Military Review

The secret whisper of the masses

The secret whisper of the masses

“You heard!”, “You know?” Stalin fiercely fought the rumors. A lot of high-ranking officials and their relatives suffered precisely because of the spread of rumors, gossips. “Don't talk!” Was the main motto during the Second World War. Such a struggle with rumors was caused by the fact that during World War I rumors had a significant impact on public life.

Unlike the capitals and industrial centers, rumors in the provinces and at the beginning of the 20th century remained a real factor in political life. In addition to "wandering", rumors had a specific impact on society.

Rumors as a special source of socially significant information appears in any society, becoming an essential factor in public life. "Our days are characterized by an abundance and variety of rumors. This is completely natural, since war now fills the souls and minds of the entire Russian people, everyone wants to know about it as much as possible, and therefore any interesting news goes from mouth to mouth with extreme speed and becomes property whole city for several hours ", - noted in the first months of the war" Kuban Gazette "(1914 year. 5 of August. C. 3).

Understanding the negative consequences of public perception of distorted information, in order to combat peasant unrest in wartime, the Ministry of the Interior developed a whole program of measures outlined in a circular letter to the governors of July 31 of the year 1914, in which they suggested that the local authorities “become in particularly close, incessant contact with the local rural population, keenly listening to their interests, informing them, within the limits of possibility, of the events taking place and paralyzing immediately absurd and harmful rumors, penetrating in his environment. " At the same time, it was prescribed to take the most severe measures against those “sowing false rumors among the rural population,” and in the case of unrest, to act decisively and quickly. In especially troubled volosts it was envisaged to set up permanent protection from a sufficient number of guard teams. (The State Archive of the Stavropol Territory. F. 101. Op.1. D. 264. L.45).

Rumors tend to spread in a society where there is insufficient information about current events. “The war began almost a week ago, and yet the country knows nothing about the events of these events,” wrote the North Caucasian Territory in August of 1914. - On the basis of silence, on the basis of suspicion, when they want to hide something, panic is born. With no data at all, the most incredible rumors arise and rush from edge to edge with lightning speed. ” The information vacuum was painfully perceived by the majority of the population of the province, especially in areas distant from the city. Interest in everything that happened in the capital was huge.

Rumors as a form of communication spread spontaneously during the war years, preferring “their own” public, which adapted the accuracy of rumors to their experience and expectations. For example, in the first months of the war, the most widespread in the south of Russia was talk that after the victory of Russia, all the lands captured from the enemy by the king would be distributed among the peasants and nonresident, and the Cossack allotments would increase significantly.

One of the censors of the 6 Army of the Northern Front, analyzing the letters coming from the rear to the front of 1916 in the autumn, concluded: “October of the current year can be called the month of rumors. Never before in two years of war were rumors circulated in the press and society in such enormous sizes and varied variations as they have been lately. Ninety percent of the public conversation begins with the phrases “Did you hear!”, “Do you know?”.

Rumors, reaching a certain degree of intensity, give rise to fear, phobias, and discomfort. Moreover, they can contribute to mass unrest, various kinds of acts of disobedience to the authorities. In unstable times, like the years of the First World War, the distorted information was negatively perceived by any sections of the population and often led to social upheavals. In a report to the assistant chief of the Terek regional gendarme department, it was noted that the first pogroms on the basis of high prices in 1916 were caused by the fact that “women soldiers who spread rumors that the Caucasus governor was allowed to smash shops and shops for three days, gathered a large crowd among which there were several hooligans, they drove through the villages, plundering the shops, taking the loot away. ”

The urban and rural man in the street continued to live during the war with rumors: about betrayals, about recruiting women from 18 to 22 years in the army, about mass arrests, about workers' clashes with the police, and then from both sides, as on the battlefield, there are many dead and dozens of wounded. "And all these rumors, as if in focus, are concentrated in Petrograd, from there they go all over Russia, interfering with a particle of truth with a huge number of tales."

The materials of the first department of the third criminal department of the Ministry of Justice for the period from the summer of 1915 to December of 1916 indicate the rapid spread of rumors that have discredited the monarchy. Negatively refracted in the public consciousness of the campaign to investigate espionage, which are widely printed in newspapers. This gave the impression that treachery and betrayal were inherent in the authorities, which caused the most incredible and terrible rumors that undermined the credibility of the ruling monarchy. The gendarme’s report addressed to the head of the Kuban Region said: “In some villages, extremely harmful information is spread about Rasputin and her imperial highness, allegedly connected with Germany.”

