The Soviet Myth of World War II: Patriotic Memory and the Russian Question in the USSR
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How did a socialist society, ostensibly committed to Marxist ideals of internationalism and global class struggle, reconcile itself to notions of patriotism, homeland, Russian ethnocentrism, and the glorification of war? Title VIII Research Scholar Jonathan Brunstedt addresses this question through the lens of the myth and remembrance of victory in World War II – arguably the central defining event of the Soviet epoch. Based on the author’s recently published book, this presentation argues that while the experience and legacy of the conflict did much to reinforce a sense of Russian primacy and Russian-led ethnic hierarchy, the story of the war simultaneously enabled an alternative, supra-ethnic source of belonging, which subsumed Russian and non-Russian loyalties alike to the Soviet whole. The tension and competition between Russocentric and “internationalist” conceptions of victory, Brunstedt contends, reflected a wider struggle over the nature of patriotic identity in a multiethnic society that continues to reverberate in the post-Soviet space.
The Kennan Institute is the premier U.S. center for advanced research on Russia and Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American understanding of Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the surrounding region though research and exchange. Read more
History and Public Policy Program
The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs. Read more
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