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Dossier. « Fiz ! Kul´t ! Ura ! » : former, par le corps, l’enfance et la jeunesse soviétiques

Fiz! Kul´t! Ura!”. Moulding young Soviets through physical activity

Sylvain Dufraisse et Cécile Pichon-Bonin
Traduction de Augusta Dorr
p. 19-30
Cet article est une traduction de :
« Fiz ! Kul´t ! Ura ! » : former, par le corps, l’enfance et la jeunesse soviétiques [fr]

Texte intégral

  • 1 Susan Grant, Physical Culture and Sport in Soviet Society: Propaganda, Acculturation and Transforma (...)
  • 2 Susan Grant, “Bolsheviks, Revolution and Physical Culture,” International Journal for the History o (...)
  • 3 Sylvain Dufraisse, « Aux origines de la Fizkul´tura : milieux gymnastes et pionniers de la culture (...)

1Backed by the social reformers who supported them, the Bolsheviks promoted a new physical education project following the Russian Revolution and Civil War. Known as fizkul´tura [physical culture1], this initiative was intended to transform both the bodies and souls of the citizens in the emerging Soviet regime, and adhered to the Marxist conceptions of total education. In other words, mind and body were interdependent and should therefore be improved simultaneously, the aim being to develop a fully complete individual.2 Advocates of this plan championed the idea of a total break with the past, and Soviet historiography tended to emphasise this rupture – yet fizkul´tura featured a combination of earlier Russian endeavours and formed part of several trans-European trends.3 Its conceptualisation in Soviet Russia, and subsequently in the USSR, developed through lively debates.

  • 4 The evolution of fizkul´tura has certainly been described in historiographic studies, in relation t (...)

2This study focuses on the 1920s and 1930s, the period that witnessed the launching of fizkul´tura. The subject of interest here is the introduction of physical activities specifically designed for children and young people, a topic on which little historiographic research has been conducted to date.4 The use of visual culture introduces a broader approach to research methods. The objective, therefore, is to demonstrate the significant and valuable contribution offered by a history of physical culture. More than simply a history of sport, it sheds light on a particular feature of Soviet civilisation – namely, its translation into a physical form.

  • 5 La Culture physique is a French illustrated magazine. It was founded in Paris by Albert Surier and (...)
  • 6 Katerina Kucher, Park Gor´kogo, Kul´tura dosuga v stalinskuiu èpokhu, 1928-1941 [Gor´kii Park: Leis (...)

3The notion of “physical culture” is not a specifically Soviet one. An illustrated magazine devoted to the subject was published in France from 1904 to 1962 and presented a series of physical activities suitable for all.5 Comparable to naturist practices, these were intended to achieve physical wellbeing (through cold baths, snow and sun bathing to toughen the body, exercising in nature and fresh-air cures). Moreover, physical activities were promoted throughout Europe by various authorities: the State, the Church, the medical profession, employers and so on. The idea was to “immerse” individuals according to a threefold perspective: to produce physiques capable of defending the motherland and of working efficiently; to promote hygiene and good health, and to “civilize” the body. In this way, the pursuit of leisure activities was to be a time for engagement, optimisation and rationalization.6 This approach led educators, political leaders and physical education theorists to propose updating these practices and adapting them to different categories according to age and gender, so that exercises were gradually tailored to specific groups. All this was accompanied by the training and emergence of specialists and experts in physical exercises; some of these held opposing views and their disputes contributed to shaping the approved definition of fizkul´tura.

  • 7 Yuri Slezkine, The House of Government (Princeton – Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2017), 44-5 (...)

4Soviet Russia did not exist in isolation; its leaders were often enthusiastic practitioners of physical activities, having in many cases discovered these when in exile, either in Russia or abroad.7 They were equally keen to revolutionise bodily practices and thereby modernise them. The Soviet body was to be clean, healthy, well cared-for, vigorous and disciplined. This work focuses on one particular age category – that of youth, comprising children and young adults – as the basis on which the new Soviet individual was to be formed. The aim here is to explain how the Soviet regime sought to transform the bodies of future Soviet citizens through physical activity, placing this project in the longer-term context of the social reforms planned in Imperial Russia and of the ideas and pan-European practices in circulation. The thematic issue also looks at the methods used to disseminate the concepts of those physical activities specific to the age category in question.

Reconsidering the socialisation of Soviet children and young people with reference to physical culture and the methods used for its dissemination

  • 8 Chantal Zaouche Gaudron, et al., « Le jeune enfant au cœur des socialisations plurielles » in Chant (...)

