Fri, 07 Aug 2020

What life was like in Soviet Moldova

RBTH
02 Jul 2020, 23:54 GMT+10

History July 02 2020 Russia Beyond

B. Krutsko/Sputnik This southern region, famous for its wine, was the last republic to join the USSR, which helped preserve its distinctive local color.

The historical region of Bessarabia in south-eastern Europe became part of the Russian Empire in the 19th century. After the 1917 Revolution, the region declared independence as the Moldavian Democratic Republic, and then promptly became part of neighboring Romania. The new Soviet government was indignant, believing that Romania had illegally occupied the land. To avoid a military conflict, Romania voluntarily surrendered it, and in 1940 the entire territory of historical Bessarabia became part of the USSR as the Moldavian SSR.

Red Army soldiers are greeted by children during a military parade on the accession of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to the USSR, Chisinau, July 4, 1940.

Alexander Gribovsky, Dmitry Chernov/TASS

The same accession parade in Chisinau, 1940

D. Chernov/MAMM/MDFNon-Soviet Moldova

Due to its relatively late entry into the USSR, life in Moldova at first differed from the rest of the country: the restaurants, street organ grinders and, of course, architecture barely resembled the typical Soviet landscape.

Bessarabia Nova restaurant in Chisinau, 1940

Georgy Petrusov/MAMM/MDF

Parizh (Paris) tearoom, 1940

Georgy Petrusov/MAMM/MDF

Organ grinder with parrot at a fair in the city of Chernivtsi, 1940

Georgy Petrusov/MAMM/MDF

Steiner manor house, 1940

Georgy Petrusov/MAMM/MDF

Bank in the city of Chernivtsi (now part of Ukraine), 1940

Georgy Petrusov/MAMM/MDF

Unemployed man on the streets of Chisinau, 1940

Georgy Petrusov/MAMM/MDF

Village wedding. Orchestra, 1940

Georgy Petrusov/MAMM/MDF

Village wedding. Feast in a hut, 1940

Georgy Petrusov/MAMM/MDFOccupied territory

In 1940, Moldova passed from Romania to the USSR. Then in June 1941, when the Great Patriotic War broke out, Romania, an ally of Nazi Germany, occupied Moldova. The Romanian authorities squeezed all the economic and agricultural lifeblood out of Moldova; its industry was expropriated for the war effort, and the peasantry was forced to give up almost all grain and livestock. Tens of thousands of Moldovans in Romania were relocated to Germany as free labor. Likewise, people in the occupied territory were compelled to work without payment - repairing roads and infrastructure destroyed during the war. Historically, Bessarabia had been home to many Jews and Roma. The newly arrived Romanians set up concentration camps and ghettos, and carried out mass killings. Soviet troops finally liberated Moldova in 1944.

Romanians round up Jewish partisans and their families

Bundesarchiv

Lunch in the Chisinau ghetto

Bundesarchiv

Raising the Banner of Victory over liberated Chisinau, 1944

TASS Wine country

After the war, Moldova lay in ruins. Its infrastructure was wrecked, and disease was rampant for lack of medicine, not to mention mass unemployment and famine. The Soviet government allocated considerable resources to renovate its industry and agriculture, importing equipment and raw materials.

Moldava's leading industry was, and remains, winemaking. Moldavian wine was known and loved throughout the entire Soviet Union. Thanks to the warm climate, vast quantities of fruit, veg and berries could be grown and cultivated, as well as sunflowers, sugar beets, tobacco and other industrial crops.

In the 1950s, the powerful Dubasari hydroelectric station was built on the Dniester River; the sewing industry was developed, as was the production of refrigerators.

Grape harvest in a Moldavian village, 1982

Yu. Lizunov/Sputnik

Tomatoes at the May 1st Tiraspol canning factory, 1953

Yakov Ryumkin/MAMM/MDF

Beekeeper Anton Lupulchuk in an apiary at the Mayak collective farm in the Dondyushansky district. Moldavian SSR, 1975

I. Kibziy/Sputnik

"40 Years of the Komsomol" sewing factory, 1964

Vsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDF

Chisinau refrigerator plant, 1970

Efim Dreischner/TASS

Dubasari hydroelectric station, 1980

V. Sedachev/Sputnik Images of Soviet life

Peacetime brought the usual Soviet trappings: May Day celebrations, pioneer processions and domestic feasts.

Victory Day celebration on Victory Square in Chisinau, 1976

I. Kibziy/Sputnik

Public meeting in Tiraspol, 1964

Vsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDF

Moldavian singer Olga Sorokina with friends in her apartment in Chisinau, 1968

Alexander Makarov/Sputnik

Monument to the liberators of Chisinau from Nazi forces, 1974

Igor Vinogradov/Sputnik

A.S. Pushkin Moldavian State Music and Drama Theater on Lenin Avenue, Chisinau, 1960s.

Efim Dreischner/TASS

Academy of Sciences of the Moldavian SSR in Chisinau, 1966

Efim Dreischner/TASS

Railway station and square in Chisinau, 1967.

Naum Granovsky/TASS

Moskva movie theater in Chisinau, 1968.

Nikolay Akimov, Efim Dreischner/TASS

Intourist hotel and restaurant under construction on Lenin Avenue in Chisinau, 1974

Boris Kavashkin/Sputnik

Library in Tiraspol, 1964

Vsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDF

Central Telegraph building in Chisinau, 1972.

B. Krutsko/Sputnik

Garment factory workers on a Sunday, 1975

Eduard Ettinger/MAMM/MDF

Post Office building in Chisinau, 1972.

B. Krutsko/Sputnik

Playing at being dentists. Kindergarten, 1985

Georgy Rozov/MAMM/MDF

Parade in Tiraspol, 1964

Vsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDFFaces of Moldova

The bulk of the population consisted of Moldovans, Ukrainians and Russians. But historically the region had a large Gagauz community (a Turkic people), as well as many Jews, Bulgarians and Roma. People from all across the USSR were drawn to Moldova for its warm climate and work opportunities. Many tourists came too.

Electric welder, 1950s

Vsevolod Tarasevich/MAMM/MDF

Shepherding, 1989

I. Zenin/Sputnik

Grape harvest in the Moldavian SSR, 1972

B. Krutsko/Sputnik

Moldavian metallurgical plant in the city of Rybnitsa. Galina Frolova, senior controller of the steelmaking section, 1987

I. Zenin/Sputnik

Moldavian SSR. "Last Bell" school-leaving ceremony in the village of Berdar, Kotovsky district, 1986

I. Zenin/Sputnik

Moldavian SSR. Spinner from the village of Butucheny near the Old Orhei historical-archaeological complex, 1985

Alexander Grashchenkov/Sputnik

Members of the folk-dance ensemble Moldavanesca, 1975

Boris Kavashkin/Sputnik

Olya Grigorenko, a worker at the "Testament of Lenin" collective farm, in a sunflower field, 1966

Fred Grinberg/Sputnik

Sofia Rotaru, an ethnic Moldavian singer famous throughout the USSR (and still popular today), 1974

B. Krishtul/Sputnik

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