The following article was originally published by the Russian Scientists of Socialist Orientation
From October 29 to November 4, 1918, the first All-Russian Congress of Workers’ and Peasants’ Youth was held in Moscow, at which it was decided to unite individual disparate unions into an all-Russian organization – the Russian Communist Youth Union. The Union’s goal was to spread the ideas of communism among young people, their political education, and the involvement of young people in economic and state construction, in the defense of Soviet power.
Thus, 105 years ago, the glorious history of our Komsomol began, inextricably linked with the history of the USSR.
Komsomol members of the Land of Soviets, together with their senior comrades, built a new life, free from exploitation, based on justice, on the principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his work.”
Komsomol members actively created the industrial power of the country. During the years of the first five-year plan, labor productivity, thanks to new industrial enterprises, new equipment and technologies, increased by 40%.
During the Second Five-Year Plan, Komsomol members were in the forefront of those who mastered and introduced a new organization of labor and joined the Stakhanov movement. Labor productivity increased by 99% between 1933 and 1937!
With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, hundreds of thousands of Komsomol members, without waiting for summons, volunteered to join the Red Army and the people’s militia. By the end of 1941, there were already more than 1 million 750 thousand Komsomol members in the active army.
Special “Komsomol mobilizations” were carried out – conscription of Komsomol members and other volunteers from among non-union youth into the army and national economy. Thus, according to Komsomol mobilizations, 144 thousand people were called up to form airborne units, ski battalions – 60 thousand, guards mortar units – 41 thousand, for reconnaissance and sabotage work behind enemy lines – more than 24 thousand people. Komsomol recruitments were carried out repeatedly for sniper and flight schools. By mid-1943, half of all snipers were Komsomol members. 46 thousand young snipers destroyed over 250 thousand Nazi soldiers and officers.
In the front line, self-defense units, detachments to assist the police, fire brigades, and sanitary squads were created from members of the Komsomol. Thousands of young people as part of worker battalions participated in the construction of defensive fortifications.
One of the most important activities of Komsomol organizations during the war was participation in the preparation and sending of trained reserves to the front through Vseobuch. Together with Osoaviakhim, Komsomol committees created military offices and corners at enterprises, institutions, and collective farms, and equipped military training centers. In 1942, Komsomol youth units were created in the Vsevobuch system. During the war years, these units trained 144 thousand tank destroyers, 194 thousand mortar men, 311 thousand machine gunners, 303 thousand machine gunners. In total, about 2 million boys and girls were trained in the Komsomol youth divisions of Vsevobuch.
In territory temporarily occupied by the enemy, in partisan detachments and underground resistance groups, up to 45% of the personnel were members of the Komsomol, and some underground organizations (Young Guard, Partisan Spark) consisted entirely of Komsomol members.
For the heroism and courage shown in battles during the war, 3.5 million Komsomol members of the army and navy and 50 thousand young partisans were awarded orders and medals of the Soviet Union, about one and a half thousand Komsomol members were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union (of which 60 were twice Heroes of the Soviet Union).
Hundreds of thousands of Komsomol members replaced conscripts who went to the front at industrial enterprises in the rear. At enterprises and construction sites, young people made up from 40 to 80%; the main burden of work in the rear fell on their shoulders. Komsomol youth brigades were created in all sectors of the national economy; in September 1943 there were over 36 thousand of them, in August 1944 – over 100 thousand. Competition between them took place for receiving the high rank of “front-line”. The title “front-line” was awarded only to that brigade, all members of which fulfilled the production standard by at least 100-200%. Such teams were obliged to produce defect-free products, complete work on time, keep their workplace in exemplary order, save raw materials and electricity, and patronize low-skilled workers.
The Great Patriotic War caused enormous damage to the Soviet Union. The country lost 26.6 million people – military personnel and civilians. The material losses of the USSR amounted to about 30% of the total national wealth. 1,710 cities, 70 thousand villages and hamlets, 32 thousand industrial enterprises, 65 thousand kilometers of railways, 98 thousand collective farms and 2890 machine and tractor stations were destroyed.
The Komsomol has great merit in restoring the national economy of the USSR, destroyed by the Nazi invaders. Komsomol members participated in the construction of cities and villages destroyed by the war, the revival of industry and agriculture. In 1948 alone, 6,200 rural power plants were built and put into operation by youth. The Komsomol showed great concern for the placement of children and adolescents left without parents, for the expansion of the network of orphanages and vocational schools, and for the construction of schools.
The Komsomol was also at the forefront of peaceful construction, which turned the USSR into a great superpower.
Using Komsomol vouchers, over 350 thousand young people left to develop virgin lands. Over 500 thousand young people went to new buildings in Siberia. With the active participation of the Komsomol, about 1,500 important objects were built and put into operation, including the largest in the world – the Bratsk hydroelectric power station, the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant, the Baikal-Amur Mainline named after the Lenin Komsomol, the Druzhba oil pipeline, etc. The Komsomol patronized 100 shock construction projects, including the development of unique oil and gas fields.
Student construction teams have become a tradition for Komsomol members of universities. Millions of students took part in labor semesters.
At the initiative of the Komsomol, the construction of youth residential complexes became widespread. Youth residential complexes were built in 156 cities and regions of the country
The children’s and youth competitions “Golden Puck”, “Leather Ball”, “Olympic Spring”, “Neptune” and the all-Union military sports game “Zarnitsa”, held by the Komsomol Central Committee, became truly massive.
In Soviet times, young people participated in truly necessary, truly beneficial activities. This was consistent with the Marxist-Leninist approach. Lenin believed that it is impossible to imagine the ideal of a future society without combining education with the productive labor of the younger generation. More than 200 million people went through a wonderful school of education and political maturity in the ranks of the Komsomol.
It must be said that the Komsomol is the brainchild of a socialist state. It was the first youth organization in the world to openly call itself communist. And, if the forms and content of the overwhelming majority of pre-revolutionary and modern youth organizations were borrowed abroad, then, as historians note, the Komsomol is entirely and completely the result of the creativity of Soviet youth, the Communist Party and the Soviet people. The same applies to the forms of work of the Komsomol: patronage of shock construction projects, construction teams, patronage of the army and navy, and many others. At the same time, the Komsomol was still a source of personnel for the entire Soviet society, economy and state, and performed many other social and political functions.
Yes, the Komsomol was an ideological organization. But it is ideas that are the beginning that cements people into a single whole. And the stronger and more correct the idea, the more supporters it has.
Now we see a growing interest in scientific communism. According to expert estimates, the demand for books about communism and socialism has sharply increased in Russia. Thus, according to the largest e-book seller in the Russian Federation, Liters, in January-September 2023, compared to the same period last year, the number of copies of e-books sold about communism increased by 39%, and books about socialism – by 24%. According to a representative of the Read-Gorod network, a significant number of Lenin’s classic works and books dedicated to the personality of Stalin are now being republished. The most popular book in terms of sales in this segment was Lenin’s work “State and Revolution”.
The ideological, and therefore real, successor of the Komsomol is the Komsomol, whose Program clearly states that its work is based on the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, i.e. precisely on a clear ideological foundation.
Komsomol members actually actively participate in the life of the country. Now this is, first of all, opposition to arbitrariness and injustice, which is now so often encountered with the establishment of capitalist relations.
Happy birthday, ever-living Komsomol!
Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Regional Duma,
Second Secretary of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation