Interview with Grandmother
(Interview was held with grandmother)
- The date and time- 06.09.2020, at 03:00pm
- The place of the interview- at home
- The date/place of birth of the interviewee- 07.10.1936, Yerevan, Armenia
Armenia, after a short period of being independent, became a part of Soviet Union in 1922. The possible variant to keep the nation of Armenia and save the identity was to be a part of the SU. The Soviet Union’s possession had a tremendous effect on Armenian political, social, economic and cultural life. Now it’s 2020 and the productive way for a person, who has vague image about the Soviet Union, is to ask the people who lived during the period, get information from a person who experienced Soviet regime with their families and make some conclusions about Soviet Union period.
The Soviet Union was a federal socialist state, and for having wide image how the country’s political life structure, lets list the three leading bodies of the Soviet Union. Firstly, the legislature was ruled by the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, secondly Council of Ministers formed the government, and thirdly the only legal party was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Actually every period of the history, Soviet Union as well, had its negative and positive influence on Armenia. People claim that during the Soviet Union there was no conflict between the nations of the SU, and they lived in peace without thinking about the war, which we cannot say about present-day Armenia. With the absence of the fear of war, Armenia concentrated on the development of the country, of course only after Second World War. In the Soviet Union the KGB had a dominant role, as a secret police force, where the whole secret and non-secret information of the country was kept .Besides the above mentioned three leading bodies, the KGB also played a significant role in ruling the country, due to which the crime and illegal behavior was kept to minimum level.
The ideology or the concept of the communist party had an immense influence on every Armenian and everyone did their best to be appropriate candidates for the party. Being a member of Communist Party was not so easy, and not everyone had a chance to be a member of it. People should work hard for gaining the possibility to be a member of the Communist Party, they should have good work experience, deep and developed knowledge and the most important factor was to be devoted to the concepts and ideas of Communist Party. Communist Party members had a lot of benefits in the country. The main benefit was the position in different spheres. If you were not a party member it was absolutely impossible to gain a position in the Soviet Union. For communist party members it was easier to solve their problems, rather than other people, so if you were a member peacefully you could overcome the difficulties.
The dominant and the positive factor in Soviet Union was the absence of social inequality. All had the same rights and the country gave everyone the same opportunities one of them is free education. All universities in the Soviet Union were free, but at the same time it was difficult to enter immediately to the faculty where you wanted, as the applicants were always more than the year required, so sometimes it took two or more years to cope with entering in a certain university. Universities provided with dormitories for the students who were not from Yerevan, who came from regions. They were staying there and after the graduation they knew without hesitation that they had a job in region, where they came from. This helped to develop not only the center part of Armenia, but also the regions, which were not developed. Having an educated society makes the country greater. The educational system of Soviet Union was developed program, which worked productively. Due to this educational policy, society’s level was high and the fact was that during the Soviet Period, Armenia had a lot of outstanding politicians, architectures, engineers, scientists, musicians, actors etc.
Social inequality was seen also from the side of medical care. During the Soviet Union the medical care was free. There was no matter what kind of operation it would be, or what kind of medication it was, everything was done free of charge. Doctors had a fixed salary, and they did their best to help every patient they had. The healthy society is the core of strong nation, and the Soviet Union people did not think that they could not afford to visit to a doctor, but in present-day Armenia it is an issue.
Those were considered to be the key factors which help Armenians to live peacefully in their territory. Unemployment issue is an essential issue for every state, but during the Soviet period, Armenia could not ever imagine that they could be unemployed, as there were many factories, which provided with multiple jobs, and there was no single Armenian, who dared not to work in Soviet Armenia. It was clear, that Soviet regime helped people in developing their country, creating their stable future, and becoming a worthy citizen for their country.
The borders inside the Soviet Union was opened, and people without any kind of difficulties could easily travel, wherever they would prefer. But travelling outside of the frames of the Soviet Union was another story. The Profunion played a huge role, when people tried to travel outside of the SU. It was a good organization which gave the society the opportunities to travel and sometimes even covered expanses, such as ticket, hotel and so on. The procedure was not complicated, if a person would like to travel they should fill an application form and after getting acceptance, there were only left to buy a ticket, which was incomparably cheap and travel.
During the 1970-1980 there were huge changes connected to architecture, culture, education etc.
The most important architectural construction was the Cascade. With the idea of building Cascade came up Alexander Tamanyan, Yerevan’s chief architect, but the idea made into reality Armenian –Soviet architect Jim Torosyan. Another example of Soviet era architecture is Zvartnots Inertnational Airport’s abandoned Terminal one. It was an important monument and great example of the Soviet Modernism. “Yerevan Metro after Karen Demirchyan” was another essential construction during the Soviet period. The regulation of passenger transport was one of the most pressing issue, as there were few buses working in Yerevan, and going from one place to another became difficult , especially for a working class. In March 7th, 1981 Yerevan Metro was officially opened and served effectively for the society.
Soviet Armenia had outstanding writers, musicians, actors and so on. But during the Soviet period they were not free to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions as they would like. Despite the fact of limiting their thoughts, Armenians managed to have profuse literature, famous songs, and various performances in the theaters. People living in peace, had a lot of time to be devoted to art and enrich the history of Armenian culture. During the Soviet period dramatically increased the number of people who became to listen to a jazz music, actively participating in the concerts.
Almost at the end of 1980s , the life of Armenians immediately changed. The first event was the Sumgait pogrom in 1988, the event which purpose was to prevent the Karabakh movement. Azerbeijan attacked the city Sumgait , where a lot Armenians lived there. Unbearable violence took place in Sumgait, many Armenians were killed in the streets and in the houses, which lasted almost three days. Spitak earthquake is another depressing and painful event occurred on December 7. Many people died because of remaining under the ruins. The marked with a black image for every Armenian. There is no single Armenian who can remember this event without sobbing. And after the earthquake Armenians faced the collapse of the Soviet Union, with which the majority of population was happy, as they would finally gain the independence, which they desired. But during all those period Armenian was busy with the Karabakh movement, when one day people heard that the war began. The actions started from 1988, but the main fighting began in the winter of 1992. It became a mandatory for every man, whose age was between 18-46, to go to war zone and fight their territories. The result of the war was the victory of Armenian military forces in 1994. After the war the economic situation in Armenia was in an awful condition. There were many jobless people, who could not take care of their families, that’s why they left Armenia and emigration started. Only after the presidency of Robert Kocharian the economic situation Armenia came to a balance.
In conclusion, Armenians, being a part of the Soviet Union, keep their identity. faced many difficult periods of history, the essential one was the Second World War. We lost many Armenians during the war, but as Armenians were strong and firm nation they overcome the war as well. After the war, the Soviet Armenia lived in peace, without thinking of the enemies, living in socially equal manner, getting free and useful education, but always keeping in the mind the thought of being an independent state. Being a small state, and overcoming so many wars, Armenia can call himself as a hero state. For Armenians, being a part of Soviet Union was a lesson, as Communism regime itself was not so bad one. Many regulations were imported into Armenia which minimized the crime in Armenia. People lived there by following certain rules, and if anyone dared to disobey they would be immediately imprisoned. The leading bodies worked very hard to control the society. And with the fear of being imprisoned, people thought about only legal methods to earn many and build their families’ future. God has kept us and led us through millennia of temptation and all of that has not been done in order for us now to condemn our nation to oblivion because of our idleness and indecisiveness(V.Manukyan,1990).
- Edited by Gerard J. Libaridyan, “Armenian at the Crossroads”,1991. Vazgen Manukyan, “Document Four”, p51-86, Blue Crane Books, Watertown, Massachusetts,