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“No, A Soldier Doesn’t Forget”: The Memory of the Great Fatherland War and Popular Music in the Late Stalin Period

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This article examines the fate of lyrical songs of the Great Fatherland War in the post-war, late-Stalin period. Despite a relentless attack by critics, songs that emphasized loss and suffering continued to be written, recorded, and performed after the war. These kept a narrative of individual struggle alive during a period when the Party attempted to impose a state-heavy, heroized interpretation of the war that emphasized the glory of Stalin’s leadership. The article includes analyses of performances by Mark Bernes and Klavdiia Shul’zhenko, traces the continued popularity of songs written during the war, and examines songs of return and memory written in the post-war period. It also makes a plea for increased attention to this neglected era: the tensions between the attempts to restalinize culture in various ways after the war and the need to promote escapism and create culture that was truly popular made for a level of complexity during the post-war period that has been largely neglected by scholars. Since the lyrical songs of the Great Fatherland War secured a public place in Soviet culture, this article also challenges the notion that the so-called cult of the Great Fatherland War was simply bombastic and dehumanizing.

Affiliations: 1: St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St. Mary’s City, MD, USA


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