Saving Stalin's Imperial City

Saving Stalin's Imperial City

Historic Preservation in Leningrad, 1930–1950
Maddox, Steven M.
Distribution: World
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.


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.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.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.'

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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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