Soviets in the Arctic: An Historical, Economic and Political Study of the Soviet Advance into the Arctic

Chapter III (p. 73ff) spells out quite explicitly the purpose of this book: The Russian government must be completely Sovietized…. Politically, within the territory geographically located within the boundaries of the U.S.S.R., no tolerance can be shown toward any other form of government than that which was established by Lenin in 1917. The portion of the Arctic to be studied here is part of the Soviet Union.

Reliance upon the psychological effect of things spectacular is, in prosaic terms, nothing but a perfection of salesmanship. Despite the achievements of the past, the Soviet Arctic still affords the romance of the unknown, and the unveiling of its secrets is still an imposing undertaking. The repercussions of achieving the unachieved are still felt both in the U.S.S.R. and in the outside world. Hence the lure of publicity which, irrespective of its purpose, is quite understandable.

p. 245: For the development of trade among the population of the Extreme North 135,000,000 rubles worth of goods were brought in, i.e., 42,000,000 rubles worth more than in 1935. The value of the literary and cultural articles alone was 1,584,000 rubles. Thirty-two travelling libraries were organized, in addition to the four which existed heretofore.

This progress in the development of the Northern Sea Route also guarantees the further economic, political, and cultural development of the nationalities in the Extreme North, who are showing more and more growth in the number of their national cadres. In the Glavsevmorput’ 12% of the natives of the North are already working, among them 152 women. For the first time the Arctic was visited by artists of the Bol’shoi and Malyi State Theaters, as well as of the Moscow Conservatory of Music. Their art greatly enriched the life of the Arctic workers and of the native population. . . .

p. 299-300: What has been the actual Soviet achievement in regard to public instruction in the Arctic may best be seen from an analysis of the situation prevailing in some of the Arctic regions. Prior to proceeding with this, however, a brief account of the work done in this direction up to 1933 may well be given by way of introductory summary. This account is found in a report submitted by the Committee of the North to the XVII All-Union Party Congress:

In regard to cultural progress: among the nationalities which formerly had no literacy whatsoever, now 286 schools are open, 55 per cent. of all children of school age attending. Only since 1930 [i.e., during the previous three years], the number of schools has increased from 123 to 286, and the percentage of children attending school from 20 to 55. In 1933, 2,614,000 rubles were appropriated for the building of schools in various Northern Regions and Districts (with a total population of less than one million).

A network of pre-school facilities and kindergartens was organized. In the field of political education, in 1933, 53 native clubs, 186 reading rooms, and 87 transportable moving picture units were functioning. In the most remote and isolated corners of the North twelve cultural bases were established and continue to function, while six new ones are being built. . . . Script has been composed in sixteen languages. Dictionaries of fourteen different languages have been published, while textbooks for the first school year have been provided in ten languages.

[p. 299, footnote 116: There are numerous other minor institutions where corps of qualified workers in various walks of life receive their education. In fact, as already mentioned, almost every industry is meeting the problem of cadres by resorting to some kind of schools of their own. Of other technicums especially interested in the educational problem in the North, however, mention must be made of those at Ostiak-Vogul’sk, Obdorsk, Kolpashevo, Murmansk.]

p. 300: The work toward the liquidation of illiteracy involves every minority, 3,668 persons having ceased to be illiterate in 1933 in the Far Eastern Region alone. All national regions are supplied with type for the publication of papers in the languages of the nationalities living therein. Some of the regional newspapers already have columns in these languages. . . . In the Institute of Peoples of the North, 394 students have matriculated, 65 per cent, being either members of the Communist Party or of the Com- munist Youth. Some of the graduating students belong to various nationalities of the North. From the Hertzen Institute at Leningrad, 82 teachers have already graduated and are now teaching in the languages of the various northern peoples. . . .

Whatever weight can be attached to the above statement, pro- ceeding to the analysis of the situation by regions, it may be admitted apriori that the attention paid by the Soviets to the education of the peoples in the North has been much more intensive than ever before, even if the statistical data on the results can be accepted only with an allowance for exaggeration of the figures submitted.

p. 412, functions of the Northern Regions Chief of the Islands:

II. In the field of cultural and economic life of the trading population:

(a) Organizes reading rooms and libraries, takes measures for receiving and distribution of papers, magazines, books, etc., among the population.

In the Field of Cultural Development

1. They organize reading rooms, "Red Corners," and libraries, and take measures for acquisition and distribution among the population of newspapers, magazines, books, etc.

2. By inviting all literate persons to participate, they organize reading aloud of newspapers, magazines and books, and conduct lectures on such topics as collectivization, Soviet construction, anti-religious propaganda, etc.

3. They organize the work for liquidation of illiteracy among the Russian workers and among the Nentsy, and supervise the timely education of the children.

4. They organize the arrival of traveling libraries and the picture shows with subsequent discussion of the same.