Within Two Tyrannies: The Soviet Academic Refugees of the Second World War

Marina Yu. Sorokina

in In Defence of Learning

Published by British Academy

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780197264812
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754029 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Within Two Tyrannies: The Soviet Academic Refugees of the Second World War

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This chapter places the exodus of Russian scholars in the context of the country's turbulent twentieth-century experience of ‘three revolutions, two world wars, civil strife, and several changes of political regime’. It presents an account of the plight of Russian academics in German occupied territories who were caught ‘in the dead space between two tyrannies’. For some the price of survival in the 1940s involved temporary collaboration with the Nazi invaders, which is illustrated in the morally ambiguous wartime experiences of Nikolas Poppe, Professor of Oriental Studies in Leningrad University, a leading expert of the languages and literatures of northern inner Asia; and of Ivan Malinin, professor and head of the department of pathology in the Krasnodar Medical Institute. Both found a way of resisting the communist state through temporary ‘collaboration’, and thus, reaffirmed ‘the right of the individual to make choices’. The chapter concludes by noting the change in Soviet policy towards the emigration of scientists after perestroika and its double-edged effect: ‘On the one hand, emigration impoverishes home institutions, but, on the other, the free migration of scientists has become one of the most effective mechanisms for integrating the country into the global scientific community’.

Keywords: Russian scholars; collaboration; Nazis; Nikolas Poppe; Ivan Malinin; emigration

Chapter.  5408 words. 

Subjects: Migration Studies

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