Almost ninety years ago, in 1932, a 13-year-old Soviet boy named Pavlik Morozov denounced his father Trofim to local authorities for helping a persecuted group. Trofim, the chairman of the Gerasimovka Village Soviet, had been selling forged documents to the kulaks, a declared enemy of the Soviet State. The Gerasimovka villagers refused to join the kolkhoz, a state-controlled collective farm during the collectivization of the Soviet Union under Stalin. Trofim Morozov was convicted and sentenced to ten years in a labor camp. He eventually would be sentenced to death.
The story goes that Pavlik was doing his patriotic duty to denounce his father for violating government dictates. Pavlik, for his heroic action, was killed by his family members. His story was a subject of reading, songs, plays, a symphonic poem, a full-length opera, and six biographies. Pavlik became a hero whose statue and school in the village of Gerasimovka drew legions of youthful pilgrims. A Moscow street bears his name, and his name appeared numerous times in propaganda publications, Young Pioneers, aimed at children.
The Pavlik story had a significant impact on the moral norms of generations of children. They were encouraged to inform on their parents. Pavlik became a Communist folk hero, one of the first models of Soviet behavior held up to all Soviet schoolchildren for emulation. Pavlik was a martyr who put the state above old-fashioned family loyalties.
Pavlik was a pioneer of a practice that became the mainstay of Stalin terror programs, an informer, sending millions to forced labor camps or their death for real or imagined crimes against the state. It is difficult to draw the line between official surveillance and unsolicited information from citizens in society as controlled like the Soviet Union.
In Stalin’s Soviet Union, each research institute, factory, or government office had its resident watchdogs. The covid crisis has greased the gears of a similar Marxist agenda. Today our vaccine mandate heroes and the mask police are just doing their duty to keep us safe. Pavlik and Statin are smiling in their graves.