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Reconstructing the Cold WarThe Early Years, 1945-1958$

Ted Hopf

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199858484

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199858484.001.0001

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Stalinism after the War

Stalinism after the War

A Discourse of Danger, 1945–53

(p.29) 2 Stalinism after the War
Reconstructing the Cold War

Ted Hopf

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter describes and analyzes the predominant discourse of Soviet identity and its relationships to various challengers. The predominant discourse was one of danger, binarization, dichotomization, infallibility, typicality, paternalism, and hierarchy. Its substantive core was defined by modernity, the Russian nation, and fear of its external Western Other. The chapter offers some ideas about how these discourses were institutionalized and how they worked in the Soviet context, both as instruments wielded by actors in struggles with each other, and as social structures constraining these very actors. It concludes with some implications for Soviet identity relations with other states in the world.

Keywords:   Soviet identity, binarization, dichotomization, infallibility, typicality, paternalism, hierarchy modernity, Russian nation

Stalin, along with Mao and Hitler, is often identified as one of the most heinous characters of the twentieth century. He was responsible for the deaths of millions after coming to power in 1928, whether through the collateral damage of famines during collectivization, or the imprisonment and execution of 80 percent of the country’s political and military elite in the years leading up to World War II. After the defeat of Hitler’s armies in the war, the Soviet people expected that there would be a reduction in the level of daily repression, more breathing room for personal, if not public, freedom. Their expectations were never met, although the first year or so after the war did see some respite from the years of terror before the war. And the level of executions never matched those seen during the worst of Stalinism in the 1930s.

This light historical background is necessary in order to judge the promise of societal constructivism. Since it postulates that there will be discourses of identity contrary to those propagated by the state, postwar Stalinism is an especially hard case in which societal constructivism can demonstrate its potential. As we will see, however, such societal discourses did in fact exist under Stalinism, and their survival helps to explain what happens in the Soviet Union, and in its foreign relations, after Stalin’s death in March 1953. This goes to show that even one of the more totalitarian projects cannot snuff out every challenging thought, and even the most totalizing discourse has holes, inconsistencies, ambiguities, and slippages. I hope to demonstrate that although there was definitely a predominant Stalinist discourse of Soviet identity after the war, there were also counter-hegemonic understandings of Soviet identity. While the latter did not cohere into a systematic anti-Stalinist discourse, they did offer daily challenges to the predominant and officially authorized Soviet identity. Moreover, and most significantly, the new Soviet discourse of identity during the post-Stalinist Thaw was made up of the fragmented societal discourse repressed under Stalin.

(p.30) Discourses, understood as a collection of texts and social practices that reproduce a particular identity, do not float freely, but rather, are empowered by institutions.1 The most important institution in this period was Stalin himself, and the party apparatus and governing machinery used to reproduce Stalinism. But, as I show below, anti-Stalinist understandings of Soviet identity were also institutionalized, and so were empowered to resist. Being so secured against elimination, these understandings flourished as what we now call “de-Stalinization.”

The bulk of this chapter is spent describing and analyzing the predominant discourse of Soviet identity and its relationships to various challengers. To summarize most briefly, the predominant discourse was one of danger, binarization, dichotomization, infallibility, typicality, paternalism, and hierarchy. Its substantive core was defined by modernity, the Russian nation, and fear of its external Western Other. I offer some ideas about how these discourses were institutionalized and how they worked in the Soviet context, both as instruments wielded by actors in struggles with each other, and as social structures constraining these very actors. I conclude with some implications for Soviet identity relations with other states in the world.

Institutional Context

Soviet identity, official and otherwise, was promulgated and practiced in a variety of social milieux. Cinema, newspapers, magazines, and novels were the most widely consumed media after the war.2 The content of films, articles, and books was the object of struggle between the many institutions and resources of Stalinism and the more diffuse sites of resistance to that Stalinist Soviet identity.

Stalin and Stalinism

Stalin was an institution unto himself. By arrogating so much power to himself, he need only make a negative comment about some policy to set in motion the entire machinery of the state, party, and police apparatus. Most often, his subordinates, fearful of the consequences of not fulfilling even his implicit wishes, (p.31) implemented his hints, let alone directives, as comprehensively as could be imagined. His subordinates would carry notebooks, hoping to write down Stalin’s orders and intimations, fearing to miss some command, even if only subtly implied.3 For example, Stalin wanted Konstantin Simonov, a most popular writer and high-ranking figure in Soviet letters, to write a play about Soviet scientists giving away secrets to imperialist intelligence agents, a cultural production to accompany his anti-kowtowing campaign. The latter was part of Stalin’s efforts to simultaneously make Russia into the Soviet nation, and make the Soviet nation superior in all respects to the West. Upon reading the subsequent manuscript, Stalin only corrected the ending, allowing the repentant chemist Trubnikov to remain working in the laboratory, despite his betrayal of Soviet science to the West. The play, Chuzhaia Ten, or Someone Else’s Shadow, was considered for a Stalin Prize in 1949. At the meeting of the selection committee, the play was attacked for its excessive indulgence toward Trubnikov. He should have been arrested and sent to the camps, the writers said, trying to insure themselves against Stalin’s expected reaction. Simonov retrospectively mused that little did they know, Stalin had authorized the deviance they were now competing with each other to punish.4

Why Stalin’s subordinates might overfulfill any of his wishes is exemplified by the “Banana Affair,” recounted in the memoirs of Presidium member Anastas Mikoian. In late summer 1951 Mikoian and his wife were vacationing in Sukhumi, a Black Sea resort town in Georgia. Once or twice a week, Mikoian would visit Stalin, who was resting at Novyi Afon. Once at dinner, at four o’clock in the morning, they brought out bananas. Stalin loved bananas. After the war he proposed importing bananas to the largest Soviet cities. But this morning he asked why the bananas were so green. He asked why, when he (Mikoian) was Minister of Foreign Trade, the bananas were yellow, but now with Mikhail Menshikov, the foreign trade minister at the time, they are green. Mikoian went home to sleep. But upon waking up around noon, he called Moscow to inquire about the unripe bananas. But Lavrentii Beria, Presidium member and secret police chief, anticipating Stalin’s concerns, had already called Moscow, as Stalin had called him at six o’clock in the morning, instructing him to get to the bottom of the affair. In November, after some futile resistance from Mikoian, Stalin had Menshikov fired.5

(p.32) The point here, from the discursive point of view, is that Stalin’s own personal wishes concerning what Soviet identity should be, enjoyed not only the institutional resources of the state and party, but also the reflexive overfulfillment by often fearful associates and subordinates. The results were efforts to propagate a Soviet identity that exaggerated Stalin’s own personal proclivities.6

Another additional institutional feature of Stalinism was the systematic treatment of information in a particularly biased fashion. The predominant discourse of danger frequently identified various threats to Soviet identity. Soon on the heels of such an identification followed a reflexive discovery, at every level of Soviet society, of precisely these kinds of threats. Their revelation was duly reported up the chain of responsibility, as well as the actions taken to counter them. In this way threats and deviants were continually being revealed and overcome. Simultaneously, of course, the discourse took on a life of its own, often completely independently of the non/existence of any particular threats or deviants.

Stalin himself was sometimes not the most intolerant defender of the predominant discourse of danger that he himself authored. Instead, it seems that his subordinates, terrified at the prospect of violating some ambiguous boundary, overcompensated in the direction of greater orthodoxy than even the patriarch endorsed. All officials beneath Stalin had to guess what his preference might be on any particular issue. Prudence dictated erring on the side of exaggerating danger, not experimenting with deviation.

Not so long after Mikhail Zoshchenko had been expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers, for example, Stalin approved Simonov’s request to publish Zoshchenko’s “Partisan Stories,” in Novyi Mir, the “thick” journal of literature that was highly prized by Soviet readers. At this May 1947 meeting, Stalin said in general that “editors should publish, and then he and Andrei Zhdanov would read” the articles.7 This must have been a terrifying thought for any editor at the time. The next year, Simonov recalled that Stalin had defended Vera Panova’s novel Kruzhilikha from critics during the May 1948 meeting on Stalin Prizes. When her characterization of Uzdechkin, the factory party chairman, was declaimed, Stalin replied, “But we have such Uzdechkins,” implying that one need not show infallible atypical characters all the time. But just how often remained a dangerous question to answer.8

(p.33) Stalin also defended Ilya Ehrenburg’s 1948 novel, The Storm, in which there were scenes of retreat in the early months of World War II, unheroic Soviet citizens, ironicization of Germans as the Soviets’ one-time “eternal friends,” a detailed description of the massacre of Jews at Babi Yar, as well as a very favorable and lengthy characterization of France, where half the action takes place. The Stalin Prize committee only recommended it receive a “second class” because the novel had been nominated, so Stalin must have approved its appearance on the list. But Stalin, at the May 1948 meeting, asked “Why not give it the first prize?” That settled it.9

In early 1949, the Soviet press began to “out” Jewish authors, publishing their Jewish surnames alongside their Slavic pseudonyms. This “anti-cosmopolitan” campaign petered out soon thereafter. Ehrenburg recalled that Aleksandr Fadeev, at the time general secretary of the Union of Writers (UW), told him that Stalin had authorized the anti-cosmopolitan campaign in the press but personally ended the practice of outing Jewish writers. Stalin told the editors in a March 1949 meeting, “Comrades, the divulging of literary pseudonyms is inadmissible, it smells of anti-Semitism.”10

At the March 1950 Stalin Prize meeting, Fadeev argued against awarding a prize to Antonina Koptiaeva’s Ivan Ivanovich, but Stalin defended it, including the love triangle, saying, “It happens in real life, doesn’t it?” Stalin also excused writers who were not party members, claiming that Lenin’s slogan “Out with the Non-Party Writers!” was issued when the Bolsheviks were in opposition, not when “we answer for all of society, for the bloc of communists and non-party people.” Then he noted that “they want all heroes to be positive … [b]ut this is stupid, simply stupid.”11

In his last meeting with Stalin in March 1952, Simonov recalls Stalin again defending difference: “Playwrights think they are banned from writing about negative phenomena. Critics demand the ideal life from them…. They say we have no bastards, but we do. Not showing them sins against the truth…. There are conflicts in life. Plays must show them….”

The Cinema

Films, books, and journals were the most important sources of media consumption. But the Soviet film industry was cowed into submission under Stalin after the war. While Hollywood was making 400 to500 films a year and 200 to300 (p.34) films were being produced in Japan and India, the Soviet Union produced all of 183 films in the eight years between 1945 and 1953. And these numbers exaggerate what was really going on, as so many films were just the videotaping of plays, operas, and ballets being performed on stage. On the other hand, the films that were made enjoyed mass audiences.12

Two semi-documentary films appeared in 1949, The Fall of Berlin and The Battle of Stalingrad, which were widely distributed and enthusiastically received. Students and workers were brought to theatres en masse to watch them.13 Kuban Cossacks was the most popular of all postwar films, remarkable for the extraordinarily rosy picture of rural life in southern Russia at a time of famine and repression.14

For both material and political reasons, what appeared in Soviet films was far more strictly controlled from the start than what appeared on stages or pages. Simonov and others recall that Stalin personally loved film, thought cinema the single most important cultural instrument of the state, and considered himself an expert, both aesthetically and politically, on their contents. While he often deferred to others’ judgments on literature, he rarely listened to others’ evaluations of film.

