Saving Stalin's Imperial City

Saving Stalin's Imperial City

Historic Preservation in Leningrad, 1930–1950
Steven M. Maddox
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/18/2014
Format: Hardback 17 b&w illus., 2 tables
ISBN: 978-0-253-01484-9
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Saving Stalin’s Imperial City is the history of the successes and failures in historic preservation and of Leningraders’ determination to honor the memory of the terrible siege the city had endured during World War II. The book stresses the counterintuitive nature of Stalinist policies, which allocated scarce wartime resources to save historic monuments of the tsarist and imperial past even as the very existence of the Soviet state was being threatened, and again after the war, when housing, hospitals, and schools needed to be rebuilt. Postwar Leningrad was at the forefront of a concerted restoration effort, fueled by commemorations that glorified the city’s wartime experience, encouraged civic pride, and mobilized residents to rebuild their hometown. For Leningrad, the restoration of monuments and commemorations of the siege were intimately intertwined, served similar purposes, and were mutually reinforcing.

Author Bio

Steven Maddox is Assistant Professor of History at Canisius College.


“A uniquely detailed account of the process of restoring and rebuilding historic buildings, the evolution of official policies and attitudes [and] of the ways in which exhibits in the city and at the reconstructed palaces became 'mobilization tools par excellence.'”
 — Lisa Kirschenbaum, author of The Legacy of the Siege of Leningrad, 1941-1995: Myth, Memories, and Monuments

“Postwar Leningrad presents historians with a major paradox. Why, amid the austerity that followed hard-won victory in 1945, did the USSR allocate precious resources to rebuilding the tsarist past at the expense of the Soviet present and Communist future? Why prioritize palaces over people? Why let history eclipse housing? Steven Maddox resolves this mystery in a book that should also provoke a broader reassessment of the core tenets of Soviet ideology and social identity at the dawn of the Cold War.”
 — David Brandenberger, author of National Bolshevism: Stalinist Mass Culture and the Formation of Modern Russian National I

“Using a wide variety of sources and exceptionally clear prose, Steve Maddox has given us a superior book on historic preservation that marvelously contextualizes Leningrad's preservation within greater European trends and pre-Revolutionary Russian traditions. Saving Stalin's Imperial City illuminates an unknown part of St. Petersburg’s history, shows how professional preservationists challenged and negotiated central directives, and teaches us a great deal about Stalinism and the construction of urban biography. This is not just a book on the Leningrad blockade; this is the book that tells us why it still matters today.”
 — Karl Qualls, Professor of History, Dickinson College

“Maddox’s rich and lucid study makes multiple contributions. It provides a history of the figures, institutions, and policies driving Soviet preservationism. It also offers a new perspective on Stalinism by suggesting that the rehabilitation of patriotism and of the Russian past in the mid-1930s had roots in earlier efforts to protect tsarist architecture. . . . In addition, he traces the relationship between historic preservation and commemoration in the USSR.”
 — The Russian Review

“Based on extensive archival research, Steven Maddox’s book makes use of formerly unread sources to elucidate the dramatic case of the preservation of Leningrad’s historical sites shortly before, during, and aft er World War II.”
 — Slavic Review

“This book will make an excellent addition to even basic university libraries and will be of interest to anyone working on memory, museums, or preservation work in Russian and East European culture. ”
 — American Historical Review

“In a meticulously researched and fluently written book Maddox succeeds in explaining how and why a war-ravaged city suffering acute shortages invested its scant resources in protecting and reconstructing monuments. . . . Maddox’s fine study deserves to be widely read. Historians interested in Leningrad/St Petersburg, late Stalinism, the blockade and historic preservation, as well as those familiar with the city’s architectural treasures, will find much of value here. Students less familiar with the city, and even first-time visitors, will also find their understanding of its historic urban fabric enhanced by reading this book.”
 — Slavonic and East European Review

“Maddox’s well-researched book is a most welcome addition to the historiography of Europe’s bombed cities and their reconstruction after World War II.”

“Steven Maddox’s study of the shifting rationale, under Stalin, for the preservation and restoration of Leningrad’s imperial monuments in the interwar period, and for restoration and commemoration in the early post-World War Two years, contributes to the growing body of research on the siege of Leningrad and the city’s relationship to the Soviet government and ideology. The analysis is well documented, based on extensive archival and other sources, and follows deliberations surrounding preservation and restoration projects as well as accounts of work schedules and accomplishments or delays.”
 — Canadian Slavonic Papers

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Table of Contents

1. Old Petersburg, Preservation Movements, and the Soviet State’s "Turn to the Past"
2. These Monuments Must Be Protected!: Leningrad’s Imperial Cityscape at War.
3. Projecting Soviet Power: Historic Restoration as Commemoration in Postwar Leningrad
4. "When Ivan Comes, There Will be Nothing Left": Rebuilding and Reimagining the Historic Monuments in Leningrad’s Suburbs
5. Becoming "Leningraders": Official Commemorations of the Blockade
6. Cold War Complications: Soviet Patriotism, Historic Restoration, and the End of Blockade Commemorations

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