June 1, 2023
Artists of the State Jazz Orchestra Leonid Utyosov inspect the aircraft, purchased at their expense for the front.  Photo: Mikhail Trakhman/TASS Newsreel

Artists of the State Jazz Orchestra Leonid Utyosov inspect the aircraft, purchased at their expense for the front. Photo: Mikhail Trakhman/TASS Newsreel

How the country helped the front 80 years ago, how it gave the last crumbs from the bins for tanks and planes, we learned from experts: Dmitry Surzhik, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, And Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor of the Military University of the Ministry of Defense Yuri Rubtsov.


– Now many people help our fighters in the special operation zone. During the Great Patriotic War, too, after all, citizens in the rear helped the front with everything they could?

– In those years, the logic of thinking, consciousness was built like this: “What did you do for the front?” Everyone who not only worked at military enterprises, but everyone – both the intelligentsia and children – all aspired to do something feasible for the front. The people who had defended many hours of shift at the machine, returned from the collective farm field, had the strength to at least somehow help the front. And this is not only monetary contributions to the defense fund.


The Defense Fund is a special fund created in the USSR, to whose accounts donations were received from citizens for the needs of the front. It was formed spontaneously in the very first days of the war.

Special accounts were opened in all branches of the USSR State Bank. Citizens and entire groups donated money, jewelry, royalties, state awards, etc. there.

– What money was transferred to this fund?

– For the construction of columns of military equipment. There were many such – Komsomol, pioneer. There were also deductions there for Sundays and Saturdays.

– What are Sundays and Saturdays in the understanding of that time?

– People specially went to work on weekends. For this they were paid bonuses. And they transferred this money to the Defense Fund. Plus, every month the workers from the factories handed over their daily wages.

Collective farmers sowed “a hectare of defense.” It was super-planned land. From the sale of this crop, money was also transferred to the Defense Fund.

It got to the point that the branches of the State Bank had to work around the clock – so many people carried their money. Not only did they bring salaries, but people also signed up for loans …

– Give me a sec. That is, they took loans to help the front?

– In fact, yes – they took state loans. For example, only in Primorye during all four years of the war people sent 220 million rubles in money and 265 million in government bonds to the defense fund.

* In total, during the war years, the USSR additionally received more than 113 billion rubles from war loans and tickets for cash and clothing lotteries.


How much did the tank cost?

– A tank cost somewhere between 150-220 thousand rubles. The plane is about the same. So you can estimate how many tanks were built with this money.


– In addition to private transfers, they collected money from entire organizations. There was even a “pioneer” tank.

– Yes. Thanks to the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, a movement among the pioneers unfolded. There were also quite touching stories: preschoolers from Omsk, following the example of their parents, raised money for a tank: some gave their “savings” for a doll, some rubles sent by their father from the front for a coat or shoes. The tank was named “Baby”. The crew of Sergeant Ekaterina Petlyuk served on it. He distinguished himself in the Battle of Kursk.

– And who was the first to decide to raise money for equipment?

– According to one version, the Komsomol members of the Chelyabinsk Abrasive Plant were the first to make such an initiative. It was in the autumn of 1941. And by the end of the year, 44 regional committees of the Komsomol had already joined this movement … They gave almost 62 million 700 thousand rubles.

– How did it happen? Money was collected and transferred to defense plants …

– Yes, a representative of the organization that donated money for a convoy or one tank came to the plant. And then he himself transferred these tanks or planes to some kind of combat unit.

– Was there a lot of such “folk” equipment produced?

– So many. One can only list the columns: the Soviet Primorye bomber squadron, the tank columns Altai Collective Farmer, Collective Farm Youth, Komsomolets Altai, Collective Farmer of Tataria, Ural Komsomolets, Irkutsk Komsomolets, Komsomolets Uzbekistan. The score went to tens, if not hundreds of columns!


– Who raised the most money for the front?

– The most famous story is probably the Saratov collective farmer, beekeeper Ferapont Golovaty. He twice donated 100 thousand rubles for two fighters – in December 1942 and in May 1944.

Then almost the entire collective farm gathered in his hut, it was winter, everyone was discussing how much we could collect. And Golovaty himself is not there. And so he enters the house: “What are you talking about, how much to collect from each? Here’s money for you, here, for everyone, I’m buying a plane. Guards lieutenant colonel Eremin fought on these planes. And he received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

In Bashkiria, too, the honey workers built a whole squadron of the Bashkir Fighter. It was the collective farm chairman who gave away his personal money, and with him several leading workers.

In Buryatia, the collective farmer Dondukov redeemed military bonds for 227,000 rubles in cash.

