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The first, largest, and most prestigious Soviet Young Pioneer camp, Artek began life in 1925 as a children's sanatorium, created on the Black Sea's Crimean shore near Suuk-Su on the initiative of Old Bolshevik Zinovy Soloviev, vice-commissar for public health. Most of the early campers came for medical treatment. Soon, however, a trip to Artek became a reward for Pioneers who played an exemplary role in various Stalinist campaigns. In 1930 the camp became a year-round facility; in 1936 the government gave it the buildings of a nearby tsarist-era sanatorium. During World War II, the camp was evacuated to the Altai. In 1952 Artek instituted an international session each summer, in which children from socialist countries, as well as "democratic children's movements" elsewhere, mingled with Soviet campers. In 1958, during Khrushchev's campaign to rationalize the bureaucracy, Artek was transferred from the health ministry to the Komsomol and officially became a school of Pioneering. The next year, architects and engineers began redesigning the camp, replacing the old buildings with prefabricated structures based on an innovative combinatory system. The largest resort complex ever built exclusively for children, this New Artek, nearly the size of New York City's Central Park and with a staff of about 3,000, hosted tens of thousands of children annually. It was a workshop for teachers and adult Pioneer leaders, a training ground for the country's future elite, and a font of propaganda about the USSR's solicitousness for children. After 1991, Artek, now in Ukraine, became a private facility.

See also: communist youth organizations


Thorez, Paul. (1991). Model Children: Inside the Republic of Red Scarves, tr. Nancy Cadet. New York: Autonomedia.

Weaver, Kitty. (1981). Russia's Future: The Communist Education of Soviet Youth. New York: Praeger.

Jonathan D. Wallace