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Who changed the names of cities and streets in the USSR how and why?
Who changed the names of cities and streets in the USSR how and why?

Why did the mania for constant renaming that gripped our country in the first years of Soviet power become an involuntary continuation of the policy of Nicholas II? Was it an attempt at a radical breakdown of the entire former order of Russian life? Why was the city of Tsaritsyn renamed Stalingrad, despite the objections of the "father of nations"? Who then got in the way of the name Moscow and how could present-day Novosibirsk turn into Ulyanov? About the great Bolshevik toponymic revolution from the first days of Soviet power to the end of the 1930s.

Our Petersburg became Petrograd

Why, almost immediately after the seizure of power, the Bolsheviks began to actively rename cities and villages, and in them - streets and squares? Can it be argued that this was an attempt to change the cultural code of the Russian people as quickly as possible - that is, a phenomenon of the same order as the reform of the calendar, the introduction of a continuous week, the romanization of the alphabets of the peoples of the USSR?

Andrey Savin:To begin with, the renaming was, of course, not the Bolshevik know-how. In order not to go far for examples, you can turn to the history of the Russian Empire during the First World War. At this time, as part of the fight against the so-called "German dominance", the government took a number of discriminatory measures against not only the subjects of Germany and Austria-Hungary, but also against the Germans - Russian citizens. In the spring of 1915, all German-language newspapers were closed, and in Moscow in May 1915, the notorious German pogroms broke out.

At the same time, a wave of renaming of settlements and volosts that bore German names swept across the empire. For example, in Siberia, German villages founded by Russian Germans during the Stolypin resettlement changed their "enemy" names. This was demanded by the Minister of Internal Affairs Nikolai Maklakov in a secret circular sent to the governors in October 1914.

Well, the most famous example of getting rid of "Germanness" is the renaming of the capital of the empire in August 1914. You can quote the poet Sergei Gorodetsky: “Dawn looked with a long glance, // Her bloody ray did not go out; // Our Petersburg became Petrograd // In that unforgettable hour. " By the way, the renaming of St. Petersburg, undertaken in the heat of nationalism, was not welcomed by everyone. Art critic Nikolai Wrangel wrote in his diary on September 1, 1914, on the day of the publication of the imperial decree: “… This completely senseless order first of all darkens the memory of the Great Transformer of Russia … Who knocked the Tsar to this step is unknown, but the whole city is deeply outraged and filled with indignation to this tactless trick."


But did the Bolsheviks not surpass their predecessors in this matter?

Of course, the scale and radicalism distinguished the Bolshevik renaming from the tsarist ones. The Bolsheviks acted under the slogan of a complete reorganization of the old world. Another thing is that in the field of renaming they initially took a relatively balanced position. Yes, at the level of streets, squares and other elements of the urban and industrial landscape, such as factories and factories, cultural and educational institutions, the name change was widespread.

Moscow inhabitant Nikita Okunev, who became famous thanks to his diaries, wrote on October 1, 1918:

The renaming of the ships is in progress. The best steamer of the "Airplane" - "Dobrynya Nikitich" - was named "Vatsetis", the Merkuriev steamer "Erzurum" - "Lenin", etc.

An attentive observer, Okunev noted in his diary on September 19, 1918, one of the first renaming of cities in the RSFSR: “… Now different renaming is in vogue that did not stop to rename the whole city (settlement) Kukarka (Perm province) into the city of Sovetsk. Not very neat, but great!"

And yet, the wave of renaming practically did not rise during the revolution and the Civil War, not to mention the first years of the NEP, to the level of massive changes in the names of cities, villages and villages. It is too early to talk about this time about “trying to change the cultural code of the Russian people as quickly as possible”. The Bolsheviks demonstrated this intention from the very beginning, but could not yet put it into practice.

"Petition to rename the village of Drishchevo to Leninka"

What prevented the Bolsheviks from organizing a toponymic revolution in Russia in the first years of Soviet power?

Paradoxically, it was common sense and economic considerations. Already in March 1918, the NKVD of the RSFSR (the communal NKVD during the Civil War and the NEP had nothing to do with the NKVD, created in 1934) strongly recommended places, given the difficult conditions of the Civil War, to treat "all kinds of renaming with caution" and "resort to them only in case of real necessity”. In its directives, the commissariat has repeatedly emphasized that "any renaming causes a number of large expenses", entails inevitable confusion in correspondence and delivery of goods. Local initiatives to rename with reference to the inconsistency of the old name with the "new spirit of the times" found less and less response from the center.

