Russian vegetarians in the First World War and under the Soviets

“The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 saw many vegetarians in a crisis of conscience. How could men who had an abhorrence of shedding animal blood take human life? If they enlisted, would the army pay any regard to their dietary preferences?” . This is how today’s The Veget a rian S ociety UK (Vegetarian Society of Great Britain) characterizes the situation of English vegetarians on the eve of the First World War on the pages of its Internet portal. A similar dilemma faced the Russian vegetarian movement, which at that time was not even twenty years old.


The First World War had catastrophic consequences for Russian culture, also because the accelerated rapprochement between Russia and Western Europe, which began around 1890, ended abruptly. Especially striking were the consequences in the small field of efforts aimed at the transition to a vegetarian lifestyle.

1913 brought the first general manifestation of Russian vegetarianism – the All-Russian Vegetarian Congress, which was held from April 16 to 20 in Moscow. By establishing the Reference Vegetarian Bureau, the congress thus took the first step towards the founding of the All-Russian Vegetarian Society. The eleventh of the resolutions adopted by the congress decided that the “Second Congress” should be held in Kyiv at Easter 1914. The term turned out to be too short, so a proposal was put forward to hold the congress at Easter 1915. For this, the second congress, a detailed program. In October 1914, after the start of the war, the Vegetarian Herald still expressed the hope that Russian vegetarianism was on the eve of the second congress, but there was no further talk of implementing these plans.

For Russian vegetarians, as well as for their confederates in Western Europe, the outbreak of the war brought with it a period of doubt – and attacks from the public. Mayakovsky scathingly ridiculed them in Civilian Shrapnel, and he was by no means alone. Too general and not in line with the spirit of the times was the sound of appeals like those with which I. I. Gorbunov-Posadov opened the first issue of VO in 1915: humanity, about the covenants of love for all living things, and in any case, respect for all living creatures of God without distinction.

However, detailed attempts to justify their own position soon followed. So, for example, in the second issue of VO in 1915, under the heading “Vegetarianism in Our Days”, an article was published signed “E. K. “:” We, vegetarians, now often have to listen to reproaches that at the present difficult time, when human blood is constantly shedding, we continue to promote vegetarianism <...> Vegetarianism in our days, we are told, is an evil irony, mockery; Is it possible to practice pity for animals now? But people who speak like that do not understand that vegetarianism not only does not interfere with love and pity for people, but, on the contrary, increases this feeling even more. For all that, the author of the article says, even if one does not agree that conscious vegetarianism brings up a good feeling and new attitudes towards everything around, “even then meat-eating cannot have any justification. It probably will not reduce suffering <…> but will only create, at best, those victims that <…> our opponents will eat at the dinner table…”.

In the same issue of the journal, an article by Yu. Volin from the Petrograd Courier dated February 6, 1915 was reprinted – a conversation with a certain Ilyinsky. The latter is reproached: “How can you think and talk now, in our days, about vegetarianism? It’s even terribly done!.. Vegetable food – to man, and human meat – to cannons! “I don’t eat anyone,” anyone, that is, neither a hare, nor a partridge, nor a chicken, nor even a smelt … anyone but a man! ..». Ilyinsky, however, gives convincing arguments in response. Dividing the path traversed by human culture into the age of “cannibalism”, “animalism” and vegetable nutrition, he correlates the “bloody horrors” of those days with eating habits, with a murderous, bloody meat table, and assures that it is more difficult to be a vegetarian now , and more significant than being, for example, a socialist, since social reforms are only small stages in the history of mankind. And the transition from one way of eating to another, from meat to vegetable food, is a transition to a new life. The most daring ideas of the “public activists”, in the words of Ilyinsky, are “miserable palliatives” in comparison with the great revolution of everyday life that he foresees and preaches, i.e., in comparison with the revolution of nutrition.

On April 25, 1915, an article by the same author entitled “Pages of Life (“meat” paradoxes)” appeared in the Kharkov newspaper Yuzhny Krai, which was based on observations made by him in one of the Petrograd vegetarian canteens that were frequently visited in those days: “… When I look at modern vegetarians, who are also reproached for selfishness and “aristocratism” (after all, this is “personal self-improvement”! after all, this is the path of individual units, not the masses!) – it seems to me that they are also guided by a premonition, an intuitive knowledge of the significance what they do. Isn’t it strange? Human blood flows like a river, human meat crumbles in pounds, and they grieve for the blood of bulls and mutton meat! .. And it’s not at all strange! In anticipation of the future, they know that this “stump entrecote” will play no less a role in human history than an airplane or radium!

