Donate

Soviet

The category of Soviet consists of a variety of aspects of Communist and Socialist Studies, which at different universities can be located within departments of East European studies. This research focus attempts to tackle questions relating to various facets of Soviet society, such as trade relations, nationality policy, human rights, socialist empire, or collectivization and famines in the USSR. Soviet history is often comprehended through metaphors like “party-state,” “totalitarianism,” “thaw,”, “perestroika,” “revolution from above,” “communist labor,” and “post-Soviet,” among others. The purpose of an educational platform is not to confirm or negate such metaphors, or to fill all the thematic or chronological blocks of Soviet history, but rather to enrich our knowledge of European socialism with fresh resources and narratives. Here historians can find materials related to the party-state system, the socialist ambition to create a new man, the way in which people imagined communist societies, urban utopias, and totalitarian practices.

Filter by periods:

Primary Sources

Documents (23)

Image for “A Collective of Individuals.” Booklet of the Volyn Amateur Film Studio, 1987
“A Collective of Individuals.” Booklet of the Volyn Amateur Film Studio, 1987
The source provided below is a promotional booklet from the Soviet amateur film studio “Volyn,” located in Lutsk. Unlike studios that were under the authority of and funded by trade union organizations, this studio was affiliated with the oblast department of culture. The booklet highlights the achievements and activities of the studio. This type of publication was widely circulated and exchanged at competitions and festivals of various levels. The presence of such printed materials could further indicate the level of financial support for the studio.
Image for Program of the amateur film competition “For You, Motherland, Our Hard Work,” Kharkiv, 1974
Program of the amateur film competition “For You, Motherland, Our Hard Work,” Kharkiv, 1974
This program is part of the multi-stage film selection for the Soviet-wide competition “For You, Motherland, Our Hard Work.” It features a compilation of works from the most active studios in the Ukrainian SSR at the time, including film titles and authors’ names. It provides information on the gender and social distribution within the amateur filmmaking movement, as well as its geographic spread. It is striking to note that most listed authors are men. Characteristically, each name is accompanied by a profession, though not always accurate, highlighting the diversity of individuals involved in amateurism. Attention can also be drawn to the film titles and their formats. Many amateurs utilized the professional 35mm format,...
Image for Resolution on work of Lviv oblast amateur film studios, clubs, and cinematographers, 1986
Resolution on work of Lviv oblast amateur film studios, clubs, and cinematographers, 1986
This document is a resolution of the Lviv Oblast Council of Trade Unions regarding the organization of an oblast seminar for leaders of amateur film studios, clubs, and cinematographers. It is a common example illustrating the degree of formalization and bureaucratic structuring within the coordinated amateur film community during the Soviet era. In its contents, we discern a distinct chain of command prevalent within the inter-republican hierarchy: the Ukrainian Republican Council of Trade Unions — the Lviv Oblast Council of Trade Unions — the Lviv Oblast Club-Laboratory of Trade Union Cinematographers — People’s Film Studio (one among several).
icon
“Proletarian Journey” in Soviet Ukraine by Fred E. Beal, 1937
Fred Beal’s memoir, A Proletarian Journey: New England, Gastonia, Moscow, was published in New York in 1937. Beal, an American textile worker deeply involved in the labor movement and trade union organizing, resided in the socialist city of “Novyi Kharkiv” [New Kharkiv] from 1931 to 1933, which was established for workers of the Kharkiv Tractor Plant. This city served as a foreign enclave, hosting up to 800 workers and their families. In 1933, prompted by his experiences, Beale published a propaganda pamphlet in English titled Foreign Workers in a Soviet Tractor Plant: A Pictorial Survey of the Life of Foreign Workers and Specialists During the Period of Socialist Construction 1931-1933 (M-L: Iskra revolutsii,...
Image for Notes by Ryszard Gansiniec on Lviv University in the Soviet Administration of 1945-1946
Notes by Ryszard Gansiniec on Lviv University in the Soviet Administration of 1945-1946
Ryszard Gansiniec was a distinguished Polish classical philologist and linguist. From 1920 to 1941 and again from 1944 to 1946, he served as a professor and head of the Department of Classical Philology at Lviv University. His work Lviv Notes comprises a series of letters addressed to his wife, who relocated to Stryżow, Poland, in May 1944. Meanwhile, Gansiniec remained in Lviv until June 1946, where he continued working at Lviv University and the Academy of Sciences. However, in January 1945, he was arrested and detained until May of the same year. Upon his relocation to Poland, he assumed a professorial role at the University of Wroclaw. Later, from 1948 until his passing,...
icon
Michal Dubianecki about trade on the Minsk market, 1985
In 1979–1986, a Belarusian publisher, translator, and publicist Michal Dubianecki (1927-1990) was the director of the publishing house "Mastatskaya Litaratura" (lit. - Art Literature), and in the late 1980s he actively joined the national public life and co-founded the society "Martyrologist of Belarus" and the "Renaissance" Belarusian National Front. His diaries for 1979–1988 were published after the author's death in the journals "Flame" [Bel. - Полымя] and "Verb" [Bel. - Дзеяслоў]. In the quoted excerpt, Michal Dubianetsky talks about trade in the Minsk Komarovsky market in the mid-1980s. He talks about the prices for goods and shares his impressions of typical bazaar scenes.
Show more Collapse all

