This article examines the evolution of official Soviet remembrance of the Second World War in the decades that followed 1945. Focusing on elite discourse and Komsomol military-patriotic curricula associated with the state cult of the war, the article argues that Soviet remembrance promoted the war as a fundamentally supranational experience and the basis for a transcendent, pan-Soviet imagined community. The article questions an influential scholarly position that emphasizes the party leadership's reliance on pre-socialist, russocentric imagery for popular mobilization. In fact, official remembrance practices after Stalin were most striking in the extent to which they consistently downplayed Russian exceptionalism for the sake of the paramount Soviet whole. The article proposes that this tendency should be viewed as part of a larger, internally contested effort to move away from a distinct ethnic hierarchy, and toward a picture of non-ethnic, pan-Soviet uniformity.
As evidenced by the essays and articles collected in Slavophile Empire: Imperial Russia's Illiberal Path, few scholars have more thoroughly or provocatively explored the ideological, legal, and cultural dilemmas that shaped the course of modern Russian history than Laura Engelstein. While acknowledging the importance of her contribution to this field of study, the present review seeks to demonstrate that Slavophile Empire commonly relies on notions about the Enlightenment and modernity that recent scholarship has shown to be contested, even untenable. Moreover, there is good historical evidence to suggest that the anti-liberal consensus that took shape in Russian public opinion in the last decades of the old regime emanated from an array of sources, not just "the Slavophile paradigm," and that Slavophilism itself was a contingent, multivalent phenomenon that encompassed and expressed a variety of intellectual positions.
This essay introduces the five articles that comprise the special issue of Soviet and Post-Soviet Review on “World War II in Soviet and Post-Soviet Memory.” It highlights the variety of means employed by the contributors to explain and assess the construction, reconfi guration, and uncanny persistence of the Great Patriotic War in individual, local, and national narratives. The essay also suggests pathways for future research.