Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Pavlik Morozov

A week ago I watched one of the episodes of the “Lost” series. Jack (played by Matthew Fox) – a young surgeon – saw that his dad, also a surgeon, operated while being drunk, cut an artery of the patient but reported that the girl died from natural causes. His honest son was terrified by this but when his dad promised never to drink at work again he agreed to sign the statement “nothing could be done”. But then again during the hearing of some special medical committee he was told that the girl was pregnant. We see the hurricane of contradictory emotions on the actor’s face. He cannot take it anymore and denounces his father. “Pavlik Morozov!”- we all exclaimed in unison. Pavlik Morozov was No.1 Yound Pioneer hero who denounced his anti-communist father in the early 30’s and then later was killed by his own relatives (his grandmother was among the avengers). Denouncing close relatives, no matter how evil they are, is one of the greatest crimes in Russia. It’s an ages-long taboo, the worst betrayal, an unforgivable sin. Pavlik Morozov is one of the most insulting nicknames to be given to a person. If your dad was really that bad – punish him yourself but don’t denounce him.

When Stalin made a hero out of Pavlik Morozov the message was quite clear. “You guys think that your homes are safe and you can freely say what you think of your government and Comrade Stalin? Not if your son is a Young Pioneer who wants to become a hero.” And then – “if you ever say that denouncing close relatives is immoral you will be treated as an enemy of the people”.

Catriona Kelly did a great job of researching the story about Pavlik Morozov in her book “Comrade Pavlik”. What she found is really surprising – the whole story is nothing but a Soviet myth. Pavlik Morozov didn’t denounce anyone. He and his friend were found dead in the forest and there were no proves that he was killed out of revenge. He was not even a Young Pioneer. His father was not an enemy of the people. It’s still unclear how the whole story came into being.

Catriona Kelly’s work was so thorough that he even translated into English one of the 'chastushkas' about Pavlik I liked when I was seven. We called them “sadistic poems”.

Daddy is lying in the street,
All in blood from head to feet.
His little son – oh, what a shame!
Was playing a Pavlik Morozov game
.

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Christof said...

his cause of death will never be clear, that is certainty