Moreover, because of the relatively large production costs, number of required workers, and demand on scarce supplies of resources, the screenplays and scripts for films were closely monitored from the very beginning, as well as outtakes from ongoing production, let alone final cuts.15

The production of Far From Moscow received the attention at the very highest levels. Based on Vasilii Azhaev’s best-selling 1949 Stalin Prize-winning novel of the same name, the film version won its own Stalin Prize in 1951. Leonid Ilyichev, editor of Izvestiia and head of the Central Committee (CC) Propaganda and Agitation (Agitprop) Department; Vladimir Ermilov, editor of Literaturnaia Gazeta (LG); Leonid Leonov, member of the Supreme Soviet, Presidium of the Writers’ Union, author of Russian Forest; Aleksei Surkov, Writers’ Union Secretary; Ivan Bolshakov, Minister of Cinematography; and others along with Azhaev and the film’s production staff met in June 1949 to fashion the script.16

(p.35) Institutional Carriers of anti-Stalinist Identities

Oppositional understandings of what it meant to be Soviet had institutional resources of their own. While they were of course much weaker than that of the Stalinist party apparatus and government bureaucracy, which extended from the capital to every village, township, school, and workplace, they existed, and challenged, this dominance. And even if no challenge was mounted, these institutions provided homes for contrary views that, although not publicly expressed, survived until the institutional terrain shifted at Stalin’s death. It is important to highlight here the fact that much creative work was subject only to post-publication review by the most orthodox organs of the Stalinist regime. Therefore, much counter-hegemonic discourse made it to the broadest reading public. And this under one of the most authoritarian regimes in history.

Creative Unions

The unions of musicians, artists, and writers carved out a zone of some autonomy between themselves and Stalin’s regime.17 This is reflected in, if nothing else, the continual attacks on the plays, poems, operas, films, and novels that these cultural figures produced. While censorship of course operated, not only through the Main Administration for Preserving State and Military Secrets in the Press (Glavlit), but also through the CC Ideology, Culture, and Agitprop Departments, all layers of party organizations, and through self-censorship, editors and writers still published works in which the predominant discourse was ignored or challenged.

Editorial Boards

The party continually reshuffled editorial boards and created institutions to monitor, rectify, and compete with the institutions and works of the creative intelligentsia. For example, in April 1946, the CC Agitprop Department created a new journal, Kultura and Zhizn (Culture and Life), in which it could publish official critiques of deviant works. Along with an August 1946 CC resolution condemning the literary journals Leningrad and Zvezda, the CC appointed new editorial boards. Aleksandr Egolin, the new editor of Zvezda was simultaneously deputy head of the Agitprop Committee.18

(p.36) Scientific Intelligentsia

The power of one counter-hegemonic institution, the Soviet Academy of Sciences, was evident in the debates over genetics launched by Trofim Lysenko in 1947–48. Trying to take advantage of the anti-kowtowing campaign launched with the Kliueva-Roskin affair, Lysenko and his followers accused their detractors of worshiping bourgeois science.19 They managed to carry on this campaign in mass publications such as Pravda and Literaturnaia Gazeta, but they had much less influence over how science itself was carried out in the period. The Academy of Sciences held conferences at which Lysenko’s work was refuted in dozens of papers that presented empirical results countering his claims that intra-species competition does not occur. The result was an official public discourse endorsing Lysenkoist Soviet patriotism, and official backing for anti-Lysenkoist science within scientific institutions, such as the Academy. Not until July 1948, when Stalin himself came down on the side of Lysenko, did the Academy’s institutional power become moot. Although, even after this most authoritative endorsement, hundreds of Soviet scientists quietly continued research yielding results that contradicted Lysenko’s claims.20

Research institutes held the required party meetings in the fall of 1948, and reported to the Central Committee in Moscow of their successful purging and re-education of cadres in the desired patriotic direction against Western genetics, but then proceeded to pursue the same research as they had previously. One strategy was to loudly dismiss a deviant “Morganist” whom the institution already knew had been purged by the central party authorities. Moreover, such deviants, often purged from high administrative positions, found themselves ending up in research positions instead. These were considered demotions, and so, punishment had been meted out to these kowtowers. Taking advantage of the predominant discourse that privileged the “Center” in Moscow from the “periphery,” that is, all of the Soviet Union which was not Moscow, institutes “exiled” purged deviants to provincial branches outside Moscow and Leningrad. Some of those sacrificed had multiple positions in different institutions, so they could be purged multiple times, counting in each institution’s report to the center, or, alternatively, they could be purged from one institution and could easily keep a position elsewhere.

Some institutions concentrated on the party’s demand that deviants be “re-educated,” thereby defying the party’s demands that particular researchers be (p.37) fired. Institutions also made very loud announcements of their restructuring of editorial boards and policies at their main popular journals. While doing this, or not, they simultaneously continued publishing “deviant” research on genetics in their limited circulation professional specialized journals. Research programs were also declared changed “in accordance with Michurinist doctrine,” but often all this meant was adding this exact phrase, or “on the basis of Lysenko’s theory,” to a title attached to research already under way.21 Formulaic “forewords” and “afterwords” were added to articles, whose substantive content went unaltered.22

Soviet physicists, both more numerous (more than 600 versus 100 or so geneticists) and more concentrated institutionally in Moscow State University’s Institute of Physics and the Soviet Academy of Sciences, and involved in the production of the atom bomb, avoided accusations of deviance altogether. The March 1949 meeting intended by party ideologues and their “scientists” to bring Lysenkoism to physics, and prepared for months with 42 dress rehearsals, was cancelled, apparently at the orders of Beria himself.23

The Culture Market

The unchallenged position of the dominant discourse was also in conflict with a most unlikely institution: the Soviet market for cultural products. Publishing houses and film studios constantly vied for resources from the state and party coffers: salaries, positions, vacations, buildings, paper, office equipment, etc. Of course one should bear in mind that many of the resources were fungible in the exchange economy: A ton of paper could be traded for a bus, for instance.

The unpalatable fact was that deviant art paid. The Western films that were part of the cache of films taken back to Moscow from Germany after the war earned money for the film industry. In March 1949, Minister of Cinematography Ivan Bolshakov appealed to Viacheslav Molotov, Presidium member and foreign minister, to speed up the CC’s decision about the 50 trophy films he had recommended for distribution around the country. He wrote Molotov that further delay “will lead to the nonfulfillment of the plan for revenues….” A compromise was reached in late April 1949. Six films were shown, but they were edited by the CC Agitprop Department, which provided each film with (p.38) an introductory gloss and suitably doctored subtitles.24 In 1947, Girl of My Dreams, starring Hungarian actress Marika Rokk, made five times more per showing than the year’s biggest overall moneymaker, Boris Barnet’s wartime thriller, Secret Agent’s Feat. In 1949, German trophy films accounted for 94 percent of all box office receipts in the Soviet Union.25

Defending the Rights of Religious Believers

This idea is probably more shocking even than the effects of the culture market, but two Soviet institutions, the State Council for Russian Orthodox Church Affairs and the State Council on the Affairs of Religious Cults, both frequently acted to defend the rights of believers, or their religious identities, we might say, against the far more powerful instruments of the party that were propagating the predominant discourse of atheistic modernity.

In the face of the state and party’s official commitment to atheism, the leadership of these two State Councils repeatedly and consistently advocated for the construction of more churches, mosques, and synagogues, for more religious publications, and for observation of the constitutional protection of believers. Moreover, they frequently succeeded in getting local party officials reprimanded for unauthorized anti-religious conduct, such as closing of places of worship, plundering of church property, and the erection of arbitrary administrative barriers in the way of practicing a religion.

Two broad conclusions suggest themselves from this discussion of institutions in the postwar Soviet Union. First, what Stalin paid attention to resulted in not only its institutional reproduction in the most powerful institutions of all, the party and state apparatus, but its over-production, such that Stalin himself at times had to intervene to restrain his over-zealous agents. Second, despite this dramatic concentration of institutional power, there were significant institutional homes throughout the period in which challenges to the predominant discourse could maintain themselves, offer some limited resistance, and most importantly, survive to fight another day.

A writer or playwright could accumulate capital by producing works that propagated the predominant discourse and then carefully convert that accumulated capital into space to produce works that challenged it. This was made possible by (p.39) the presence of the counter-hegemonic institutional possibilities elaborated above. It was also made possible by the room for interpretation necessarily left by the party when issuing directives concerning what was permissible, or not, in the realm of representations of Soviet identity. One could not possibly know for sure what was being prohibited by the vague, abstract terms used by the Central Committee.

One common disciplinary form under Stalinism was the exemplary ostracism or shot across the bow. So, particular journals such as Zvezda and Leningrad, particular authors like Anna Akhmatova and Mikhail Zoshchenko, and particular films such as Big Life and Ivan the Terrible II, were singled out for comprehensive criticism.26 They were depicted as rife with an array of particular vices that violated the desired predominant Soviet identity, but interpretation of what these vices might end up being in subsequent works was left up to the authors and writers themselves. At this point, the twin logics of over-insurance and slippage appeared. Some writers chose to become more Stalinist than Stalin; others chose to try to find niches in the discursive armor where they could continue to explore just where the limits of counter-hegemonic discourse might have lain, at some risk to themselves, of course. Counter-hegemonic possibilities were further enabled by the fact that so many works were subjected only to post-publication or post-performance verification by the minders of the predominant discourse.

Postwar Uncertainty, 1945–47

For a year or so after the war, the orthodox Stalinist version of Soviet identity was not firmly established. There seemed to be room for competing visions of the Soviet Union, within narrow limits, of course. There was competition among different understandings of the Soviet Union. This ended by 1947 with the firm imposition of the predominant Stalinist discourse of Soviet identity onto Soviet society. Even so, as has been noted, opposition continued throughout the period, even if only from positions of weakness.

A very short window of opportunity for discursive pluralism existed from August 1945 to August 1946, from the end of the war to the CC promulgations that marked the beginning of the Zhdanovshchina in cultural affairs. The Interior Ministry’s Special Commission issued 27,000 indictments in 1945, only 8,000 (p.40) in 1946, but 38,000 in 1949.27 Richard Stites writes that “all sources attest to the relative loosening of intellectual and creative controls in the years of the German occupation.”28 This relative tolerance for difference would last months or, at most, a couple of years.29 Manifestations were found in culture and religious practice, and in Stalin’s own words.

