snopes.com Post new topic  Post a reply
search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hello snopes.com » Urban Legends » History » Stalin forgot to change DST

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Stalin forgot to change DST
snopes
Return! Return! Return!


Icon 500 posted      Profile for snopes   Author's Homepage   E-mail snopes       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Comment: I am wondering if this is an urban legend or not. Did Soviet
dictator Joseph Stalin change the USSR to Daylight Saving Time one April
and forget to change it back in October making the USSR an hour off for
years later? I've seen this on the internet but never with a citation.
Thanks.

References to it appear here:
http://www.heynorton.org/blog/2005/07/daylight_saving.html (In the
comments section: "Stalin put the USSR on DST one April and forgot to
change it back in October and the USSR was "off" by an hour for over 60
years.")

http://www.dailyramblings.com/ramblings/846.php (In the comments section:
"...no one wanted to tell Joseph Stalin under the rule of the Soviet Union
to readjust the winter clock back, or maybe he prefered it that way. After
his death, you couldn't just simply acknowledge, that your predessor made
a mistake even if you hated him as in the case of Khruschev. So, this
mistake was left in place.")

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_n16_v43/ai_11239134
("...in the spring of 1930, as part of his first Five Year Plan, Stalin
ordered the country to go on Daylight Saving Time. But that fall, caught
up in massacring the Kulaks or whatever, he forgot to order a return to
regular time. For 61 years the Soviet Union has been living on false time.
This year it was finally supposed to 'turn the clocks back.'")

Posts: 36029 | From: Admin | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
diddy
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


Icon 1 posted      Profile for diddy   E-mail diddy   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I think Stalin (and his successors) would have found out much quicker than 61 years that they forgot to turn back, certainly they would have dealt with outer countries that had different time zones that wouldn't add up right?

--------------------
W.W.F.S.M.D?
But this image of Bush as some sort of Snidely Whiplash tying the fair maiden to the railroad tracks is beyond the pale. - Joe Bentley

Posts: 2311 | From: Minnnesota | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Eddylizard
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Eddylizard     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I accept the possibility that the Soviet Union (which spans 11 time zones) may well in winter have kept their clocks two hours ahead of what the longtitude would have dictated with respect to GMT. But if so, I can't think that this was an of oversight. Maybe it was some sort of long lasting experiment into abolishing DST.

We've certainly tinkered with DST in the past here in the UK. In WWII we had British double summer time (clocks go forward 2 hours in spring) and for a year or two we scrapped daylight savings altogether.

ETA
quote:
Richard Pipes, at the first session Saturday, told a story that sums up the nature of Soviet Communism. It dawned on him, as he was resetting his watch at Sheremetyevo Airport, that Moscow was two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, whereas other places on the same longitude are just one hour ahead. How come? he asked a Muscovite. Well, the latter replied, in the spring of 1930, as part of his first Five Year Plan, Stalin ordered the country to go on Daylight Saving Time. But that fall, caught up in massacring the Kulaks or whatever, he forgot to order a return to regular time. For 61 years the Soviet Union has been living on false time. This year it was finally supposed to "turn the clocks back."


By this logic, shouldn't Paris and Madrid be on the same time as London, rather than on Central European Time? I think Mr Pipes had his leg pulled by a mischevious muscovite

--------------------
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is what is commonly known as money. It comes in all sizes, colours, and denominations - like people."

Posts: 997 | From: Maidstone, UK | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
nicky
I Saw Three Shipments


Icon 1 posted      Profile for nicky   E-mail nicky   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
This bit

"After his death, you couldn't just simply acknowledge, that your predessor made a mistake even if you hated him as in the case of Khruschev"

Doesnt ring true

Posts: 60 | From: London | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
nicky
I Saw Three Shipments


Icon 1 posted      Profile for nicky   E-mail nicky   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
This bit

"After his death, you couldn't just simply acknowledge, that your predessor made a mistake even if you hated him as in the case of Khruschev"

Doesnt ring true

Posts: 60 | From: London | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Joostik
The First USA Noel


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Joostik   Author's Homepage   E-mail Joostik   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Moscow was two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, whereas other places on the same longitude are just one hour ahead.
Not really.

[ETA Again: I realise that at that time it could have been true]

ETA:

In the USSR daylight saving time (Moscow Summer Time) was introduced on April 1, 1981

Another Link

OTOH:

This site claims:

quote:
World War II: All combatants on both sides quickly adopted DST to save vital energy resources for the War.
So that would include the Soviet Union.