5Young children experience several different forms of socialisation (their family, schools, youth organisations, etc.), all of which impose educational concepts and practices founded on more or less converging values.8 In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a state’s treatment of its children became a means of gauging its progress towards modernity. These authorities took action by creating legislative norms and institutions that established an education system, facilitated the circulation of medical knowledge and enabled them to assume control of children and, on occasion, to manage their free time.

  • 9 The most comprehensive of these publications is surely the work by Catriona Kelly, Children’s World (...)
  • 10 On the history of abandoned and delinquent children, see Alan Ball, And Now My Soul Is Hardened: Ab (...)
  • 11 Notable works on this topic include: Sheila Fitzpatrick, Education and Social Mobility in the Sovie (...)
  • 12 Manon Pignot, L’appel de la guerre. Des adolescents au combat 1914-1918 (P.: Éditions Anamosa, 2019 (...)

6The leaders of the Bolshevik state were very quick to take an interest in children’s matters, becoming involved in their education and organising new forms of socialisation. Studies devoted to this subject have developed around the following themes: the general history of childhood,9 the history of abandoned and deliquent children, of the family,10 of school, of pedagogical debates and of educational policies and practices.11 The mission, then, was to form the Soviet citizens of the future. There were two aspects to this objective; one was to create an attachment to the regime, the other, to mould future Soviet individuals. This necessitated the cultivation of expertise in child development, with specialists required in the domains of psychology, paedology, education, biology and medicine. New institutions were founded for this purpose; these promoted certain practices and condemned educational methods regarded as the product of a previous age. One of the concerns involved here was the large-scale adoption and dissemination of the new concepts, in addition to further needs associated with these circumstances. Moreover, there was a specific social issue to resolve – that of abandoned children and those who had fought in World War I and the Civil War.12

  • 13 Irina Sirotkina, “The Sokol Movement in Russia,” in Agnieszka Gasior, Lars Karl and Stefan Troebst, (...)
  • 14 Joseph Bradley, Voluntary Associations in Tsarist Russia: Science, Patriotism and Civil Society (Ca (...)

7Physical activities were managed by a variety of institutions in the Soviet Russia of the early 1920s. Some of these dated from the tsarist regime, such as associations that included the Sokols,13 the YMCA and the scouting movements.14 These were subsequently banned (in 1923, in the case of the scouts), or revised. Other, new ones emerged, such as the kruzhky (workers’ sporting circles) and Proletkul´t.

  • 15 Sunik, Ocherki otechestvennoi istoriografii istorii fizicheskoi kul´tury i sporta; Sirotkina, “The (...)
  • 16 “Russkii Sokol [The Russian Sokol],” Bol´shaia rossiiskaia èntsiklopediia [The Great Russian Encycl (...)

The Sokol Movement from Imperial to Soviet Russia15

Founded in Prague in 1862 by Miroslav Tyrs, the Sokol association of gymnastic societies became a focal point of Slav identity in Central and Eastern Europe. Its aim was to bring gymnasts together, to develop their physical abilities and to forge a democratic mindset. Having achieved resounding success within a few years, this movement played its part in disseminating physical activities – gymnastics and sport – by offering guidelines for these pursuits. German and Swedish instructors who had settled in the Russian Empire contributed to circulating gymnastic exercises in the latter half of the 19th century. Neo-Slavist trends and the growth of Germanophobia brought German gymnastics into disrepute and compelled Russian leaders to redirect the teaching methods applied to physical education in order to make them more Slavic in character. In May 1909, František Erben, a renowned trainer from the Sokol movement, was appointed to the post of gymnastics teacher at the Petrograd military academy. In 1910, the Ministry of Defence established its gymnastics classes, which were based on the Czech method. In 1911, all secondary education establishments were required to adopt this system. An increasing number of links were forged between the representatives of the Sokol association and practitioners of Russian physical education. Examples include translations of brochures and practical guides, and the appointment of instructors trained within the Sokol movement to posts in the Russian Empire; in 1910, there were 140 gymnastics teachers of Czech origin working in Imperial Russia. The vogue for pan-Slavism even led the Russian Gymnastic Federation, created in 1883 by members of the nobility and the intelligentsia, to change its name; it became the Sokol Russian Gymnastic Society in 1907. Nikolai Starostin, the future president of Spartak (an all-union voluntary sports society) launched his sports career there. The number of Sokol associations increased (rising from 36 in 1914 to 66 in 1915) and extended across the imperial territory, coming together as the Russian Sokol Union in 1910.16 A large amount of equipment belonging to the Russian Sokol organisation was put at the service of the Vsevobuch (Vseobshchee voennoe obuchenie – a general military training system designed to prepare Red Army recruits) following its creation in 1918. Some of the leaders of the Sokol movement participated in the revival of physical activities in the early 1920s. However, they were targeted for suppression from 1923 onwards, with repressive measures against them intensifying in 1926, as was also the case with scout leaders. The organisation was then deemed to be “counter-revolutionary” and “nationalistic.”

