Pavlik’s mother Tatyiana was not well-regarded in the village, described by the villagers as “not a good woman:” she harassed her husband a lot. In a highly unusual move for that time, his father – a leader of a remote village Soviet (communal council,) respected by the villagers for his hard work and ability to defend their interests – left her for another woman. One of Pavel's schoolteachers, Zoya Kabina, confided that Tatyana Morozova encouraged her eldest son to complain about his father to the local GPU. “She was an illiterate, ignorant woman,” Kabina explained, “and she harassed her husband as much as she could after he left her. She taught Pavlik to inform, thinking that Trofim would get scared and return to the family.”
After he left, Trofim’s responsibilities fell on Pavel's shoulders: he had to take care of a cow and a horse, clean the barn, collect and cut firewood and make house repairs. For a while Trofim provided the family with some food, which was scarce to begin with, but then he stopped. Tatyana tried to manipulate him into coming back to her by making dangerous complaints to the secret political police. She coaxed the young Pavlik, her eldest son, to support her denouncement of his father, presenting herself a victim for the young Oedipus to defend. Unbeknownst to him, the young Oedipus was “taking care” of his mother and had a murderous wish for his father. Tatyana’s blackmail did not scare Trofim, but she proved true the old adage “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”: she brought death and destructions upon seven members of her family, and the untimely death of three of her four sons. (One of them, Aleksei, survived WW-II by being imprisoned for 10 years for “espionage”, which fact the Soviet mass media thoroughly concealed.)
As Druzhnikov wrote, Pavlik's mother Tatyana was and still is rather disliked in her native Gerasimovka, even after her death in 1983. One of her surviving sons, Roman, died of wounds in WW-II. The other, Aleksei, was convicted of espionage and imprisoned for 10 years, in 1941-1951, which was never revealed by the Soviet media. The charge of “espionage” sounded implausible to Druzhnikov, so he found out some details, which elucidate the story: It was relayed to him by a relative, and confirmed by Aleksei himself that hei had made himself unpopular among his Soviet Air Force comrades, being a pushy “brother of a Pioneer hero,” demanding special treatment. His comrades in arms got him drunk, planted on him some top-secret aerial photographs of the concentrations of Soviet troops on the front lines, while he was inebriated, then called in SMERSH (abbreviation for “death to spies”) counterintelligence investigators. At least, that was his explanation. As a military pilot, he could easily escape, ingratiating himself to the Germans with this information, so he was not to be trusted after the incident. Had he not spent 10 years in prison, he would have likely died in the war, which did not spare even Stalin’s son.
Soviet propaganda – very much like the
The Soviet Propaganda versions of this 1932 murder were concocted mostly between 1932 and 1938 by the movers and shakers of the soviet culture – the political functionaries in the literature and arts. The story varied a good deal, depending on the current political needs: some versions were telling a tale of a 12-year old boy who denounced his father to the authorities for hiding some grain from the total confiscations. The moral of the story was that making even a small stash of grain for the 4 children in his family to survive a long, severe winter was a major crime against the state, for which Trofim, Pavlik’s father, his grandparents, uncles and cousins paid the ultimate price, publicly shot as “people’s enemies.”
In other versions, Trofim, the chairman of the People’s Soviet of his village, forged documents to save lives of other peasants, whom the NKVD slated to death as “kulaks.” A kulak meant literally a “fist,” and was a peasant, a petty owner of some land and agricultural produce, who – due to his “petty bourgeoisie” nature would not give it all up and join a communal “collective farm.” Kulaks, petty owners, had no place in the bright communist future.
The “scientific” Marxism-Leninism, and the more pragmatic Stalinism both called for the Revolution to put these capitalist tendencies to the sword and fire, to slaughter the poisonous snake of the counter-revolution. Several million of “kulaks” and their entire families – children and grandparents – were put in cattle cars and sent to Siberian labor camps; the luckier ones were force-moved to remote lands with no food, shelter, tools or materials to build. Tens of thousands of peasants were shot publicly for refusing to give up whatever little property they had, for not showing enough enthusiasm with the collectivization, the latest invention of “scientific communism,” as developed by the genius of Comrades Trotsky, Stalin and Malenkov. Lists of kulaks were made, of those peasants slated to be shot, hostages were taken by the Red Army for the ransom of pounds of wheat, rye, milk and meat and routinely executed.
Despite official encouragement “to be vigilant,” children's denunciations of their relatives were not as frequent as the state hoped, although a number of copy-cat cases were reported in the press.
As Prof. Druzhnikov wrote:
<<The informer system became Stalin's practical instrument for destroying his adversaries and consolidating his own position. And for his subordinates, informing was a way to prove their loyalty, to gain their leader's favor, and to further their careers.
The new Soviet citizen had a duty to inform on his fellow citizens. In this way he demonstrated his loyalty to the great goal of Socialism, in which many informers sincerely believed. And there also were those who apparently enjoyed being informers and participated enthusiastically in the denunciation campaign.
Under Stalin's direction, a State agency for the collection of denunciations was formed, a nationwide ear called the Complaint Bureau. The information gathered by the Complaint Bureau was used by the Prosecutor's office and the OGPU.
The campaign to
encourage mass denunciations was carried out with great enthusiasm.
