Sputnik Generation

In his two articles, Donald Raleigh interviewed two people, Natalia P and Victorovich Ivanov, who were from the city of Sarastov, in the Oblast region of Russia.  Both of whom grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, recalled memories of their childhood, families, events, and learning experiences during the early years of their lives.  Natalia’s interview was particularly striking to me.

One of the more striking points that Natalia P. made in her interview involved her discussion of her father.  Growing up in the mid fifties, she discussed the experience she had with her family.  She mentioned that despite some of the needs of the family, her father, as a university professor, did not care for the things he spent his money on. Although he spent his money on educating her, Natalia stated that despite the ties his father had with other prominent people and the fact that he could get certain things from those people, he “never regretted spending money on such things, on books, on education, on tutors, on music, on English lessons….yet nothing that was connected with living conditions interested him.” ((Donald Raleigh, “Russia’s Sputnik Generation: Soviet Baby Boomers talk about their lives” Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 103))  Although she did not talk about this, this belief  might suggest to the fact that her father was influenced by Stalins time in power.  During the Stalin era, people had to deal with having very little, particularly during the famines.  In addition, if you had too much stuff, you could have been accused of being a Kulak and be sent off to a Gulag for that.  For Natalia, it could be that her father was very much influenced by the painful time period that he grew up in.   One of the most important aspects that Natalia mentioned was that despite the lack of materials regarding living conditions, she was still provided education materials.  During Stalins time and throughout the 1950s, the state had recognized that the children were the future of the party.  In order to have them become good Soviet citizens,  the children had to be given a proper education so that they could push the state forward. As a result of Natalias mothers and fathers likely experience under Stalin, Natalia was given the same kind of upbringing by stating that their upbringing was passed down to her. ((Donald Raleigh, “Russia’s Sputnik Generation: Soviet Baby Boomers talk about their lives” Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 90)) This seems to suggest that although the Stalin era had ended, the memory and scaring of it for some Soviet citizens may very well have lasted well into the 1950s.

Do you think it was common to see people upbringing their children the same way Natalias father did?  If so, did the state try to make the rules clearer for its populous so that they could overcome the hard times of the Stalin era?

One thought on “Sputnik Generation

  1. Natalia’s upbringing was probably influenced by her father’s chosen profession, teaching at a university. If she was raised by laborers or factory workers, there would probably be less of an emphasis on education and more on necessities such as food and shelter. Her father chose to emphasize education over material goods, something that is still uncommon today in many of the more poverty-stricken areas of the world. Therefore, I think that her manner of upbringing was less state-sponsored and more from her father’s priorities.

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