Giving the rumors credibility, "validity", fouling them with new guesses could occur under the influence of the joint and according to the tradition of collective reading of newspapers by peasants. The material of the publications caused such a refraction in the minds of the peasants, such an interpretation that the authors did not expect. In the case of the Cossacks of the village of Yessentukskaya N. Trifonov and I. Lykov, detained in November 1916, it is said that these Cossacks, after reading a newspaper article, talking about the growth of opposition sentiments, criticism by the leaders of the political parties of the government’s activities, noted: “And what we have for the king. I would take it and sweep the dust out of my house, and he tolerates that. It is his fault that our children are dying in the war, and we cannot bury them, and we will soon swell with hunger. And the king, I suppose, eats from the golden dish. "

Conversations and judgments about the corruption of power, treason surrounded by the tsar, the government and the highest generals among the inhabitants of the North Caucasus dealt a blow to the authority of the monarchy and destroyed the belief in the sanctity and justice of the supreme autocratic government, which held the authoritative state system of Russia.

Having taken the war more or less calmly and enduring it, the inhabitants of the region in the second year of the war began to show signs of psychological fatigue. This was revealed in more frequent, than in the first year, talk of peace among the population. They arose, as a rule, during the field work, as well as during periods of regular mobilization and repeated appeals. Gendarme reports and reports document the commitment of the peasants to the idea of ​​an “honorable” peace as the best outcome of the war for Russia. In the materials of one of the criminal cases, it was noted that a peasant from the village of Tomuzlovsky in the Stavropol province of GD. Black "openly led among his fellow villagers propaganda about the aimlessness of the war with Germany, talking about the benefits for the Russian people to be under the rule of the Germans, whose government and order are better, and that it would be better to surrender than to continue the useless war" .

In 1916, Kuban Gazette wrote about the absurdity of rumors spread in Yekaterinodar (today - Krasnodar): "Recently, senseless rumors have been" walking "in the city that the other day the world will be declared with Turkey, or some kind of unprecedented mobilization, or unrest will occur because of the high cost of living. ” "Rumors are born every day that a bell will ring at night, and this will mean the conclusion of peace."

The local authorities, through the periodical press, warned the population about the danger of such information: “Stupid rumors creep into our land, creep in, and spread, and anxious expectations are generated everywhere. The time has come when we should be on our guard, protect ourselves and our loved ones from rumors and gossip, ”wrote Kuban Gazette 16 of December 1916 of the year.

The appearance of false rumors in the absence of reliable and sufficient information served as a typical form of people's reaction to the events. Contemporaries also paid attention to this circumstance: “The average man so nerved his nerves either at high prices, or at requisitions, that he was ready to believe the most ridiculous rumors, no matter how stupid any disagreeable person would dissolve - the average man listens to his mouth open, and he wonders will not come thoughtfully to this rumor wrote the "responses of the Caucasus" 2 March 1917.

The end of February - the beginning of March 1917 was characterized by the lack of reliable information about the events taking place. In the city of Armavir and Stavropol, the information about the overthrow of the tsarist government, the abdication of Nicholas II, was published in the newspapers only on March 5. The local authorities, receiving fragmentary information, were at a loss and did not know what to do. The governor bombarded the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the governor in the Caucasus with telegraphic inquiries about how to behave in the current situation, what measures to take, especially in the cities, and in the counties, the population did not know anything.

And after the February Revolution, rumors also played a decisive role in the political consciousness of the inhabitants of the region. “The North Caucasian word” complained about this: “Despite the fact that we have complete and wide freedom of speech, unfortunately, we still have“ freedom to the most ridiculous rumors and stories about all sorts of mythical tales. ” The press covers a lot of what is happening in the sphere of politics and the public; the ongoing rallies and meetings provide an opportunity to evaluate these or other facts from the broadest points of view and antagonistic points of view. However, there are idle, and maybe just from the world of saints, people who have a strong itch to gossip. Now and the whole of Russia as a whole, and our Pyatigorsk homeland is going through troubled times, in which the average person is especially sensitive to all rumors and unverified, incorrect information and even rustling in the ranks of this or that group. ”

Rumors about the war between the mountaineers and the Cossacks of the Mozdok District, about the flight of Nicholas II and the restoration of the monarchy were widely circulating among the population. Armavir newspaper "Responses of the Caucasus" warned of the absurdity of rumors that the Provisional Government and local authorities would requisition pillows for soldiers of the front. Local authorities tried to deal with the negative influence of rumors, believing that the zone of their appearance was the bazaars.

