Soviet Young Pioneers: Participation

Figure 1.--This Soviet portrait was taken in 1988. We are not sure if it is a school or camp group. We tend to think it is a school group and the Pioneers had a short pants uniform for camp. Note a few children do not wear scarves and or uniforms.

While students were theoretically not required to join the Young Pioneers, they soon learned that membership was rewarded and non-membership subtly punished by both teachers and fellow students. Few children refused to join.

A Russian reader reports, "ALL the school students of that age were Pioneers. Exceptions unknown to me. At the age of 15 nearly all of them joined the Komsomol (Young Communist League). There were 23 million Pioneers in 1970. We notice that in many phjotographs of school groups that their are often a few children who are not wearing their scarves. We are unsure if these were children who chose not to partiicipate in the Pioneers or if they just forgot towear their scarves on the day the photograph was taken. Given there are usually only a few, we assume the school put considerable ekmphasis on participation. This appears to have varried over time. There may have also been regional differences.

Another reader writes, "The wearing of the scarf. I find it a puzzle but I could be really realy wrong but my impression is the wearing of the scarve was presented when you reached a certain age. Thus the few in the picture without could be waiting for their graduation at which they would have been presented with the scarf."


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Created: May 29, 2004
Last updated: June 1, 2004