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  • Life Under Stalin: Childhood or Cult?

    Posted on October 13th, 2014 katiewells9 3 comments
    thanks stalin

    Thank you, Comrade Stalin, for our Happy Childhood (1936) Source: Diane P. Koenker: The Soviet Union since 1917. 2002.

    “The slogan “Thanks to Comrade Stalin for our happy childhood” rang without irony for children who were cared for, believed in the society that cared for them, and accepted its structures of authority.” (Childhood Under Stalin

    Stalin worked hard to create the impression that he was a benevolent and caring ruler both domestically and abroad. He had songs and videos created to show how ‘happy’ Russian children were, but instead they came across as forced and fake. One of these videos is titled “Classroom Like a Playground,” in which the children are shown ‘playing’ in class, but instead look bored and miserable. This is just one of the many examples of how Stalin attempted to make Russia look like something it wasn’t.

    While he wanted Russia to look good to the outside world, he definitely wanted the children of Russia to love him more. He made programs that required all children be educated, both academically and politically, under the Program of the Komsomol. This Program also states, “The Communist League of Youth, in all its work, is guided by the words of Stalin: “to master knowledge, to forge new cadres of Bolsheviks- -specialists in all branches of knowledge–to study, study in the most persistent way. ” The League strives to raise the cultural and technical standard of the working classes to the level of fully qualified engineers.”

    Stalin not only wanted all children to be educated, but he wanted them to be educated well and help to create a new Russian society in which the working class was equal to all those previously held higher than them. He believed that the best way to accomplish this goal was to start with the children, hence his portrayal of childhood under Stalin.


    D. Grinets: Thanks to Comrade Stalin (1937) Thanks to the Party, Thanks to Dear Stalin for a Happy, Joyful Childhood Source: Dawn Ades, Tim Benton, David Elliot, Iain Boyd Whyte, eds.: Art and Power: Europe under the Dictators 1930-45. London: The South Bank Centre.

    To help enhance the image of childhood in Russia, Stalin enacted the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissaries of the USSR, On Criminal Penalties for Minor Children. This decree was an attempt at the quickest extermination of juvenile delinquency with just four articles laying out new punishments for criminal behavior. These articles were strict and final, leaving no room for argument or self defense. It was a quick and easy way to weed out the good children and put the bad ones in their place.

    Stalin wanted to remove juvenile delinquency from Russian society completely and in turn create child pioneers, paving the way for his newfound society. These young pioneers were the key to Stalin’s plans because they represented what the future could hold. In a way Stalin created a cult of children creating the future he and Lenin both saw fit for the nation.


    Long Live Young Pioneers! (1939) Long Live Young Pioneers — the worthy replacements for the Leninist-Stalinist Komsomol Source: New Gallery. 2000.

     Childhood under Stalin might not have been what we expect childhood to look like, but he did sincerely care about the impact they would make on the world and Russia. He wanted the children of the 1930s to make his and Lenin’s dream of revolution a reality, he had faith in them. He educated them and attempted to reduce juvenile delinquency. From afar, none of his ideas were all that different from what other countries hope for from their children, but the way he went about making those ideas a reality were a bit outrageous. So you decide, did the youth under Stalin live a normal childhood or were they the youngest members of a cult organization?


    3 responses to “Life Under Stalin: Childhood or Cult?” RSS icon

    • It seems like the “cult organization” aspect is the most striking but perhaps not the most important aspect of the “happy stalinist childhood.” Regardless of the political objective, putting so much energy into educating youth and empowering them to build a new society at time when much of the rest of the world floundered in a severe economic depression seems pretty important.

    • The conclusion that you drew with the almost cult-like education system was exactly what i found in my research a couple weeks ago. Though there was a cult-like system, the education was beyond what Russia had seen. Russia improved greatly on their education in relation to the rest of the world.

    • ession in the lab of Dr. Daniela Cimini. The Winnower will serve the sciences, with sections for different disciplines as well as a science and society section. The new journal will launch in January or February, and is currently looking for beta testers. Some buzz has already been created through a post on the AAAS blog and a Q&A, and The Winnower is active on Twitter and Facebook.

      Josh Nicholson
      Our e-mail interview occurred over several weeks. The questions and answers below have not been edited, except to add an occasional link. I have also grouped similar topics together, so the questions are no lon

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