Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The unmentioned anti-Stakhanovite movement

From The Battle of the Tanks: Kursk, 1943 by Lloyd Clark, page 50.

When I was young, I lived in Sweden in the 1970s. As a consequence, I probably know somewhat more Soviet history than I would otherwise. That includes being aware of the laboring feats of coal miner Comrade Alexey Stakhanov, Hero of Socialist Labor and figurehead of the eponymous Stakhanovite movement, the effort to increase output and productivity in the Soviet Union beginning in 1935. Stakhanov's claim to fame was setting an early record, mining 102 tons of coal in less than 6 hours (14 times his quota) on 31 August 1935.

In capitalist street parlance, he was a curve buster.

What I did not consider when I first heard of Stakhanov was any pushback the Stakhanovite movement might have had. Clark alludes to this in his description of Stalin's industrialization of the Soviet Union in advance of World War II.
Yet while some workers rose to the challenge set for them by the regime in spectacular fashion, others did not. The same article that revealed how Stakhanov was being lauded went on to say:
In the Gorky automotive works the brothers Ivan and Feodor Kriachkov assassinated their fellow worker Ivan Schmerov because he had speeded up his daily output 200%. Tried before a military tribunal, they were sentenced to death. In the coal mine at Stalino two assistant foreman, the check-weigher and an electrician, were arrested for the murder of a fast-working Stakhanovite who had peached on them to the Bolshevik labor boss as 'opposed to Stakhanovism.' In a nearby a mine worker shot at his Stakhanovite mine manager, and missed. The most spectacular blow against the Stakhanovitism is supposed to have been struck by Engineer S. Plotnikov, a member of the Communist Party up to the time of his arrest. According to the Soviet press, Engineer Plotnikov became so vexed at Chelyabinsk by the boastful uppishness of the local Stakhanov gang that he ordered the fastest speeder-uppers to dig in an extremely dangerous pit of mine number 204. Sure enough, the pit caved in on them.

No comments:

Post a Comment