were also reported for which, for example, in Penza they were punished by imprisonment in a concentration camp (!) For a term of one to four months.

However, as regards informing Soviet citizens about life abroad, an example of the leadership of the Soviet press of those years is a secret circular signed by the Secretary of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) V. Molotov dated October 9, 1923, which assessed the events that took place at that time in Germany: “It has now become completely clear that the proletarian coup in Germany is not only inevitable, but already quite close - it has come close … The conquest of broad strata of the petty bourgeoisie by fascism is extremely difficult due to the correct tactics of the German Communist Party. … For Soviet Germany, an alliance with us, which enjoys immense popularity among the broad masses of the German people, will be the only chance of salvation. On the other hand, only Soviet Germany is able to provide the USSR with an opportunity to resist the impending onslaught of international fascism and the fastest resolution of the economic problems facing us. This determines our position in relation to the German revolution."

Further in the document detailed instructions were given regulating the activities of local party bodies in the process of informing the population about the events in Germany: “The Central Committee considers it necessary: 1. To focus the attention of the broadest workers and peasants on the German revolution. 2. To expose in advance the intrigues of our external and internal enemies linking the defeat of revolutionary Germany with a new military campaign against the workers and peasants of the Soviet republics, with the complete rout and dismemberment of our country. 3. To consolidate in the minds of every worker, peasant and Red Army soldier the unshakable confidence that the war that the foreign imperialists and, above all, the ruling classes of Poland are preparing to impose on us, will be a defensive war to keep the land in the hands of the peasants, factories in the hands of the workers, for the very existence of the workers 'and peasants' power.

Due to the international situation, propaganda campaigns should be carried out widely and systematically. To this end, the Central Committee invites you to: 1. Introduce the issue of the international situation in the agenda of all party meetings (general, regional, cells, etc.), highlighting each stage and turn in events that are now at the center of international life … 5. To take all measures for broad coverage of the issue in the press, guided by articles published in Pravda and sent from the Press Bureau of the Central Committee. 6. Organize meetings at factories in order to fully illuminate the current international situation in front of the broadest masses of the working class and call on the proletariat to be vigilant. Use female delegate meetings. 7. Pay special attention to the coverage of the question of the international situation among the masses of the peasantry. Everywhere broad peasant meetings about the German revolution and the impending war should be preceded by meetings of the party members, where there are such. 8. Speakers … should be instructed in the most careful manner in the spirit of the general party line outlined by the last party meeting and the instructions of this circular. In our propaganda … we cannot appeal only to internationalist sentiments. We must appeal to the vital economic and political interests …"

To maintain the confidence of Soviet citizens in the speedy development of the world revolution, newspapers regularly published articles about the growth of the labor movement in England, France, and even in the United States, although it was at this time that the period of "prosperity" began - that is, there. "Prosperity"!

In 1925, at the XIV Congress of the RCP (b), in his report, Stalin was forced to recognize the stabilization of the political and economic situation in the capitalist states and even spoke about the "period of ebb of revolutionary waves." However, in the same speech, he declared "the instability and internal weakness of the current stabilization of European capitalism." At the 15th Congress of the CPSU (b), he noted the growth of the economy of the capitalist countries, but despite the facts and figures he cited, he said that “there are some countries that do not go, but jump forward, leaving behind the pre-war level,” and insisted that "The stabilization of capitalism cannot become durable from this," and the newspapers immediately picked up on this!

The dangerous consequences of such distorted coverage of events abroad were already realized in those years. So, G. V. Chicherin, who held the post of People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, wrote in a letter to Stalin in June 1929 that such tendencies in the coverage of foreign events in Soviet newspapers were "outrageous nonsense." At the same time, he added that false information from China led to the mistakes of 1927, and false information from Germany "will bring incomparably greater harm."

Publications about life in the country were still quite objective in nature, the main thing was to conduct "party work".“First of all, we restructured the party work,” the correspondents of the Mayak Revolution factory reported on the pages of the Rabochaya Penza newspaper, “since there was no owner on the car, the party organizer of our brigade was a net worker, senior worker comrade. Troshin Egor. We re-elected the party organizer, because the grid operator, in our opinion, should be one of the corners of the triangle on the machine. " It is absolutely impossible to understand what we are talking about, except that there was party work at the enterprise! But here's what's strange: according to the newspaper Pravda, the increase in the unemployment rate abroad was caused by nothing more than the rationalization of production - that is, thus, to which she herself urged the working people of her own country!

Pravda did not write anything about the 1932 famine, but it did report on the famine in the capitalist countries under headings that spoke for themselves: "Hungry England", "The President of the Hunger is on the Podium." According to Soviet press reports, the situation was no better in the USA or the USA, where "hunger is strangling, and the anxiety of the masses is growing by leaps and bounds: a hunger march on Washington threatens to surpass the size and determination of the veterans' march." The picture of life in foreign countries was drawn so bleak that, judging by the newspaper headlines of those years, the consequences of the economic crisis were visible everywhere and literally everywhere there were demonstrations of workers dissatisfied with their plight.

That is, the world revolution was so clearly on the verge that it is not surprising why Makar Nagulnov, in M. Sholokhov's Virgin Land Upturned, took up the study of the English language. He felt from the tone of the Soviet newspapers that it would not start today or tomorrow, and that was when his knowledge would come in handy! After all, "in Soviet Ukraine - a rich harvest, and in Western Ukraine - an extreme crop failure" - that is, even nature was "for us"!

When the 18th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) was held in Moscow in March 1939, Stalin again said at it that "a new economic crisis began, which seized, first of all, the United States, and after them England, France, and a number of other countries." He described these countries as "non-aggressive, democratic states", and in his speech he called Japan, Germany and Italy "aggressor states" that unleashed the war. V. M. Molotov during his opening speech at the congress, as well as the deputies of the congress.

But the tone of the newspapers changed dramatically immediately after the conclusion of the Soviet-German non-aggression pact on August 23, 1939. The articles describing the horrors of the Gestapo disappeared, criticism of Great Britain, France and the United States began, and articles appeared about the bitter lot of ordinary Finns "under the yoke of the Finnish plutocracy." Materials appeared, from which it was clear that the main instigators of the new war were not Germany, Italy, Japan, but England and France. It was Great Britain and France, according to Pravda, who hatched plans for a war against Germany. Meanwhile, such fluctuations in the information flow are always very dangerous, since they hint at the bias of the press and own fluctuations in the country's leadership. The flow of information should be more neutral, more indifferent and consistent.

But the worst thing is that not only ordinary citizens of the USSR had vague ideas about the realities of life in the West, but also representatives of the country's political elite, and, in particular, Molotov himself, who had been Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars since 1930, and since 1939 - People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs … For example, in the spring of 1940, the German ambassador von Schulenburg reported to Berlin that "Molotov, who has never been abroad yet, is experiencing great difficulties in communicating with foreigners."

Reading Soviet newspapers of the 30s, the thought involuntarily arises that the country's authorities and its party apparatus did not trust their own people, and apparently believed that truthful messages were useless to him, since they were not beneficial to the party. That is, they acted, like the authorities of Oceania in the novel by J. Orwell "1984". Obviously, this should have caught the eye of many (for example, Academician Vernadsky, it was definitely thrown!), And this resulted in a gradual undermining of confidence in propaganda in the country as a whole. Well, and the fact that the "world revolution" for some reason still will not start in any way, was seen by almost everyone!

To be continued.

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