31 July 2008

Where do you come from?

Those who have been to Russia when it was RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic...simply Soviet Russia) and cared (or allowed) to take a ride outside of Moscow, or the avid readers of Soviet History (like me) are usually amazed with a lot of name changes in cities and towns.

It was obvious that Russians are a bit short handed on naming their settlements, even starting from the Imperial era when most of the towns were named after the tsar and tsarinas (take Alexandria, Aleksandrovsk, Aleksandrovskaya, Petrovsk, Petrozavodsk...etc for example). It is natural that the bolsheviks coming to power through many bloodshed and artificial hatred against everything the former regime represented would hate to have towns named after their enemies(Think of G.W.Bush having White House in Saddamville). So they have changed swiftly and at the same time honoured the leaders and fallen heroes of the revolution. This trend was of course not one sided, the name of a dishonoured leader (like Stalin, who after his death was denounced by his lifetime pal and sidekick Khruschev) would not be fit enough to be represented in a town's name and those towns had their names changed back.(Stalingrad, Stalinogorsk, Stalinsk in Russia and more imaginatively in other USSR and Warshaw Pact lands as Stalinstadt (East Germany), Sztalinvaros (Hungary), Stalinabad (Tadjikistan) or simply Stalin (Bulgaria).) More in here) So in a lifetime one Russian could be from Tsarytsin, Stalingrad or from Volgograd at the same time.

"Welcome to Ulyanovsk, the birthplace of Lenin"

As the USSR and eventually the Warshaw pact dissolved, many of those renamed cities voted back to their old names and usually the ones they had before the revolution.

Here is a list of well known cities. (The rest of this list is here)

* KönigsbergKaliningrad (The once proud capital of East Prussia, the hotbed of German nationalism and now bearing the name of a prominent bolshevik leader)
* Naberezhnye Chelny → Brezhnev → Naberezhnye Chelny (a town in Tatarstan)
* Nizhny Novgorod → Gorky → Nizhny Novgorod (named after Maksim Gorky, the all-star socialist writer)
* Perm → Molotov → Perm (named after the famed soviet foreign minister V.Molotov...also the godfather of Molotov Cocktail)
* Saint Petersburg (1703) → Petrograd (1914) → Leningrad (1924) → Saint Petersburg (Sankt-Peterburg) (1991)
* Simbirsk → Ulyanovsk (the birthpalce of V.I.Lenin, whose actual surname is Ulyanov)
* StavropolTogliatti (a factory city named after Italian communist leater P.Togliatti)
* StavropolVoroshilovskStavropol
* Tsaritsyn → Stalingrad → Volgograd
* Tsarskoye SeloDetskoye Selo → Pushkin (removing "Tsar" from the name was enough for some time)
* TverKalininTver (a famous Russian city and the ultimate end of Tverskaya direction)
* Yekaterinburg → Sverdlovsk → Yekaterinburg (named after (Ye)Katerina and then a bolshevik leader)

And let's have some fun. What if Turkey was a part of USSR (and it could well possibly be if it took part in WW2 in the wrong side) and became a Turkish Soviet Socialist Republic (TUSSR)? Istanbul would be Stalinsehir, Ankara be Ankaraysk and Izmir simply be Izmirsk?...Let's be make some more fantasy: What if Ataturk and his friends led the country to a communist path? Ankara would be Atatursk and Istanbul be Kemalsk?...just funny

No comments: