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also constitutes an effort to carve out social and emotional space for a sphere
of one™s own.
Since generalizations are particularly suspect in a realm like the everyday,
we will do our best throughout to show the range of possibilities. For this
purpose, we have included short individual biographies in boxes at more or
less random intervals: their purpose is not directly to illustrate the text but to
indicate how complex and sometimes contradictory individual practices and
relationships tend to be.
First, however, it is necessary to establish crucial features of social-historical
context for our inquiry.

german and soviet societies after the first world war
Two major ruptures affected German society in the period from 1914 to 1933.3
The ¬rst was the war of 1914“18, which gave Germans the new and shocking
experience of total warfare. The effort to mobilize all personal and material
resources dramatically blurred boundaries between civilians and the military,
especially after 1916, and transformed people™s everyday life in both urban
and village settings. Men and women experienced the war rather differently.
While men serving in the military had direct experience of violence and blood-
shed, women suffered from the strain of single-person householding and the
hardships of making do in times of severe food shortage.
The second rupture was economic, and it hit various groups of Germans
in different ways and at different times. Property holders, especially those
of modest wealth without landed property, found themselves deprived of a
large part of their savings in the course of the (hyper)in¬‚ation that reached its

Richard Bessel, Germany after the First World War (Oxford: Clarendon, 1995); Detlev Peukert,

The Weimar Republic: The Crisis of Classical Modernity, trans. Richard Deveson (New York:
Hill & Wang, 2002); Cornelie Usborne, The Politics of the Body in Weimar Germany: Women™s
Reproductive Rights and Duties (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992).
Sheila Fitzpatrick and Alf Ludtke

height in the autumn of 1923; middle-class households could no longer keep
maids. Working-class people fared comparatively better than the middle class
in the ¬rst half of the 1920s, but their turn came with devastating force when
unemployment rose sharply in the fall of 1929. Every third wage worker was
sacked and often stayed jobless for two or three years, his social bene¬ts long
since expired.
The dramatic economic crisis sharpened the “generational” divide. During
the Great Slump, children of the soldiering fathers of 1914“18 found themselves
excluded from the workforce, waiting for the fathers™ generation to retire. Some
of the “sons,” particularly those who had no chance for vocational training,
wound up roaming the streets in militant groups af¬liated with the Nazis (SA)
and the Communist Party.4
Gender divisions were embittered as unemployed men saw themselves
deprived of meaningful activity and self-respect, and women, including those
previously employed, were forced to focus ever more on domestic chores. On
another plane, the bobbed hair of young single females earning their living
as clerks in shops and of¬ces became a familiar sight not only on the streets
of Berlin but also in smaller towns, dismaying those who were nostalgic for
the good old days before 1914.5 “Americanization” was another bugbear,
especially in the cultural sphere, with jazz and its predominantly black musi-
cians becoming a special target of attack which resonated in all segments of
In Russia (from 1924, the Soviet Union), the disruptions were even greater
because of the revolution, which produced radical changes in political and
governmental institutions and economic structures.7 In their early antiauthor-
itarian phase, the Bolsheviks despised all forms of hierarchy and behaviors of
deference. One hierarchy that they set out to overturn (literally, in accordance
with the “dictatorship of the proletariat” principle) was the class hierarchy
of prerevolutionary Russia. They also fostered the emancipation of women
not only rhetorically, through a discourse on the oppression of the patriarchal
family, but also practically, via the large-scale recruitment of women into the

Dirk Schumann, Politische Gewalt in der Weimarer Republik 1918“1933: Kampf um die Strasse

und Furcht vor dem Burgerkrieg (Essen: Klartext, 2001); Pamela Swett, Neighbors and Enemies:
The Culture of Radicalism in Berlin, 1929“1933 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
See Atina Grossmann, Reforming Sex: The German Movement for Birth Control and Abortion

Reform, 1920“1950 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).
Adelheid von Saldern, The Challenge of Modernity: German Social and Cultural Studies, 1890“

1960, trans. Bruce Little (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002), 299“347.
On the social history of the interwar period in the Soviet Union, see Vladimir Andrle, A Social

History of Twentieth“Century Russia (London: Edward Arnold, 1994); Lewis H. Siegelbaum,
Soviet State and Society between Revolutions, 1918“1929 (Cambridge and New York: Cam-
bridge University Press, 1992); Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraor-
dinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); and Lewis
Siegelbaum and Andrei Sokolov, Stalinism as a Way of Life: A Narrative in Documents (New
Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000).
Energizing the Everyday 269

