Olga Kucherenko

in Little Soldiers

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

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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As the war destroyed the economic infrastructure, disrupted families and other social support networks, and left hundreds of thousands of children orphaned and fending for themselves, it created a pool of hungry and revenge-motivated recruits for the Soviet armed forces. Their survival instincts, as well as the atrocities perpetrated by the enemy, became major catalysts for the taking up of arms by children. By joining the regular forces they exercised a degree of free will, the margins of which narrowed down closer to the front line, and especially behind it. In its turn, state propaganda was inadvertently responsible for channelling children's feelings of vulnerability and anger into a burning desire to fight back. It invested their adolescent sense of adventure with meaning and intensity and, at the same time, dangerously suppressed any sense of reality in children's perception of war. Their participation in the hostilities exacted an inevitable psychological price: some suffered aggravated trauma, while others displayed a great deal of toughness and quickly habituated to war-related hardship.

Keywords: War; propaganda; trauma; war-myth

Chapter.  1724 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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