Komsomol(redirected from Comsomol)
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(All-Union Lenin Communist Youth League, or VLKSM), the mass social and political organization of Soviet youth.
The Komsomol is an active aid to the CPSU, and a reserve upon which it draws. The Komsomol helps the Party educate the youth in the spirit of communism, engage them in the practical work of building a new society, and prepare a new generation of broadly developed people who will live, work, and direct public affairs in a communist society (see the Rules of the VLKSM, 1968, p. 3).
The Russian Communist League of Youth (RKSM) was founded at the First All-Russian Congress of Workers’ and Peasants’ Youth Leagues on Oct. 29, 1918. In July 1924, Lenin’s name was added to its name, making it the Russian Lenin Communist League of Youth (RLKSM). In connection with the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922, the Komsomol was renamed in March 1926 the Ail-Union Lenin Communist Youth League, or the VLKSM.
According to the statutes of the VLKSM, any young man or woman between the ages of 14 and 28 may join the Komsomol. In 1971 more than 28 million young people, representing all the nations and peoples of the USSR, belonged to the Komsomol. Over the course of 50 years more than 100 million Soviets were politically trained in the Komsomol. It provided more than 10 million members for the CPSU between 1918 and 1971. The chief task of the VLKSM is to help the Party educate young men and women in the high ideals of Marxism-Leninism and in the heroic traditions of revolutionary struggle by the examples of self-sacrificing labor set by the workers, kolkhozniki, and intelligentsia. It is also its task to develop and strengthen in the youth a class approach to all aspects of social life and to train staunch and well-educated builders of communism who will be devoted to their work. It is the sacred duty of the Komsomol to prepare the youth to defend the socialist fatherland and to train self-sacrificing patriots capable of turning back the assault of any enemy. The VLKSM trains young men and women in the principles of proletarian internationalism and friendship among the youth of all countries, and it actively strengthens ties with fraternal youth leagues and works to promote the international democratic youth movement.
The VLKSM is organized on the principle of democratic centralism. The primary organizations of the VLKSM are set up in factories, on kolkhozes and sovkhozes, at educational and other institutions, and in units of the Soviet Army and Navy. The highest organ of the VLKSM is the all-Union congress. Between congresses the work of the league is directed by the Central Committee of the VLKSM, which elects a bureau and a secretariat. The VLKSM organizes its work on the basis of strict observance of the Leninist principles of collective leadership, all-round development of internal democracy, the broadest initiative and personal activity forall its members, and the principle of criticism and self-criticism. Every member of the Komsomol considers it an honor to become a member of the CPSU. All of his work and study is geared to preparing himself to enter its ranks.
Historical survey. The history of the VLKSM and the proletarian youth movement is inseparably linked to the history of the revolutionary struggle of the working class and the entire Soviet people under the leadership of the Communist Party for the building of communism. The conditions of life for young workers, their fundamental class interests, and the entire revolutionary situation in Russia prompted young workers to take the path of struggle against the tsarist regime and capitalism. The Party heeded the words of Karl Marx, who taught that “the most advanced workers know full well that the future of their class and consequently of humanity depends entirely on the form of upbringing of the coming generation of workers” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 16, p. 198).
Under the influence of the workers’ movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the student movement became active in Russia. The Bolshevik organizations at institutions of higher education helped the Party to solidify a democratic student movement and to propagandize the tenets of Marxism.
Following the workers, the peasants entered upon the road of revolutionary struggle. Lenin, referring to this, wrote that “a new type appeared in the Russian village—the class-conscious young peasant. He associated with ’strikers,’ he read newspapers, he told the peasants about events in the cities, he explained to his fellow villagers the meaning of political demands, and urged them to fight the landowning nobility, the priests, and the government officials” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 30, p. 316). The early awakening of class consciousness in the young workers, as well as among the peasants, and the development of a revolutionary mood among the students were due mainly to the work of the Bolshevik Party, which always paid extraordinary attention to educating, organizing, and defending the interests of the young generation of working people.
Lenin constantly directed the attention of the Party to the tasks of revolutionary training of the youth. In the draft resolution On the Attitude Toward the Student Youth, which Lenin wrote for the Second Congress of the RSDLP, he noted that the spontaneously developing youth movement needed the assistance of proletarian revolutionaries, especially in acquiring “an integral and consistent socialist world outlook.” He feared that the youths who were not ideologically well grounded might be diverted by pseudorevolutionary ideas or poisoned by opportunism, and he warned them against “these false friends.” During the Russian Revolution of 1905-07, Lenin posed the question of the progressive youth as a reserve upon which the Party could draw. The Bolsheviks resolutely exposed attempts by the bourgeois and petit bourgeois parties to distract the proletarian youth from the revolutionary struggle. Lenin emphatically opposed the underestimation of the role of the youth and urged that young people be drawn into the revolutionary struggle and the ranks of the Party in a more energetic way and on a broader basis than before. In December 1916 his article “The Youth International” was published. In it he argued that guidance must be provided for the “seething,” turbulent, inquiring youth in a skillful and intelligent way and that one must not forget that the youth “must of necessity advance to socialism in a different way, by other paths, in other forms, in other circumstances than their fathers.” Lenin insisted on the organizational independence of the youth league and stressed that without this “the youth will be unable either to’train good socialists from their midst or to prepare themselves to lead socialism forward” (ibid., p. 226). While he opposed small-minded tutelage or a purely administrative approach, Lenin saw the necessity for comradely criticism of errors made by the youth. “We must not flatter the youth” (ibid.).
The Bolsheviks worked unceasingly among the youth in the factories, in the villages, in legal organizations, in the Sunday adult-education schools, in the military barracks, in illegal circles, in combat organizations, and during their organizing of strikes or demonstrations—everywhere that they found the slightest opportunity, they drew young people into the immediate struggle against oppression and exploitation and passed on to them the experience of the older fighters. The young generation of the working class and laboring peasantry was consolidated and strengthened in revolutionary combat. As a result of Bolshevik activity, a broad proletarian youth movement developed. After the victory of the February bourgeois-democratic revolution in 1917, circles and committees of working youth began to spring up, and later youth leagues in the factories of Petrograd, Moscow, and other industrial centers appeared. The young proletarians, joining together to continue their struggle for political and economic rights, rallied around the slogans of the Bolsheviks.
The bourgeoisie tried to bring these organizations of proletarian youth under its influence. With the help of the SR’s, Mensheviks, Nationalists, and so forth, and by means of such youth organizations as the Beacon, Labor and Light, Land and Freedom, and Jugend Bund, the bourgeoisie attempted to break working youth away from the Bolsheviks and the working class. The Bolsheviks unceasingly exposed the falseness and hopelessness of such organizations. The proletarian youth became convinced of the Bolsheviks’ correctness in practice and as a result drove the bourgeois agents and their supporters from their midst.
The Bolshevik Party gave continuous support to the proletarian youth movement. On June 7 (20), 1917, Pravda published a model charter for a League of Working Youth of Russia, which was drawn up by N. K. Krupskaia. The Sixth Congress of the RSDLP (Bolshevik), held in July and August 1917, played an important part in the development of the youth movement. In the resolution On the Youth Leagues the congress recommended the creation of independent organizations closely linked to the Party. The Petrograd Socialist League of Working Youth had about 15,000 members, and in Moscow the 4 ’Third International” League of Working Youth numbered 2,170 members in October 1917. That month a citywide conference in Kiev endorsed the program and the rules for the “Third International” Socialist League of Working Youth. In Baku an Internationalist Youth League was organized on the initiative of S. G. Shaumian. In Tbilisi in September 1917 the Spartacus Organization of Young Socialist Internationalists was established at a general meeting of youth, with the help of M. G. Tskhakaia. Other youth leagues were founded under Bolshevik leadership in Kharkov, Rostov-on-Don, Zlatoust, Ufa, Cheliabinsk, Ekaterinburg, Perm’, and Lugansk. Under the influence of the working-class, circles and associations of revolutionary-minded youth from the poor peasantry began to appear in Tula, Kharkov, Vologda, and other provinces. Among the first organizers of socialist leagues of working youth were Vasilii Alekseev, Oskar Ryvkin, Petr Smorodin (Petrograd), Petr Deliusin, Mikhail Dugachev, Nikolai Pen’kov (Moscow), Aleksandr Sitnichenko, Mikhail Ratmanskii, Zakhar Taran (Ukraine), Rimma lurovskaia, Pavel Zav’ialov (Urals), Suren Shaumian, Dzhafar Babaev, Ol’ga Shatunovskaia, Boris Dzneladze, Gukas Gukasian (Transcaucasia), and Martin Zakis (Latvia).
Worker and peasant youth actively participated in the Great October Socialist Revolution. In working out the plan for the October armed insurrection, Lenin pointed out that it was necessary to “form the most determined elements (our ’shock forces’ and young workers, as well as the best of the sailors) into small detachments to occupy all the more important points and to take part everywhere in all important operations” (ibid., vol. 34, pp. 383-84). The Petrograd Committee of the Socialist League of Working Youth did excellent work in attracting young proletarians to the ranks of the Red Guard. In the pre-October days more than 5,000 young workers joined the Red Guard. Everywhere the proletarian youth became active participants in the revolution.
The Great October Socialist Revolution brought about a basic change in the destiny of the young generation in Russia. For the first time in history Soviet power opened up broad opportunities for the proletarian youth in all spheres of public, political, social, and economic life. By the decrees of the Soviet government the six-hour workday was established for juveniles, child labor below the age of 14 was prohibited, protective legislation for young workers was introduced, and industrial training for youth was established at state expense. The doors to secondary and higher education were opened for the children of workers and toiling peasants.
The socialist transformation of the country confronted the Party with the task of creating a single youth organization whose aim would be to draw the young into the construction of socialism and to transform them into the people of a new, communist epoch. At the same time, the existing youth leagues themselves felt the need to merge on the basis of a Bolshevik platform. In August 1918 in Moscow an organizational bureau was established for the purpose of convening a founding congress of youth organizations. The convention call stated “the revolutionary enthusiasm that has swept over the entire youth since the beginning of the revolution has helped it to find its true friends in the struggle for socialism. We did not go along with those who preached conciliation and compromise. We are fighters… . All of us feel how weak our existing organizations are in view of the need to prepare ourselves for building the new life. But if we have suffered setbacks, if our attempts to build the new life have gotten nowhere, let us solve these problems together” (Tovarishch komsomol: Dokumenty s”ezdov, konferentsii i TsK VLKSM, vol. 1, 1969, pp. 5-6). The First All-Russian Congress of Workers’ and Peasants’ Youth Leagues (Oct. 29 to Nov. 4, 1918) united the separate leagues into an all-Russian organization with a single center, working under the direction of the RCP (Bolshevik). At the congress the basic principles of the program and rules of the RKSM were adopted. The theses approved by the congress stated that “the League sets itself the aim of spreading the ideas of communism and drawing the worker and peasant youth into the active building of Soviet Russia” (ibid., p. 8).
