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Pavel Trofimoviz Morozov
(1918 - September 3, 1932) Russia

Pavlik Morozov

Soviet Communist martyr


Pavlik Morozov lived and died in the agricultural village of Gerasimovka, 60 kilometers from the district center Tavda, in westernmost Siberia, a half day's train ride from Ekaterinburg. Pavel Trofimovich Morozov was nicknamed "Pasha" during his life, he only received the nickname "Pavlik" from Soviet government propagandists after his death.

In the 1930's, Stalin attempted to eliminate independent Russian peasants by confiscating all of their grain supply and forcing them to become kolkhoz serfs. Millions of peasants starved to death during this "collectivization".

Pavlik MorozovIn 1932, Pavel was the oldest child of Trofim Sergeevich Morozov, elected chairman of the village council, and Tatyana Morozova. Other children were Aleksei (age 10), Fyodor (age 8), and Roman (age 4). After about 10 years of marriage, Trofim had moved out to live with a mistress, Nina Amosova. This was unusual, but many villagers sympathized with the popular Trofim (thrice elected village chairman), rather than Tatyana, widely disliked.

Pavlik was the chairman of the pioneer organization in his school. He denounced only his father Trofim to Soviet authorities, not his mother Tatyana. Indeed, Tatyana herself was the mastermind of the denunciation. She wanted to pressure her husband to leave his mistress, and return to her and the children.

It is unclear for what "crime" Trofim was denounced and sent to prison. The story varied according to the needs of Collectivization and other Stalinist campaigns against the people. One version is that he provided documents to exiled peasants ("kulaks"), that allowed them to return home to European Russia. Another is that the little stukach Pavlik Morozov denounced his own father to the NKVD, the secret police, for hoarding grain (most likely next year's seed for crops). that was supposed to be taken away.

Pavel's killing did not directly follow from the arrest and deportation of his father Trofim to a prison camp. Pavel lived for another year or two. Supposedly, he heroically set up a Bolshevist informer network against "kulak" activity in Gerasimovka, but the stories of both his informing and the investigation of his killing are full of contradictions.

One story says that Pavlik's own grandfather killed him with an axe. The grandfather and other family members were also executed by the Soviets. Another recounts that were his uncles who murdered Pavlik in an act of revenge for squealing. It is even possible that a Soviet agent might have killed the boy, for use (like Sergei M. Kirov two years later) as a timely martyr. Pavlik's younger brother Fyodor was killed with him, but was not widely publicized as a second martyr.

On 25 November 1932, a 4-day show trial of Pavlik's accused murderers (Trofim's relatives) was held in Tavda. Pavlik's grandfather Sergei was tortured by interrogators, but perhaps not systematically enough to stick to his scripted admission of guilt through the trial. Four defendants were found guilty (despite a complete lack of solid evidence) and quickly shot. Pavlik's father Trofim seems to have been quietly done away with in his remote labor camp soon after, but there is no hard evidence.

Pavlik's mother Tatyana was disliked in her native Gerasimovka. Stalin gave her a pension and a resort home in the Crimea, where she lived until her death in 1983. One of her surviving sons, Roman, died of wounds from World War II. The other, Aleksei, was convicted of espionage and imprisoned 1941-1951. The charge sounds implausible, a relative's belief is that Aleksei had made himself thoroughly unpopular among his Soviet Air Force comrades as a pushy "brother of a Pioneer hero." Supposedly they got him drunk, planted him with secret photographs, and called in SMERSH counterintelligence investigators. Whatever the facts of the case, this embarrassing deviation was carefully concealed by the Soviet press.


The story of little Pavlik Morozov (or affectionate versions of his name Pasha, Pavlushka, Pash) or more precisely the legend of Morozov is emblematic of Stalinist times in the Soviet Union.

Stukach Pavlik Morozov, who denounced his own father, became a hero to Soviet children. The "kolkhoz" organized in the village of Gerasimovka was named after Pavlik. Many schools and "Palaces of pioneers" were named after him. Pavlik Morozov was adopted as a patron saint by the "Young Pioneers," the Soviet equivalent to the "Boy Scouts." His life exemplified the duty of all good Soviet citizens to become informers, even at the expense of family ties.

Propagandists for party newspapers reported the tale. A cult of the young denouncer received the top culture stamp of approval in a speech by Maxim Gorky at the 1934 Soviet Writers Congress. Gorky, the one-time foe of Bolshevik excesses cited Pavlik as a paragon of Soviet virtue. He became THE model of correct orthodox behavior. School children adulated him, adults especially those inclined to stray from prescribed party orthodoxy feared his very name.

Part of "A Poem about Hate" that Pioneer's Pravda published in 1933 conveys a flavor of the Morozov cult:

Pavlik Morozov

Pavlushka won't be going
To the Pioneers anymore
Joyful and curly,
He won't come to school.
But his great glory
will outlive everything.
"Pavlik is with us,
Pasha the Communist!"
Out in front, like a banner
Friendly and merry.
(That's how
Everyone should live).
How much
Every schoolchild
Resembles him.
All of their shirts
Are abloom with red ties:
"Pashka! Pashka! Pashka!
Here! There! Everywhere!

Portraits, statues, and badges of Morozov became omnipresent. Under the sly smile of Pasha a psychosis of denunciation took firm hold in Stalinist USSR. Propagandists built the cult on a base of distortions and lies. The photo (above) shows a famous statue of Pavlik Morozov, in a park named for him in Moscow, in the Krasnaya Presnya district about 2 kilometers west of the Kremlin. He is holding a flag.


Recent research shows that Pavlik, who was not a pioneer by the way, did not report on his father for hoarding grain as the story went. Reality was rooted in the quarreling Morozov family. Pasha had got back on his dad for abandoning his family. Pavlik lived with his mother. He ratted on his dad, who was chairman of the village Soviet for taking a bribe so as not to deport a family as rich peasants! Pavlik may have been put up to the classical denunciation by his uncles who couldn't stand their brother-in-law and wanted to be chairman themselves.

Pavlik's father was arrested in late 1931 and disappeared into the Gulag. A few months later in '32 someone found Pavlik and his brother murdered in the forest. Exactly who dispatched the two boyss isn't clear. Those accused included his paternal grandfather and grandmother, a young Morozov cousin and two of his uncles. Until the fall of the Soviet Union almost no one knew this. Generations venerated the model young Communist who did his duty, turned in an enemy of the state and became a Soviet martyr.

The changing official attitude toward Soviet history is illustrated by the de-mythologizing of Pavlik Morozov, the boy martyr who was long glorified as a model young Communist for denouncing his father to the Soviet authorities in 1932. Morozov is now being portrayed as a tragic symbol of the warped morality fostered by the Stalinist system. In the March 1988 issue of Yunost (Youth), a long article on Communist leaders in the 1930s attacks the Morozov myth directly, asserting that the saint was really a sinner - and it is suggested that he denounced his father in revenge for punishment as the man discovered that Pavel had a gay relationship.


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