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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2021 year, number 2


K.A. Tarasov1,2,3
1St. Petersburg Institute of History RAS, 7, Petrozavodskaya Str., St. Petersburg, 197110, Russian Federation
2St. Petersburg State Electrotechnical University LETI, 5, Professora Popova str.,St. Petersburg, 197022, Russian Federation
3National Research University "Higher School Of Economics", 16, Soyuza Pechatnikov str., St Petersburg, 190008, Russian Federation
Keywords: Militia, First World War, Revolution of 1917, Russian army, First Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies


The article is devoted to the movement of Russias older soldiers in 1917. Men, who had never served in military during a peacetime, were enlisted as warriors (ratniks) of the II category. This category of potential military personnel originally were not supposed to be drafted into the army. However, the crisis in human resources led to the fact that in 1915 government began to mobilize them and send to the front. Last conscriptions took place in the late 1916. Soldiers aged 40-43 (the age limit for conscription) joined the army. By this time, there had already been an acute shortage of workers in the countryside. The conscription only complicated the situation with agricultural work. After the Revolution of 1917, soldiers above the age of 40 were allowed returning home to sow and harvest. However, soon the government demanded them back. The preparation of an offensive at the front led to cancelling leaves of absence. The Government decision provoked dissatisfaction on the part of the older soldiers. Protests started throughout the country. Tens of thousands of men came to Petrograd demanding the order cancellation. The older soldiers believed that there were younger men in the country that were evading the front. They supposed they would be more useful in the rear, where they could help both their family and the country as a whole. Nevertheless, neither the Minister of war, nor the Petrograd Soviets, nor the First Congress of Soviets agreed with the arguments of the 40-year-olds. The protest movement did not subside until the fall of 1917, when soldiers above the age of 40 were demobilized. The movement of 40-year-old soldiers showed that the peasantry quickly adopted new forms of expression of disagreement, which were peaceful in nature. Those people had an opportunity to desert, but tens of thousands of them strove to be heard by the authorities.