Victims of Soviet Terror: The Story of the Memorial Movement

By Nanci Adler | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The Rediscovery of Soviet History

If we conceptualize history as a dialectic process, then the excessive repression of the Stalinist system would eventually have evoked a corrective force such as Memorial. How long Stalinism could have continued on its course of unchecked repression is an open question, but it is certain that Memorial could not have come into existence in its present form and at this time until the repressive apparatus had begun to weaken.

The first official effort toward de-Stalinization may be marked by the report Khrushchev delivered to the Central Committee at the XX Party Congress on February 14, 1956. In it, Khrushchev cautiously criticized Stalin and alluded to the "cult of personality." At the same time, however, covering his conservative bases ( Khrushchev could hardly ignore them, considering his own background as a protégé of Kaganovich), he credited Stalin with crushing the "enemies of the people." 1 With some difficulty, a commission was established to investigate these matters. Khrushchev's second report, a secret speech on Stalin's crimes, was presented to a closed session of the congress. Still proceeding cautiously, this report focused on crimes committed against Party members loyal to Stalin and the general Party line rather than those against oppositionists. Though pages of the report were leaked, for personal and political reasons, Khrushchev was not yet ready to publicize the plight of what Michel Heller and Aleksandr Nekrich call "the principal victim of the regime: the millions of ordinary Soviet citizens." 2 Still, even in its muted form, the report was a "bombshell." 3

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Victims of Soviet Terror: The Story of the Memorial Movement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Notes xv
  • Preface xvii
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Introduction 1
  • PART I - MEMORIAL: HISTORY AS MORAL IMPERATIVE 7
  • CHAPTER 1 - The Formation of the Soviet System 9
  • CHAPTER 2 - Stalinism: Inheritance and Legacy 31
  • CHAPTER 3 - The Rediscovery of Soviet History 41
  • PART II - THE EMERGENCE AND EVOLUTION OF MEMORIAL 49
  • CHAPTER 4 - 1987-1988: Gaining Support 51
  • CHAPTER 5 - 1988-1989: Toward the Founding Conference 69
  • CHAPTER 6 - 1989-1990: Memorial Branches Out 83
  • PART III - MEMORIAL ACTUALIZES ITSELF, HISTORY AS DISSIDENCE 103
  • CHAPTER 7 - Memorial in Action 105
  • CHAPTER 8 - The Politics of Memorial 123
  • Epilogue - "Today We Are Historians of Dissidence, and Not Dissidents" 133
  • Notes 138
  • Appendix A 139
  • Appendix B 141
  • Selected Bibliography 151
  • Index 153
  • About the Author 157
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