  • 17 A.N. Filippov, “Stanovlenie fizicheskoi kul´tury v SSSR: konflikt N.A. Semashko i N.I. Podvoiskogo (...)
  • 18 A.V. Khorosheva, “‘Daesh´ zdorov´e!’: komsomol i fizicheskaia kul´tura v 1923 – 1926 gg. (po materi (...)
  • 19 Grant, Physical Culture and Sport in Soviet Society, 31.

8Sports activists and educators appropriated the notion of fizkul´tura when Bolshevik Russia was still a work in progress. This change in terminology was intended to counter practices relating to gymnastics (too closely associated with nationalism and pan-Slavism) and sport (sporting activity being connected with professionalism or the bourgeoisie). A decree issued by the Central Executive Committee on 27 June 1923 established a Council of physical culture for workers in the USSR. Fizkul´tura had not yet been defined in precise terms, and it was gradually formulated through the internal clashes that occurred between different advocates of physical activity and the various groups tasked with its implementation.17 Some institutions, such as Dinamo, the sports association for the security services founded in 1923, were at variance with other organisations responsible for physical activities, such as Komsomol,18 or with members of the Red Sport International (the latter being a sports organisation founded in 1921 to rival “bourgeois” and social democratic international sports groups). In this way, physical culture was connected with sport (competitive or otherwise), physical activity and physical education in the broader sense, health (food, hygiene and clothing), preventive health measures, rest cures and sleep treatment. On 13 July 1925, the Party issued a decree imposing a more consensual definition of the term. Henceforth, fizkul´tura was not to be viewed solely from the perspective of physical education and health, but should also be regarded as a way of preparing young people in the cultural, economic and military sense – a means of educating the masses.19

9This process of assigning different functions to fizkul´tura and of mediating between the various institutions responsible for its implementation took place alongside another undertaking – the introduction of sporting activities especially adapted to the younger generation. From 1921 onwards, researchers and educationalists gathered together at congresses to present their visions of physical activities for children. Some favoured games and contact with nature, while others advocated competition. These visions were communicated in children’s books that reflected the approved physical activities.

  • 20 Kelly, Children’s World: Growing up in Russia 1890-1991, 485.
  • 21 S.B. Ulyanova et al., “GTO Concept: Design and Implementation in USSR in Late 1920s-Early 1930s,” i (...)
  • 22 N.I. Baishev., My verim tverdo v geroev sporta, sportizatsiia sovetskoi provintsii v 30-60 gody XX (...)

10As emphasised by Catriona Kelly, the fizkul´tura project was not actually developed in schools.20 It did not become compulsory until 1927, when Narkompros first officially imposed it as a mandatory part of the school curriculum, while the first projects aimed at organisations devoted to early childhood were only introduced in 1932. Sport and physical culture were more in evidence in the new youth organisations that were being established. These included the Pioneer movement, which was founded in 1922 and brought together young people from the ages of ten to fourteen, and the оktiabriata [the Little Octobrists, for children aged eight to ten], created in 1923. Physical activities played a prominent role in these movements. In theory, they were intended to fulfill an educational purpose, being equally effective as a means of occupying young children and fostering their adherence to youth movements. Football was not recommended as an activity, being deemed unsuitable for this age group. Other types of occupation were favoured: team sports – primarily volleyball – hiking activities and zariadka [daily physical exercises]. There were also journals with a theatrical slant, in which children were shown creating gymnastic pyramids and presenting other physical performances, as examined by Birgitte Beck Pristed in the present issue with reference to the review Zhivaia teatralizovannaia gazeta dlia pionerov. The youth movements gradually began to place greater emphasis on the idea of competition, with the year 1928 witnessing the introduction of a Spartakiad. This event, which pitted Pioneer groups from different neighbourhoods against one another, featured athletics, basketball, volleyball, gorodki [a traditional game similar to skittles] and archery. In 1929, 1,116 children took part in these games, during which they had the opportunity to see demonstrations of sports such as basketball, pushball, water-polo and traditional Russian games such as lapta (a bat and ball game). Military physical activities were also incorporated into the programme, including an 8-km race, preparations for defence against chemical attack and topography-related exercises. In addition to these pursuits, which were carried out within the framework of the youth organisations, the government body in charge of physical culture developed other initiatives. A sports diploma for young adults, inspired by a Swedish programme, was introduced in 1931. Entitled Gotov k trudu i oborone [Ready for work and defence],21 it provided a means of evaluating the Soviets’ physical abilities and of encouraging the practice of sport. Its application was extended to the youngest group in 1934, with the launch of the children’s version of the sports diploma Bud´ gotov k trudu i oborone [Be ready for work and defence]. These developments have been widely studied and we are beginning to discover the many and varied ways in which they were applied and implemented at local level22.

  • 23 I.N. Morozov, T.F. Bogdanov, Ot igry k zhizni, podvizhnye igry dlia shkol pervoi stupeni [From play (...)
  • 24 This educationalist, who lived from 1759 to 1839, was one of the founders of the German gymnastic m (...)
  • 25 Dr E.A. Pokrovskii, Znachenie detskikh igr v otnoshenii vospitaniia i zdorov´ia [The importance of (...)
  • 26 Ibid., 20-21.
  • 27 G.A. Kolocca, Detskie igry, ikh psikhologicheskoe i pedagogicheskoe znachenie [Children’s games: Th (...)
  • 28 Morozov, Bogdanov, Ot igry k zhizni, podvizhnie igry dlia shkol pervoi stupeni.
  • 29 A. Bykovoi, N. Genrihsen, et al., Fizkul´tura v doshkol´nom vozraste: Organizovannye zaniatiia po f (...)

Play and physical culture

At least since the publication of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Émile, children have been unanimously recognised as naturally and primarily active beings. This approach is linked to the development of various theories on the origin and functions of play that emerged in the course of the 19th century. These spread across Russia / the USSR, as evidenced by Morozov’s and Bogdanov’s work, published in 1926. This contains brief accounts23 of the following theories: the theory of play as providing the rest and amusement needed to revitalise the body, promulgated by the educationalist Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths24; the philosopher Herbert Spencer’s theory (based on the poet Friedrich Schiller’s idea of play as an expression of freedom), according to which play was the manifestation of an excessive accumulation of vital force and energy – once basic needs had been met, it served no practical or utilitarian purpose (unlike work); the theory of atavistic tendencies, based on the American philosopher Granville Stanley Hall’s law of biogenetics, and finally, the psychologist Karl Groos’s theory of play seen from a biological viewpoint, as preparation for adult life.
These ideas were taken up and adapted by Doctor Egor Arsen´evich Pokrovskii in the 1880s, and later, in the 1920s, by the paedologist Nikolai Aleksandrovich Rybnikov. Both of these leading figures in Russian and Soviet paedology were particularly interested in the theme of play. They emphasised the fact that the most popular games played by children until they reached adulthood were linked to the exercise of the locomotor system, and involved running, jumping, throwing, etc.25 In the same vein as the hygienist theories which had been circulating since the mid-19th century, Pokrovskii and the Soviet paedologists who followed in his wake underlined the importance of play in children’s psychomotor development; games involving movement, especially when they took place in the fresh air, were generally beneficial to health and helped strengthen the organism.26 They also fulfilled a number of educational functions, including the acquisition and cultivation of qualities such as dexterity, flexibility and grace, in addition to developing the sensory organs and mental abilities.
The early 20th century saw an increase in the different categories assigned to games. From the perspective of play theory, movement games were often distinguished from board games, drama-related and intellectual games. From a physical culture perspective, movement games (with or without toys) were differentiated from gymnastic games that included singing and from physical exercise (such as swimming or gymnastics). Movement games themselves were divided into categories, according to the types of activity they entailed (Giovanni Antonio Colozza27), the material used (Morozov-Bogdanov28) and the qualities to be developed (Colozza, inspired by Jean-Baptiste Fonssagrives). In 1934, the Central Scientific Research Institute of Physical Culture published the results of its work with the experimental kindergartens in Moscow, and suggested a physical culture teaching programme designed for children under the age of 7.29 The team of scientists then decided on six types of activities adapted to the youngest children:
1 – Unstructured motor skills activity (svobodnaia motornaia deiatel´nost´);
2 – Creative games (tvorcheskie igry). These games were suggested by children and developed through their own initiative (unlike the stimulirovannie igry, which were suggested and organised by an adult in charge and oriented towards a specific theme);
3 – Movement games with rules (podvizhnie igry s pravilami), which took place under the supervision of an adult, outside or indoors;
4 – Recreational sports (sportrazvlecheniia); these took place in the open air during walks and outings: skiing in winter, for example, and movement games in summer, especially activities involving water;
5 – Morning exercises (utrenniaia gimnastika); every morning for 3-5 mins. from the age of 4 and a half;
6 – Physical culture classes (organizovannie zaniatiia po fizicheskoi kul´ture). Held indoors or outside, for 10 to 25 mins., at least once a week.
As with several other previous and subsequent works, this devotes most of its pages to practical advice intended to enable educators and teachers to organise physical culture instruction in their classes and establishments. Each of these books contains an introduction and, in some cases, a few chapters on theory; they then deal with questions regarding location, clothing, material, timing, duration and rules.

