Pavel Chernin, my grandfather, faced excruciating hardships, felt a sense of nationalism and experienced unexpected satisfaction, all at the hands of the manufacturing industry of the Soviet Union. The industry was one of the country's biggest as a result of Stalin's first two five year plans and continued growing with the third, right around the time Pavel was entering the work force to help build airplanes for "mother Russia".
Mass production of steel has been around since the mid 1800's, allowed for by the invention of the Bessemer converter but, the closely related ironworking industry has been in existence for thousands of years.
[...] However, Pavel was still making only two thirds of what other non-Jewish workers of the same job title were earning and after about two months his salary was raised to 1200 rubles, for which he was overjoyed. But the excitement did not last very long. Pavel was one of the first of the Jewish people in Samara to receive a promotion which consequently caused extreme jealousy by his peers of all backgrounds and the weakening union could not prevent his salary to be dropped to 800 rubles per month, even lower than his starting salary. [...]
[...] Unlike America's multifaceted advertising and spending booms, money in the former Soviet Union seemed to flow in one direction only, towards the government. My grandfather recalls lines at the stores for one type of blue sweater, one type of car, one type of sausage, two types of cheese. Consumer selection and hence consumer consumption was restricted and in result money was paid to the government for various “support” programs and the rest was used for food and other life necessities such as shelter and clothes. [...]
[...] When Pavel returned from the Air Force he decided to take two years to continue his education and finished the technical division” at the Technical Institute of Samara going on to received a “specialized degree in metal work”. Pavel aspired to work in another one of the sectors of the factory, which was divided up into ten of them, as he saw no potential in staying in the current one. Each sector was responsible for a different part of production and each contained four subsections, known as “Blocks”. [...]
[...] Pavel was one of the lucky members of the Soviet Union working class to overcome hardships and rise from poverty to the tiny middle class community of those days. While America was enjoying some of its greatest economical times, the Soviet Union was struggling to keep up and in turn left most of its working class behind. Only one thing could have saved Pavel, connections to those with connections, and it did. Russia is still one of the top four biggest steel producers of the world[v], [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee