Posts tagged October Revolution

Yuliya’s Great-grandmother was deported from the Far East to KZ

It was in 1915 in the Far East of Russia, when my great grandma was born. Her name is Park Din Ok and now she lives in Tashkent with her son and his family. She was born just before the October Revolution and in the year 1925, when Lenin’s NEP was passed, her father died. The mother married second time and she was taken to the family of her uncle. As a child she worked about the house and collected herbs. At the age of 16 Din Ok left her uncle’s house to study at boarding school in Nahodka. She studied there till 1937. By this year, the year of Stalin’s repressions, she had already finished 8 grades. Soon together with other Korean people she was deported to Kzyl-Orda, Kazakhstan.

It was very difficult to live in complete solitude without any connections, support, home or money. Fortunately, some time later she found her relatives, living near Tashkent in kolkhoz “Pravda”, and moved to them. There she succeeded to finish school and was planning to enter a teacher’s training college in Ashkhabad. Education was very important for her and she dreamed about teaching herself, about giving knowledge to other people. But the dreams were to fail because the Great Patriotic War burst out. So she went back to Tashkent where she met her future husband.

 A new period of her life began. She has 4 children: a couple of boys and a couple of girls (one of them my grandma is). The time went; children grew up and got their own families. Today we live in different countries and don’t see each other often. So, every time I think about my great grandma I miss her very much. She is the only “ancestor” of mine that I have seen. She still works hard about the house: cooks, washes the dishes, etc. And what is most important, she is active, really intellectual and strong. About ten years ago she injured her leg. The fracture was so serious that she could lose any possibility to walk but she overcame this infirmity. That’s why I adore her inner strength and spiritual power.

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Amina’s Grandfather Played Opossum

Our family takes origin from a place called Unai ravine, which is far way from Almaty, in eastern Kazakhstan near to Semipalatinsk. We belong to a well-known tribe Naiman of Orta (Middle) Zhuz. My grandfather’s name is Zhangasy. He was born in the end of XIX century, in 1882 year, in a family of Bi-Sary. From Kazakh “bi” means judge and “sary” – yellow. So Bi-Sary, his father, was a judge which was elected by people for his honesty and nobility. Bi-Sary is origin of my surname Bissarinova.

As you can guess Zhangasy was born in quite wealthy family. As in early ages he became an orphan he had to make something for living. Time passed and he had his own mill with workers on his fields. Zhangasy participate in First World War and in Civil war. But after the October Revolution in 1917 all his fortune was taken away. He didn’t struggled a lot for it because he thought that the time came to become equal with everyone.

After some years he was volostnoi which means that he ruled in Unai acres. In years of NEP (New Economy Policy in 1920s) he made a new fortune, but the Soviet government took it away again. So he started to work with a famous ataman of those times, ataman Anenkov.  But because of this, two officers came to shoot him, they were so drunk that they missed twice and didn’t understand that. My grandfather just pretended to be dead.

Then he moved to a big city, and for those times, it was Semipalatinsk. There, in the time of Second World War he was too old to fight, he met his second wife, Umit. She was a 19 years old widow with a child from her first husband, who died fighting against fascistic soldiers, and my grandfather was 59. When my father was born in 1959, my grandfather was 77.

Other interesting fact is that my fathers eldest sister from first marriage was 2 years elder than my fathers mother. After my father there were born a sister, but she had deadly disease caused by radiation of Semipalatinsk polygon. Zhangasy worked until 96, he wanted to work more, but the employers were afraid of his health. In spite of such age he felt very strong and healthy, also he was visited by gerontologists from Russia. After his retirement, he said that he won’t live for a long time anymore, because he needs to work to feel alive. He died in 1984 for two weeks to his 102 birthday.

I didn’t know him in real life, but I feel like I did. My father used to tell me a lot about him since I was a child. I’m proud to have such grandfather, he always helped poor people, when there were dzut [famine] (when a mass murrain [herd of cattle] and people had nothing to eat) he used to give them wheat bags. As I heard he was very strong until his last breath. My father used to ask which time my grandfather liked most, he answered – the time of Russian Imperia. He had a very vivid life, went through the most significant events for the last 100 years and had a big family.  I wish I could have known him.