Approved images of physical culture and their practical application

  • 30 Mike O’Mahony, Sport in the USSR: Physical Culture – Visual Culture (London: Reaktion Books, 2006).
  • 31 Nina Sobol Levent, Healthy Spirit in a Healthy Body: Representations of the Sports Body in Soviet A (...)
  • 32 François Albera, Cécile Pichon-Bonin, Alexandre Lavrentiev and Daniel Girardin, Les Avant-gardes ru (...)
  • 33 Grant, Physical Culture and Sport in Soviet Society.

11The question of its artistic representation features prominently in works on Soviet fizkul´tura. The pioneering studies by Mike O’Mahony30 and Nina Sobol Levent31 focus chiefly on posters and state propaganda, painting and sculpture. The catalogue for the exhibition Les Avant-gardes russes et le sport adds photography and the cinema as further subjects for study.32 Susan Grant has enriched this repertoire of visual sources by including the theatre.33 These works have analysed the ideology and the principles of physical culture as expressed through the propaganda materials used, which are often more related to art than to visual culture. They have concentrated on the underlying symbolic message, without highlighting the practical dimension of these images. Moreover, they deal mainly with representations of sport as a practice closely associated with adults and with adolescents old enough to be Komsomol members – in other words, young people over the age of 15.

  • 34 Sébastien Laffage-Cosnier and Christian Vivier, eds., “Sports and Graphic Narratives in Europe,” Eu (...)

12This special issue has a twofold objective: to increase the variety of visual sources analysed and to open up a new area of research with the inclusion of children and young people.34 The authors of these articles have included posters, photographs, children’s books, articles on education, activity instruction guides, post cards and press cartoons in their analyses. They also use examples from different types of magazines; in this way, Ekaterina Kulinicheva references publications devoted to physical culture together with women’s magazines and medical journals. These texts are multi-dimensional, showing both the desired or expected activities and the norms regulating them. In certain cases, they served as a practical guide. Although some of the photographs are staged, they enable us to see how the movements were performed in practice, while at the same time the images of these physical activities served to display the country’s modernisation. For instance, they showcase the new sports facilities that had been built and demonstrate that physical culture groups had been set up in cities, rural areas and the remote regions of the Soviet Union. They provide us with an additional means of accessing a material culture that had remained at the project stage or was seldom preserved on account of its rarity and fragility, for instance clothing, and also show examples of oral performances, such as “living journals.”

13These varied and abundant images are also put into context with published and archival textual sources, the aim always being to connect ambitions, theories and practice. This is the case whether the subject of study is the general policy regarding physical culture geared towards children (A. Adelfinsky), the design and production of children’s sports clothes, (E. Kulinicheva) or the creation of “living journals” (B. Beck Pristed).

14The analysis conducted on these sources reveals the gap between theory and practice, a lack of funding, which could become a political argument, and the standardisation of practices as a means of simplifying access to the exercises. It provides insight into the choice of physical activities intended for children – hiking, zariadka, games to bring joy and fun or gymnastics based on discipline – and how these decisions evolved. The study identifies those physical activities deemed suitable and recommended for each age group and defines the stipulated age categories and sub-categories, each of which had their own activities and practices; biopolitical expertise was also available (in the form of doctors and physiologists) to determine these. It also highlights the process of constructing and allocating age groups, thereby demonstrating how children were gradually separated from the adult world and how specific physical activities designed to form the new Soviet individual were developed and promoted. And finally, this work is intended to show how the study of Soviet childhood and youth can be greatly enhanced by the inclusion of visual culture. It demonstrates how different histories interconnect. In this way, the cultural history of sport and the history of childhood (A. Adelfinsky) forge a dialogue with the history of fashion and industry (E. Kulinicheva), the history of educational theories and practices, and the semiotics and history of children’s theatre and visual culture (B. Beck Pristed).

