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Servants in the land of workers and peasants: informants of the NKVD, fugitives from the countryside, or a full-fledged working class?
Servants in the land of workers and peasants: informants of the NKVD, fugitives from the countryside, or a full-fledged working class?

In the 1920s-1930s. the presence of housekeepers in Russian families was almost the norm in urban life. It is not immediately clear how it happened that after the revolution of the whole country upside down and bringing ideology to equality and the liberation of ordinary people from any exploitation, the authorities not only did not oppose the institution of servants, but even legalized this activity.

The rise of the housekeeping class at the height of the social revolution

As a rule, people from a hungry village were hired as servants

The institution of domestic servants that existed in Russia before 1917 did not correspond to the ideological considerations of the post-revolutionary regime. The new country did not begin to get rid of hired subsidiary labor with new slogans. We went along the path of least resistance - we were "advised". The word "servant" was replaced by the term "domestic worker", and the legal status of hired workers was decided to equalize with other labor categories.

In the 1920s, in the wave of the creation of all kinds of trade unions, the "trade union of housewives" was officially formed. It had a large number of members, and the association even nominated deputies to the Moscow Soviet. The unions of servants became part of the larger Narpit union, where the main focus for domestic workers was considered to be their protection from illegal exploitation by the employer, the elimination of illiteracy and city registration. State propaganda declared wage domestic work in the form of a social lift, allowing servants to further receive education and move to other significant areas of the socialist state.

Who went to be a servant, and who had a servant

Professor Preobrazhensky's cook from Heart of a Dog is shown as an actual member of the family

After the famine of 1921-22, hundreds of thousands of survivors fled to the cities from the villages. The townspeople could give them bread, a roof over their heads and some kind of money. The state also established a legal status for the servants. Therefore, the townspeople were helped with the household chores mainly by people from villages and collective farms. Not only elite families hired and prescribed housekeepers. The services of assistants were used by Soviet employees of literally all ranks.

Trade union statistics from 1934 state that more than 70 percent of employers were white-collar workers, and about 25 percent were workers! It turns out that in the thirties in the Soviet country, the working class kept servants en masse. And no one at that time perceived the institution of housekeepers as a new lordship or blasphemy over revolutionary ideals. This phenomenon was widespread and common. Housekeepers, cooks, nannies lived in the same room as the tenant. In the case of particularly modest living spaces, they had to huddle in kitchens and even closets. But even cramped living conditions and modest incomes looked more promising than a hungry existence in their native village. Yes, and this stage of life could become a transshipment, a platform for the career growth of a village woman. With a residence permit and a livelihood, some of the housekeepers studied and managed to make a career.

It was not only the villagers who went to serve as maids. There was a group of women called the "former". The noble women, who for some reason did not leave the rebellious Russia, were also looking for a way to survive. Their services were quoted much higher, and the families who hired them were from the privileged.

Recruited servants and their role in high-profile events

Some blame the housekeeper of his neighbors for the death of Mayakovsky

It is a well-known fact that during the repressions of the 30s, some employers were sent to the camps on the denunciation of their own servants. The cooks were recruited by the government. Distrustful sentiments towards housekeepers are heard in the comedy of the Khrushchev period - "Girl without an address". In the film based on Ryazanov's film, the wife addresses her husband with the words: “What is a housekeeper? This is an internal enemy! " Of course, this threat concerned nomenklatura families. According to many researchers of this topic in the Moscow House on the Embankment, practically all the servants were recruited by the NKVD and assigned to regularly monitor their masters.

Some historians put forward a version that his housekeeper was directly involved in the conspiracy against comrade Kirov. As you know, the first secretary of the Leningrad regional committee of the CPSU (b) was shot dead in Smolny. The killer was found promptly, but the housekeeper Maria Volkova was involved in the case from the very beginning. And allegedly she, being a conspiratorial paid agent of the NKVD, warned of the impending assassination attempt. According to declassified documents, she went through a serious school of informants in the criminal investigation.

Theories were also put forward that the au pair was involved in the death of Vladimir Mayakovsky. There is an assumption that he died with the direct participation of the neighbor's housekeeper, who was his frequent interlocutor. Being a man with a daring flight of imagination, Mayakovsky sometimes imitated suicide in her presence, holding an unloaded weapon to his temple. So, according to some researchers, this woman deliberately put in a cartridge, completing someone's task. How it was in fact today is not reliably known, but after Mayakovsky's funeral, the housekeeper disappeared without a trace from the house of her employers, and information about her did not appear anywhere else.

Half a million official housekeepers and the disappearance of the class

Historians believe that Kirov's housekeeper was a trained spy from the NKVD

According to the 1939 census, more than half a million housekeepers were officially listed in the Soviet Union. Moreover, historians argue that in the early 30s there were much more of them. In 1937-1938, the nomenclature was massively repressed in full family composition. Accordingly, the servants also remained unemployed. Closer to the 1950s, the process of reducing housekeepers as a working class intensified. During this period, the system of preschool children's institutions is actively developing, household appliances are becoming more and more accessible, and the level of economic comfort in the urban environment is growing. The Soviet Household Services Combine is distinguished by its cheap and angry service. One-time orders for cleaning, washing, repairing housing and equipment are becoming available. The situation was also affected by the certification of the village, which started in the 1970s. As a result, the hiring of domestic workers in the form in which it existed in the previous years of Soviet power disappeared.

All the more amazing it looks racial segregation on the other side of the world.

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