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Social background and educational level

The social characteristics of the personnel of the Armed Forces, first of all, social origin and position, as well as the level of education, were of particular importance for the understanding of the psychology of military personnel throughout the XX century. Moreover, the importance of social origin from the beginning of the century to its end was constantly decreasing, and the real social status was mainly of importance for personnel officers and depended more and more on career advancement. Considerable importance in this matter had the attitude of society to the army and in general the position of the army as a social institution. As for the level of education, it was mainly closely related to the service status of a person in the army (belonging to the rank and file, junior, middle and senior commanding staff), and at the beginning and even in the middle of the century closely correlated with social origin (before the revolution - with the estate, after the revolution - with the actual social).

In pre-revolutionary Russia, any officer by his very position was a nobleman. The first officer’s rank of ensign brought him a personal nobility (hereditary until 1845), and a colonel’s rank was hereditary (from 1845 to 1856 belonging to him gave the rank of major) {403}. As for social origin, the situation here was somewhat different. According to P. A. Zayonchkovsky, the officer corps was already at the end of the 19th century. consisted of hereditary nobles only half (in the overwhelming part of them not local, but serving), was heterogeneous, although the heterogeneous composition did not mean domination among officers of heterogeneous ideology {404}. And at the beginning of the XX century. the proportion of hereditary nobles by descent in the officer corps, including even the guard, decreased even more, and was only 37% {405} So the officer corps came to the Russian-Japanese war.

However, despite the fact that the officer corps of the Russian army was becoming more diverse, the policy of the tsarist government was aimed at separating officers from the ordinary mass with class barriers by erecting even junior officers into personal nobility. It was not by chance that people from the clergy, burghers, merchants, and even peasants, becoming officers, acquired a commitment to estate values ​​of the nobility, although it was very difficult for them to conform to the norms of behavior and the level of culture characteristic of the clan aristocracy. Therefore, the class barrier existed not only between officers and privates, but also all lower ranks, including non-commissioned officers.

The peasantry was the overwhelming source of the replenishment of the rank and file of the army in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Some shifts here occurred at the turn of two centuries due to the relatively rapidly developing urbanization and in particular the growth of factory categories. It should be noted that non-commissioned officers were not recruited at all from the most developed and competent soldiers, which usually were urban residents, but mainly from peasants, as "factory, city and factory" were considered unreliable, bad soldiers. When recruiting in training teams, traditionally preference was given to people taken "from the plow", but since most of the people from the village were illiterate, their preparation and training caused great difficulties. However, contrary to unofficial official attitudes aimed at regulating the social composition of non-commissioned officers at the expense of reliable peasant replenishment, spontaneous social mobility hacked these artificial barriers, and on the ground they often preferred the more educated and clever citizens {406}.

At the beginning of the century, the tsarist government, concerned about the revolutionary ferment in society and the army, attempted to increase the reliability of the armed forces in a traditional conservative way: by strengthening the nobility among cadre officers, in particular by introducing in 1903 the law on the creation of noble cadet schools, which was never implemented, since the nobility did not arrange this type of educational institutions that did not give secondary education {407}. There were other attempts to more actively attract noblemen to military service. As a result, according to the military statistical yearbook of the army for 1912, the estate composition of personnel officers on the eve of the First World War was expressed in the following ratio: nobles - 69.76%, honorary citizens - 10.89%, clergy 3.07%, merchant rank - 2.22%, of the taxable class (peasants, burghers, etc.) - 14.05%. Among the generals, hereditary noblemen accounted for 87.45%, among headquarters officers (colonels and lieutenant colonels) - 71.46% and among the rest of the officers - 50.36%. Of the taxed class, chief officers were the most - 27.99%, and among the generals, representatives of this social group accounted for 2.69% {408}. During the World War, the personnel officer corps was almost destroyed, and the pre-war tendency to "democratize" the army officers on the basis of replenishing it with common terrorists became the dominant one. So, by October 1917, 88% of the entire officer corps was made up of officers of wartime proper, in an absolutely predominant part - of unequal origin {409}. Especially this process affected the junior officers, as the young officers of the graduates of military schools of the early 1910s and warrant officers of the first year of the war (mainly from students and other educated youth groups) turned out to be the category of Russian officers who suffered the greatest losses. Further recruitment of warrant officers came from soldiers and non-commissioned officers who had completed short-term training courses, and by the autumn of 1917 among junior officers 96% were raznochintsy, and four out of five came from peasants {410}.

