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Stalin’s Youth

The youth during the 1930s were much different than their elders were during their upbringing. This generation grew up with nothing but socialism and embodied all of the qualities of society during this time. While there were many parts of this group that shook the status quo, they were also the generation to build and industrialize much of Russia. They also looked up to Stalin as if he were their father, saying “Thanks to Comrade Stalin for our happy childhood.” The image below is of the “young pioneers” of Stalin’s communist regime, who were happy with their governing and appreciated Stalin.

 

Long Live Young Pioneers! (1939) Source: New Gallery. 2000.

 

The reason I chose this topic was because I stumbled upon a primary source from the Communist League of Youth and thought it was interesting how much they relied on education to create this sense of community and equality among this generation in Soviet Russia. The Program of the Komsomol even stated that one goal of the League of Youth was to explain the “harm” that comes from “superstitions and religious practices,” which is a continuation of Stalin’s attempts to overcome the church and get rid of its practices. This education wasn’t a technical one, but a political one.

This push to really ramp up the education in the Soviet Union must have worked well since the youth were the most educated body of people. However, this education did not stop them from being delinquent. Another primary source in the Seventeen Moments blog was about criminal penalties for minors in the Soviet Union. Some of the punishments included being tried in criminal court and facing five years imprisonment.

This generation was known not only as the “generation of sins” but also the “generation of accomplishments.” It is interesting that while this generation was promiscuous and apparently criminal, assumed from the need of an amended policy on charging minors for crimes. It is kind of similar to our generation except for the criminality. While we are seen as some of the most educated in the country, we replace the criminal/sinful side of Soviet youth with being stigmatized as lazy and entitled.

8 Comments

  1. Ben

    Stalin’s seemed to focus on developing a sense of devout followership, maybe even coaching the youth to worship him during the 1930’s. Great Blog Post.

  2. Kathryn Walters

    I think one of the aspects Stalin wanted to ensure was the stability of the future of the party, so the involvement of children and young adults was vital to promoting communist ideals. I also talked about propaganda and youth culture because Stalin thought education was one way to ensure a socialist future. It’s also interesting that you brought up crime … did crime rates rise among young adults during this time?

  3. Drew Snell

    Education under Stalin is a fascinating topic. Even if the Soviet children were prone to criminal behavior, as you stated, the propaganda promoted their accomplishments. Caroline wrote a nice post on propaganda involving a young Soviet child: https://cnritchey.wordpress.com/2017/03/12/pavliks-story/

  4. You’ve got some great comments here, and I think your post speaks to the challenges of making general statements about a particular group’s experience in any situation. Surely many Soviet youngsters did praise Stalin and thank him for their “happy childhood.” But at the same time, some of them were also delinquents, or politically apathetic, or even criminal. That’s a really interesting comment you make about comparing Soviet youth in the 30s with American young people today. Wow!

  5. leigh94

    This post was really interesting. The youth seemed to really take off during this era. I also find it a little sad that everything revolves around religion and the need to destroy it for power. I think that has been a trend in history; using history either as a justification for power or trying to destroy it to become the sole ‘God’ on earth.

  6. Brian Nolte

    I think that it is interesting how younger generations view older ones as being tougher, better disciplined and having better morals, but this shows that they were still delinquents like people are today. I wonder what the long-term implications were of all this cult of personality that Stalin developed and had instilled into these people? Great post!

  7. Michael Annan

    Dear Elizabeth, I enjoyed your post a lot. I also mentioned some stuff about the youth in my post. I was most interested to find about the punishments for delinquency (it’s crazy to think that 12 year olds could get the death penalty for stealing!)

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