Kaleidoscope: Children of the Cold War

Memories of Hair Bows

Childhood politics

During the Cold War era, the propaganda machinery of both socialist and capitalist states portrayed children as the hopes and heroes of tomorrow. In socialist countries, children were harnessed to official political interests: they created the future as both Pioneers and athletes, and by taking part in recycling, harvesting and manufacturing. Children were also used in political campaigns and armed conflicts on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

Children acted in the roles created by the machinery and rose to embrace the desired ideals, but they also saw the flaws and absurdities of the system. They dealt with and even challenged politics in their own way: by mocking state symbols or re-decorating their uniforms. Today, children and teenagers are active participants in the fight against climate change, campaigning on social media and in demonstrations on their own terms.

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