As for the trends in the change in the educational level of the personnel of the Russian army in the pre-revolutionary period, they are in many respects similar to the dynamics of the social composition and correlate to a large extent with it.

Although in 1900 literate conscripts numbered about 50% (compared to 1867, when there were only 9%), this was a low level, which adversely affected military training and training of troops {411}. Therefore, the army at the beginning of the century, during the initial training of the rank and file, along with the military training itself, lay a heavy burden of teaching literacy to adults and undeveloped people. However, this applied only to infantry, in which compulsory literacy training was introduced from 1902, whereas neither in cavalry nor artillery did they teach literacy to soldiers, "in view of the fact that doing literacy with young soldiers of this kind of weapon is completely impossible for for this time, "as noted by the special Commission on the formation of troops at the General Staff at the beginning of the 20th century. {412} It should be noted that during the last decades of the 19th century, with a general increase in the proportion of literate people in the composition of the replenishment, The concept of literacy among the troops was the opposite. And if in the 1860s – 70s training of soldiers in reading and writing was established extensively, then since 1881 it has been greatly reduced, and in the mid-1880s literacy training for the lower ranks, except for those entering the training teams, was made optional. In the early 1890s. the official position of the authorities was as follows:

"The troops cannot be given the obligation to serve as a conduit for literacy in the masses, means and time very little" {413}.

As a result, literacy was stopped in almost all districts, with the exception of Kiev, whose commander, General M. I. Dragomirov, was the only one who raised the question of the impossibility of teaching illiterate people to military science {414}.

As for the non-commissioned officers, they were taught both literacy and military affairs in the regimental training teams directly at the units. The training period was 2 years for infantry and cavalry and 1-3 years for artillery and engineering troops (in special schools) {415}.

The quality situation not only of the rank and file, but also of the commanding staff was aggravated in many respects by the fact that even the Charter on Military Service of 1874 actually freed educated and even semi-educated people from military service, placing all its burden on the illiterate part of society. At the beginning of the 20th century, including during the Russo-Japanese War, the intelligentsia did not serve military service, and its attitude towards officers and the army was generally negative and dismissive.
Military service was considered unworthy in her circles, the lot of losers and "stupid". The prestige of the army did not contribute either to the fact that "excessively noisy students" were turned into soldiers, turning military service into a form of punishment, and the army itself into a place of exile. The situation began to change at the end of the 1900s, when student youth went to military schools, and with the start of world war in the army, many undergraduate officer positions turned out to be {416}.

The training of personnel officers of the lower and middle level was carried out through the cadets and military schools. From 16 years of age, young people of all classes who have completed 4 classes of a gymnasium or a real school have been admitted to junker schools. The military schools were mainly children of nobles after graduating from military gymnasiums and cadet corps. Most schools trained officers for infantry and cavalry, training there lasted 2 years, and in Mikhailovsky and Konstantinovsky artillery schools - 3 years. Mid-level officers were also trained from first-class volunteers and non-commissioned over-service officers, who were given the rank of mediator-ensign {417}.

Training for senior officers was conducted in four military academies. However, officers who studied at higher educational institutions in 1903-1904 accounted for less than 2% of the total number of officers and generals who were in active service. In May 1902 there were 2,668 colonels in the army, of whom 29% had a higher education. Generals (corps commanders and division chiefs) with higher education accounted for 57.1%. At the same time, a significant number of staff officers and generals did not have not only higher education, but also team experience, they were distinguished by a lack of initiative, which affected the combat training of troops {418}. Undoubtedly, this had a negative effect on the course of the Russo-Japanese war, as a result of which, however, the bulk of the cadre officers acquired practical combat experience, with which, a decade later, it entered the First World War.

By the beginning of the First World War, the literacy rate of the ordinary soldiers in comparison with the turn of the century, in fact, did not change. According to the "Military Statistical Yearbook of the Army for 1912," the literacy of soldiers was 47.41% {419}. During the war itself, the educational level of the Russian army as a whole significantly changed the mass mobilization, and the processes were very contradictory, and the results differed significantly for the ordinary masses and officers, and had specificity at different stages of the war. The mass conscription at the beginning of the war led to the replenishment of the army by a huge contingent of dark and illiterate peasantry. At the same time, the officer cadres were replenished mainly with a heterogeneous, but relatively educated part of society, especially from among the volunteers. During the war, it was this educated part of the army that turned out to be the most knocked out. Such a bloodless, lost its best social-elite and educated cadres - the Russian army approached the revolution.

