Myth, Memory, Trauma: Rethinking the Stalinist Past in the Soviet Union, 1953-70

By Cook, Lara | Times Higher Education, January 16, 2014 | Go to article overview

Myth, Memory, Trauma: Rethinking the Stalinist Past in the Soviet Union, 1953-70


Cook, Lara, Times Higher Education


Myth, Memory, Trauma: Rethinking the Stalinist Past in the Soviet Union, 1953-70. By Polly Jones. Yale University Press, 376pp, Pounds 45.00. ISBN 9780300185126. Published 3 September 2013

Even in today's Russia, and despite an emphatic kick-start under Gorbachev's glasnost in the 1980s, the de-Stalinisation process is far from complete. Joseph Stalin's historical legacy remains controversial: should he be remembered primarily as a strong, heroic leader, responsible for leading the USSR to economic modernisation and victory over Nazi Germany, or as a cruel dictator, responsible for the death and suffering of millions of his own people? In this fascinating study of the ambivalent de-Stalinisation of the 1950s and 1960s, Polly Jones challenges our lazy assumptions about the straightforward nature of Khrushchev's liberal "thaw" and Brezhnev's conservative "freeze" in prompting debate and opening up public remembering of negative aspects of the Stalin period.

De-Stalinisation was the process of political and cultural reform undertaken after Stalin's death in 1953. It included the removal of key institutions that helped Stalin hold power: his cult of personality, the Stalinist political system and the Gulag labour camps. Eventually it led to measures that encouraged "forgetting" about him, such as the overnight removal of his body from Lenin's mausoleum on Red Square in 1961 and the renaming of cities bearing his name.

At every step, Jones presents a nuanced, complex and detailed examination of the attempt to come to terms with Stalin's memory and legacy over two decades. She highlights the pluralism and contradictions in both official and popular responses to the opening of the floodgates on this tricky subject via Khrushchev's 1956 "Secret Speech". She reminds us that the speech was itself plural, composed jointly by multiple authors from the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and thus contained a variety of approaches on how to deal with Stalin's legacy.

As Khrushchev and the other Soviet leaders found to their dismay, they were walking a dangerous tightrope: criticising Stalin's abuses in order to provide the basis for new directions in policy and methods, while at the same time taking care to not discredit the entire Soviet system and thus delegitimise their own power. In practice, their efforts to not throw the baby out with the bathwater meant invoking a return to the Leninist principles that, they declared, had been abused by Stalin. Just months after the iconoclastic Secret Speech, attempts by the leadership were already under way to limit "anti-Soviet" responses, while consciously reimposing a more optimistic interpretation of the Stalin era that emphasised progress and achievement and minimised terror. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Myth, Memory, Trauma: Rethinking the Stalinist Past in the Soviet Union, 1953-70
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.