Thus a youth organization of a new type had been founded for the first time—in its aims and purposes a communist organization, in its character a class organization, and in its principles of operation an independent organization designed to serve as a “transmission belt” within the system of the proletarian dictatorship, linking the Party with the broadest layers of working youth to help in spreading the Party’s influence among the masses and to be a reserve of the Communist Party.
The Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) sent a circular in November 1918 to all Party organizations in reference to the founding of the Komsomol, pointing out that the RKSM would serve as a school for the preparation of new, conscious communist cadres. In order to strengthen the Komsomol, the Central Committee of the Party urged Party members of Komsomol age to join the youth organization and take an active part in its work. The Eighth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) in 1919 adopted a special resolution on work among the youth. The congress acknowledged that the RKSM had carried out a tremendous amount of work in rallying the youth, educating it in communist ideas, involving young proletarians in the building of communism, and organizing them in defense of the Soviet republic. The congress stressed the necessity of ideological and material support to the Komsomol from the Party.
The Party program adopted by the Eighth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) was of exceptional importance to the RKSM. It was a program for building socialism in which was reflected the Party’s enormous concern for the youth and for creating conditions for work, education, and recreation for them. The practical implementation of the decisions of the Eighth Party Congress strengthened the Komsomol organizations, led to the formation of new branches, and assured its vanguard position among the youth. At that time the Komsomol was not the only youth organization in the country. Among the various youth groups the largest was the League of Communist Students, which had 8,000 members. The first all-Russian congress of this organization in April 1919, which was addressed by Lenin, decided in favor of merging with the Komsomol. The Organizational Bureau of the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) approved the “Regulations,” which stated that “all of our work, among worker and peasant youth as well as among student youth, should be centralized under the direction of the Russian Young Communist League of Youth” (Naslednikam revoliutsii: Dokumenty partii o komsomole i molodezhi, 1969, p. 53). According to the decisions of this congress, communist students were to be accepted into the RKSM if recommended by at least two members of the Party or the RKSM.
The Komsomol grew and developed as a multinational organization of Soviet youth that stood on the principle of proletarian internationalism. Even at its first congress there were among the delegates young people from the territories of the Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and Byelorussia, which were occupied by foreign interventionists. After this congress, youth organizations in the non-Russian Soviet socialist republics began to establish themselves. They brought together Komsomol members from all the nationalities inhabiting their territories, and they became constituent units of the RKSM.
The Komsomol took an active part in the Civil War; it carried out three Russia-wide mobilizations of young people to go to the front lines. Komsomol organizations in front-line areas were totally mobilized to fight in the Red Army. According to incomplete statistics, the Komsomol supplied more than 75,000 of its members to the Red Army from 1918 to 1920. As many as 200,000 Komsomol members altogether took part in the struggle of the Soviet people against the interventionists, the White Guards, and the gangs of bandits. Among the best known heroic Komsomol fighters were the 19-year-old commander of the 30th division Al’bert Lapin’, the future writers Nikolai Ostrovskii and Arkadii Gaidar, the armored-train commander Liudmila Makievskaia, the commissars Aleksandr Kondrat’ev and Anatolii Popov, the Komsomol leader of the Far Eastern region Vitalii Banevur, and Abdulla Nabiev, one of the organizers of the Uzbek Komsomol. Komsomol members also fought valiantly behind the lines of the enemy. The Komsomol underground in Odessa consisted of more than 300 members; in Riga there were about 200 members. Among the other cities where Komsomol groups were active were Ekaterinodar (Krasnodar), Simferopol’, Rostov-on-Don, Nikolaev, and Tbilisi. Many Komsomol members died a hero’s death in combat defending the gains of the October Revolution. Because of these harsh experiences the Komsomol developed and became stronger. In spite of the enormous losses it suffered at the front, its membership increased 20 times. In October 1918 it had 22,100 members; in October 1920, 482,000. In recognition of distinguished service in the Civil War during 1919 and 1920, against the troops of the White Guard generals Kolchak, Denikin, Iudenich, and Wrangel and the White Poles, the Komsomol was awarded the Order of the Red Banner in 1928 by a decree of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR.
The Komsomol struggled to consolidate an international movement of young workers. The Second Congress of the RKSM in October 1919 appealed to proletarian youth throughout the world to build the Communist Youth International (KIM). With the active participation of the RKSM, an international youth congress was convened in Berlin in November 1919; this was the founding congress of the KIM, of which the Soviet Komsomol became an active member.
After the Civil War the Komsomol faced the task of preparing the worker and peasant youth for the peaceful work of construction. The Third Congress of the RKSM was held in October 1920. Lenin’s speech at this congress on Oct. 2, 1920, entitled “The Tasks of the Youth Leagues,” was a theoretical and programmatic guide of the greatest importance and a guide for the activity of the Party and the Komsomol. Lenin saw as the main goal of the Komsomol “to help the Party build communism and help the whole younger generation create a communist society” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 307). He called on youth to “learn communism” and to link up “every step in its studies, training, and education … with the continuous struggle the proletarians and the working people are waging against the old society of exploiters” (ibid., p. 314). Lenin closely associated the tasks of the Komsomol with the overall nation-wide task of building socialism.
The Third Congress of the RKSM was a turning point in its history. The RKSM began gradually to reorganize its work and concentrate its activities on the tasks of socialist construction and Communist education of the youth. The Komsomol directed all its efforts toward restoring the economy, which had been destroyed during the war. Young men and women participated in restoring the factories of Petrograd, Moscow, and the Urals, the factories and mines of the Donbas, and the country’s railroads. In September 1920 the first all-Russian youth subbotnik (unpaid mass workday) was conducted. Komsomol members assisted the Soviet government in the struggle against speculation, sabotage, and banditry. For this purpose, special units of Communists and Komsomol members were organized. In the villages the Komsomol members explained the decrees of the Soviet government, participated in organizing societies for the collective working of the land, and helped publicize more advanced agricultural methods. The energy and enthusiarn of Komsomol members was also expressed in the efforts to carry out the cultural revolution. They fought to eliminate illiteracy and eradicate religious prejudices and survivals of outmoded attitudes in everyday life, and they fought against bourgeois philistinism, private property holders’ psychology, and self-seeking attitude toward work. In the village, Komsomol members organized reading rooms and culture clubs, distributed books, newspapers, magazines, posters, and leaflets, and helped carry out the political and cultural measures being implemented by the Party and Soviet government. In 1920, on the initiative of the Komsomol, factory apprenticeship schools were begun for the training of highly qualified workers, and workers’ schools (rabfaki) were begun to prepare working youth to enter higher educational institutions. In May 1922 the Young Pioneers organization was founded, and supervision over it was entrusted to the Komsomol by the Party.
In the 1920’s the Komsomol staunchly opposed the Trotskyist Opposition, which was trying to win over the youth through demagogic ultraleft slogans and flattery (for example, “the student youth is the barometer of the Party”). The January 1924 plenum of the Central Committee of the RKSM, expressing the views of the entire Komsomol, condemned Trotskyism and unwaveringly supported the general line of the Party for the building of socialism in the USSR. The Sixth Congress of the RKSM in July 1924 recorded the complete defeat of Trotskyism in the youth movement. The congress, which was held after Lenin’s death, resolved to add his name to the title of the organization, and thereafter it was known by the Russian initials RLKSM. The congress called on the youth “to learn how to live, work, and struggle in the Leninist way, and to carry out the behests left to us by Lenin.” During the mass enrollment of new members into the Party that followed Lenin’s death and was called because of this the Lenin enrollment, the Komsomol passed on to the Party 25,600 of its best members from February to April 1924 alone. At the same time it accepted 167,000 young workers and peasants into its own ranks. The Komsomol actively propagated Leninism among the youth and created a broad network of Komsomol political education. More than 20,000 study circles were active throughout the country, and more than 100,000 Komsomol members studied in the Party educational system. The Komsomol press also played a big role in educational work; this included the magazines of the Central Committee of the RLKSM Iunyi kommunist, Molodaia gvardiia, Smena, and Zhurnal krest’ianskoi molodezhi, the newspaper Komsomol’skaia pravda, and local newspapers.
In the struggle to restore the economy from its ruined condition, Komsomol members learned class vigilance, courage, stubbornness in the pursuit of their goals, and steadfastness in overcoming difficulties. The Komsomol grew stronger and was enriched by this new experience, becoming a militant mass organization. The Seventh Congress of the RLKSM in March 1926 mobilized the forces of the Komsomol to carry out the decisions of the Fourteenth Congress of the Party (1925), which had centered the attention of the working people on the tasks of reconstructing the economy. A sharp political struggle had preceded the congress. The Trotskyists had come out against Lenin’s plan of building socialism in the USSR and had tried to use the Leningrad organization of the RLKSM in the struggle against the Party. The leadership of that organization had passed a resolution refusing to submit to the decisions of the Fourteenth Congress of the Party. But the members of the Leningrad Komsomol would not follow the Trotskyists of the Leningrad provincial committee of the RLKSM, and they decisively defeated the oppositionists and declared their utter devotion to the Leninist Party.
Continuing to follow Lenin’s behests and adhering to the decisions of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Congresses of the Party, held in 1925 and 1927, the Komsomol, at its Seventh Congress (March 1926, when it was renamed as VLKSM) and Eighth Congress (1928), set for its members the tasks of working for the industrialization of the country and the socialist transformation of agriculture and acquiring advanced knowledge in science and technology. The Komsomol initiated socialist emulation. In 1927 it began a mass campaign for the rationalization of production and for raising the productivity of labor. At the Leningrad factories Krasnyi treugol’nik and Skorokhod and at a number of enterprises in Moscow, the Urals, the Donbas, and other industrial centers, shock teams of Komsomol members and other young people were formed. In 1929 the Central Committee of the VLKSM conducted a Leninist recruitment drive of youth for the shock brigades. After the publication on Jan. 20, 1929, in Pravda of an article by Lenin entitled “How to Organize Competition,” the newspaper Komsomol’skaia pravda on January 26 called on the youth to initiate an all-Union socialist competition. The Komsomol produced from its ranks tens of thousands of innovators and rationalizers of production. It organized a thorough-going all-Union Komsomol supervision over cargo deliveries to the Ural-Kuzbas construction project, which was under the patronage of the VLKSM. The Ninth Congress of the VLKSM in January 1931 declared the entire organization a shock brigade for the first five-year plan (1929-32). The Komsomol’s “light cavalry,” which originated in 1928, played a very important role in the struggle against bureaucracy, mismanagement, and administrative abuses of power and resources. In 1929 the Komsomol carried out its first mobilization of youth for the new construction projects of the first five-year plan. More than 200,000 Komsomol members went to the construction sites on assignment from their organizations. Among the projects completed with the active participation of the Komsomol were the Dneproges power station, the Moscow and Gorky automobile plants, the Stalingrad tractor plant, the Magnitogorsk metallurgical combine, and the Turksib railroad. By a decree of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR on Jan. 21, 1931, the VLKSM was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor “for initiative shown in expanding shock work and socialist competition, helping to assure the successful completion of the five-year plan for the development of national economy.”
