chapter  7
11 Pages

Migration to cities and the position of newcomers

The forced modernization of Soviet agriculture led to an unprecedented wave of migration from rural locations to towns and cities. The entire fabric of Soviet life was developed around “the ideology of sacrifice for the sake of future generations.”1 The first wave of mass outer migration was a result of the prolonged and brutal process of collectivization. In the second half of the 1920s and into the 1930s, up to 23 million people, mostly men of working age, left the countryside to seek new jobs, education, and upward social mobility in the cities, as well to avoid repressions in the countryside and the heavy labor of a peasant. Another 5.5 million men were absent from villages in the 1930s on a more temporarily basis; most of them either worked seasonally in the cities, or were in the military, or undergoing training elsewhere. By 1937, almost a third of all men and 9 percent of all women in the age group of 16 to 59 migrated out of rural locations to find a new life in larger urban centers.2