Making Sense of War
The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution
Publication Year: 2012
In Making Sense of War, Amir Weiner reconceptualizes the entire historical experience of the Soviet Union from a new perspective, that of World War II. Breaking with the conventional interpretation that views World War II as a post-revolutionary addendum, Weiner situates this event at the crux of the development of the Soviet--not just the Stalinist--system. Through a richly detailed look at Soviet society as a whole, and at one Ukrainian region in particular, the author shows how World War II came to define the ways in which members of the political elite as well as ordinary citizens viewed the world and acted upon their beliefs and ideologies.
The book explores the creation of the myth of the war against the historiography of modern schemes for social engineering, the Holocaust, ethnic deportations, collaboration, and postwar settlements. For communist true believers, World War II was the purgatory of the revolution, the final cleansing of Soviet society of the remaining elusive "human weeds" who intruded upon socialist harmony, and it brought the polity to the brink of communism. Those ridden with doubts turned to the war as a redemption for past wrongs of the regime, while others hoped it would be the death blow to an evil enterprise. For all, it was the Armageddon of the Bolshevik Revolution. The result of Weiner's inquiry is a bold, compelling new picture of a Soviet Union both reinforced and enfeebled by the experience of total war.
Published by: Princeton University Press
Title Page, Copyright
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
The publication of a first book gives the opportunity to thank a number of individuals and institutions whose invaluable support and input into this project helped to bring it about. ...
Introduction: Making Sense of War
The Second World War was an unprecedented cataclysm that rocked the entire European continent. It shook institutions, identities, and convictions that, until then, appeared to be solidly entrenched. This book explores the war's impact on the ideology, beliefs, and practices of the Soviet regime and its subjects ...
Part I: Delineating the Body Politic
One: Myth and Power: The Making of a Postwar Elite
On 24 August 1942 the readers of Pravda were treated to a rather unusual literary event. With the war approaching a decisive moment, the leading newspaper of the country found the time and space to serialize a new play by the leading Ukrainian writer Oleksandr Korniichuk. ...
Two: "Living Up to the Calling of a Communist": Purification of the Rank and File
The institutions of purge and verification were born with the Bolshevik Party itself. The quest for purity among the revolutionaries' ranks was at the heart of the Marxist-Leninist ethos. As the self-appointed vanguard and guardian of purity of the chosen class, charged with the messianic crusade to transform society in the face of open hostility before and after taking power, ...
Part II: Delineating the Body Socioethnic
Three: Excising Evil
The Ukrainian nationalist cause failed to materialize in the Vinnytsia region. To contemporaries, however, the virtual eradication of the nationalist presence in the region was not a foregone conclusion. ...
Four: Memory of Excision, Excisionary Memory
It comes as no surprise that the totalization of Soviet practices in the quest for purity brought to the fore the inherent tension between the biological and the sociological categorization of the enemy within, and consequently the inevitable comparison to Nazi Germany, the other totalitarian enterprise. ...
Part III: The Making of a Postwar Soviet Nation
Five: Integral Nationalism in the Trial of War
Reflecting on the attempt of Ukrainian nationalists and Nazis to impose their ethnocentric agendas on Vinnytsia, an editor of Vinnyts'ki visti, the local wartime newspaper, noted that, ...
Six: Peasants to Soviets, Peasants to Ukrainians
In nationalist ideology the nation was embodied by a single socioethnic group: the Ukrainian peasantry. Tested by recurrent destruction inflicted by a host of foreign occupiers, the peasantry was believed to have preserved its ethnic, religious, and linguistic purity. ...
Afterword: A Soviet World without Soviet Power, a Myth of War without War
For the residents of Vinnytsia, like the rest of the Soviet population, World War II was the culmination of a chain of cataclysmic events, each one enough to warrant a lifetime of reflection. It was also their most challenging and pervasive experience, one that knew no class, ethnic, or territorial boundaries. ...
Page Count: 432
Publication Year: 2012
Edition: Course Book
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