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This page is still under development. Pieces such as the following on Stalin and Soviet children's 'happy childhood' will be in articles linked from this page.
"Thank you Great Stalin for our happy childhood" Infant school, Norilsk, N. Siberia, c.1936-1940.
The more commonly used slogan "Thank you beloved Stalin for our happy childhood" which was adopted widely from 1936.
300 miles above the Arctic Circle,
the Norilsk Gulag was established in 1935 to mine vast reserves of nickel. These would probably have been the children of camps staff and civilian workers.
The history of this phrase dates back to July 6, 1936, when a delegation from the Buryat-Mongolia was received by Stalin in Moscow. At the meeting in Kremlin young Gelya Marzikova, the daughter of the regional Minister of Agriculture Ardan Markizov handed Stalin a bouquet of flowers with the words: “These flowers are from the children of Buryat-Mongolia.”
Stalin took the girl in his arms and kissed her. The moment, captured by photographers, became iconic and posters of Galya, accompanied by the slogan “Thank you Comrade Stalin for our happy childhood!” was copied all over the Soviet Union. She was even commemorated in a sculpture which was widely reproduced too.
The following year her father was a arrested as a Japanese spy and, in spite of appeals by Galya and her mother to Stalin himself, was shot in July 1938.
Her mother, now labelled the wife of an enemy of the people, was imprisoned for a year. Galya was shunned by her classmates. Mother and daughter were then exiled Kazakhstan where she died in mysterious circumstances aged 32. Galya was left an orphan.
Over the following years, Galya's names was swapped with another's on the posters. The sculptor responsible for her statue spent 17 years in the gulag, and was very lucky to survive. When Stalin died in 1953, Galya, now herself the mother of an infant child, records how she wept at the news - tears of grief, not joy.
In the years 1937-38 NKVD secret police files issued quotas for each region of the number of people to be arrested and the number to be executed. According to their own records, 681,692 people were shot in that period.
The first column is the number to be shot, and the number to be arrested is in the second column.
Item 40. reads 'Moscow region' set the quota for 5000 shot, and 30,000 arrested.
This is Misha Shamonin, just one of those thousands swept up to fulfil the quota.
Misha was a 13 year old homeless Moscow street kid. He was arrested for stealing two loaves of bread. His interrogator wrote down his age as 16 and he was shot.
Even if his real age had been recorded he might not have escaped. In 1937, Stalin reduced the age of adult criminal responsibility, including capital crimes, to those aged 12 or over. Recording it as 16 on his interrogation form just made his fate more certain.
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