VLADIMIR KABO8 was born in Moscow circa 1925 to a Jewish intelligentsia
family with revolutionary credentials. Closeness to his parents, especially his
mother (the economist Elena Kabo), was a constant in Kabo™s story of his life.
In recalling the years before the great break at the outbreak of war, he drew a
sharp distinction between his happy childhood and youth and the “grim mood”
of the Great Purge years of the late 1930s, which coincided with his adolescence.
In childhood, there was “a feeling of bliss and the fullness of life . . . a joyful
anticipation of a happiness which is very close by, within™s arm™s reach.” Home,
school, the countryside around Moscow, and the city itself were all suffused with
this sense of well-being and happy anticipation. He remembered eagerly awaiting
the big holidays (May Day, Revolution Day, and so on). “When at last the
morning came, the sounds of a brass band would be heard over the wall between
our courtyard and the Bol™shevichka clothing factory, where the working girls
were mustering to take part in the day™s parade. In the evening, mother would
take me to see the illuminations, another vivid recollection of childhood: the
buildings, bridges and squares sparkling with multi-colored electric lamps and a
huge full-length portrait of Stalin, almost taller than the Bol™shoi Theatre, lit up
by searchlights. Only many years later did I ¬nd out the strolls through Moscow
on those holiday evenings, which gave me so much pleasure, were a painful
burden for my mother.”
“At thirteen or thereabouts, my radiant mood was suddenly replaced by a
somber and gloomy state. I began to look attentively at the dark sides of life, of
which there were plenty, and wanted to write only about them. I was haunted
by thoughts of suicide. This state is often found in adolescents of this age. It
comes with their growing up, not only sexual but also spiritual. It coincided with
a grim mood which pervaded the house from all that had happened in it and the
sad affair of Liuba [his sister had lost a leg in a street-car accident]. At that time
my father turned rapidly grey, his hair becoming quite white. His grim silence
was occasionally broken by a sharp, guttural sound accompanied by his ¬st
thumping the table, as if he had suddenly remembered something irremediable.
Only Mother retained her calm and presence of mind.”

The Bolshevik revolution came in two stages, the ¬rst being the seizure
of power in 1917, and the second the economic “revolution from above”
set in train in the late 1920s, which included forced-pace industrialization,
the outlawing of the urban private sector, and collectivization of agriculture.
The dimensions of the second may be judged from the fact that the urban
population of the Soviet Union more than doubled between 1926 and 1939,
while the number of wage- and salary earners almost tripled over the same
period.9 The geographical and social displacement, separation, and relocation

Vladimir Kabo, The Road to Australia, trans. Patrick Rosh Ireland and Kevin McNeill Windle

(Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1998). His memoirs were written after his emigration to
Australia in the 1990s.
Figures from Iu. A. Poliakov, ed., Vsesoiuznaia perepis™ naseleniia 1939 goda: Osnovnye itogi

(Moscow: “Nauka,” 1992), 20; Trud v SSSR: Statisticheskii sbornik (Moscow: “Statistika,”
1968), 22.
Sheila Fitzpatrick and Alf Ludtke

implied are enormous. In addition, we should note the emigration of at least a
million Russians, disproportionately from Russia™s thin educated-elite stratum,
by the end of the Civil War.
When the Bolsheviks took power, they had strong support in the big indus-
trial cities. Peasants, four-¬fths of the population before collectivization, gen-
erally neither supported nor actively opposed the new regime in the 1920s.
After collectivization, the regime™s popularity plummeted in the villages and
also suffered in the towns because of the sharp drop in living standards.
The regime relied heavily on terror to carry out the “revolution from above”
and continued to use terror against various groups and against the population
as a whole throughout the 1930s. This is not to say the regime and more
broadly the Soviet project were without their supporters, including much of
the “old” working class that had fought in the revolution and Civil War,
especially those many from this group who had been upwardly mobile into the
new administrative and professional elite.

bonding with the state project

In both the Soviet Union and Germany, idealistic aspirations10 toward a “new
beginning” for society and, by the same token, transformation of the individual
citizen into a “new man” or woman impressed contemporaries inside and
outside the two countries. In both cases, mass rallies recurrently assembled
tens or hundreds of thousands in meetings on public squares or sports arenas.
Equally important were the “larger than life” spectacles staged even in small
towns and villages, with forests of ¬‚ags (red, in both cases), boisterous music,
collective clapping, shouting, and singing taking place before, during, and after
the speeches of party or state dignitaries. All this was greatly enhanced when
the leader, Stalin or Hitler himself, appeared in person. These events, which
were staged at the national as well as regional and local levels, marked a new
calendar punctuated by anniversaries, for instance, the Day of the Revolution
(November 7, in the USSR) or the Day of the Seizure of Power (January 30, in
Germany), as well as politically coded festivals such as May Day. Almost every
Soviet oral history from the 1990s recalling the Stalin period, regardless of the

