Author Topic: Russian Imperial Library era find  (Read 24719 times)

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Offline Terence

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Russian Imperial Library era find
« on: August 23, 2012, 08:48:53 PM »
Just thought some might find this intersting.
http://rbth.ru/articles/2012/02/16/treasure_trove_uncovered_in_polytechnical_library_14864.html
It contributes to the idea that Russia in the 1800s wasn't as primitive as some think.
T

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2012, 10:04:00 AM »
Great story Terence, thanks for posting it, fascinating what else might turn up that was hidden during the revolution, real time capsules!

Offline Petr

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2012, 11:42:17 AM »
Actually, I found the mention of the finding of the book on factories in Russia and the comment from the librarian very interesting. I hope scholars get a chance to review the book because I think it will shed new light on the state of economic development in Russia at the turn of the Century and will help support what I have been arguing about regarding the development of a merchant class and the possibility of a transition to a more modern government absent the disasters of WWI and the Revolution. I'm reading Orlando Figues' A Peoples' Tragedy and his apparent theory of the inevitability of the Revolution perhaps could bear reexamination.   
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Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2012, 05:37:01 PM »
Nicholas II usually gets the blame for everything that went wrong in this case he should get the credit for the Russian economy which grew greatly in the pre WW I years. This is one thing most historians even the ones that usually don't say anything else good about him. It took the Soviets until the 1960s to get the then USSRs economy back to the level of 1913.

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2012, 07:37:42 PM »
This may be partly true, James, but playting devils advocate, the Soviets had 2 world wars plus the civil war to pay for. Plus the cost of reorganisation of the state itself. The massive industrial projects, such as the canal and  hydro dams. Stalin's purges cost a lot in loss of talent and assets. By the time they got all that out of the way, the Cold War and Space Race were a drain as well. Drought and famine took their toll also.
 Life did get better once he was out of the way but life in the USSR [CCCP] was still somewhat of a struggle. The progress was impressive, however.
I doubt NII had much to do with the ecomnomics of his day.  The progress,  industrial mainly made a few people very rich  under horrid conditions for the workers and their families. Scandal and corruption were rampant and privilage  on a scale unknown in the rest of Europe.
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Offline edubs31

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2012, 09:19:23 PM »
This may be partly true, James, but playting devils advocate, the Soviets had 2 world wars plus the civil war to pay for. Plus the cost of reorganisation of the state itself. The massive industrial projects, such as the canal and  hydro dams. Stalin's purges cost a lot in loss of talent and assets. By the time they got all that out of the way, the Cold War and Space Race were a drain as well. Drought and famine took their toll also.
 Life did get better once he was out of the way but life in the USSR [CCCP] was still somewhat of a struggle. The progress was impressive, however.
I doubt NII had much to do with the ecomnomics of his day.  The progress,  industrial mainly made a few people very rich  under horrid conditions for the workers and their families. Scandal and corruption were rampant and privilage  on a scale unknown in the rest of Europe.

Robert makes good points. I wonder though about the ill effects of two World Wars. Shouldn't at least the second world war, when the country was not wrapped up in it's own civil war, have greatly bolstered the economy? The industrial output must have been huge. Enough to offset the post-war rebuilding costs, no?

Obviously nothing could have replaced the loss of human life. Population loses were a recurrent struggle for the Soviet Union in the early years. It took them over 25-years to to recuperate from the loses of their previous pre-WW1 peak of around 170-million. They then lost more than 25-million of their population between 1941-1945. But that trend reversed itself and they saw nothing but impressive gains for the rest of their history up to 1991...topping out at around 293-million (about 45-million more than the US at that point).

I think Nicholas deserves some credit for the strong economy however if for no other reason than based on his good working relationship with Stolypin. The Coup of 1907 allowed Nicholas to symbolically end the 1905 Revolution by dissolving the Second Duma and aligning the Third with conservative allies. From a purely economic standpoint it was a successful measure and Russia's economy really boomed afterwards.

Perhaps the strong economic growth spurred on by heavy industrial production led the government into a false sense of confidence heading into World War I.




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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2012, 09:38:20 PM »
I'm reading Orlando Figues' A Peoples' Tragedy and his apparent theory of the inevitability of the Revolution perhaps could bear reexamination.   

I did not read Figes to suggest that revolution was inevitable at all.  In fact, he discussed innumerable points at which outcomes could have been different had the government taken a different tack throughout the last two reigns.  And his close-up examination of the February Days of 1917 is replete with descriptions of opportunities lost to turn the tide of what could have remained a cluster of street disturbances into a full-scale revolution.  Revolution was made inevitable not by conditions in Russia going into WWI but by Nicholas' pig-headed attempts to turn the clock back to a 17th-century view of tsarism and its relation to society.


Nicholas II usually gets the blame for everything that went wrong in this case he should get the credit for the Russian economy which grew greatly in the pre WW I years.

The issue is how the Russian economy grew under Nicholas II.  Nicholas attracted heavy foreign investment into Russia by offering low production costs based, in part, on a rollback of the protective worker legislation his father had put into place in order to keep industrial working conditions from becoming a hotbed of revolution, borrowing from Bismarck's similar approach in Germany.  Moreover, Nicholas' government stupidly allowed a concentration of large factory complexes in the immediate environs of St. Petersburg, thereby attracting to the seat of government vast numbers of the workers most susceptible to appeals from radical groups.  Even worse, these were often seasonal migratory workers who took their new-found exposure to education and revolutionary thought back to their peasant villages where, although they were often resented, they did much to destabilize the social structures of these villages.

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2012, 02:30:27 PM »
And, what is the population now ? 143+million. This  no doubt due to the loss [separation] of the former SSRs.
 Edubs,  I suppose the arms industry was a huge boost to some extent, but at the expense of agriculture and construction equipment.  Russia also had  severe rationing. If the people were lucky enough to have something to ration.  The sieges alone [I have Leningrad in mind because of my fondness for the  city] cost  thousands if not millions of lives. Just like in the West, women worked those factory jobs as men were sent to the military. The post war reconstruction  was hard and intense.  Huge housing shortages,  Harsh political control, which many thought best to keep law & order in place.
 Just like the UK, Germany, etc. Russia emerged bruised and broke.
 NII was indeed, IMO as well, was a fool for allowing the factories  near his capitol.  But, I maintain it was not really his decision, he was so easily influenced by others.
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Offline TimM

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2012, 04:23:14 PM »
Quote
Just like the UK, Germany, etc. Russia emerged bruised and broke

It seems only the United States emerged from World War II stronger.  Of course, with the exception of Pearl Harbour, the U.S. itself was virtually untouched by the war (not counting the soldiers killed, of course).  German bombs did not rain down on Washington D.C. (like they did on London), New York City was never occupied by enemy troops (like Paris was), and U.S. industry was not destroyed (like Russian one was).

That is why the U.S. was able to help Europe with the Marshall Plan, just a few years later.


Since Russia was invaded and occupied for almost four years, it took them longer to recover.
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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2012, 04:51:06 PM »
This true, Tim. But even the US had rationing, Rosie the Riveters and victory gardens as well as strict recycling for anything that could be used in the war effort.  By no means as bad as Europe, but it was needed  here as well. I know Canada was in the war too, but not if it had those measures.
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Offline edubs31

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2012, 05:20:02 PM »
And, what is the population now ? 143+million. This  no doubt due to the loss [separation] of the former SSRs.
 Edubs,  I suppose the arms industry was a huge boost to some extent, but at the expense of agriculture and construction equipment.  Russia also had  severe rationing. If the people were lucky enough to have something to ration.  The sieges alone [I have Leningrad in mind because of my fondness for the  city] cost  thousands if not millions of lives. Just like in the West, women worked those factory jobs as men were sent to the military. The post war reconstruction  was hard and intense.  Huge housing shortages,  Harsh political control, which many thought best to keep law & order in place.
 Just like the UK, Germany, etc. Russia emerged bruised and broke.
 NII was indeed, IMO as well, was a fool for allowing the factories  near his capitol.  But, I maintain it was not really his decision, he was so easily influenced by others.

Robert, you got it. 2012 estimates place Russia at 143,200,000 to be exact. Actually the current population of Russia plus the other former Soviet States is nearly identical to what the population of the USSR was, in total, back in 1991. Today it measures 292,621,462 according to combined 2011 census figures and/or 2012 estimates. Of course comparing that to the United States gives you a pretty good idea of it's depressed population growth. It was around 45-million people larger than the US in '91 and is now almost 22-million people fewer.