Komsomol members played an important part in the collectivization of agriculture. In 1928 there were approximately 1 million young peasants in the ranks of the rural Komsomol organizations. The Eighth Congress of the VLKSM called upon them to serve as “organizers and pacesetters for collectivization” and required every Komsomol member, an independent householder, to set an example for other young peasants and join the kolkhoz. The Komsomol devised a number of effective methods for mobilizing the peasant youth: it carried out an all-Union campaign to bring in the harvest and another called “the month of the plow,” and it created “red plowman” brigades and “agricultural scout” teams. Of the 25,000 workers mobilized to go to the villages to help in collectivization, more than 2,000 were members of the VLKSM. The Komsomol members brought with them to the villages the experience in socialist competition and shock work that they had accumulated in industry and construction work. The young workers helped to repair agricultural equipment, developed a movement to establish Komsomol tractor columns, and actively participated in organizing the machinery and tractor stations. “Komsomol member—to the tractor!” was one of the most popular slogans in the village. Thousands of young kolkhozniki were sent to take courses in tractor operation and mechanization of agriculture on the recommendation of their local Komsomol cells.
The socialist transformation in the countryside took place under conditions of bitter class warfare. Rural Komsomol members were forced to work under very difficult conditions in the 1920’s and early 1930’s. The kulaks took advantage of the material difficulties, the low cultural level, the age-old traditions of piety and superstition, and the gossip and public insults that were being directed against Komsomol members. (Young Komsomol women suffered from this in particular.) In their savage hatred, the enemies of Soviet power often ambushed Komsomol youth and beat or killed them. Hundreds of young Komsomol men and women perished in the struggle for a new life in the countryside.
The Komsomol took an active part in making the cultural revolution. The Eighth Congress of the VLKSM declared an all-Union cultural campaign to wipe out illiteracy. Shock brigades against illiteracy were formed, and thousands of Komsomol members poured into the ranks of this cultural army to give instruction to illiterates, set up schools for them, and found libraries and reading rooms. In 1930 the Komsomol assumed a special responsibility to promote and assist universal compulsory education and initiated a system of two-year evening schools for barely literate people. During the first five-year plan, about 45 million persons were taught to read and write. In the course of socialist construction, urgent problems arose relating to the training of qualified cadres and the creation of a new socialist intelligentsia. The Komsomol urged young people to study science. In 1928-29 there were 15,000 young people on assignment from the Komsomol studying in the workers’ schools, 20,000 in the preparatory courses for higher education, and 30,000 in the higher educational institutions and technicums. In 1934 the proportion of students of working class origin had risen to 47.9 percent. On the initiative of the Komsomol a new form of mass technical instruction for workers called the tekhminimum was introduced. (In 1934, 814,000 workers took tekhminimum courses.)
In 1935 the mass Stakhanovite movement began as a result of the examples set by such young workers as the miner Aleksei Stakhanov, the locomotive engineer Petr Krivonos, the textile workers Evdokiia and Mariia Vinogradovas, the milling machine operator Ivan Gudov, and the young kolkhoz workers Mariia Demchenko and Praskov’ia Angelina. This movement signified a new stage in socialist competition. The Leninist Komsomol was the most active helper of the Party in developing the Stakhanovite movement.
The Tenth Congress of the VLKSM in April 1936 is known in history as the Congress of the Young Victors of Socialism. Among the delegates there were 135 people who had been decorated with orders and hundreds of young innovators in industry and agriculture. The Congress assured the Party of the “complete readiness of the entire Leninist Komsomol to fulfill to the end all its responsibilities in the construction of a communist society and in the defense of the socialist father-land from attack by the enemies of socialism” (Desiatyi s”ezd VLKSM: Stenografich. otchet, vol. 1, 1936, p. 10).
After the congress, without lessening its participation in building the economy and government, the Komsomol paid considerable attention to the ideological training of the youth, the organization of instruction, physical fitness programs, and preparation of the youth to defend the gains of socialism. The Komsomol expended great energy on the development of the defense industry and the branches of production connected with it, particularly ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy and petroleum production. Komsomol representatives took part in developing the Second Baku plant and in constructing the Amurstal’ plant. The VLKSM assumed a special responsibility to promote and assist the building of new cruisers, submarines, destroyers, airplanes, tanks, and so forth. It strengthened its sponsor relationship with the navy (since 1922) and the air force (since 1931). The Central Committee of the VLKSM conducted a special mass examination in military technology for Komsomol members. Approximately 1 million members of the VLKSM became “Voroshilov sharpshooters,” and more than 5 million learned the standard minimum for air defense work and defense against chemical warfare, as well as for military topography and other areas of military specialization. In 1936 alone about 4 million passed the standard Ready for Labor and Defense tests. On the assignment of the Party, the Komsomol undertook to provide students for the military academies. On July 1, 1940, 56.4 percent of the Red Army officers were Communists and 22.1 percent were Komsomol members. The VLKSM carried out important work in the KIM, striving to build a united front against fascism and the threat of world war.
The Great Patriotic War of 1941-45 was a stern trial for the entire Soviet people, including its younger generation. The Komsomol and the entire Soviet youth joined in the struggle against the fascist German invaders at the call of the Communist Party. In the first year of the war alone about 2 million Komsomol members joined the ranks of the Red Army. Komsomol men and women displayed unparalleled courage, daring, and heroism in defending Brest, Liepaja, Odessa, Sevastopol’, Smolensk, Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Stalingrad, and other cities and regions against the enemy. The Moscow city and regional Komsomol organization alone sent more than 300,000 members to the front lines during the first five months of the war. Ninety percent of the Leningrad Komsomol fought against the fascist German invaders at the approaches to the city of Lenin. Young partisans and underground workers fearlessly conducted operations behind the lines of the enemy in Byelorussia and the occupied parts of the RSFSR, the Ukraine, and the Baltic republics. Thirty to 45 percent of the membership of the partisan units were Komsomol members. Unprecedented heroism was displayed by the members of such underground Komsomol organizations as the Young Guard of Krasnodon, the Partisan Spark of Nikolaev Oblast, and the Liudinovo Underground Komsomol Group of Kaluga Oblast, as well as the underground Komsomol workers of Obol’ in Vitebsk Oblast, Khotin in Bukovina, and Kaunas in the Lithuanian SSR.
Komsomol members worked self-sacrificingly on the home front, providing everything that was needed for the front lines. Young people who had come to the factories to replace those called up for military service had to shoulder a considerable amount of the responsibility for filling orders for the front. Komsomol workers came out with the slogan: “Work for yourself and for your comrade who has gone to the front.” A movement developed among the youth in the work force to overfulfill production norms by two or three times or more. Groups engaged in these campaigns had such names as the Two-Hundreders, the Three-Hundreders, the Thousanders, and the Multi-jobbers. By the end of the war there were more than 154,000 Komsomol youth brigades working in industry to supply the front lines. By working Sundays and overtime the youth contributed tens of millions of rubles to the country’s defense fund. Young men and women, adolescents and older women, became the core of the labor force in agriculture. Young people at that time constituted 70 percent of the trained operators of agricultural machinery.
From 1941 to 1945 about 12 million young men and women joined the VLKSM. Of the 7,000 Heroes of the Soviet Union under the age of 30, 3,500 were Komsomol members and 60 of these had been twice decorated as Heroes of the Soviet Union. About 3.5 million Komsomol members were decorated with orders or medals. Among the Komsomol members who fell in the battle against the fascist invaders and whose names have become symbols of courage, daring, and heroism are Zoia Kosmodem’ianskaia, Aleksandr Chekalin, Liza Chaikina, Aleksandr Matrosov, lurii Smirnov, Viktor Talalikhin, Grigorii Kagamlyk, Gafur Mamedov, Aleksandr Passar, Marite Mel’nikaite, Imant Sudmalis, Noi Adamii, and Feodosii Smoliachkov. For outstanding service to the nation during the Great Patriotic War and for excellent work in training the youth in the spirit of selfless devotion to the socialist fatherland, the VLKSM was awarded the Order of Lenin on June 14, 1945, by a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.
The Komsomol expended great effort in helping to restore the economy, which had been ruined by the fascist German invaders; in rebuilding the cities of Minsk, Smolensk, and Stalingrad; in restoring such cities as Leningrad, Kharkov, Kursk, Voronezh, Sevastopol’, Odessa, and Rostov-on-Don; in reviving the cities and industries of the Donbas; in enabling the Dneproges power station to resume operations; and in reactivating many kolkhozes, sovkhozes, and machine and tractor stations. In 1948 alone, 6,200 rural electric power plants were built and brought into service through the efforts of the youth. The Komsomol took great pains to provide care and shelter for children left without parents, to expand the network of homes for orphans and trade schools, and to build new schools.
In the 1940’s and 1950’s the Komsomol helped to construct major hydraulic works such as the Volga Don Canal and major power plants, such as the Lenin plant on the Volga, the Kuibyshev plant, and the Kakhovka plant. The innovative spirit of the young workers, engineers, and technicians revealed itself with special brilliance. Such Komsomol members as Genrikh Bortkevich, Pavel Bykov, Serafima Kotova, and Mariia Volkova, who combined outstanding ability and technical knowledge in their work, audaciously broke through the old, established technical norms and fought for higher productivity of labor, greater economy in the use of materials, reduction of prime cost, and output exceeding the planned requirements.
In 1948 the Komsomol observed its 30th anniversary. On Oct. 28, 1948, the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet awarded the VLKSM a second Order of Lenin.
The Komsomol actively participated in carrying out the measures introduced by the Party for increasing agricultural production. Thousands of young specialists, industrial and office workers, and secondary school graduates were sent to the sovkhozes, kolkhozes, and machine-tractor stations. In 1954 and 1955 more than 350,000 young people went out on Komsomol assignments to help cultivate the virgin lands of Kazakhstan, Altai, and Siberia. Theirs was a truly heroic feat of labor. For its active role in building communism and especially for tilling the virgin land, the VLKSM was awarded a third Order of Lenin on Nov. 5, 1956, by a decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet.
The Twentieth Congress of the CPSU in 1956 was very important for the work of the VLKSM, as were the subsequent measures taken by the Party and government toward overcoming the consequences of Stalin’s personality cult (which is alien to Marxism-Leninism) and restoring the Leninist norms in the Party and in social and political life. The Twentieth Congress noted the meritorious service of the VLKSM and at the same time pointed out some serious deficiencies in its ideological and educational work. The congress noted that “the Komsomol organizations sometimes do not show the ability to draw the youth into practical work and sometimes substitute resolutions, ostentation, and showing off for truly creative organizational work” (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh … , 7th ed., part 4, 1960, p. 142). The Thirteenth Congress of the VLKSM in April 1958 worked out measures based on the decisions of the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU to activate the Komsomol in the work of building communism and to promote democracy within the Komsomol. In carrying out the decisions of the Thirteenth Congress, the Komsomol undertook sponsorship of construction work in ferrous metallurgy, the chemical industry, and other important new construction projects in the country. In the years 1958-61, 800,000 young men and women went on assignment from the Komsomol to work on the major construction projects of the seven-year plan. As many as 1,050 industrial units were constructed from 1961 to 1966 at the Komsomol’s all-Union shock work projects.
In late 1958, Komsomol members joined Communist Party members to initiate the mass movement for communist labor. The first shop to win the title of ”communist labor team” was a shop in the Moscow-Sortirovochnaya depot, which was staffed by young workers.
Komsomol organizations in the countryside directed their energies toward successfully carrying out a major national task—that of achieving an abundance of agricultural products in the country. Young people showed initiative in the mechanization of livestock-raising and in raising agricultural efficiency.
The Twenty-Second Congress of the CPSU, which was held in 1961 and which adopted a new Party program, was very significant in the history of the Komsomol. The congress devoted considerable attention to the youth and evaluated the work of the VLKSM as high quality work. The CPSU program became the combat program that guided the activity of the Komsomol and all the youth. The Fourteenth Congress of the VLKSM in April 1962 worked out specific steps for fulfilling the tasks of communist construction. The Fifteenth Congress in May 1966, basing itself on the decisions of the Twenty-Third Congress of the CPSU (1966), indicated the tasks to be carried out to educate the youth in the spirit of communism and to fulfill the new five-year plan for development of the Soviet economy (1966-70). The Sixteenth Congress of the VLKSM in May 1970 reviewed the work of the Komsomol in carrying out the tasks it had assumed and indicated the direction for further educating young men and women in the spirit of Lenin’s behests. The Sixteenth Congress called upon Komsomol members and all the young people of the USSR to participate on a mass scale in the scientific and technical revolution and in the improvement of the organization and management of production.
The youth plays an important role in the political and economic life of the country. Today’s young generation is a multimillioned army of highly skilled workers in industry, construction, and agriculture and of engineers, technicians, agronomists, scientists, educators, health and cultural workers, and military personnel. Half of those working in industry and construction and about 40 percent of those working in agriculture are young people. The VLKSM calls upon them to increase the efficiency of national production and to introduce and master the new technology. The Komsomol considers this its specific task in carrying out the economic policies of the Party. The scope of the Komsomol’s activities in solving economic problems has expanded considerably, especially in connection with the effort to exploit the wealth of Siberia, the Far East, and the Far North and with the redistribution of the country’s labor resources. Between 1966 and 1970 alone, the Komsomol sent 300,000 young volunteers to the most important new construction projects. About 1,500 important installations were built and put into operation, with the youth playing the most active role. Among these were the Bratsk Hydroelectric Power Plant, the Beloiarsk Atomic Power Plant, the Abakan-Taishet railroad, and the Friendship pipeline—some of the largest installations in the world. In 1970 the Komsomol sponsored 100 shock-work construction projects, including the project to harness the unique gas and petroleum wealth of Tiumen and Tomsk oblasts. It also played an important role in introducing higher levels of chemical fertilization and improved agricultural practices. Among those engaged in land reclamation and improvement in 1970 there were 100,000 young men and women. The Komsomol also devoted a great deal of attention to the area of consumer services, to which 200,000 Komsomol members were assigned in 1969.
Every year the Komsomol organizes an inspection campaign to find and use the untapped potential in production; these campaigns include competitions among production innovators and organizers, exhibits by young innovators, and competitions among young workers for the title of “best in the trade” (that is, the best lathe operator, milling machine operator, tractor operator, and so forth). The Komsomol also began a mass campaign to learn and apply the latest advances of science and technology. The number of people participating in the annual all-Union review of creative technical work done by young people, which is called Young People’s Skill and Initiative at the Service of the Five-year Plan, increased from 2 million in 1967 to 7 million in 1970.
Student construction brigades have become a tradition for Komsomol members in the institutions of higher education. The scope of their activity has increased yearly. Between 1966 and 1969, 1 million students participated in four work semesters. They completed a program of production amounting to more than 1.5 billion rubles. New ways in which the youth can participate in managing production and building the economy have been devised. Among these are the Komsomol Spotlight, which carries on the best traditions of the light cavalry brigades of the 1930’s by actively searching for untapped production potential. In 1968 about 4 million enthusiastic young people participated in the campaign for greater economy and thrift. The labor of these young patriots is highly regarded by the motherland. About 600,000 Komsomol members have been awarded the Medal For Valiant Labor in Honor of the Hundredth Anniversary of Lenin’s Birth.
The cultural level of Komsomol members has risen considerably. In 1970 more than 1.8 million engineers, technicians, agricultural specialists, scientists, people in the arts, medical personnel, and teachers belonged to the VLKSM. As of June 1, 1967, 56 percent of workers in the sciences were under the age of 30. The Komsomol collaborates with the trade unions and cultural institutions in organizing amateur art collectives, creative arts associations, and hobby clubs. Tens of millions of young men and women belong to sports clubs and sections. The Komsomol organizes creative seminars for young writers, poets, and playwrights, as well as exhibitions of works by young artists and screenings of films by young directors. It also awards annual prizes to talented young people for outstanding achievements in literature and art (prize established in March 1966) and science and technology (prize established in June 1967), as well as for active work in scientific and technological progress (prize established in May 1970).
The VLKSM actively promotes the ideas of Marxism-Leninism and the revolutionary fighting and working traditions of the Communist Party of the Soviet people. It carries out major work in educating the youth using the example of Lenin’s life and work and that of his collaborators. The so-called Lenin Lessons have achieved wide popularity. These lessons combine a study of Lenin’s theoretical legacy with an application of the knowledge acquired in practice. In 1970 more than 7 million young women and men were studying in the Komsomol’s system of political education. The organization holds competitions among students for their work on social science problems. Approximately 800,000 students took part in these competitions in 1969-70. On the eve of the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s birth (1969-70) and again in 1971 in honor of the Twenty-fourth Party Congress, the VLKSM conducted the All-Union Leninist Examinations. Tens of millions of Komsomol members reported to the Party and the people on their study of Lenin’s theoretical teachings, their application of his legacy in practice, their participation in communist construction, and the raising of their educational, cultural, and technical work levels and social work.
In 1971 the VLKSM published 226 magazines and newspapers for young people, young pioneers, and small children in 22 languages spoken in the USSR. The central organs of the VLKSM Central Committee are the newspapers Komsomol’skaia pravda, which has been awarded the Order of Lenin, two Orders of the Red Banner of Labor, and an Order of the Great Patriotic War First Class and which had a circulation of 7.9 million as of Jan. 1, 1971; and the newspaper Pionerskaia pravda, which has been awarded the Order of Lenin and has a circulation of 9.8 million copies. There are a number of major magazines: Komsomol’skaia zhizn’ (1.39 million copies), Molodoi kommunist (860,000), SeV skaia molodezh’ (1.01 million), Smena (1 million), Pioner (1.35 million), Tekhnika—molodezhi (1.6 million), and Murzilka (5.6 million). The combined circulation of all the publications amounted to 63 million in 1970. The Central Committee of the VLKSM runs the Molodaia Gvardiia Publishing House, the Central Committee of the LKSM of the Ukraine runs the Molod’ Publishing House, and the Central Committee of the LKSM of Uzbekistan runs the Esh Gvardiia Publishing House. Between 1966 and 1970 the Molodaia Gvardiia Publishing House issued approximately 1,500 books, with a total output of more than 120 million copies. In 1970 there were 149 young people’s radio broadcasts and 125 television programs.
The Komsomol was the initiator of all-Union tours of the sites of revolutionary, wartime, and labor glory. Millions of young women and men participated in these campaigns, and they founded more than 60,000 museums and halls of fame between 1966 and 1969 and built about 40,000 monuments, obelisks, and memorial plaques. Among the museums that were established were the A. Matrosov, the L. Chaikina, the Molodaia Gvardiia, the Liudinovo Underground, and the Defenders of the Caucasus.
In 1969-70 the Komsomol conducted an all-Union inspection of mass sports and civil defense work and an examination of the physical fitness and military and technical preparedness of the youth. Several sports competitions for children and young people held by the Central Committee of the VLKSM acquired a truly massive scope. Among these were the Golden Hockey Puck, the Leather Ball, the Olympic Spring, and the Neptune. More than 23 million young sports enthusiasts entered these competitions between 1966 and 1970, and 21 million participated in the all-Union athletic and military games called Summer Lightning.
The VLKSM also participates in the affairs of the Soviet state. Its representatives work in government, trade union, cultural, and sports organizations, as well as in organs of the people’s control. In 1970, 281 deputies under 30 years of age were elected to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR; in the supreme soviets of the Union republics and autonomous republics 10 percent of the deputies were young people. In the local soviets there were more than 493,000 young people under the age of 29. Of these, more than 260,000 were Komsomol members. The VLKSM, which represents and defends the interests of all Soviet youth, participates in developing legislation and government rulings on questions of labor, education, recreation, and the everyday life of young people. Of special importance was the creation in 1968 of permanent commissions on youth affairs in the supreme Soviets of the USSR and of the republics and in the soviets of krais, oblasts, okrugs, cities, and raions. In 1969 there were 65,000 deputies to various soviets at work on 10,000 such commissions. Komsomol committees have the right to collaborate with the trade unions and economic agencies in solving problems related to the hiring and firing of young workers, the protection of juvenile labor, the distribution of apartments and hostel accommodations, the use of resources for promoting mass culture and sports, and the awarding of bonuses to young workers, kolkhoz farmers, and office workers. The Komsomol promotes the individual development of every young person and tries to take into consideration in its work the needs and interests of the youth and the great diversity of their individual traits, aptitudes, and talents.
The VLKSM pays close attention to the question of the training and refresher training of Komsomol cadres. The Central Komsomol School, which was founded in February 1945, was reorganized in 1969 as the Higher Komsomol School of the Central Committee of the VLKSM. In addition, 22 regional and republic Komsomol schools were organized. The VLKSM receives no government subsidies. Its budget is based on membership dues and on such sources as funds accumulated by the youth publishing houses, magazines, and newspapers.
