What Russia was like in 1941 (PHOTOS)


Stalin’s regime was at its peak: industrialization was in full swing, new megafactories were constantly appearing and peasants were working hard on collective farms. At the same time, a big purge that started in the late 1930s was in force and people kept finding themselves in prisons and labor camps. 

But on June 22, 1941, the whole Soviet history was literally split into before and after, with World War II reaching the Eastern Front and threatening both Moscow and St. Petersburg. Former kids and students lined up to become volunteers at the frontline, girls took rifles in their arms and went to the factories to produce weapons. Citizens were evacuated, while their homes were destroyed… 

1. Pioneers on the eve of the war

2. Soviet eco habits: pioneers collecting scrap metal for recycling

3. “Tomorrow began the war...”

4. A kindergarten of a ‘Red Proletarian’ factory

5. School kids attending Labor Day demonstrations in May

6. Future pilots

7. A female tractor driver working in a village

8. Tourists trekking in the Caucasian mountains

9. Russian pilots setting off to fight for their native fields

10. The first days of Nazi occupation in the town of Nevel, Pskov Region, western Russia

11. Pyotr Tchaikovsky museum’s artifacts after the Nazis “visit”

12. Soldiers waiting in Leningrad’s trenches before the attack

13. Moscow during WWII: An aerostat right next to the Bolshoi Theater

14. Mayakovskaya station of Moscow metro as a bomb shelter in 1941

15. A woman preparing missiles for the Red Army

16. Missile defense unit scouting on a Moscow rooftop

17. Famous Soviet writers Mikhail Sholokhov and Alexander Fadeyev on the frontlines

18. A street in Moscow during the war

19. Off to defend Moscow!

20. Soldiers marching on the Northern Front

21. A downed Nazi aircraft in central Moscow

22. A square in Moscow during the war

23. Girls assembling the PPSh-41, a Soviet submachine gun designed by Georgy Shpagin, which saw intensive use during WWII

24. Girls camouflaging an aircraft

25. Leningrad, Winter palace. Peasants evacuating cattle from the frontlines

26. Swan Lake being performed in the evacuated Bolshoi Theater

27. Soldiers on horseback outside Moscow

28. Despite the war, November 7, 1941, marked the 24th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution with a parade on the Red Square

29. Muscovites donating things to the army

30. ‘Aero sleds’ outside Moscow 

31. Leningrad, Nevsky Prospekt. A destroyed building after a Nazi air raid

32. Schoolgirls practising extinguishing incendiary bombs

33. A soldier poses with a downed Nazi plane

34. New Jerusalem Monastery not far from Moscow after it was seriously damaged by the Nazis

35. Military dogs in action in the Arctic

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