Lenin’s Soviet Children

“…We need that generation of young people who began to reach political maturity in the midst of a disciplined and desperate struggle against the bourgeoisie. In this struggle that generation is training genuine Communists; it must subordinate to this struggle, and link up with it, each step in its studies, education, and training.”

-V.I. Lenin, Tasks of the Youth Leagues (Bourgeois and Communist Morality)

After the Bolsheviks achieved total power within the Russian government many things began to change. Apart from internal matters, the the biggest question was how to maintain and extend soviet power over a vast empire. Though this question circled within Lenin’s mind, Russia was still involved externally with the Great War and internally with a violent civil war. Allies demanded that Russia continue their presence in the war, while many Russian citizens demanded that they abandon. Questions and demands were still being asked by the public and the Bolsheviks were expected to deliver answers and solutions. To resolve these problems, Bolshevik officials utilized two methods: ideology and tradition. Bolshevik ideology was the “obsessive determination to build socialism as the historical antithesis of capitalism” (Freeze, 292) and tradition was drawn from the former bureaucratic power. The fusion of these two methods led Bolsheviks to victory and winning the majority over the Russian population.

In regards to Soviet expansion, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, was interested in producing a new generation, the generation of Soviet children. Children were being born and they had little to no knowledge or understanding of the revolutions that had just recently been put down. Education and training would not be left to just the parents, therefore the Soviets took control. The new generation of Soviet children would not experience harsh working environments for long hours and low pay, they would not experience a never ending need for food, and they would not witness the killings of innocents, this generation would be better.

Instead, they would attend schools for education and participate in after-school events, like the Pioneers, an organization for younger children and the Young Communist League that was designed for teenagers and young adults. More than anything, the introduction of education and organizations was to promote the Socialist cause and create a feeling a national pride and community. Lenin understood that some of the older generation would not be easily swayed, so he started on the youth and began to grow and nurture his Soviet children.


Freeze, Gregory L. Russia A History. New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2009), 292.

“Raising Socialist Youth.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. December 29, 2015. Accessed February 9, 2018. http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1917-2/raising-socialist-youth/.

“The Soviet Cult of Childhood.” Guided History. Accessed February 9, 2018. http://blogs.bu.edu/guidedhistory/russia-and-its-empires/elise-alexander/

Ilnitsky, Sergei. “Vasily Kafo Old Photo Young Pioneer Organization.” The Young Pioneer Organization of the Soviet Union. Accessed February 9, 2018. https://ilnitsky.photoshelter.com/image/I0000c83.rAlFczo




Community Within a Divided Country

In 1861, Tsar Alexander II, Alexander the Liberator, had liberated the serfdom population of Russia. The once reigning feudal system had come to a halt and was replaced with the idea of equality. However, serfdom reform was not about a moral obligation but rather political gain. Alexander justifies his decision with a blunt statement, “It is better to begin abolishing serfdom from above than to wait for it to begin to abolish itself from below” (203).

Now free, the former serfs found themselves asking the redundant question, now what? Russia remained an agrarian state for their industrial revolution hadn’t quite peaked and was primarily found in largely populated areas, cities. While the peasantry, typically remained in a rural setting, they continued a life of sustained living and farm work.

In 1909, traveling the Russian countryside, photographer Sergia Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii brought color to a communal farming ground north of the city Cherepovets. A photograph titled Haying Near the Resting Place, most likely depicts former serfdom families working together to harvest hay for communal usage.

Setting the geographic scene for this photograph is challenging being that an exact location is unknown. However, it is believed to be photographed near the city Cherepovets, in Vologda Oblast, Russia. According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), currently the exportation of wheat constitutes 15% of Russian exports. Wheat during the early 20th century was largely produced for its contribution to diet and for the production of hay.As depicted, the working individuals are in the process of “haying”, which is the process of harvesting dried grains or grasses (oat, barley, and wheat) to make hay. This activity took place in the autumn seasons, which provided favorable climate for the workers as well as the crop.

Just at a quick glance, the picture depicts a diversified workforce in terms of gender and age. Men, women and children are all pictured in this photo and are doing their part in order to complete the task at hand. A sense of community is conveyed within this photo, a rare sight in what is at the time a divided Russian state.


Freeze, Gregory L. Russia A History. New York: Oxford University Press         Inc., 2009), 203.

Prokudin-Gorskii, Sergia Mikhailovich, photographer. “[Haying Near the Resting Place.]” Photograph. Washington D.C.: From Library of Congress: The Empire that was Russia, 1909-1915. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/work.html (accessed January 20, 2018).

Trueman, C.N. “Russia and Agriculture.” History Learning Site. March 5, 2015. Accessed January 20, 2018. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/modern-world-history-1918-to-1980/russia-1900-to-1939/russia-and-agriculture/.

Nafziger, Steven. “Russian Serfdom, Emancipation, and Land Equality: New Evidence.” Department of Economics, Williams College 24-25, (May 2013): accessed January 20, 2018. https://web.williams.edu/Economics/wp/SerfdomEmancipationInequality_Long_May2013_2.pdf.

Dennison, Tracy and Steven Nafziger. “Micro-Perspectives on 19th-century Russian Living Standards.” Williams College 1-50, (November 2007): accessed January 20, 2018. http://web.williams.edu/Economics/wp/nafzigerMicroLivingStandards_WilliamsWorkingPaper_Nov2007.pdf.