2007/03/22

March 22 in Russian history

1710: Peter I issues a manifesto which prohibits the "great Russians" (the term used for Russians in that time) to insult "little Russians" (whom we know as Ukrainians) and to accuse them in the treason of hetman Mazepa. The punishment would be strict, up to the death penalty. Only one year had passed after the battle of Poltava, where a part of the Ukrainian forces, led by Mazepa, who violated the oath of allegiance he had sworn to Peter I, and Peter I intended to strengthen the ties between Great Russia and Little Russia. So, he had also granted certain financial privileges to the Ukrainians. For example, they were exempted from the state monopoly on alcohol. Ukrainians, unlike Russians, were allowed to produce and to sell alcohol on the whole territory of all Russias.

1932: Maxim Gorky, a.k.a. "Stalin in literature", publishes an article titled "On whose side are you, masters of culture?" Unfortunately, I couldn't find an English translation online. It's an amazing sample of the most rude Soviet political journalism. He accuses capitalists and intelligentsia, the "consolers of the bourgeoisie", in racism, in attempts to limit the progress and to tame artists.

"Artists like Possart or Monet Sully are not needed anymore, their place is taken by Fairbankses, Harold-Lloyds and other jugglers of that kind, led by monotonously sentimental and downcast Charlie Chaplin, just like the music of classical composers is replaced by jazz, and Stendal, Balsac, Dickens and Flobert are replaced by various Wallaces, the people who can only tell about policemen, the guards of large robbers and mass murderers, are hunting puny thieves and killers. In the area of art, bourgeoisie is quite satisfied with collecting of post stamps or bus tickets or, in the best case, the forged paintings of the old masters. In the area of science, bourgeoisie is only interested in the most comfortable and cheap exploitation of the forces of the working class. The science exists for a bourgeois only as long as it serves his aims of self-enrichment, to control his digestion and to raise the sexual energy of the debauchee. The basics goals of the science are beyond the understanding for the bourgeois: intellectual development, physical recovery of the humanity, transformation of the inert matter into energy, solution of the growth of the human body are just as uninteresting for a bourgeois as for a savage from the Central Africa.

...

No, preaching love of the poor to the rich, of the worker to his master, is not my craft. I am unable to console. I know too well that the world lives in the atmosphere of hatred and I see that this atmosphere is getting more dense, active, beneficial.

You, "humanists who want to be practical", should understand that there are two hatred in this world: one has originated among the predators on the basis of their competition with each other and out of fear before the future, which threatens them with an imminent death; and another one, the hatred of the proletariat, is born from the disgust towards the reality and is fed by the understanding of the right for power. The force of these two hatreds makes it impossible to conciliate them, and nothing but the inevitable physical conflict of their carriers, nothing but the victory of the proletariat, will set the world free from hatred.

...

Let's talk about "violence". Dictatorship of the proletariat is temporary, it is necessary to re-educate, to turn tens of millions of former slaves of nature and the bourgeoisie into the only master of their country and all its treasures. The dictatorship of the proletariat will cease to be necessary as soon as all the working people, all peasants will find themselves in equal social and economical positions, and everyone of them will obtain the possibility to work according to his abilities and to receive according to his needs. "Violence" as you and many others understand it, is a misunderstanding, but even more often it is the libel and slander against the working class of the Union of Soviets and its party. The word "violence" is applied to the social process taking place in the Union of Soviets by the enemies of the working class in order to discredit his work in the area of culture: the restoration of his country and the creation of the new forms of economical life.

In my opinion, we can talk about the coercion without violence, just like when you teach children you do not use violence. The working class of the Union of Soviets and his party are teaching the social and political literacy to the peasants. You, the intellectuals, are also forced by something or someone to feel the dramatism of your life between the hammer and the anvil. You are also taught the basics of social and political literacy, and this someone is not me, of course.

...

The laws in the Union of Soviets are created within the working masses, they are a corollary of the workers' life. The Soviet power and the party formulate and approve as the law only the statements which were shaped in the process of the work of the proletariat and the peasants, of the work, the task of which is to create the society of equal ones. The party is the dictator as long as it is the organizing centre, the neural system of the working masses. The goal of the party is to transform in the shortest possible time the maximum amount of the physical energy into the intellectual energy, to give freedom of development to every single individual and to the whole population.

About two years ago, an article with the same name, "On whose side are you, masters of culture?", was published by a funny pseudo-patriotic organization called the Youth Union "For the Motherland!". It retains the obtuse, meaningless style of the original Gorky's phrase-mongering:

Just like 100 years ago, when Maxim Gorky wrote his famous answer to the American journalists, you are still busy with the same: "consolation of the bourgeoisie in their trite woes, mending the worn-out, dirty clothes of the bourgeoisie, lavishly soiled with the blood of the working class."

You, scientists, literary critics, musicians, journalists, writers, actors, sportsmen, where are your thoughts, do you live the same life as the people of Russia, or are you not worried by the people's hopes? What have you done for your motherland? Why didn't you, Maxim Sokolov, criticize the vices of the modern society in your column in the newspaper? Have you, Sergey Shnurov, had your hands cut off, like a Chilean musician, for the songs of protest? Why didn't you, Sergey Bezrukov, read Pushkin's verses to the Russian soldiers in Chechnya?

...

Why didn't you, Yegor Titov, win the European football championship, did not fulfill your citizen's duty? We, the Youth Union "For the Motherland!", call the masters of culture to account. Answer your country and your conscience: what have you done for your land when you had such a credit of the people? Determine, are you with the people or are you by yourselves, since the culture is inseparable from the people, and if you are not with the people, the people will reject you and what is an intellectual without the people — an empty place. ... The time of postmodernism is gone, the time of new realism has come!

Unique stupidity. Gorky would look a brilliant stylist near these dead serious children. At least, he knew more words in Russian.

1943: Nazi troops from the infamous brigade Dirlewanger together with Ukrainian and Belorussian collaborators under comman of Grigory Vasyura destroyed the Belorussian village Khatyn. It was a part of the Winterzauber operation. 10 schutzmannschaft (guard) battallions took part in the operation, including 8 Latvian battallions and two Ukrainian-Belorussian battalions from OUN (organization of Ukrainian nationalists). During the operation 158 villages were sacked and destroyed. Villages Ambrazeevo, Aniskovo, Buly, Zhernoseki, Kalyuty, Konstantinovo, Paporotnoe, Sokolovo and a number of others were burnt together with their inhabitants. About 3,500 people were killed, 2,000 were sent to Germany for slave work, 1,000 children were sent to the Salaspils children's death camp in Latvia. On March 22, after the partisans attacked a Nazi detachment and killed Hans Woelke, an SS officer, a large group of fascists entered the village Khatyn. All people of the village, including women, children and old people, were locked in a wooden barn. Some people tried to escape. Little Lena Yaskevich dashed for the forest. Fascists started shooting, but missed. Then they ran after her, caught her and killed. Then the Nazis covered the barn with straw, spilt the benzine over it set it on fire. People burnt suffocated and burnt alive. At last, the locked people broke the door and started running. Machine guns, carefully put around the spot, started shooting. 149 people, including 75 children, were killed.

Victor Zhelobkovich, who was 8 at the time of the massacre, recalls: "We were with my mother near the locked doors of the barn and I saw how the straw was put around, how the fire was set. When the burning roof fell and the clothes started burning on the people, we dashed to the doors and broke them away. The soldiers started shooting at the running people. We ran for 5 or 6 meters, then my mother pushed me, we fell and she told me to lie and not to move. Something hit my arm strongly and it started bleeding. I told about it to my mother, but she did not reply, she was already dead. I don't know how long it went on. Everything around was burning and even my hat started smouldering. Then, when the soldiers left, I stood up. There were smoking bodies all around. Someone moaned and asked for water. I brought water, but it was not needed anymore."

Joseph Kaminsky, another survivor, who died in 1973, recalled: "I was at the forge. My wife and my son Adasik, who came recently from Minsk, were at home. Then the fascists came, and sent us all to the barn and set it on fire. I told my son to climb over the wall and helped him. They started shooting outside and I was stunned by the thought that I sent my son to die. Then the doors opened, we ran and they were shooting at us. I fell and the killed people were falling on me. When the fascists left, I rose and found Adasik: wake up, they are gone. I wanted to help him up, and the guts began to fall from his waist. I picked them and they fell again, and I picked, and he kept asking: "Water, water..."

During the war, Nazis destroyed 9,200 cities and villages in Belorussia. 5,295 of them were destroyed together with the people who lived there. During the three years of occupation, 2,230,000 people were killed, about every third citizen of Belorussia.

3 comments:

Robert said...

Your blog is excellent. Please keep up the good work! Molodets!

-- an American reader

Dmitri Minaev said...

Thank you for your kind words, Robert. What do you like most? Are you interested in Russian history? If so, what is your favourite period?

Actually, I'd like to ask other readers to answer the same question -- what do you like about this blog and what else would you like to see here? Do I miss anything?

But, please, don't ask me to post more often :).

robert said...

I'm very interested in Russian history (all periods, from the earliest times to the 20th century). I am enjoying learning more about the medieval period from your blog.

Again, thanks for keeping up this blog. You are doing a very good service for readers around the world.