Denunciations became a regular feature of the Soviet press. A newspaper's
condemnation was almost as powerful as a court's sentence. The Deputy People's
Commissar of Education, Nadezhda Krupskaya (Lenin's
widow), instructed children to “be observant at all times in order to help the
Party eradicate its enemies.” Hundreds of new Morozovs
were praised in the press and were rewarded for their good work by a trip to Artek, a prestigious Young Pioneer summer camp on the
Feeling helpless in
the face of this national tide of surveillance, people sometimes took the law
into their own hands. During the years of Stalin's terror, there were at least
fifty-six reported murders of young informers. Misguided by their teachers,
these children, like their model, Morozov, were the
victims of a political struggle they were too young to understand.>> (translated from Russian by Sonia Melnikova; Published by ICARUS,
Despite such propaganda, the family ties in the Soviet era remained strong through all the trials and tribulations, even despite whole generations wiped out by wars, famine and repressions.
Stalin, despite his many vices, including being a mass-murderer and a fanatical sadist with perceived enemies, was a man of keen natural intelligence. As a shrewd politician, he was far from ignorant and far from being deaf to the needs and wishes of the people, as long as they did not contradict the needs of the state, as defined by his ambitions. He keenly observed that the state was being overwhelmed by the “criminal element,” coming from fatherless families, regardless of the mother’s economic status, even if quite well-to-do.
By the second half of the 1930s, Stalin had become concerned with the impact of dissolution of the family, resulting in high levels of crime. Besides, he wished to distinguish his theoretical platform from that of other revolutionaries. The dissolution of the family was greatly promoted by the earlier (1917-1935) apologists of the permanent World Revolution, whom he sought to defeat theoretically, and was methodically destroying physically, en route to his absolute power.
Comparatively speaking, on the backdrop of some of these “revolutionaries,” Stalin could be called a humanitarian of sorts. Among other stabilizing social measures, Stalin, “the Father of All People,” reintroduced the notion of paternal importance to the Soviet family.
The cult of “St.
Pavlik,” an ungrateful young brat, who denounced his
father, was no longer convenient. Nor were the feminist-communist theoreticians
of free love, growing fat asses in their sinecure jobs at the Moscow’s 3d
International; it was time for them to go – to practice what they preached with
the armed guards of the Siberian labor camps, to which they were promptly
exiled. As the propaganda poster stated
In popular culture informing on the family was still a social taboo, but informing on one's neighbors, workmates, teachers, fellow students and bosses became commonplace. The Old Religion was destroyed and its practitioners shot, then it was the executioners’ turn and they were all executed as people’s enemies; the process continued not unlike the French revolution, but on a much grander scale commensurate with the vastness of the country and the Revolution’s huge utopian ambitions. The large populations of the undesirable classes had to be re-educated, converted or destroyed, not unlike the teachings of Koran. The New Religion created its new iconoclastic image of God – Comrade Stalin, the Brilliant Scientist and the Father of All People.
The main motives for ratting on others became such “fine human emotions” as envy and jealousy: for other people’s money, success, looks, education, smarts, luck; coveting the neighbor’s husband or wife, orchard or house; the “natural” desire to acquire additional living space; revenge for a personal slight, and outrage at perceived abuses of power or other social “injustices.”
Just as Stalin
was a keen observer and listener, the NKVD lent its very sympathetic, very
large collective ear to any whisper of any anti-people, anti-party,
anti-Bolshevik activity or anti-Soviet mindset. As Pavlik
Morozov’s grandfather allegedly noted, “even the
walls have ears,” a cliché highly popular in the former
The policies of collectivization and weaning the peasantry off their bourgeois tendencies were conducted “scientifically.” One of the defining documents, was known as Lenin’s 1918 “hanging order.” The text of the handwritten order is in Russian. The Library of Congress translation into English is as follows:
To Comrades Kuraev,
Bosh, Minkin and
Comrades! The revolt by the five kulak volost's must be suppressed without mercy. The interest of the entire revolution demands this, because we have now before us our final decisive battle "with the kulaks." We need to set an example.
1) You need to hang (hang
without fail, so that the public sees) at least 100 notorious kulaks, the rich,
and the bloodsuckers.
2) Publish their names.
3) Take away all of their grain.
4) Execute the hostages - in accordance with yesterday's
This needs to be accomplished in such a way, that people for hundreds of miles around will see, tremble, know and scream out: let's choke and strangle those blood-sucking kulaks.
Telegraph us acknowledging receipt and execution of this.
P.S. Use your toughest people for this.
It must be noted that at the time of fighting kulaks, children were routinely recruited not only as informants, but also into special cavalry detachments of the Red Army, manned by 14- 17-year-old kids, male and female, some – from state orphanages – tasked with fighting the peasant “bandits” – those who refused to enlist into collective farms.
Their young age
should not surprise the reader: not only is it “the age of the rebellion,” but
they are physically strong enough and stupid enough to engage
in armed violence as a rite of passage, and in search of state approval – a
romantic pursuit instantly turning these suckling piglets into worldly men and
women, worthy of mutual adoration and sexual rewards. They were romanticized by
the propaganda. Somali pirate attacks, ethnic and tribal cleansings in
In reality they were saber-rattling, rifle-toting, murderous rag-tag army of immature “dreamers,” “know-it-alls” armed with the “scientific” knowledge of the theory of the World Revolution. Killing, robbing and pillaging those who worked the land and fed them – the peasants – they were making careers as future statesmen. The communist “science” taught them that peasants were “petty bourgeoisie,” the counter-Revolutionary element of the society, a class enemy, which had to be eradicated. At the time of the 1930-32 famine, the poor peasants were called “podkulachniky,” i.e. criminals aiding and abetting the kulaks.
A rebellious youth, lauded and glorified for murdering peasants and denouncing their own parents, mind-programmed and armed with the new “revolutionary” lingo – these children became “the engine of the Revolution.”
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