There were disputes about Leo Tolstoy. In October-November 1914, VO quotes an article from Odessky Listok dated November 7, “giving,” as the editorial says, “an apt picture of contemporary events in connection with the departed Leo Tolstoy”:

“Now Tolstoy is farther from us than before, more inaccessible and more beautiful; he has become more embodied, has become more legendary in a harsh time of violence, blood and tears. <...> The time has come for passionate resistance to evil, the hour has come for the sword to resolve issues, for the power to be the supreme judge. The time has come when, in the old days, the prophets fled from the valleys, seized with horror, to the heights, in order to seek in the silence of the mountains to satisfy their inescapable sadness <...> At the cries of violence, at the glow of fires, the image of the bearer of truth melted and became a dream. The world seems to be left to itself. “I cannot be silent” will not be heard again and the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” – we will not hear. Death celebrates its feast, the insane triumph of evil continues. The voice of the prophet is not heard.

It seems strange that Ilya Lvovich, the son of Tolstoy, in an interview given by him at the theater of operations, considered it possible to assert that his father would not say anything about the current war, just as he supposedly did not say anything about the Russo-Japanese war in his time. VO refuted this claim by pointing to several articles by Tolstoy in 1904 and 1905 that condemned the war, as well as to his letters. The censorship, having crossed out in the article by E. O. Dymshits all the places where it was about the attitude of L. N. Tolstoy towards the war, thereby indirectly confirmed the correctness of the magazine. In general, during the war, vegetarian magazines experienced many intrusions from censorship: the fourth issue of the VO for 1915 was confiscated in the editorial office itself, three articles of the fifth issue were banned, including an article by S. P. Poltavsky entitled “Vegetarian and social” .

In Russia, the vegetarian movement was largely guided by ethical considerations, as evidenced by the numerous texts cited above. This direction of the Russian movement was not least due to the enormous influence that Tolstoy’s authority had on Russian vegetarianism. Regrets were often heard that among Russian vegetarians, hygienic motives receded into the background, giving priority to the slogan “Thou shalt not kill” and ethical and social justifications, which gave vegetarianism a shade of religious and political sectarianism and thus hindered its spread. It suffices in this connection to recall the remarks of A. I. Voeikov (VII. 1), Jenny Schultz (VII. 2: Moscow) or V. P. Voitsekhovsky (VI. 7). On the other hand, the predominance of the ethical component, the passion for thoughts of creating a peaceful society saved Russian vegetarianism from the chauvinist attitudes that were then characteristic, in particular, of German vegetarians (more precisely, their official representatives) in the general context of the German military-patriotic upsurge. Russian vegetarians took part in alleviating poverty, but they did not see the war as an opportunity to promote vegetarianism.

Meanwhile, in Germany, the outbreak of war gave the editor of the journal Vegetarische Warte, Dr. Selss of Baden-Baden, an occasion to declare in the article “War of the Nations” (“Volkerkrieg”) of August 15, 1914, that only visionaries and dreamers could believe in ” eternal peace”, trying to convert others to this faith. We are, he wrote (and to what extent this was destined to come true!), “on the eve of events that will leave a deep mark in world history. Go ahead! May the “will to win”, which, according to the fiery words of our Kaiser, lives in our squires, lives in the rest of the people, the will to win over all this rot and everything that shortens life, that nestled within our borders! The people who win this victory, such a people will indeed awaken to a vegetarian life, and this will be done by our vegetarian cause, which has no other goal than to harden the people [! – P. B.], the cause of the people. “With bright joy,” wrote Zelss, “I read messages from the north, from the south and from the east from enthusiastic vegetarians, joyfully and proudly performing military service. “Knowledge is power,” so some of our vegetarian knowledge, which our countrymen lack, should be made available to the public” [Italics hereinafter belong to the original]. Further, Dr. Selss advises to limit wasteful animal husbandry and abstain from excess food. “Be content with three meals a day, and even better two meals a day, at which you will feel <…> real hunger. Eat slowly; chew thoroughly [cf. G. Fletcher’s advice! — P. B.]. Reduce your habitual alcohol consumption systematically and gradually <…> In difficult times, we need clear heads <…> Down with exhausting tobacco! We need our strength for the best.”

In the January issue of Vegetarische Warte for 1915, in the article “Vegetarianism and War”, a certain Christian Behring suggested using the war to attract the German public to the voice of vegetarians: “We must win a certain political power for vegetarianism.” To achieve this goal, he proposes the “Military Statistics of Vegetarianism”: “1. How many vegetarians or professed friends of this way of life (how many of them are active members) take part in hostilities; how many of them are voluntary orderlies and other volunteers? How many of them are officers? 2. How many vegetarians and which vegetarians have received military awards? Must disappear, Bering assures, obligatory vaccinations: “To us, who despise any dishonoring of our divine Germanic blood by heaps of animal corpses and purulent slurry, as they despise plague or sins, the idea of ​​mandatory vaccinations seems unbearable … “. Nevertheless, in addition to such verbiage, in July 1915 the magazine Vegetarische Warte published a report by S. P. Poltavsky “Does a vegetarian worldview exist?”, Read by him at the Moscow Congress of 1913, and in November 1915 – an article by T von Galetsky “The Vegetarian Movement in Russia”, which is reproduced here in facsimile (ill. No. 33).