In December 1943, the April 1932 CC resolution “On Restructuring Literary and Arts Organizations” was repealed; in April 1946, Dmitrii Polikarpov was removed as head of the Writers’ Union, and Fedor Panferov’s article “O cherepakh i cherepushkakh” appeared in the normally orthodox literary journal Oktiabr.30 In his piece, Panferov criticized editors and “ignorant unqualified literary bureaucrats” for demanding the “varnishing of reality” by, for example, showing the war as the “victorious march of our Red Army accompanied by cheering, singing, and dancing.” If such bureaucrats were at work in factories or farms hindering progress, “they would be immediately removed.” The literary minders treat writers like “infants,” he added.31 In the memo from CC Agitprop Department head Georgii Aleksandrov to Zhdanov criticizing this article, Panferov is taken to task for not even pointing out that the Red Army’s retreat “exhausted the enemy.” But, significantly, this article was published, and then criticized in other journals, but was neither forbidden nor censored in the first place.32

From October 1945 to January 1948, the number of Orthodox churches increased by almost 40 percent, from 10,300 to 14,100. Each reopening was a huge public event. In Kirov, for example, more than 15,000 people came from as far as 100 kilometers away to celebrate the occasion. In 1946 and 1947 education for priests resumed with the opening of pre-revolutionary seminaries.33 While about 2,000 titles of anti-religious literature were published per year from 1918 to 1941, none was published from 1945 to 1947. Meanwhile, church weddings and (p.41) baptisms grew dramatically.34 The increased official tolerance for Orthodoxy was a response to the dramatic increase in religious practice seen during, and especially after, the war, given postwar material hardships.35 In 1947, religious calendars were allowed for Estonian and Latvian Lutherans, and for Muslims in 1944, albeit with both Soviet and religious holidays displayed.36

At the March 14, 1946, CC meeting, it was decided to replace commissariats with ministries. Stalin introduced the move, arguing socialism in the Soviet Union was more secure than ever. “Commissars reflect a period of an unsettled/[neustoiavshiisia] system, of the civil war, of the revolutionary breakthrough. This period has passed.” He goes on to draw lessons from the victory in the war, saying it has “shown that our social system sits very strongly … [and it has] entered into our daily life/[byt]… and become our flesh and blood….” Because of the greater stability of the system, Stalin concludes that “the people will understand the change.”37 The issue of how secure the Soviet Union is, and how irreversible socialism is, is a continuing critical point of disagreement between the emergent Stalinist discourse of danger and its opponents.

“Real” Dangers

The short 12 months of official Soviet ambivalence toward the content of an orthodox Soviet identity appeared to rest, in part at least, on confidence that the war had proven that socialism was secure at home. The August 1946 turn toward a predominant discourse of danger rested on the notion that socialism was not secure at home, after all. In this section, I highlight some of the objective sources of threat to the Soviet project that contributed to the discourse of danger that soon emerged.

I include this section for at least two reasons. First, Stalin is often described as an insane paranoiac. This might be true, but it might also be true that any prudent General Secretary in the Soviet Union at the time would have had serious fears for the future of socialism. Second, it is important to highlight the world of “brute” facts that are subject to social construction, as they provide an objective, material baseline that can be traced over the subsequent years of this study.

Real dangers existed for Stalin and socialism in the Soviet Union after the war. In tapes made by the secret police in hopes of gathering compromising material (p.42) (kompromat) on wartime hero Marshal Georgii Zhukov in December 1946, the following dialogue was recorded among Lieutenant General Gordov, former commander of the Volga military district and Hero of the Soviet Union; his wife; and his deputy, Major General Rybalchenko: “I say now I am convinced if they got rid of the kolkhozes (collective farms), tomorrow there would be order, there would be a market, and therefore, there would be everything. Let people live, they have the right to live, they won this life, they defended it!” Gordov replied, “We need real democracy.” “Precisely, pure, real democracy …,” answered Rybalchenko.38

As Elena Zubkova’s comprehensive review of archival materials shows, dangerous rumors were widespread in the years after the war. It was expected that the kolkhozes would be disbanded, either voluntarily, or under threat of force from Britain and the United States.39 The miserable conditions on kolkhozes generated more than 93,000 complaints just to the Council of Ministers from peasants in the three years from 1947 to 1950.40 In the summer of 1945 there were demonstrations at defense plants in pursuit of better living conditions.41

There was good reason to fear peasant opposition to collective farms, and so to socialism: the widespread famine after the war. Two million died of hunger and hunger-related diseases in 1946–48.42 The famine was so bad that private plots were officially sanctioned after the war. Nineteen million Soviets had such plots after the war, 1.2 million in and around Moscow alone.43 Immediately after the war there was no soap and no winter clothing. Many local party committees cancelled outdoor parades for the November 1946 celebrations of the revolution, fearing people didn’t have the clothing to survive the cold.44

In addition to the desperate material conditions, there was sporadic guerilla warfare against the government going on in western Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic republics throughout Stalin’s rule.45 In a June 1946 report to Stalin from Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) Chief Sergei Kruglov, it was stated that (p.43) hundreds of rebels had been killed in these recently acquired Soviet territories, and 1,000 arrested.46 Western governments, especially the United States and Britain, airdropped weapons and equipment to these fighters.47

An additional danger was posed by the fact that those who had fought in the war had been exposed to the more economically prosperous parts of Europe. After the war, a constant question on official forms, passports, employment books, school registrations, and Komsomol and party applications was whether or not one had been on occupied territory.48 Over five million Soviet citizens returned home after the war, almost two million prisoners of war and 3.5 million civilian slave laborers. Almost all had their party memberships revoked.49 It was feared that these returnees had been exposed to a different system, and so could imagine an alternative to the especially miserable Soviet reality that existed after the war.

Stalin’s interpretation of these events put the danger in the predominant discourse of danger. At his dacha in December 1952, Stalin told the assembled Presidium members, “[T]he more success we have, the more our enemies will try to harm us. Our people have forgotten this under the influence of our great success; there has been complacency, heedlessness, and conceit….”50 In other words, the stronger the Soviet Union, the more successful its socialist construction, the more insecure the Soviet Union, the more dangerous its enemies.

The Predominant Discourse of Soviet Identity

In Table 2.1 I present the elements that constituted the predominant discourse of Stalinist Soviet identity, and its relationship to its challengers.

Table 2.1 Discourses of Soviet Identity

A. Discursive Imposition and Competition







v. Varnishing







v. No conflict




























v. Infantilizing

B. Discursive Reinforcement
















Central Asia



The North









C. The Russian Nation: Discursive Reinforcement and Competition

Taken for Granted Soviet Nation

Atop the Hierarchy



Elder Brother

Non-Russian Significant Others

Post-Bourgeois Nation

Identified with Russian Orthodoxy

Table 2.1 has three parts. Part A lists the ways in which the predominant discourse and its challengers relate to each other, and the general way in which the discourses are arranged with regard to each other and with respect to the major themes of Soviet identity that emerge from the texts in this period. Part B shows areas of agreement between the official and societal discourses when it comes to understanding the Soviet Union as modern. Part C details how the Russian nation is treated in the predominant discourse, a rendering with which Russian (p.44) (p.45) societal discourse, if not all non-Russian, is in agreement. The table’s contents risk giving the false impression that each of these dozens of elements is operating independently of the others. Instead, these elements are continually related to each other, informing how the predominant discourse of Soviet identity is constructed, and how it relates to its societal counterpart.

Part A lists the many elements of Soviet identity in which the two discourses, official and societal, are in conflict. The official discourse maintains a constant optimism about Soviet reality, declaiming its challenger’s realistic portrayal of reality as misleadingly concentrating on non-representative parts of that reality, flaws that will be overcome in any case. The “HyperOfficial” discourse of lakirovanie, or varnishing, which is borne of the institution of overinsurance described above, serves the important purpose of showing the boundary of the absurd, that is, claims that idealized reality has already been achieved, a position even rejected by the orthodox official discourse.

The predominant discourse treats the Soviet project as infallible, as incapable of making any serious errors, given its objective and scientific foundations. Challengers maintain that the Soviet project can make mistakes and still be Soviet. Official discourse acknowledges that conflict still exists in Soviet society, but holds that it is aberrational and is being overcome. The challenger suggests that there are more fundamental and widespread conflicts, or contradictions, in Soviet society that may be overcome, but only if attention is paid to them. Meanwhile, the discourse of beskonfliktnost, or lack of conflict, claims that there is no meaningful conflict left in Soviet society, and so should not even be mentioned.

Official discourse treats Soviet reality as clearly delineated into official categories of analysis. Challengers expect ambiguity in these categories, such that much of reality does not fit so neatly. Official discourse demands literal (p.46) representations of reality, so that possible alternative interpretations of it may be reduced to a minimum. Challengers are comfortable with abstract depictions of reality, allowing individual Soviets to have many different understandings and still remain Soviet.

Official discourse understands being Soviet in a zero-sum manner: Either one is, or one is not, Soviet. There are no exceptions. Challengers treat being Soviet as a continuum, so that someone may be more or less Soviet, but still Soviet. Predominant discourse maximizes the public sphere of discourse, claiming that being Soviet requires the sacrifice of one’s private pursuits and concerns. One is always in public. Challengers suggest that a Soviet may have a large and inviolable private sphere without doing any harm to the Soviet project. Official discourse privileges the collective Soviet project. Societal discourse finds room for the individual.

Official discourse treats the Soviet Union as a unique and extraordinary project, apart from and in a hostile relationship with, the West, while the societal discourse understands many aspects of being Soviet as creating commonality with other peoples in the world, especially in the West. Official discourse maintains that the Soviet project is always at risk of degenerating into its bourgeois past. Societal understandings represent the Soviet project as fundamentally secure. Official discourse treats all deviations as potentially dangerous. Anti-Stalinist challengers treat deviations as harmless differences.

Official discourse is paternalistic, treating Soviets as children who require guidance to become real Soviets. Its HyperOfficial boundary treats Soviets as permanent infants, unable to make any but the most trivial choices without guidance from above. Societal discourse treats Soviets as adults capable of making choices that maintain a Soviet identity.

In Parts B and C are the elements of Soviet identity that are mostly shared by society and the state. Soviet identity is “unanimously” understood as modern and urban, positioned against a pre-modern rural periphery that the Center will ultimately bring to modernity.51 And this Center is Russian, as opposed to non-Russian, peoples; Russia, as opposed to non-Russian republics; and Moscow, as opposed to any other city. This modern, urban, developed, Russian, and Muscovite Center is the vanguard of Soviet identity for all pre-modern and undeveloped masses who will be led into modernity by that vanguard in Moscow.

(p.47) The Russian nation has a particularly paradoxical place in the predominant discourse of Soviet identity. On the one hand, the modern Soviet identity is supposed to transcend any ethnonational identity. On the other hand, the Russian nation was the Soviet nation in this period, both implicitly as a taken for granted background condition for societal discourse, as well as explicitly, as proclaimed by Stalin himself. The Russian nation was understood as the modern vanguard for all others, sitting atop a hierarchy of non-Russian nations. The Russian nation was understood as their elder brother, teaching them how to become Soviet. It is significant that Russian nationalism was never understood as the dangerous bourgeois variety, unlike its non-Russian variants. In addition, Russian identification with the Orthodox religion was never treated as stimulating dangerous Russian nationalism, unlike Tajik Muslims, Russian Jews, or Lithuanian Catholics, all of whose religions were understood as constitutive of anti-Soviet nationalism.

If societal constructivism’s insights are correct, then elements of the societal discourse on Soviet identity should appear after Stalin’s death in the new predominant discourse of Soviet identity.

To summarize most grossly, the predominant discourse constructs the Soviet Union and the ideal Soviet as a modern, implicitly Russian man atop a hierarchy and at the center identified against pre-modern non-Russians at home, and a dangerous Western world abroad. Because the discourse has binarized the world into Us and Them, danger is found in only the slightest of differences from oneself. There is no tolerable or innocuous level of difference. What follows is an elaboration of this stripped down version of the predominant Soviet self under Stalin. I begin with the more substantive themes of the Russian nation, religion, the external Other, and modernity.

