Article of the month: August

Agent 001: The myth called Pavlik Morozov

Article of the month

Pavlik Morozov as he was shown by the Soviet media in the 1950s: in a snow-white shirt and Young Pioneer ties (archive of Yuri Druzhnikov).

When I was eight years old, I sang in a children's choir. The conductor would announce proudly, “And now, with lyrics by the famous children's poet Sergei Mikhalkov and music by Hungarian Communist Ferentz Sabo — a song about Pavlik Morozov!” Ours were not the only voices lifted in honor of the heroic Pavlik Morozov. For half a century, the whole country lauded this brave teenage boy.

What was the deed that made him a hero? In 1932 Pavlik Morozov exposed his father Trofim Morozov as an “enemy of the People.” He informed the OGPU (as the KGB, or Soviet secret police, was then called) that his father was helping the kulaks, successful peasants who refused to relinquish their land and livestock to the State as was required by the Collectivization Plan, and was therefore branded as an enemy of Socialism. Pavlik's father was arrested, tried, and sent to a concentration camp, never to be seen again. Soon after his father's trial, Pavlik was murdered by “enemies of the State.” After his death, he was hailed as a hero of the people, and every child in the Soviet Union was required to learn his story and be prepared to follow his example. His official title was Hero-Pioneer of the Soviet Union Number 001.

In 1982, on the fiftieth anniversary of the heroic death of Pavlik Morozov, the press called the boy “an ideological martyr.” The place of his death was described as a sanctuary and the child as a saint. This was remarkable language for the atheistic Soviet press and revealed the theological nature of Communist ideology. In a thousand years of Russian history, such glory had never before been bestowed on a child.



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