Russian to Prove Something

Soviet Icebreaker Cheliuskin stuck in ice during an expedition in 1934

One common theme that can be seen throughout Russian and Soviet history is the over arching feeling that they have something to prove to the western world. Whether that be that they are just as modern and advanced if not more so, or that they are also a power to be reckoned with in the global stage. In the late 1920s and early 1930s this was not an exception. For the Soviets this could be accomplished in many different ways. Two examples are the ‘new Soviet man’ campaign that was run and the increased emphasis on exploration.

The new soviet campaign was run by the Soviets in an attempt for social revolution, to change how the soviets appeared as a collective. This was done through attempts to deal with the countries chronic alcohol problems, improvements in the criminal justice system, and steps to improve the nations public health and sanitation (Freeze 330-31). Doing things such as improving criminal justice systems and public health would help make the Soviet state look more modern and less backwards, a feeing they have fought repeatedly throughout their country’s history.

Another way to prove yourself as a modern and powerful country to places people have rarely gone before. A perfect example of this is going to the polar regions. Polar exploration was a focus of western press and the Soviets jumping on it made perfect sense. In 1928 the Soviets were involved in the rescue of a dirigible expedition led by an Italian Umberto Nobile. The aircraft crashed, killing 17 and leaving 7 stranded. Another example is the icebreaker Cheliuskin’s expedition in 1934. The expedition led to great strides in understanding life in the freezing Arctic. This voyage also ended in rescue when ice managed to crush the hull of the ship and leave her and its crew stranded. This lead to another rescue mission. These missions and others show the Soviets strides towards become like other nations and eliminating the connotation of them being an inferior or backwards country.



Footagefile13. “Stock Footage – Umberto Nobile North Pole Expedition, 1928 #027009.” YouTube. April 26, 2017. Accessed March 18, 2018.

Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Geldern, James Von. “Pilots and Explorers.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. June 18, 2017. Accessed March 18, 2018.

“The Cheliuskin Odyssey (1934).” YouTube. April 01, 2014. Accessed March 18, 2018.

14 thoughts on “Russian to Prove Something

  1. That is some awesome footage of the rescues! I always wished they had continued to use zeppelins, but you can surely see another reason why they didn’t. The plane landing in the weather was also a cool sight. Very impressive how well and efficient the Soviets operated in cold weather, if only someone had told the French and Germans!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post! I like how you said that the Soviets always had something to prove. I think this plays a role later on when they sent the first man to the moon in 1961, and beat us in the space race.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Not only does it seem like they have something to prove, but they also love the challenge and competition. My post was about North Pole-1, which was the first ever drifting station. The beat out the rest of the world with this drift, and the scientists were labeled heroes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. While reading sources for my post I saw about the drifting station as well. I’ll make sure to check out your post about it! I was curious about what happens and what they established.


  4. I feel like one of the reasons Russia has taken so long to become as modern as other European powers is just because of how absolutely massive Russia is. It would be a logistical nightmare trying to keep the whole country on the same technological level, like when they were trying to connect most major cities with railroads before WWI.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that that is something that definitely plays a role. Having such a large swath of land is incredibly difficult to control, as shown by the Roman empire. Its interesting how this disadvantage is also an advantage at times too. Along with the horrific winters having such a large country makes it very difficult to be taken over in military conflict


  5. Polar exploration was a big fad in the public eye, like Richard Byrd in America. This exploration also showed that the Soviet Union could compete with everyone else in the West. The Soviets had the obvious advantage of having a sizable portion of their country already in the Arctic Circle. I loved the inclusion of the Cheliushkin Expedition footage, it is just so cool. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They initially continued a prohibition policy adopted by the tsarist regime in 1914 but the black market found its ways haha. in Freeze 331 it literally says “the government conceded defeat and in 1925 reintroduced state production of vodka.” So I would say quite the failure as expected


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