The Russian Nation

Comrades! Allow me to make still another final toast. I would like to raise a toast to the health of our Soviet people, and first of all, the Russian people. I drink, first of all, to the health of the Russian people because it is the most outstanding nation among all nations in the Soviet Union. I raise a toast to the health of the Russian people because it earned in this war general recognition as the leading force of the Soviet Union among all other peoples of our country. I raise a toast to the health of the Russian people not only because it is the leading people, but also because it has a clear mind, resolute character, and patience. Our government made more than a few mistakes; we had desperate moments in 1941–42 when our army retreated, when it abandoned our villages and cities in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldavia, Leningrad oblast, the (p.48) Baltic, and Karelo-Finnish Republic, because there was no other way out. A different people could have said to the Government: you have not justified our expectations, get out, we will put in a different government which will conclude peace with Germany and guarantee us quiet. But the Russian people did not do this, for they believed in the correctness of the policy of its Government and sacrificed in order to secure the rout of Germany. And this trust of the Russian people in the Soviet government turned out to be the decisive force which secured the historic victory over the enemy of mankind—over fascism.

Thank them, the Russian people, for the trust!

To the health of the Russian people!

Josef Stalin, 24 May 194552

One of the most taken for granted elements of Soviet identity was the Russian nation. While perhaps no statement of Stalin has been more often quoted to attest to the official ideology of Russian nationalism adopted during the war, the argument here is that official benediction of the Russian nation as the Soviet nation resonated deeply and broadly with societal understandings of the nation, too, at least among the three-quarters of the population that was Russian, but also, too, among many non-Russian elites. As Brandenberger concluded, “[C]onflation of the terms ‘Russian’ and ‘Soviet’ became routine during the late 1940s and early 1950…. Publishing, theater, opera, radio, film, and museum exhibitions … refer[red] to the Russian national past and a [R]ussocentric reading of the recent war experience.”53

Many events marked the official glorification of the Russian nation, from its commencement at war’s end to its fading out in early 1949. The public spectacle accompanying Moscow’s 800th anniversary officially proclaimed what was already well understood.54 As part of these celebrations in September 1947, a statue of Moscow’s founder, Iurii Dolgorukii, was erected just behind the Institute of Marx, Engels, and Lenin on Gorky Street, replacing an obelisk devoted to the Bolshevik Revolution.55 The Soviet Academy of Sciences had opened a Slavic Studies section just months before. Brandenberger’s examination of postwar Soviet party and public education led him to conclude that its curriculum turned Soviet patriotism into “little more than discourse on Russian national (p.49) pride.” If anything, Soviet public schools and party instructors, due to their very poor education in Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism, tended to default to what they knew: Russian history and its centrality to all Soviet reality.56

In this sense, official Soviet discourse glorifying the Russian nation fell on very fertile commonsensical and societal soil.57 Surveys of Soviet readers showed that they preferred the Russian classics of Tolstoi, Pushkin, and Lermontov to the Soviet writers Gorkii and Sholokhov, let alone to contemporary Soviet writers, still less any non-Russians. These findings were replicated, as well, in the 1950–51 Harvard émigré interview project. Moreover, secret police files on private conversations, and the texts of private diaries, correspondence, and memoirs all show how deeply and matter-of-factly Russian national identity was embedded in the taken for granted everyday world.58 Infinite daily practices of average Soviets reproduced a Russian national identity, not least of course being the use of the Russian language in daily life and in interaction with party and state officials. Official tour guides in the Kremlin referred to “our tsars.”59

The Russian nation was understood to be more modern and developed, an older brother for non-Russian nations, a vanguard for those less advanced peoples constituting the USSR.60 At the official level, non-Russians participated in their own subordination and peripheralization with regard to their “older Russian brothers.” For example, on the fifth anniversary of Stalin’s postwar toast, Literaturnaia Gazeta (LG) ran a front-page headline, “On our older brother, the Russian people,” below which Zvenki, Yakuts, Tatars, Chuvashis, Nanaitsy, and Bashkirs wrote sentiments reducible to the following words of Rasul Gamzatov, from Daghestan: “At work, you are our teacher, in struggle our defender, when necessary you help and correct. For this thank you, thank you.”

Virtually simultaneously with Stalin’s toast, CC Agitprop Secretary Georgii Aleksandrov gave a speech declaring that all histories of non-Russians are “only intelligible in relation to the history of others, above all else, Russians.”61 Russian history was to be the history through which the experiences of all others should be understood. In the official history propagated after the war, the Russian nation was at the apex of modern development in the Soviet Union, and at the center of the socialist project with underdeveloped peripheries aspiring to (p.50) become Russia. By 1948, Russia’s imperial rule over Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the “little peoples” of the North and East, was officially typified as that of modernizing benevolence, rather than oppressive exploitation.62

The flip side of this exaltation of Russia’s centrality was the derogation of non-Russian histories. In 1947, for example, the Armenian CC attacked Armenian “nationalist” historians for claiming medieval Armenia experienced a “golden age” before it had contact with Russia. The official history of Belorussia was taken to task for claiming that Aleksandr Nevskii, not Prince Vladimir Polotskii, had defeated the Teutonic hordes.63 All national “golden ages” were officially reinterpreted to begin for non-Russian peoples only after the revolution “led by the Russian proletariat”; silver ages were the time surrounding “joining” Russia.64

All non-Russian manifestations of national identity were condemned as “bourgeois nationalism,” implying the danger of class deviance. The affair began with a series of attacks in Pravda in June and July 1951 against “nationalistic” Ukrainian literature.65 In December 1951 Estonian party officials were reprimanded for this sin, and the Mingrelian Affair was launched in 1951–52 against Georgian nationalism.66 Tajik communists were disciplined for “bourgeois nationalism,” one manifestation of which were their continuing complaints that Samarkand and Bukhara, ancient Tajik cities, had ended up in Uzbekistan.67

At the 19th Party Congress in October 1952, 23 speeches attacked “bourgeois nationalism,” primarily of the Mingrelian kind, with a few anti-cosmopolitan gestures.68 But only Lavrentii Beria attacked “great Russian chauvinism” and the tsarist oppression of non-Russians.69

Reflecting the tension in official discourse between privileging the Russian nation and declaring an identity that transcended nation, or perhaps just lip service to official ideology, were official recognitions that local nations had the right to develop, too. Along with widespread condemnation of manifestations of nationalism among non-Russian nations was the recognition that these nations were too often denied the capacity to develop as nations. For example, in reports (p.51) from Uzbekistan to the CC Agitprop Department in Moscow, the local Uzbek party was directed to end its “neglectful attitude” toward the development of local Uzbek culture. There were not enough Uzbek directors in Tashkent theaters and cinemas. Of 250 graduates from the conservatory since 1940, only 19 had been Uzbek, and not a single violinist or pianist.70

But Russia was not only the apogee and core of modernity within the Soviet Union; historically it had been at the forefront of global civilization, technology, and science. At a week-long conference held at the Academy of Sciences in January 1949, speakers recalled how, despite imperialist lies to the contrary, Russian inventors had been responsible for the steam engine, light bulb, airplane, radio, etc. These claims were widely circulated.71 In his February 1951 comments to CC Presidium member Georgi Malenkov on the screenplay for Admiral Ushakov, Minister of Cinematography Ivan Bolshakov considered the film’s release most opportune, as Ushkaov had taught British Admiral Horatio Nelson of Battle of Trafalgar fame everything he knew about naval warfare.72 The Russian nation benefitted greatly from the campaign against Western influence and kowtowing to the West launched in 1946.

In this period, the Russian nation was not only understood with regard to its less developed little brothers or dangerous Western Others. It was also understood with regard to Soviet Jews. I think the evidence overall supports Brandenberger’s conclusion: “It may be more productive to view this [postwar Soviet] antisemitism as a reflection of a broader postwar atmosphere of extreme Russocentrism and xenophobia in Soviet society rather than as an isolated travesty of justice committed against a single minority group.”73 The anti-Semitic campaigns also reveal complicated relationships between mass understandings of the Russian nation and Jews, official versions of Soviet supranationalism, and the Stalinist institution of anti-Semitic “affairs.”

In fact, it took almost two years to get the official Stalinist anti-Semitic campaign off the ground. In October 1946, the Ministry of State Security (MGB) sent the CC a memo titled “On the nationalistic manifestations of certain workers of the Jewish Antifascist Committee.” The same month CC Secretary Aleksei Kuznetsov requested that the question of nationalistic and religious tendencies of Jewish literature be discussed at a CC Secretariat meeting.74 A month later, CC Secretary Mikhail Suslov sent a similar memo to Stalin himself. But in April 1947, CC Agitprop Department Head Georgii Aleksandrov concluded (p.52) that Jewish literature overall was “penetrated by the ideas of Soviet patriotism and bears an optimistic character.” He recommended to Andrei Zhdanov that the CC need not discuss the question of the state of Soviet Jewish literature “at this time.”75 The official discourse of supranational Soviet patriotism could be a weapon in the defense of those accused of nationalism.

The murder of Solomon Mikhoels on January 13, 1948, former chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, was used as a pretext to begin the purge of Jews from state and party institutions, social organizations, editorial boards, and the MGB.76 In March 1948 the MGB accused Mikhoels and others of anti-Soviet nationalism, linking them to treasonous contacts with Western intelligence agencies.

In November, the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee was officially dissolved and in January 1949, the arrests began.77 A CC resolution of February 3, 1949, dissolved the official associations of Jewish writers and the Jewish literary almanacs in Moscow and Kiev. In early 1949, the Soviet press began to “out” Jewish authors, publishing their Jewish surnames alongside their Slavic pseudonyms.78 In October 1950, Suslov ordered the Bolshoi Theater to stop preparations for Camille Saint-Saens’s opera, Samson and Delilah, on the grounds that it depicted too many episodes from Jewish life in the Bible.79 Less trivially, by 1952, 110 people had been arrested, and 10 executed.80

Beginning in 1949, as well, the party began to count Jews in various institutions. In an October 1950 memo from Iurii Zhdanov, the late Andrei Zhdanov’s son and head of the CC Science and Higher Education Department, the “predominance of Jews among theoretical physicists” was documented. Russians, for example, were only 20 percent of laboratory leaders. There were no Russians at all in Lev Landau’s theoretical physics graduate student seminar. Jews were almost 80 percent of the leadership of the Institute of Physical Chemistry, and all the theorists were Jews. Thirty-seven of 42 doctoral dissertations defended from 1943 to 1949 in physical chemistry were Jewish. And so on in the optics laboratory, and (p.53) institutes of economics and geography. In May 1952 a comprehensive “Table of the Dynamics of the Quantitative Representation of Bureaucrats of Jewish Origin in the Soviet Nomenklatura in 1945–52” was prepared for the CC. Many of the entries were marked with an exclamation point or two. For example, 12 percent of the leading cadres of central institutions and ministries are Jewish! and 11 percent of the directing cadres of the central press are Jewish!!81 From May to July 1952, the trials associated with the Anti-Fascist Committee were held.

The last official anti-Semitic campaign began with a January 13, 1953, Pravda article about the Doctors’ Plot, a conspiracy of elite physicians to murder high party officials, the majority of whose participants “belonged to an international Jewish organization called Joint.”82 The affair’s careful preparation is reflected by the fact that the Glavlit chairman, Konstantin Omelchenko, sent a memo the very same day outlining which books needed to be removed from libraries and stores because they included articles by, or photos of, one or more of the identified doctors.83

Mass publications began to publish openly anti-Semitic attacks. In the February 12, 1953, issue of Komsomolskaia Pravda, for example, a typical Jew is described as having “a long, fleshy nose, puffy lips, small ratlike eyes…. He only comes to life when he tells how he bought gold and hid diamonds.” The satirical magazine Krokodil ran caricatures easily mistaken for Nazi cartoons.84 Only a month before the launch of the Doctors’ Plot, at a meeting at his dacha, Stalin had declared that “any Jewish nationalist is an agent of American intelligence. Jewish nationalists think that the United States has saved their nation…. They consider themselves obliged to Americans.”85 Here is a direct connection between the dangerous deviance of domestic ethnonational identifications and the foreign imperialist threat.

