Quick information bleg

For a piece I want to do elsewhere.

I know that certain regimes used to utilise children to inform upon their parents. But can anyone point me to some actual examples? GDR? USSR? In literature (Orwell maybe?)


15 thoughts on “Quick information bleg”

  1. And in 1984 a character is turned in by his children for supposedly mumbling anti-Big Brother sentiment in his sleep. He seems to be rather proud of them, as they have done their duty.

  2. IIRC there are known instances of children being used as informers stretching back as far post-reformation conflicts in Europe, where your best bets are Spain, Germany and suppresion of the Hugenots and the Albigensian heresy.

    For something more recent, try the French revolution, Nazi Germany, the old Soviet Bloc and China during the Cultural Revolution and the Gang of Four period.

    I dare say dear old Pol Pot has a dabble as well, although whether anything on record is anyone’s guess.

    Basically, pick a total bastard and chances are you’ll turn up something.

    It’s also a feature of the SF film Equilibrium.

  3. Re: Cingram’s comment.

    The character in 1984 is called Parsons, see Wikipedia and under “Secondary Characters”.

    “He is captured when his children claim that he repeatedly and unknowingly spoke against the Party in his sleep and he is last seen in the Ministry of Love, proud of having been betrayed by his orthodox children.”


  4. Definitely the GDR. Read Stasiland by Anna Funder, anyway; a really great book. 1 in 10 people working for them.

    It really put me off forming my own authoritarian state, to be honest.

  5. In the USSR, there were more insidious methods. They would just ask a class of schoolkids how many of them went to church at the weekend…if any put their hands up, their parents and relatives could consider themselves denounced.

  6. Britain. I grew up in Belfast during the troubles and in the 1970s our area was patrolled by British soldiers. As any kid would do, we used to swarm round these troops as they showed us their guns, amunition clips and let us look through the sights etc. On many an occasion I remember the soldiers throwing little questions “have you got any bullets at home…..”, ” does your daddy have any guns in the house…..” etc. Even as 7 year olds we knew to say “no”. Not that my parents had anything mind

  7. Iran does with the Bahai.
    I don’t think asking children if they know about IRA terrorists who want to kill people is so bad.

  8. The Khmer Rouge built up quite a track record of using children to denounce their parents and grandparents.

  9. It occurs to me that the phenomenon may be understood by combining Richard Dawkins’ idea of the meme with Amotz Zahavi’s idea of the handicap principle. The memetic replicator of revolutionary ideology is demonstrating its potency relative to competing memes by confronting and defeating the memetic expression (namely kin favoritism) of the traditional genetic replicator.

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