Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

From the Street to the Court (and Back) – Juvenile Delinquency in the Soviet 1950s

Sat1  Apr11:40am(20 mins)
Main Building Room 466


Immo Rebitschek1
1 Friedrich Schiller University, Germany


In the early 1950s, juveniles were drawing the attention of Soviet policing authorities in the most different ways. School children, Komsomol members and young workers were drinking, fighting, sometimes attacking persons and property, others were simply caught unsupervised. The paper draws the attention to the state institutions and strategies used to respond to juvenile behavior which was considered either “illegal” or at least worth policing - before and after 1953.

The paper will highlight different strategies and agents of social control: namely the police organs (militia, MVD officials) and legal institutions (procuracy and judiciary) – and their competing approaches towards juvenile behavior. Based on the files of the Regional procuracy of Molotov province, the Prosecutor General and the Ministry of Justice, it will shed light on the continuities and changes in policing Soviet street children before and after Stalin’s death. The “juvenile issue” exemplifies the ongoing institutional frictions between police and legal authorities during and after Stalin’s lifetime. It shows that the evolution of the Soviet criminal justice system into a trusted tool to contain social disorder had already begun under Stalin but ultimately took off only with his death.