I’ve been going through Komsomolskaya pravda for 1928 collecting articles on whatever I find interesting. And there’s a lot–1928 was a tumultuous year. Articles about the spread of fascism in Europe, particularly in Germany and Poland, and an increasing numbers of communist victims in Mussolini’s Italy were plastered across its pages. The war scare of 1927 spawned a rush of military preparedness among youth in the summer months of 1928. I can’t count how many articles about komsomols marching around Moscow with guns in hand conducting war games. War was in the air.
The firing ranges and marching columns of ersatz soldiers were just the beginning of the war games. The entire Komsomol organization was transformed into a virtual army as it shifted into high gear with the adoption of campiagnism. The targets for their operations, however, were not the fascists abroad, but society itself. There were Komsomol campaigns against illiteracy, campaigns for grain, campaigns for culture, campaigns against alcohol, campaigns against bureaucracy, and campaigns for this and campaigns for that. Komsomolskaya pravda‘s militaristic tone gave all these “fronts,” “battles,” “armies” and “cavalries” against the ills that plagued the Soviet social body a dire sense of desperation. In retrospect, all of this faux civil war rhetoric would prove to be a prelude to the real civil war against the countryside the next year.
Anxiety over the enemy without had its parallel for the enemy within. The Shakhty Trial and its “lessons” ignited the hunt for more wreckers and masked enemies. The Komsomol intensified its hunt to weed out the sons and daughters of Nepmen, priests, and kulaks and the generally corrupt and debauched from its ranks. The slogan fueling this hunt was samokritika, or self-criticism. Namely, this was the “rank and file” exercising “democracy” through the denunciation and expulsion of its leaders for their “immoral” behavior.
While the wave of denunciations shed light on the increasingly authoritarianism within the Komsomol, such acts, as the following short article from Kom pravda shows, were not without comedic elements
Two from the District Committee
“Mama won’t stand for it”
The extraordinary plenum of the Kupian district committee LKSM was alerted.
“To what affair? What happened?”
The question was soon answered. The secretary of the district committee, cde. Efanov reported that on these days the deputies of the organizational department and agitation and propaganda were fired and removed from the buro.
“For what reasons?”
Cde. Popov, the deputy of the org dept., an old komsomol and member of the Party, bragged to komsomols about his relations with prostitutes. Another member of the buro, Kashevatskii, on the contrary, preferred Komsomol girls. A fleeting relation and then abortion characterizes this district “Lion.” Doctors refused komsomolka B. an abortion. [Kashevatskii] had to marry her. But he found the words to explain his refusal:
“Well, how can I marry you? Think of it: I’m a Jew and you’re Russian. My mama won’t stand for this.”
His mother’s interests won out. B. decided to get an abortion. Sometime after, she became deranged and finally committed suicide. But Kashevatskii’s mother profoundly believes in the dovelike purity of her son.
The district plenum drove the rotten from the committee, and Kashevatskii from the League.
Komsomolskaya pravda August 28, 1928.