Contemporaries attributed the avalanche-like increase in rumors to the low level of political culture, which had to be raised through agitation and propaganda work. “Mostly the village is dominated by the wildest propaganda. This causes pogroms, arrests of individuals. Personal accounts with local leaders and employees are summarized. Discusses issues of how to divide the land, without waiting for the decision of the legislature. Arousing rumors are spreading, like the following: "The Provisional Government ordered the clergy to smash all the crosses on the churches." In another place there are persistent rumors, the Provisional Government allegedly announced the extradition of one horse, a cow and 1000 rubles to each yard. Wild propaganda is strongly reflected in the receipt of taxes owed from the peasants ”- this is how the situation was described by a lecturer Sannikov in the provincial newspaper“ North Caucasus Territory ”(1917 year. 26 July).

As a social phenomenon, rumors acquired over time specific functions and forms of the oral sociopolitical communicative act. Their active circulation is explained both by failures in the work of the mass media and by the socio-psychological characteristics of the population. Rumors, as a matter of fact, “are the addition of formal communication by informal channels, which are most often formed on the basis of personal contacts between people, and therefore information, transmitting in this way, enjoys special trust, and the degree of criticality of perception of these messages is greatly underestimated” (Shomova SA Political culture of Russia of the XX century: study guide. M., 2008 year, p. 34).

Another scientist describes the rumor as a secret whisper of the masses, forming a common spiritual atmosphere in a society against which both the mass media system and the most extreme methods of mass terror are powerless ”(Akhiezer AS Russia: criticism of historical experience. M., 1993 Year, p. 339).

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  1. Korsar4
    Korsar4 27 June 2016 06: 22
    Very interesting selection. And now word of mouth continues to work.
    1. kalibr
      kalibr 27 June 2016 06: 29
      Great article! There are many articles and books about rumors and their impact on the life of Russian society, but here are very interesting examples. Well, and you can deepen your knowledge in the field, so to speak, theory in the book of V.P. Sheinova PR "WHITE" AND "BLACK". Harvest, 2005
  2. inkass_98
    inkass_98 27 June 2016 07: 11
    Vysotsky quite accurately and accurately reflected the role of rumors in the everyday life of the country. Any information can be submitted in such a way that the original meaning is completely lost and turns into its opposite.
  3. parusnik
    parusnik 27 June 2016 07: 17
    Thank you, Polina! Wonderful article, unexpected topic ..
    1. avt
      avt 27 June 2016 07: 57
      Quote: parusnik
      unexpected topic ..

      ?? wassat Both on !?? What is unexpected then?
      Of course, the king: your power is strong,
      You are mercy, joy and generosity
      Adopted the hearts of his slaves.
      But you know yourself: senseless mob
      Changeable, rebellious, superstitious,
      Easily empty hope betrayed,
      To instant suggestion is obedient,
      For the truth is deaf and indifferent,
      And she feeds on fables.
      She likes shameless courage.
      So if this unknown tramp
      Cross the Lithuanian border
      A crowd of madmen will attract him
      Demetrius is the resurrected name.
      request Old as the World.
      1. parusnik
        parusnik 27 June 2016 08: 47
        avt .. I do not argue, it's old as the world .. But the topic of "rumors" .. somehow it was not displayed on VO ..
        1. avt
          avt 27 June 2016 08: 59
          Quote: parusnik
          ..But the topic of "rumors" .. somehow was not displayed on VO ..

          Well ... this is ... tovo ... "Hybrid War" bully
  4. qwert
    qwert 27 June 2016 07: 19
    There used to be rumors, but now an organized formation of public opinion.
    1. kalibr
      kalibr 27 June 2016 07: 48
      And because the rumor can be "killed", it is enough to print it! So the increased level of literacy has diminished hearing. But other techniques and technologies have appeared. Based on electronic media. "Duplication technology", "injection method", "source curve method". Humans have always been very resourceful about fooling their own kind!
      1. EvgNik
        EvgNik 27 June 2016 08: 09
        Quote: qwert
        now an organized formation of public opinion.

        These are the same rumors. I had to meet wildest inventions.
        Quote: kalibr
        the increased level of literacy "hearing" diminished.

