Pioneers of Leningrad in a defense drill, 1937

Victor Bulla's photo of hundreds of children wearing gas masks was not meant to be a slur, a comment on war or lost innocence, but an example of pride – a nation full of well-trained, well-equipped and clearly courageous young fighters was awarded. ,

The picture dates back to 1937, four years before the Siege of Leningrad, and makes the strangeness vivid and poignant. Many children here would have died in sieges, or lived through it in the Civil Defense Force, eating wallpaper paste and digging trenches. However how brave and ready he must have felt in 1937.

The Pioneer Organization was a Soviet Union collective youth organization for 10-15 year olds that existed between 1922 and 1991.

Similar to the Scouting organizations of the Western world, Pioneers learned the skills of social cooperation and attended publicly funded summer camps. It had 75,000 members by the middle of 1923, up from 161,000 in early 1924, 2 million in 1926, 13.9 million in 1940, and 25 million in 1974.

Pioneers during the Great Patriotic War worked hard to contribute to the war effort at all costs. Thousands of them died in resistance against Nazi Germany in their occupied territories as military personnel and as partisans and pioneers in enemy-held towns and cities, even in concentration camps.

The four pioneers would later receive the prestigious Gold Star Medal as Heroes of the Soviet Union, and countless others from various state orders, decorations and medals for acts of bravery and courage on the battlefield across enemy lines and occupied territories. was awarded.

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