The Rescue Tractor: The Propaganda of Technological Progress in Soviet Publications for Children before the Second World War
Childhood in the USSR is a topic of considerable interest for both Russian and non-Russian researchers: it is driven by a constant demand for Soviet children’s literature, the use of related images in modern advertising, and Russians’ nostalgia for their childhood. Contemporary researchers mostly focus on the methods the Soviet government used to construct images of a happy childhood. In the Soviet Union, where the cult of childhood appeared early enough, Soviet propaganda formed the idea of the so-called “paradisiacal places” of Soviet childhood: pioneer camps, recreation parks, etc. The article’s author considers the first five-year plan in the USSR as being the main event of the turn of the 1930s that was explained and promoted to children by Soviet propaganda. The study specifically focuses on the propaganda of industrial development, and not on the topics of the friendship of peoples, class struggle, and the miserable life of workers and their children in other countries. Another feature of the article is the chosen time frame, which makes it possible to take a “screenshot” of the transitional stage of the existence of the Soviet state and the sharp turn in the early 1930s from ideas of internationalism to postulates of “all-Soviet national superiority”. Referring to the popularisation of the achievements of the first five-year plan, the study traces the ideological transition to national patriotic propaganda. The author refers to popular children’s magazines (Murzilka, Yozh, and Chizh) and books, some of which were created by avant-garde artists. The author considers the combination of text and image in children’s periodicals. Promoting industrial development, they presented the young reader with a whole arsenal of machines, putting forward a recognised “king” among them. There were a lot of applicants for wearing the “crown”, including military vehicles, which were extremely popular in the USSR. However, the Soviet country had a more terrible enemy than imperialists and counterrevolutionaries: malnutrition and hunger. It was this fact that made the tractor the main character of technical agitation at the turn of the 1930s in the USSR.
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