Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov was a major part of the Soviet Union's propaganda efforts. Billed as a superhero of the proletariat, while working as a miner at Tsentralnaya-Irmino it was reported that Alexey single-handedly brought in 102 tons of coal, more than 10 times a worker's daily quota. This feat brought a host of followers (Nicknamed Stakhanovites, they were the superstars of the working class, often using multiple tools simultaneously, or working back to back shifts, all to increase their efficiency.

Of course, after the fall of the Soviet Union, most of their claims were debunked. Stakhanov was shown to have multiple assistants helping him during his record-breaking shift. Time magazine quoted the mine's chief as saying ""I suppose Stakhanov need not have been the first... It could have been anybody else."

Still, even though his massive feat was more of a massive publicity stunt, it's fascinating to think of a time and place where a miner could be a national celebrity just for doing his job really, really well.

No comments: