The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part one)

The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part one)
The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part one)

Video: The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part one)

Video: The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part one)
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“The works of the flesh are known; they are: adultery, fornication, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, magic, enmity, quarrels, envy, anger, strife, disagreements, (temptations), heresies, hatred, murder, drunkenness, outrage and the like; I precede you, as I did before, that those who do this will not inherit the Kingdom of God."

(Galatians 5.19-21).

The history of the Soviet period is bad in that it emphasized only the advantages of the new system, and if it did speak about its shortcomings, it was casually, as about something insignificant and surmountable. In fact, the young "state of workers and peasants" had a lot of problems and they were all very serious. But not that very little was said about them in schools and universities. However, fortunately for us historians, archival documents have not disappeared anywhere. Old, yellowed, written in vile handwriting and often with a chemical pencil or printed on old "underwund", they are just waiting in the wings to "balance" the swinging pendulum of the clock of history. There were pluses, but there were also minuses, and in what turned out to be more in the end, there are answers to the questions of how, why, why and why. The only trouble is that it is very difficult to get to them and study them all.

The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part one)
The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part one)

When, for example, the Italian KPI collapsed, they announced that their archives were open to all comers and … indeed they were opened. Ours are also open, but you won't be able to get there "straight from the street". And those who can do not always want to dig into the old "shit". But there are historians who conduct research on this topic and defend dissertations. For example, S. E. Panin from the Penza State University. V. G. Belinsky “Everyday life of Soviet cities: drunkenness, prostitution, crime and the fight against them in the 1920s (based on materials from the Penza province), defended back in 2002. Well, a very interesting study. But the research is in one place, and the people for whom it seems to have been done, for some reason, do not know about it. So I thought and based on this work, creatively reworking it, I made the following material, which will certainly be interesting to many visitors to the VO site. Moreover, I decided to keep all the footnotes to documents and materials, so that later no one would have silly questions like “where did you get this from”!

To begin with, the Bolsheviks had to face the problem of drunkenness in the very first days of the October coup. We are talking about the famous wine pogroms, when soldiers for the wine cellars of the Winter Palace again "took" by storm the palace [1]. After that, pogroms spread throughout the city. E. Ya. Drabkina recalled: “Disgusting scenes were played out on the streets. The rabid pogroms attacked wine cellars, beat and killed the Red Guards who were on guard, broke locks, knocked out the bottoms of wine barrels and, standing on all fours, lapped the drunken slurry - wine mixed with dirty snow”[2]. Smolny was at a loss. G. A. Solomon wrote that Lenin turned pale, and his face twitched with nervous convulsions: “These scoundrels … will drown the whole revolution in wine! - he said, - we have already given the order to shoot the robbers on the spot. But they don't listen to us … Here they are Russian riots! …”[3]. The Bolsheviks began to shoot stacks of wine bottles and barrels from machine guns, everyone walked around wet, smelling through and through with the aromas of expensive wines. Well, what did the townspeople and soldiers do when they saw the wine flowing along the pavement? As L. D. Trotsky, “the wine flowed down the canals into the Neva, soaked the snow, the drunkards lapped straight from the ditches” [4]. However, at the very least, after a few months, and with relatively little blood, the Bolsheviks managed to establish a relative order in the capital [5].

For a long time it was believed that "wine pogroms" were the prerogative of the capital alone. However, they seriously affected many provincial cities: provincial and also uyezd ones, including on the territory of the Penza province, where it turned out to be much more difficult to cope with them. So, on November 8, 1917, soldiers in Penza staged a pogrom of beer warehouses, but then order was restored rather quickly [13]. Everything went not so well in small county towns. For example, on November 24, 1917, in Saransk, about 500 soldiers at three o'clock in the morning turned to the head of a state-owned wine warehouse with a demand to open it and share the alcohol stored there. On November 26, soldiers guarding a wine warehouse in the city of Saransk demanded that the warehouse manager give them rewards for guarding with alcohol. The chief of the guard did not wait for the decision "from above" and began to give every guard a half bottle of vodka every day. But this did not satisfy them either. On November 29, soldiers with townspeople and peasants from the surrounding villages went together to storm the warehouses … “The soldiers themselves poured alcohol from the tanks, broke the tap at the measuring tank, all day they were carrying boxes and barrels of alcohol from the warehouse … they climbed over alcohol, crushing each other with cigarettes drunken mad people in their teeth …”. By November 30, all the contents of the warehouse were decisively done away with. This is what the storming men left behind: "… everywhere broken dishes, a pumping station, an oil industry, a gatehouse, a building of tanks, workshops burned down, the engine fell into a well … everything was looted and destroyed" [6].