For example, in 1922 the center refused a request from the Siberian authorities to rename the city of Novonikolaevsk to Krasnoobsk. In addition to purely logistical and economic considerations, the Administrative Commission of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, which was responsible for the renaming, under the leadership of Alexander Beloborodov (known for having signed the order of the Ural Regional Council on the execution of the royal family) reasonably indicated in 1923 that the repeated repetition of the same revolutionary names in all counties and provinces belittles "the authority of the renames already made."

As a result, in 1923, a whole discussion broke out among the leaders of the people's commissariats of the RSFSR - to rename or abandon this practice. The Administrative Commission itself, which was the organizer of the exchange of views, believed that the renaming was justified in the following cases: the names were given "by the landowners or by the names of the landowners", the settlements were named after the church parish (Nativity of Christ, Bogoroditsky, Troitsky, etc.), as well as in the case of "the desire to honor in the names of settlements the outstanding leaders of the revolution or to perpetuate the memory of local workers who died for the cause of the revolution."

As "food for thought", the commission named the most typical petitions that were at that time under its consideration: about the renaming of the Wittgenstein railway station of the Moscow-Belarusian-Baltic railway to the Leninskaya station, the village of Kolpashevo of the Narym region of the Tomsk province - to the village of Sverdlovsk and the city of Kerensk Penza province - to the city of Buntarsky.

The Soviet leadership probably had different opinions on this matter?

By mid-February 1923, all republican people's commissariats expressed their attitude to the problem of renaming. The People's Commissariat of Education considered it "politically inconvenient" to prohibit the renaming of settlements. A similar opinion was expressed by the People's Commissariat of Justice, who believed that it was necessary to continue to change the names "contrary to the meaning of the modern era", to those that responded to the "revolutionary mood of the masses." The People's Commissariat of Education also supported the renaming, but with one significant caveat:

If there already exist cities or areas with the name Sverdlovsk or Leninsk, etc., then you should not assign such names to other cities and points

Most of the "technical" commissariats, which were supported by the military department, believed that renaming should be allowed only under strict control and only in the most exceptional cases. As a result, in December 1923, the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR announced a new procedure for renaming, categorically forbidding the change of names of railway stations and settlements with postal and telegraph offices throughout the USSR. Renaming the rest of the settlements was allowed only in exceptional cases.

For instance?

At that time, the Administrative Commission under the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee could only be softened by the completely dissonant name of the settlement. So, in November-December 1923, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee considered the petition of the members of the RKSM cell, who asked to rename the village of Moshonki, Filippovskaya volost, Demyansk district, Novgorod province, into the village of Krasnaya Gorka. A consultant to the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, noting that the name was "semi-decent", there is no telegraph in the village, which means that the renaming would not contradict the new rules, recommended supporting the Komsomol's petition.

But even the extremely dissonant name of a settlement was not always a guarantee of its renaming. This happened to the village of Drishchevo, Borovichi district, Novgorod province, whose inhabitants on March 16, 1923 unanimously decided “out of respect for the leader of the world proletariat, comrade. Lenin to petition to rename the village of Drishchevo to "Leninka" ". But the Administrative Commission of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee on October 19, 1923 considered the given motives insufficient. In addition, as she noted, “due to the homonym of the settlements in honor of Comrade. Lenin creates confusion in the sense of a reference character for the central bodies of the republic."

"Rename Moscow to" city. Ilyich ""

A real wave of renaming threatened the USSR after Lenin's death in January 1924. Then Petrograd became Leningrad, and Simbirsk became Ulyanovsk. Judging by your research, it could have gone beyond this?

After Lenin's death, thousands of petitions were sent to the Central Executive Committee and the Central Executive Committee of the USSR for renaming in honor of the deceased leader. Pretty soon it became clear to all sane people in the leadership of the USSR that the authorization of all these initiatives would literally turn the country's toponymic landscape into one continuous "Leniniana", which would cause inevitable chaos in the activities of the authorities and administration. In addition to the potential significant costs associated with so many renames, this would also inevitably lead to the devaluation of Lenin's name.


