Table of content
» Introduction » 2: Kalashnikov's family » 6: AK-74 / AK-100 / Saiga » 10: A study of Kalashnikov Vodka
» 1a: About The Kalashnikov Museum » 3: Kalashnikov: years 1933 - 1942 » 7: The Hall of Fame: Part I » 11: What's coming in the next version
» 1b: Izhevsk, Kalashnikov's homecity » 4: Kalashnikov's design career begins » 8: The Hall of Fame: Part II » Copyright
» 1c: Entering the Kalashnikov Museum » 5: The AK-47 is born » 9: The 2nd hall of the exhibition    Back to main page of

The Kalashnikov Museum Virtual Tour: Part 1c - Mikhail Kalashnikov's family

Exhibits in the first subhall introduce Mikhail Kalashnikov, his family,
and his life prior to World War II.

Pic.2-1 The village of Kurya

Kalashnikov Weaposn Museum. the village of Kurya
Pic.2-2 Loktevka river

Museum of Kalashnikov. Loktevka river

Mikhail Kalashnikov was born to a modest peasant family on November 10th 1919 in Kurya - steppe village on small river Loktevka in Altai region.

Father: Timofey Aleksandrovich Kalashnikov (1883-1930)
Mother: Aleksandra Frolovna Kalashnikova (Kaverina) (1884-1957)

Aleksandra bore 19 children, however only eight lived to adulthood. She was illiterate, while Timofey Aleksandrovich could read and write - he finished two grades of parish school.

Having heard the stories of better life in Siberia, Kalashnikov's parents decided to move from their native stanitsa (Cossack village) Otradnoe, Kubansky area (Northern Caucasus) to Altai region.

There was good 4000 kilometers (2500 miles) distance to go from Northern Caucasus region to Kurya village, but many people went even further. Russia is the country of tremendous distances: it spreads for about 9000 kilometers (5600 miles) from its western to eastern boundaries, the country's total square is about 17m. sq. kilometers (about 6.6m sq. miles).

Back in 1900s, it was popular with (mostly) poorest peasants of central and southern regions of Russia to give up on their tiny allotment plots and move eastward. One could say it was somewhat similar to Westward Expansion of United States of America - people had been moving over long distances to Russian Wild East. Like North America, Siberia represented an 'open frontier'.

Between 1891 and 1914 nearly five million peasants moved into Siberia which was sparsely populated before the 1890s - it looked like a modest nation took off from its habitat and settled on new lands.

Images 2-1 and 2-2 credit: "Dwellings of Altai" web site



Museum of Kalashnikov. Display #1

In contrast to America's West where migration occurred independently, the migrational wave in Siberia was state-organized.

The peasant liberation of 1861 set the legal framework for the migration. After the peasant liberation the hunger of millions of European peasants for free land had to be satisfied. Poverty was the main reason for migration.

In order to give migrants enough incentive to go to the 'Wild East', the Tsarist government exempted the settlers from taxation for twenty years, and settlers were granted timber for their construction needs free of charge.

Kalashnikov Weaposn Museum.
 pamphlet Resettlement beyond Ural 
 Pic.2-4 pamphlet "Resettlement beyond Ural"

Kalashnikov Weaposn Museum.
 Record of births 
 Pic.2-5 Record of births


Museum of Kalashnikov. Display #2

The construction of the Transsiberian railroad (1894-1903) allowed the state to introduce reduced fare for settlers.

Resettlement Administration started churning out a wide array of settler-oriented materials, including settlement manuals on different settlement regions, itineraries, maps, and a variety of informational pamphlets. All of these publications were either free or very cheap, short, and simply written.

In the first showcase of the exposition you can see one of these pamphlets (distributed, as the cover says, free of charge) and two facsimile records off register of births: dated 1901 is record of marriage registered between Timofei Aleksandrovich Kalashnikov, 18, and Aleksandra Frolovna Kaverina, 17, and dated 1905 is record of daughter Agafiya being born to parents Timofei Aleksandrovich Kalashnikov and Aleksandra Frolovna Kalashnikova.



Museum of Kalashnikov. Display #3

Goods and chattels of the settlers were quite scarce - it'd be tough to bring lots of things along for thousands of miles. The apparent choice was to take absolutely necessary belongings only - you can see artifacts of the epoch in this showcases.

For Kalashnikov's parents the dream came true - they found their own "better life" in Altai, their large united and hard-working family lived a prosperous life. "Hard-working" is the key though - his father's favorite saying was "tongue is not the tool to build a house with, hue-and-cry is of no help to make work done".

All kinds of construction, housekeeping and field work were carried out by family members themselves, they never hired hands. Kids were involved in routine peasant work since early childhood.

Misha Kalashnikov, one of the youngsters, wasn't an exception either - in pre-school years he looked after cattle and poultry, and then he grew older he helped in the field.



Military Museum of Kalashnikov, the designer of AK-47. Display #4

One of the Museum's distinctive feature is reconstruction of rooms - in particular, reconstruction of living quarters.

This first of the series reconstruction renders part of early XX century settlers' log cabin and re-creates the feeling of the epoch.

Most of the settlers' belongings were rather primitive and, as a rule, hand-made - e.g. toys (you can see in the reconstruction a wooden horse), footwear (you can see valenki - felt boots), traditional round rag wattled rug and so on.


Pic.2-9 again, as 30 years ago, exiles may bring along with them to
Siberia only the very basic belongings - or rely on their own skills to produce
necessary things.