        Vyacheslav, let me disagree. Literacy is now declining. People stopped reading books. My wife goes to the library to get books, so the list of readers is less than 400 people in the city. Newspapers, magazines are written out a little. I know people who after school did not read a single book.
        And rumors are part of the information war.
        1. EvgNik
          EvgNik 27 June 2016 08: 14
          Thanks to Pauline for the article. Actual topic.
        2. kalibr
          kalibr 27 June 2016 09: 40
          Dear Evgeny Nikolaevich! It was not about books, it was about newspapers. I judge by my Penza. We have a newspaper "Young Leninist" - nonsense of the Soviet era and nothing else. So I am often invited there to a "round table" as an "opinion leader", so what? After that, all sorts of people tell me that they saw, read ... That is, people read newspapers! And the rule is this: one person transmits at least 3 hearing, and so on. But he also transmits counter-hearing. So it's not that simple. But we also teach how rumors are launched and how to deal with them.
          1. EvgNik
            EvgNik 27 June 2016 10: 32
            Quote: kalibr
            It was not about books, it was about newspapers.

            Vyacheslav Olegovich, I wrote about newspapers as well. Same. We read mostly local, in which there is nothing useful, except for the program. And people simply do not master writing out serious newspapers. Sometimes in kiosks buy single copies. Tele - you can not watch. There is so much controversy on the Internet - only a specialist will figure it out. So rumors are creeping in, like the ultimate truth. In the bus, it happens that you overhear such that the ears are wrapped in a tube. My wife, by the way, writes an AIF. For her, the ultimate truth is in her.
      2. aba
        aba 27 June 2016 08: 19
        And because the rumor can be "killed", it is enough to print it!

        If ... Everyone is looking for confirmation of their aspirations and any omission immediately strengthen the reader in the opposite.
        1. kalibr
          kalibr 27 June 2016 09: 35
          Quote: aba
          any omission immediately strengthen the reader in the opposite

          Yes, this is so, but nevertheless, if a "rumor" is published in the same newspaper or broadcast on TV, then it dies. It's another matter that a new rumor can also be launched through TV, but this is another matter. I’ll have to write a material about rumors - I’m teaching the course "Technologies of Public Opinion Management" ...
  5. Russ_Dry
    Russ_Dry 27 June 2016 07: 29
    noticed that nicholas vtorЫth, not secondОth.
    and for some reason I remembered about the emergency exitЫth, not spareОй
  6. White Guard
    White Guard 27 June 2016 08: 16
    Rumors have destroyed Russia.
    When a rumor passed in Petrograd in 1917 that bread cards would be introduced in the city (residents of the besieged Leningrad burst into tears in impotent anger) because there were supply delays due to marked railway tracks, tens of thousands of people fell out in fright, and mass panic began.
    A special "pepper" of mass panic was added by the "armed soldiers and sailors" who threw out after the screams from the reserve, and after they were "thrown out" the mass panic (in which hundreds of thousands of those who were scared had already participated) escalated into mass horror and hysteria, the crowd went mad so that madness spread even to the top leadership of the country and other cities.
    This is phenomenal, this is exceptional, and this is a terrifying event in world history when a mass panic led not to banal spontaneous pogroms, but to the destruction of an entire state, which a couple of days before this had no clearly expressed either economic or political prerequisites for mass uprisings !
  7. zoknyay82
    zoknyay82 27 June 2016 08: 34
    Now rumors have been digitized and settled on the World Wide Web, they are carried home not by "toothless old women", but by trolls and insiders, if rumors are born, then someone needs it, rumors that rumors will not come soon are somewhat premature. :-)
  8. Knowing
    Knowing 27 June 2016 09: 17
    Rumors are eternal and indestructible as the World in which We live ... Yes
    1. EvgNik
      EvgNik 27 June 2016 10: 37
      According to the picture. We played the "deaf phone" as a child, and it turned out about the same at the exit. Moreover, the more players there are, the more interesting the result.
  9. Army soldier2
    Army soldier2 27 June 2016 10: 22
    Interesting article. But, the author somehow circumvented the issue of the birth of these rumors.
    I think that 8-9 rumors from 10 were not born in a peasant or working environment, but were inspired by the intelligence of the central powers. In addition, parties that cleared their path to power were one of the sources of birth and spread of rumors. Plus, agents of influence (in modern terms), which Germany contained a lot.
    The trouble is that the authorities were too confident in the patriarchal nature of Russian society and its fidelity to autocracy. And could not find effective measures to combat rumors. And the refutation of rumors in newspapers and posters in 80% illiterate country is profanity.
    1. kalibr
      kalibr 27 June 2016 12: 37
      Just the opposite! Even when I was studying the history of the CPSU, the lecturers of the Central Committee told us that 80% of the rumors were created in Langley and launched to us. But then, I read their literature, in particular, Arthur Poinonbee, and it turned out that people with intellect with great difficulty can compose something commoners. It's like people from different planets, even more so foreigners, people with different upbringing and mentality. Here another - the general trend of awareness or lack of awareness - that's what plays a role. Just sit still and people will come up with everything you need !!! And the notorious "popular opinion". Remember Pushkin and Boris Godunov ...
      Quote: Army 2
      And the refutation of rumors in newspapers and posters in 80% illiterate country is profanity.

