“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).