Vladimir Putin shows a remarkable interest in history in general and the Second World War in particular. This chapter explores this historian-president’s attempts to codify the memory of this war in an open attempt to transmit a useful past to the younger generation. It argues that top-down models of historical memory are of little explanatory value in the Russian situation. The president rides a wave of historical revisionism that he shapes at the same time. Putin’s government successfully uses it to mobilize Russian society against critical minorities within, and perceived enemies without. The far-reaching consequences of this politicization of the history of the Second World War are sketched in the final section of the chapter.
The historical discussion about the Soviet famine of 1932–33 has become one of the most hard-fought historiographical debates in the twenty-first century. In Ukraine, the interpretation of the famine as a deliberate genocide directed against the Ukrainian nation has become a touchstone of national consciousness. In Russia, the same interpretation is denounced as Russophobic. Outside the former Soviet Union, old positions from Cold War days still inform much of the discussion. This chapter traces the transnational history of the debate about the famine, from its inception at the time, through war and Cold War, into today’s post-Soviet situation.
This chapter recounts the life, times and works of Moshe Lewin, a major historian of Stalinism. It shows how his life as a political activist and wartime refugee to the Soviet Union structured his later scholarship. The chapter also explores Lewin’s influence on a younger cohort of scholars, his efforts at field and institution-building, and the legacy of his work on Stalinism.
This chapter recounts the life, times, works and influence of Richard Pipes, a major historian of the Soviet experience. It shows how his life as a refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe, and his trauma at surviving the Holocaust, structured his later scholarship as a historian of Russia. It examines the development of his oeuvre, his life as a scholar, policy adviser and pundit, and his influence on the field of studying nation and empire under Stalin and under the Soviet regime more generally.
This chapter explores writings on Stalin’s life, time and personality. It shows how biographies of the dictator often served as vehicles for social and cultural, political and economic histories of Stalinism. It traces the development of a canon of works on Stalin, mutual influences between scholars and their works, and processes of learning and forgetting between the 1930s and the 2010s.
This chapter questions a standard narrative about the development of the scholarship on Stalinism: the narrative of a succession of generations, beginning with the totalitarian ‘fathers’ (and mothers) moving on to the revisionist sons and daughters, to find an historical endpoint in the post-revisionist ‘grandchildren.’ Instead, the chapter shows how different authors of these different approaches to the study of Stalinism both learned from each other and forgot or misrecognized this process of learning by declaring themselves new and superior to the previous generation of scholars.
This chapter recounts the life, times, works and influence of Sheila Fitzpatrick, a major historian of Stalinism. It describes her formation as a scholar in a unique Australian milieu, her secondary socialization in 1960s Moscow, and her career in the UK, the United States and Australia. One of the great innovators in her field, Fitzpatrick not only made a major contribution to the professionalization of Soviet history, she also trained one of the largest cohorts of younger historians of Stalinism.
This chapter recounts a heated debate between historians of Stalinism in the pages of the scholarly journal The Russian Review in 1986 and 1987. Sparked off by a review essay by the social historian Sheila Fitzpatrick, it led to a broad range of emotional responses to Stalinism and the politics of history-writing in the late Cold War.
The chapter opens on the Second World War and the impact it had on the actors and the orientations of international humanitarianism. It then focuses on the long-term post-war programmes and it shows how the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), as well as later UN agencies, aimed to bring about a sea change in the way aid was conceived and administered. In fact, aid for the populations who had been the object of Nazi-Fascist aggression was an integral part of the post-war reconstruction plan and became the symbol of a new beginning in the history of humanitarianism. Feeding and clothing civilians – children in particular – the provision of basic medical care, stopping the spread of epidemics: these remained the main activities of the international programmes, whose intentions, though, were reformulated in the light of humanitarianism’s new aspirations. For example, the conviction – already widely held in the philanthropic tradition – was emphasised that aid and care should go beyond immediate relief and bring a genuine ‘rehabilitation’, physical and moral, to the recipients. The post-Second World War era was a great laboratory for humanitarianism. Within it, old and new convictions, practices and skills interwove themselves and were reformulated, standardised and ratified.
This chapter focuses on the years between the two World Wars, when international humanitarian action was forced to measure itself against the First World War’s dramatic consequences; it became the prerogative of specific institutions and defined certain basic areas of competence. The League of Nations had a crucial role in promoting humanitarianism as a matter of cooperation between different countries. Assistance to refugees, public health and child protection were among the sectors in which this cooperation showed itself to be most profitable. On the initiative of individual governments, humanitarianism came to be included within the sphere of international relations. The most relevant example is certainly that of the American Relief Administration, which contributed to determining the United States’ pre-eminence on the scene of humanitarianism after the First World War. In their turn, the aid programmes were an important part of American international policy. The chapter outlines also the important role of private agencies, such as Near East Relief (a US association) and the Save the Children Fund (a British body).