Roman Evgen’evich Romanov,
“Formation of Life”: the Underage Workers of Novosibirsk in Wartime (1941–1945)
The author introduces into the scientific circulation the article “Formation of life” from the newspaper “Sovetskaya Sibir” (“Soviet Siberia”) and the testimonial for Yefim Davidovich Rapport, the delegate of the second regional Congress of young workers, found in the state archive of the Novosibirsk region. The publications are preceded by an introductory article, which shows the conditions and process of inclusion of adolescent and young people under the age of 18 in the industry of Novosibirsk during the Great Patriotic War. It is established that their inflow into the working class was caused by the aggravation of the staff problem in the industry in connection with the evacuation of plants and factories. The influx of young men and women to factory collectives was due to their recruitment to educational institutions of state labor reserves and labor mobilization at enterprises. These social channels ensured the involvement in industry of school students, graduates of vocational schools and industrial training schools, residents of juvenile prisons and children who were brought up in orphanage. The main role in the formation of underage working youth was played by people from the villages of the Novosibirsk region. Its age structure was dominated by young people aged 16–17 years, with five to seven classes of education. The author identifies the factors and mechanisms of adolescent adaptation to military-industrial production. This process was carried out by short-term professional training of new work force with the transfer to independent work after learning the basics of the specialty. The intensive labor which was dangerous to health, barracks’ daily routine and low wages had a negative impact on the “entry” of adolescents into the profession and caused a rapid increase in the number of disciplinary offenses. In order to create labor motivation among new workers, the directors of Novosibirsk plants used a wide variety of incitements. As a result, underage youth actively participated in the competition for the fulfillment and over-fulfillment of plans for the output of products for the front. Thousands of young Siberians and evacuees won “Stakhanov” titles and organized Komsomol-and-youth teams (brigades), which received the title of “frontline”. Some young men and women, who became the leaders of advanced brigade groups, were nominated as delegates to the congresses of the working youth of the Novosibirsk region. It is concluded that the transformation of the status of a “wartime Stakhanovite” into a springboard for the nomination to participate in youth forums should be considered as a natural phenomenon common for the majority of delegates with predominantly workers’-and-peasants’ background. However, published sources show the presence in this phenomenon of few cases (transfer from the circle of children of the party establishment to the working elite), untypical for the young generation of the war years.
The article has been received by the editor on 15.12.2020
How to cite: Romanov R.E. “Formation of Life”: the Underage Workers of Novosibirsk in Wartime (1941–1945) // Historical Courier, 2021, No. 1 (15), pp. 134–145. [Available online:] http://istkurier.ru/data/2021/ISTKURIER-2021-1-12.pdf
Links: Issue 1 2021
Keywords: Great Patriotic War; Novosibirsk; underage workers; professional training; labor activity; motivation to work; Stakhanovites of wartime