Marina Yardaeva How Pavlik Morozov was turned into a cult, stigmatized and forgotten 11/14/2023, 08:08

On November 14, 105, Pavlik Morozov was born, whose name became perhaps the most controversial symbol of the Soviet era. Ardent pioneer, hero, martyr or traitor, informer, victim of propaganda. Pavlik Morozov’s image has changed over the years; His story reflected a variety of sometimes opposing ideas.

Morozov’s story occupied a special place in the education system for many years. Sometimes the young person was a role model, sometimes the opposite. Today his name has almost disappeared from the cultural agenda and also from the school. From time to time we hear suggestions to revive memory, to erase a good name, to tell the truth to the new generation; Somewhere in the countryside, monuments are being renovated and memorial plaques are being returned to children’s playgrounds. But all this is not systemic in nature and is perceived as strange. It’s hard to make sense of Pavlik’s story these days. He suffers so much from the comments that it is simply impossible to make any more sense of it.

But even in early Soviet times, the legend was born in pain. On the one hand, the young state needed heroes and heroism, on the other hand, it was extremely difficult to create a glorious epic from an everyday family tragedy.

After all, what actually happened there? A remote village, a dark peasant family. The father of the family was a heavy man, a drunkard and a tyrant who tormented his family even after he left his wife and children, even though he was the chairman of the village council. They were caught giving fake certificates to immigrants. Either he was caught with the help of his ex-wife, or the villagers who were taken with fake documents pointed him out. The version in which the son’s testimony is to blame is now very doubtful. There was a hearing. The ex-wife definitely took revenge there. It is not entirely clear whether he has a son or not. And if so, then his statement was hardly similar to the pioneer’s fiery speeches about the theft of socialist property, with which Soviet propaganda entertained the people. And Pasha was not a pioneer. But he was brutally murdered. And therefore he almost ideally suited the role of a sacred sacrifice under the guise of revenge, with which it was finally possible to deal with the Kulaks. But the last fact was enough only for the ideological couplet, but for something deeper, for example, cinema, the story was still too contradictory.

Eisenstein’s experience is indicative of this. He wanted to turn Pavlik Morozov’s biography into art. Conflict is classic. Yes, he is not alone. Duty and emotion. Fathers and Sons. And also the biblical allusions and integration into the world art canon. Here you have a comparison with the drama of Abraham and Isaac, Aeschylus, Shakespeare, Merimee and, of course, Dostoevsky and Turgenev. Of course, no one needed such a movie. The director himself was almost under pressure. Propaganda was limited to bad poetry and sentimental stories.

Based on one of these stories, written by Alexander Yakovlev in the ill-fated 1937, a film play was later released in 1963. The film is extremely mediocre and incredibly archaic for the sixties, as if it was shot in the thirties. It’s even strange that the movie was released after the 20th Congress. But most likely the truth is that the myth was completely crystallized and after that it was impossible to subject it to any critical thought. Pavlik rose and headed the pantheon of Soviet pioneer heroes – what questions are there?

Everything changed during perestroika. During the resulting public debate, Pavlik Morozov’s name soon became a household name and an allegory of betrayal and denunciation. The tendency to interpret Morozov’s biography as the story of Judas or a victim of Stalinist propaganda intensified in the nineties. I remember how in literature lessons we studied Tvardovsky’s poem “By the Right of Memory”, talked about the fate of the children of enemies of the people and how difficult choices even twelve-year-old children sometimes have to make. They gave us an example of Pavlik, they say how he was crippled by the system, abandoned his native blood for the sake of an idea.

However, over time, this stereotype has almost disappeared. The media gradually began to write that Pasha was an ordinary child. It is not a fact that he suffered from his grandfather and uncle in order to avenge his convicted father. Versions emerged about the involvement of the OGPU in the murder of the teenager. And then interest in the story of Pavlik Morozov completely disappeared. Many young people today don’t even know who he is. The school is in no rush to close these gaps. There is no order from above, thank God, no, and no one wants to undertake a personal pedagogical initiative, that is, to enter this forest.

But the name Pavlik is still tormented by the older generation. And often in a negative way. So they remember him mainly as a traitor. Moreover, it is curious that the image of an unhappy young man can be used by conditioned political opponents in this sense. So, not so long ago, the daughter of actor Mashkov, who “betrayed” her parent because of his attitude towards the SVO, was named Pavlik Morozov. And, by the way, this is quite a paradoxical situation, considering that Pavlik’s father was initially an enemy of the Soviet regime. As far as we know, Vladimir Mashkov is quite sympathetic to the country’s Soviet past. And at the same time, the image of Pavlik Morozov as an informant is used, for example, by the liberal and Westerner Viktor Shenderovich, who left Russia (recognized in the Russian Federation as a foreign agent), both an irreconcilable opponent of the special operation. and the Soviet period. He brands his political opponents with Pavliks, especially the traditional Vladimir Mashkovs. Everything was confused. Everything is complicated.

And the question is: Does this story need to be resolved? So this is clear: Anyone who wishes can delve deeper into this topic. It might not be a lot of information, but there’s at least enough to form an opinion. But is it necessary, for example, to massively educate young people? Is it at the formal level in the education system? I don’t know. On the one hand, it seems possible. Knowledge is always better than ignorance. But it is impossible to embrace this limitlessness. Some form of content selection is still needed. Memory is not a dark closet into which you can throw everything. The basis for the selection may be the practical use of a particular material or its cultural and historical value.

No matter how it wraps this or that story, there can be no basic ideological tinsel. So what remains of Pavlik Morozov’s story without the ideological break? The tragedy of a dysfunctional family, which is collectively discussed today on all kinds of talk shows. Does anyone really need this? It is probably best to leave the child alone.

The author expresses his personal opinion, which may not coincide with the position of the editors.

Source: Gazeta


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