Pavlik’s Story

The Soviet Union is famous for its powerful propaganda, and Pavlik Morozov represents it perfectly.  The story goes that Pavlik was a young boy who reported his father to the authorities for hoarding grain during the time of Stalin’s collective farming. He was killed for these actions and viewed as a hero of the state, standing up for Communism and the Soviet Union even if it cost him his life. Although it was later discovered that this story was false, and that Pavlik was not the angelic boy that he was made out to be, the story itself and what it represents are the important aspects of this case of propaganda.

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Pavlik Morozv, looking studious (source) 

Pavlik was known ubiquitously throughout the Soviet Union, and appeared in classrooms and everyday conversations.  His story was known as the “cornerstone” for Soviet power and control.  Children aspired to be like him because of his commitment to the state.  His actions showed that at the end of the day, nothing is as important as the state—not even family. He loved communism so much that he betrayed his family and sacrificed his life, which was the ultimate display of commitment.  This particular example of propaganda became very powerful—there were statues erected, books written, and songs sung about him.  Whether or not the story was true never mattered; what mattered was the icon that Pavlik became and the values that he represented.

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Statue of Pavlik in Sverdlovsk in 1948.  (source)

Pavlik was great and effective Soviet propaganda because it was not as overt as the other propaganda used.  Images of Lenin and Stalin, a red background, and the hammer and sickle come to mind when Soveit propaganda is brought up, but Pavlik was the opposite.  It was discreet propaganda, disguised behind a story that could have happened (again, whether it really did was irrelevant.)  It inspired young children to want to be like him, and continue the strong commitment to Communist values.  It’s fascinating how one young boy became such an icon, especially because of something he probably did not even do.

leninlives
Typical Soviet propaganda: “Lenin lived, Lenin lives, long live Lenin” (source)

 

Sources:

http://www.economist.com/node/4032697

http://reds-on.postalstamps.biz/Russia/children/pioneers.htm

http://andrejkoymasky.com/liv/fam/biom6/morozo01.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/1450370/Squalid-truth-of-Stalins-little-martyr-killed-for-informing-on-his-father.html

http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1934-2/pavlik-morozov/

http://soviet-art.ru/soviet-poster-artist-viktor-ivanov/lenin-lived-lenin-lives-lenin-will-live/

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Pavlik’s Story”

  1. Good job on this post. This looks like a great example of how the Soviet Union would try to use martyrs, real or not, as a way to spread propaganda. You provided some great examples of propaganda with the pictures in this post as well.

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  2. This is an interesting case of Soviet propaganda. Throughout this period, the importance of communist education is very apparent, specifically for young children. You found some really interesting articles on Pavlik as well!

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  3. The Pavlik Morozov still unnerves me — even after all these years of reading and thinking about it. As you note, the veracity of the original tale isn’t the main issue. Inserting patriotism as a wedge of betrayal in the family just makes this really potent (and frightening) on any number of levels. On the other hand, how do the youth bring their elders to account?

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    1. I was thinking the same in terms of the youth keeping the elders ‘in-check’ with Soviet ideals. Is there any historical evidence that the Sovietized young population actually did keep the older generations accountable?

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  4. What an interesting piece of Soviet propaganda! It speaks to the intensity of the Communist party’s control over the state, and the minds of the young population. Even though the story is most likely false, how else may have Pavlik died? Was he killed by his father for ratting him out? Could he have died with the many others during the famine brought on by the grain shortages? Either way, it showed the population that self-sacrifice (martyrdom essentially) was considered the greatest act of loyalty to the party. Great post!

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  5. This is a really interesting piece on education in soviet Russia. I also wrote about the youth during the 30s and found out that this generation was more juvenile than previous. I think that part plays into the children going against their parents in a way.

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  6. Caroline, I really enjoyed this post. It was very descriptive and definitely portrayed the amount of commitment to the state that the Soviets desired from their people. I can certainly see why it would be a “cornerstone” for children of the state to achieve. The dedication to the state over the family portrayed in the story is actually rather frightening to me. I wonder, considering the story was not true, if the state somehow started that story and wove it into societal interactions!

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