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Notes

1 Susan Grant, Physical Culture and Sport in Soviet Society: Propaganda, Acculturation and Transformation in the 1920s and 1930s (New York: Routledge), 2013; Aleksandr Sunik, Ocherki otechestvennoi istoriografii istorii fizicheskoi kul´tury i sporta [Essay on the Russian historiography of physical culture and sport], M.: Izdatel´stvo Sovetskii Sport, 2010.

2 Susan Grant, “Bolsheviks, Revolution and Physical Culture,” International Journal for the History of Sport, 31, (2014): 724-734.

3 Sylvain Dufraisse, « Aux origines de la Fizkul´tura : milieux gymnastes et pionniers de la culture physique de la Russie impériale à la Russie bolchevik », in Ingrid Brühwiler, Rebekka Horlacher, Grégory Quin and Johannes Westberg, eds., La Fabrique des corps nationaux. Autour de l’institutionnalisation de l’éducation physique en Suisse et en Europe (xixe-xxie siècle) (Neuchâtel: Alphil, 2022), 125-141.

4 The evolution of fizkul´tura has certainly been described in historiographic studies, in relation to the development of the sporting spectacle, leisure activities and social modernisation, as reflections of national prestige. Henry Morton, Soviet Sport: Mirror of Soviet Society (New York: Collier, 1963); James Riordan, Sport in Soviet Society (London: Cambridge University Press, 1980); Robert Edelman, Serious Fun: A History of Spectator Sport in the USSR (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993); Robert Edelman, Spartak Moscow: A History of the People’s Team in the Workers’ State (Ithaca – London: Cornell University Press, 2009); Tricia Starks, The Body Soviet: Propaganda, Hygiene and the Revolutionary State (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009); Nikolaus Katzer, Sandra Budy, Alexandra Köhring and Manfred Zeller, eds., Euphoria and Exhaustion: Modern Sport in Soviet Culture and Society (Frankfurt – New York: Campus Verlag, 2010) ; David Hoffmann, Cultivating the Masses: Modern State Practices and Soviet Socialism, 1919-1939 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011), 110-116 ; Sylvain Dufraisse, Les Héros du sport, une histoire des champions soviétiques (années 1930 – années 1980) (Ceyzerieu: Champvallon, 2019); I.E. Sirotkina, “Fizicheskaia kulʹtura i sport v gody Grazhdanskoi voiny [Physical culture and sport during the Civil War],” in A.K. Sorokin, ed., Rossiia v Grazhdanskoi voine. 1918-1922 : Èntsiklopediia v 3-h tomakh [Russia during the Civil War. 1918-1922: 3-volume Encyclopaedia] (M.: Rosspèn, 2021), 544-546.

5 La Culture physique is a French illustrated magazine. It was founded in Paris by Albert Surier and Edmond Desbonnet and published between 1904 and 1962.

6 Katerina Kucher, Park Gor´kogo, Kul´tura dosuga v stalinskuiu èpokhu, 1928-1941 [Gor´kii Park: Leisure culture in the Stalin period] (M.: Rosspèn, 2012).

7 Yuri Slezkine, The House of Government (Princeton – Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2017), 44-53 ; Robert Service, Lenin: A Biography (London: Pan Books, 2002), 328.

8 Chantal Zaouche Gaudron, et al., « Le jeune enfant au cœur des socialisations plurielles » in Chantal Zaouche Gaudron, ed., Espaces de socialisation extrafamiliale dans la petite enfance (Toulouse: Érès, 2021), 7-32.

9 The most comprehensive of these publications is surely the work by Catriona Kelly, Children’s World: Growing up in Russia 1890-1991 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007); Clementin Creuziger, Childhood in Russia: Representation and Reality (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1996); Judith Harwin, Children of the Russian State, 1917-1995 (Aldershot: Avebury, 1996); Lisa Kirschenbaum, Small Comrades: Revolutionizing Childhood in Soviet Russia, 1917-1932 (London: Routledge, 2001); Wachtel Andrew, The Battle for Childhood: The Creation of a Russian Myth (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990).