Images (6)

Image for View on the Monument to the Soviet Constitution, Lviv 1940
View on the Monument to the Soviet Constitution, Lviv 1940
The monument to the Soviet constitution, or the Stalin Constitution, was built in Lviv in October 1939. The authors were the sculptor Serhyi Lytvynenko and Kyiv artist Mykhailo Dmytrenko, it’s possible that, the artists adapted the project, originally conceived in Moscow, to the new city conditions. The sculptors Yevhen Dzyndra and Andryi Koverko carried out the project, but the participation of Lytvynenko’s student the young sculptor Yakiv Chaika is also a possibility. The monument was made in the ceramic-sculpture factory, which opened on Muchna St. in 1939. The location for the monument was chosen in the city centre, the “island” on the boundary mark of the Hetman embankments, between Yahellon’ska st. and Holy...
Image for Members of the cinema club in the village of Novooleksandrivka, Ukrainian SSR, during a film shoot, May 1981
Members of the cinema club in the village of Novooleksandrivka, Ukrainian SSR, during a film shoot, May 1981
In addition to film studios, which predominantly comprised adults, the network of amateur filmmaking also encompassed groups tailored for children and teenagers, typically organized within houses of culture or schools. Oversight of these groups was typically carried out by representatives from People’s Studios and local film clubs. The archival caption of this photograph reads as follows: “Members of the cinema club at the House of Culture in the village of Novoaleksandrovka, Belovodsk district, Voroshilovgrad oblast, during a film shoot. From left to right: students Naydysh A, Petrov P, the club’s leader Kolesnik V. I., student Burian V. — village Novoaleksandrovka, 15 May 1981, by Y. Khromushyn (outdoors against the backdrop of a river).”
Image for Film amateurs of the steam locomotive and car repair plant, photograph dated of 1956
Film amateurs of the steam locomotive and car repair plant, photograph dated of 1956
“The initiators of a film studio at the steam locomotive and truck repair plant (from the left to the right) Slutskyn S.S., Art Club Director of Tool and Inventory Shop, Skybalo G.L., Director of Radio Broadcasting Center, and Zirka A.V. are looking through the first shots of the new film about the plant, Lviv December 7th, 1956". This archival record accompanies this photograph in the Central State Audio/Visual and Electronic Archive (until the recent times called Central State G.S. Pshenychnyi Filming Archive) in Kyiv. Despite it is the official representation of film amateurs that was probably created for the purpose of media publications, careful analysis of the details makes it possible to discern...
Image for Wall newspaper of Kostyantynivka’ bottling plant, 1967
Wall newspaper of Kostyantynivka’ bottling plant, 1967
This wall newspaper is part of a series of wall newspapers from the Kostiantynivka bottling plant, created in 1967. The series consisted of 13 excerpts dedicated to local participants in the fights against the White Guards after the First World War. Thirteen newspaper issues reveal the plant's history, explain its name "13 Executed Workers Plant", and call for the publication of photographs and memories related to the confrontation with the White Guards. The presented here example tells the story of the family of Bobylov Aleksandr Semenovych and Bobylova-Chumychkina Mariia Semenivna, who were participants in the revolutionary movement. In 1918-1920, Kostiantynivka underwent numerous power changes, seized first by the White Guards and then by...
Image for A worker from the Lviv Confectionery Factory “Bilshovyk,” T.M. Etinger, at work, 1956
A worker from the Lviv Confectionery Factory “Bilshovyk,” T.M. Etinger, at work, 1956
The photo is part of the collection of press photos from the State Archives of Lviv Region showing different economic areas: industry, agriculture, culture, and sports. The photo shows a worker of Lviv Confectionery Factory, T.M.Etinger. According to the accompanying inscription, she is “one of the best” workers, a labour veteran). She is captured at making a Kremlin’s Savior Tower. The nature of this photo and of the entire collection implies the genre of press photos that had to accompanied by a text (newspaper publication). The photo was meant to illustrate the message, to make it sound more convincing, to encourage and inspire the reading workers to accomplish more in their labour. In...
Image for Members of the Communist Labor Brigade and the presentation of Komsomol tickets at the Mariupol Heavy Machinery Plant
Members of the Communist Labor Brigade and the presentation of Komsomol tickets at the Mariupol Heavy Machinery Plant
The photo shows the moment of the ceremonial presentation of a Komsomol ticket to an employee of the Mariupol heavy engineering plant. In addition to the ticket, a party or Komsomol functionary hands an unknown woman a pennant, which may indicate that this new Komsomol member has already achived significant results in the performance of the party’s labor tasks. Most likely, she is a representative of the leaders of the plant, and it was important for the Soviet system that the leaders of the production were part of the Komsomol-party asset. If we follow the name of this source, then the young worker is part of the “communist labor brigade”, which was an...
Show more Collapse all

