Besprizornye. Bambini randagi nella Russia sovietica, 1917-1935 (con un cenno ai nuovi besprizornye)

Conference and book presentation by Prof. Luciano Mecacci

6 December 2022 at 6.00 p.m - conference in Italian / Colonica del Palmerino



Among the horrors with which twentieth-century history has been lavish, few compare to the plight of the besprizornye, as the countless children and young boys orphaned as a result of war, civil war, or famine were called in postrevolutionary Russia. Estimated at between six and seven million in 1922, filthy, dressed in rags, they wandered alone or in groups through the cities and countryside in search of food, moving about the country clinging to crossbows under train cars, finding shelter from the frost in station basements or inside dumpsters, driven by hunger to a crescendo of aggression and violence that reached the point of cannibalism. Nor could public orphanages offer an alternative to that life: facilities, in every way similar to concentration camps where skeletal children lay crammed together in appalling conditions. And while in the 1920s the problem was studied on the social, political, judicial, psychological and educational levels, later silence and censorship would be imposed by a state that could hardly admit such a debacle in the "paradise" of Soviet society. Over the past three decades, the phenomenon has returned to the subject of analysis and rigorous historical research. But only Luciano Mecacci has succeeded, thanks to direct testimony and documents of the time that are often overlooked, to offer a complete reconstruction of it even from the inside, stepping into - and lowering us into - the human abyss of the protagonists of events that may seem, today, simply improbable.