It would seem from a broad range of testimony that the official discourse of anti-Semitism launched in 1949 resonated broadly and deeply with mass public antipathy toward Jews.86 The famous Soviet Jewish director Mikhail Romm recalled that in 1944 an idea for “Russfilm” came up. This project would have allowed the Slavic directors Ivan Pyrev, Grigorii Aleksandrov, Sergei Gerasimov, Igor Savchenko, Boris Babochkin, and Mikhail Zharov to move to Moscow and work, while leaving Jewish directors Romm, Sergei (p.54) Eisenstein, Iuli Raizman, and Grigorii Roshal to run studios in Tashkent and Almaty.87 There were also widespread anti-Jewish pogroms in Ukraine in 1944–45.88 One could say that the official “sowing of anti-Semitism relied on thoroughly cultivated daily anti-Semitism.”89

One public discourse after the war was that Jews had not participated in the war; they had been “Tashkent partisans,” or among those who had been evacuated from the front to the Uzbek capital. In fact, 161,000 Jews had won military awards, the fourth largest group after Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians, while Jews were only the ninth largest nationality in the 1939 census.90 Given the privileged position of “frontoviki” in official Soviet discourse, this was just one more way of denying Jews their positions in the Soviet project.

Vsevolod Kochetov’s popular 1952 novel, Zhurbiny, described the villain, Veniamin Semenovich, a Jew who had avoided the front, coming up against Skobelev, another shirker. But the latter redeems himself by publicly slapping Semenovich. While the party committee condemns Skobelev’s “primitive” use of violence, they privately reassure Skobelev that “such people deserve a slap in the face.” Weiner concludes that “in a polity that identified sacrifice on the battlefield as a sign of true patriotism, exclusion from the myth of war amounted to exclusion from the Soviet family.”91

It seems that the other part of official discourse, that of a supranational modern Soviet identity, was reflected in official treatment of Jews in Ukraine after the war that was far more tolerant than popular sentiments. The party punished many who committed anti-Semitic acts during the war, and reinstated many to party membership who had assisted Jews at the time.92 Ludmilla Alexeyeva describes a similar dynamic while a student at Moscow State University shortly after the anti-cosmopolitan campaign began in early 1949. A fellow student, who would call for the strangulation of “fucking kikes” while walking the hallways of the university, initiated a campaign against a Professor Atzarkin. Instead of supporting his charges, the local Komsomol officially reprimanded the student for anti-Semitism, noting that the party was against cosmopolitans, not Jews.93 In an analysis of Soviet censorship of literature in the period, Ermolaev finds that the (p.55) pejorative Russian word for Jew, “yid,” is systematically removed from the 1953 edition of Mikhail Sholokhov’s Quiet Don, the 1951 edition of Aleksandr Fadeev’s The Rout, and even in the twenty-volume edition of Anton Chekhov’s correspondence published from 1944 to 1951.94

In an officially commissioned full-page letter to Pravda in September 1948, Ilya Ehrenburg defended the patriotism of Soviet Jews and accused their detractors of being “obscurantists concocting cock and bull stories” since the Middle Ages. He wrote that only anti-Semitism brings Jews together across national boundaries and quoted Stalin’s definition of anti-Semitism as “an extreme form of racial chauvunism, a most dangerous vestige of cannibalism.”95 Ehrenburg here invoked the second strand of official Soviet discourse: supranationalist modernity, as uttered by Stalin himself.

As in the postwar period, grass roots anti-Semitism seemed to significantly outstrip its official variety after the January 1953 launching of the “Doctors’ Plot.” Once unleashed at the official level, it became difficult for local party officials to control its more popular manifestations. Violence erupted against Jews, and anti-Semitic pamphlets were distributed. The party had to convene meetings on the “friendship of peoples,” reminding people that not all Jews were murderers. Not only did average Soviet citizens avoid their Jewish physicians; many came forward and claimed Jewish doctors had tried to poison their children.96 Yakov Rapoport recalls in his memoirs how widespread anti-Semitism was in Moscow at the time of his arrest in early 1953.97 After the woman who had purportedly unmasked the Jewish murderers was awarded an “Order of Labor,” letters poured into Soviet newspapers praising this “Russian woman, this true Russian soul,” etc.98

In a rare sample of public opinion after the Doctors’ Plot was publicized, the Central Committee Agitprop Department collected 92 letters to the editor from Pravda, Izvestiia, Komsomolskaia Pravda, Trud, and Meditsinskii Rabochii.99 Of these 92 letters, eight singled out Jews as the enemy, five defended Jews as a people, but 79, or almost 90 percent, did not mention Jews at all. Though not particularly numerous, the letters attacking Jews were especially vicious and violent. I quote some of them in some detail to give the flavor of the moment: (p.56)

I am a simple worker and not an anti-Semite, but I say frankly, it is high time to drive out all Jews from medical institutions, pharmacies, hospitals, rest homes, and sanitoria…. These are people who didn’t fight in the war, but love to live in butter … All work in warm places: medicine, science, art, literature, commerce. Here it is easy to earn big money. In a word, one must purge these people.

I never was a nationalist or anti-Semite; I am a Soviet citizen. I fought at the front with Georgians, Uzbeks, and Kazakhs, but no Jews. Those bastards sat in the rear…. But they were the first to return to Moscow…. Isn’t it time to resolve the Jewish question by removing them from all the big cities to Birobidzhan? Let the bastards live there.100

“Let them mine coal…. Let them work like Russians work.”

Of course, we know nothing about the sampling strategy used by the editors of these journals in choosing what to pass along to CC Secretary Nikolai Mikhailov and so cannot say this is a representative poll of Soviets. If it were, however, it would mean that while only a small percentage of Soviets understood Jews as the despicable Other, this understanding was demonstrably hateful and terrifying to any Jew.

In a similarly vexed sample, this time of overheard conversations among soldiers and sailors in Moscow, reported by MGB counter-intelligence officers to their chief, Semyon Ignatiev, and through him, to Presidium members Georgii Malenkov, Nikolai Bulganin, Beria, and Khrushchev on March 5, 1953, of 29 recorded comments, five attributed Stalin’s reported illness to Jewish doctors. They went on to recommend deportation of Soviet Jews to Palestine, or worse.101

But the official discourse of Soviet supranationalism was present, as well. Ilya Ehrenburg was one of the few Soviets, let alone Soviet Jews, to swim against the anti-Semitic tide that gathered over the last months of Stalin’s rule. A Central Committee functionary had asked that three out of 115 surnames be deleted from his most recent book, Second Day: Kronberg, Kahn, and Kaplan. Ehrenburg sent a letter directly to Suslov in January 1953, arguing that in the Soviet Union “national origins cannot be seen as a vice or as an occasion for singling anyone out.”102 Suslov agreed, and the novel was published without the deletions.103 Once again, instrumental use of the Soviet discourse of supranationalism was employed.

(p.57) Religion: Relative Orthodox Privilege

Similar to the Russian nation, religion should have been identified as anathema to the modern Soviet project in official discourse. Instead, Russian Orthodoxy, like the Russian nation, benefited from the same “invisible whiteness” that characterizes contemporary European and North American societies. Moreover, it had an institutional defender in the State Council for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church (CAROC). Meanwhile, other religions, in particular Judaism and Islam, but also Catholicism and Lutheranism, as they were associated with the evil of bourgeois nationalism, were treated as pre-modern dangers.

Religious identities are pre-modern vestiges of a feudal past in official Soviet discourse. That said, given the abiding predominance of the Russian nation as the not so implicit Soviet nation, Russian Orthodoxy remained in the background as the most tolerated of religions. Unlike Islam and Judaism, which were frequently associated with the development of pernicious national identities, Orthodoxy was never connected to the undesirable propagation of a Russian national identity. As Zubkova, perhaps exaggeratedly, observes, “While Soviet policies changed toward the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) after World War II, no such changes occurred for other religions.”104

I say exaggerated because there were not infrequent cases of the Council on Affairs of Religious Cults (CARC) effectively intervening on behalf of believers. For example, in 1947, religious calendars were allowed for Estonian and Latvian Lutherans, albeit with both Soviet and religious holidays displayed. Soviet Moslems had been granted the same privilege in 1944. Permission for their publication was granted anew in 1953.105 Moreover, it was not uncommon for local party officials to be reprimanded for “administrativnost” in their approach to local religious groups, that is, unauthorized administrative abuse of local believers. So the Borislavskii city soviet chairman, or gorispolkom, Gordienko, was officially rebuked for demanding that the local Baptist minister give him the names and autobiographies of all his followers, under threat of expulsion from the town. Importantly, it was the CARC that intervened on behalf of the Baptist parishioners, sending on their complaints to the CC Agitprop Department.106

It is interesting that local party officials, and often elements of the local party aktiv and average Soviet citizens enforced the predominant discourse of atheism against the societal discourse of private religious identity. Meanwhile, two state institutions, the two Councils on Orthodoxy and Cults, were charged with vindicating the rights granted in the Soviet Constitution to religious believers.

(p.58) The Russian Orthodox Church, and Orthodox religious identity, was institutionally empowered by the CAROC, headed since its founding in September 1943 by Georgii Karpov, who was simultaneously a NKVD/KGB officer. It is evidence of the privileged position of the Russian nation and its religion that all other religions—Islam and Judaism, most significantly—were under the jurisdiction of the CARC.107 Karpov enjoyed genuinely warm relations with the Orthodox Patriarch Aleksei. Karpov’s Council was in constant battle with the avowed official discourse of atheism, and its most enthusiastic proponents, local party officials.

Apparently, things were going so well for Orthodoxy that an October 1947 Central Committee report criticized the work of the Council. In February 1948, Karpov met with Kliment Voroshilov, the Politburo member responsible for overseeing the Council. Voroshilov reassured him that the Council’s job was not to create anti-religious propaganda; leave that to the party. Throughout 1948, local party officials and the CC Agitprop Department, chaired by Suslov, rejected Council requests for any leniency toward religious practice.108 In 1947–48, only 49 churches were reopened, and from 1948 to 1950, 31 Orthodox monasteries were closed.109

In October 1948, permission was withdrawn for the opening of 18 churches that year. That year there had been over 3,000 petitions to open churches; 28 were opened. In 1949, there were 2,300 requests, in 1950, 1,100, in 1951, 700, in 1952, 800. Of the nearly 5,000 requests, zero were granted. Meanwhile 300 Orthodox churches were closed or demolished.110

As the raw statistics reported above show, official discourse had brought any further religious revival after the war to a halt by 1948. Nevertheless, Karpov went on defending the constitutionally protected rights of the believers who remained. It was his institutional mandate to represent grievances of believers against the party and the state, and he continually followed this charge.