The VLKSM is one of the most powerful militant units of the international communist and democratic youth movement. In 1970 the VLKSM and other Soviet youth organizations collaborated with international, regional, national, and local youth associations in 129 countries. Of primary importance to the VLKSM is the strengthening of fraternal relations with the youth leagues of socialist countries. The VLKSM also develops ties with the progressive youth in the capitalist countries—the communist youth organizations. It also aids youth groups in the countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America who are fighting against colonialism and for national independence, democracy, and socialism. The VLKSM pays considerable attention to strengthening and expanding the influence of the World Federation of Democratic Youth and the International Union of Students. Between the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Congresses of the VLKSM, 42 events of international significance were held in the USSR, including the October and Youth gathering, a seminar on Lenin and the Contemporary World, festivals and weeks devoted to friendship between the youth of the USSR and that of many other countries, and scholarly conferences on the KIM, its revolutionary traditions and the contemporary world. In 1971 a worldwide campaign entitled Youth Exposes Imperialism was carried out as a result of a proposal made by the VLKSM.
On July 5, 1956, the Committee of Youth Organizations of the USSR was created—a public organization that was intended to promote increased friendship and collaboration between Soviet youth and the youth of other countries. On May 10, 1958, the Sputnik Bureau of International Youth Tourism was established. As a result of its work, more than 270,000 young women and men from other countries visited the USSR betwen 1966 and 1969. About 200,000 Soviet youth visited other countries as tourists.
In 1968, Soviet youth and the entire Soviet people observed the 50th anniversary of the Lenin Komsomol. The VLKSM was awarded the Order of the October Revolution by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR for the outstanding service and great contribution of its members to the establishment and strengthening of Soviet power, for their courage and heroism demonstrated in combat against the enemies of the socialist fatherland, for the active role they had played in the building of socialism, and for their successful work in the political education of several generations in the spirit of devotion to Lenin’s behests.
Komsomol work is regularly discussed at Party congresses and conferences and at Plenums of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The Party Rules contain a special section entitled “The Party and the Komsomol,” in which the Party’s role as the guide of the Komsomol and the role of the youth organization as the helper and reserve of the Party are spelled out. The resolution of the Central Committee of the Party On the 50th Anniversary of the VLKSM and the Tasks of the Communist Education of the Youth outlines the main directions of the Komsomol’s activity at the present stage and indicates the specific steps that will assure a larger role and greater responsibility to the VLKSM in economic, cultural, and state development.
The Central Committee of the Party has formulated the tasks of the Komsomol today: training a new generation of well-rounded and highly educated people who will be firm, self-sacrificing fighters for communism, capable of directing the affairs of the government and society; teaching Komsomol members and all youth to master Marxist-Leninist theory in a creative way; helping them form a scientific and materialist world view; training them to have firm ideological convictions and a class approach to all aspects of social life and devotion to the Party (all Soviet youth should know Lenin’s teachings and know how to live and struggle in the Leninist way); training them by the example of the Communist Party’s experience and by the revolutionary, military, and labor traditions of the people; tirelessly promoting feelings of Soviet patriotism among them and feelings of indestructible fraternal friendship among the peoples of the USSR; promoting also proletarian internationalism, love for the socialist fatherland, and constant readiness to defend with arms in hand the gains of the October Revolution; developing in young men and women the communist attitude toward labor and socialist property and a highly developed sense of responsibility for the society and the group with which one lives and works; helping to make young women and men very conscious of the close connection between their personal ideals and the great aims of the people; training the young generation in the spirit of communist morality, collectivism, and comradeship and training it to be intolerant of egotism, pettiness, the private-property mentality, and violations of the norms of socialist conduct and of Soviet laws; heightening the revolutionary vigilance of Komsomol members and youth in general and firmly instilling in them an attitude of irreconcilability toward bourgeois ideology and morality and toward the attempts of imperialist propaganda to deceive the young generation with the false slogans of “class peace”; and relentlessly exposing the reactionary nature of capitalism, which is opposed to the interests of the people. The Sixteenth Congress of the VLKSM outlined how the tasks of Soviet youth posed by the Party would be carried out.
After the Sixteenth Congress, the Komsomol accomplished a great deal in mobilizing the youth to successfully complete the eighth five-year plan. In connection with the 50th anniversary of Lenin’s speech to the Third Congress of the RKSM, an all-Union Lenin lesson entitled Learning Communism in Lenin’s Way was conducted, with about 42 million young women and men participating in it. The Party pays constant attention to the work of strengthening the Party nucleus within the Komsomol; the number of Communists working in the youth organization has increased IVi times since the founding of the Komsomol.
The Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU in 1971 devoted considerable attention to the Komsomol, pointing out the increasing role and importance of the VLKSM as the reserve force of the Party and as the Party’s closest helper in the tasks of communist education of the next generation and building the new society. In April 1971 a Plenum of the Central Committee of the VLKSM, and after it an All-Union Komsomol Conference, expressed support for a mass patriotic youth movement under the slogan “for the five-year plan—shock work, skills, and education for the youth.”
The Komsomol looks to the CPSU and the Communist Party members as its models. Learning from the Party how to live and struggle has a superior meaning for the Komsomol member and is the meaning of life for every young person in the Soviet Union. Between the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses of the CPSU, 1.35 million Komsomol members joined the Party—that is, 45 percent of the Party’s new recruits.
The chairmen, first secretaries, and general secretaries of the Komsomol Central Committee have been the following: November 1918 to Oct. 9, 1919, O. L. Ryvkin; Oct. 10, 1919 to Apr. 4, 1922, L. A. Shatskin; Apr. 5, 1922 to July 18, 1924, P. I. Smorodin; July 18, 1924 to May 16, 1928, N. P. Chaplin; May 17, 1928 to Apr. 24, 1929, A. I. Mil’chakov; Apr. 24, 1929 to Nov. 23, 1938, A. V. Kosarev; Nov. 23, 1938 to Oct. 30, 1952, N. A. Mikhailov; Oct. 30, 1952 to Mar. 28, 1958, A. N. Shelepin; Mar. 28, 1958 to Mar. 25, 1959, V. E. Semichastnyi; Mar. 25, 1959 to June 12, 1968, S. P. Pavlov; and since June 12, 1968, E. M. Tiazhel’nikov.
|Table 1. Number of Komsomol members (as of the beginning of the year)|
|1 On October 1||2 On September 1||3 On April 1|
CHRONOLOGY MAJOR EVENTS IN KOMSOMOL HISTORY
March to October 1917—organizations of worker youth founded in Moscow, Petrograd, and other cities.
August 1918—Organizational Bureau formed to convene the First All-Russian Congress of Worker and Peasant Youth Leagues.
Oct. 29 to Nov. 4, 1918—First All-Russian Congress of Worker and Peasant Youth Leagues. The congress founded the RKSM.
November 1918—circular letter of the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) reporting on the founding of the Komsomol and on its tasks.
Dec. 15, 1918—first issue of the magazine of the Central Committee of the RKSM, Iunyi kommunist.
Feb. 28, 1919—first congress of the Latvian Komsomol.
Mar. 31 to Apr. 2, 1919—first congress of the Georgian Komsomol.
March 1919—Eighth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) adopts the resolution On Work Among the Youth.
April 1919—First All-Russian Congress of the League of Communist Students adopts a resolution to merge with the RKSM. Lenin speaks at the congress on April 17.
May 22, 1919—Communist Youth Day held in Moscow under the slogan “to the front!”
May 1919—first all-Russian mobilization of RKSM members for the Eastern Front.
June 26 to July 1, 1919—first congress of the Ukrainian Komsomol.
Oct. 5-8, 1919—Second All-Russian Congress of the RKSM.
October 1919—second all-Russian mobilization of RKSM members for the Southern Front.
Nov. 20-26, 1919—International Youth Congress in Berlin; founding congress of the KIM.
January 1920—first congress of Komsomol organizations in Turkestan.
May 1920—third all-Russian mobilization of RKSM members for the Western Front.
July 16-19, 1920—first congress of the Azerbaijani Komsomol.
Sept. 4, 1920—first all-Russian subbotnik (unpaid mass workday) for youth.
Sept. 24-27, 1920—first congress of the Byelorussian Komsomol.
September 1920—congress of the youth of the East (Azerbaijan, Dagestan, Khiva, Georgia, Armenia, Bukhara, Turkestan, Turkey, and Iran).
Oct. 2-10, 1920—Third Congress of the RKSM. Lenin’s speech “The Tasks of the Youth Leagues” presented at the congress on October 2. The congress makes official the RKSM’s entry into the KIM.
March 1921—Tenth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) devotes a special section of its resolution On Questions of Party Building to work in the RKSM.
June 1-6, 1921—First All-Russian Conference of the RKSM.
July 7-13, 1921—first all-Kazakhstan conference of Komsomol organizations.
Aug. 21-22, 1921—first congress of the Armenian Komsomol.
Sept. 21-28, 1921—Fourth Congress of the RKSM.
March to April 1922—Eleventh Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) adopts the resolution On the Question of the RKSM.
May 16-19, 1922—Second All-Russian Conference of the RKSM.
May 19, 1922—founding of the Pioneer organization.
September 1922—first congress of the Estonian Komsomol.
Oct. 11-19, 1922—Fifth Congress of the RKSM.
Oct. 16, 1922—RKSM Congress adopts a resolution on shefstvo (cultural and ideological patronage) of the navy.
January 1923—Red Navy Week held by the Komsomol.
April 1923—Twelfth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) adopts the resolution On the Work of the RKSM.
June 25-30, 1923—Third All-Russian Conference of the RKSM.
January 1924—resolution of the Central Committee Plenum of the RKSM on adding Lenin’s name to the title of the Pioneer organization.
May 1924—Thirteenth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) adopts the resolution On Work Among the Youth.
July 12-18, 1924—Sixth Congress of the RKSM. The congress renames the organization “Russian Lenin Youth Communist League” (RLKSM).
Oct. 17-18, 1924—first congress of the Lithuanian Komsomol.
March 1925—the newspaper Pionerskaia pravda begins publication. First congress of the Turkmenian Komsomol.
April 1925—first congress of the Uzbekistani Komsomol.
May 24, 1925—first issue of the newspaper Komsomol’skaia pravda.
May 1925—first congress of the Kirghizian Komsomol.
June 16-23, 1925—Fourth All-Russian Conference of the RLKSM.
October 1925—all-Tadzhik conference of Komsomol organizations.
December 1925—discussion at the Fourteenth Congress of the ACP (Bolshevik) on the question “On the Work of the Komsomol.”
Mar. 11-22, 1926—Seventh Congress of the RLKSM. Resolution adopted on renaming the organization “All-Union Lenin Youth Communist League” (VLKSM).
Sept. 17, 1926—women Komsomol workers at the Krasnyi Trengol’nik (Red Triangle) Plant in Leningrad organize one of the first shock-work brigades in the country.
Mar. 24-31, 1927—Fifth All-Union Conference of the VLKSM.
Feb. 23, 1928—decree of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR on the awarding of the Order of the Red Banner to the VLKSM for bravery on the front lines in the civil war.
May 5-16, 1928—Eighth Congress of the VLKSM.