Museum of Kalashnikov. Again, as 30 years ago, exiles may bring along with them to
Siberia only the very basic belongings - or rely on their own skills to produce 
necessary things.

"Better life" came to abrupt end by late 1920s - new Soviet regime began enforcing collectivization, as well as the policy of 'raskulachivanie,' that is, the expropriation of property from any prosperous owners.

Misha turned 11 then Kalashnikovs were labelled "kulaks" and Kombed (Committee of Poverty organized by the Bolsheviks) deprived the family of cattle, poultry, wheat, potatoes and everything else considered a "surpluses" - and in the end set their home on fire.

The definition of "kulak" was quite expansive - often it meant anyone who had a little more than other also desperately poor people, but enough to excite envy, and who also lacked social skills or connections or were recent immigrants to the area (i.s., whose families hadn't been in the neighborhood for 300 years).

De-kulakization was originally supported by the poorer peasants because they believed the land would be given to them, not become collective farms... poor dreamers.

Thus, in 1930 along with many other families from Kurya, Kalashnikovs were deprived of property and exiled to Siberia - only elder children who'd got married prior to 1930 were allowed to stay (namely, Misha's sisters Agasha, Anna and his brother Victor).

Ahead of the family lied an exhausting trip from steppe areas of Altai to primeval taiga of Siberia - to village Nizhnyaya Mokhovaya, Bokcharsky area (Tomsk region).


Pic.2-10 Corduroy road

Museum of Kalashnikov. Corduroy road

Newbie settlers lived a hard farming existence, living in barracks and clearing forest allotments for the settlement.

Eventually Kalashnikovs began to put up new household, to cultivate vegetable gardens on virgin soil, and then new misfortune came - Timofey Kalashnikov died.

Family needed a supporter though, and Aleksandra got married with a widower Efrem Kosach, who's got his own 3 children.

Area where Kalashnikovs found new home was famous for its rich hunting grounds. Life in Siberia turned Mikhail into hunter, too - it was there where he first time ever took a rifle in his hands, it was his father's rifle.

Kalashnikov's voice recites:
"I started school being already able to read and write. This must be an advantage of large families: either elders teach you or you figure out a way to teach yourself - everything goes in order just not to be behind everybody."

All the way he had to go through taiga, by corduroy road - it was 15 kilometers (9 miles) walk to Voronikha village.

There was shortage of textbooks, there were no paper school copybooks - pupils had to write on copybooks made of birch bark.

 Kalashnikov Weapons Museum. Copybook made of birch bark
Pic.2-11 Copybook made of birch bark

 Kalashnikov Weapons Museum.  Russian textbook for 3rd and 4th grades of secondary school. 1933.
Pic.2-12 Russian textbook for 3rd and 4th grades of secondary school. 1933.



Museum of Kalashnikov. Mikhail was a bright pupil...

Mikhail was a bright pupil. His teachers were people with university backgrounds and a wealth of experience - they were mostly political exiles sentenced to 10 - 25 years of internal exile under Article 58 of the Soviet Criminal Code, proscribing "Anti-Soviet Activities".

Old Soviet joke: One political exile asks a newbie,
What did you get?
25 years.
What for?
Absolutely nothing.
Liar! For absolutely nothing they give you only 10 years!

Of special interest to Kalashnikov were technical hobby groups, while at school he was especially good at physics, geometry and literature.

Take a look at this partial reconstruction of a small countryside school - you can see there World Map on the wall, a schoolbench, a real inkpot, a real bast bag one could bring textbooks in, fragment of stove.


Pic.2-14 Bottom: authentic ironware young Mikhail might be attracted to

Military Museum of Kalashnikov. Bottom: authentic ironware young Mikhail might be attracted to 

Kalashnikov recalls: "In my childhood years I was attracted to all kinds of machinery. If I happened to come across a broken piece of technics it was a discovery time for me...First off, I carried it home and hide it to my cache at the garret.

Then the time was right, I would withdrew the thing, took my father's tools from the shed and went to the backyard. There, I would untwist it, unfasten it, take it to pieces: I was very curious to learn how the thing should work and why it doesn't work.

Often times I failed to restore the broken mechanics - but if I succeeded to I felt myself a winner and was walking out off backyard very proud of myself."


Pic.2-18 In particular, this first kiosk details Kalashnikov's genealogy tree.

Museum of Kalashnikov. In particular, this first kiosk details Kalashnikov's genealogy tree.

Next to the showcase which displays a fragment of corduroy road you can see information kiosk - along with sculpted reconstruction of rooms, multimedia programs is another distinctive feature of the Museum. Overall, there are 17 video and multimedia presentations running in the exposition - on large LCD panels, projected to the walls and featured in information kiosks.

 Kalashnikov Weapons Museum. One of the museum's
plasma panels
Pic.2-15 One of the museum's
plasma panels

 Kalashnikov Weapons Museum. Documentary about
Shurovskoy probing ground is
Pic.2-16 Documentary about
Shurovskoy probing ground is

 Kalashnikov Weapons Museum. kiosks - this one
features 3D model
of AK-47 operation
Pic.2-17 Both male and female
visitors are keen to study
multimedia kiosks - this one
features 3D model
of AK-47 operation

 Kalashnikov Weapons Museum. kiosks - this one
features 3D model
of AK-47 operation. Closeup
Pic.2-19 Close-up of the screen