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Article

«В помощь решениям высшего командования»: о рождении «оттепельной» общественности из духа 1939 года

Шаги/Steps. 2016. Т. 2. № 1. С. 44-81.

This article is an attempt at a microhistorical study. Through analysis of documents from the personal archive of social activist, pedagogue and military expert Boris Ivanovitch Zhurin (1890–1964), the author demonstrates that the year 1939 turned to be very important in his career. It was precisely in 1939 that Zhurin changed his previous “modest” profession of an engineer-constructor specializing in concrete buildings for the profession of military expert and for the role of social activist and publicist. As a military expert, he spent the years 1939-1940 writing a monograph about the interaction of different combat arms, including artillery and air reconnaissance, during the Russian offensive in June, 1917. He was convinced that learning from this experience would be vital during the next war. As a social activist and publicist, Zhurin invented, described and promoted a new social institute which he called “parents’ committees in multi-family dwellings,” insisting that such committees would be the best instrument to control and improve family education. This second “know-how” was also based on the idea of interaction, since the parents’ committees had to establish close relationships with district executive committees (ispolkomy), local Komsomol cells, school administration and school parents’ committees, as well as the management offces of apartment buildings. Detailed study of Zhurin’s archive and publications, combined with a reconstruction of the historical context of both 1939 and the “Thaw” years, lead the author to conclude that Zhurin saw Soviet society after the Great Terror as completely atomized, as demoralized by the low competence of the new army chiefs and state offcials, and as lacking channels for transmitting knowledge and experience. During 1939, as well as during the subsequent years of his professional and social activity, Zhurin sought to rebuild and intensify “horizontal” social ties.