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5. Fighting for a Utopian Childhood: Militarism in Children’s Periodicals of the Early Soviet Union

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on how the theme of militarism and military 'preparedness' was integrated into officially disseminated images of a happy Soviet childhood in early soviet periodicals. Consequently, the theme of children facing war was presented in Soviet rhetoric as an unjust and horrific result of the past, and was contrasted with the utopian ideal of the Communist future. Moreover, the representation of children on the barricades vigorously supporting the French Revolution, as portrayed by Eugene Delacroix or Victor Hugo, exploited the Romantic view of children's innocence and conveyed the essentially righteous character of the revolutionary struggle. The theme therefore became popular in Soviet publications and educational stories for children, inculcating the concept of the social and moral duty for sacrifice through celebrated 'historical' (often fictitious) exemplars. Girls, too, were regarded as future fighters, and were often shown enjoying military games and training alongside boys.

Keywords: Communist; Eugene Delacroix; French Revolution; militarism; Soviet childhood; Victor Hugo

10.1163/9789004263222_007
/content/books/b9789004263222_007
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