The ceremony of handing over a tank column to the Red Army "Revolutionary Mongolia"built at the expense of the workers of the Arakhangai aimag of the Mongolian People's Republic

The ceremony of handing over to the Red Army of the tank column “Revolutionary Mongolia”, built at the expense of the workers of the Arakhangai aimag of the Mongolian People’s Republic

Photo: TASS

There is also the story of the father of three sons-front-line soldiers Muravyov from Novosibirsk. He donated 100 thousand rubles for a plane for the very military unit where his sons fought.

– And where does this money come from? The same beekeepers. 100 thousand rubles! The average salary at that time was about 400 rubles.

– As they say in the documents, the beekeepers had honey in reserves, and they took it and immediately sold it all, plus there were savings from past sales. Here they were given away.

Enormous money also came from Central Asia – tens of kilograms, if not tons of precious metals. There was also a tradition – gold, jewels were saved, now they handed them over.

– Was there a tank column that the church built?

– Yes, the church donated both for the needs of the army, and for gifts to the fighters, and for the maintenance of the wounded in hospitals, orphans. On December 30, 1942, Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) appealed to the flock to raise funds for a tank column named after Dmitry Donskoy. He himself handed over the diamond cross from the hood and the pectoral cross from the chest. The archpriest of the Trinity Church in Gorky personally donated 160 thousand rubles to the Defense Fund.

400 thousand rubles were collected in the Moscow Epiphany Cathedral. And the whole church Moscow has collected more than two million. Even in the hungry besieged Leningrad, the church raised a million for the needs of the army. In Kuibyshev, old men and women donated 650,000. In Novosibirsk, 110 thousand were sent to the planes of the Siberian squadron “For the Motherland”.

– How much did the church collect during the war years?

– More than 200 million rubles. And that’s just money. And also warm clothes for soldiers, felt boots, mittens, padded jackets.


In total, during the years of the Great Patriotic War, only about 24 billion rubles were received by the Defense Fund from donations for military equipment. They were built on:

– more than 2.5 thousand combat aircraft,

– several thousand tanks (there is no exact count),

– 8 submarines,

– 16 military boats,

– a lot of other technology.


How did the authorities react to this?

– We have already talked about the tank “Malyutka” from Omsk preschoolers. So, in May 1943, a telegram from Moscow arrived in Omsk: “I ask you to convey to the preschoolers of Omsk, who collected 160,886 rubles for the Malyutka tank, my warm greetings and gratitude to the Red Army. Supreme Commander-in-Chief Marshal of the Soviet Union I. Stalin.

Stalin personally sent telegrams to anyone who handed over large sums. And licheno, and the collective farm, and the diocese. The telegram, of course, is typical. But they were necessarily printed in the newspaper.

– Such feedback should stimulate people.

– Certainly! Imagine, a telegram with gratitude personally to Stalin arrives at a distant collective farm, this is both attention and propaganda.


– In addition to money and gold, what else did people help the front with?

– For example, grandmothers or children after classes collected junk, and they came home and undertook to sew mittens for soldiers or something else. Here is from the documents: the Vologda Oblast alone sent 540,000 warm clothes to the veterans. And in Bashkiria, more than 83 thousand pairs of felt boots were collected.

In total, sheepskin coats, wadded trousers, sweatshirts, sweaters, earflaps, felt boots, mittens, socks, and warm underwear collected during the war were enough to equip 10 million fighters and commanders.

There were also gifts to front-line soldiers – to raise morale. Pouches were sewn, postcards were sent.

Was there food aid?

– Yes. This is in addition to state supplies. Here are some more official figures: Omsk Oblast donated over 65,000 centners of bread, 2,000 centners of potatoes, and 3,000 centners of meat from its personal reserves to the Red Army fund. Imagine, this is only one area.

Well, help the evacuees. One Turkmenistan sheltered up to 50 thousand people. Kyrgyzstan – over 150 thousand. Tajikistan – 100 thousand and a significant part of these evacuees are children. Only from Moscow and Leningrad 800 thousand children were taken to the eastern regions. Many found new families. Approximately 350,000 orphans were taken into care.

A good example is Taktagon Altybasharova from Kyrgyzstan. She actually became a mother for 150 Leningrad children evacuated to the blockade …

– It turns out that we can say without any reservations: this is a people’s victory, one for all.

– One for all and without distinction – professions, nationalities, age … Everyone did everything he could in his place. Someone sewed mittens, someone dropped incendiary bombs from rooftops, someone went into battle, Stalin suffered two heart attacks … Without each of them, there might not have been a victory.


Millions of Russians give a penny of labor for the Victory in Ukraine: Grandmothers carry socks, businessmen send quadcopters

I sat and thought about where to start. And then a message in Telegram: “We are a group of volunteers from Novosibirsk. With the permission of the patent holder, we sew anti-thermal imaging blankets, which we send to the children for free. Reviews are good. We saw that you are working with scouts, we can send you a few pieces for transfer to the fighters. (more)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *