Worker and Kolkhoz Woman Monument
Worker and Kolkhoz Woman monument is one of those statues that let you know exactly where and when they were built. I mean, look at it. Do you have ANY doubts about the origin of this steel couple?
It's hard to think about anything more "Soviet", wouldn't you agree? The stainless steel, the hammer and sickle raised above their heads... In short, Worker and Kolkhoz Woman monument was supposed to symbolize the glory and power of USSR.
...and to be honest, I think it's doing its job pretty well
A little history first. The statue was built by the Soviet sculptor Vera Mukhina for 1937 world fair in Paris. The government liked her creation so much that it awarded Vera with a "Stalin Prize" in 1941 - something like Oscar to a filmmaker.
The monument itself is around 25 meter (78 feet) tall, and not so long ago it was reconstructed and given a 35 meter pedestal, so right now the overall height of the sculpture is around 60 meters (~200 feet).
...I'm taller! No, I'm taller!
As you can see, it's worth visiting Worker and Kolkhoz Woman just to gaze at its size. However, I think the monument has also got an important historic and cultural value. After all, it is used as logo of "Mosfilm" - one of the most known Russian movie studios, "Soviet Hollywood" if you like, and those guys wouldn't choose that sculpture for nothing!
But what does the monument symbolize? What does it stand for, why did it receive so much credit?
Well, first of all - "Kolkhoz" means "collective farm". This term was coined by the Communists, and it basically means a farm where the land belonged to the state and the hard work belonged to everybody.
Remember that famous quote by Churchill - "Capitalism is the unequal distribution of wealth; Socialism is the equal distribution of poverty"? Well, that's exactly what collective farms were about.
The purpose of the monument is to underline the union between two classes - the industrial workers and the farmers. As you may know, the Communism is all about ending the class struggle and making the society more harmonic.
However, there is another side to that symbolism. You see, the Soviet state always had problems with farmers. It started right after the revolution and only ended after the USSR fell apart.
The "ideal" Soviet farmer is the one who's working from dawn till dusk for a fixed salary, supplying the state with the necessary food. However, it hasn't been like that since the beginning, as USSR basically waged war against the private farms.
In Tsar Russia, the peasants symbolized everything the Bolsheviks fought with - many of them were rich, owned their land and (oh my God!) hired others to work for them. The peasantry basically turned into a whole social class that had to be torn down at all costs if the USSR was to be built.
One of the most terrible examples of such "rebuilding" of the society was "Holodomor". In 1932, the government took away all the food from large part of Ukrainian farmers and sold it abroad to buy things it needed. From 2.4 to 7.5 million people died from hunger that year, and since then Holodomor became one of the darkest pages in the Soviet history.
North-Korean version of Worker and Kolkhoz Woman
While some suggest that it only happened because of the bad economic policies, I agree with those who say it was premeditated by Stalin who wished to destroy the strong and independent Ukrainian peasantry.
After the independent farmers were partly destroyed and put under the Soviet thumb, things started getting worse and worse. In 1960s, the USSR already had to buy wheat and other crops abroad, and it was the direct consequence of the massacre of peasants. There were simply no farmers left who were motivated to work...
You can say that the whole peasantry issue became the "original sin" of the Soviet state, and that is probably why they tried so hard to show that everything was going great. The workers are united with the farmers, the Utopian tomorrow is approaching, blah blah.
By the way, there are other communist countries that have monuments similar to Worker and Kolkhoz Woman. In North Korean Pyongyang, there's a very similar statue that also symbolizes the strong bonds within the Korean society, only there they also added "scientist" or "engineer" holding a torch.
Well, what can I say? As the wise proverb goes - "Mouth will not be sweet if you say halva". The symbolism alone didn't help USSR, and I doubt it will ever help North Koreans.
...as for the monument - I think you should definitely see it,especially because it's located right near VDNH!
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