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« Tuna 1 / 2019

Crimea’s Estonians before and after 1930 Ilmar Enok’s ‘Spring Sowing Campaign and Collectivisation’ as a Document of its Time

Ilmar Enok’s school notebook, where the Crimean schoolboy made notes of the spring sowing work in his home village of Pervomaiskoje in 1930, leaves the impression of a rather small diary. Concise entries record the progress of the sowing campaign from the procurement of seed grain to the successful progress of the sowing work. The text leaves no doubt that the nine-year-old schoolboy is worried about the fulfilment of the plans of the Communist Party and the government, and about successful collectivisation, and justifies all the measures adopted to this end (including the deportation of kulak families and hostility towards religion). A few writing technique exercises and arithmetic assignments are also found among the notes.

This is nevertheless not an ordinary school notebook or a representative text of a primary school pupil. It is admittedly schoolwork in the sense that it is not the pupil’s independent homework, but rather it has evidently been done in cooperation with the teacher. It is possible that the text was also dictated (in some places) by the teacher. The text is seasoned with numerous ideological expressions and slogans that were specific to the use of language in the Communist Party’s newspapers of that time. There are signs that the teacher reviewed Ilmar’s entries. We can now only guess whether these notes could have had a particular ulterior motive or objective – for instance to save the schoolteacher or the Enok family from repression in the fearful society of that time.

The colloquial language of the Crimean Estonians of that time can be observed in these writings. Traits of the dialectical speech of settlers from Northern Estonia emerge in this colloquial language (for instance odre for ‘otrasid’ meaning ‘barley’, suiwili for ‘suvevili’ meaning ‘spring grain’) and there are new loan words from Russian such as naloog ‘state tax’, raioon ‘district’, kolhos ‘kolkhoz’, kolhosnikud ‘kolkhozniks’, which as of yet were unknown concepts back home in Estonia. The text also contains use of language specific to the Bolsheviks, such as seemnewilja warjamine ‘concealment of seed grain’, kulakline element ‘the kulak elements’, kulakute likwideerimine ‘liquidation of the kulaks’, wäljamaa bursuid ‘foreign bourgeoisie’. The written text is generally understandable, although the literacy of this primary school pupil is still maladroit and the spelling is uncertain. Teaching was generally in Russian in the Pervomaiskoje village school. Estonian was a separate subject.