Due to martial law, Russian vegetarian journals began to appear irregularly: for example, it was assumed that in 1915 VV would publish only six issues instead of twenty (as a result, sixteen were out of print); and in 1916 the magazine stopped publishing altogether.

VO ceased to exist after the release of the May 1915 issue, despite the promise of the editors to publish the next issue in August. Back in December 1914, I. Perper informed readers about the forthcoming relocation of the editorial staff of the journal to Moscow, since Moscow is the center of the vegetarian movement and the most important employees of the journal live there. In favor of resettlement, perhaps, the fact that VV began to be published in Kyiv …

On July 29, 1915, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the start of the war, a large meeting of Tolstoy’s adherents took place in the Moscow vegetarian dining room in Gazetny Lane (in Soviet times – Ogaryov Street), with speeches and poetry readings. At this meeting, P. I. Biryukov reported on the then situation in Switzerland – from 1912 (and until 1920) he constantly lived in Onex, a village near Geneva. According to him, the country was overflowing with refugees: real opponents of the war, deserters and spies. In addition to him, I. I. Gorbunov-Posadov, V. G. Chertkov and I. M. Tregubov also spoke.

From April 18 to April 22, 1916, P. I. Biryukov presided over the “Vegetarian Social Congress” at Monte Verita (Ascona), the first vegetarian congress held in Switzerland. The congress committee included, in particular, Ida Hoffmann and G. Edenkofen, participants came from Russia, France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, England and Hungary. “In the face of the horrors of the present war” (“en presence des horreurs de la guerre actuelle”), the congress decided to found a society for the promotion of “social and supranational vegetarianism” (other sources use the term “anational”), the seat of which was supposed to be in Ascona. “Social” vegetarianism had to follow ethical principles and build social life on the basis of integral cooperativity (production and consumption). PI Biryukov opened the congress with a speech in French; he not only characterized the development of vegetarianism in Russia since 1885 (“Le mouvement vegetarien en Russie”), but also spoke convincingly in favor of a more humane treatment of servants (“domestiques”). Among the participants in the congress were, among others, the well-known founder of the “free economy” (“Freiwirtschaftslehre”) Silvio Gesell, as well as representatives of the Genevan Esperantists. The Congress decided to apply for admission of the new organization to the International Vegetarian Union, which met in The Hague. P. Biryukov was elected chairman of the new society, G. Edenkofen and I. Hoffmann were members of the board. It is difficult to take into account the practical results of this congress, P. Biryukov noted: “Perhaps they are very small.” In this respect, he was probably right.

Throughout the war, the number of visitors to vegetarian canteens in Russia rose and fell. In Moscow, the number of vegetarian canteens, not counting private canteens, has grown to four; in 1914, as noted above, 643 dishes were served in them, not counting those given out free of charge; the war took 000 visitors in the second half of the year …. Vegetarian societies took part in charity events, equipped beds for military hospitals and provided canteen halls for sewing linen. A cheap vegetarian folk canteen in Kyiv, to help the reserve drafted into the army, fed about 40 families daily. Among other things, BB reported on the infirmary for horses. Articles from foreign sources were no longer borrowed from the German, but mainly from the English vegetarian press. So, for example, in VV (000) a speech was published by the chairman of the Manchester Vegetarian Society on the ideals of vegetarianism, in which the speaker warned against dogmatization and at the same time against the desire to prescribe to others how they should live and what to eat; subsequent issues featured an English article about horses on the battlefield. In general, the number of members of vegetarian societies has decreased: in Odessa, for example, from 110 to 1915; in addition, fewer and fewer reports were read.

When in January 1917, after a year-long break, the Vegetarian Herald began to appear again, now published by the Kyiv Military District under the editorship of Olga Prokhasko, in the greeting “To the Readers” one could read:

“The difficult events that Russia is going through, which have affected all of life, could not but affect our small business. <...> But now the days go by, one might say years go by – people get used to all the horrors, and the light of the ideal of vegetarianism gradually begins to attract exhausted people again. Most recently, the lack of meat has forced everyone to intensely turn their eyes to that life that does not require blood. Vegetarian canteens are now full in all cities, vegetarian cookbooks are all sold out.

The front page of the next issue contains the question: “What is vegetarianism? His present and future”; it states that the word “vegetarianism” is now found everywhere, that in a big city, for example, in Kyiv, vegetarian canteens are everywhere, but that, despite these canteens, vegetarian societies, vegetarianism is somehow alien to people, far away, unclear.