Meanwhile, Jewish religious identity was conflated with bourgeois nationalism, or still worse, cosmopolitanism, or a transnational connection with Jews elsewhere in the world, including the new state of Israel. In Ukraine, at least, local police and party officials condemned Jewish commemorations of the Holocaust in 1945–46, treating them as religious meetings with nationalist content.111 In an April 1949 report on the practice of Judaism more generally, the (p.59) chairman of the CARC, Ivan Polianskii, began his memo to Georgii Malenkov by stipulating that “the activities of synagogues, as before, are distinguished by great liveliness and are maintained not only, or not so much, by religious motives of believers, as by dissatisfied actions of nationalistic clerics….” The nationalistic identities of Jews reached the point where the leader of the Jewish community in Uzhgorod, Ukraine, told his parishioners they should ask the Soviet government to allow them to form military units to go fight on Israel’s behalf. While Karpov would defend the rights of Orthodox believers against illegal repression by local party officials, Polianskii, on the contrary, reported local party officials who illegally allowed Jews to hold services in private apartments, or still worse, built new synagogues without permission from the Council.112

In general, we may conclude that the societal discourse of religious identity reinforced the predominant discourse of the Russian nation but was in conflict with the predominant discourse that associated the practice of Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, and Lutheranism with the dangers of bourgeois nationalism.

The External Western Other

Discourses of Soviet, or any other, identity are not made in vacuums, isolated from the world by political boundaries. While one should not assume the external world plays an important role in constructing such an identity, let alone assume which significant others in the world do the constituting, one should expect the mutual constitution of identities with external Others. In the Soviet case in this period, the West was a very significant other for both the predominant discourse of Soviet identity and its societal challenger. Indeed, they were in uneasy contradiction with each other.

Relations to an external other raised the issue of Soviet normalcy or uniqueness. To the extent the Soviet Union could even be compared to some other country, or region, or history, or idea external to itself, it shared enough in common to sustain that kind of discussion. But a truly unique Soviet Union, such as the one that denied a “common human” science, instead claiming there to be a Soviet science based on class principles, or a Russian history based on uniquely Russian experiences, the external Other was something axiomatically to be ignored or feared. Isolation from the threatening influence was recommended. Uniqueness entailed insecurity, fear in the face of a contaminating possibility.

Stalin told Boris Likharev, editor of the literary journal Leningrad, in August 1946, that “you go on tiptoe in front of foreign writers…. You encourage these groveling feelings. This is a big sin…. You instill a feeling that we are second-rank (p.60) people, and they are of the first rank. We are pupils, they are teachers. This is wrong.”113 The hierarchy here is all wrong; the West cannot possibly be above the Soviet Union and Russia. Russia cannot be anyone’s periphery or subordinate.

There was a very close connection between the centrality of the Russian nation in Soviet identity and the official fear of external influence on that identity. In accusing Ukrainian authors of nationalism for “overlooking the relationship between Russian and Ukrainian literatures,” they were additionally condemned for thereby “exaggerating the influence of Western European literature.”114 As Ermolaev concluded in his analysis of censorship in the period, “[R]ehabilitation of the Russian past and the praise of everything Soviet proceeded parallel with the denigration of the West….”115 There was a dichotomous relationship between the West and Russia in official Soviet discourse.

On January 26, 1946, Stalin awarded Sergei Eisenstein’s film, Ivan the Terrible, Part One, the Stalin Prize, First Class. Just a week later, Eisenstein collapsed with a heart attack at the awards banquet for the film. He was in the hospital during the meeting of the committee reviewing the second installment of the film. In August, Stalin previewed it, and announced that “it wasn’t a film, but some kind of nightmare.” In his February 1947 meeting with Eisenstein to discuss how to remake Ivan the Terrible II, Stalin told him that “the wisdom of Ivan the Terrible was that he stood on a national point of view and did not allow foreigners into the country.”116 Being Soviet meant being national, which in the context of the simultaneous exaltation of the Russian nation, meant being a Russian nationalist. Stalin opined that “Peter I was a great leader, but he too liberally related to foreigners, opened the gates to foreigners too much, allowed foreign influence, and the Germanization of Russia. Catherine allowed still more. And was Alexander I’s court really Russian? Or Nicholas I’s? No. They were German courts.”117 It is significant, as well, in this discussion of Eisenstein’s second installment that while Zhdanov criticized the film for its constant display of Orthodox religious ceremonies, Stalin did not object to this tacit identification of the Russian nation with the Russian Orthodox Church.118

(p.61) In February 1947, the Soviet government banned marriages between Soviet citizens and foreigners, including those from eastern Europe.119 In August 1947 the Council of Ministers ordered increased police vigilance in 12 Soviet cities chosen on the basis of how much contact their citizens had with foreign visitors.120 The same year the Moscow Museum of New Western Art was closed, and no Western art was exhibited in the Soviet Union until after Stalin’s death.121 Ludmilla Alexyeva woke up one day and found out that French bread had become “urban” bread at Moscow bakeries.122 The jamming of Voice of America (VOA) and British Broadcasting Company (BBC) broadcasts began in 1948–49. In 1949, the journal Znamia debuted a new section, “Through our own eyes,” written by Soviets who had been abroad. For months followed testimonials to the poor, wretched, and inhumane conditions prevailing in the United States, France, Britain, and the West more generally.

The official turn against identifying the Soviet Union or the Russian nation in relationship to a Western, or European, Other is manifested in two contributions to Voprosy Istorii by Professor M. Tikhomirov just five months apart in 1947. In April, Tikhomirov criticized a book by Dmitrii Likhachev for excessively glorifying Russian culture. Tikhomirov asked, “Does love for one’s own Homeland really have to be tied up with running down the chuzhoi/the other? Had the author, even for a minute, compared the rich cities of medieval Italy with Moscow in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, he couldn’t have insisted on the superiority of Muscovite culture over Florentine in this epoch.” Tikhomirov had a change of heart by September, where in the lead article in the same journal he asserted the superiority of Russian over Florentine architecture.

What had happened in between was the “Professors’ Affair” of June 1947 launched against the oncologists Nina Kliueva and Grigorii Roskin for allegedly allowing their anticancer drug to be given to American spies.123 A month before the “Professors’ Affair” was launched, Stalin declared at a meeting with (p.62) the writers Konstantin Simonov, Aleksandr Fadeev, and Boris Gorbatov that “Soviet patriotism” should be a primary theme for writers because “our average intelligentsia has an unjustified admiration for foreign culture…. First the Germans under Peter, then the French.” Stalin then gave Fadeev a folder on Kliueva and Roskin.124 Fadeev read the letter the CC was to send to party organizations. In it a straight line was drawn from insufficient admiration for the Soviet Union and the Russian nation to susceptibility to recruitment by imperialist intelligence agencies.125 As Molotov, Malenkov, and Zhdanov summarized the situation in a September 1947 memo to Stalin, “[S]ervility before the West … is a serious danger to the Soviet state since agents of international reaction try to use people infected by a feeling of servility before bourgeois culture….”126

In late March 1947 “honor courts” were established in government ministries to instill “the spirit of Soviet patriotism and devotion to Soviet state interests.” The very first trial was that of Kliueva and Roskin, held in June before 1,000 people and lasting for three days. A “closed letter” defining the affair’s significance for the party’s battle against undue deference to the West was circulated to 9,600 party leaders in July. In September the party launched a public campaign for “Soviet patriotism.”127

Fear of the Western Other was tied to fear about the effects returnees from the war were having on the security of the Soviet project. While it would be easy to attribute this fear to one man’s paranoia, Stalin’s views were not merely personal, but were part of the official understanding of the threat emanating from the appearance of millions who had experienced an alternative reality. Twenty years after the fact, Dmitrii Shepilov, writing about the end of the war, and on his way to becoming Suslov’s deputy in the CC Agitprop Department, recalled that “our people want to live well now. Millions were abroad, in many countries. They saw not only bad, but also some things that compelled them to ponder things. But much of what they saw was interpreted in their heads inaccurately and one-sidedly. But one way or another, people want to enjoy the fruits of their victories; they want to live better: to have good apartments (they saw what these are in the West), to eat well, to dress well. And we are obliged to give people all this.” Here we see both the predominant discourse of the dangerous Western Other, and the patronizing attitude toward the Soviet masses, their portrayal as unable to understand reality accurately.

(p.63) Shepilov went on to infer that “apolitical and non-ideological sentiments are dangerous for the fate of our country.” That is, the public sphere must be maximally expanded; otherwise, the socialist project may fail. Shepilov recalled that such feelings were tangible at that time. “In literature, theater and film some kind of rot appeared. These feelings became still more dangerous when combined with servility before the West: ‘Oh, the West!,’ Oh, democracy!,’ ‘What literature!,’ ‘What garbage cans on the streets!’”128

The predominant discourse and its affiliated campaigns confronted a societal discourse of identification with the West. As was the case in the anti-cosmopolitan campaign and the doctors’ plot, a notable contrarian voice was that of Ehrenburg, who, in a series of articles in Izvestiia in the summer of 1946 concluded from his May 1946 trip to the United States that “we have much to learn from American writers and American architects, and even, despite the appalling vulgarity of the average production, from their film directors.”129 Writing in Novoe Vremia/New Times in November 1947, Ehrenburg, in direct contradiction of what was said just days before on Red Square by Molotov at the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, asserted, “It is impossible to fawn upon Shakespeare or Rembrandt, because bowing before them cannot humiliate the idolizer.”130 Ehrenburg’s works in general were larded with frequent and alluring descriptions of life in the West. Vasily Aksyonov recalls that Ehrenburg’s writings were “windows on the West” for millions of his readers.131 But the same could be said for the countless asides made in other Soviet publications, as well as the background settings in the many Western movies circulating in the postwar Soviet Union.

Unlike the official Soviet discourse that condemned Soviet and Russian identification with the West in general, Ehrenburg distinguished between Russia’s more natural affinity with Europe and its fundamental differences with the United States. In an August 1947 article, he wrote that “to speak of West European culture as separate from Russia, or of Russian culture as separate from Western Europe is ignorant…. We have learned from them and they from us. Modern European and American literature is unthinkable without the classical Russian novel, modern art without the work of nineteenth century French painters….”132

(p.64) Meanwhile, a more important breach in the campaign against identifying with the West was made by early postwar reliance on films captured from Germany during the war. In part a product of the demands of the marketplace, and in part a consequence of meager postwar Soviet film production, cinemas’ repertoires were dominated by old Soviet films from the 1930s and European and American “trophy” films from Germany. From March toSeptember 1946, for example, Dom Kino, the main movie palace in Moscow, showed 60 foreign films. It even aired a foreign film on the fifth anniversary of Germany’s invasion in June 1941. Sun Valley Serenade and Girl of My Dreams were especially popular. Bulat Okudzhava recalls that the star of the latter Hungarian film, Marika Rokk, was wildly popular in Tbilisi, with people humming the soundtrack, discussing it, and lining up again and again to see it.133

One of the underlying reasons for official condemnation of Evgenii Varga’s 1946 book, Changes in the Economy of Capitalism as a Result of the Second World War was that the author observed that capitalists had adopted some of socialism’s advantages of planning and state intervention. This made the West more like the Soviet Union, and hence less threatening than the predominant discourse allowed.134

Finally, the discourse of Russian superiority over the West had instrumental value to the likes of the charlatan of Soviet science, Trofim Lysenko. In August 1948, Lysenko defended his peculiar take on genetics by claiming his detractors relied on Western biology, agronomy, and genetics, rather than on Russian achievements.135 The defense of Soviet/Russian science had precious little to do with science, but “the image of Soviet science and the Soviet scientist,” that is, what it meant to be Soviet.136

In sum, the predominant Soviet discourse of Western danger and Soviet Russian superiority was in direct conflict with a societal discourse of identification with the West, with the European roots of Russia.