Jan. 26, 1929—Komsomol’skaia pravda calls on the worker youth to launch all-Union socialist emulation.
June 17-24, 1929—Sixth All-Union Conference of the VLKSM.
Dec. 23, 1929—resolution of the Central Committee of the ACP (Bolshevik) On the Participation of the VLKSM in Economic Construction.
May 23, 1930—decree of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR on the awarding of the Order of Lenin to the newspaper Komsomolskaia pravda for its activity in promoting socialist emulation and shock work.
1930—the Komsomol undertakes patronage of the Ural-Kuzbas construction project.
Jan. 16-26, 1931—Ninth Congress of the VLKSM. The Komsomol undertakes patronage of the air force.
Jan. 21, 1931—decree of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR on the awarding of the Order of the Red Banner of Labor to the VLKSM for its initiative in socialist emulation.
Oct. 10, 1931—resolution of the Central Committee of the VLKSM on the introduction of a single Komsomol membership card.
June 1932—construction begins on the city of Komsomol’sk on-Amur.
July 1-7, 1932—Seventh Conference of the VLKSM.
September 1933—mobilization of 10,000 members by the Moscow Komsomol organization for construction of the Moscow subway.
Apr. 11-21, 1936—Tenth Congress of the VLKSM.
March 1939—Eighteenth Congress of the ACP (Bolshevik) adds a special section, “The Party and the Komsomol,” to the Party Rules.
May 1939—adoption by the Komsomol of resolutions on the training of 100,000 women tractor operators on the job and on undertaking patronage of the building of a major maritime and ocean-going fleet, of the Second Baku construction project, of the Kuibyshev hydroelectric scheme, and of the Amurstal’ metallurgical works.
August 1940—the Komsomol of Latvia is incorporated into the VLKSM.
October 1940—the Komsomols of Lithuania and Estonia are incorporated into the VLKSM.
Mar. 15-16, 1941—first congress of the Moldavian Komsomol.
June 23, 1941—resolution of the Bureau of the Central Committee of the VLKSM On Measures To Be Taken on Military Work in the Komsomol.
June 1941—Komsomol members P. Kharitonov, S. Zdorovtsev, and M. Zhukov use their airplanes as battering rams in air combat and are the first to be named Heroes of the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War.
July 1941—beginning of the Two-hundreders movement among Komsomol members.
August 1941 to November 1942—the Liudinovo underground organization of the VLKSM is active in Kaluga Oblast.
Sept. 28, 1941—founding of the Antifascist Committee of Soviet Youth.
September to October 1941—emulation begins among youth brigades working for the front lines at the Gorky motor works and the Ordzhonikidze heavy machinery plant in the Urals.
November 1941—the heroic action of Zoia Kosmodem’ianskaia, a partisan fighter and Komsomol member.
November 1941 to August 1943—underground organization of the VLKSM is active in Obol’, Vitebsk Oblast.
December 1941 to February 1943—the underground VLKSM organization Partisan Spark is active in Nikolaev Oblast.
September 1942 to January 1943—underground VLKSM organization Young Guard is active in Krasnodon.
October 1942 to March 1944—underground VLKSM organization is active in Kaunas.
Feb. 23, 1943—heroic action carried out by Private of the Guards Aleksandr Matrosov, a Komsomol member.
1944—mobilization of 100,000 Komsomol members to work in agriculture.
February 1945—founding of the Central Komsomol School under the Central Committee of the VLKSM.
May 1945—Komsomol’skaia pravda awarded the Order of the Patriotic War First Class.
June 14—decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarding the Order of Lenin to the VLKSM for outstanding services to the motherland in the Great Patriotic War.
Nov. 10, 1945—founding of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, with a Soviet delegation participating at the First World Youth Conference in London.
August 1946—founding of the International Union of Students.
July-August 1947—Soviet youth delegation participates in the First World Festival of Democratic Youth and Students in Prague.
Oct. 28, 1948—decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarding the Order of Lenin to the VLKSM on the occasion of its 30th anniversary.
Mar. 29 to Apr. 8, 1949—Eleventh Congress of the VLKSM.
August 1949—Soviet youth delegation participates in the Second World Festival of Youth and Students in Budapest.
May 1950—Order of Lenin awarded to Pionerskaia pravda on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.
June 1950—Order of the Red Banner of Labor awarded to Komsomol’skaia pravda.
August 1951—Soviet youth delegation participates in the Third World Festival of Youth and Students in Berlin.
August 1953—Soviet youth delegation participates in the Fourth World Festival of Youth and Students in Bucharest.
Mar. 19-27, 1954—Twelfth Congress of the VLKSM.
July-August 1955—Soviet youth delegation participates in the Fifth World Festival of Youth and Students in Warsaw.
April 1956—Fifth Plenum of the Central Committee of the VLKSM adopts the resolution On the Tasks of the Komsomol Organizations in Connection With the Decisions of the Twentieth Party Congress (February 1956).
May 18, 1956—The Party Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers appeal to the youth to go to work on the construction projects of the eastern and northern regions and the Donbas.
July 1956—the Antifascist Committee of Soviet Youth reorganized as the Committee of Youth Organizations of the USSR.
Nov. 5, 1956—decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet awarding the Order of Lenin to the VLKSM for distinguished service in socialist construction, especially the successful tilling of the virgin lands.
July-August 1957—Sixth World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow.
Dec. 6, 1957—decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarding the Order of the Red Banner of Labor to Komsomol’skaia pravda on the occasion of its 10,000th issue.
Feb. 7, 1958—decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR establishing Soviet Youth Day.
April 15-18, 1958—Thirteenth Congress of the VLKSM.
November 1958—Communists and Komsomol members of the Moscow-Sortirovochnaya Depot take the initiative in organizing the movement of communist labor collectives and shock workers of communist labor.
July-August 1959—Soviet youth delegation participates in the Seventh World Festival of Youth and Students in Vienna.
May 27-30, 1960—all-Union conference in the Kremlin of leaders in competition for the title “brigade” or “shock worker of communist labor,” sponsored by the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions and the VLKSM Central Committee.
July-August 1961—World Youth Forum held in Moscow, with 800 representatives from 106 countries, to discuss problems of peace and friendship among peoples.
Apr. 16-20, 1962—Fourteenth Congress of the VLKSM.
July-August 1962—Soviet youth delegation participates in the Eighth World Festival of Youth and Students in Helsinki.
January 1963—resolution of the Central Committee of the VLKSM on the public call-up of the youth to work on the most important construction projects.
April 1963—resolution of the VLKSM Central Committee on strengthening the role of the Komsomol organizations in the work of trade and public catering establishments.
September 1963—gathering of young builders from the all-Union shock-work Komsomol construction projects of Siberia and the Far East.
February 1965—resolution of the VLKSM Central Committee on the participation of Komsomol organizations in bringing the oil and gas deposits of western Siberia and the Mangyshlak Peninsula into production.
September 1965—first all-Union gathering of those who have successfully completed the marching tour of historical sites commemorating the military glory of the Soviet people.
March 1966—VLKSM Central Committee establishes the Badge of Honor and the annual Lenin Komsomol Prize for the best work in literature and art.
May 17-21, 1966—Fifteenth Congress of the VLKSM.
April 1967—the VLKSM Central Committee undertakes patronage of building and reconstruction in the city of Ul’ianovsk.
July-August 1967—international youth meeting in Leningrad in honor of the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution.
December 1967—VLKSM Central Committee Plenum discusses the question “On the Work of the Komsomol Organizations in the Institutions of Higher Education in the Area of Communist Education of the Youth.”
June 1968—all-Union athletic and war games entitled Summer Lightning.
July-August 1968—Soviet delegation participates in the Ninth World Festival of Youth and Students in Sofia.
Oct. 3, 1968—resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU On the 50th Anniversary of the VLKSM and the Tasks of Communist Education of the Youth.
Oct. 25, 1968—VLKSM Central Committee Plenum in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Komsomol. Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarding the Order of the October Revolution to the VLKSM and many other awards to Komsomol organizations throughout the country.
December 1968—the fifth session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR votes to establish permanent committees for youth affairs under the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of Nationalities. Permanent commissions on youth affairs are also established at sessions of the supreme soviets of Union republics and in local soviets.
Mar. 27, 1969—decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarding the Order of the Red Banner of Labor to the Molodaia Gvardiia Publishing House of the VLKSM Central Committee for its successful work in the communist education of children and young people and its active role in developing Soviet literature.
March 1969—fifth all-Union conference of young writers.
Apr. 10, 1970—all-Union Komsomol meeting on working, studying, and living in the Leninist way. Attendance by 54,236,780 people, including Komsomol women and men; veterans of the Party and the Komsomol; participants in the October Revolution, the Civil War, and the Great Patriotic War; and Party, government, and economic workers.
May 26-30, 1970—Sixteenth Congress of the VLKSM.
May 3-10, 1971—all-Union Komsomol meeting on the results of the Twenty-fourth Party Congress and the tasks of Komsomol organizations in carrying out its decisions.
REFERENCESNaslednikam revoliutsii: Dokumenty partii o komsomole i molodezhi. [Moscow] 1969.
Tovarishch Komsomol: Dokumenty s”ezdov, konferentsii i TsK VLKSM 1918-1968, vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1969.
50 let VLKSM: Dokumenty i materialy. Moscow, 1969.
V kol’tse frontov: Molodezh’ v gody grazhdanskoi voiny. Sb. dokumentov. Moscow, 1963.
Marsh udarnykh brigad: Molodezh’ v gody vosstanovleniia narodnogo khoziaistva i sotsialisticheskogo stroitel’stva, 1921-1941 gg. Sb. dokumentov. Moscow, 1965.
Ognennye gody: Molodezh’ v gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny Sovetskogo Soiuza 1941-1945 gg. Sb. documentov. [Moscow] 1965.
Lenin, V.I. O molodezhi. Moscow, 1966.
Kalinin, M. I. O kommunisticheskom vospitanti. Moscow, 1958.
Kirov, S. M. O molodezhi. Moscow, 1969.
Krupskaia, N. K. Voprosy kommunisticheskogo vospitaniia molodezhi, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966.
Lunacharskii, A. V. “Lenin i molodezh’.” In his book Siluety. Moscow, 1965.
Leninskii komsomol: Ocherki po istorii VLKSM, vol. 1 (1918-41). Moscow, 1969.
Boevaia estafeta pokolenii: Ocherki i dokumenty o geroicheskikh podvigakh komsomol’tsev armii iflota. Moscow, 1963.
Atsarkin, A. N. Zhizn’ i bor’ba rabochei molodezhi v Rossii (1901-vkt. 1917 gg.) Moscow, 1965.
Trainin, A. S. Partiia bol’shevikov—rukovoditel’ revoliutsionnogo dvizheniia rabochei molodezhi v 1917 g. Krasnodar, 1965.
