Why do Russian apartments have multiple doors?

Russia Beyond (Legion Media)

For Russians, it is quite normal to have 4 to 5 different keys on the doors of their apartment. Because you usually have to open several doors before entering. What are they afraid of?

“Can someone explain to me why Russian apartments often have multiple entrance doors?” I have just moved from a hostel to a rented apartment, “my foreign colleague wrote recently,” and here I have three entrance doors in a row, and two of them are only 2 cm between they ! Are residents still afraid of bears? Or Napoleon’s army?

Hear in camera

Privacy has always been a problem in Russia, a country with a long tradition of community life and collective decisions even before the Bolshevik revolution. The church, as well as the local rural communities, often set the rules of life for their members and intrude on their privacy.

In Soviet society, people began to own separate apartments in cities. From the mid-1950s, inexpensive apartment buildings called “khrushschyovkas” after Nikita Khrushchev were built all over the Soviet Union. And these apartments had really lame doors, not even exactly wooden. “I dismantled ‘a door’ once, inside there were wooden blocks and cutouts, glued to boards of wood chips,” a user told a Russian Internet forum. No wonder such doors are not soundproof. Sitting in a kitchen, you could hear almost every step in the stairwell – and vice versa.

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A woman opens a door covered with fabrikoid (dermatin), an inexpensive artificial leather.

These doors were also poorly insulated. After a while, the wood shrank and drafts began to appear. All of these reasons prompted Soviet citizens to upgrade the front doors of their apartments with artificial leather, sold as дерматин (dermatin) – also known as fabrikoid. This made the doors “richer” and also helped them to last longer – the search for a new door in the USSR could take months.

Why are they so thick?

A double front door in a building.

Of course, there were break-ins in the USSR, and people were very concerned that the doors were so poor and could be easily hacked.

Why, then, has the state not provided its citizens with theft-proof apartments? Surprisingly, there were political reasons, induced by the Communist Party. The Bolsheviks believed that the production and installation of iron gates would not only be expensive, but would undermine the ideological basis of communism. Of course, why would one need iron gates in a country where everything belongs to the people, and where the militia performs its service perfectly. Also, what would you like to hide behind iron doors? In a society with low levels of privacy, anyone who wanted to isolate themselves would attract suspicion and gossip.

READ MORE: What was wrong with life in the USSR?

In the last years of the USSR, the installation of thick, often multi-layered or multiple iron doors became an important thing – and also, guardrails on the windows appeared, which could protect the windows from burglars. Even if you didn’t really have millions or a diamond stash in your 30-meter two-room apartment, you could set up a towering door and show off your neighbors. But the main reason for the popularity of thick, multi-layered doors is surely psychological – after years of insecurity behind small, thin doors, they are now overcompensating by installing several.

Why did most Soviet doors open in the apartment?

There is also a recurring Soviet myth that most Soviet apartment doors opened inward due to state security – the KGB wanted the apartments to be easily broken into in case someone from dangerous would be locked up in it.

Of course, this is pure fiction. The Soviet KGB could enter or crash into any house if it needed to, no matter how thick the doors were or which way they opened. The real reason is much simpler – the stairs in the khrushchyovkas are really small. If the doors were designed to open outward, they would simply need more potential space in the stairwell. And in some houses, the doors of neighboring apartments were so close together that you could open your door and accidentally knock your neighbor with it, while the neighbor fiddled with his own lock and keys. So the doors opened to the inside – and when these doors were reinstalled in the 1990s, many citizens changed the frames and opened them to the outside – to give them more space in the house. interior of the apartment.

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It’s funny that Russians still retain their love for thick doors. “I could never spend the night with such a door in such a house, let alone leave my children and my wife there. It’s ‘between who wants!’ And you never know what! – a Russian internet user wrote about glass doors and American wooden doors. Is he probably right? Tell us in the comments!

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