The February Revolution was also greeted with admiration by vegetarians: “The bright gates of radiant freedom have opened before us, to which the exhausted Russian people have long been advancing!” Everything that had to be endured “personally by everyone in our gendarmerie Russia, where from childhood the blue uniform did not allow breathing” should not be a reason for revenge: there is no place for it, wrote the Vegetarian Bulletin. Moreover, there were calls for the founding of fraternal vegetarian communes; the abolition of the death penalty was celebrated – the vegetarian societies of Russia, wrote Naftal Bekerman, are now awaiting the next step – “the cessation of all killing and the abolition of the death penalty against animals.” The Vegetarian Herald fully agreed with the fact that the proletarians demonstrated for peace and for an 8-hour working day, and the Kiev Military District developed a plan to reduce the working day for predominantly young women and girls workers in public canteens from 9-13 hours to 8 hours . In turn, the Poltava Military District demanded (see above p. yy) a certain simplification in food and the rejection of excessive pretentiousness in food, established following the example of other canteens.

The publisher of the Vegetarian Vestnik, Olga Prokhasko, called on vegetarians and vegetarian societies to take the most ardent part in the construction of Russia – “Vegetarians open up a wide field of activity to work towards a complete cessation of wars in the future.” The ninth issue for 1917 that followed, opens with an exclamation of indignation: “The death penalty has been reintroduced in Russia!” (ill. 34 yy). However, in this issue there is also a report about the foundation on June 27 in Moscow of the “Society of True Freedom (in memory of Leo Tolstoy)”; this new society, which soon numbered from 750 to 1000 members, was located in the building of the Moscow Military District at 12 Gazetny Lane. In addition, the renewed VV discussed common topics that are relevant throughout the world today, such as: food adulteration ( cream) or poisoning in connection with the painting of rooms caused by oil paint containing turpentine and lead.

The “counter-revolutionary conspiracy” of General Kornilov was condemned by the editors of the Vegetarian Herald. In the latest issue of the magazine (December 1917) Olga Prohasko’s program article “The Present Moment and Vegetarianism” was published. The author of the article, an adherent of Christian socialism, said this about the October Revolution: “Every conscious vegetarian and vegetarian societies should all be aware of what the present moment is from a vegetarian point of view.” Not all vegetarians are Christians, vegetarianism is outside of religion; but the path of a truly profound Christian cannot bypass vegetarianism. According to Christian teaching, life is a gift from God, and no one but God is free to over it. That is why the attitude of a Christian and a vegetarian to the present moment is the same. Sometimes there are, they say, glimmers of hope: the military court in Kyiv, having justified the officer and the lower ranks who did not go into battle, thereby recognized the right of a person to be free to refuse the obligation to kill people. “It’s a pity that vegetarian societies don’t pay enough attention to real events.” In her story-experience, entitled “A Few More Words”, Olga Prokhasko expressed indignation at the fact that the troops (and not the Bolsheviks, who were sitting at that time in the palace!) On Dumskaya Square were pacifying the inhabitants, who were accustomed to gather in groups to discuss events, and this after the day before the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies recognized the power of the Soviets and announced that they supported the Petrograd Soviets. “But no one knew how they would put it into practice, and so we gathered for a meeting, we had issues important for the life of our society that needed to be resolved. A heated debate and suddenly, quite unexpectedly, as if through our very windows … firing! .. <...> That was the first sound of the revolution, on the evening of October 28 in Kyiv.

This, the eleventh, issue of the magazine was the last. The editors announced that the Kiev Military District suffered heavy losses from the publication of VV. “Only under the condition,” writes the editors of the journal, “if our like-minded people throughout Russia would have a lot of sympathy for the promotion of our ideas, it would be possible to publish any periodic issues.”

However, the Moscow Vegetarian Society in the period from the October Revolution to the end of the 20s. continued to exist, and with it some local vegetarian societies. The GMIR archive in St. Petersburg has documents on the history of the Moscow Military District from 1909 to 1930. Among them, in particular, is a report on the general annual meeting of members dated May 7, 1918. At this meeting, Vladimir Vladimirovich Chertkov (son of V. G. Chertkova) proposed to the Council of the Moscow Military District to develop a plan for the reorganization of public canteens. Already from the beginning of 1917, between the employees of the canteens and the Council of the Moscow Military District, “misunderstandings and even antagonism began to arise, which had not existed before.” This was caused, not least, by the fact that the employees of the canteens united in the “Union of Mutual Aid of Waiters”, which allegedly inspired them with a hostile attitude towards the administration of the Society. The economic situation of canteens was further hampered by the fact that the Allied Association of Consumer Societies of Moscow refused to provide vegetarian canteens with the necessary products, and the City Food Committee, for its part, gave the same refusal, citing the fact that two canteens MVO-va ” are not considered popular. At the meeting, regret was once again expressed that the vegetarians were neglecting the “ideological side of the matter.” The number of members of the Moscow Military District in 1918 was 238 people, of which 107 were active (including I. I. Perper, his wife E. I. Kaplan, K. S. Shokhor-Trotsky, I. M. Tregubov) , 124 competitors and 6 honorary members.

