Featured Object: Soviet Commemorative Pin overview image

Featured Object: Soviet Commemorative Pin

  • Post Date10/11/2010
  • AuthorBilly Ridgeway, student writer
  • Reading Time3 minute read

Along with a red scarf, this commemorative pin made of metal and enamel was given as a badge to members of the Young Pioneers, a Soviet scouting group for boys and girls aged 10 to 15. Scout groups in other socialist nations received similar pins. The script on the pin below Lenin's bust reads "ВсегдаГотов!" or "Always Ready!", the motto of the Young Pioneers.

The Young Pioneers' basic functions were similar to those of American and other scouting organizations but differed on a fundamental basis: while scouting groups such as the Boy Scouts help members develop a sense of rugged self-reliance and stressed core family values, the Young Pioneers taught similar basic skills while also instilling loyalty to the Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union, the Young Pioneers were the only youth scouting group that existed: all others were outlawed in order to ensure that all ideology taught to the young members followed state guidelines. As with the Communist Party, membership in the Young Pioneers was not necessary but had benefits that attracted young people hoping for more attention from teachers and peers or wanting to be part of a popular activity. At first membership was limited to those whose families represented ideal Bolshevik roots, but these restrictions were gradually loosened.

The group organized after-school activities and trips to help teach the children the official history of important events in the Soviet Union or their own region. Of even greater importance to the Young Pioneers, however, were the summer camps that taught children about living in the wilderness and removed them from parental guidance so that state education was the only source of information available. It was also common for Soviet celebrities to make appearances at the camps. However, this state education was not harshly administered and many children simply ignored it, choosing to join the group purely for social reasons. Others engaged in the state education and gained confidence in their ability to better the Soviet Union and in a positive future for themselves and their country.

The Young Pioneers group was founded in 1922 and was born from the combination of several other scouting groups that had existed before the October Revolution of 1917. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 also came the end of the Young Pioneers in its state-run capacity, though it has continued on as a private organization. Members typically joined the movement after having been a Little Octobrist, a similar group for children ages 7 to 9. Accordingly, the majority of Young Pioneers would go on to become members of the Komsomol, the youth branch of the Communist Party, after turning 15.

This article was written on May 22, 2009 by Billy Ridgeway, a student assistant of Spurlock Museum.

  • Full view of soviet pin with flame, star, man's face, and Russian text