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"A Silent Dispute between the Victorious People and the Victorious State" - Soviet Union in the Era of "Late Stalinism" (1945-1953): Lecture by Leonid Luks

On March 16, 2021, within the framework of the seminar "West and East: Universalism of Culture", Professor Leonid Luks, academic supervisor of the Laboratory, made a report.

In his essay of 1945 “Russia and Freedom”, the émigré historian Georgy Fedotov asks whether the Russians, who made a decisive contribution to the defeat of the Hitlerite regime, can restore their freedom. He believes that, at first glance, there are not too many reasons for optimism: “In 28 years of its victorious, albeit difficult existence, the Russian revolution has undergone a tremendous evolution ... strangulation of freedom."
However, one circumstance nevertheless inspires optimism in the historian - the fact that for Soviet soldiers, thanks to their meeting with Western allies in Europe, at least in part, a "window to the free world" was opened. When the Cold War began, the contacts of Soviet citizens with the free world, on which Fedotov had pinned so many hopes, completely ceased. The so-called sycophancy before the West was considered by Stalinist propagandists to be almost a criminal offense against the state and was severely punished. The huge Soviet empire was now completely isolated from the outside world.
Was the partial permeability of the "Iron Curtain", which was observed during the war and was accompanied by the softening of the Stalinist regime (this phenomenon was later called "spontaneous de-Stalinization"), only an insignificant episode? Not at all. Despite all the regime's attempts to discipline the people so proud of their victory again and to oust the memory of “spontaneous de-Stalinization” from public consciousness, Soviet society retained the desire for a dignified life: “The silent dispute between the victorious people and the victorious state continued,” writes Vasily Grossman in his novel “Life and Fate”. This dispute, as well as other aspects of Soviet history in the era of "late Stalinism" is the subject of the report.

 Video recording of the lecture. Watch on YouTube (in Russian).