Abstract

SUMMARY:

Ab Imperio’s archival section in this volume presents extracts from investigation and trial materials, which shed light on the construction of the enemy image of the Germans in the period preceding the World War II. This is the first publication of archival documents related to the repressions of the Germans in Tataria during the Soviet period. It is foreworded by Kazan based historian Alter Litvin. The foreword situates the published documents in a broader context of cultural alterity of Russian history, Russo-German cultural encounter with particular emphasis on the history of Germans in Kazan’, suggesting that beginning with the World War I and culminating in the period after the Great Patriotic War the perception of the Germans was construed according to the imagery of external enemy. However this process was far from linear and had various phases. The investigation materials cover an underexplored phase of this process that of construction of Germans into the internal enemy according to the general machinery of Stalinist repressions and a shift of the image from the internal to the external enemy in 1937 and afterwards. Kazan is a particularly interesting place to study cross-national imagery for in the early Soviet period it hosted a joint Soviet-German military training center (operation “Kama”), attracted a large number of German technical specialists to the local industry, and was in close proximity with the territory of historical settlement of ethnic Germans in Russia. All the mentioned factors and the changing Soviet foreign policy toward Germany in the 1930s played a role in the character and direction of persecution of Germans in Kazan’. Apart from the history of cross-national imagery the materials give a number of interesting insights into the history of the Stalinist repressions as a whole. The mainstream charge of Stalinist purges that of espionage principally targeted internal enemies of the Soviet regime. However, while encountering foreigners in the course of the Great Terror, the Soviet political police and prosecution organs did not develop a scenario different from the one applied to the Soviet citizens. The investigation reveals a lack of procedures and sophistication which were needed to support a charge of espionage. This fact enriches our understanding of the internal logic of the Stalinist purges and the isolationist psychology of self-declared internationalist political regime.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2164-9731
Print ISSN
2166-4072
Pages
pp. 243-261
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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