Skip to comments.Besieged Memory? Heroism and Suffering in St Petersburg Museums dedicated to the Siege of Leningrad
Posted on 01/18/2018 1:20:25 PM PST by GoldenState_Rose
"Heroes are not to be criticized..."
The official Soviet narrative of the Second World War used the concept of heroism to imbue war commemoration with an obligation towards the State. Such a concept was designed to make subsequent generations feel inferior to their predecessors and obliged to give of their best. Today, the victory serves as the strongest connection between Soviet and modern Russian patriotism.
The paper argues that the memory of the Siege of Leningrad (1941-1944) as treated in museums in St Petersburg today is an appropriation by present-day Russian propaganda of the Soviet narrative. Soviet memorial sites are developed to foster support for Russia rather than the former Soviet Union. While the use of the heroic paradigm continues, the definition of heroism has changed to include each and everybody who suffered during the Siege. With collective heroism as the leading image, a critical view of the historic events becomes all but impossible.
By declaring that all members of the Leningrad population affected by the Siege were heroes, the museums block any critical approach to the Siege events and the actions of state and city leaders and impose an obligatory element of self-sacrifice onto every form of suffering and dying.
The museums tell the same story as do TV and cinema productions. Alternatives to this official narrative can be found in media with a smaller distribution range, mostly in published diaries and scholarly publications based on archival research.
(Excerpt) Read more at 2.le.ac.uk ...
The Russians made enormous sacrifices and lost over 20,000,000 dead in WW II. Yet due to their heroism and stubborn resistance, the very best units of the German army were destroyed. American casualties would have been much higher if the US had to face the best of the German army to retake Europe. Many Americans exist today because their forefathers were able to survive WW II and later procreate thanks to those Russian sacrifices.
The article does not deny that heroism existed, just that it co-exited side by side with massive, massive crimes largely due in part to the pre-existing evils of the Soviet system itself. As is true for all parties involved in war: the best and worst of human nature were brought out, and NOT just of the leaders.
But today, it is taboo even to criticize the leaders. (Stalin, et al.) Every narrative is cloaked with the red blanket of “Victory.”
Americans joined the war late for understandable reasons. Unlike the Soviet leadership, we had respect for life — and that of our own soldiers included.
Stalin killed more Russians than Hitler. Remember that.
You're right. We owe the Russian people for this... and we've been jerks about not acknowledging it...
The Russian Revolution of 1917 and Hitler’s ascent to power were related and two equally vital forces in leading to the near self-destruction of Europe in WWI and WWII.
The lines between good and evil are often blurred in war, and the one between B Stalin and Hitler was just that. They are both likely sitting today in hell. Together.
Yes there was military expediency accomplished with our alliance with the Soviets. And is a careful task to distinguish between soldiers doing their duty and the role of the State.
But let’s not allow that to blur the bigger MORAL picture.
The Cold War started immediately following the Second World War with communism proving to be a bigger global threat than Nazism ever was.
A LOT of BAD things went down during the Leningrad Siege (on the part of the Soviet leadership AND even yes, even among civilians themselves: the Soviet system brought out the worst in people.) - and it does humanity no good to throw those realities into the dustbin simply because the current Russian government finds them inconvenient.
‘They raped every German female from eight to 80’
The Guardian | Antony Beevor
Posted on 01/18/2018 1:30:31 PM PST by GoldenState_Rose
Retyping because my prior post was so typo-filled and incoherent.
1) YES of course there was military expediency accomplished with our alliance with the Soviets. And is the careful task of historians and we the people — as we make distinctions between soldiers doing their duty, innocent civilians caught in the line of fire, and the decisions made by those in power.
But lets not allow military expedience to blur the bigger MORAL picture.
The Cold War started immediately following the Second World War with communism proving to be a bigger global threat than Nazism ever was and taking far more lives!
2) To this day, just look at North Korea - the Kim Il Sung regime Kim Jon Un inherits was installed by who? STALIN! That’s who. And this after American missionaries had dominated the landscape of Pyongyang and Korea was called “the Jerusalem of the East” in the years preceding 1940s.
