Harvest Articles



The Communist Youth League (Kommunisticheskyi Soyuz Molodiozhi – commonly known as the Komsomol) was the mass organization of youth of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). The Komsomol was founded in 1918. Its structure was an exact replica of the structure of the CPSU. Komsomol cells were established in factories, military units and places of learning. In the first years of its existence, the Komsomol was driven by the revolutionary enthusiasm of Soviet youth. The realities of Soviet life, however, soon dulled this exuberance.

Joining the Komsomol became an important prerequisite for a career either in the state bureaucracy, Party or in academia. Admission to universities was much easier for members of the Komsomol. The corridors of power within the Party were open only to those who had been in the Komsomol.

Part of the activity of the Komsomol was sending its membership to the countryside to assist with the harvests; as such, Komsomol activists played an important part in the machinery of the Famine. They were sent to the villages to take in the harvest; often Komsomol members were used to go through peasants’ homes to check for hidden food. They were also active in agitating for collectivization amongst the peasantry.

The first six leaders of the Komsomol perished in Stalin’s purges. Later leaders fared better – both Andropov and Gorbachev were Komsomol leaders in their early careers. The Brezhnev era saw an increasing alienation of Soviet youth from the Komsomol; in the last decades of the existence of the USSR, the Komsomol was viewed even by most of its membership as simply a cynical tool for advancing careers.

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