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Building a Pan-Soviet Past: The Soviet War Cult and the Turn Away from Ethnic Particularism

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This article examines the evolution of official Soviet remembrance of the Second World War in the decades that followed 1945. Focusing on elite discourse and Komsomol military-patriotic curricula associated with the state cult of the war, the article argues that Soviet remembrance promoted the war as a fundamentally supranational experience and the basis for a transcendent, pan-Soviet imagined community. The article questions an influential scholarly position that emphasizes the party leadership's reliance on pre-socialist, russocentric imagery for popular mobilization. In fact, official remembrance practices after Stalin were most striking in the extent to which they consistently downplayed Russian exceptionalism for the sake of the paramount Soviet whole. The article proposes that this tendency should be viewed as part of a larger, internally contested effort to move away from a distinct ethnic hierarchy, and toward a picture of non-ethnic, pan-Soviet uniformity.


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