Videos (2)

Image for “Screen of Pryazovia” (Pryazovskyi Ekran) № 1, 1969
“Screen of Pryazovia” (Pryazovskyi Ekran) № 1, 1969
    This newsreel is a valuable source on the history of the development of the Mariupol industry. It was produced by the city club of film amateurs. Following the example of the Ukrkinochronika studio in the capital city which published the main newsreels in the republic, the authors of this piece created a short film report with 4 stories that tell about the deputies, the introduction of innovations in blast furnace steelmaking, about the winners of the socialist competition, and about the meeting of workers with a Soviet cosmonaut.
Image for Collective of Communist Labor at Shoe Factory, 1960
Collective of Communist Labor at Shoe Factory, 1960
  Television news of the Lviv Television Studio followed the operators of Ukrkinochronika who chose shoe factory No. 3 as a model enterprise of the city’s light industry. The television camera shows to the audience Kateryna Lysak, an exemplary employee of the enterprise that was granted a status of a “communist labor enterprise”. At such enterprises, the example of the pioneers was to be followed by other workers, and a television clip told the people of Lviv about leaders of production and how the shoe factory was developing.
Show more Collapse all

Audio (1)

Image for Song of the Communist Labor Brigades
Song of the Communist Labor Brigades
"Song of Communist Labor Brigades" was written in 1956 by the composer Arkady Filipenko (1912-1983), who, in addition to academic music, wrote works for operettas and films. The verses to the song were written by another outstanding figure of Soviet culture of the Ukrainian SSR, Oleksa Novitsky (1914-1992), who was a military correspondent during the war, and later became a Shevchenko scholar. Both authors had the "right" biographies for writing the anthem of the communist labor brigades, which was performed at official events in the Ukrainian SSR, and was also published in large numbers for performance by professional and amateur groups. The song has a solemn mood and asserts that the communist labor...
Show more Collapse all

Modules (3)

