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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vudEQ1A-ago.
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. http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1936-2/pilots-and-explorers/.
“The Cheliuskin Odyssey (1934).” YouTube. April 01, 2014. Accessed March 18, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOzhps4uzp0.