As a result, on February 5, 1924, the Central Executive Committee of the USSR adopted a resolution “On renaming cities, streets, institutions, etc. in connection with the death of V.I. Ulyanov-Lenin ", according to which renaming the name of Lenin was categorically prohibited without the prior consent of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR. The results of "Lenin's" renaming turned out to be modest: on January 26, 1924, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad, on May 9, 1924, Simbirsk became Ulyanovsk, and the city and station of Alexandropol of the Transcaucasian Railway were renamed the city and station of Leninakan.

By the same decree, the Petrogradskoye Highway was renamed into Leningradskoye, as well as all the stations of the Petrograd railway junction, which had the name “Petrograd” in the Leningradsky ones. The renaming of Petrograd and Simbirsk were logical and easy to explain, in contrast to the Armenian city, which won a kind of "all-Union lottery".

In addition, the name of Lenin was given to the Rumyantsev Public Library in February 1925. This happened only after a long bureaucratic red tape, while the director of the library, Vladimir Nevsky, had to repeatedly justify the advisability of such a renaming.

And what about the other countless initiatives to perpetuate the memory of the leader of the world proletariat?

All other "Leninist" renaming, including those already undertaken by the local authorities, were rejected. The hard line was followed to the end here. Neither references to the negative political significance of the cancellation of the renaming made, as was the case with the telegram of Yan Gamarnik, who sought to legalize the renaming of the central Vladivostok Svetlanskaya street into Lenin Street, nor the instructions of the Saratov Provincial Executive Committee that the question of renaming the Ryazan-Uralskaya Iron the road to Leninskaya "was initiated directly by the workers" and "in practice, in the psyche of the workers of the road, there was a certainty that the road had already been renamed Leninskaya."

The people responded to the renaming of Petrograd into Leningrad with jokes. Nikita Okunev, already mentioned by me, reproduced one of them in his diary in March 1924:

Lenin sent a dispatch from the other world to cancel the renaming, otherwise, he says, Peter the Great does not give me peace, runs after me with a club and shouts: "You stole the city from me!"

At the same time, in March 1924, the artist Alexander Benois wrote in his diary that Lenin, during his lifetime, was against renaming the former imperial capital in his honor: allegedly in the early 1920s, Ilyich assured renaming, which will never allow to encroach on the name given to the city by the first Russian revolutionary."

Of the major cities in the name of Lenin, in addition to Petrograd and Simbirsk, Novonikolaevsk also claimed: on February 1, 1924, the Sibrevkom adopted a resolution to rename Novonikolaevsk to Ulyanov, in view of the fact that the old name "does not correspond to the Soviet era." However, the second attempt of the Siberian authorities to change the “tsarist” name of the city was also unsuccessful, and by the end of 1924 the stream of requests for renaming in honor of Lenin dried up.

The rule that any "Leninist" renaming was subject to approval by the Central Executive Committee of the USSR or, respectively, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, continued to be observed at least until the end of the 1930s. The loudest echo of the campaign of "Lenin's" renaming was the statement of the united group of Tambov employees of 216 people on February 23, 1927, in which it was proposed to rename Moscow "in the mountains. Ilyich ". The intercessors "rightly believed" that "such a name would speak more to the mind and heart of the proletariat than the obsolete and meaningless, also non-Russian and not having logical roots, the name Moscow."

"I am not seeking to rename Tsaritsyn to Stalingrad"

It seems that by this time the first renaming in honor of the new leader - Stalin was undertaken in the country?

Yes, by the decree of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR of June 6, 1924, the city of Yuzovka in the Donbass was renamed into the city of Stalin (from 1929 - Stalino, now it is the city of Donetsk), the Yuzovsky district - into the Stalin district and the Yuzovka station of the Ekaterininskaya railway - into the Stalino station.

But here it is necessary to take into account the following specific property of Stalin as a ruler: he was glorified, especially in 1930-1940, as the main character and leader of the USSR, but often the names of other heroes and leaders representing all spheres of social and political life were named next to his name. Only one thing was required of the leaders from Stalin's inner circle - they had to be able to stage their personal cults as cults of the second rank, which did not question the ranking in the Stalinist system of power.