The Soviet government aimed to profoundly transform the styles and structures of people’s everyday lives, encompassing housing, leisure, and work. Particularly ambitious projects were conceived and executed during the 1920s and 1930s. Workers were at the forefront of Soviet social policy, with the Bolshevik Communist Party depicted in Soviet discourse as the avant-garde of the proletariat, primarily serving the interests of the working class. 
The early vision of amateur filmmaking in the Soviet Union was characterized by the pragmatic idea of using the new media not only for entertainment but also to involve a wide range of citizens in the production of newsreels and to create a network of correspondents across the country to cover the construction of socialism. 
The socialist competition in the USSR went through several stages in its development: the shock work [udarniki] of the turn of the 1920-30s; self-supporting brigades [khozrastchetnyie brigady]; the Stakhanov movement of the mid-1930s; the thousanders [tysiachniki], etc. of the period of the Second World War; the Stakhanovism-shockwork of the period of “restoration of the national economy” (1950s); then, from the end of 1950s, the movement for a communist attitude to work [kommunisticheskoie otnosheniie k trudu]. Since the 1970s, when the Soviet economy was already depending solely on natural resources, the socialist competition turned into a painful obligatory fiction, although it officially ended only in the second half of the 1980s.

Digital stories (1)

У 1950–1960-х роках на підприємствах Радянської України поширилися практики, скеровані на удосконалення праці. Двигуном цього процесу були так звані передовики – учасники руху трудящих СРСР за комуністичне ставлення до праці та за виховання людини комуністичного суспільства.

Reflections

Texts (0)

Show more Collapse all

Podcasts (0)

Show more Collapse all

Videos (0)

Show more Collapse all

Syllabi (7)

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has prompted many to reconsider Ukraine’s relationship to the question of what it means to “decolonize.” This present-day revaluation of Ukraine’s complex imperial inheritances has centered primarily on Ukraine’s historical relationship to the Russian Empire (and the Russocentric Soviet Union), often to the exclusion of Ukraine’s Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and other imperial inheritances. This tragic moment of reflection raises a number of bedeviling questions. How do we narrate a decolonial history of Ukraine? Is it possible, or desirable, to disentangle Ukrainian culture from empires of the past and present? Can we imagine a future political and economic order for Ukraine that is not wholly dependent upon more powerful...
This lecture course comparatively and transnationally investigates twentieth-century communism as a modern civilization with a global outreach. It looks at the global spread of communism as an ideology, an everyday experience, and a form of statehood in the Soviet Union, Europe, Asia (i.e.Mao’s China), and post-colonial Africa. With the exception of North America and Australia, communist regimes were established on all continents of the world. The course will examine this historical process from the October Revolution (1917) to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (1986), which marked the demise of the communist state. The emphasis is not just on state-building processes or Cold War politics but primarily on the social, gender, cultural and economic policies that...
In our mini-course we will explore cultural interaction between Jews and non-Jews (Ukrainians, Poles, Russians) in the borderlands of the Habsburg and Romanov empires. This is interaction that may have been conscious or unconscious, and may have involved encounter, appropriation, negotiation, exchange and destruction.
This seminar explores ideas and practices of heritage in Eastern and Central Europe between 1945 and now. The course is designed as a set of five meetings, which will include short lecture introductions, seminar discussions, and at the end – practical workshop. Our meetings will be about discussing the texts, addressing cases you will read about or already know. Thіs the seminar will be our common effort in reading, asking questions and searching for answers. Therefore it is crucial that you will read assigned parts of selected texts and also consult texts from the recommended reading list. While reading assigned texts, please keep a short track of your ideas and formulate several questions...
This course covers the period from the partitions of Poland through the Russian and Habsburg Empires, the Soviet Union and interwar Poland. Students will familiarize with the geopolitical results of Russia’s westward and Austria’s eastward expansions and will focus among other overarching themes on the shtetl, the unique East European Jewish habitat; on Hasidism, a Ukraine-born popular movement of religious enthusiasm; on the interaction between Zionists and Ukrainian nationalists in Galicia; on the development of Ukrainization and Yiddishization (or Ukrainian and Jewish korenizatsiia) in the 1920s and the situation of Jews in Poland in the 1920s; on the Holocaust and its aftermath; on Ukrainians and Jews in the dissident movement; and on Jewish-Ukrainian...
This course was a part of Jewish History, Multiethnic Past, and Common Heritage: Urban Experience in Eastern Europe summer school.
At the end of the eighteenth century the Russian Empire acquired the largest Jewish population in the world. Although Jews and Christians had lived side by side with one another for over three hundred years in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, their life-worlds were distinct. The Great War, the Russian Revolution, and the Holocaust radically transformed the Jews of Russia, however, and the distinct culture of Russian-Jewry remains a crucial part of Jewish heritage today.