In 1945 Europe was a vast graveyard. The diaspora of the dead was perhaps most prominent in Germany, where the fallen of the four occupying forces, as well as other nationals, were spread across the country. As the allies worked through the postwar settlement with Germany and its allies, they considered another pressing question: How to treat the dead? This presentation explores how the dead became a point of contact, conflict and contrast in Germany that provide a window into the dynamics of power sharing between the occupiers. The politics of the sacred demanded that each of the four allies enter into uneasy interactions and compromises, even as the lines in the Cold War hardened.
Seth Bernstein has produced a valuable institutional history of the Soviet youth organization, the Komsomol. By tracing the Komsomol from its origin after the October Revolution, through the years of high Stalinism in the 1930s and World War II, and into the immediate post-war period, Bernstein argues that the group went from being an iconoclastic (and, from the state’s point of view, unwieldy) collection of politically active youth, to a structured organization designed for ‘disciplining youth for socialism.’ (p. 222) Moreover, in drawing upon an impressive range of archival sources, Bernstein is able to create a full picture of the Komsomol, including both the debates over its political role at the top of its hierarchy, and the repercussions of those policies on ordinary members and would-be members. This presentation is particularly useful for scholars interested in gender history, as Bernstein regularly addresses the ways that men and women navigated the changing dynamics of Komsomol politics.
In South Africa the Russian Revolution was admired by socialists and nationalists alike. The National Party soon stopped praising the Bolsheviks, but the effect of the Revolution on the nascent Communist Party was important and lasting. South African communists closely watched developments in Soviet Russia and established relations with the Communist International (Comintern) even before the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) was born. The Party’s ideology and policy were shaped by the Comintern’s ideas and instructions.
In the 1920s and 1930s the struggle around the the Comintern-imposed slogan of the independent native republic and the Comintern’s campaigns for ‘bolshevisation’ nearly brought the party to its demise. But it survived, and its leadership took the Comintern’s ideals and ideas into the post-war era. The Comintern’s theoretical legacy, particularly its idea of a two-stage (national and socialist) revolution proved long-lasting. This idea became entrenched in the programs of the African National Congress, the party of national liberation and since 1994, the party of government. Even today a significant proportion of South Africa’s black population cherishes the vision of a radical revolution and demands its implementation.