This, I repeat, became an immutable law already in the 1930s, and in the 1920s Stalin positioned himself as the first among equals, which was reflected in the renaming in honor of the living leaders.So, immediately after the renaming of Yuzovka, in September 1924, there was a decision to rename the city, district and railway station Elisavetgrad, respectively, in the city, district and railway station Zinovievsk (then it became Kirovo and Kirovograd, and more recently - Kropyvnytskyi).

Stalingrad on the map of the country, probably not by chance, appeared a year after Leningrad?

The history of the renaming of Tsaritsyn to Stalingrad is very indicative in this respect. The campaign to change the name of the city began at the end of 1924, the corresponding resolutions were adopted by general meetings of the city's labor collectives. On December 16, 1924, workers and employees of the Krasny Oktyabr plant decided: “Two cities in the great Russian revolution are its outposts - Petrograd and Tsaritsyn. Like Petrograd, which became Leningrad, we are obliged to change the name of our city to Stalingrad."


In such a flattering interpretation, this renaming reinforced Stalin's ambitions for the role of Lenin's sole successor. The corresponding resolution of the Tsaritsyn City Council was adopted on January 1, 1925.

It cited the standard “revolutionary” motivation for renaming: “The workers 'and peasants' government discards as unnecessary everything that is a remnant of the old and replaces it with a new one, corresponding to the spirit of the great proletarian revolution. Among such legacies of the old one is the name of our city - the city of Tsaritsyn. " Already on April 10, 1925, the corresponding decree of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR appeared on the renaming of the city, province, county, volost and station.

How did Stalin himself react to this?

It is difficult to say whether Stalin was directly involved in the renaming of Tsaritsyn. Party ethics dictated modesty in such matters, and Stalin showed it then, at least publicly, in due measure. His letter to the secretary of the Tsaritsyn province committee of the RCP (b) Boris Sheboldaev, dated January 25, 1925, has survived.

In it, Stalin assured that "I did not seek and am not seeking to rename Tsaritsyn to Stalingrad" and that "if it is really necessary to rename Tsaritsyn, call it the Ministry of Engineering or something else." Then he added: "Believe me, comrade, I am not seeking fame or honor and would not want the opposite impression to be created."

Why Miningrad?

In honor of Sergei Minin, a pre-revolutionary Bolshevik. During the Civil War, he was a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of a number of fronts and armies, including the Tenth (Tsaritsyn) Army and the First Cavalry Army.

Be that as it may, the time of mass renaming in honor of the living leaders had not yet come, it was more modest and more ideologically correct to rename in honor of the leaders of the dead. It is no coincidence that at the same time, in September 1924, the city, district and railway station of Bakhmut were named in honor of the prominent Soviet politician Fyodor Sergeev (Artyom), who died tragically in July 1921 (Stalin, as you know, adopted and raised his son). And in November 1924, on the seventh anniversary of the October Revolution, Yekaterinburg was renamed Sverdlovsk.

"Not Siberian, namely Novosibirsk"

What logic of Soviet renaming prevailed then?

The overall result of renaming the settlements of the RSFSR by the end of 1924 looked rather modest - according to the Administrative Commission under the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the RSFSR, from 1917 to September 24, 1924, 27 cities were renamed.

Moreover, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the political and ideological motive dominated: Verny - Alma-Ata, Temir-Khan-Shura - Buinaksk, Tsarskoe Selo - Detskoe Selo, Przhevalsk - Karakol, Yamburg - Kingisepp, Romanovsky farm - Kropotkin, Ekaterinodar - Krasnodar - Tsarevokokshaisk Krasnokokshaisk, Petrograd - Leningrad, Prishib - Leninsk, Taldom - Leninsk, Baronsk - Marksstadt, Petrovsk - Makhachkala, Holy Cross - Prikumsk, Askhabad - Poltoratsk, Nikolaev - Pugachevsk, Tsarevo-Sanchursk - Sanchursk, Kukarka - Sovetsk, Gatchkina - Ulyanovsk, Romanov-Borisoglebsk - Tutaev, Orlov - Khalturin.

In general, for the Soviet Union, the "List of renamed localities of the USSR", compiled according to the Administrative Commission as of September 10, 1924, included 64 names.

