Azerbaijan Youth Groups: Young Pioneers

Figure 1.-- This photograph was taken in 1951 at Mashtagi, a suburb of Baku, Azerbaijan. At the time, Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union. The children were at a Young Pioneer camp. All but one boy are barefoot. Bare feet were common at early Pioneer camps. By the 1960s, sandals were more common.

Azerbaijan was incorporated into the Soviet Union after the Civil War. As part of the Soviet Union, boys in Azerbaijan participated in the Young Pioneer movement. The Pioneer Movement was a mass youth movement, so large numbers of Azerii children would have participated. The Pioneer movement was a national youth movement. It was the Soviet equivalent of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. There weere major differences. Unlike the Scouts, parents were not involved and it was not really voluntary. Participation was essentially compulsory and run by a government agency. One Western Communist desribes the element of compulsion as "uniting practically all children". [Munford, p. 125.] It was integrated into the schools program. And its purpose was to assist in the indocrination of children with Communist ideology. One source explsains, "It is the task of education in the Soviet Union to train [note the use of the term 'train'] children idelogically, to give them a dialctic, mterilist concept of the various phenomena and processes in social life. It must reveal to them the inevitability of sociert's transition from capitalism to socialism, and it must impart the ideals of communism." [Munford, p. 125.] The red scarves that you see Azerii school children wearing were awarded by the Pioneers. One Azerii remembers the great pride f receiving her scarve. She was awarded it before the other children in her class. [Hajiyeva] She rembers her scarve in some detail. It caused all kinds of problems. It had to be worn just so. She was criticized for wearing it like a cowboy. It also wrinkled and the color was not fast. Each Soviet republic had its own Pionee organization. We have little specific information at this time about the movement in Azerbaijan. We know that there was a Pioneer Palace in Baku. Here children with passing grades could pursue a range of extra-curricula activities like astronomy and ballet, but mostly academic subjects. [Munford, p. 126.] The different groups were limited to 15-20 youths, so a very small number could participate. One Azerii source remembers how as the independence movement that children began to less commonly wear their Pioneer scarves. This was especially the case after Soviet tanks entered Baku (1990). [Hajiyeva]


Hajiyeva, Aynur. "No More Red Pioneer Ties!: Untying the Soviet Noose Around Our Necks"> Azerbaijan International (Autumn 1999) Issue 7.3.

Munford, Clarence J. Production Relations, Class and Black Liberation. This slavisly promotinal assessment of the Soviet Union among other matters does not mention the hostility of Russins toward blacks.


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Created: 2:49 AM 11/14/2008
Last updated: 2:49 AM 11/14/2008