Polychronicon 139: Civic denouncer: The lives of Pavlik Morozov

Teaching History feature

By Professor Catriona Kelly, published 9th August 2010

Germaine Greer (in the context of the Pirelli Calendar) once commented that the defining feature of a legend was that almost nothing said and believed about it was true. Pavlik Morozov, notorious both inside Russia and internationally for having denounced his father, almost certainly never did so. In September 1932, local newspapers in Tavda, on the eastern border of what is now Sverdlovsk province, reported that a certain Pavel Morozov and his younger brother Fyodor (then aged about 9 to Pavel's 13) had been found brutally murdered in woodland outside their home village of Gerasimovka. The killing was, according to the official file on the murders now in the Central Archive of the FSB, Moscow, originally seen by local police as the result of a family row. But it was soon reinterpreted in order to suit the ideology of the so-called ‘cultural revolution'. Pavel's murderers were declared to be part of a ring of kulaks, members of the class of prosperous peasants who were held to be implacable enemies of collectivisation, then being imposed on the Urals as on rural Russia generally.

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