The factories around St. Petersburg theory makes sense. But let me ask, where else would it have been logical to place them? In the US we didn't place our heavy machinery in our theater districts perhaps, but they obviously were still contained within the city limits. This being critical when considering the cost of transportation and distribution of products as well as access for the workers themselves. In 1900 you obviously weren't hoping in your car, taking the expressway and driving 20-miles to work each day.

Much of the revolutionary spirit was generated, as is often the case throughout modern history, on university campuses, no? I don't see how the government could have done much to guard against that. I just got done reading and writing something about Ivan Kalyayev who was the assassin who murdered GD Sergei Alexandrovich in 1905. His experience was probably pretty common of the standard revolutionary. He was Polish (so he grew up nowhere near St. Petersburg or Moscow), the son of a police inspector, and he attended the University of St. Petersburg. He then got caught up on student protests and ultimately expelled from school. He later attended another university in Austria before getting himself arrested and exiled back to Russia. From there he joined up with the Socialist Revolutionaries and a short while later killed Serge.

Could the government have intentionally wanted these "susceptible factory workers" concentrated in area where they could be closely watched? Was that not perhaps a consideration at the time, and if others had suggested it being a bad idea (sounds like something Witte might have realized) is there any indication that Nicholas was told but dismissed of the concern?
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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2012, 06:05:26 PM »
This is just my opinion, Edubs,  but mty thoughts go to the British industrial, where factory villages were built, outside of cities. Transportation of goods and people was easy [for those days] via rail and the excellent canal systems. These small towns included housing, substandard to us now,  but good enough then, company shops and recreational facilities. They were not paradise,  but to someone who need a jod and home, trying to look after his family, they  worked well enough. Of course,  most are  derelict slums now and the factories are long gone. Most are being demolished and replaced with modern housing if possible. The workers were kept in control  by blackmail, essentially. Protest and you loose your job and house. Not all landlords/owners were cruel and greedy, but enough were to give this system a horrid reputation. Yet, at the time, it was an innovation. And, it kept the riff raff out of the citiy.
 Naturally there were lower class neighbourhouds in the  large cities, there alwas will be,  but this system  was reasonbly effecient. Unfair, but efficient none the  less.
 NII, being such an Anglophile,  surely must have witnessed this, yet did not endorse it for his own people.
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2012, 06:43:04 PM »
Of course comparing that to the United States gives you a pretty good idea of it's depressed population growth. It was around 45-million people larger than the US in '91 and is now almost 22-million people fewer.

It's worse than depressed population growth.  With 171 deaths for every 100 births, Russia's population is actually declining at the fastest rate of any industrialized nation.  If this trend continues -- and there is no sign it will not -- the Russian government estimates her population will fall to 102 million by 2050 (and independent estimates place the figure as low as 70 million).  This depopulation has enormous implications.  For instance, several of China's most populous provinces abut three Russian eastern provinces that, already sparsely populated, have lost 6 million residents in the last decade.  And these Russian provinces have some of the world's largest reserves of strategic minerals.  These are the kinds of dynamics that, unless very adroitly managed, eventually unleash armed conflicts.


The factories around St. Petersburg theory makes sense. But let me ask, where else would it have been logical to place them? . . . Could the government have intentionally wanted these "susceptible factory workers" concentrated in area where they could be closely watched? Was that not perhaps a consideration at the time, and if others had suggested it being a bad idea (sounds like something Witte might have realized) is there any indication that Nicholas was told but dismissed of the concern?

There were large industrial concentrations around Moscow and many other large cities, especially in the Urals where raw resources were relatively nearby.  So I am not arguing that large industrial complexes should not have been allowed around any city.  But St. Petersburg, as both the political center of Russia and the residence of the imperial family and senior nobility, was especially vulnerable to revolutionary pressure becoming exaggerated.  In fact, it took the February Revolution some months to take firm root in other Russian towns (except for Moscow) and the countryside.  This was very similar to the situation that obtained with the Paris Mob in 1789 where the extremism of the capital exerted a magnified effect on events due to the proximity to the political epicenter.

