Syncretic Subculture or Stalinism without Stalin? Soviet Partisans as Communities of Violence
Fedor Danilovich Gnezdilovo was born in 1898 to a poor peasant family in Voronezh province. Long before he became a famous partisan, he joined the counterinsurgency troops fighting the insurrections in Turkestan that began in 1916. During the Civil War he joined the Red Army to fight the Whites in the South, then returned to Central Asia to “liquidate bands” of rebels in the early 1920s. Having finished only a one-class peasant school, he was too illiterate to take advantage of an invitation to study at a party school, he recalled, but after demobilization at the end of 1922 he began work as an executioner for Soviet courts in Central Asia. “Eleven years I shot enemies of the people who were sentenced by our Soviet court,” he proudly told the Academy of Sciences Historical Commission, the socalled Mints Commission, in May 1942.1 By 1929 he had “gone psycho” (zapsikhoval), as he readily admitted in his interview, but was cured after six months in a psychiatric institute. He moved to Moscow and found work in the department of prisons of the NKVD.
In 1937 Fedor Modorov `painted a portrait of he Spanish teacher Abilia Peraita Gómez. The paper offers a documental basd biography of the portait's main character who came to the Soviet Union as a member of the Spanish delegation for the 1st May celebrations in 1937. A tragic fate was reserved for her after homecoming: Republicans' defeat in the Spanish Civil War; exile; separation from her family; concentration camp in France; Second World War and the French Resistance.
This is a review of two recent books on Leon Trotsky, one of the most prominent Russian revolutionary leaders and an ardent critic of Stalin. The review analyses the main arguments of both books as well as their contribution to the study of Trotsky's personality and political legacy.
A major contribution to the growing literature on Soviet nationality policy. David Brandenberger frames his study with a large and important question: the generation of a Russian/Soviet national identity during the Stalinist years. He tells the important story of the production of a more nationalist world view and how it was received, moving from elites to the masses. Focusing on history and historians, Brandenberger links historiography with nation-making and state building. This work should be widely read, not least because it clearly and eloquently illuminates the painful process of forging national identity. (Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Chicago) Brandenberger alters our understanding of how Soviet culture was created and how it held Soviet society together. Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is the foundation of documents on which it rests. Clearly the result of years of gathering, these documents show us Stalinism as received, as a set of social practices and discourses in constant revision and misuse. National Bolshevism illuminates broader debates about the functioning of Soviet society, the origins of national consciousness, and the formation of the subject with the modern state, and will be a widely read contribution to the field. (James von Geldern, Macalester College)
The paper explores a symbolic appropriation of Saimaa Canal by Soviet media after it became part of the USSR in the 1940s.