What were the results of the pogroms for the Penza province. Of the four state-owned wine warehouses, two burned down, two were plundered clean; out of 109 distilleries, three were burned to the ground, and all the rest were looted, both in relation to alcohol and the equipment available there [7]. While the authorities at the top were deciding whether to drink to the people or not, the local authorities, in order not to burden themselves with anything, decided to sell them alcohol that had not been plundered, at a price of 50 rubles. per bucket. And the demand for it turned out to be so great that it was required to set a sales limit - a bucket for each of the eaters in the family [8].

And the people were still thirsty and thirsty for the sought-for "liquid" and sometimes showed their dissatisfaction with their absence in a very comical way. For example, here is a leaflet issued by the "Party of Alcoholics" in Samara during the election campaign to local Soviets. “Citizens and citizens !!! Vote for List 18. Our motto is: "Alcoholics of all countries unite", "Only in drunkenness will you find consolation." We require: 1. Free worldwide sale of drink; 2. Universal, direct, equal, secret and explicit drinking of alcoholic beverages in all forms and in all dishes; 3. Free choice of various kinds of drinks and snacks for them …; 4. A public trial of alcoholics over the representatives of the old government, for the cessation of the sale of wine by them and their severe punishment, up to and including exile to hard labor without a term; 5. Full amnesty and immediate release from all places of detention, under the old and new regimes imprisoned, producers, sellers of hypocrisy, varnish, denatured alcohol, sour liquor, moonshine …; b. Free universal treatment of all victims of alcoholism …”[9]. However, the new government was in no hurry to respond to popular aspirations and satisfy his need for a change in consciousness through alcohol.

Moreover, on December 19, 1919, the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR adopted a decree "On the prohibition in the territory of the RSFSR of the manufacture and sale of alcohol, strong drinks and alcohol-containing substances not related to drinks."[10] The decree did not prohibit the use of alcohol in general, but only the sale of alcohol for "drinking consumption", for grape wine the strength was allowed no higher than 12 °.

As always in Russia, one law was not the same for everyone. For the Cheka-GPU and the army authorities, access to alcohol reserves was preserved. The Penza Gubchek regularly demanded alcohol from the GSNKh on the following grounds: “Gubchek needs 15 buckets of alcohol for technical needs and secret needs” [11] How alcohol was spent “for secret needs” was discovered in 1922 during an audit of the economic department of this organization. Alcohol was given out by simple notes and statements. Here is an example of such a note. “Give me 5 bottles of alcohol in the pantry. Martynov "[12]. In January-June 1922, 397 bottles of alcohol were drunk here !!! [13]

On the fourth anniversary of the Red Army, celebrated in Penza, in addition to sausage, alcohol in the amount of 1,150,000 rubles was officially included in the budget for the celebrations [14]. It is clear that how not to drink to the defenders of the new workers 'and peasants' state ?! “Drunkenness on holidays,” noted V. O. Klyuchevsky, is one of the religious duties of the people”[15]. Now, new revolutionary holidays began to be celebrated on a grand scale: May 1, November 7, etc. "Didn't we make the revolution for ourselves?"

But by and large there was nothing to drink, and "Tsar Moonshine" was used. The strong influence of moonshine on the daily consumption of alcoholic beverages is evidenced by urban ditties of the first half of the 1920s. Here is one of them:

Sit down, sit down on the car

I'll hang my legs under the carriage, You take me, car, Where moonshine is driven

Moonshine did not run

And then she dripped.

My dear did not love me

And then she began to cry.

