Identifying Uniforms in Mikhailov Photograph

Ksenia Nouril's picture

Dear SHERA colleagues,

Could anyone please identify the type of uniforms pictured (on the boys and the man, presumably their teacher/leader) in this photograph from the "Sots Art" seires by Boris Mikhailov or direct me to any pertinent resources?

I can be reached at

Thank you!
Ksenia Nouril
PhD Candidate, Rutgers
C-MAP Fellow, MoMA, NY

Thank you, Yelena!

I received a few additional great responses to this query from our very generous colleagues. Since this may have piqued the curiosity of others, I hope it is OK that I share them in compilation here:

Someone suggested it might be an example of the Civil Defense (grazhdanskaya oborona) uniforms, providing these pictures in support:

Someone else suggested they could be Osoaviakhim uniforms, probably after 1936, mentioning that the gas mask is the primary attribute in the iconography of Osoaviakhim and other self-defense organizations in the latter half of the 1930s. This is an example:

I also posted this query to SEELANGS, and received a very compelling answer from someone who wore such uniforms as a child, claiming the uniforms were compulsory for all pupils (boys and girls) at Soviet secondary schools and vocational-technical colleges ("ПТУ") during the classes called "elementary military training". They were not really "official uniforms" but green-colored ( khaki") shirts with a tie, which parents needed to purchase but which could be paired with any kind of pants. The military trainers, usually former army officers, also wore such shirts and ties. Thus, the image depicts an ordinary moment of a lesson in elementary military training ("начальная военная подготовка").

Many thanks again for all your insights!