Everyday Life and the "Reconstruction" of Soviet Russia during and after the Great Patriotic War, 1943-1948
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: Slavica Publishers
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
From the Series Editors
The Wildman Group arose during the mid-1990s as an informal discussion forum for those interested in labor and social history, with special emphasis on the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917. The Allan K. Wildman Group for the Study of Russian Workers and Society, as it eventually called itself, came...
A number of people assisted in a variety of ways in making this book happen. Donald J. Raleigh, my advisor at UNC-Chapel Hill, gave me a tremendous amount of support and advice from beginning to end with this project, and I owe him a profound gratitude. The staff of the Rostov Party and Rostov State...
Introduction: "Everything here will have to change"
In 1943, on a cold winter day in Rostov-on-Don, nine-year-old Vadim Iakovlev heard the approaching troops on Engels Street while he and a friend sifted through the rubble of a bombed-out store for canned goods. Quiet had descended on the city after a heated two-week battle between Soviet and German forces, and when the boys saw the red flag with the hammer and sickle...
1. "Everything has to be rebuilt from scratch in this country, starting with our own Rostov": The Impact of the Great Fatherland War
Before looking at "reconstruction" we should examine what was being reconstructed - what was there before the devastation of the war swept much of it away. No country suffered more than the Soviet Union, especially the occupied territories. The desolation and poverty wrought by the war made a...
2. "I will have to hang myself now-life has become simply impossible": Living Conditions during "Reconstruction"
Mariia S. Zhak, 44 years old at the time, returned to Rostov from evacuation with her husband and young son in October 1945 after a four-year absence. A major fire had destroyed the tram park and there was no transportation, so they walked from the train station to a relative's apartment near the city's...
3. "When will that 'near future' finally arrive?": The Myth of "Reconstruction" and the "Politics of Productivity"
K. S. Karol, who returned to Rostov in 1943 and stayed there until 1946, recalls that amid official promises of a happy future and a quick "reconstruction" of the city, he and his friends expected immediate demobilization after victory so troops could return home and begin rebuilding the economy, leading...
4. "When will we be able to feed our children?": Gender, National Identity, and Soviet "Family Rhetoric"
In 1941 German troops killed ten-year-old Z. S. Smirtova's mother in a village near Rostov, forcing her to move to the city to live with her grandmother, who died near the end of the war. In an orphanage after victory, Smirtova could not locate her father, a Red Army officer. She assumed he was dead...
5. "Every family has its freak": Perceptions of Collaboration in Occupied Soviet Russia
"Every family," in the words of a Russian proverb, "has its freak." During and after World War II the proverb was used to refer to Soviet citizens who sided with or assisted Nazi occupying forces. A cloud of suspicion hung over...
6. "People Without A Definite Occupation": The Illegal Economy and "Speculation"
K. S. Karol remembers a thriving illegal market economy in Rostov during and after the war, recalling that the worst problem for him and his circle of friends was the "crash of the official economy." At the start of the war Karol condemned his landlady for trading on the black market, but by 1944, he says, "all of us had become her emulators with even more sophisticated rackets to...
7. "What sort of democracy is this?": The "Myth of the War" and Soviet Elections
The right to cast a vote is, of course, a primary feature of citizenship and democracy. The dominant political discourses on both sides of the Cold War exalted the public's right to vote as an essential part of their own form of "democracy." For most Westerners, democracy rests on a balance of powers and...
8. "Right now you can't get anything done without a bribe": Problems in and Perceptions of the Soviet Communist Party
The creation of the "vanguard party" was Lenin's primary contribution to Marxism and 20th-century politics more generally. Early in the century, different conceptualizations of a revolutionary party split Russian Social Democrats, the Mensheviks preferring an open, flexible party structure to Lenin's...
Conclusion: "In my opinion this is all a fraud!"
I maintain that the party nomenklatura in the Soviet Union existed as a separate ruling class, its privileged position stemming from its control over the production and allocation of resources. In many cases corrupt officials profited from the distribution of goods in the illegal market or from bribes in this alleged period of "high" Stalinism. It is undeniable that an element of...
Page Count: 324
Publication Year: 2008
Series Title: The Allan K. Wildman Group Historical Series
Series Editor Byline: Michael Melancon and Alice K. Pate See more Books in this Series
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