The first thing we might notice about Soviet anecdotes is that there are none about the October Revolution or about the Civil War that soon followed. Much later, jokes would poke fun at the way official history had come to glorify and otherwise distort the events of these years. But either the jokes of this period have been forgotten and lost, or at the time no one found much that was amusing about the Bolsheviks, their seizure of power, and the long, bloody struggle they eventually won to stay in power. It shouldn’t surprise us if the latter were true. Conditions in Russia from 1917 to 1921 were about as horrible as life can be. The revolutions of 1917 came near the end of Russia’s involvement in the World War I. By the time Russia withdrew, she had lost over three million citizens, more than all the other combatant nations combined. Trying to fight a “total” war had severely damaged the Russian economy. Modern war usually produces full employment, with soldiers in the army and an augmented factory force producing war materiel, but unemployment was higher in Russia in 1917 than in America during the Great Depression. Inflation had severely eroded the value of money. There were such great shortages of fuel and food that factories could not operate and people went hungry. They fled the cities to find refuge and something to eat in the villages.