Comrade Pavlik

The Rise And Fall Of A Soviet Boy Hero

Catriona Kelly

Published: 5 June 2006
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 384 pages
ISBN: 9781862078451


It was September, 1932. Gerasimovka, Western Siberia. Two children are found dead in the forest outside a remote village. Both have been repeatedly stabbed and their bloody bodies are covered in sticky, crimson cranberry juice. Who committed these horrific murders has never been proved, but the elder boy, thirteen-year-old Pavlik Morozov, was quickly to become the most famous boy in Soviet history - statues of him were erected, biographies published, and children across the country were exhorted to emulate him. Catriona Kelly's aim is not to find out who really killed the boys, but rather to explore how Stalin's regime turned Pavlik into a hero designed to produce good Soviet citizens. Pavlik's story is intriguing and multi-layered: did he denounce his own father to the authorities? Was he murdered by members of his own family? Did he ever belong to the Pioneers, the Communist youth organization who claimed him as member No. 001? This is the first book in English on Pavlik's legend, using previously inaccessible local archives.

About the author

Image of Catriona Kelly

Catriona Kelly is Professor of Russian at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of New College. Her books include Russian Literature: A Very Short Introduction. More about the author


‘[A] crisply narrated and well-argued book about a boy whose historical reality will never cease to be enigmatic’



‘[A] gripping and scholarly book ... anchors Pavlik in history, literature and politics of the Soviet empire’

‘A fascinating reconstruction of life in the distant provinces of the Soviet Union during the 1930s ... imaginative approach’

‘A masterful investigation, part detective story, part explanation of provincial backwardness and Stalinist terror’

‘In this absorbing book, [Kelly] probes the moral problems that arise when a state impels children to choose between their civic duties and their familial obligations’

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