The furniture in the ordinary Soviet worker's home is more than
primitive. There are no beds for all members of the family. Beds are frequently made of winter clothing stretched on the floor. There are hardly
any chairs. Large trunks hold dishes and clothing. Closets are rare.
Because the rooms are so crowded, because linen, dishes and other
personal effects are piled under the beds and in corners, it is no wonder
that lice, bed bugs, cockroaches and rats abound. The concentration of
tenants in a house is too great to permit the proper care of such common
places as kitchens and water closets.
The following extracts from the Soviet papers give some indication
of the rents, surface occupied by the average family, and the hygienic condition of the rooms and apartments:
In Za Indoustrializatsiou, September 18, 1934:
"Near the giant metallurgical plant of Great Kramatorsk (Donbass),
an angle (a corner—Ed.) in an ordinary house costs about 100 to 150
roubles a month: an angle in a zemlianka (a dug-out—Ed.) costs from 25
to 30 roubles a month.
"About 3000 workers live at least 6 kilometres (about 4 miles) from
the plant, 4600 workers at a distance of 6 to 30 kilometres from the plant,
and several thousands have their lodgings even farther away; it takes them
3 to 4 hours' travel to get to work."
Troud, the organ of the trade unions, June 12, 1934, reports:
"At the Istomkinski plant, the worker Poliakov (typical worker)
lives in a room 10 square metres (barracks no. 1) with his family of six
persons. In November 1932, he paid a monthly rent of 32.37 roubles. In
November 1933, he had to pay 54.25 roubles. Another worker (barracks
no. 8) had a room 22.3 square metres (about 240 square feet) for his
family of seven. In November 1932 he paid 37.80 roubles. A year later
he was asked 139.37 roubles. In each of the given cases, two members of
the family had become wage earners."
In Ordjonikidze's speech, made at a meeting of directors and technicians of heavy industry, published in Za I ndoustrializatsiou, September
1934, we find:
"For the entire month during which I visited in Ural, the complaint in
every house was 'Bedbugs, bedbugs!' "
The same paper reports in its issues of May 14 and July 21, 1934,
about the Gorki automobile factories:
"22.3% of the workers, that is, 5000, live in huts where water freezes
in Winter, and bedbugs rule in Summer. Since there are no sewers, the air
is especially foul.
"There are also 228 'zemliankas.' "
This was found to be true some years after the Gorki giant, a marvel
of technique, had been set in motion.
Indeed, before the revolution the Russian worker had worse lodging
than his Western brother. That in itself makes the situation that is described by the Soviet papers less unbelievable than it seems. But it is nonetheless true that the situation of the Russian worker in this sphere has in
no way grown better (excepting for a small section: the super-oudarniks