What is it with these Russians?

Russian cadet caned

A reconstruction

Tsarist women cadets

Cadets, including women in Tsarist Russia

Soviet women cadets

Women cadets co-opted into the Soviet military circa 1917

Uncovered a whole set of vintage Russian flogging pictures the other day. The thing is, they do not look particularly erotic or like they were intended to be erotic. They are mostly judicial floggings of women of one kind or another and look either documentarian or cautionary.

They will probably be published on another day, but during the course of some research into these pictures another curious snippet was uncovered.

It seems that in the days just prior to and during the Great War, the Tsarist regime experimented with women cadets; the idea being to give ‘secretaries and nurses some semblance of military life’ before being assigned to a unit.

The discipline was not to be too harsh on account of the cadets being women and measures such as ‘those used at home or in school’ should be used. Any doubt as to what that meant tends to end with the stipulation that the cane or martinet were to be used in preference to the knout.

The knout is a particularly harsh flogging implement used on Russian serfs up until the Revolution.

Further details seemed scant, but there was a reference in Russian on форум, which was translated using Google (and heavily edited).

An account by one Olga Eltsina read as:

On being reassigned to a women’s fighting-battalion, I had not yet completed my training. And so I found myself back at basics.

I was told that I would no longer be soft-bedded just because I was a woman; and indeed on my very first day I saw a woman whipped raw on her bare buttocks in the squad yard, which would not have happened so publically at camp-school.

However, as it turned out, it was not so bad for me as only once or twice did I have to bend to feel the stick across my bare bottom.

This doesn’t seem to have been a standard arrangement, it was described as an experiment and as with many such things it is very difficult to verify. Added to which, the context on the Russian forum was difficult to extract. So that’s all folks but no doubt there are many accounts like these out there waiting to be unmasked by Google translate. The trick is to guess which passage to translate when you have absolutely no Russian.

13 Responses to “What is it with these Russians?”

  1. 1 Yuri Vetch

    According to my uncle, who grew up in Kiev, informal punishments were common for both girls and boys in the Ukrainian cadet force in the 1930s.

    Also when it comes to the Russians – I could believe anything. They are pretty much into spanking and whipping, especially when it comes to women.

    I grew up in London but thanks to my family, I am still pretty much still plugged into the Russian and Ukrainian communites.

    All the Russian couples I have known (well three) had a spanking relationship. And a Russian girl I knew at college said she was caned at a secretarial school in Peter, before she came to Essex to study.


  2. 4 George

    Hope and believe Ukranian families still keep good DD traditions.

  3. 5 DJ

    Thanks Yuri – I have heard of such things too

    Traditions are important George


  4. 6 Ayla

    Opened this post right after I shared my personal introduction to my own umbrella at the hands of my Hebrew Biblical studies teacher. He happens to be a Sephardic (non-European) Jew who grew up in the former Soviet Union: Odessa on the Black Sea in Ukraine before joining a Hasidic community in Brooklyn,New York City. He speaks fluent Russian, fluent Hebrew, fluent English (but without fluent American idiom and slang. I have been teaching him some, like “playing hide the Kosher salami”). He said he was going to straighten me out “the Russian way”– perhaps as opposed to the Jewish way, which is talk & reason only with some guilt and shame for spice– but he would prefer not to as he was “not a beast.” Thank you for the insights here. Forewarned is forearmed, although I may still be in for some trouble ahead! Can we help you with any translations, DJ?

  5. 7 DJ

    I am sure it wasn’t that nice Wasia

    The pictures weren’t with the post – I should have made that clear – I just did some superficial digging to check if there really were women in the military in this era and the pictures (given that most of the text was Russian) supported this fact.

    I have no idea exactly what Olga’s relationship was with this set-up (assuming it is a genuine account) as I was unable to find out more.

    As with many of these things they are interesting as part of bygone culture – but cannot be supported or condoned.

    I assumed Yuri’s contribution was from a later period, but I think he was just making a general point here.

    Thanks Yuri – I know just the kind of Russian woman you mean (see earlier posts) interesting that such things have an echo in the Ukraine.

    Thanks Ayla – If I come across any others I might take you up on that, but it was pretty much a chance find.

    • 8 wasia57

      I still would love to see those pictures, if possible…

      • 9 DJ

        They should be up next week sometime – I have to sort and size them and I don’t have them with me (I’m away for a few days)

        DJ 😉

  6. Any chance of seeing the vintage Russian flogging pictures. It’s been over a month since you promised them.

  7. Thanks. Great images!

  8. The Russian men have always loved to use the whip, on their naughty women folk. The knout was a favorite for them. And many a spoiled Russian female, be she a housewife, school-girl, in the military, or household duty maid. She was made to feel this corporal punishment implement.

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