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Happy birthday Nadezhda Krupskaya!

Krupskaya giving a speech to Red Army soldiers in 1919

By BO Staff Writer

Nadezhda Krupskaya, revolutionary Bolshevik leader, beloved wife of Vladimir Lenin, was born on this day in 1869. It’s her 153rd birthday.

Krupskaya joined the Russian revolutionary socialist movement in 1890 and became a Marxist student society member. She undertook both overt and covert activism. In particular she engaged in illegal study circles of workers and familiarised herself thoroughly with their conditions. Krupskaya first met Lenin at one of these study circles.

She joined the St Petersburg League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class in 1895. This League was the forerunner of the RSDLP. She then dedicated almost 50 years in service of the party and the attainment of a revolutionary society, including furthering the underground network activities in the lead up to the 1917 revolution. She in fact coordinated a significant number of covert Bolshevik organizers in the whole of Russian and she understood all aspects of the revolutionary Party organization.

After the 1917 Revolution, Krupskaya dedicated herself towards fulfilling her role as People’s Commissar of Education. Her contributions to the Marxist educational theory is well expressed in her meditations like “Concerning the Question of Socialist Schools”. Here we see how she advocates socialism as the only way to transform education towards serving the interests of the people. She says:

“In serving the interests of the masses the government of workers and peasants must break the schools’ class character and make schools at all levels accessible to all sections of the population. It must do this not in words but in deeds. Until the objectives of schools are changed education will remain a class privilege of the bourgeoisie.”

In another intervention, in her “Letter to a Budding Writer July 3, 1936“ she can be seen advising a comrade how “to become a real poet, a writer, whom the masses would love and appreciate”. She proceeds:

“Dear Comrade!

It seems to me that you are not on the right road. If you wish to become a real poet, a writer, whom the masses would love and appreciate, you have to work a great deal on yourself. Here no universities, no writers’ unions will help.

I cannot see from your letter what grieves your heart, what–apart from your own literary career–disturbs you. He who looks with indifference on life all round him “from the writer’s carriage window” will never become a real writer. You have been in the Mining Institute, but have you any idea about the life of the miners, about their state of mind? They are one of the leading sections of the proletariat, and you are not interested in them … so far, I hope.

In my opinion, you will not make an engineer, that needs a different make-up, a different training.

I would advise you to go to work in a pit, to make use of the knowledge you have acquired, to work side by side with ordinary workers, to take a look at the way they live, their home conditions. Then the themes for poems will come true to life, and there will be something that would stir you.

There is often a great deal of snobbish conceit in budding writers–and even frequently in workers’ children, but [it] has to be thoroughly washed away.

With comradely greetings,
N. Krupskaya”

Happy birthday Comrade Krupskaya!

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See: Letter to a budding writer