Motivation and mobilization: trajectories of Russian-Soviet juvenile fighters in the World Wars

By Olga Kucherenko

This paper offers a comparative analysis of the phenomenon of child-soldiering on the Eastern Front in both World Wars. It shows that children’s participation in the hostilities was fairly extensive, but it would be incorrect to classify them all as victims. Indeed, many willingly took up arms for various reasons, not least because of ideological influences, although their use was always subordinated to military objectives. As well as revealing their combat motivations, the paper also discusses the paths the children took in order to get to the front, the routines of their life on the frontline and the ways they were used for military purposes.

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