Trushchenko, N. V. Partiia i komsomol, 1918-1920 gg. Gorky, 1966.
Istoriia VLKSM: Zhivaia letopis’, fasc. 1-3. Moscow, 1966-68.
Slavnyi put’ Leninskogo komsomola: Ukazatel’ literatury. Moscow, 1965.
B. A. BALASHOV and V. V. LUTSKII
The Komsomol, or All-Union Lenin Communist Youth League (VLKSM), is an independent public organization that unites the broad masses of forward-looking Soviet youth. It is an active assistant and reserve of the CPSU. True to the behests of V. I. Lenin, the Komsomol helps the party bring up young people in the spirit of communism, enlist them in the practical work of building a new society, and train a generation of broadly developed people who will live, work, and manage public affairs under communism. The Komsomol works under the guidance of the CPSU and plays an active role in carrying out party directives in all areas of communist construction. The strength of the Komsomol lies in its leadership by the CPSU, its ideological conviction, its devotion to the party’s cause, and its conscious discipline and unity.
The Russian Communist League of Youth (RKSM) was founded in 1918. In 1924 it added Lenin’s name and became the Russian Lenin Communist League of Youth (RLKSM). After the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed in 1922, the organization assumed its present name, the All-Union Lenin Communist Youth League, in March 1926.
|Table 1. Komsomol congresses|
|1Renamed the RLKSM|
|2Renamed the VLKSM|
|First Congress of the RKSM ...............||Oct. 29–Nov. 4, 1918|
|Second Congress of the RKSM ...............||Oct. 5–8, 1919|
|Third Congress of the RKSM ...............||Oct. 2–10, 1920|
|Fourth Congress of the RKSM ...............||Sept. 21–28, 1921|
|Fifth Congress of the RKSM ...............||Oct. 11–19, 1922|
|Sixth Congress of the RKSM1 ...............||July 12–18, 1924|
|Seventh Congress of the RLKSM2 ...............||Mar. 11–22, 1926|
|Eighth Congress of the VLKSM ...............||May 5–16, 1928|
|Ninth Congress of the VLKSM ...............||Jan. 16–26, 1931|
|Tenth Congressof the VLKSM ...............||Apr. 11–21, 1936|
|Eleventh Congress of the VLKSM ...............||Mar. 29–Apr. 8, 1949|
|Twelfth Congress of the VLKSM ...............||Mar. 19–27, 1954|
|Thirteenth Congress of the VLKSM ...............||Apr. 15–18, 1958|
|Fourteenth Congress of the VLKSM ...............||Apr. 16–20, 1962|
|Fifteenth Congress of the VLKSM ...............||May 17–21, 1966|
|Sixteenth Congress of the VLKSM ...............||May 26–30, 1970|
|Seventeenth Congress of the VLKSM ...............||Apr.23–27, 1974|
|Eighteenth Congress of the VLKSM ...............||Apr. 25–28, 1978|
|Nineteenth Congress of the VLKSM ...............||May 18–21, 1982|
Under the Rules of the Komsomol, membership is open to young men and women aged 14 to 28. In 1982 more than 41.7 million young people of all nations and nationalities of the USSR belonged to the Komsomol. Between 1918 and 1981 more than 160 million Soviet citizens were politically trained in the Komsomol; in the period between 1918 and 1980 more than 14 million Komsomol members joined the CPSU.
The Komsomol’s main task is to educate young men and women in the great principles of Marxism-Leninism, in the heroic traditions of revolutionary struggle, and in the examples of selfless work by workers, kolkhoz members, and members of the intelligentsia; to instill in youth a class approach to all phenomena of public life; and to train reliable, highly educated builders of communism who are devoted to their work. The Komsomol plays a major role in the system of public education. Some 8 million Komsomol members are enrolled in school, and more than 750,000 teachers and Pioneer leaders are Komsomol members.
It is the sacred duty of the Komsomol to prepare young people for the defense of the socialist motherland and to bring them up to be selfless patriots. The Komsomol instills in young men and women devotion to the principles of proletarian internationalism and friendship among the youth of all countries. It seeks to strengthen its ties with fraternal youth leagues in the socialist countries, with communist youth organizations in the capitalist and developing states, and with young people fighting for freedom and national independence, for peace and socialism, and against colonialism and imperialism.
The guiding principle of the Komsomol’s organizational structure is democratic centralism. The Komsomol is organized along territorial-industrial lines. The primary organizations, which are the foundation of the Komsomol, are formed wherever at least three Komsomol members work or study—for example, at enterprises, such as factories, plants, and sovkhozes, at kolkhozes, in Soviet Army units, at offices, and in educational institutions. The highest body of the Komsomol is the Congress. In the intervals between congresses the work of the Komsomol is directed by its Central Committee, which elects a Bureau and a Secretariat from among its members. A list of Komsomol congresses is given in Table 1.
In its work the Komsomol strictly adheres to Leninist principles of collective leadership and the encouragement in every possible way of democracy within the organization, of broad-based initiative and personal activity for all members, and of criticism and self-criticism. All Komsomol members are obliged to fight for the implementation of the program of communist construction; to set an example in work, at school, and in the fulfillment of social obligations; and to strive persistently to absorb Marxist-Leninist theory, as well as knowledge, culture, and the latest achievements of science and technology. Every Komsomol member considers it an honor to become a member of the CPSU.
The history of the Komsomol and of the Soviet youth movement is inseparably linked with the history of the revolutionary struggle of the working class, led by the CPSU. Working-class youth took part in the Great October Socialist Revolution and made up a considerable part of the Red Guard. In addition, socialist youth leagues of peasants and workers were formed throughout the country in 1917. They merged at the First Congress of Workers’ and Peasants’ Youth Leagues, held from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4, 1918, to form the Russian Communist League of Youth. The basic principles of the Komsomol’s program and rules were adopted at the congress.
Komsomol members took part in the Civil War of 1918–20, serving in the Red Army, in partisan units, and in underground organizations behind enemy lines. In recognition of its military services, the Komsomol was awarded the Order of the Red Banner in 1928. Lenin addressed the Third Congress of the Komsomol in October 1920. He called upon youth to study communism, and he outlined the Komsomol’s tasks in building a new, socialist society and in educating the younger generation in the spirit of communism.
The Komsomol took part in the industrialization of the country, in the collectivization of agriculture, and in the cultural revolution. In 1931 the Komsomol was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor for its initiative in the area of socialist competition.
The Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 was an ordeal for the Komsomol and all Soviet youth. For outstanding services to the motherland, at the front and in the rear, 3,500 Komsomol members were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, and 3.5 million Komsomol members were awarded orders and medals. In 1945 the Komsomol was awarded the Order of Lenin. For the tremendous labor it devoted to rebuilding the economy, which had been ravaged by the fascist German invaders, the Komsomol was awarded a second Order of Lenin in 1948, on the occasion of the organization’s 30th anniversary. For its participation in socialist construction and in bringing virgin and long-unused lands under cultivation, the Komsomol was awarded a third Order of Lenin in 1956. In 1968, as part of the celebration in honor of its 50th anniversary, the organization was awarded the Order of the October Revolution. In 1978, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Komsomol, it was awarded the Memorial Red Banner of the Central Committee of the CPSU.
In 1982 the Komsomol included 14 million workers, more than 2.6 million kolkhoz members, about 2.3 million engineers, technicians, and agricultural specialists, and about 900,000 teachers and doctors. The Komsomol enlists young people in the work of increasing the efficiency of social production, raising the quality of output, and introducing new equipment; it continually renders comradely assistance (shefstvo) to construction projects important to the national economy, such as the Kama Truck Plant, the Atomash project, the West Siberia construction sites, and the Urengoi-Uzhgorod gas pipeline.
The Komsomol propagates Marxist-Leninist doctrine and the internationalist, revolutionary, military, and labor traditions of the CPSU and the Soviet people; it helps the party bring up young people in a communist spirit. It also takes part in the administration of the Soviet state. Komsomol members work in government and trade union agencies, in agencies of people’s control, and in sports and cultural agencies. At the tenth convocation of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1979, 317 deputies, or 21 percent of the total, were under 30. Young people make up 21 percent of the deputies to the supreme soviets of the Union republics and autonomous republics. Local soviets include about 775,000 young people under 30, of whom more than 479,000 are Komsomol members.
A major role in developing a commitment to public work among young men and women is played by the commissions on youth affairs, which have been established at all levels—from the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to the soviets of villages and settlements. In 1982 more than 12,000 such commissions functioned, with more than 80,000 deputies. In 1982 there were about 2 million Komsomol members on trade union committees. Komsomol organizations work with trade union bodies and plant administrations to improve working conditions for young people, and they take part in reviewing such matters as providing incentives for young industrial and nonindustrial workers, ensuring labor protection for adolescents, dismissing young people from work, assigning apartments and rooms in dormitories to young people, and using funds for entertainment and sports.
The Komsomol is deeply concerned with the training and refresher training of Komsomol cadres and activist members. There are 46 zone, republic, and oblast Komsomol schools in the USSR. The Central Komsomol School, founded in 1945, was reorganized in 1969 as the Higher Komsomol School under the Central Committee of the Komsomol, which has provided graduate training since 1971 and, since 1973, a division that offers refresher training courses for leadership cadres of the city, oblast, and krai committees of the Komsomol and the central committees of the Union-republic Komsomols. The school has a scientific research center.
The Komsomol is an activist detachment of the international communist and democratic youth movement. In 1982 the Komsomol and Soviet youth organizations worked with youth and student organizations from 140 countries. Primary importance is assigned to strengthening ties with the youth leagues of the other socialist countries. Relations are expanding with communist youth organizations in the capitalist countries and with progressive youth organizations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The Komsomol takes part in the work of the World Federation of Democratic Youth and the International Union of Students and makes a substantial contribution toward making them more effective in the struggle of youth and students for peace, détente, disarmament, national independence, democracy, and social progress.
Friendship weeks and festivals involving Soviet youth and youth of many other countries have become a tradition. The Committee of Youth Organizations of the USSR was formed in 1956, and the Sputnik Bureau of International Youth Tourism in 1958. In 1980 more than 400,000 young men and women visited other countries or came to the USSR.
Questions pertaining to the Komsomol’s work are regularly discussed at congresses and conferences of the CPSU and at plenums of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The Party Rules include a special section, The Party and the Komsomol, which defines the role of the CPSU as the guide of the Komsomol and the role of the Komsomol as an assistant and reserve of the party.
The CPSU works out the political line, strategy, and tactics of the Komsomol and directs their implementation. The party organizations assign specific tasks to the appropriate Komsomol organizations at each stage of social development. The CPSU broadens the scope of independent activity by the Komsomol, supports its initiatives, ensures its participation in state and production administration, and provides a wide range of opportunities for creative expression by Komsomol members and other young people. The party also coordinates the work of government and public organizations in solving a task that confronts the entire party and state: bringing up the next generation.
