In both Koenker’s article on Soviet tourism and Reagin’s article on German housewives we see a similarity in the attempts made by both governments to sway their citizenry to a specific ideology. In Russia the communist party decided to control all forms of tourism. They were determined to change the view of tourism from the “bourgeoise” experience of knowing “only one street in a new city, the street from the train station to the hotel.” To the Soviet of idea of a tourist on a bicycle who “could observe al parts of a city, from its outskirts to its bridges…” This proletarian shift dominated all aspects of Soviet tourism in the interwar period. In Germany we see another cultural shift in regard to the way housewives conducted their household responsibilities. Although the cultural change was no wear near as dramatic as the one happening in Russia their was still an attempt made by middle and upper class German ladies to make the life of the everyday “frau” a little easier. This attempt was focused mainly on home economics, the German government still regarded kitchen as the females “workplace”. The changes attempted by the Germans although less dramatic then in Russia were still steps taken by the government to influence social life.
Koeneker’s article really struck me, mainly cause it was a topic I had never given though to. Although it is obvious through studying the Soviet Union that the communist party were involved in all aspects of life, its very interesting to see the amount of importance they put on such a “minor” issue in the scheme of things. When thinking of the Soviet worker tourism is one of the last things you would think of. The Soviet’s used tourism as another way to indoctrinate their citizenry, and keep the workers happy, and content. This show’s the depth that the Soviet state went to control their citizens.
Several points came to me when reading these two articles. Why did the Soviet’s focus so much on changing a clearly “upper class” pursuit? Why not just eliminate tourism all together. In Germany why was their such a focus on the improvement of house hold economics when the country was clearly lagging behind other western countries in regard to their infrastructure?
I think the reason they chose not to eliminate tourism altogether had to do with the greater awareness citizens possessed of the pleasures enjoyed by the middle and upper classes, especially among the literate. Who would not find themselves enthralled by the adventures of European explorers in Africa and Asia? Much like today, everyone wants a chance to experience such things, and providing controlled avenues for travel and exploration makes sense for a totalitarian government intent on regulating every aspect of its citizens’ lives, including transformative experiences like travel.
This post is extremely well written. The author goes into detail about the texts we read, but also gives his own personal opinion as well as poses questions to his or her audience. Your personal opinion of the readings are very true- it is interesting to notice that the Soviet Union had to have control all aspects of the state, even when other citizens entered the Soviet Union to visit. Your questions are extremely thought provoking and discussion based.
The reason the Soviet’s wanted to change tourism from being an “upper class pursuit” is because they wanted to eliminate the upper class all together. The reason, however, they didn’t eliminate tourism is because of the clear benefits it produced such as knowledge of new resources, individuality, etc. You have really interesting points in this post, it’s great that it isn’t just a summary. Good job.
I find it interesting that you note from the article that the Soviets controlled the tourism in a way that people on bikes could see more than people who walked around, interpreting from what you said. I would have liked to have seen a little more info on why you found that interesting. Not a big deal but something to consider. Good post.
I thought your discussion question on why the German’s were focusing on seemingly trifling things such as kitchens and appliances that improving other, more important elements of their infrastructure. It really made me think about what types of impacts people can make when progressing such a smaller, private sphere. It seemed to me that altering the role women play in their domestic environments could dramatically change the countries perspectives on the importance of improving their own, German economy.