Here, the focus is on people™s behavior and less on their “mood”; studies of public mood often

miss crucial dimensions. For one, they tend to homogenize the many and their manifold forms
of accepting, supporting, and cooperating “ or their practices of withdrawing and distancing.
Secondly, this view neglects the distinction between people™s motives and the results of their
respective actions and doings. In particular, forms of accepting in one™s job performance and,
more generally, in professional practices were often inspired by the goal to ¬nd ful¬llment in
“just doing a good job” “ or to sustain normalcy, or to exploit new venues that had not been
available (or were beyond imagination) prior to the new regime. Nevertheless, one way or the
other all of these attitudes allowed the pursuit of the workings of the regime as a whole “ thus
supporting its actions including totalizing warfare and deportations in the Soviet and warfare
of extermination and genocide in the German case.
Energizing the Everyday 271

political stance of the respondent, includes at least one memory of a moment
of pride and identi¬cation with the collective and the regime (on receiving an
award or some kind of recognition for work, winning a competition, attending
a ceremony, watching Soviet planes in an air show, cheering returning Polar
explorers, and so on).11
In Germany, historians have seen bonding with the regime as characteristic
of people who, for diverse reasons (often resulting from ruptures of social rela-
tions and ties originating from the First World War or the economic depression
after 1929) were “not yet settled in”; such people, having previously seen only
a bleak future before them, ferociously embraced the new vistas.12
In both societies, enthusiasm was most commonly to be found among young
people. In Germany, membership in youth associations had become widespread
during the 1920s, though it was mainly an urban phenomenon. The youth asso-
ciations of confessional groups, drawing in roughly 40 percent of the relevant
age group, were the exception: under the tutelage of the local pastor or priest,
the Christian ones were at least as present in villages and small towns. The
activities of these groups and associations covered a wide range. But even in
the confessional and political (socialist and Communist) youth associations,
the activities revolved to a large extent around sports, mainly soccer, and
attracted mainly boys. When the Nazi regime prohibited sports activities within
confessional youth associations early in 1934, their membership drastically
Sports were the primary attraction for youth from all backgrounds in the
1920s and the 1930s as well, almost exclusively for males, however.13 Before
1933, however, efforts of working-class activists to keep the children from

A useful publication of oral histories with much material on the 1930s is Barbara A. Engel

and Anastasia Posadskaya-Vanderbeck, eds., A Revolution of Their Own: Voices of Women
in Soviet History, trans. Sona Hoisington (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997). For diaries,
see Intimacy and Terror: Soviet Diaries of the 1930s, eds. V. Garros, N. Korenevskaya, and
T. Lahusen (New York: The New Press, 1995) and Jochen Hellbeck, Revolution on My Mind:
Writing a Diary under Stalin (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006).
A telling regional case is under scrutiny in Richard Bessel, Political Violence and the Rise of

Nazism: The Stromtroopers in Eastern Germany, 1925“1934 (New Haven, CT: Yale University
Press, 1984; life-course aspects are prominent in both Detlev Peukert et al., eds., Die Reihen fast
geschlossen: Beitrage zur Geschichte des Alltags unter dem Nationalsozialismus (Wuppertal:
Hammer, 1981), and Peter H. Merkl, Political Violence under the Swastika: 581 Early Nazis
(Princeton, NJ: University Press, 1985); for an autobiographical take written in exile at about
1939/40 see Sebastian Haffner, Geschichte eines Deutschen: die Erinnerungen 1914“1933
(Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, 2000).
One popular male sport was soccer; cf. Nils Havemann, Fussball unterm Hakenkreuz: Der DFB

zwischen Politik, Sport und Kommerz (Frankfurt am Main: Campus, 2005); as a local case in
point Markwart Herzog, Der “Betze” unterm Hakenkreuz: Der 1. FC Kaiserslautern in der
Zeit des Nationalsozialismus (Gottingen: Werkstatt, 2006); Rudolf Oswald, “˜Ein Gift, mit echt
judischer Geschicklichkeit ins Volk gespritzt™: Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung und das
Ende des mitteleuropaischen Pro¬fußballes, 1938“1941,” in Emanzipation durch Muskelkraft:
Juden und Sport in Europa, eds. Michael Brenner and Gideon Reuveni (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck
& Ruprecht, 2006), 159“72.
Sheila Fitzpatrick and Alf Ludtke


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