The Great War in Russian Memory

The Great War in Russian Memory

Karen Petrone
Distribution: World
Publication date: 07/14/2011
ISBN: 978-0-253-00144-3
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A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2012

Karen Petrone shatters the notion that World War I was a forgotten war in the Soviet Union. Although never officially commemorated, the Great War was the subject of a lively discourse about religion, heroism, violence, and patriotism during the interwar period. Using memoirs, literature, films, military histories, and archival materials, Petrone reconstructs Soviet ideas regarding the motivations for fighting, the justification for killing, the nature of the enemy, and the qualities of a hero. She reveals how some of these ideas undermined Soviet notions of military honor and patriotism while others reinforced them. As the political culture changed and war with Germany loomed during the Stalinist 1930s, internationalist voices were silenced and a nationalist view of Russian military heroism and patriotism prevailed.

Author Bio

Karen Petrone is Associate Professor of History at the University of Kentucky. She is author of Life Has Become More Joyous, Comrades: Celebrations in the Time of Stalin (IUP, 2000) and editor (with Valerie Kivelson, Michael S. Flier, and Nancy Shields Kollmann) of The New Muscovite Cultural History: A Collection in Honor of Daniel B. Rowland.


“Petrone makes very important contributions not only to the field of Russian and Soviet history but to the field of World War I studies as well.”
 — Joshua A. Sanborn, Lafayette College

“Karen Petrone’s book is at one and the same time a major contribution to the history of Russia and to the history of the Great War. By placing the cultural history of Russia in a European perspective of mass mourning and selective remembrance, Petrone has managed to help ‘Russify’ the way the history of the First World War and its aftermath is configured. Here is cultural history at its best. ”
 — Jay Winter, Yale University

“An original work of serious scholarship. . . . Petrone engages with a flourishing literature on the cultural consequences of the First World War.”
 — Peter Gatrell, author of A Whole Empire Walking

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Great War in Russian Memory
2. Spirituality, the Supernatural, and the Memory of World War I
3. The Paradoxes of Gender in Soviet War Memory
4. Violence, Morality, and the Conscience of the Warrior
5. World War I and the Definition of Russianness
6. Arrested History
7. Disappearance and Reappearance
8. Legacies of the Great War