Until the end of the 1920s, the party-Soviet leadership still preferred to pursue a prohibitive policy in the field of renaming rather than a permissive one. Of the high-profile NEP renaming, it is perhaps worth noting the change in the name of the Siberian capital. On the third try, the local authorities finally managed to get their way.

Instead of the “old regime” name of the last Russian emperor, the city began to bear the name “Novosibirsk”. Here the main role was played by the freshly baked chairman of the Siberian Regional Executive Committee Robert Eikhe, who convinced the Administrative Commission of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee that the city should not be called Siberian, but Novosibirsk.

What's more important: the end of the 1920s was marked by the first revision of politically motivated place names of the Soviet era. The Central Executive Committee of the USSR, by its decree of February 13, 1929, renamed the city of Trotsk (Ivaschenkovo ​​village) of the Samara District of the Middle Volga Region into Chapaevsk, and on August 2, 1929 the city of Trotsk (Gatchina) was renamed into Krasnogvardeysk, respectively, the Trotsky District of the Leningrad Region - into Krasnogvardeisky.

As we know, despite all the limitations, the revision of toponymy continued later, in the early 1930s. What criteria did it pass?

First of all, according to the classical criteria of the 1920s: "old regime", religiosity and dissonance of old names. For example, in January 1930, the Aleksandro-Nevsky District of the Ryazan District was renamed Novo-Derevensky, the city of Bogorodsk - into Noginsk, Sergiev Posad - into Zagorsk, the village of Dushegubovo, Kashirsky District, Serpukhov District - into Solntsevo, the village of Popikha, Dmitrovsky District, Moscow District - into Sadovaya …

In the same vein, in October 1931, the capital of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of the Volga Germans was renamed from Pokrovsk to Engels, and in February 1932 the dissonant name Kozlov, which at the time of the renaming the city had been wearing for almost three hundred years, was replaced by Michurinsk. In March 1932, Shcheglovsk, allegedly named after "the former big kulak Shcheglov," began to be called Kemerovo.

However, these criteria of "old regime", "religiosity" and dissonance as the development of Stalin's "revolution from above" played an ever smaller role in the renaming. Beginning from 1932-1933, a long period of exaltation and celebration of their own successes began in the USSR.

As a result, the use of neutral names became a rarity in Soviet toponymy, more and more preference was given to the personal names of representatives of the Soviet-party elites and heroes who personified the achievements of the “land of the Soviets”. It was in the 1930s that a real wave of renaming swept the USSR, and all ethical, economic and logistical considerations were then firmly relegated to the background.

"" Chelyabinsk "in translation into Russian means" pit ""

How was this manifested?

If the assignment of the names of "individual workers" to settlements, as well as to institutions, organizations and enterprises of all-Union significance, still required a positive decision of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR (read the Politburo of the Central Committee), then the assignment of names of workers to institutions, organizations and enterprises of the federal, republican and local significance was now carried out by resolutions of the Presidiums of the Central Executive Committee of the Union republics. This decision, adopted in 1932, led to massive renaming in the 1930s of a huge number of organizations, enterprises and institutions, primarily collective and state farms, named after big and small "leaders".


Telegram from the Chairman of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR M.I. Kalinin and the secretary of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR I.S. Unshlikht in the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) and personally I.V. Stalin about renaming in honor of L.M. Kaganovich. June 22, 1935 The text of the telegram contains the autographs of members of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks headed by Stalin. The corresponding decision was made by the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks on June 26, 1935.

The already mentioned Robert Eikhe, the Stalinist governor of the West Siberian Territory, in his speech at the March 1937 plenum of the regional committee, in a fit of self-criticism, suddenly spoke of the "mania for renaming" collective farms in his honor, as well as in honor of the chairman of the West Siberian regional executive committee Fyodor Gryadinsky:

And take such a question as the mania for renaming collective farms - nobody touched on this. In my report I did not touch upon, but how many, for example, have collective farms renamed my name, the name of Gryadinsky? It's a renaming mania!

As for the cities, in 1931 a new "revolutionary" name in honor of Stalin could have been given to one of the largest cities in Russia - Chelyabinsk. In the summer of 1931, a telegram from the Chelyabinsk City Council was sent to the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, in which it petitioned for renaming into the city of Koba, "giving this name to the city in honor of the leader of the party, Comrade Stalin, who bore this nickname during the years of the underground." It is quite obvious that such an issue could not have been resolved without the participation of Stalin, who eventually blocked the renaming.

