December 27th, 2012

Various questions about Russia in the 1920s - 1940s

Hi all, I'm doing the final fact-check of a novel I've written set largely in Leningrad between 1917 and 1942. You've been so helpful in the past that I was hoping you might be able to assist in tying up some of my final loose ends!

1. I'm aware that street names in St. Petersburg / Leningrad changed at various times over the 20th century. I've googled a number of different combinations of "leningrad street name change", "st petersburg street name change" etc., and the most useful thing I came up with was this, which lists past and present names for some St. Petersburg streets, but doesn't specify when the changes took place. Is anyone aware of any resource (ideally online) that sets out exactly when street names changed, and what to? (I don't speak much Russian, but I can read Cyrillic, so Russian language resources would work too.)

2. I'm looking for an obscene (presumably mat) Russian phrase that would be used in frustration - the sort of thing that you would say to yourself if you've messed something up or if something has gone wrong. I've read through the Wiki article, and found this, but haven't been able to find the exact sort of phrase I need (most of what I'm finding would be directed at others). The more colourful and creative the phrase, the better! (This would be in around 1936, if that makes a difference.)

3. Similarly, did Russians around that time use words like "God", "Christ", "for God's sake" etc. to express mild surprise etc.? If not, what sort of words or expressions would be used instead? This is for people who wouldn't use mat. I've done a few halfhearted google searches on things like "blasphemy Russian 1930s" but I can't settle on a decent search string, so suggestions of that would be helpful too.
ETA: Having gone back through the archives of the community, I can see that the question of whether Russians used these sorts of words has been answered, and they didn't. However the question of what sorts of words they used instead still stands!

4. I'm trying to find out the age of criminal responsibility in the 1920s / 1930s, specifically, at what age someone could be sent to the Gulag (or the precursors to the Gulag, in the case of the 1920s) for petty crime. Irritatingly enough, I know that it's mentioned in Orlando Figes's The Whisperers, and I made a note of it, but I don't have access to the book right now and the notes I made were lost when my computer was stolen earlier this year! I seem to remember that the age of criminal responsibility was dropped sometime in the 1930s, perhaps from 18 to 16 or from 16 to 14, but I can't remember the exact details.

5. Similarly, what was school leaving age during the 1930s? Googling various things like "school leaving age russia" and "school leaving age USSR" are bringing up facts about school leaving age today, but not historically. If no one has exact information, would it be fine to have someone leaving school at the age of 16 around 1936?

6. Last time I posted I asked for a distinctive accent in Russia, and the Vologda accent was suggested. Could anyone give me an example of a word or two that would make this accent obvious? When googling the example word that always comes up is 'moloko' (milk), so would any Russian word that uses unstressed 'o's make this accent obvious? If so, could anyone give some examples of words like this that could just come up in very casual conversation?

7. Does the concept of the 'revenant' or zombie exist in Russian folklore? I specifically do not mean a vampire (which is all I can find when googling), but in the sense of a reanimated corpse. If so, what is the name of it?

8. I'm looking for a common spelling error that would be made in Russian (in 1942, if that makes a difference), by someone with very limited education. The spelling error occurs in a letter of condolence, so a mispelled version of the word for 'courage' or 'condolence' or any other word that could conceivably be found in such a letter would be ideal!

ETA9. Final question I forgot about. Any idea what the army would have used to treat a mild infection in 1941, resulting from a gunshot wound? As it's pre-antibiotics, would they have just cleaned the wound and hoped for the best?

Thanks so much for any help you are able to offer!

[ANSWERED] German Abiball Questions

ANSWERED, thanks!

Hi folks,

I read up on some things concerning the Abiball, and while Wikipedia had a general idea of some things (it's an event for Gymnasium graduates, people wear fancy clothes and have drinks, and there is also the Abifeier, which is student organized and makes fun of teachers), it skipped some details I'm looking for, which are:

1. I read that parents may accompany students to the Abiball; is that true?

2. Were they done in most schools back in the 70s in the former West Germany (I'm looking at Hesse)?

3. Do other secondary schools have similar dances?

4. Are there dances throughout the year at German schools the way there are sometimes at American schools?

Googled: German Abiball, German Abiball 1970s

Edit 2: Thank you for all the help so far. I have one more question:

5.I was looking for my MC to pick up some swearing from his mother. I'm not looking for anything too vulgar, because she's middle class, I'm just looking for some very basic things.

Edit 2: Put up after I put answered, d'oh. I wondered how long the NY's fireworks displays have been regularly done? Would they have been held in the 60s-70s?

Thanks, everyone!