Among other documents, the GMIR has a sketch of a report by P. I. Biryukov (1920) on the history of Russian vegetarianism since 1896, entitled “The Path Traveled” and covering 26 points. Biryukov, who had just returned from Switzerland, then held the position of head of the manuscript department of the Moscow Museum of Leo Tolstoy (he emigrated to Canada in the mid-1920s). The report ends with an appeal: “To you, young forces, I make a special sincere and heartfelt request. We old people are dying. For better or worse, in accordance with our weak forces, we carried a living flame and did not put it out. Take it from us to carry on and inflate it into a mighty flame of Truth, Love and Freedom “…

The suppression of the Tolstoyans and various sects by the Bolsheviks, and at the same time “organized” vegetarianism, began during the Civil War. In 1921, the sects that had been persecuted by tsarism, especially before the revolution of 1905, met at the “First All-Russian Congress of Sectarian Agricultural and Productive Associations.” § 1 of the resolution of the congress read: “We, a group of members of the All-Russian Congress of Sectarian Agricultural Communities, Communes and Artels, vegetarians by conviction, consider the murder of not only humans, but also animals an unacceptable sin before God and do not use slaughter meat food, and therefore on behalf of all Vegetarian sectarians, we ask the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture not to demand meat conscription from vegetarian sectarians, as contrary to their conscience and religious beliefs. The resolution, signed by 11 participants, including K. S. Shokhor-Trotsky and V. G. Chertkov, was unanimously adopted by the congress.

Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich (1873-1955), an expert of the Bolshevik Party on sects, expressed his opinion about this congress and about the resolutions adopted by it in the report “The Crooked Mirror of Sectarianism”, which was soon published in the press. In particular, he ironically commented on this unanimity, pointing out that not all sects represented at the congress recognize themselves as vegetarians: Molokans and Baptists, for example, eat meat. His speech was indicative of the general direction of the Bolshevik strategy. An element of this strategy was the attempt to divide the sects, especially the Tolstoyans, into progressive and reactionary groups: in the words of Bonch-Bruyevich, “the sharp and merciless sword of the revolution produced a division” among the Tolstoyans as well. Bonch-Bruevich attributed K. S. Shokhor-Trotsky and V. G. Chertkov to the reactionaries, while he attributed I. M. Tregubov and P. I. Biryukov to the Tolstoyans, closer to the people – or, as Sofia Andreevna called them , to the “dark”, causing indignation in this supposedly “puffy, domineering woman, proud of her prerogatives” …. In addition, Bonch-Bruevich sharply condemned the unanimous statements of the Congress of Sectarian Agricultural Associations against the death penalty, universal military service and the unified program of Soviet labor schools. His article soon gave rise to anxious discussions in the Moscow vegetarian canteen in Gazetny Lane.

The weekly meetings of the Tolstoyans in the building of the Moscow Military District were monitored. Sergei Mikhailovich Popov (1887-1932), who at one time corresponded with Tolstoy, on March 16, 1923, informed the philosopher Petr Petrovich Nikolaev (1873-1928), who lived in Nice since 1905: “Representatives of the authorities act as opponents and sometimes strongly express their protest. So, for example, at my last conversation, where there were 2 children’s colonies, as well as adults, after the end of the conversation, two representatives of the authorities came up to me, in the presence of everyone, and asked: “Do you have permission to conduct conversations?” “No,” I answered, “according to my convictions, all people are brothers, and therefore I deny all authority and do not ask permission to conduct conversations.” “Give me your documents,” they say <…> “You are under arrest,” they say, and taking out revolvers and waving them point them at me with the words: “We order you to follow us.”

On April 20, 1924, in the building of the Moscow Vegetarian Society, the Scientific Council of the Tolstoy Museum and the Council of the Moscow Military District held a closed celebration of the 60th anniversary of I. I. Gorbunov-Posadov and the 40th anniversary of his literary activity as the head of the Posrednik publishing house.

A few days later, on April 28, 1924, a petition was submitted to the Soviet authorities for the approval of the Draft Charter of the Moscow Vegetarian Society. L. N. Tolstoy – founded in 1909! – with an indication that all ten applicants are non-party. Both under tsarism and under the Soviets – and apparently under Putin as well (cf. below p. yy) – the charters of all public associations had to receive official approval from the authorities. Among the documents of the archive of the Moscow Military District there is a draft of a letter dated August 13 of the same year, addressed to Lev Borisovich Kamenev (1883-1936), who at that time (and until 1926) was a member of the Politburo and head of the executive committee of the Moscow City Council, as well as deputy Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars. The author of the letter complains that the charter of the Moscow Military District has not yet been approved: “Moreover, according to the information I have, the question of its approval seems to be resolved in the negative. There seems to be some sort of misunderstanding going on here. Vegetarian societies exist in a number of cities – why can’t a similar organization exist in Moscow? The activity of the society is completely open, it takes place in a limited circle of its members, and if it were ever recognized as undesirable, it could be, in addition to the approved charter, suppressed in other ways. Of course, the O-vo never engaged in political activity. From this side, it fully recommended itself during its 15-year existence. I very much hope, dear Lev Borisovich, that you will find it possible to eliminate the misunderstanding that has arisen and render me assistance in this matter. I would be grateful to you if you expressed your opinion on this letter of mine. However, such attempts to establish contact with the highest authorities did not bring the desired result.

