[HOW THE SOVIET CREMATION BEGAN] Krematsiia [i.e. Cremation] / compiled by G. Bartel
[HOW THE SOVIET CREMATION BEGAN] Krematsiia [i.e. Cremation] / compiled by G. Bartel
[HOW THE SOVIET CREMATION BEGAN] Krematsiia [i.e. Cremation] / compiled by G. Bartel
[HOW THE SOVIET CREMATION BEGAN] Krematsiia [i.e. Cremation] / compiled by G. Bartel
[HOW THE SOVIET CREMATION BEGAN] Krematsiia [i.e. Cremation] / compiled by G. Bartel
[HOW THE SOVIET CREMATION BEGAN] Krematsiia [i.e. Cremation] / compiled by G. Bartel
[HOW THE SOVIET CREMATION BEGAN] Krematsiia [i.e. Cremation] / compiled by G. Bartel

[HOW THE SOVIET CREMATION BEGAN] Krematsiia [i.e. Cremation] / compiled by G. Bartel

Moscow: Izd. M.K.Kh. 1925. Item #1114

95, [3] pp.: ill., 2 ills. 17x13. In original illustrated wrappers. Very good, some spots, pale water stains on the first leaves.

One of 10 000 copies. Rare.
Cover design was produced by Ol’ga Amosova (1888-1965), known as production designer in Khandzhonkov film studio in 1918-1919 and constructivist stage designer of performances by K. Marjanishvili, N. Evreinov and I. Lapitskii in the 1920s.

One of the early Soviet books about cremation that was written by the main Russian ideologist of ‘fire burial’, Gvido Bartel (1885-1943). He enlightened readers in technique and sanitary conditions of the process, gave a short history of cremation in Russia by 1925 and supplemented explanations with illustrations in the text, as well as two pictures on separate leaves.

In the pre-revolutionary period, cremation for Russian people was strictly forbidden by the Orthodox Church - the only crematorium was placed in the Far East for Japanese people. In 1918, Bolsheviks stated a monopoly of burial. The legalization of cremation became an important part of the early Soviet discourse of renewal. The socialist state formed new conceptions of life and death. The enthusiastic attitude of Bolsheviks to cremation was clearly shown in the early definition given in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. It reads: “Cremation is the best way of burial, fully satisfying aesthetic emotions and respect for the deceased”.

In the 1920s, the fire burial was promoted due to several points. Abandoning the old world, cremation fit perfectly into the anti-religious campaign and the establishment of hygienics. The “body disposal practice” was closer to the industrial conveyor method, strict functionalism and lack of “overfluous”. For urban planning, the introduction of cremation led to the more rational use of territories: it was supposed to preserve land for agricultural needs and to completely free cities from new cemeteries. “Instead of a cemetery, a crematorium should be built; a park should be set up on the site of a cemetery. A cemetery as a place of drunkenness, immorality and robbery will turn into a place for the rest of workers” wrote the journalist I. Zudin in 1929.

With the increased mortality rate during the First World War and the Civil War, the legalization of cremation was an extremely relevant decision, but with no place to implement. An experimental temporary crematorium was built in Petrograd in 1920 but soon was closed due to frequent breakdowns and inefficiency. Its unsuccessful activity hadn’t stopped enthusiasts - the wide propaganda of cremation began in 1925. For those, who were afraid of the fire burial, dozens of promoting (almost advertising) articles were published in all large periodicals.

A competition for the first Moscow crematorium was organized and a project by architect Dmitrii Osipov was chosen. The crematorium was built in 1926 replacing a semi-constructed church on the New Donskoy Cemetery. This way Bolsheviks destroyed an important place where Moscow religiousness concentrated and turned it into a center of atheism. Staying in the same place, the new institution also was a kind of temple but relating to a new culture, a new state and a new ideology.
In 1927, Society Developing and Promoting Ideas of Cremation in RSFSR (ORRIK) was founded to give lectures, hold excursions to crematory and provide a discount for cremation to members of the society. The cremation was becoming a show and a small window in the oven was a display for spectators. A film about the first exemplary burning of a worker Solov’ev was shot in early 1927.

The Moscow crematorium was located in Shabolovka district: southwest Moscow quarters were intended to be a fundamentally new environment for the life of Soviet workers. Thus, it joined progressive institutions, including Shukhov Radio Tower, house-communes, kitchen-factories, etc. During the Great Purge, this exact institution burned the corpses of murdered people from the places of execution. It was the only Soviet crematory until World War II, but after that it gradually fell into decay. In 1992, it was given back to the Orthodox Church and was re-built into a religious building.

The bibliography included 10 Russian works and most of them were also written by Bartel.

The only copy is located in Library of Congress.

Price: $1,950.00

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