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Formation and activity of labor squads in the Russian Empire during the First World War


The history of the creation and activity of student labor brigades on the territory of the Russian Empire is considered. They were supposed to replace men in peasant farms who had been mobilized into the ranks of the army. By the early 20th century, the agrarian Russian Empire was characterized by an excess of workers in the countryside, since a significant part of the country’s population lived in the countryside. The ruling circles of both Russia and the European powers were confident in the “inexhaustibility” of the human resources of the Russian state. However, already in the summer and autumn of 1914, a shortage of workers in rural areas began to be felt. With the subsequent mobilizations, the situation only worsened. In response to the problem, the tsarist government asked the local authorities to help the families of the mobilized lower ranks in harvesting and sowing fields. We use materials from periodicals and primary materials deposited in the archives of the cities of the Central Black Earth region about student labor brigades of the Voronezh, Kursk and Oryol Governorates. We also use information on other regions of the Russian Empire. It is assumed that labor brigades arose on a private initiative as one of the forms of mobilization of labor resources in conditions caused by a shortage of workers. Later, the initiative of educational institutions of the Minsk province received state support.


World War I, student squads, labor assistance, agriculture, families of spares

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National History

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