In view of the restrictive measures of the Soviet authorities, Tolstoyan vegetarians began secretly publishing modest magazines in typewritten or rotaprint around the middle of the 20s. So, in 1925 (judging by the internal dating: “recently, in connection with the death of Lenin”) “as a manuscript” with a two-week frequency, a publication called the Common Case was published. Literary-social and vegetarian magazine edited by Y. Neapolitansky. This magazine was to become “the living voice of vegetarian public opinion.” The editors of the journal sharply criticized the one-sidedness of the composition of the Council of the Moscow Vegetarian Society, demanding the creation of a “coalition Council” in which all the most influential groups of the Society would be represented; only such advice, according to the editor, could become authoritative for ALL vegetarians. With regard to the existing Council, fear was expressed that with the entry of new persons into its composition, the “direction” of its policy might change; in addition, it was emphasized that this Council is led by “honored veterans of Tolstoy”, who have recently been “in step with the century” and take every opportunity to publicly show their sympathy for the new state system (according to the author, “Tolstoy-statesmen”) ; opposition-minded young people in the governing bodies of vegetarians are clearly underrepresented. Y. Neapolitansky reproaches the leadership of the society with a lack of activity and courage: “Exactly in contrast to the general pace of Moscow life, so tenacious and feverishly turbulent, vegetarians have found peace since 1922, having arranged a “soft chair”. <...> There is more animation in the canteen of the Vegetarian Island than in the Society itself” (p. 54 yy). Obviously, even in Soviet times, the old ailment of the vegetarian movement was not overcome: fragmentation, fragmentation into numerous groups and inability to come to an agreement.

On March 25, 1926, a meeting of the founding members of the Moscow Military District took place in Moscow, in which Tolstoy’s longtime collaborators took part: V. G. Chertkov, P. I. Biryukov, and I. I. Gorbunov-Posadov. V. G. Chertkov read out a statement on the founding of a renewed society, called the “Moscow Vegetarian Society”, and at the same time a draft charter. However, at the next meeting on May 6, a decision had to be made: “In view of the failure to receive feedback from the departments concerned, the charter should be postponed for consideration.” Despite the current situation, reports were still being read. So, in the diary of conversations of the Moscow Military District from January 1, 1915 to February 19, 1929, there are reports of reports (which were attended by from 12 to 286 people) on such topics as “The Spiritual Life of L. N. Tolstoy” (N N. Gusev), “The Doukhobors in Canada” (P. I. Biryukov), “Tolstoy and Ertel” (N. N. Apostolov), “The Vegetarian Movement in Russia” (I. O. Perper), “The Tolstoy Movement in Bulgaria” (I. I. Gorbunov-Posadov), “Gothic” (Prof. A. I. Anisimov), “Tolstoy and Music” (A. B. Goldenweiser) and others. In the second half of 1925 alone, 35 reports.

From the minutes of the meetings of the Council of the Moscow Military District from 1927 to 1929, it is clear that the society tried to fight the policy of the authorities, which were increasingly restricting its activities, but in the end it was still forced to fail. Apparently, no later than 1923, a certain “Artel “Vegetarian Nutrition”” usurped the main dining room of the MVO-va, without paying the due amounts for rent, utilities, etc., although the stamps and subscriptions of the MVO-va continued to be in use. At a meeting of the Council of the Moscow Military District on April 13, 1927, the “continuing violence” of the Artel against the Society was stated. “If Artel approves the decision of its Board to continue occupying the premises of the Moscow Military District, then the Council of the Society warns that it does not consider it possible to conclude any agreement with Artel on this subject.” Regular meetings of the Council were attended by 15 to 20 of its members, including some of Tolstoy’s closest associates—V. G. Chertkov, I. I. Gorbunov-Posadov, and N. N. Gusev. October 12, 1927 Council of the Moscow Military District, in commemoration of the coming centenary of the birth of L. N. Tolstoy, “taking into account the proximity of the ideological direction of the Moscow Military District to the life of L. N. Tolstoy, and also in view of L. N. participation in education <...> O-va in 1909″, decided to assign the name of L. N. Tolstoy to the Moscow Military District and submit this proposal for approval by the general meeting of members of the O-va. And on January 18, 1928, it was decided to prepare a collection “How L. N. Tolstoy influenced me” and instruct I. I. Gorbunov-Posadov, I. Perper and N. S. Troshin to write an appeal for a competition for the article “Tolstoy and Vegetarianism “. In addition, I. Perper was instructed to apply to foreign companies for the preparation of a vegetarian [advertising] film. On July 2 of the same year, a draft questionnaire was approved for distribution to members of the Society, and it was decided to hold a Tolstoy Week in Moscow. Indeed, in September 1928, the Moscow Military District organized a multi-day meeting, at which hundreds of Tolstoyans arrived in Moscow from all over the country. The meeting was monitored by Soviet authorities; subsequently, it became the reason for the arrest of members of the Youth Circle, as well as for the ban on the last of Tolstoy’s periodicals – the monthly newsletter of the Moscow Military District.

