Archive for Civilian Defense

Civilian Defense Day

Posted in Cultural Impressions, Fun facts with tags , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2009 by Alec

Has a nice, Cold War-tinged ring to it, doesn’t it?  Civilian Defense Day.  Folks come together to run drills in case of nuclear attack, then afterward maybe have a barbecue and run football plays on the lawn.

Last week was Civilian Defense Day here in Petersburg, and so the secondary school where my friend works observed the holiday by having a whole day of civilian defense classes.

The kids normally have “Protection of Safety in Everyday Life” class once a week, but on this day they spent the whole day running evacuation drills, learning what to do in case of a nuclear attack, watching a demonstration of how to use scuba equipment (?) and learning how to assemble and dissemble an AK-47 machine gun.  An upperclassman from one of the city’s many military academies came in to teach them how to sort things out with the weapons.

One of these days, though, my friend and I plan to go assemble and dissemble the AK-47 the Protection of Safety teacher keeps behind class in his classroom.  Can you imagine a machine gun in a classroom in a U.S. high school?  I remember kids used to get kicked out for having jack-knives.

But the memory of conflict on home soil are never far from Russian’s minds, and with good reason, since such conflict has recurred through history, with higher casualty numbers each time.

The reminders are as plethorous as boils on a leper.  Here in Petersburg, I live by a museum dedicated to the Siege of Leningrad, which includes recipes for dishes based on ingredients like auto oil.  Outside of Stalingrad, where I was this fall, there’s a field of bones 20 kilometers wide by 30 kilometers long, where some 300,000 Germans died.  The Russian bones, had they been left to lie, would have been even more numerous.