10 On the history of abandoned and delinquent children, see Alan Ball, And Now My Soul Is Hardened: Abandoned Children in Soviet Russia, 1918-1930 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994); Dorena Caroli, L’enfance abandonnée et délinquante dans la Russie soviétique (1917-1937) (P.: L’Harmattan, 2004). For a noteworthy work on the subject of the family, see Wendy Goldman, Women, the State and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

11 Notable works on this topic include: Sheila Fitzpatrick, Education and Social Mobility in the Soviet Union (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979); Wladimir Berelowitch, La Soviétisation de l’école russe (Lausanne: L’Âge d’homme, 1984); Larry E. Holmes, The Kremlin and the Schoolhouse: Reforming Education in Soviet Russia, Bloomington (Indiana University Press, 1991); John Dunstan, Soviet Schooling in the Second World War (Basingstoke: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1997); Felicity Ann O’Dell, Socialisation through Children’s Literature, The Soviet Example (London – New York – Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1978); Dorena Caroli, Citadini e Patrioti, Educazione, letteratura per l’infanzia e costruzione dell’identita nazionale nella Russia sovietica (Macerata: EUM, 2011) (a work devoted to the study of the Pioneer movement).

12 Manon Pignot, L’appel de la guerre. Des adolescents au combat 1914-1918 (P.: Éditions Anamosa, 2019).

13 Irina Sirotkina, “The Sokol Movement in Russia,” in Agnieszka Gasior, Lars Karl and Stefan Troebst, eds., Post-Panslavismus: Slavizität, Slavische Idee und Antislavismus im 20. und 21. Jahrhundert (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2014), 178-193.

14 Joseph Bradley, Voluntary Associations in Tsarist Russia: Science, Patriotism and Civil Society (Cambridge – London: Harvard University Press, 2009); Irina Khmelnitskaia, Sportivnye obshchestva i dosug v stolichnom gorode nachala XX veka: Peterburg i Moskva [Sports societies and leisure activities in the capital in the early 20th century: Petersburg and Moscow] (M.: Novyi Khronograf, 2011).

15 Sunik, Ocherki otechestvennoi istoriografii istorii fizicheskoi kul´tury i sporta; Sirotkina, “The Sokol Movement in Russia,” 178-193; V.V. Kotov, “Sokol´skoe dvizhenie i cheshskorusskii perevod [The Sokol movement and the Czech-Russian transfer],” in I.N. Smirnovoi and Iu.A. Sozinoi, eds., Perevod kak faktor mezhnatsional´noi istorii kul´tury. Rossiia – slaviane – Evropa. Tezisy i materialy mezhdunarodnoi nauchnoi konferentsii. 19–22 aprelia 2016 g. [Transfer as a factor in international cultural history: Russia – the Slavic Countries – Europe. Summaries and reports from the International Conference, 19-22 April 2016], 2016, 54–72.

16 “Russkii Sokol [The Russian Sokol],” Bol´shaia rossiiskaia èntsiklopediia [The Great Russian Encyclopaedia] (M., 2015), 67.

17 A.N. Filippov, “Stanovlenie fizicheskoi kul´tury v SSSR: konflikt N.A. Semashko i N.I. Podvoiskogo [The formation of physical culture in the USSR: The conflict between N.A. Semashko et N.I. Podvoiskogo],” Vestnik IarGU, (2011): 18-20 ; A.V. Khorosheva, “Fizicheskaia kul´tura i sport v pervye gody sovetskoi vlasti [Physical culture and sport in the first years of Soviet power],” in I.I. Tuchkov, Stoletie revoliutsii 1917 goda v Rossii [The centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution], (M.: Nauchnii Sbornik, 2018), 977-983 ; A.V. Khorosheva, “Stanovlenie sovetskoi fizkul´tury i protivostoianie N.A. Semashko i N.I. Podvoiskogo [The formation of Soviet fizkul´tura and the row between N.A. Semashko and N.I. Podvoiskogo],” in Reformy v povsednevnoi zhizni naseleniia Rossii: istoriia i sovremennost´. Materialy mezhdunarodnoi nauchnoi konferentsii [Reforms in the daily life of the Russian population: History and modernity. Materiel from the International Conference], 2020, 79-84.

18 A.V. Khorosheva, “‘Daesh´ zdorov´e!’: komsomol i fizicheskaia kul´tura v 1923 – 1926 gg. (po materialam gazety “Komsomol´skaia pravda”) [To your good health! The Komsomol and physical culture from 1923 to 1926. (Based on the newspaper Komsomol´skaia pravda)],” Vestnik Moskovskogo universiteta, Seriia 8: Istoriia, 2021, 4, 61-87.

19 Grant, Physical Culture and Sport in Soviet Society, 31.

20 Kelly, Children’s World: Growing up in Russia 1890-1991, 485.

21 S.B. Ulyanova et al., “GTO Concept: Design and Implementation in USSR in Late 1920s-Early 1930s,” in V. Chernyavskaya, & H. Kuße, eds., “Professional Сulture of the Specialist of the Future,” European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Future Academy, 51 (2018): 1905-1913.

22 N.I. Baishev., My verim tverdo v geroev sporta, sportizatsiia sovetskoi provintsii v 30-60 gody XX vek [We firmly believe in the heroes of sport: The sportification of the Soviet provinces from the 1930s to the 1960s], Samara: Knizhnoe Izdatel´stvo, 2017; S.B. Ul´ianova, “Sovetizatsiia povsednevnykh sportivnykh praktik v 1920-e gg. (na materialakh Petrograda / Leningrada) [The Sovietisation of daily sports practices in the 1920s (based on documents from Petrograd/Leningrad)],” in V.A. Veremenko and V.N. Shaidurov, eds., Reformy v povsednevnoi zhizni naseleniia Rossii: istoriia i sovremennost´, v 2 t. T. 2. / Otv. red. – SPb.: Izd-vo LGU im. A.S. Pushkina, 2020, 85-90.

23 I.N. Morozov, T.F. Bogdanov, Ot igry k zhizni, podvizhnye igry dlia shkol pervoi stupeni [From play to life: Movement games for primary schools] (M.: Rabotnik prosveshcheniia, 1926).

24 This educationalist, who lived from 1759 to 1839, was one of the founders of the German gymnastic movement and is also known for his role in developing physical education in schools.

25 Dr E.A. Pokrovskii, Znachenie detskikh igr v otnoshenii vospitaniia i zdorov´ia [The importance of children’s games for education and health] (M.: Izdanie Muzeia prikladnykh znanii v Moskve, 1884).

26 Ibid., 20-21.

27 G.A. Kolocca, Detskie igry, ikh psikhologicheskoe i pedagogicheskoe znachenie [Children’s games: Their importance in terms of psychology and education] (Moskovskoe knigoizdatel´stvo, translated from the Italian, 1909).

28 Morozov, Bogdanov, Ot igry k zhizni, podvizhnie igry dlia shkol pervoi stupeni.

29 A. Bykovoi, N. Genrihsen, et al., Fizkul´tura v doshkol´nom vozraste: Organizovannye zaniatiia po fizkul´ture [Fizkul´tura at preschool age: Organised fizkul´tura lessons] (M., Ogiz-Fizkul´tura i turizm, 1934), 5-6.

30 Mike O’Mahony, Sport in the USSR: Physical Culture – Visual Culture (London: Reaktion Books, 2006).

31 Nina Sobol Levent, Healthy Spirit in a Healthy Body: Representations of the Sports Body in Soviet Art of the 1920s and 1930s (Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang, 2004).

32 François Albera, Cécile Pichon-Bonin, Alexandre Lavrentiev and Daniel Girardin, Les Avant-gardes russes et le sport (Lausanne: The Olympic Museum, 2014).

33 Grant, Physical Culture and Sport in Soviet Society.

34 Sébastien Laffage-Cosnier and Christian Vivier, eds., “Sports and Graphic Narratives in Europe,” European Studies in Sports History, 11, 2018 ; Lucas Proffilet, “Le corps en images à l’école: l’ortho-figuration corporelle dans les méthodes de lecture (1880-1960),” doctoral thesis supervised by Christian Vivier and Sébastien Laffage-Cosnier, université de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, 2021.

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Sylvain Dufraisse et Cécile Pichon-Bonin, « “Fiz! Kul´t! Ura!”. Moulding young Soviets through physical activity »Cahiers du monde russe, 65/1 | 2024, 19-30.

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Sylvain Dufraisse et Cécile Pichon-Bonin, « “Fiz! Kul´t! Ura!”. Moulding young Soviets through physical activity »Cahiers du monde russe [En ligne], 65/1 | 2024, mis en ligne le 20 mars 2024, consulté le 14 avril 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/monderusse/14514 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/monderusse.14514

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Sylvain Dufraisse

Senior Lecturer, University of Nantes, UMR 6025 CENS, Nantes Université‑CNRS, IUF

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Cécile Pichon-Bonin

CNRS Research Fellow, LIR3S, Université de Bourgogne-CNRS

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