It was the SOVIETS that turned North Korea into a Gulag-ridden atheist hell hole!
3) The problem is in TODAY’S RUSSIA there is VERY little room for even of the STATE’s role in perpetrating massive crimes against humanity. WHY? Because when all is said and done: ttoday’s government is a descendant of that very State. There was never any formal divorce even following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The 1917 Russian Revolution centennial last year only further revealed this murky conundrum Russian people find themselves in. There’s a LOT of mixed feelings about the whole ordeal.
4) I’v lived in Russia. Lenin statues continue to abound, Derzhinsky portraits, you name it. Streets are still named after Karl Marx. And STALIN’s memory is “up for debate” at best, and outright deified at worst! He is far more popular today than he was at the closing period of the USSR. His busts and statues have been erected all over the place since during the Putin years. Alongside Orthodox Christian icons sometimes, I might add.
5) A LOT of BAD things went down during the Leningrad Siege (on the part of the Soviet leadership AND even yes, even among civilians themselves: the Soviet system brought out the worst in people: CANNIBALISM anyone? Because the people were so starved.)
And it does humanity no good to throw acknowledgment* of such realities into the dustbin simply because the current Russian government finds them inconvenient.
6) The Russian Revolution of 1917 and Hitlers ascent to power were related and two equally vital forces in leading to the near self-destruction of Europe in WWI and WWII.
The lines between good and evil are often blurred in war, and the one between Soviet Union and Nazi Germany was just that. Both countries hinged upon the foundations of HELL and that’s why they both COLLAPSED.
7) But failure to acknowledge this fact is what’s creating the atmosphere of Soviet nostalgia, Soviet idealization, so ubiquitous in Russia today.
There is no question that the barbarity that began with the writings of Marx, implemented by Lenin and his crafty, hideous Bolsheviks who did their very best to destroy the best of Russian culture, the cruel psychotic behavior of Stalin and the post war incompetent brutal thugs that ruled Russia and eastern Europe,resulted in more suffering and deaths than the two German invasions. It can be said that the Kaiser, Lenin, Hitler and Stalin did more to destroy European culture than any four men who ever existed. However The Russian people are connected to their soil like no others. Despite economic turmoil, hunger, oppression and being fully aware of the cruelty of communism and its leaders, they did not emigrate and when invaded did not meekly surrender. They fought, died and sacrificed mightly for their homeland and each other. There is much to be said for such people. Give them a break as they try to evolve from ninety years of soul crushing communist rule.
If you TRULY love Russia, then you would know the bones in the soil and ghosts from the Gulag still cry out. if you genuinely cared about true heroism being honored and recognized by humanity, you would care that the memory of millions upon millions of Russian souls (especially that of persecuted, murdered CHRISTIANS) - have gone neglected in the Putin years. You face PUNISHMENT:
“Russian historian who exposed Stalin’s crimes face enforced Psychiatric testing”
No this was not a headline from the USSR period. This was just last week on the 9th of January. Will link below.
In the meantime, Russia’s lack of peace over their past has wreaked a lot of havoc for their neighbors in Ukraine (whose own lack of peace also contributes to the bloodshed) - and yes there is genuine Russian dirty money and Putin antics involved in trying to stir chaos within our own country of America.
This beautiful country of ours that served as a refuge to SOOOOOOO many Soviet dissidents, refugees, etc..
Nobody is “colluding” with Trump, but to deny that the Russians have expended more energy on geopolitical grandstanding and undermining the very Western institutions they fail to implement for themselves is a LIE.
And who’s been hurt? Young Russians and THEIR future. That’s what’s been on the line this whole time as Russia tries to revive their imperial past and Soviet empire. While the all the ex KGB agents in power at the Kremlin and the Oligarchs split the spoils of Russia’s resources between themselves.
“” “” The article does not deny that heroism existed, just that it co-exited side by side with massive, massive crimes largely due in part to the pre-existing evils of the Soviet system itself. As is true for all parties involved in war: the best and worst of human nature were brought out, and NOT just of the leaders.
But today, it is taboo even to criticize the leaders. (Stalin, et al.) Every narrative is cloaked with the red blanket of Victory.”” “
All the crimes you are talking about are recognized and known since 1950s.
Do you realize what the Siege of Leningrad was?
In 1941 it was a city twice the size of LA completely cut out of all supplies including food, water and electricity by the Nazis. It lost nearly three and a half million people by 1944, 700 000 died starving alone.
You should expect some crime in such environment don’t you?
History has glossed over the fact that many killed in the USSR were part of what had devolved into a civil war along the western frontier. Many non-Russians there (Ukrainians and the newly kidnapped Baltic populations in particular) supported the Axis because they saw what the USSR was: Mass murder.
Stalin and the Betrayal of Leningrad
Stalin was always suspicious of Russia’s former capital. Its huge cultural, scientific and economic importance, its historical role as the cradle of the 1917 Revolution, its pre-eminent position in the history of the Russian intelligentsia - all produced a dangerous spirit of independence when viewed from the Kremlin.
Stalin was well aware of the distinctive ethos that three years of relative autonomy from Moscow had fostered in Leningrad; and his suspicions were fed by two of the main contenders for power, Lavrentii Beria and Georgii Malenkov.
In 1946 Stalin gave Zhdanov the task of denouncing two of Leningrad’s leading writers, Anna Akhmatova and Mikhail Zoshchenko, as part of a vicious campaign against ‘bourgeois formalism’ in Soviet culture known, unfairly, to history as the Zhdanovshchina.
In spring 1948 his son, a Central Committee official, was severely criticised for ideological errors. There were signs that Zhdanov himself was falling from favour, when in August he suffered a massive heart attack and died.
This tipped the balance in the Kremlin power struggle. Deprived of Zhdanov’s protection, Kuznetsov, Voznesensky, Leningrad’s current leaders, PS Popkov and YF Lazutin, and former Leningrad officials including MI Rodionov, prime minister of the Russian Republic, were arrested on trumped-up charges in 1949.
After long interrogations and brief secret trials, they were shot in October 1950. The Leningrad party organisation was purged, and some 2,000 people imprisoned or exiled.
The siege museum was closed, to be reopened 40 years later. For many years Leningrad’s tragic and heroic wartime history would be barely acknowledged, and important aspects of what happened remain unknown to this day.
The Soviets trained German pilots and developed their planes for them in secret so Germany wouldn’t be caught violating the Versailles Treaty (that is why some Soviet planes bear a striking resemblance to some German ones). The USSR invaded half of Poland (AND THE BALTIC STATES) in 1939 when Germany invaded the other half, killed thousands of Polish officers in Katyn, and was spared a declaration of war by Britain and France. In 1940 they attacked Finland and seized part of their country. Prior to that they had murdered millions in the Ukraine; after that they armed Red China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Angola, etc.. They only survived WWII because we armed and supplied them - and they maintained a truce with Japan in the Far East while Japs were killing Americans, Brits, Chinese, Filipinos, etc..
Sorry, we don’t owe “the Russians” anything; too bad the USSR survived.
I’ve read stories of Soviets tying German women to tank barrels (to prevent German troops from firing on them), and I’ve seen black-and-white footage from East Prussia of Soviet troops advancing behind a screen of German civilians. The brutality was worsened by the atheism of the perps and their dwindling manpower; the Soviets basically advanced behind a massive artillery barrage to minimize infantry losses.
People I respect here are making important arguments... I was thinking more of ‘the Russian people’ but they DID choose their leaders... so I’m probably wrong on this issue. The old USSR was a totalitarian hellhole... and that’s worth remembering.
I pity the average Russian (in both wars); their own governments (both Tsarist and Bolshevik) treated them as slaves. Even their contribution on the Eastern Front (after they had saved themselves from collapse) was specifically in exchange for what eventually became the Warsaw Pact countries of Eastern Europe. The worst part of it was that many Soviet troops that had been exposed to the West (including but not limited to all returning POWs) were jailed and murdered upon their return; like North Korea today, the communist government simply couldn’t have these “infected” people returning to the general population and describing how much better everything was in the capitalist West.
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