The Soviet Union: A Most Modern Project

In both official and societal discourses, being Soviet was being modern. Moving from the village to the city, from the farm to the factory, from manual labor to machines, abandoning an ethnonational identity for a supranational Soviet one, (p.65) forsaking superstition and religion for science and atheism, were all part of the new modern Soviet citizen.

There was a constant axis in Soviet discourse: the center versus the periphery. Modernity was in the center; pre-modernity in the periphery. Operating across different identities, Russia was the center to the non-Russian periphery. Moscow was the center of Russia not only to its rural reaches, but even to other cities, such as Leningrad or Kiev. Urban areas were centers to their rural peripheries. This way of thinking was both officially expressed and popularly taken for granted. In a jocular moment meeting with Stalin, Fadeev reported that he had managed to send about 100 writers around the country to observe Soviet “reality,” but only “average” writers. Stalin asked ironically why, “krupnyi” (big/famous) writers didn’t want to go? Fadeev responded that it was hard to get them moving.137 In Pyrev’s 1947 film, Tale of the Siberian Land, Moscow was “the center of centers, ultimately taming and subordinating Siberian nature.”138 Intelligentsia unlucky enough to not be in Moscow or Leningrad frequently complained to the party and government about the unfair allocation of resources.139

Most peripheral of all in the Soviet Union were the peoples of Central Asia, and the “North,” which was construed as Siberia and the Arctic. These peoples were considered pre-modern and most in need of the Soviet, Russian, Muscovite vanguard center to eliminate their “old, backward, stagnant way of life.”140 In Vasilii Azhaev’s 1949 novel, Far from Moscow, one of the main themes was the development of indigenous peoples in the Far East. Local Nanai, for example, are depicted as leaping “from the Stone Age straight into our Soviet age,” laughing in “a childlike way.”141 Peripheral peoples were at the bottom of a hierarchy whose apex was a benevolent Russian father in modern Moscow who thankfully is willing to help them climb the ladder to mature modernity.

Failure to depict Soviet reality as sufficiently modern was punished by those guarding the boundaries of official Soviet discourse. In the August 1946 CC resolution “On the Journals Zvezda and Leningrad,” which launched the Zhdanovshchina in cultural matters, Zoshchenko’s works were condemned for “slanderously presenting Soviets as primitive, uncultured, stupid, and with philistine tastes and morals.”142 In the September 1946 CC resolution condemning the film The Big Life, what was singled out was its focus on the pre-modern in (p.66) the contemporary Soviet Union. The postwar reconstruction of Don basin coal mines was “depicted as if it were done with manual labor and old technology…. It is absurd and outrageous to depict the promotion of backward and uncultured people to leading posts as positive when Soviet power has created its own intelligentsia.”143 Katerina Clark writes that one of the major themes in postwar Soviet novels was a “new stress on kultura/culture, which in Russia was understood as what happens when a peasant moves from a wooden hut … in favor of a more urban and Western way of life.”144

Discursive Elements and Danger

Thus far, I have elaborated four main substantive elements in discourses of Soviet identity under Stalin. But as important is how predominant and societal discourses differentially treated these substantive elements. These differences are in Part A of Table 1.2. I could apply each of the dozen differences to each of the four substantive themes, but it would rapidly become repetitive and mechanical. That said, it should be borne in mind the myriad complicated ways in which these four themes were daily arranged and positioned vis-à-vis each other and with regard to the dozen differentiating elements. To illustrate, I will use a variety of empirical examples.

Let’s begin with the predominant discourse’s paternalism. In her analysis of postwar “middlebrow” fiction, Vera Dunham concluded that the theme of the family came to overshadow all others, in particular the relationship between parents and children.145 In analyzing postwar cinema, Hans Gunther concludes that the “most amply developed Soviet myth is the myth of the Great Family.” It extended the features of the “natural family onto the entire society.” Peculiarly, sons always remained sons, never maturing, eternally infantilized by their parents, and of course, the party and the state.146 Gunther reminds us that in the popular postwar Soviet film The Oath (1946) Stalin is portrayed as the father of the Soviet Union. In The Fall of Berlin (1949) Stalin is literally the father, as he blesses the marriage of the two heroes while standing on the ruins of Berlin.147

(p.67) One extremely popular novel, and Stalin Prize winner of 1946, was Fadeev’s Molodaia Gvardiia, or Young Guard. Fadeev had spent months researching the young partisans of Krasnodon, including reading three volumes of Komsomol documents and diaries, and interviewing surviving guerilla fighters.148 In a bizarre and instructive twist, Stalin commanded the novel be rewritten after it was already awarded the Stalin Prize, an illustrative case of the very good commanded to become perfect. Stalin had concluded that the “images of the older generation, the underground Bolshevik ‘fathers’ had been poorly elaborated and the political maturity of the younger generation, Oleg Koshevoi and others, the ‘children’, had been overestimated.”149 Fadeev spent five years revising the novel, correcting its exaltation of the “exploits of the sons, but neglect[ing] to tell the pivotal role of the fathers.” Clark concludes that the 1951 edition is “almost perfectly transparent, lacking impurities…. The [young] hero is assisted by an older and more conscious figure who has made a successful quest before him…. The initiate is young and maturing.”150

The young, the peripheral, the pre-modern, the non-Russian, all must be protected from dangerous influences, especially from the West. The Soviet project is so insecure that its vulnerable elements must be defended against exposure to deviations from the predominant understanding of Soviet identity. Stalin told the Yugoslav communist Milovan Djilas over dinner in May 1948 that Dostoevsky was “a great writer and a great reactionary. We are not publishing him because he is a bad influence on the young people.”151 In the CC Resolution “On Zvezda and Leningrad,” it was asked, “What are the errors of the editors” of these two journals? “They forgot that our journals are a powerful instrument of the Soviet state in bringing up the Soviet people, especially our youth …. The Soviet system cannot tolerate bringing them up in a spirit of indifference … and lack of ideology.”152

Additional danger is to be found in ambiguity, in gray areas, in continua, in unclear representations of the Soviet project. Ideally, there should be no question who are the good and bad Soviets. But the presentation of good Soviets, without any flaws, or the Soviet good life, without any problems, was too ridiculous even for the guardians of orthodoxy. Clark describes postwar Soviet novels analyzing how the already good becomes perfect.153 Taken too far, the (p.68) deviation of beskonfliktnost appears, viz., the presentation of reality as if there is no conflict between the old and the new, just some tidying up around the edges. More threatening antagonisms had to be presented than that. Related to this excessive infallibility was the sin of lakirovanie, or the “laquering,” varnishing, or prettifying of reality. Even Andrei Zhdanov noted, at the March 1947 discussion of Stalin Prizes for movies, that prior films such as Traktoristy, had too many kolkhoz chairpersons with motorcycles and dinners “we don’t have even in the Council of Ministers.”154

The problem with ambiguity is that it permits of multiple interpretations. This helps account for the official fear and ridicule of abstraction in art in general. When Vladimir Kemenov edited the official volume Bourgeois Art and Aesthetics (1951), examples of modern art were not even permitted to be illustrated, as they were deemed “indescribable.”155 Vasilii Grossman’s treatment of the battle of Stalingrad, “For a Just Cause,” appeared in Novyi Mir in July 1952 and was roundly criticized for its lack of an obvious hero. NM’s editorial board officially apologized for publishing it just days before Stalin, and the campaign against the work, died. Reflective of the institutionalized over-implementation of Stalin’s presumed preferences, and the post-Stalin emergence of tolerated difference, was Fadeev’s public apology for attacking the novel in the first place.156

Shepilov recalls the personal danger incurred if one raised any questions about a policy after Stalin had decided the issue. Instead of being regarded as a reasonable concern for the effectiveness of the given policy, “it was immediately qualified as ‘wavering in implementation of the general line of the party,’ (in one’s party record was a special paragraph: had there been waverings in implementing the general line of the party?) or as ‘indulgence’ of Trotskyism or Right Opportunism with all the ensuing consequences.”157

Included in an infallible Soviet identity was the assumption that flaws and mistakes are minor and exceptional aberrations in the process of being overcome. Their elimination and avoidance are inevitable. How to do this was laid out in the lead editorial in Pravda in April 1952: “Expose and mercilessly criticize vestiges of capitalism and manifestations of political indifference, bureaucratism, stagnation, servility, vainglory, arrogance, conceit, graft, unconscientious attitude toward duties, and a heedless attitude toward socialist property. Expose all (p.69) that is backward … and help the new to triumph.” What is exposed must be exceptions that prove the general rule of Soviet modernity.

The predominant discourse left little room for private life, that is, a space where one could be who one was without worrying about acting out the Soviet model. As Katerina Clark has concluded, “Many of the questions that most preoccupied 1940s society centered around the relationship between the individual, private world, and public life and duties.”158 The struggle here was between those who wished to carve out some private personal space where one could manifest an individual personality or self without fear of the predominant discourse demanding adherence to its idealized qualities.

In Zhdanov’s notes for his August 16, 1946, talk before the Leningrad writers’ meeting, he wrote that “nonideological people want to deprive our art of its sense and purpose, to take away from art its transforming role, turning it into an end in itself or an amusement.”159 In the CC Resolution on Leningrad and Zvezda, Anna Akhmatova was identified as a “typical representative of empty, unideological/[bezideinoi] poetry,” that is, work that deals with the personal, rather than the public.160 The September 1946 CC Resolution criticized The Big Life for its excessive attention to the private lives of its characters, rather than to their public roles and party activities.161 The film director Vsevolod Pudovkin, by eliminating those kinds of scenes from his first version of Admiral Nakhimov, received a Stalin Prize.

The official elimination of the private and the personal is linked to the issue of the relative insecurity of the Soviet project, and the danger of ambiguities in public texts, ambiguities that can only lead average Soviets to come up with their own individualized interpretations of what they might mean. But alternative meanings are precisely what must be reduced to the barest minimum. There needs to be a single authoritative interpretation of what it is to be Soviet.

The film The Big Life was criticized for showing individual miners taking matters of reconstruction into their own hands in the Don basin after the war, instead of being led by party and state collectives.162 Stalin commanded that Fadeev rewrite Young Guard, a 1946 Stalin Prize winner, in part in order to increase the role of the party in organizing partisan resistance, at the expense of individual efforts.163

If one had to pick a single underlying attitude in the predominant discourse that places it in clearest opposition to societal discourse, it would be fear—fear (p.70) that the Soviet project was vulnerable to being overthrown. Associated with this fear was the demand that Soviet reality be presented optimistically, that state and party decisions be presented as scientifically unassailable, that the public sphere be maximally expanded and purged of any sources of misunderstanding or individualized interpretations of reality. Meanwhile societal discourse, reflecting certainty in the security of the Soviet project, welcomed critical depictions of Soviet failings, greater room for private life, greater tolerance for deviations from the Soviet ideal, and broader definitions of what would fall under the rubric of a genuine Soviet identity.

The Predominant Discourse of Soviet Identity and Soviet Relations with Other States

If the predominant discourse of Soviet identity actually determined Soviet identity relations with other states in the world, there are many testable propositions that follow.

First, and most straightforward, hostile relations motivated by fear and danger should characterize relations with the West, with the United States and Europe.

