Article

The Great Patriotic War in Soviet and Post-Soviet Collective Memory

Roger D. Markwick

in The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199560981
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199560981.013.0035

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 The Great Patriotic War in Soviet and Post-Soviet Collective Memory

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World War II has never ended for the citizens of the former Soviet Union. Nearly 27 million Soviet citizens died in the course of what Joseph Stalin declared to be the Great Patriotic War, half of the total 55 million victims of the world war. The enduring personal trauma and grief that engulfed those who survived, despite the Red Army's victory over fascism, was not matched by Stalin's state of mind, which preferred to forget the war. Not until the ousting of Nikita S. Khrushchev in October 1964 by Leonid Brezhnev was official memory of the war really resurrected. This article elaborates a thesis about the place of World War II in Soviet and post-Soviet collective memory by illuminating the sources of the myth of the Great Patriotic War and the mechanisms by which it has been sustained and even amplified. It discusses perestroika, patriotism without communism, the fate of the wartime Young Communist heroine Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, the battle for Victory Day, the return of ‘trophy’ art, the Hill of Prostrations, and Sovietism without socialism.

Keywords: World War II; Soviet Union; Joseph Stalin; Great Patriotic War; perestroika; collective memory; patriotism; Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya; Victory Day; trophy art

Article.  10527 words. 

Subjects: History ; European History ; Contemporary History (Post 1945) ; Military History

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