The party entrusts the Komsomol with the task of guiding the daily activities of the Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization. Instilling in young people a communist attitude toward labor, the CPSU regards the Komsomol and all Soviet youth as a great constructive force, steers them toward the most important sectors of communist construction, and enhances the Komsomol’s role in mobilizing activist youth to take part in creating a material and technical basis for communism. The party, which seeks to raise the general educational and cultural level of young people, increase their technical knowledge, and ensure their well-rounded, harmonious development, defines the Komsomol’s role in this work. The CPSU directs the selection, placement, and training of Komsomol cadres, assigns party members with broad knowledge and experience to work with youth, and does its best to strengthen and guide the core of party members in the Komsomol.
The Twenty-sixth Congress of the CPSU (1981) and the Nineteenth Congress of the VLKSM (1982) set before the Komsomol the tasks of constantly improving the forms and techniques used to bring up youth in a communist spirit and of mobilizing youth to fulfill the plans of communist construction. The Komsomol looks to the CPSU and its members as a model. Learning from the party how to live and work is the most meaningful activity of the Komsomol and of every young person in the Soviet Union.
The financial resources of the Komsomol and its constituent organizations come from such sources as membership dues, the earnings of Komsomol enterprises, and the publication of youth magazines and newspapers.
In 1982 the Komsomol published a total of 247 young people’s, Young Pioneers’, and children’s newspapers and magazines, in 32 of the languages of the USSR; the combined circulation exceeded 80 million. In the Soviet Union there are 164 youth departments and editorial offices in radio broadcasting and 130 youth editorial offices in television. The central press organs of the Komsomol are the newspaper Komsomol’skaia pravda (since 1925) and the journal Molodoi kommunist (Young Communist; since 1918).
In 1982, at the Nineteenth Congress of the VLKSM, May 18–21, the members of the Bureau of the Central Committee of the Komsomol were S. Abdrakhmanov, V. A. Aksenov, B. Allamuradov, A. G. Bortsov, Iu. A. Dergausov, N. K. Dolgushkin, A. V. Fedulova, D. N. Filippov, A. N. Koliakin, A. I. Kornienko, N. A. Koshelev, L. N. Luchinets, V. I. Matvienko, V. M. Mishin, D. A. Okhromii, B. N. Pastukhov, P. Iu. Ratnikov, G. N. Seleznev, L. I. Shvetsova, V. P. Solov’ev, and A. V. Zhuganov.
The candidate members of the Bureau of the Central Committee of the Komsomol were V. K. Egorov, V. M. Kaplenkovka, S. I. Kolesnikov, D. M. Muslim-Zade, M. K. Rukmane, V. P. Shaplyko, and I. N. Shchelokov.
The secretaries of the Central Committee of the Komsomol were B. N. Pastukhov (first secretary), Iu. A. Dergausov, N. K. Dolgushkin, A. V. Fedulova, D. N. Filippov, A. N. Koliakin, V. M. Mishin, D. A. Okhromii, and A. V. Zhuganov.
The chairman of the Central Council of the Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization in 1982 was A. V. Fedulova.
The chairman of the Central Auditing Commission of the Komsomol in 1982 was Sh. M. Sultanov.
|Table 2. Komsomol membership (as of January 1 of year)|
|1As of October 1|
|3As of May|
Figures on Komsomol membership are given ¡n Table 2.
The Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization, an independent mass communist organization of children and adolescents of the Soviet Union, is a reserve for the Komsomol and the source of the Komsomol’s future membership. Its main tasks and its place in the system of communist education are defined in the Program of the CPSU and in decrees of the party’s Central Committee: On the Pioneer Movement (Aug. 4, 1924), On the Present State and Immediate Tasks of the Pioneer Movement (June 25, 1928), On the Work of the Pioneer Organization (Apr. 21, 1932), and On the 50th Anniversary of the Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization (Mar. 26, 1972). The Pioneer organization, in order to educate its members in the spirit of communism, works in tandem with the schools and in cooperation with the family, public organizations, and production collectives. It functions on the basis of the Statute on the Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization.
The organization’s governing body is the Central Council of the Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization. Membership in the Pioneers is open to children and adolescents aged ten to 15. For children aged seven to nine, Oktiabriata (Little Octobrists) groups are formed in affiliation with Pioneer detachments and brigades. The Ceremonial Pledge and the Rules of the Pioneers contain a set of ideological and moral requirements for Pioneers. In carrying out the ideological and political education of Pioneers and preparing them to join the Komsomol, due regard is given to the psychological characteristics of children and adolescents. Pioneers are taught devotion to the ideals of communism; collectivist spirit and organizational skills; loyalty to the revolutionary, military, and labor traditions of the Soviet people; and feelings of socialist patriotism and internationalist duty. Special attention is given to bringing up children on the example of the life and work of Lenin and his close associates.
The work of the Pioneer organization is based on the initiative and independent activity of the children and is designed to develop in them, every day, a desire for knowledge and the ability to use knowledge actively in their lives and in helping to build communism. The Pioneer organization is guided by Lenin’s precept that young people should approach all their educational tasks in such a way that they are involved daily “in the practical solution of some problem of labour in common, even though the smallest or the simplest” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 318). To help children achieve deeper knowledge and full physical and spiritual development, various study groups and societies are formed in schools and extracurricular institutions; scientific field trips and outings, such as geological field trips and nature hikes, are arranged; and olympiads and sports groups are organized.
The first communist children’s groups, which were attached to Komsomol cells and included children’s sections, children’s committees, and young people’s labor armies, appeared after the victory of the October Revolution of 1917. In early 1922 the Komsomol began organizing Pioneer detachments, the first of which was in Moscow. On May 19, 1922, the Second All-Russian Conference of the Russian Communist League of Youth (RKSM) voted to establish such detachments throughout the country; this date marks the founding of the Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization. The Fifth Congress of the RKSM in October 1922 approved the statute for the Pioneer organization, thereby making official the establishment of the organization. In January 1924 the Pioneer organization added the name of Lenin to its official designation. It was awarded the Order of Lenin on the occasion of its 40th anniversary in 1962 and a second Order of Lenin on the occasion of its 50th anniversary in 1972.
In the 1920’s, Young Pioneer detachments were organized at enterprises. Since 1932, when universal primary education for all children had been achieved, Pioneer detachments have been formed only in the schools. In the 1930’s the Pioneers helped clean up factory grounds, collected various materials, such as scrap metal and usable waste, organized mobile libraries, and engaged in agricultural work, which included the protection of harvests. In the prewar years the Pioneer organization rendered increasing assistance (shefstvo) to the Red Army: Pioneers raised dogs for use in military service and organized groups of young sharpshooters, young medics, young signalmen, and young topographers. There developed a mass movement of young naturalists, young engineers, and young tourists.
During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 the Pioneer organization initiated the Timur movement, which was inspired by A. Gaidar’s novella Timur and His Team. Timur teams and detachments aided hospitals and families of servicemen, helped raise crops and gather harvests, donated their earnings from work to the Defense Fund, and gathered medicinal herbs. Pioneers fought the fascists in partisan detachments and underground organizations behind enemy lines; for their services, 36,000 young Leninists were granted the highest government awards, and the title Hero of the Soviet Union was conferred on Lenia Golikov, Marat Kazei, Valia Kotik, and Zina Portnova.
The established tradition by which Pioneers combine learning with socially useful work is constantly being enriched. Practice work, work in study-and-production brigades, and farm machinery operators’ study groups play an important role in the overall work of the Pioneer organization. Pioneers help construct, repair, and equip schools and do volunteer work for preschool institutions. The technical expertise of Pioneers is enhanced through the work of the schools and of study groups of young cosmonauts, young missile specialists, young model-aircraft builders and pilots, and young railroad workers.
The military and patriotic education of Pioneers is reinforced by military sports events, the cultivation of friendship with veterans and with military units for which the Pioneers have done volunteer work, tours of battlegrounds, the establishment of museums of military glory, and the work of such groups as the young friends of the border troops and young friends of naval personnel. The work done in popular culture, sports, and public affairs through the system of “Pioneer activity zones,” which embrace the neighborhood of the school, housing maintenance offices, and housing management committees, has gained widespread recognition. The Green Patrols and Pioneer Forest Projects have greatly aided the effort to protect the environment.
Pioneer squads and detachments maintain ties with the toppriority projects of communist construction, compile chronicles of factories, plants, kolkhozes, and sovkhozes, record the labor exploits of peredoviki (exemplary workers), and establish museums and exhibition rooms devoted to glorious achievements in labor. Trips around home areas, which help to enhance the Pioneers’ sense of patriotism and heighten their interest in learning, have become quite popular. The Pioneer organization reviews its work and outlines forthcoming activities at all-union rallies; the first rally was held in Moscow in 1929, the second and third at the Artek All-Union Pioneer Camp in 1962 and 1967, the fourth in Leningrad in 1970, and the fifth through seventh at Artek in 1972, 1974, and 1976.
The Pioneer organization has become a mass children’s and adolescents’ organization. Its membership has grown from 4,000 in 1922 to 25 million in 1976. Among the facilities run by the organization as of early 1976 were 4,403 palaces and houses of Pioneers and schoolchildren, 1,008 young engineers’ stations, 587 young naturalists’ stations, 202 excursion tour stations, 155 children’s parks, 38 children’s railroads, 11 children’s river fleets, and the Moscow Pioneer Automobile Road.
In 1976, 10 million Pioneers and other schoolchildren attended Pioneer camps. The Pioneer organization publishes a total of 28 newspapers and 40 children’s journals, in 17 of the languages of the USSR. In 1976, Pionerskaiapravda (since 1925), an organ of the Central Committee of the Komsomol and the Central Council of the Pioneer organization, had a circulation of more than 9 million. The radio news program Pionerskaia zor’ka (Pioneer Dawn) is broadcast daily. At the Central Television Studio, the Orlenok (Young Eagle) studio produces programs for Pioneers, and the newsreel studio produces the news serial Pioneriia.
The Pioneer organization works with communist and democratic children’s organizations abroad and is a member of the International Committee of Children’s and Youth Organizations, of the World Federation of Democratic Youth. It takes part in international contests, sports competitions, and seminars. The Pioneer organization invites children from other countries to the Artek All-Union Pioneer Camp and sends Pioneer groups to international camps. Pioneer squads include international friendship clubs.
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Naslednikam revoliutsii: Dok-ty partii o komsomole i molodezhi. Moscow, 1969.
Brezhnev, L. I. Molodym—stroit’ kommunizm, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1974.
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REFERENCESLeninskii komsomol: Ocherki po istorii VLKSM, part 1:1918–1941, gg. Moscow, 1969.
Nash Leninskii komsomol. [2nd ed. Moscow, 1974.]
Slavnyi put’ Leninskogo komsomola, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1974.
Estafeta pionerskikh pokolenii. Moscow, 1972.