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The Contribution of Lithuanian Deportees’ Memoirs to Lithuanian National Identity

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Between 1941 and 1953, thousands of Lithuanians were deported by the Soviet Union as far from their homeland as the northern reaches of Siberia. While many perished as they contended with hunger, thirst, illness, harsh weather, ill-suited clothing, and poor

Between 1941 and 1953, thousands of Lithuanians were deported by the Soviet Union as far from their homeland as the northern reaches of Siberia. While many perished as they contended with hunger, thirst, illness, harsh weather, ill-suited clothing, and poor housing, several survived, returned, and recounted their experiences. Returned adult deportees often recall solidarity among Lithuanians, interactions with locals and authorities, and efforts to maintain agency and continue cultural traditions. Children remember going to school, relying on their parents, and returning to Lithuania. Deportees and others involved in recording their memoirs wrote them in Lithuanian or translated them into English for different purposes and with different intended audiences. The ways in which deportees describe their experiences and what they omit from their stories have shaped Lithuania’s national identity when it reemerged as the Soviet Union fell following Stalin’s death in 1953 and Lithuania redeclared its independence in 1990. The years in which memoirs were published also likely influence their contents. Despite the horrors of deportation, returnees describe positive aspects of the experience. Many deportees portray themselves as struggling for survival, but not as helpless victims. Relatively rare mention of conflict among Lithuanian deportees and identification of non-Lithuanian deportees’ ethnicities suggest the importance of Lithuanians striving together for a common goal: survival and return to Lithuania. The creation of museums focused on deportation, incorporation of memoirs in school curricula, observation of a Day of Mourning and Hope, and portrayal of deportations in works of literature and film demonstrate their lasting impact and significance.

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2019-05

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ARMAGEDDON REVISITED: SOVIET FILM AND MEMORY OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR

Description

The Soviet Union suffered immensely as a result of World War II. When the dust settled and Soviet citizens began to rebuild their lives, the memory of the social, economic, and human costs of the war still remained. The Soviet

The Soviet Union suffered immensely as a result of World War II. When the dust settled and Soviet citizens began to rebuild their lives, the memory of the social, economic, and human costs of the war still remained. The Soviet state sought to frame the conflict in a way that provided meaning to the chaos that so drastically shaped the lives of its citizens. Film was one such way. Film, heavily censored until the Gorbachev period, provided the state with an easily malleable and distributable means of sharing official history and official memory. However, as time went on, film began to blur the lines between official memory and real history, providing opportunities for directors to create stories that challenged the regime's official war mythology. This project examines seven Soviet war films (The Fall of Berlin (1949), The Cranes are Flying (1957), Ballad of a Soldier (1959), Ivan's Childhood (1962), Liberation (1970-1971), The Ascent (1977), and Come and See (1985)) in the context of the regimes under which they were released. I examine the themes present within these films, comparing and contrasting them across multiple generations of Soviet post-war memory.

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2014-05

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ARMAGEDDON REVISITED: SOVIET FILM AND MEMORY OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR

Description

The Soviet Union suffered immensely as a result of World War II. When the dust settled and Soviet citizens began to rebuild their lives, the memory of the social, economic, and human costs of the war still remained. The Soviet

The Soviet Union suffered immensely as a result of World War II. When the dust settled and Soviet citizens began to rebuild their lives, the memory of the social, economic, and human costs of the war still remained. The Soviet state sought to frame the conflict in a way that provided meaning to the chaos that so drastically shaped the lives of its citizens. Film was one such way. Film, heavily censored until the Gorbachev period, provided the state with an easily malleable and distributable means of sharing official history and official memory. However, as time went on, film began to blur the lines between official memory and real history, providing opportunities for directors to create stories that challenged the regime's official war mythology. This project examines seven Soviet war films (The Fall of Berlin (1949), The Cranes are Flying (1957), Ballad of a Soldier (1959), Ivan's Childhood (1962), Liberation (1970-1971), The Ascent (1977), and Come and See (1985)) in the context of the regimes under which they were released. I examine the themes present within these films, comparing and contrasting them across multiple generations of Soviet post-war memory.

