Peace, Love, and Rock and Roll in the USSR

In the discussion of Raleigh’s chapters exploring the Sputnik Generation in the USSR, the notion that during the 1950s and 1960s Soviet society shared many similarities to that of the United States in their gender relations and in their restrictive childhoods. William Risch’s article, “Soviet ‘Flower Children.’ Hippies and the Youth Counter-culture in 1970s L’viv,” continues to examine the cultural similarities between the two warring nations. More particularly, Risch seeks to address how the hippies in the Soviet Union affected the counter-culture that emerged among the generation born after the end of World War II (page 565).

The three previous readings in addition to Risch’s article all focus on the idea of the developing Soviet childhood in a post-war and post-Stalin Soviet Union. Margaret Peacock discussed the differences between the Communist Party’s expectations for children and the actual behaviors of children in the post-war society by focusing on the 1957 Moscow World Youth Festival. The Party still excepted the children to act in a discipline manner and obey their elders, something the interviewees in Raleigh’s article illustrated. However, during the festival many Soviet children disregarded these perceived notions of their behavior and acted in non-Party sanctioned ways (i.e. clubbing, drinking excessively). This juxtaposition between expectation and reality illustrates the restricted freedom all Soviet youths experienced in the 1950s and 1960s.

As Risch’s article indicates, the hippies within the Soviet Union (and perhaps America, as well) constituted a powerful minority amongst the children of their generation. Hippies in the Soviet Union, especially L’viv, experienced alienation due to their counter-cultural views (page 572). This along with the diverging notions of child behavior between the Party expectations and reality make it difficult to identify one cohesive idea of a Soviet Childhood in the post-Stalin Soviet Union. However, I believe it could be argued that the majority of children growing up in a post-war Soviet society, particularly those of families associated with the Party such as Natalia P., experienced the “typical” Soviet childhood of restricted freedom.

Between Salvation and Liquidation

Juliane Fürst, a lecturer in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Bristol, wrote “Between Salvation and Liquidation” for The Slavonic & East European Review published in 2008. In this article, Fürst discusses one of the most perceptible and disturbing consequences of WWII for the Soviet Union: vagrant and homeless children. They were unavoidable evidence of the damage the war had caused the Soviet Union- both physically and psychologically. Fürst analyzes the Soviet response to these children and gives us an idea of what this phenomenon looked like. These children were nothing like the perfect picture of Soviet childhood that had been painted. Fürst determines that the disconnect between this idea of Soviet childhood, and the reality of homeless and vagrant children allowed for the overall lack of acknowledgment and neglect these children suffered. The poor, orphaned children on the streets did not fit the established narrative of perfect Soviet childhoods, and were therefore ignored. This unwillingness to acknowledge and ultimate rejection of those who strayed from the narrative of integration and salvation is further indication of the Soviet stratagem that promoted collectivization by means of intolerant marginalization.