The image above is actually propaganda a poster once found in Russia. It was advocating for “komsomol“, also known in the 1920’s as the Russian Communist Union of Youth. The term “youth” was used loosely, however, as anyone between ages 14 and 28 could join this organization which lasted from 1918-1991.
Founded in 1918, the komsomol was founded so that new generations of Russians would be proficient in the teachings of communism by the time they were adults. The leaders of Russia’s Communist party felt that they played the role of guardian within the country, and believed that instilling these youths with communist principles at a young age would ultimately help to keep the country strong for years to come. As Freeze pointed out, the older generation of Russians in the early years of communism were just as unfamiliar with communistic ideas as were the youths, so members of komsomol probably were used in the early years under Lenin to educate much of the older Russian population as well.
Komsomol, despite what it sounds like, was actually not a strict training of the youth. Komsomol offered a wide variety of activities that would appeal to a wide variety of youths such as reading clubs, sports, and theater groups. This was how many members of komsomol were drawn in, and only then were these members trained in communist principles. As seen in the poster above, there was an element of stricter training and obedience expected of komsomol members. This was considered necessary for the lifestyle expected of members which was supposed to exclude “frivolous activities” such as excess drinking and pre-martial sex.
The komsomol lasted for over 70 years and roughly for the same time span that communist Russia existed. This group was considered in early years to be “ambassadors” to communism, spreading the teachings to those who were less knowledgable about it. It then shifted to a group which was supposed to be the future leaders and proponents of communism in Russia. The komsomol was an attempt at changing as quickly as possible the political culture and ideas of Russian citizens, and in it’s time, it succeeded for quite a while.
Originial source for propaganda poster: http://seansrussiablog.org/category/all/youth/komsomol/
Original source for komsomol poster: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&show=images&SubjectID=1924komsomol&Year=1924&navi=byYear
Information on the komsomol: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1924komsomol&Year=1924
–Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 209-222. Print
The future belongs to the young! Thanks for highlighting the Bolsheviks’ youth movement in this post. Your second poster features the “Young Pioneers” who made up the most junior portion of the Komsomol. Interestingly, while nearly everyone belonged to the Komsomol, far fewer people were admitted to the Party.
I love this post. I truly had no idea about the Komsomol and their role in the communists’ goals. I think the Party leaders hit the nail right on the head when they identified this group of “youths” as an important piece of the puzzle. I think that the age group that made up the Komsomol wielded a lot more influence than some people assumed. The standards to which the Party held the Komsomol also seem characteristically strict, so it’s nice to see that there is some continuity during this period.