The version I've always heard was that, after been told DST improved productivity, Stalin was reluctant to turn the clocks back again.

quote:
Originally posted by Eddylizard:
By this logic, shouldn't Paris and Madrid be on the same time as London, rather than on Central European Time?

In Holland, at least, we have the German occupation to blame for that. We used to have our own time, but having the same time as Germany had its advantages after all.
Posts: 794 | From: Utrecht, Utrecht | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Joostik
The First USA Noel


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Joostik   Author's Homepage   E-mail Joostik   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Churchill, not Stalin

quote:
In World War II, Britain advanced the clock one hour during the winter (bst, for British Summer Time) and two hours during the summer (dbst, for Double British Summer Time), first for five months, then seven, and finally year round between 1941 and 1944. From 1968 to 1971, Britain tried keeping bst (now standing for British Standard Time) year round, so that it would be the same time in Britain as in Western Europe.
... and Roosevelt as well

quote:
1942: During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt orders a year-round Daylight Saving Time, called "War Time," which runs for three years.
So if both Roosevelt and Churchill did it, who could blame Stalin?
Posts: 794 | From: Utrecht, Utrecht | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 203 posted      Profile for Bonnie   E-mail Bonnie       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I think it's reasonable to assume that Stalin was pretty well aware of time-keeping: with the start of his first five-year plan in the late '20s, he tinkered with the number of workdays in the week and revamped the Soviet calendar, giving the boot to "Western" calendars in the process.

And, as others have noted, it's not unlikely that -- after switching over to "summer time" in the spring of 1930 -- he intended to take his sweet time going back to "winter time." (In fact, when Russia finally did go back to true "winter time" in late 1991 -- a condition not experienced for 60 years -- Muscovites noticed that it was getting dark by mid-afternoon; furthermore, Tass reported that the time shift, which had lasted only a few months, had cost the country an additional 3 billion kilowatt hours.)

Michael Downing's Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving (Washington, DC: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005; pp. 114-117) has an interesting take on why we might believe the Stalinist regime so capable of mishandling time.

In March of 1991, Russian officials (who themselves were getting ready to tinker with the clock) announced with a "what a mess" attitude that the former Soviet Union had been in an endless summer, at least as far as the big-hand was concerned, thanks to Stalin-era Soviets. As a 1991 Associated Press report [1] mentioned,

quote:
According to the newspaper Evening Moscow, the move [to adjust the time] was made to correct a 61-year-old mistake.

"In 1930, it was decided to introduce summer time and move the hands of clocks one hour ahead," Evening Moscow said. "In the passage of time, they did not announce winter time" in the fall of 1930.

[...]

"They didn't declare winter time, and that's why all these years we've been one hour ahead of the real time zone," the newspaper quoted D. Sayenko, a leading specialist of the State Commission on Time and Standard Frequencies, as saying.

On the other hand, the report goes on, "[f]or reasons that remain a mystery, summer time was not re-introduced in the spring of 1931, leaving the country with a single time year-round."

As Downing notes,

quote:
The Toronto Star could not get a clear explanation from any of the "red-faced Soviet officials" about Stalin's failure to make Russian clocks fall back in 1930. Neither could residents of Moscow.

As the Soviet Union disintegrated, commentators throughout the West exploited the timely irony. Stalin's goof became an irresistible illustration of the inevitable failure of Soviet-style central planning. That fall, the National Review printed a version of these events cast as a parable, which concluded that Stalin "forgot to return to regular time. For 61 years the Soviet Union has been living on false time . . . . "

(The abovementioned National Review piece is linked to in snopes's correspondent's comment.)

Downing refers to a letter that appeared in The New York Times in the fall of 1991. The letter-writer had observed that,

quote:
To call Moscow's 1930 nonreturn to winter time a mistake rooted in forgetfulness smacks of journalistic license . . . The time-zone map in the 1974 Britannica Atlas simply says that standard time zones are advanced one hour for all of the Soviet Union.
In the end, it's probably our tendency to recall the old Soviet Union as a cruel, careless, clumsy, lumbering brute that permits us to believe that Stalin could literally forget time and that his followers could be too fearful to correct the "error."

Bonnie "it's never a bad idea to ask for a second opinion" Taylor

[1] John Iams, "In This Most Confusing of Soviet Times, It's Time for Confusion," International News, 21 March 1991.

--------------------
Se non vero, ben trovato.

