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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Icon: Baby Lenin Badges

Wikipedia.org
The golden-haired cherub in the center of a five-point star bears little resemblance to the familiar image of a bold man with a goatee and an outstretched hand -- an easily recognizable Lenin, the first leader of the Soviet state.

One can wonder how such a beautiful child could turn out to be such a ruthless leader, but perhaps the Communist Party didn't wish to give little children a scare that would put them off the Soviet way of life ahead of time.

Instead, children as young as 7 years old were initiated into the Red doctrine by being made oktyabryata, or little sons and daughters of the Great October Socialist Revolution. They were bred to become Young Pioneers (at 9 years old) and after that -- in the final years of school -- members of Komsomol, an organization for young Communists.

The term oktyabryata was created around 1923, when Communist children's groups began to appear, and some of their first members were contemporaries of the revolution. At an acceptance ceremony, they were given a badge -- a ruby star with a baby Lenin on a white background.

Made of brass, aluminum and plastic, the badges were manufactured in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and are not particularly valuable -- they were produced in the millions. They can still be found for 30 to 50 rubles apiece at flea markets. However, pre-World War II ones are rare and fetch far higher prices.

At any Soviet school, first, second and third graders were divided into units called zvyozdochki, or little stars, which, as a rule, included five pupils, probably corresponding with a symbol of a pentagram. Children would memorize the following poem, describing the qualities of an oktyabryonok:

We are active kids
Because we are oktyabryata.
Oktyabryonok, don't forget,
You are on your way to becoming a Pioneer!
We are brave kids
Because we are oktyabryata.
Just like the heroes of our country
We want to build our lives.
We are diligent kids,
Because we are oktyabryata.
Only those who love to work
Are called oktyabryata.
We are honest kids,
Because we are oktyabryata.
Never, nowhere and in any way
Would we ever let down our friends.
We are fun kids,
Because we are oktyabryata.
Our songs, dances, laughter
We share equally among all.