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Created

Date Created
2014-05

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Soviet Displaced Person in Germany After World War II: An Analysis of the Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System

Description

This thesis is based on the responses of Soviet Displaced Persons collected by the Harvard Study on the Soviet Social System (HPSSS), an oral history conducted in Munich and New York from 1950 to 1951 in which former Soviet citizens

This thesis is based on the responses of Soviet Displaced Persons collected by the Harvard Study on the Soviet Social System (HPSSS), an oral history conducted in Munich and New York from 1950 to 1951 in which former Soviet citizens were interviewed. They were primarily interviewed about daily life within the Soviet Union. A total of 331 displaced persons were interviewed over the course of the study, with most individuals receiving multiple interview sessions. These sessions were divided broadly as A and B sections. The A-section, which the majority of interviewees received and was viewed by the compilers as a broad sociological inquiry, was divided into subsections focusing on Soviet work, government, family, education, communication, philosophy of life, and ideology. The B-sections were used for deeper anthropological inquiries and are potentially more controversial due to the use of Rorschach tests and situational responses. Fewer respondents were continued on to the B interviews which contained a variety of subsections, though most respondents were only asked questions from one or two sections of the greater whole. A portion of the B section interviews do provide valuable insight to my thesis for their focus on the Displaced Person status of the interviewees. The project consisted of 764 separate interviews of the 331 respondents. The interviewers for the HPSSS were primarily graduate students, ranging from history, sociology, psychology and economics departments, with varying degrees of fluency in Russian and Ukrainian. Some of the interviewers went on to become leading experts in Soviet Studies in the years to follow. Others stopped publishing, following the major publication of the HPSSS in the late 1950s, which may indicate a move to the private sector or employment within the federal government rather than academics. While not possible to include within my analysis, the major publications of the study also included the insights garnered from nearly ten thousand written questionnaires of DPs that were tabulated and discarded prior to publication.

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Created

Date Created
2015-05

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Apologia in German and Japanese Post-War Film: A Comparative Analysis of Exculpatory Discourses on the German and Japanese Military in World War II.

Description

In the sixty-seven years following the end of World War II, West Germany and Japan underwent a remarkable series of economic and social changes that irrevocably altered their respective ways of life. Formerly xenophobic, militaristic and highly socially stratified societies,

In the sixty-seven years following the end of World War II, West Germany and Japan underwent a remarkable series of economic and social changes that irrevocably altered their respective ways of life. Formerly xenophobic, militaristic and highly socially stratified societies, both emerged from the 20th Century as liberal, prosperous and free. Both made great strides well beyond the expectations of their occupiers, and rebounded from the overwhelming destruction of their national economies within a few short decades. While these changes have yielded dramatic results, the wartime period still looms large in their respective collective memories. Therefore, an ongoing and diverse dialectical process would engage the considerable popular, official, and intellectual energy of their post-war generations. In West Germany, the term Vergangenheitsbewältigung (VGB) emerged to describe a process of coming to terms with the past, while the Japanese chose kako no kokufuku to describe their similar historical sojourns. Although intellectuals of widely varying backgrounds in both nations made great strides toward making Japanese and German citizens cognizant of the roles that their militaries played in gruesome atrocities, popular cinematic productions served to reiterate older, discredited assertions of the fundamental honor and innocence of the average soldier, thereby nurturing a historically revisionist line of reasoning that continues to compete for public attention. All forms of media would play an important role in sustaining this “apologetic narrative,” and cinema, among the most popular and visible of these mediums, was not excluded from this. Indeed, films would play a unique recurring role, like rhetorical time capsules, in offering a sanitized historical image of Japanese and German soldiers that continues to endure in modern times. Nevertheless, even as West Germany and Japan regained their sovereignty and re-examined their pasts with ever greater resolution and insight, their respective film industries continued to “reset” the clock, and accentuated the visibility and relevancy of apologetic forces still in existence within both societies. However, it is important to note that, when speaking of “Germans” and “Japanese,” that they are not meant to be thought of as being uniformly of one mind or another. Rather, the use of these words is meant as convenient shorthand to refer to the dominant forces in Japanese and German civil society at any given time over the course of their respective post- war histories. Furthermore, references to “Germany” during the Cold War period are to be understood to mean the Federal Republic of Germany, rather than their socialist counterpart, the German Democratic Republic, a nation that undertook its own coming to terms with the past in an entirely distinct fashion.

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2012-12