we are pleased to tell that our project work is in full swing. We are studing relevant literature, examining the local archives and local press and interviewing witnesses. In particular, I'm plunged into the Rostov City Council collection to find decisions on streets renaming, installation of monuments, beautification of tombs (as parts of memory politics in the urban landscape).
Memory of the Great Patriotic War from the Local Perspective
WWII became the most important event of the 20th century history - consequential, tragic and bloody event that had changed the vision of the human nature and the configuration of the global superpowers. In the Soviet Union it became known as the Great Patriotic War, and up to now in many of the post-soviet republics this event is commemorated in the same way as it was common during the Soviet period.
It seems like nothing changed and nothing will change.
But historical collective memory is always a work-in-process; it is changed and determined by current events, state policy, and popular memoirs.
During the first postwar years the war was not a remote past approached through the art films. The real bitterness of numerous losses, heavy postwar everyday, hardships of the reintegration of the war veterans, particularly of the disabled...
It was necessary to create the uniting version of the WWII memory in order to facilitate the solving of the inner conflicts and to promote the international prestige of the Soviet state. But complicated and bloody twists and turns of the war had many aspects which hardly could be included into official Soviet war narrative: extermination of the Jewish population, the very experience of "life with the enemy", the fate of the POWs, collaboration, nationalist insurgency etc.
Therefore the memory of war was problematic for the ordinary people who lost their relatives and friends as well as for the state powers. Under Brezhnev the monumental and heroic image of the war was formed - but it took a long time to consider the debatable questions, to suppress uncomfortable memoirs, and to elaborate the commonly used and comfortable language of the understanding of the past.
It is the problem of formation and establishing of the WWII memory during the two postwar decades that is in focus of the international collaborative project in which three researchers from three countries are engaged: Aliaksei Lastouski (Belarus), Iryna Sklokina (Ukraine), Roman Khandozhko (Russian Federation). This study is the part of the project "Geschichtswerkstatt Europa" supported by the Foundation for Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future.
Three researchers and three cities - Hrodna, Kharkiv, and Rostov-on-Don. These three cities are big regional centers with reach history and local culture, specific features and - diverse war experiences. However, all the three were under Nazi occupation (though for the different period of time).
We often think about the Soviet Union as if everything was monolithic and uniform there - from clothes and Zhygulevskoe beer to the widely used Russian language and communist ideology. But if we'll have a closer look at this seemingly uniform society, we'll discover the plenty of different variants of realization of the general political line determined by the local contexts, interests of the local leaders, positions of different regions and republics inside the Soviet system. The same thing with the war memory: its general framework was elaborated not only in Moscow, but was reinvented anew in the local contexts. The brightest example is Belarus that has become a "partisan republic" - a unique status among the other Soviet republics.
Therefore this project is aimed at analyzing the general framework of the war memory formation, as well as different specific features of these process related to local conditions of republics. And related to the specificities of the cities - Hrodna, Kharkiv, and Rostov-on-Don.
The general history of all the three cities is widely studied, and a number of prominent professional historians and local amateurs of history work there, but pure urban history has its limitations. In our project the common methodology is used for the comparative study of the three cases with both common and unique traits. Renaming of the streets and squares, periodicals, museum exhibitions - all these media of memory formation and representation will be scrutinized and compared.
In October 2012 in Hrodna, Kharkiv, and Rostov-on-Don the presentations of the project outcomes will be held so all the people interested in the project will have a chance to ask questions, to critique, and to take part in discussions.
If you have any questions, requests, recommendations, or useful information, please feel free to contact the participants of the project:
Aliaksei Lastouski (Belarus), firstname.lastname@example.org
Iryna Sklokina (Ukraine), email@example.com
Roman Khandozhko (Russian Federation) firstname.lastname@example.org
25.05.2012 22:38 (0 Kommentare)
Our press-release was posted on several e-resources: Web-sete of the city of Hrodna (Belarus): http://grodna.info/bel/навіны/грамадства/218/ Web-site of one of the leading academic institutions for political studies...
25.05.2012 22:20 (0 Kommentare)
Here I would like to share some findings from the local Kharkiv press related to the official Soviet politics of WWII memory. In order to study the politics of WWII memory on the local level, our project team decided among other things to look through the local press from 1944-1965. These are official editions of the party and...
28.04.2012 13:36 (0 Kommentare)
Память о Великой Отечественной войне с локальной перспективы (1944-1965) Пресс-релиз Вторая мировая война стала самым значительным событием в истории ХХ века – эпохальным, трагическим,...
27.04.2012 21:12 (0 Kommentare)
Dear friends, we are pleased to tell that our project work is in full swing. We are studing relevant literature, examining the local archives and local press and interviewing witnesses. In particular, I'm plunged into the Rostov City Council collection to find decisions on streets renaming, installation of monuments, beautification of tombs ...