Babes in grey

Olga Kucherenko

in Little Soldiers

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199585557
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725043 | DOI:
Babes in grey

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This is a case study of child-volunteers ‘adopted’ by the regular forces. It traces the children's motivations, the means with which they negotiated their way to the front, their routine experiences, and their combat motivations. Children were not formally allowed at the front. However, from the beginning of the war, their presence in the field was a widespread yet spontaneous phenomenon, which the state was unable to control, relinquishing the problem of dealing with the adolescents to military commanders. The child-volunteers' assistance was often indispensable, allowing the freeing up of adults for combat duties, as well as partially compensating for serious deficiencies in communications and intelligence gathering, not to mention keeping up morale among the troops. The issues raised here include juvenile delinquency, vagabondage, economic dislocation, female combatants, and exploitation of children for military purposes.

Keywords: army wards; evacuation; orphan; juvenile delinquency; besprizorniki; hunger; revenge; exploitation; scouting; female soldiers

Chapter.  19773 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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