At the beginning of 1929 the situation escalated sharply. As early as January 23, 1929, it was decided to send V.V. Chertkov and I.O. Perper to the 7th International Vegetarian Congress in Steinshönau (Czechoslovakia), but already on February 3, V.V. va is under threat “due to the refusal of MUNI [the Moscow Real Estate Administration] to renew the lease agreement.” After that, a delegation was even elected “for negotiations with the highest Soviet and Party bodies regarding the location of the O-va”; it included: V. G. Chertkov, “honorary chairman of the Moscow Military District”, as well as I. I. Gorbunov-Posadov, N. N. Gusev, I. K. Roche, V. V. Chertkov and V. V. Shershenev. On February 12, 1929, at an emergency meeting of the Council of the Moscow Military District, the delegation informed the members of the Council that “MOUNI’s attitude to the surrender of the premises was based on the decision of the highest authorities” and a delay for the transfer of the premises would not be granted. In addition, it was reported that the All-Russian Central Executive Committee [with which V. V. Mayakovsky started a quarrel in 1924 in the famous poem “Jubilee” dedicated to A. S. Pushkin] adopted a resolution on the transfer of the premises of the Moscow Military District to the anti-alcohol O. the All-Russian Central Executive Committee did not understand about the closure of the Moscow Military District.

The next day, February 13, 1929, at a meeting of the Council of the Moscow Military District, it was decided to appoint an emergency general meeting of members of the Moscow Military District for Monday, February 18, at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the current situation in connection with the deprivation of O -va premises and the need to clean it by February 20. At the same meeting, the general meeting was asked to approve the entry into the O-in full members of 18 persons, and competitors – 9. The next meeting of the Council (31 present) took place on February 20: V. G. Chertkov had to report on the extract he received from the protocol of the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee from 2/2–29, No. 95, which mentions the Moscow Military District as a “former” O-ve, after which V. G. Chertkov was instructed to personally clarify the question of the position of the O-va in the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. In addition, the fate of the library of the Moscow Military District was decided: in order to make the best use of it, it was decided to transfer it to the full ownership of the honorary chairman of the O-va, V. G. Chertkov; On February 27, the Council decided to “consider the Book Kiosk liquidated from 26 / II – p. , and on March 9, a decision was made: “Consider the Children’s Hearth of the Island liquidated from March 15 this year. G.”. At a meeting of the Council on March 31, 1929, it was reported that the canteen of the society was liquidated, which took place on March 17, 1929.

The GMIR (f. 34 op. 1/88. No. 1) keeps a document entitled “Charter of the Moscow Vegetative Society named after A. L. N. Tolstoy. On the title page there is a mark of the Secretary of the Council of the Moscow Military District: “22/5-1928 <…> for No. 1640 charter of the general. was sent to the secretariat <…> of the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. By the attitude <...> 15-IV [1929] No. 11220/71, the Society was informed that the registration of the charter was refused and that <...> stop all activities from them. MVO”. This order of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee was reflected in the “Attitude of AOMGIK-a from 15-1929 p. [11220131] No. 18 stating that the registration of the charter of the O-va by the Moscow Gubernia Executive Committee was denied, why AOMGIK proposes to stop all activities on behalf of the O-va. On April 1883, the Council of the Moscow Military District, in connection with the “proposal” of AOMGIK to stop the activities of the O-va, decided to send a protest with an appeal against this proposal to the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR. The drafting of the text was entrusted to I. K. Roche and V. G. Chertkov (the same Chertkov to whom L. N. Tolstoy wrote so many letters between 1910 and 5 that they make up 90 volumes of a 35-volume academic publication …). The Council also decided to ask the Tolstoy Museum, in view of the liquidation of the O-va, to accept all its materials into the archive of the museum (ill. 1932 yy) – the head of the museum at that time was N. N. Gusev … The Tolstoy Museum, for its part, later had to transfer these documents to the Leningrad Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism, founded in XNUMX – today’s GMIR.

Minutes No. 7 of the Moscow Military District dated May 18, 1929 reads: “Consider all the liquidation cases of the O-va completed.”

Other activities of the society had to be suspended, including the distribution of hectographed “Letters from Friends of Tolstoy”. Wed text of the following typewritten copy:

“Dear friend, we inform you that the Letters of Friends of Tolstoy have been terminated for reasons beyond our control. The last number of Letters was No. 1929 for October 7, but we need funds, since many of our friends found themselves in prison, and also in view of the increasing correspondence, which partly replaces the discontinued Letters from Friends of Tolstoy, although and requires more time and postage.