Posts: -99014 | From: Chapel Hill, North Carolina | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Unusual Elfin Lights
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Unusual Elfin Lights   Author's Homepage   E-mail Unusual Elfin Lights   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
About time zones, Afghanistan sits half way between time zones (7.5 hours shifting of a clock from here) and that made no sense to me. Plus, I believe China is all one time zone, regardless of where you are in the country.

The real reason I wanted to post: Bonnie, I'm more than impressed every time you put fingers to keyboards. I always learn something interesting, relevant and substantiated every time I read one of your posts. [Smile]

Posts: 2064 | From: New Brunswick, Canada | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 04 posted      Profile for Bonnie   E-mail Bonnie       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Oh, thank you very much, but - honest -- the real credit goes to my library card.

Bonnie "a fine romance" Taylor

--------------------
Se non vero, ben trovato.

Posts: -99014 | From: Chapel Hill, North Carolina | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Joostik
The First USA Noel


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Joostik   Author's Homepage   E-mail Joostik   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
In other words, they were living in "War Time" rather than just "Summer Time". In fact, it was considered such a good idea that both the US and Britain adopted the idea during WW2.

If it was nonsensical in peacetime why would it be useful in wartime? It only means tricking the people to get up an hour earlier every day.

Posts: 794 | From: Utrecht, Utrecht | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Ganzfeld     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
[aside]
Would be a bad time to mention that DST is really stupid? The fact that it was done during the war should be a big clue: We can't save energy or change our schedules unless the government orders everyone to move the hands on the clocks twice a year? What morons we must be.

Posts: 4922 | From: Kyoto, Japan | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Ganzfeld     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Joostik:
If it was nonsensical in peacetime why would it be useful in wartime? It only means tricking the people to get up an hour earlier every day.

Exactly. For the few people who understand why it is done, it must take a kind of regimental attitude to support the practice. The rest of the people just go along with it like, "Duh, when do we get to wear uniforms and march together, too?"
Posts: 4922 | From: Kyoto, Japan | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Troberg     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Would be a bad time to mention that DST is really stupid?
Yep, I agree 100%. Apart from the general uselessness of it, it also effs things up for various computer systems, which suddenly have to handle that some days have 23 hours and some have 25 (two of which don't have any unique designations). To make things even worse, not all countries switch at the same time, which makes travelling during "switching season" a confusing event.

We have electric light (and those who don't probably don't have a clock either), we don't have to rely on the big light in the sky.

--------------------
/Troberg

Posts: 4360 | From: Borlnge, Sweden | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet   E-mail Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
We have electric light (and those who don't probably don't have a clock either), we don't have to rely on the big light in the sky.
This is true, and I have some sympathy for the idea that we could just decide to get up earlier in winter to make the most of existing daylight (rather than changing the clocks), but making a national sport of clock-changing does at least mean that, for example, office hours within the country are predictable and easily comparable.

Also, I suppose the more we can reduce our dependence on electric light these days, the better (until we come up with better ways to power it, anyway).

The UK seems to have a daylight-saving debate every year now, with demands to keep BST all year round (to protect children on their way home from school). Protest against this kind of proposal usually comes from Scotland, where keeping BST would make mornings very dark indeed, but my parents recall that the last time there was a BST experiment, when they were both teachers in Manchester, that it didn't even get properly light there until about 10am. I don't know what the comparison is between injuries caused on the roads in the morning compared to the late afternoon...

--------------------
I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war.

Posts: 4495 | From: Surrey, UK | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Ganzfeld     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Embra:
[...]but making a national sport of clock-changing does at least mean that, for example, office hours within the country are predictable and easily comparable.

You say that as if it were a good thing. I'd prefer that the government encourage more flexible office schedules, or at leave it up to the businesses themselves.
Posts: 4922 | From: Kyoto, Japan | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet   E-mail Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
You say that as if it were a good thing
I suppose I should have made myself clearer. I was really thinking ahead to my point about the BST debate in the UK.

If businesses want to rearrange their office schedules to allow staff to come to work later in the winter, then they are already free to do that. They must also weigh up the pros and cons of having an understaffed office at 9am, when a lot of other businesses might maintain "normal office hours".

A lot of places (here at least) already do offer flexible hours to their workers that would allow them to avoid dark mornings. They seem to manage - much in the same way that businesses can cope with international time zones.

My only problem is that I'm not certain of the benefits to a small country like the UK of imposing more than one time zone, or of maintaining GMT+1 all winter.

--------------------
I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war.

Posts: 4495 | From: Surrey, UK | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is enabled.
UBB Code is enabled.

Instant Graemlins
   


Post new topic  Post a reply Close topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Urban Legends Reference Pages

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2