This, however, did not prevent the leadership of the Chelyabinsk region in 1936 to try again to rename the city, this time to Kaganovichgrad. On September 19, 1936, Kuzma Ryndin, the first secretary of the Chelyabinsk regional committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, addressed Stalin with a personal letter, who pointed out that “Chelyabinsk, translated into Russian, means“pit”,” and this backward name is outdated and does not at all correspond to “internal content "of the city, which over the years of five-year plans" from an old Cossack-merchant town turned into a major industrial center. " The leader's lapidary resolution read: “Against. I. St. ". Whether his linguistic flair played a role here or whether the renaming of such a city was clearly out of rank for Lazar Kaganovich, but Chelyabinsk retained its historical name.

Perhaps Chelyabinsk did not deserve the honor of wearing the party name of the leader, having lost in the competition for the name of Stalin to another giant of the first five-year plans - Novokuznetsk with its famous metallurgical plant. The decision of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR to rename Novokuznetsk to Stalinsk followed on May 5, 1932.

Who else, besides Stalin, did they try to immortalize in new names in the 1930s?

The most massive renaming of the 1930s was carried out in honor of three party leaders - Kirov, Kuibyshev and Ordzhonikidze. Each time, as part of the perpetuation of their memory, hundreds of enterprises, institutions and settlements, as well as a number of geographical objects, were renamed.

At the same time, in violation of all the established practice of renaming the same name was received by several settlements at the same time. In honor of Kirov, less than a week after his murder, Vyatka was renamed, and the Kirov Territory was specially separated from the Gorky Territory. On December 27, 1934, a symbolic renaming took place - Zinovievsk (formerly Elisavetgrad) disappeared from the map of the USSR and the city of Kirovo appeared in its place.

Since Zinoviev was given political responsibility for the murder of Kirov, such a renaming looked like the highest act of justice. In honor of Kuibyshev, four cities were named at once, and in time these renaming practically coincided with the "Kirov" ones.

Despite the outward observance of the ritual, the campaign of renaming in honor of Grigory (Sergo) Ordzhonikidze was less pompous and massive than in the case of Kirov and Kuibyshev. The city posthumously named after him - Yenakiyevo (in 1928-1937 - Rykovo) - cannot be classified as one of the significant cities of the Stalin era.

Two other cities named after Ordzhonikidze - Vladikavkaz and Bezhitsa - received their new names, respectively, in 1931 and 1936, that is, even before the criminal death of the Stalinist People's Commissar. Perhaps the largest posthumous renaming in honor of Sergo was the assignment of his name in March 1937 to the North Caucasian Territory.Even during Stalin's lifetime, Yenakievo and Bezhitsa received their historical names back, the former Vladikavkaz was renamed Dzaudzhikau, and the Ordzhonikidze Territory was renamed into Stavropol. Obviously, Stalin never forgave his comrade-in-arms for suicide.

Of the "curious" attempts to rename the 1930s, one can name an attempt by the leadership of the Mordovian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to rename the capital of the autonomy of Saransk to Chapaigorsk. As a pretext for the renaming, the version about the Mordovian origin of Vasily Chapaev was used. The corresponding resolution, adopted by the 3rd session of the Central Executive Committee of the Mordovian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic on December 23, 1935, read: “Rename the capital of Mordovia, mountains. Saransk to Chapaigorsk in honor of the hero of the civil war V.I. Chapaev, originating from the Mordovians."

To confirm their petition, the leadership of the Mordovian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic enlisted the support of the corps commander Ivan Kutyakov, who took command of the 25th rifle division after the death of Chapaev. At the end of February 1936, Kutyakov sent a telegram to the All-Russian Central Executive Committee with the following content: “The answer is - Vasily Ivanovich Chapaev, the former chief of the 25th Mordvin nationality. Corps Commander Kutyakov ". Perhaps Kutyakov did not sin against the truth here. Nevertheless, on March 20, 1936, the petition to rename Saransk was rejected by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.

"Why has the name Tomsk been preserved?"

How did the citizens of the Soviet Union feel about the constant countless renaming?

In fact, each renaming was to be formally approved by the "collectives of workers and employees", and the authorities considered the participation of the population in the renaming as an important political action. The renaming of the period of mass operations of the NKVD in 1937-1938, collectively known as the Great Terror, became a real school of loyalty to the Stalinist regime.

The repressions against the Soviet elites revealed that in previous years, thousands of streets, factories, factories, collective farms, state farms and settlements were named after the newly appeared "enemies of the people". Now it was urgent to rename them.

As an example, I will cite Nikolai Bukharin and Alexei Rykov. Already in March 1937, the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, in response to the "petition of workers and public organizations of enterprises and institutions of Moscow" renamed the Tuberculosis Institute. Rykov at the City Tuberculosis Institute, Tram Park named after Bukharin - to the Tram Park named after Kirov, Tram Club named after Bukharin - to the tram club named after Kirov, Bukharinskaya street - to Volochaevskaya street, Obozostroitelny plant them. Rykov - to the Lobozoozostroitelny plant number 2 and the workers' faculty named after Rykov - to the workers' school named after Kirov.

In addition, the Bukharinsky beet-growing state farm of the Kursk region was renamed “named after comrade Dzerzhinsky ", as well as the Bukharinsky district of the Western region. A similar list can be drawn up in relation to almost all representatives of the "Leninist guard" who were repressed during the Great Terror.

Part of the population of the Soviet country supported and even actively participated in the process of renaming, often coming up with their own initiatives.

During the years of mass repressions, Tomsk was especially "unlucky". Burning with righteous anger, but poorly educated citizens believed that the city was named after the former leader of the Soviet trade unions, Mikhail Tomsky, who committed suicide in 1936.

The anonymous author of the letter to Pravda, “a member of the Komsomol of the plant of the People's Commissariat of the Defense Industry,” wrote the following on December 22, 1938: “The surname of the well-known oppositionist Tomsky, an enemy of the Soviet people, still lives in our country. Sadly, but true. Isn't it time to put the question to the relevant body of our government about renaming the city of Tomsk into a city with a different name? It is very strange why the name, the city of Tomsk, has survived to this day? Maybe this is the way it should be? I doubt that very much."


In another case, a vigilant cadet of the Perm Aviation Military School.Molotov, a certain M. Shonin, was deceived by the coincidence of the name of the oppositionist and the "orthodox" Soviet leader. In his letter to the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, Shonin wrote in October 1937: “I consider it necessary to rename all streets named after the names of the enemies of the people Kamenev and Zinoviev, all collective farms, etc.

Moreover, there is an island in the north, called the enemy of the people Kamenev. I recommend renaming it to the name of the hero of the Soviet Union, Comrade Schmidt. " The Secretariat of the CEC Presidium enlightened the cadet, writing that "the islands located in the north bear the name of Sergei Sergeevich Kamenev, who was a member of the government commission for the rescue of the Chelyuskinites."


But the author of another letter, a teacher of geography at one of the secondary schools of the Chelyabinsk region P.I. Lemetti, I have not messed up anything. In August 1938, he informed the authorities about the discovery he made while studying the new administrative map of the USSR, published in 1936: “On the southwestern part of the October Revolution Island at 95 degrees east longitude. there is Cape Gamarnika. I propose to rename the cape of the enemy of the people after the name of the hero of the Soviet Union, comrade M.M. Gromov ". Lametti's letter was sent to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, as a result, Cape Gamarnika was renamed into Cape Medny.

That is, individual vigilant citizens helped the authorities to clear the names of former heroes on the map, who suddenly became “disguised enemies”?

Yes, but the most interesting thing began when one and the same object had to change several names within a short time, and each time the "collectives of workers" had to approve this. An illustrative example is the renaming of settlements and organizations named after the "enemies of the people" in honor of the "iron people's commissar" Nikolai Yezhov.

So, at the end of April 1938, the Central Executive Committee of the Ukrainian SSR renamed the Postyshevo station in the Smelyansky district of the Kiev region into the station named after Yezhov. On June 29, 1938, the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Kazakh SSR renamed the sheep farm No. 500 of the Kamensky district of the West Kazakhstan region named after Isaev in the sheep farm named after Yezhov. By the time this decision was made, the former chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Kazakh SSR, Uraz Isaev, was already under arrest.

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