While I understand your point about commuting, most of the factories in the large cities ran on a highly seasonal basis with large influxes of labor from the countryside migrating into the cities.  Except in the older industrial regions and long-established factories such as the Tula steel works, factories were not built where they were in order to take advantage of an existing, trained urban industrial workforce.  In fact, the government and the factory owners had to devote huge effort to teaching reading and math skills to these migratory workers so that they could perform key factory tasks, such as tool and die making, machine maintenance, and pattern making.  It was this educational activity -- and the reading clubs and popular newspapers that it spawned -- that provided the crucible in which so much work in preparing the urban revolution was done . . . far more so than in the universities, which touched very few of the migratory workers.

I suspect that St. Petersburg was chosen less because of where the workers were and more because of where the factory managers and owners wanted to be.

I do not know what Nicholas might have been told about the risks, but Bloody Sunday should have alerted him to the risks of having workers think they were in a geographic position to exert pressure on the tsar.  (This was the reason that Alexander III headquartered in Gatchina and that after 1905 Nicholas largely abandoned St. Petersburg in favor of Tsarskoye Selo.  In fact, it was one of the reasons that Louis XIV developed Versailles as his seat of government after his childhood experience with the Fronde.  However, as the march of the fishwives on Versailles and Nicholas' family being caught at Tsarskoye Selo in Feburary 1917 proved, a dozen or two miles is not far enough.)  As Stalin was to prove during WWII when he uprooted the bulk of Russian heavy industry in a few short months and moved it east of the Urals to put it beyond Hitler's reach, an autocratic government is capable of taking draconian steps when the risk is understood.

As I learned after many years of dealing with the differences in union and worker behavior in plants located on the same site as senior management teams as opposed to their behavior in satellite plants, Proximity is Politics.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 06:52:06 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline Rodney_G.

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2012, 05:02:15 PM »
Not to be overlooked is the obvious, namely that St. Petersburg was a seaport open to the Baltic. Locating factories near a port is a huge advantage for both exports of finished factory products,but also for the importation of raw materials. A St. Petersburg site for factories would  also minimize their dependence on Russia's growing but still deficient railroad system.

In any case I doubt that the level of the political sophistication of the laborers is , or should be, one of the primary determinants of industrial plant location.
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Russian Imperial Library era find
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2012, 10:05:41 PM »
Locating factories near a port is a huge advantage for both exports of finished factory products, but also for the importation of raw materials.

In 1900 Russia's population of 132 million was almost twice that of the second-most populous industrialized nation -- the U.S. at 76 million.  In fact, its population comprised almost 40% of the combined populations of the five largest industrialized countries:  Russia, the U.S., Germany (56 million), the U.K. (38 million), and France (also 38 million).

Yet Russia's share of world trade was only 4% . . . and after 1871 fully half of that trade was grain exports.  So Russia's industrial exports were negligible (perhaps not surprising for a country that was still largely an agrarian society).

The U.S. provides a useful comparison.  In 1900, 35% of U.S. exports were comprised of industrial goods, reaching 50% by 1913.  However, the bulk of U.S. manufacturing capacity that fed this burgeoning export stream was built in the hinterlands:  electrical goods manufacturing in western Massachusetts and upstate New York, electro-mechanical goods and agricultural equipment in the upper midwest (it's no accident that the American auto industry got its first footings in Michigan and Indiana), clocks and precision instrument manufacturing in the Connecticut River Valley.

In fact, if you look at the U.S.' first mega infrastructure manufacturing company -- General Electric -- and put dots on a map where each of its big plants were located in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, you will find a string of towns (today connected by Interstate 90) that each contain large populations of descendants of Irish, Polish, and Italian immigrants:  the labor force that flowed from the New York docks to inland towns such as Fitchburg, Pittsfield, Schenectady, Syracuse, Erie, Cleveland, Fort Wayne, and Milwaukee to fill the factories that were built where the inventors of the technology lived and worked.

In short, during the early stages of industrialization labor flows to the factories, not the other way around.  Silicon Valley, Boston's Route 128, and Seattle did not become the seats of the American digital revolution because they had huge populations of software engineers already living there.  The engineers migrated to where the founders set up shops in their own backyards.

The great bulk of St. Petersburg manufacturing flowed south and east into Russia, not outward over the sea.  I can really find no compelling reason for the concentration of large industrial workforces around St. Petersburg other than the convenience of the owners or a habitual following of a pattern set in very different times when enterprises such as Peter the Great's shipyards or the Putilov works were built in the capital.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2012, 10:13:54 PM by Tsarfan »