      But no. Newspapers were actively read (1 on 10!) And retold among the people! There are many interesting studies on this subject, so it is. It was simply necessary to do all this more actively and in a timely manner! Here you are right for all 100%. Especially in a patriarchal country.
  10. Gardamir
    Gardamir 27 June 2016 12: 13
    here is my rumor. they say Mannerheim’s board was changed to a real image)
    1. Reptiloid
      Reptiloid 27 June 2016 13: 24
      They say they took it off !!!!!
      Many thanks to Pauline for the article. There is something to think about.
  11. saygon66
    saygon66 27 June 2016 16: 20
    - The lack of enough information gives rise to rumors ...
    “Laswell, Lipman, and Dewey — our everything!” smile
  12. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 27 June 2016 17: 42
    It is necessary to tell the truth, not to lie in the press, then it will not
    When the authorities lie or hush up something, rumors creep.
  13. Ludoger
    Ludoger 27 June 2016 21: 58
    left an article in the Criminal Code to introduce for the spread of rumors. although the slander seems to be there? as in my opinion, you don’t have to cut a lot of mind languages. and meanwhile, the best way to get rid of rumors is to start not lying. and not hide information. timid rumors were circulating in the USSR about workers' uprisings, but now it turned out that it was smoking, as usual
  14. Andrey VOV
    Andrey VOV 27 June 2016 23: 01
    Even with the most open press ... there will be rumors .... there will remain that category of people who believe that truth is not true, but the essence is to say aha ... they wrote a lot of it, aha means to hide something otherwise ...)))) rumors are part of all of humanity ... its integral part at all times and among all peoples
    1. Alex
      Alex 28 June 2016 10: 14
      Quote: Andrey VOV
      Even with the most open press ... there will be rumors .... there will remain that category of people for whom the truth is that the truth is not the essence

      So the point is not that there will be people who will stubbornly look for a black cat in a dark room, but that hearing aid does not become a factor determining the life of the state. Here in Belarus: a denomination is being prepared now. You should have heard what they are not saying. And the result: people began to row everything that caught their eye. The prices on the market have jumped, the shops have stopped giving installments for the purchase of goods ("we have enough buyers who pay in full"). The factories, too, it is not clear why they began to hold back the products, although this seems to be how quite competent managers are sitting. Here's a parsley ...
  15. Lyubopyatov
    Lyubopyatov 28 June 2016 01: 20
    Polina Efimova showed the obvious: the Russian Empire lost the information war to the fifth column of the Milyukovs, Nabokovs, Ulyanov-Lenins, Trotsky, Purishkevichs, etc. Let's not forget the names of those today's scientists, to whom Polina refers: Shomova, Akhiezer ... Elena Bonner, Bozena Rynska, Yulia Latynina and Mr. Venediktov from "Echo of Moscow" are also asking here. But what prevents Efimova from writing in pure Russian, without "science-like", is not clear.
  16. Mwg
    Mwg 29 June 2016 19: 42
    The spread of rumors is one of the essential signs of the so-called hybrid war, both then and now. Only at the present time these rumors (versions, interpretations, opinions - the right to them today is fully legitimately defended by all kinds of liberalistic organizations and individuals) are spread by some biased media outlets and are also quite legitimate. How to deal with it or how to live with it, so as not to go crazy? Whatever the defenders of liberalism say, it is almost impossible for a common man in the street in the stream of lies ("opinions" and "points of view") to discern a grain of truth (the events in Ukraine are a clear example), so the notorious "right of choice" advertised by the propagandists of liberalism does not work and is an obvious dummy.
    Hence the conclusion - that the average citizen would live calmly, the state's tough response to the spread of rumors, the presentation of "special" versions, interpretations and opinions regarding the domestic and foreign policy of the state and in relation to the heads of state is justified and often necessary.