Article of the month: January
An article with picture from Pionerskaya pravda published ten days after his death. Pavlik's portrait is based on his only existing photography from 1930 and unlike highly retouched or made up portraits from later years, this one is at least close to the truth.
When I was eight years old, I sang in a children's choir. The conductor would announce proudly, “And now, with lyrics by the famous children's poet Sergei Mikhalkov and music by Hungarian Communist Ferentz Sabo — a song about Pavlik Morozov!” Ours were not the only voices lifted in honor of the heroic Pavlik Morozov. For half a century, the whole country lauded this brave teenage boy.
What was the deed that made him a hero? In 1932 Pavlik Morozov exposed his father Trofim Morozov as an “enemy of the People.” He informed the OGPU (as the KGB, or Soviet secret police, was then called) that his father was helping the kulaks, successful peasants who refused to relinquish their land and livestock to the State as was required by the Collectivization Plan, and was therefore branded as an enemy of Socialism. Pavlik's father was arrested, tried, and sent to a concentration camp, never to be seen again. Soon after his father's trial, Pavlik was murdered by “enemies of the State.” After his death, he was hailed as a hero of the people, and every child in the Soviet Union was required to learn his story and be prepared to follow his example. His official title was Hero-Pioneer of the Soviet Union Number 001.
In 1982, on the fiftieth anniversary of the heroic death of Pavlik Morozov, the press called the boy “an ideological martyr.” The place of his death was described as a sanctuary and the child as a saint. This was remarkable language for the atheistic Soviet press and revealed the theological nature of Communist ideology. In a thousand years of Russian history, such glory had never before been bestowed on a child.
I became curious about Pavlik Morozov's story and decided to investigate this child-hero.
I began by reading book after book. Remarkably, there was no agreement about even the simplest historical facts. For example, Pavlik Morozov's age at the time of his heroic death was reported as anything from eleven to fifteen. As for the village of his birth, Gerasimovka, sources placed it variously in the provinces of Tobolsk, Obsko-Irtishsk, and Omsk (in Siberia), as well as in Sverdlovsk in the Northern Urals. The photographs of the hero that were printed in various publications appeared to be of completely different people. In addition, I found as many as ten different persons identified as his murderer. Still another thing puzzled me. It was sometimes mentioned that Pavlik's younger brother, Fedya, also an informer, was murdered along with him, but it was never explained why he did not become a hero.
I finally managed to locate Gerasimovka in Western Siberia. Boarding a train for the 36-hour ride, I headed for the boy-hero's home. But even there, in the Pavlik Morozov State Memorial Museum, there was not a single personal item, not a page from his school notebook, not one family relic to be found. I visited other Pavlik Morozov museums and instead of original documents found only sketches of the boy, books, and newspaper clippings. Relics from saints of a thousand years ago are sometimes still extant, but I could find no traces of this twentieth-century saint. I began to wonder if the boy ever existed other than as a fictional character in Soviet literature.
Published: December 1, 2018
German influence in the Pacific dates from the early 1860s when the Samoan-based form Godeffroy & Sons established trading posts in many parts of Polynesia and Micronesia. Contacts were intensified and extended to parts of Melanesia (mainly the Solomons and the Bismarck Archipelago) in the 1870s. Following the German unification in 1871, a number of areas were subsequently annexed as protectorates and colonies, including the Marshall Islands (1878), North East New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago (1884), the Marianas and the Carolines (1898), Kiautschou (1898) and Samoa (1899).
Published: May 5, 2018
In 1191 King Richard the Lioheart seized the Island of Cyprus from Greek governor, de facto independent ruler, Isaac Comnenus. Richard soon realized his inability to govern the island as part of his kingdom in England and France and made the strategic decision to sell the island to the Knights Templar for 100,000 gold bezants. It was a wise decision which financially helped Richard a great deal, enabled him to fully focus on struggle to regain the Holy Land and ensured that the island was left in hands of loyal Christians always prepared to help defending the Holy Land. It seemed like a perfect solution.
Published: May 1, 2018
When a relief party sent from England arrived at the Roanoke Colony on the East coast of the United States in 1590, they found the settlement neatly dismantled, and not a soul to be found. Some 115 men, women, and children had simply disappeared. The only clue was the name of a nearby island, Croatoan, carved into the trunk of a tree. And thus was launched one of history's great mysteries: The Lost Colony of Roanoke.
Published: April 21, 2018
At its fullest extent, the Roman Empire stretched from around modern-day Aswan, Egypt at its southernmost point to Great Britain in the north but the influence of the Roman Empire went far beyond even the borders of its provinces as a result of commerce and population movements. Contrary to popular belief which holds that the Sahara Desert was an impossible obstacle to trade prior to the Middle Ages, the Romans had a robust and dynamic network of connections to Sudanic and Sub-Saharan Africa. Slaves, gold, foodstuffs, and spices were transported from complex urban settlements on the Niger river, onwards to oasis cities in the Sahara, before finally reaching Rome’s bustling ports on the coast of North Africa. Going in the opposite direction, gemstones, textiles, and coins reached cities along the fertile banks of the Middle Niger.
Published: April 20, 2018
After the establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem following the First Crusade, pilgrims flooded to the Holy Land, but the situation was far from stable; many coast cities were under the kontrol of Arab emirs and the hinterland was full of bedouins. the secular authorities were unable to guarantee the safety of pilgrims who ventured out upon the dangerous roads from Jerusalem to other pilgrimage sites such as Jericho and Nazareth. In 1115 Hugues de Payens, a Burgundian knight, and Sir Godfrey de St. Adhemar, a Flemish knight, decided to join forces and form a band of sworn brothers dedicated to protecting pilgrims. They soon recruited seven other knights.