37 American Views Of Soviet Russia

American Views Of Soviet Russia

Posted on August 1, 2011 by kulichik

An American photographer James Abbe started his career as a fashionable artist who made pictures of Hollywood celebrities but later turned to photojournalism. He also lived in the USSR in 1927 and 1932. Below are his pictures from the book I Photograph Russia made in 1932 with Abbe’s comments.

‘Long Live The World Revolution!’, state the posters carried by the Soviet people who are marching across the Red Square. The revolution could definitely take place if industry worldwide was as developed as it was in Russia.

A Moscow night is a scene of unbelievable beauty. Our gaze is shifted from the new Moscow Hotel and moonlight river to the mighty Kremlin with its towers and spires which is getting dark against the background of the night sky.

The artist was observing the scene from the window of his hotel trying to discover the purpose of his Russian journey and this book that was hidden inside the Kremlin.

The Kremlin encloses an area of 100 acres and is surrounded by a wall which is 2430 yards long. Stalin’s private office is somewhere inside the mighty palace.

The craftsmen are hiding famous names on ancient pieces of art behind modern titles. The sign ‘Romanovy’ is substituted by ‘The new Moscow Hotel’. Tourists who steal silver spoons don’t have any objections.

The Moscow river is covered with ice at dawn. People get up early to see the ice drift.

The last Russian tsar (king) was coronated sitting on the throne. This is one of the Kremlin churches that was used exceptionally for the purpose of coronation.

You see a mere sensation. This is Stalin, a wild, mysterious, cold and ominous ruler, who has never given his consent to be photographed. The reproduction made from 1 or 2 pictures ever signed by Stalin.

20th anniversary of the Pravda newspaper. The parade and the giant poster are designed to stress that ‘press has to be the means of socialistic upbringing’.


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37 Responses to “American Views Of Soviet Russia”

  1. Viktor99 says:

    A wonderful collection of photographs!

  2. Archy Bunka says:

    A. Bunka here. For all the young USSR’s paranoia, none of it saved it from the German onslaught of 1941. Mr. Abbe was a professional photojournalist who reported and commented on what he saw with no political subterfuge. Note his comments on the hospital.

  3. Matt says:

    Very Interesting. I love seeing old pictures like this.

  4. CZenda says:

    Bleak. And they only let him see the polished facade… ugh.

  5. historian says:

    Not for real the death rate was between 1950-1980 lower then now. And also the people were happier.

  6. testicules says:

    It is a shame that like Talibanic Islam, Communism (in Russia and other places) found it neccessary to destroy the culture and religionous icons that ran counter to it’s beliefs.

    • marxistworker says:

      Completely, totally different than Talibanic Islam; Religion kept the peasants ignorant and illiterate under the Tsar. The Communists brought education, medicine (not religious “healing” voodoo), and modernization. Yes, they wanted to destroy a culture that harmed instead of helped.

      • testicules says:

        Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that religion brought culture and morals to the serf and that the Czar kept them ignorant? He was the supreme leader after all. The Church did answer to him.

    • Mke Talino says:

      Communism never aimed at destroying culture, and religion has nothing to do with it.

  7. Dang says:

    Compared to western Europeans and Americans Soviet citizens were poor but still lived better than the vast majority of the world.

  8. Ivanko says:

    Barefoot women working at the railroad…?

  9. Archy Bunka says:

    MW, read please, the definition of GULAG:

    Gulag, system of forced-labor prison camps in the USSR, from the Russian acronym [GULag] for the Main Directorate of Corrective Labor Camps, a department of the Soviet secret police (originally the Cheka; subsequently the GPU, OGPU, NKVD, MVD, and finally the KGB). The Gulag was first established under Vladimir Lenin during the early Bolshevik years (c.1920). The vast penal network, which ultimately included 476 camp complexes, functioned throughout Russia, many in the wastes of Siberia and the Soviet Far East. The system reached its peak after 1928 under Joseph Stalin, who used it to maintain the Soviet state by keeping its populace in a state of terror. Gulag deaths of both political prisoners and common criminals from overwork, starvation, and other forms of maltreatment are estimated to have been in the millions during Stalin’s years in power.

    I am sorry, I don’t know what book you read about Lenin, if it came out of the USSR, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.

    • marxistworker says:

      The Justice Commissariat ceased to handle penal institutions in 1934, when all prisoners and prisons were put under NKVD authority. Realistically, then, the GULAG system (of slave labor and terror) only lasted from 1934-1954. In the 1920s only political prisoners were sent to the harsh camps of the N. Soviet Union or the region of Siberia. Even at that, rehabilitation was the norm in all camps in the 20s. A liberal policy was employed- prisoners could leave the camps to work before returning at night. Of course, this ended after Stalin’s rise in 1928.

      I had to laugh about the Lenin book comment. The trouble with reading history books by Americans is you have to read 10 bad ones before you find one that is actually objective and fair. “And that’s the way it is.”

      • Archy Bunka says:

        I can’t take you anymore. In spite of MOUNTAINS of evidence to the contrary,
        in spite of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, you maintain this lie. It is ingrained in you. You, who have never even been to Russia. Did they walk home from Siberia at night? The USSR collapsed because it couldn’t sustain itself under the weight of its total BULLS**T. And that, is a fact, it is gone.

        • ARCHY you are so right , my family was from yugoslavia it was paridise compared CCCP. MATE some of these wankers don,t want the truth they they actually prefer lies.

        • marxistworker says:

          I didn’t mean to upset you, but I believe things are more nuanced than what we think we know about history. I never denied mistakes and injustices but the fact that the “idea” was good remains good. The U.S. early values in the Declaration and Constitution were good and remain good, yet look at the history. I’m not defending everything, I’m defending the idea. The early Soviet Union had a lot more good than bad. If the Sov. Union collapsed, I want to know why, not judge from thousands of miles away. If you were there you only saw or heard a minute fraction of reality. If I went there, same thing. It takes a lot of study from a lot of sources to understand things but once again, it will only be a fraction of reality. So my point is, I’m just trying to learn a little, not convert or insult anyone.

          • testicules says:

            The idea looks attractive to some on paper. However, it is only successful on Star Trek episodes. Human nature is too competitive, creative, energetic, and destructive to conform to such a plan.

          • Archy Bunka says:

            MW, I heard minute fraction of reality from a man who was born before 1917, and who still lives today.
            The fact is, when Gorbachev allowed freedom of speech, every family in Russia had a horror story to tell. People who disappeared in the night with no explanation. I must admit you frustrate me MW, I feel that way because you seem to have closed your eyes to the reality of the situation in 1917. No country, none, could have bounced back from the horror of those years, in so short a time. Socialists apologists have been throwing Lenin out there as a symbol of what could have been, but never was. I apologize if I,ve been rude. If we sat down and had a few beers together we could probably work it out…

  10. Tippi-Simo says:

    Those were the times.

    I bet Russians were pretty happy during Stalin´s regime.

  11. Funkdat says:

    Government should work for the people and not control them.

  12. Otis R. Needleman says:

    Abbe indirectly references the famine in the Ukraine, through the comments about people waiting for a train. Great pictures…makes you wonder how many of those people survived the purges and the war.

  13. Musa says:

    I have a hard time believing all those people are standing there in the freezing cold and just watching the ice floating on the river. I like the old pictures anyway. :)

  14. Akskl says:

    About half of Kazakhs (2 millions or even more) starved to death in 1932-1933 after forced collectivization. About 1 million Kazakhs starved to death in 1921. Many thousands were killed in the 1916 uprising.

  15. truecristian says:

    Dear Godmocking Maggot;Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule of worshiping satan and being sodomized by strangers in public toilets to post this hateful message. The Holy Bible tells us that we are actually Blessed by your persecution! Thanks for proving that we’re right.

  16. Mke Talino says:

    All those comments like “PROHIBITED” come from, excuse me, an idiot.

    Take a picture of some people waiting for the train peacefully, add a caption like “starving peasants robbed by the evil Stalin are waiting for e train to evacuate to safety” — and keep telling there’s no propaganda in the West.

  17. er says:

    american propagandist in USSR

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