On October 28, several of our Moscow friends were arrested and taken to the Butyrka prison, of which 2, I.K. Rosha and N.P. Chernyaev, were released three weeks later on bail, and 4 friends – I. P. Basutin (secretary of V. G. Chertkov), Sorokin, I. M., Pushkov, V. V., Neapolitan, Yerney were exiled to Solovki for 5 years. Together with them, our friend A.I. Grigoriev, who had been arrested earlier, was deported for the 3rd year. Arrests of our friends and like-minded people also took place in other places in Russia.

January 18th p. It was decided by the local authorities to disperse the only commune near Moscow of like-minded Leo Tolstoy, Life and Labor. It was decided to exclude the children of the Communards from educational institutions, and the Council of the Communards was put on trial.

With a friendly bow on behalf of V. Chertkov. Let me know if you have received Letter from Friends of Tolstoy No. 7.

In the twenties in big cities, vegetarian canteens continued to exist for the first time – this, in particular, is evidenced by the novel by I. Ilf and E. Petrov “The Twelve Chairs”. Back in September 1928, Vasya Shershenev, the chairman of the New Yerusalim-Tolstoy commune (northwest of Moscow), was offered to run the Vegetarian Canteen in Moscow during the winter season. He was also elected chairman of the Moscow Vegetarian Society and therefore often made trips from the commune “New Yerusalim-Tolstoy” to Moscow. However, around 1930, the communes and cooperatives named after. L. N. Tolstoy were forcibly resettled; since 1931, a commune appeared in the Kuznetsk region, with 500 members. These communes tended to have productive agricultural activities; for example, the commune “Life and Labor” near Novokuznetsk, in Western Siberia, at 54 degrees latitude, introduced the cultivation of strawberries using greenhouses and hothouse beds (ill. 36 yy), and in addition supplied new industrial plants, in particular Kuznetskstroy, extremely necessary vegetables. However, in 1935-1936. the commune was liquidated, many of its members were arrested.

The persecution that the Tolstoyans and other groups (including the Malevanians, Dukhobors and Molokans) were subjected to under the Soviet regime is described in detail by Mark Popovsky in the book Russian Men Tell. Followers of Leo Tolstoy in the Soviet Union 1918-1977, published in 1983 in London. The term “vegetarianism” in M. Popovsky, it must be said, is found only occasionally, namely due to the fact that the building of the Moscow Military District until 1929 was the most important meeting center for Tolstoy’s adherents.

Consolidation of the Soviet system by the end of the 1920s put an end to vegetarian experiments and non-traditional lifestyles. True, separate attempts to save vegetarianism were still made – the result of them was the reduction of the idea of ​​vegetarianism to nutrition in the narrow sense, with a radical rejection of religious and moral motivations. So, for example, the Leningrad Vegetarian Society was now renamed the “Leningrad Scientific and Hygienic Vegetarian Society”, which, starting in 1927 (see above, pp. 110-112 yy), began to publish a two-monthly Diet Hygiene (ill. 37 yy). In a letter dated July 6, 1927, the Leningrad society turned to the Council of the Moscow Military District, which continued Tolstoy’s traditions, with a request to provide feedback on the new journal.

On the anniversary of Leo Tolstoy in 1928, the journal Food Hygiene published articles welcoming the fact that science and common sense won in the struggle between religious and ethical vegetarianism and scientific and hygienic vegetarianism. But even such opportunistic maneuvers did not help: in 1930 the word “vegetarian” disappeared from the title of the magazine.

The fact that everything could have turned out differently is shown by the example of Bulgaria. Already during Tolstoy’s lifetime, his teachings were widely disseminated here (see p. 78 above for the reaction caused by the publication of the First Step). Throughout the first half of the 1926th century, Tolstoyism flourished in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Tolstoyans had their own newspapers, magazines, publishing houses and bookstores, which mainly promoted Tolstoyan literature. A vegetarian society was also formed, with a large number of members and, among other things, possessing a network of canteens, which also served as a place for reports and meetings. In 400, a congress of Bulgarian vegetarians was held, in which 1913 people took part (let us recall that the number of participants in the Moscow congress in 200 reached only 9). In the same year, the Tolstoy agricultural commune was formed, which, even after September 1944, 40, the day the communists came to power, continued to be treated with respect by the government, since it was considered the best cooperative farm in the country. “The Bulgarian Tolstoyan movement included in its ranks three members of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, two well-known artists, several university professors and at least eight poets, playwrights and novelists. It was widely recognized as an important factor in raising the cultural and moral level of the personal and social life of the Bulgarians and continued to exist in conditions of relative freedom until the end of the 1949s. In February 1950, the center of the Sofia Vegetarian Society was closed and turned into an officers’ club. In January 3846, the Bulgarian Vegetarian Society, which at that time had 64 members in XNUMX local organizations, came to an end.

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