Yet the mixed messages created by propaganda unintentionally encouraged the

Yet the mixed messages created by propaganda

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Yet, the mixed messages created by propaganda unintentionally encouraged the bravest youngsters to volunteer or seek out the front. Chapters Five, Six and Seven, which contain the bulk of the work’s original research, provide case studies of the three categories of child combatant under consideration: vospitanniki , child partisans and naval cadets. These case studies focus on the experience of child soldiers, as well as the efforts of
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state representatives, officers and adult soldiers to manage adolescent military participation. These chapters succeed in weaving harrowing personal testimony, and a wealth of new material, into a broader analysis of what motivated individual youths to fight. The emphasis shifts from those ideological factors pushing children to fight, towards a consideration of personal and individual motivations. Faced by a war of annihilation child soldiers particularly partisans had little choice. War created a pool of hungry, vulnerable and vengeful potential recruits. Overall, this work approaches Soviet child soldiers not just an important example of child soldiering during modern industrialised total warfare, but also a means of testing how far ideology and patriotic propaganda influenced Soviet society’s youngest generation. Kucherenko concludes that the extraordinary behaviour of otherwise ordinary Soviet children was the product of the ‘unique social and psychological atmosphere established in the Soviet Union during the 1930s – 40s…’ (p.254). Little Soldiers is an engaging contribution to the study of the socialization of Soviet children, the effectiveness of Stalinist propaganda, as well as the social history of the Great Patriotic War. Scholars and students with a variety of interests in the 1930s and 1940s will find much of interest here. (982 words)
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