However, in the 1920s, a trend emerged in the USSR that was not previously typical for Russia - drugs. They began to penetrate into the previously "clean" social strata, namely the work environment. So, according to the data of the Moscow drug dispensary for 1924 - 1925. among cocaine addicts, a noticeable proportion of young workers aged 20-25 [16]. Not least of all, this was influenced by the ban on the production of vodka, the traditional leisure of workers. In search of a replacement, even the workers began to "add drugs". In addition, the reasons for the spread of drugs among young workers should be sought in their close relationship with prostitutes.

It was decided to knock out the wedge with a wedge. The decree of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR of August 28, 1925 "On the introduction of the provision on the production of alcohol and alcoholic beverages, and the trade in them" allowed the trade in vodka. On October 5, 1925, the wine monopoly was introduced [17]. The new vodka was named "Rykovka" in honor of the chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR N. I. Rykov, who signed a decree on its production and sale. An anecdote was circulated among the intelligentsia of the mid-1920s that everyone in the Kremlin was playing his own cards: Stalin was playing "kings", Krupskaya was playing "Akulka", and Rykov was playing a "drunkard." The names of the vodka packaging among the people also received very politicized ones. A bottle with a volume of 0.1 liters. called "pioneer", 0.25 liters. - "Komsomol member", and 0.5 liters. - "party member". But the pre-revolutionary names were also preserved, namely: magpie, swindler, bastard.


Interestingly, the smoking of moonshine in the cities has practically ceased after that, as well as the use of drugs has significantly decreased. But moonshine continued to be driven in the countryside and from there it was delivered to the city. The most popular impurities in moonshine were: hops, mustard, horseradish, gasoline, kerosene, tobacco, wormwood, pepper, chicken droppings, lime, vitriol, soapstone, drugs, henbane, dope, denatured alcohol. Of these, tobacco was the undisputed leader. In the Penza region - vitriol, tobacco and hops [18].

However, drunkenness was widespread even without the official "monopoly". So, the information reports of the Penza GO OGPU for 1924 repeatedly noted that drunkenness among … ordinary militiamen and senior staff reaches the widest extent [19]. Strange as it may seem, both the Party and the Komsomol were infected with drunkenness. Back in 1920, most of the sessions of the party court of the Penza Gubkom of the RCP (b) were devoted precisely to the analysis of "drunk cases" [20]. And, for example, members of the Presidium of the Penza SNKh (all members of the VKP9b) in a state of strong intoxication, celebrating the New Year (1919 - Auth.), Killed the coachman of the SNKh Lazutkin [21]. The drunken revelry continued in the party and Komsomol ranks in subsequent years. In the journal of the Penza communists "Under the Banner of Leninism" in 1926 they wrote about it like this: "Old and small drink, drink, what a sin to hide - Komsomol members and communists. Everyone drinks, regardless of the position held. The correspondents' letters are 50% devoted to the topic of drunkenness”[22].


As a result, we note that if one takes all alcohol (in terms of pure alcohol) per family at 100%, then the following increase in family alcohol consumption is obtained: - 100%, 1925 - 300%, 1926 - 444%, 1927 - 600%, 1928 - 800% [23]. Many scientists of the 1920s. calmed themselves, comparing the indicators of consumption of vodka for the second sex. 1920s with data on the Russian Empire and drawing from this the conclusion that in the 1927/28 and 1929 budget years the population of the USSR drank only 42, 8% of what was drunk in 1913 [225]. But the matter was not so simple. In 1913, 1279.2 million liters of vodka were drunk in the Russian Empire. In 1929 in the USSR - 512 million liters. But on the territory of the USSR (excluding Finland, Poland and other regions) in 1913, only 1062 million liters were drunk. If we add another 600 million liters of moonshine to 512 million liters of vodka drunk (data from Cenrospirt) (data from the Central Statistical Office), it turns out that in 1929, 1112 million liters of spirits were consumed in the USSR. Those. the data is almost identical. But it should be noted that the main consumer of the breech and one of the main consumers of moonshine was the RSFSR, and, therefore, the figure will clearly be higher than the pre-revolutionary one, at least for the European part of Russia [24].