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The Young Pioneers

Written by: George Chittenden : 04 Jan 2020

This genuine contender for most haunting photo from history was taken back in 1937 and features members of a Soviet Russian youth group wearing their gas masks during a civil defence drill near Leningrad. The youth group, the Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization, were commonly known as the Young Pioneers and they encouraged communist ideals of cooperation and hard work.

The group was created in 1922, as a direct result of the Scouts, an organisation that includes the Boy Scouts, being banned from Soviet Russia for not supporting the new communist government. Russians recognised the important work that the Scouts did, so they created the Young Pioneers. Like the Scouts, members played sports and enjoyed summer camps, but when war broke out they applied their skills to aid the war effort, with members working on state farms and searching for materials that could be used. Between 1942 and 1944, Young Pioneers collected 134,000 tons of scrap metal.

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