Pavlik Morozov

Can you imagine living in a world where children are actively encouraged to betray even their own families (page 37). Here is described ‘the martyred boy hero of every ‘Young Pioneer” – ‘ but his great glory will outlive everything’. Of course this ploy has been used in many other places throughout history but I cannot think of a more unsettling environment to live in. Oh the innocence of youth.

This article in Daily Mail 22 September 2007

Prisoners entering Moscow’s Lubyanka Prison in 1928

Traitors in the family: Stalin’s informers.
Neighbours. Friends. Even your closest loved ones. In Stalin’s Russia, everyone was an informer. And as a chilling new book reveals, one word from a resentful child was enough to send you to the firing squad.

When two teenage boys were found stabbed to death in a forest in western Siberia, investigators decided that they had been killed by their own relations, because one of the youngsters had denounced his father to Stalin’s Soviet authorities.

The case in September 1932 became a cause celebre in Russia and the dead boy was hailed as a martyr to the people’s cause.

He had chosen loyalty to the State in preference to the pernicious bourgeois notion of duty to a parent. It had been alleged that his father, Trofim Morozov, was a kulak, a rich peasant from the class which Stalin had set out to exterminate as he collectivised every farm in the Soviet Union.

More than a million so- called kulaks were dispossessed of their lands, evicted from their homes and shipped eastwards in long columns of human misery, to labour in the camps of the Gulag – and later, likely enough, to be shot, as was Trofim Morozov.
Heaven knows what boyish grievance persuaded his 15-year-old son Pavlik to denounce him.

The teenager was a “Pioneer”, a member of the Soviet youth movement, a perversion of the Scouts, which trained its members to believe that to inform against the people’s enemies represented a high ideal, that to betray one’s own family was the highest good of all.

At Trofim’s trial, he cried out despairingly to his son in the witness box: “It’s me, your father!” Pavlik said coldly to the judge: “Yes; he used to be my father, but I no longer consider him my father. I am not acting as a son, but as a Pioneer.”

This victory against his father, however, provoked Pavlik to a rash boldness – denouncing others in the village. In their rage, they killed him.

The murder was probably the work of local teenagers, but the Soviet authorities held a show trial of the family, following which Pavlik’s grandfather, grandmother, cousin and godfather were all sent to the firing squad.

Lubyanka before 1917 before use as a Prison – headquarters All Rusia Insurance Company

Lubyanka in 2003


4 thoughts on “Pavlik Morozov

  1. Very Orwellian – I guess it’s a representation of Stalin’s ‘Terror’ campaign of the 1930s, or one aspect of it. Denunciations were actively encouraged to support the Party apparatus – citizens were (as in Hitler’s Reich) rewarded if took part in denunciations. Reflects Orwell’s 1984 where a son denounces his father for thought crime.


  2. Yes, a spine chilling regime! It makes me so grateful that i was born in the UK. We have never, in recent history, been subject to anything similar..except in fiction..”1984″.! Like Winston, Pavel portrays the climate of underlying fear and constant feeling of mistrust of everyone and everything very well! He makes constant references to decay, dust and death..his feeling of doom is described well on p109.” moving towards the abyss, the whole continent has become one vast powder keg. All that is needed is the match” The lack of free speech is communicated well on p118 when the non aggession pact is signed with Germany..”madness, enemy has become closest ally and no one speaks of it”…shades of the “topsy-turvey” world of “Alice”.


    • I agree Gill and can’t you just feel Pavel’s fear in Chapter 9 when he finally goes for his interview with Radlov. There is this constant feeling of something sinister under the surface just waiting to pounce! On page 147 this fear is again almost tangible. Pavel has just heard a repeated knock at the door ‘……a single refrain beats in his skull like a siren. They have come……they have come……they have come……’

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