Jonathan BrunstedtNov 3, 2022
The Soviet Myth of World War II
Patriotic Memory and the Russian Question in the USSR
Cambridge University Press 2021
In The Soviet Myth of World War II: Patriotic Memory and the Russian Question in the USSR (Cambridge UP, 2021), Jonathan Brunstedt examines how Soviet society, a community committed to the Marxist ideals of internationalism, reconciled itself to notions of patriotist, Russian nationalism, and the glorification of war. Brunstedt does through the lens of the myth and remembrance of victory in World War II – arguably the central defining event of the Soviet epoch. The book shows that while the experience and legacy of the conflict did much to reinforce a sense of Russian exceptionalism and Russian-led ethnic hierarchy, the story of the war enabled an alternative, supra-ethnic source of belonging, which subsumed Russian and non-Russian loyalties alike to the Soviet whole. The tension and competition between Russocentric and 'internationalist' conceptions of victory, which burst into the open during the late 1980s, reflected a wider struggle over the nature of patriotic identity in a multiethnic society that continues to reverberate in the post-Soviet space. The book sheds new light on long-standing questions linked to the politics of remembrance and provides a crucial historical context for the patriotic revival of the war's memory in Russia today.
Douglas Bell is a writer, teacher, and historian who lives in the Netherlands. His research interests center on American military history, American foreign policy, German history, and European Studies. Tweet him @douglasibell.