In the course of further revolutionary cataclysms and the Civil War, the Russian officer corps continued to suffer enormous irreparable losses, and the numerous repressions that followed during the years of Soviet power, not only against the former white officers, but also the Red Army military men completed its final destruction by mid-1930. x years Repressions of 1937-1940 in fact, they had already fallen upon new officers, formed even not so much during the years of the Civil War, as in the subsequent period.

During the first two post-revolutionary decades, the social policy of the Soviet state led to the de facto unification of the social composition of the Red Army, which actually turned into a workers 'and peasants' one. Not only the abolition of class dividers, not only the class setting for the advancement of the lower classes, above all the "proletariat" and the poor peasantry, but also numerous waves of class cleansing and repression in the army, gradually eliminated the remnants of the old cadres who participated in the First World and Civil Wars. As for the educational level of both recruits and the rank and file itself, it depended on the general line of the “cultural revolution” to eradicate illiteracy and then increase the level of education necessary to meet the challenges of industrialization. Undoubtedly, the growth of the technical equipment of the armed forces made higher demands on the general and special educational level of military personnel, and not only the commanding staff.

By the end of the 1930s. in the USSR, significant success was achieved both in ensuring the literacy of the population and in raising the level of its education. According to the census of 1939, of those aged 9 years and older, literate among the townspeople were 89.5% (men - 95.7%), and among the villagers - 76.7% (men - 88.1% ) {420}. And the illiterate remained mostly older people and residents of national suburbs. So, in all categories of the population of the RSFSR, the literacy rate was significantly higher than the all-Union. The level of education has significantly increased. According to the same census, per 1,000 people the male population of persons with secondary education accounted for 89, and with the highest - 9, and for the urban population these figures were 2-2.5 times higher. Three quarters of those with secondary education for this year were persons under 30 years old, that is, the main conscription {421}. Already in 1938/1939 in the USSR, almost all children (97.3%) who graduated from elementary school went to secondary school {422}. Not surprisingly, among the draftees of 1939-1940. one third were persons with higher and secondary education, and the problem of literacy proper on the eve of World War II was no longer faced by the Red Army {423}.

However, with regard to special military education of officers, as a result of the repression of the late 1930s. the army, in fact, lost all of its educated part. As a result, by the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, only 7% of the commanders had higher military education, and more than a third did not receive even a completed secondary military special {424}.

As in the First World War, the death of a cadre army, on the one hand, and a massive influx of civilians into it, on the other, caused contradictory consequences in the field of the educational level of the armed forces. Along with the arrival in the army of mass replenishment of older, relatively illiterate ages, students and high school students, young specialists in various fields also joined it, and even professors were included in the militia. And there were frequent cases when highly educated people served as privates under the command of not only inexperienced, but also of illiterate commanders.

During the postwar decades, Soviet society has radically changed in its social and cultural parameters. The majority of the population has become urban, and the availability of secondary and even higher education for young people was no longer the exception, but the rule. By the beginning of the Afghan war, universal secondary education had long existed. Thus, according to the 1979 census, almost 64% of those aged 10 years and older had higher and secondary (complete and incomplete) education, moreover, among men they exceeded 68%, and among the townspeople - 76% {425}. As a rule, in this period recruits joined the army - graduates of the 10th grade, in the mid-1980s, according to the rules in force at that time, many full-time students of higher educational institutions were also called up. As for officers, for the most part they had not only a secondary specialized military education, but also a higher education.

Thus, throughout the 20th century, not only the social composition of the Russian army, but also its cultural and educational level, significantly and even radically changed. Especially this conclusion refers specifically to the ordinary composition, which underwent evolution from a predominantly peasant low-educated army (during the Russo-Japanese and World War I) to the Soviet army of the 1980s, which consisted mainly of citizens with a secondary educational level. Such an evolution of the important social characteristics of the personnel, naturally, could not but influence its psychological characteristics: the other was the outlook, worldview, life experience, and value attitudes.
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Social background and educational level

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