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Liya’s paper: Effects of Soviet Ideology

I – Introduction

“The beak of ideology always precisely gets when hits on heads of fellow citizens, and never gets in grain of true” (Iskander, F.). These words of Soviet writer Fazil Iskander lead us to a question of ideology in the USSR. The appearance of such a strong idea of collective mind was a conclusive consequence of Soviet regime setting. As Soviet Union assumed total equality of all people, those people had to be similar to each other. It was a necessary condition for living in the USSR. So, population rapidly tended to an absolute similarity to each other. At first sight, this process had been going almost successfully. However, on the closer consideration the situation was not so pretty as it seemed to be. Soviet ideology had cut a great amount of Russian intelligence of the USSR and also destroyed millions of lives of people in USSR. The problem of ideology appeared because of extremely inaccurate government’s attitude to people in the country and too strong pressure on the population and which has been passed on to a complex of modern problems in the countries of the former Soviet Union. 

II – Background of ideological problems in USSR

The situation with ideology always was complicated. Before the Great October Revolution there was the imperial regime and there was another pressure on people – a duty to love the Russian tsar. Soldiers were fighting for their country every time and they had no choice. The only way was to go to the battlefield and try to save native lands even at the price of their own lives. Soldiers got trauma and shell-shocked but they were ready to die for the Russian Empire and it’s strong ideology. Merridale (2000) noticed: “For Russian traditionalists, the only way for a soldier to fight was ‘with the cross of Christ before his eyes’”(p. 41). So, before the Soviet Union was organized, the role of ideology was in the religious sphere of life for Russians.

Then after the October Revolution the religious ideology and belief in tsar were crushed and exchanged to a new viewpoint – a collective mind. The population of an enormous state Russian Empire passed from one hand to another and got under a new and stronger ideology. Again there was no way to hide – they had to learn how to live according the new rules.

III – Extent of a problem – the possibility to survive under pressure

These changes became a serious problem for people. An idea of collective mind, the dominance of proletariat and “bright future” built by “dark” part of population seemed attractive only from a safe distance. In reality, there was not so bright and easy life. One of the respondents, Solomon Budiyanskiy tells about the reality of the high socialist society:

“When I was a young specialist I was sent to a business-trip to an ‘udarnaya stroika’ – a great construction near Sverdlovsk. I was inspired by the opportunity of working for my future. However, really the situation was directly opposite to my expectations. When I saw those awful people, who were working in this construction – people who were prisoners and criminals – I understood that there is no any ‘bright future’ ahead – it is a great deceit for a great country”.


According to Solomon’s words, life that seemed noble was in fact horrible and proletariat – people that seemed to be bright and positive, were horrible people. They drunk every day, every hour, they may kill a person without confusion – they were a real bottom of society. The main thing is that they did not believe in any future, communism or any other dogmas. They were totally crushed by the state’s ideology.

There is an amazing fact that elder immigrants from the former Soviet Union have serious problems with their mental health. The adaptation in the new country was a difficult and extremely uncomfortable process for them – life without their specific home land tends to destroy people’s minds (Polyakova & Pacquiao, 2006). Although those Soviet citizens, who are over 60 years old are at risk of serious effects on their lives now.

Moreover, the Soviet ideology assumed consideration of all citizens’ problems publicly. For instance, Military Collegium that is a concrete case of public consideration of person’s private problem (Jansen & Petrov, 2006). Except this strong example there were lots of such cases: school meeting – special ‘lineika’, organizational meeting for consider colleagues’ own problems. It caused differentiation on relationships in the society because such meetings for consideration of private problems were the same as provocations. And people, who had got in these situations, were in a danger of isolation from their social groups (Pascal & Manning, 2000). 

IV – Solution for a problem – Freedom for ideas

Unfortunately, in that situation there was no available solution when the Soviet party had power. The reason of that was obvious – creation of such a strong ideology was an aim of the Soviet government. The only way to rule the USSR was usage of strongest pressure on the population. Now the Soviet Union disappeared with all its features and also the legendary Soviet ideology. But all the problems caused by the 70 Soviet years stay with independent states of former USSR. And the only solution is to delete all vestiges of Soviet times and actually start a new life – to start the way from the beginning again. No matter how it might be difficult – people again have no other choice.

V – Conclusion

The main problem of countries of the former USSR is a confused and disordered way of living. People there are thinking of past ideology, trying to follow it and even feel nostalgia for their past lives. They even are suffering from a strong nostalgia (Fitzpatrick, 2007) . However the solution of these problems is to change lifestyle and viewpoints. For the process of such transition the time is needed, so states should provide significant changes faster. But it is also a ‘stick with two ends’. Governments should finally start caring for their citizens. And it would be the best way to go to the future. ‘The third is not given’. 




Budiyanskiy, Solomon (personal interview) Nov. 15, 2008

Fitzpatrick, S. (2007). The Soviet Union in the twenty-first century. Journal of European

 Studies, 37(1), 51-71.

Iskander, F. Quotes and Aphorisms. From: Wikiquote.


Jansen, M. & Petrov. N. (2006). Mass Terror and the Court: The Military Collegium of

            the  USSR. Europe-Asia Studies, 58(4), 589-602.


Merridale, C. A. (2000). The Collective Mind: Trauma and Shell-shock in Twentieth-century

 Russia. Journal of Contemporary History, 35(1), 39-55.

Pascall , G. & Manning, N. (2000). Gender and social policy: comparing welfare states in

Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Journal of European Social Policy, 10(3), 240-266.

Polyakova, S. A. & Pacquiao, D. F. (2006). Psychological and Mental Illness Among Elder

 Immigrants From the Former Soviet Union. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 17(40),


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Tentative Autumn Leaves and Thesis Statements

autumn-leavesautumn-leaves-iiThe leaves have been hanging on for weeks, back in Minnesota with one good wind they would have been LONG down on the ground.  That is why I LOVE Almaty, Kazakhstan right now, I have always loved the autumn colors.  Also, I’m very proud of my students for coming up with some fairly workable thesis statements, though they are as tentative as the autumn leaves.  See what you think of the topics my students have chosen, such as education, Kazakh language and nationalities issues; famine and starvation; repression and gulags and Great Patriotic War:




1. Oppression in education before the Bolshevik revolution encouraged masses of illiterate people who did not know enough to rebel against the government and hopefully lessons will be learned with our current education to help people improve their lives with better training.


2. During the Soviet Union in Kazakhstan, all universities and schools were conducted in Russian, therefore the Kazakh people had to learn Russian to get a good education in order to get jobs in order to survive.


3. Most Kazakhstani people lived in rural areas with not enough educational facilities or had large families who couldn’t afford proper education; some had to go a long way to the nearest school or do without studying at all.


4. The Soviet Union had many unsolved problems about education, they wanted to use Marxist-Leninist propaganda to improve morals and work ethics for all Soviet citizens.


5. The intelligence and serious thinking people had lots of problems because of Soviet ideology, so they had to abandon their research and scientific work.


6. Huge masses of illiterate people led to the October Revolution of 1917 and that problem progressed during the Soviet period; now there is a need to raise the level of education especially in rural areas.


Kazakh Language and Nationalities issues

1. Being on the brink of cultural degradation, the Kazakh people had to be educated in the Russian language in order to succeed in the Soviet policy and eventually develop into its own independent country after the Soviet Union collapsed.


2. The Kazakhs could not use their own native language and traditions during the Soviet times and in order to survive to get an education, they had to learn Russian.


3. Groups of individuals who felt discriminated against had to use the power of the group in order to survive against the policies of the Soviet Union.


Famine and Starvation

1. During the years of famine in Kazakhstan, 1.5 million people died but other people solved this problem because their aim was to survive more than just to die.


2. Kazakhstan’s famine after and during WWII was a great problem for many people but my grandparents found a solution by getting products from their own garden and own cattle.


Repression and Gulags


1. Before WWII mass political repression took lots of innocent people’s lives, it was implemented as a strict policy in order to force people to obey so they could survive.


2. People were sent to the gulag when they did not accept the USSR politics or if people complained about them, so in order to NOT be sent, they had to accept Stalin’s policy or complain on their neighbor first.


3. It is hard to imagine what victims of Stalin’s policies had to endure especially when sent to the gulags as “enemies of the people,” but nothing can be done except to avoid such a horrible mistake again.


4. During the industrialization in USSR, the government needed lots of low-paid people to construct factories, roads and they decided to create gulags where they used imprisoned political enemies and zecs who helped to increase the economy of the country by their hard work.


5. The Kazakh elites were killed as enemies of the country and their relatives were sent to work at camps, nevertheless, the “wives and children of the enemies of the people” survived because of their very strong wish to live, hope and love to bring their Kazakh land to independence for the next generation.


Great Patriotic War or WWII

1. During the period of WWII, 27 million Soviet people died and sometimes those who survived didn’t have enough food but my grandparents solved this problem because they loved each other, they survived for love.


2. During the Soviet period, many people in Kazakhstan had no jobs or opportunities to earn money for food, but those who survived had their own ideas and ways to educate themselves.


3. During WWII, a lot of women with their children struggled to survive and thanks to their enduring hardships, we have our grandparents who continued our next generation.


4. During WWII, folks could not trust anyone so that is why some people became spies, they worked for the Soviets and for its enemies.


5. In years of WWII there were medical centers which had doctors who were helping injured people by treating them and there were others who loved their job and helped with pleasure.


6. A lot of innocent people suffered from the Great Patriotic War but Stalin could have diminished the amount of victims and deaths if he had believed that the Nazis would attack the Soviet Union and had been better prepared for this war.

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