V. L. Shkuropieva, Letter of appeal to Krupskaia. November 3, 1934
Original Source: RGASPI, f. 78, op. 1, d. 524, ll.100-102 ob.
Dear Nadezhda Konstantinovna
At a hard time in my young life failing to find any assistance I have decided to appeal to you, hoping that you will be of great assistance to me, I am well aware that you have always cared about children and Young Pioneers, I have read many of your letters, Dear N. K. please show a little concern for me, I will be grateful to you for it until I die.
I, Vera Lavrentivna, was born in 1918 in the village of Shkuropinovka, Reshetilovka Raion, Kharkov Oblast. My father has a piece of land, a hut, a cow, and worked in agriculture. Our family consisted of six people (my sister died in 1927). We lived in poverty, and our father was an alcoholic. And we suffered a lot of grief from our father. We had a great ability to learn, we were the top pupils. Although we lived in an out-of-the-way village we realized early on that knowledge is light, ignorance is darkness, so we have studied, studied, and studied, as the dear teacher V. I. Lenin said. From 1921 to 1923 my father engaged in commerce for which he was stripped of his voting rights (he had his own shop). I was five years old at the time, and my elder sister Dusya was eight years old. In 1930 my sister completed the seven-year school and went to Zaporozh’e to get a job (at the plant and then bring me and our mother there), but they refused to hire her because she was only fifteen, and she got a job as a maid for a technician named Paladei. She worked there for one year. At the beginning Of 1931 my father was told to turn over grain and meat, he couldn’t manage it, and for that his property was sold (which consisted of a hut and a cow), and he himself left for the Donets Basin. We lived with our aunt for three months (during this time I completed the fourth group, I was twelve years old). We didn’t even have enough money to live with our aunt, and when we found out from an acquaintance where our father was we went to him, he was living here at Fenol’naia station and was working as a watchman for the Residential Design and Construction Administration. Our father did not take us in and we wrote to Dusya (the one that worked in Zaporozh’e) to come and get a job here. Dusya arrived and got a job here as a cleaning woman at a beer warehouse and took me and my mother in to live with her. Dusya worked (for one-and-a-half years) I went to school (in the fifth group) I was the top shockworker student, but it was very hard for me to study because we had no money (Dusya made forty-five rubles a month), but I struggled with these difficulties the best I could and I was glad to be in school. One and a half years later Dusya went to work at a paistol [meaning unclear], then in the personnel department at the phenol plant. She joined the Komsomol there and a year later she was transferred to work as a clerk for the party cell. My sister did a good job and was the top shockworker in the Komsomol; she was a model worker many times, she took part in campaigns. She had great authority among the workers at our plant. In 1934 I graduated from the seven-year school, when I was in school I was awarded prizes nine times in three years (not counting the fourth) for good grades and volunteer work. For two years I was the sector head in school and gave a lot of help to lagging students, and in the Komsomol I was a Young Pioneer leader in the second group and was able to organize all the Pioneers to fight failing grades, in short I was the top student in the whole school. When I graduated from school Dusya (my elder sister) said to me: “Vera I taught you [let you go to school] for three years now it is time for me to go to school” It was painful for me to listen to these words, it was painful for me to leave school, but I knew and understood well that my sister wanted to go to school too and I had to give her help with this, and then she would teach me. With these thoughts, with this goal, I got a job at the phenol plant in the laboratory (as a trainee). During this time my sister (Dusya) worked as a secretary of the Komsomol (temporarily filling in) and then something happened that ruined all of our plans. They fired Dusya from her job and expelled her from the Komsomol (that was on 9 September 1934) after finding out that our father was stripped of his voting rights. The poor thing she cried so hard (mostly over the Komsomol where she worked for three years and where she spent all her free time). After that Dusya got sick for two months. Exactly two weeks later I was fired from my job for no reason and I felt so much grief, I thought so much about everything, Dear N. K. you know that I wanted to end my life (that was my first thought to escape my hard life the terrible torment that I went through during the sixteen years of my life and I can’t describe everything in detail. But maybe other people will describe it for me). And so Dear N. K. when I picked up this poison I remembered just one word of Il’ich’s [Lenin’s]: “Life is struggle” and I decided to struggle to the final victory. And so they fired me from my job (Dusya is also without a job and Mama is disabled), winter is coming, then they kicked us out of the apartment in disgrace (Comrade Kisichova) saying: “I will not allow kulaks to live on the premises,” and going over all this, in short, thinking over my situation I was going out of my mind, and then I gathered up my courage and decided to struggle to the final victory. On the second day (26 September 1934) I was called back to work (and they ordered me not to tell anybody that they fired me from my job, but of course everybody found out about it). So I have stayed at my job to this day, but I cannot work normally because I am afraid every day that they might fire me (for some little reason) and what am I supposed to do, where will I and my disabled (sixty-five years old) mother go? In addition I cannot work normally when I see that everybody is looking at me like an enemy, that they don’t consider me a human being, that they make remarks about me like: “That’s Dusya’s sister their father was stripped of his voting rights, so why is she (meaning me) working here” of course Dear N. K. after I hear such remarks I cannot work normally, but I want to work, I want to study and prove that I am not an alien class element, like I proved it during the seventh year of my studies. So I appeal, to you Dear N. K. and I have my hopes on you that you will give me help in my young life. My hopes are on you because I know well that you have always cared about us Young Pioneers and pupils, I know well how you pointed us in the right direction with your letters. You always asked us to study well and I fulfilled your instructions. Oh dear Nadezhda K. if you only knew how much I want to study. Dear N. K. if you only knew how much I want to be a human being and bring benefit to the state in order to prove that I am not an enemy. Oh dear N. K. please show some concern for me, give me help after all I am still a girl I am just sixteen years old I have not known life yet I can study up and bring benefit to the state, and I want to study (I would give half my life if somebody helped me to study). Oh dear N. K. please show concern for me I will be grateful to you till I die give me maternal help.
Dear N. K. after all I want to live to study to be a shockworker to be a shockworker in the Komsomol (but unfortunately the Komsomol won’t admit me) but I consider this wrong because nobody in our family was stripped of voting rights except my father, and we haven’t lived with him since 1931 (I was twelve years old) why can’t I be a Komsomol member? Why can’t I work normally? Why don’t they let me have a normal life? Dear N. Konstantinovna, I am pinning all my hopes on you. Dear N. K. if possible give me an answer soon. Don’t put my request aside. Right now I am sitting in school (I have a day off today) and it is very painful for me why is everybody studying and I can’t. Dear N. K. please show some concern for me, so that I can study and be a human being.
New York post office [sic] Coke Plant No. 7, Laboratory
V. L. Shkuropieva
Dear N. K. If possible do all this soon. I will thank everybody.
Dear N. K. I will look forward to your letter every day (with impatience) and your parental help. N. K. I sent a letter to Mikhail Iv. [Kalinin] it’s been more than a month already and I haven’t gotten an answer this worries me very much is it really possible that I am such a creature that I can’t give benefit to the state should I really not be able to live.
With that goodbye dear N. K.
I have my hopes on you that you will give me parental help. My life depends on you.
D. N. K. I am sorry that it is badly written but I am so upset that I can’t write.
Source: Lewis Siegelbaum and Andrei Sokolov, eds., Stalinism as a Way of Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), pp. 295-298.