This issue of ‘Rabotnitsa i Krestyanka’ was published in December, 1937. It was the height of the Terror, Stalin’s purges of the party and population. Mass arrests, torture, exile and executions were part of the daily routine. The purpose, and result of the Terror was to stamp an indelible imprint of Stalin’s authority on the face of the USSR.
This magazine is Stalinist propaganda from cover to cover – portraying happy, well-fed and grateful people. The reality was otherwise.
The press and propaganda apparatus were busy deifying the ‘Beloved Leader’ and his administration. In the eyes of many, Stalin was infallible, to the extent that many of the relations of those rounded up and summarily shot during the terror were convinced that he knew nothing about what was going on. Stalin used this misapprehension to his advantage by dismissing Yezhov in 1938 and blaming him for the excesses that had been committed.
In fact, Stalin, Kaganovich, Molotov, Yezhov, Zhdanov and the rest of the politburo shown on the frontispiece of this magazine, had drawn up ‘quotas’ of executions required from the various cities and provinces, irrespective of any guilt on the part of the victims. As the Terror progressed, they were signing execution warrants with hundreds and sometimes thousands of names, merely running their eyes over the lists and then signing it, with the comment: ‘Shoot them all’.
Frontispiece: the Stalin politburo:
Molotov and Kaganovich
Voroshilov and Kalinin.
Andreev, Mikoyan, Chubar and Kossior.
Zhdanov and Yezhov.
Of this group, 2 were shot in 1939, one in 1940, one died in highly suspicious circumstances in 1948 and another (Andreev) was bizarrely allowed to leave the Politburo by saying to Stalin that he was deaf and could no longer participate in political discussions. Mikoyan commented: ‘The only way out of the Politburo was into the next world – the only one who managed to get out without being killed was Andrei Andreevich Andreev.’
TOWARDS NEW VICTORIES
Stakhanovite production records – including ‘The machinist from the ‘Messenger’ Children’s Shoe Factory, A. S. Makarova, who established a record for the sewing on of shoe backs. She gives 475 pairs more than the norm, which makes 1160 pairs.’ (There was a chronic shortage of children’s shoes in the USSR at that time. Not only did the government deny shortages existed, but it lied and said that there was overproduction of the goods in question.)
Elections to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR – pensioners, workers, and everyone else delighted to unanimously vote for Zhdanov and Kalinin in a display of ‘Solidarity with the Bolshevik Party, love and duty to the Motherland and to Great Stalin’.
DAY of JOY and HAPPINESS
A touching story about Akulina Matveevna Platonova, who lost and then was re-united with her daughter after 20 years. It begins:
A car was sent to pick up Akulina Matveevna Platonova. She came eagerly to the polling station. And of course she was in a fluster – She had come to give her vote to the great Stalin!