Re-Reading Fainsod in Smolensk
Article about Merl Faisod's books about Smolensk.
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.
Despite differences in specific historical circumstances, any war generates heroes (or kills them). These heroes and their canonical images provide examples for admiration, inspiration, imitation, and sorrow. Since such examples should be provided as soon as possible, heroes appear at the very beginning of the war, regardless of its course. Since Japan was defeated, and the war itself was officially recognized as “unfair”, the names of those people who were admired during the war were forgotten after its end. We analyze the images of heroes who were most glorified during the war. First of all, I keep my eye on the image of the hero, and not his real actions and biography, which are still the subject of discussion in many cases. However, these discussions arose in the post-war period. They remain outside my attention — just like the changes in the interpretation of the image of heroes that occurred in the post-war period. As for the synchronous perception of heroes, it was determined primarily by official versions of events, replicated in newspapers and radio broadcasts, and then picked up by publicists, writers, cinema makers, songwriters, etc. And these versions existed as immutable facts for most Japanese.
In many cases, people who committed a certain heroic act were recognized as “heroes” not immediately but after some time had passed. In such cases, the creators of the image of heroes (army leadership, propagandists) had time to think over who should be appointed to this role and what qualities of heroes should be brought to the fore. Thus, the creation of a hero cult was not a spontaneous process, but a controlled one. There is no doubt that, in wartime, there were many candidates for the role of a hero. However, for one reason or another, only a few were recognized as heroes nationwide. I will try to highlight a number of features that could affect the process of selecting a hero from a number of candidates. The contents of this set will help to understand better the nature of what is commonly called “Japanese totalitarianism”.
This article explores the role played by the Eternitate memorial complex, the central site for World War II commemoration in Chişinău, as a tool and site of history politics in the Republic of Moldova. It analyzes different facets of the history of the memorial complex, focusing in particular on the years after its renovation in 2006. The article traces the evolution of the site from a Soviet military glory complex to a more multi-layered and diverse commemorative space, which even includes monuments not related to World War II. It demonstrates how commemorations at the complex interact with the complexities of history politics in independent Moldova, as well as with the culturally diverse history of Chişinău and the site itself.
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.