The implicit Russian nation should imply closer relations with Slavic states than with non-Slavic ones, with one critical stipulation. These non-Slavic states will be subordinated to the superior, more modern, vanguard in Moscow. To the extent they deviate from their Slavic older brother, they will be treated as dangerous.

The modern Soviet Union will understand the rest of the world hierarchically. There will be pre-modern and modern areas of the world. The former may become modern, but only under the tutelage of the Soviet vanguard in Moscow.

Overarching all of this are such discursive elements as the dichotomization and binarization of identity relations between the Soviet Union and its Others. To remain nonthreatening to Soviet identity, one must either be Soviet, or be becoming Soviet under the close patronage of Moscow. This implies that vast areas of the world are automatically consigned to enemy status, rather than simply neutral or meaningless.

If we turn now to particular countries or collections of countries in the world, we can hypothesize about Soviet relations with the West, China, Eastern Europe, and the decolonizing world.

As I intimated above, we should expect Soviet relations with the United States and Europe to be marked by hostility and fear. Soviet relations with China should be complicated. On the one hand, understanding China through a Russian national identity should evoke images of the Russian imperial past, and a (p.71) subordinated China, and still more, given Russia’s position atop a hierarchy of modernity, and as vanguard for the less-developed, such as China. On the other hand China is on its way to becoming the Soviet Union, a modern socialist state. Relations will be close to the extent China subordinates itself to the Soviet Center in Moscow.

Eastern Europe is also a region of subordination, where deviation from the Soviet model of development will be understood as dangerous deviation, not permissible difference. As in the case of China, the Soviet vanguard should be directing domestic developments in Eastern Europe. Finally, it might be expected that Slavic states including Yugoslavia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria will be understood differently, as members of an ethnonational fraternity, with Russia as their elder brother.

Because of the dichotomization of the world into us and them, the decolonizing world will be understood, at best, as irrelevant, at worst, as potentially threatening, and certainly as no potential collection of allies. Only those decolonizing states committed to becoming the Soviet Union in detail, should be deemed sufficiently similar to warrant being trusted as allies.

In addition, there is the issue of periodization here. Since I argue that Soviet identity was one of uncertainty and tolerance for ambiguity, at least until the summer of 1946, we should expect that the effects of the identity dynamics sketched out above will not be apparent until after this date.

The “causal” sequence we should expect to uncover if my theoretical approach is correct should be the following: Predominant Discourse of Soviet Identity → Soviet Understanding of Significant External Others Through that Discourse → Soviet Relations with Those Significant External Others Consistent with that Understanding.

For example, Soviet rejection of the Marshall Plan in July 1947 should be preceded by both a predominant discourse of Soviet identity that characterizes the West as threatening, and by a discursive construction of the West during elite discussions that reflects that prior understanding. In other words, the policy outcome that we are trying to establish as parasitic on prevailing identity relations must in fact occur after such identity relations have been established as prevailing.


(1) Discourses themselves may be usefully understood as institutions, at least as defined by new institutionalists as expectations of normatively prescribed and proscribed actions.

(2) There were only 10,000 televisions in the Soviet Union in 1950. Aleksandr A. Danilov and Aleksandr V. Pyzhikov, Rozhdenie Sverkhderzhavy: SSSR v Pervye Poslevoennye Gody (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2001), 193.

(3) Kees Boterbloem, The Life and Times of Andrei Zhdanov, 1896–1948 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004), 257; and Dmitrii T. Shepilov, “Politicheskii Arkhiv XX Veka. Vospominaniia,” Voprosy Istorii (March 1998): 17.

(4) Konstantin Simonov, Glazami Cheloveka Moego Pokoleniia: Razmyshleniia o I. V. Staline (Moscow: Kniga, 1990), 123–37.

(5) Anastas Mikoyan, Tak Bylo: Razmyshleniia o Minuvshem (Moscow: Vagrius, 1999), 529–33.

(6) On the phenomenon of “over-insurance,” see Dmitri T. Shepilov, “Politicheskii Arkhiv XX Veka. Vospominaniia,” Voprosy Istorii (June 1998): 34.

(7) Simonov, Glazami Cheloveka, 121. From the end of the war until his death in 1948, Zhdanov was Stalin’s enforcer of cultural orthodoxy. “Zhdanovshchina” was the term given to harsh repression of deviations from cultural orthodoxy in the period.

(8) Simonov, Glazami Cheloveka, 121; Dmitrii T. Shepilov, “Politicheskii Arkhiv XX Veka. Vospominaniia,” Voprosy Istorii (May 1998): 22.

(9) Simonov, Glazami Cheloveka, 140–41.

(10) Ilya Ehrenburg, Post-War Years, 1945–1954, trans. Tatiana Shebunina (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1967), 133.

(11) Simonov, Glazami Cheloveka, 203–04.

(12) Peter Kenez, Cinema and Soviet Society, 1917–1953 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 210–11.

(13) Ibid., 228.

(14) Elena Iu. Zubkova, Russia After the War: Hopes, Illusions, and Disappointments, 1945–1957 (Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 1998), 35.

(15) Simonov, Glazami Cheloveka, 157–64.

(16) Thomas Lahusen, How Life Writes the Book: Real Socialism and Socialist Realism in Stalin’s Russia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), 185.

(17) Vera Tolz, “‘Cultural Bosses’ as Patrons and Clients: The Functioning of the Soviet Creative Unions in the Postwar Period,” Contemporary European History 11, no. 1 (2002): 99.

(18) Denis L. Babichenko, Pisateli I Tsenzory: Sovetskaia Literatura 1940–x Godov pod Politicheskim Kontrolem TsK (Moscow: Rossiia Molodaia, 1994), 117–36.

(19) The Kliueva-Roskin affair involved accusations of the two oncologists of leaking the results of their cancer research to Western agents.

(20) Nikolai Krementsov, Stalinist Science (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 149–83, 227–53.

(21) Lysenko was an avowed adherent of Vladimir Michurin, a Soviet biologist who stressed the ability of plants to acquire heritable characteristics from their environments.

(22) Krementsov, Stalinist Science, 239–48. A common phenomenon throughout the postwar period, at least, was the public reproduction of the predominant discourse, if only to provide oneself enough credit with relevant authorities, or power, to pursue one’s private life. Alexei Yurchak, Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).

(23) Krementsov, Stalinist Science, 277–79.

(24) Kirill M. Anderson, ed., Kremlevskii Kinoteatr, 1928–1953: Dokumenty (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2005), 831–39.

(25) Shepilov noted in his memoirs the pernicious effects of the market on Soviet cinema after the war. Shepilov, “Politicheskii Arkhiv XX Veka. Vospominaniia,” Voprosy Istorii (May 1998): 25; Julian Graffy, “Cinema,” in Russian Cultural Studies: An Introduction, ed. Catriona Kelly and David Shepherd (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 181.

(26) Peter Kenez and David Shepherd, “‘Revolutionary’ Models for High Literature: Resisting Poetics,” in Russian Cultural Studies: An Introduction, ed. Catroina Kelly and David Shepherd (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 50; Elena Iu. Zubkova, “Fenomen ‘Mestnogo Natsionalizma:’ ‘Estonskoe Delo’ 1949–1952 Godov v Kontekste Sovetizatsii Baltii,” Otechestvennaia Istoriia (May 2001): 90–91.

(27) Vladislav M. Zubok, A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 55.

(28) Richard Stites, Russian Popular Culture: Entertainment and Society since 1990 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 5.

(29) Werner G. Hahn, Postwar Soviet Politics: The Fall of Zhdanov and the Defeat of Moderation, 1946–1953 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982), 67; Zubkova, “Fenomen ‘Mestnogo Natsionalizma,’ 89.

(30) Under Khrushchev, Polikarpov would become an orthodox head of the CC Science and Culture Department.

(31) The battle against infantilization by the predominant discourse will carry on through Khrushchev’s period in power.

(32) Denis L. Babichenko, ed., Literaturnyi Front: Istoriia Politicheskoi Tsenzury, 1932–1946 gg. Sbornik Dokumentov (Moscow: Entsiklopediia Rossiiskikh Dereven, 1994), 189–91.

(33) Aleksandr A. Danilov and Aleksandr V. Pyzhikov, Rozhdenie Sverkhderzhavy: SSSR v Pervye Poslevoennye Gody (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2001), 181–86.

(34) Tatiana A. Chumachenko, Church and State in Soviet Russia: Russian Orthodoxy from World War II to the Khrushchev Years (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 2002), 67–85.

(35) Zubkova, Russia After the War, 69.

(36) RGANI f5 op16 d642, 67–69.

(37) RGANI f2 op1 d7, 22–23.

(38) Rudolph G. Pikhoia, Sovetskii Soiuz: Istoriia Vlasti, 1945–1991 (Novosibirsk: Sibirskii Khonograf, 2000), 39–40.

(39) Elena Iu. Zubkova, “Stalin i Obshchestvennoe Mnenie v SSSR, 1945–1953,” in Stalinskoe Desiatiletie Kholodnoi Voiny: Fakty i Gipotezy, ed. I. V. Gaiduk, N. I. Yegorova and A. O. Chubarian (Moscow: Nauka, 1999), 152–54.

(40) Elena Iu. Zubkova, “Mir Mnenii Sovetskogo Cheloveka. 1945–1948 Gody,” Otechestvennaia Istoriia 3 (1998): 32.

(41) Zubkova, Russia After the War, 37.

(42) Ibid., 47; and Jeffrey Brooks, Thank You, Comrade Stalin! Soviet Public Culture from Revolution to Cold War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 196.

(43) Stephen Lovell, Summerfolk: A History of the Dacha, 1710–2000 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003), 163–66.

(44) Zubkova, Russia After the War, 36.

(45) Amir Weiner, Making Sense of the War: The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 180–81.

(46) Kees Boterbloem, The Life and Times of Andrei Zhdanov, 1896–1948 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004), 280, 479 n. 177.

(47) Peter Grose, Operation Rollback (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000).

(48) Brooks, Thank You, Comrade Stalin!, 197.

(49) Zubkova, Russia After the War, 105; and Zubkova, “Mir Mnenii Sovetskogo Cheloveka,” 102.

(50) Pikhoia, Sovietski Soiuz, 65.

(51) The counter-hegemonic discourse here is in the periphery itself. Because I concentrate on foreign policy in this volume, I concentrate on discourses of the Soviet self that predominate in Moscow, not in Kiev, let alone in the many non-Russian territories of the Soviet Union. To the extent these counter-hegemonic discourses matter, they will appear in the societal discourses available in Moscow. This is not to say that these peripheral discourses do not matter; they surely do. It would be hard to explain the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1980s without exploring them. But I am not trying to explain that.

(52) Quoted in Evgenii Dobrenko, Metafora Vlasti: Literatura Stalinskoi Epokhi v Istoricheskom Osvshchenii (Munich: Verlag Otto Sagner, 1993), 368–69.

(53) David Brandenberger, National Bolshevism, 192, 224; and Dobrenko, Metafora Vlasti, 364–81.

(54) Dobrenko, Metafora Vlasti, 371.

(55) Brandenberger, “Stalin’s Last Crime?” 216–17.

(56) This is a good example of the “slippage” that occurs in efforts to deploy discursive power coherently.

(57) Brandenberger, National Bolshevism, 198–213.

(58) Ibid., 218, 226–39.

(59) Milovan Djilas, Conversations with Stalin (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962), 165.

(60) Ilya Prizel, National Identity and Foreign Policy: Nationalism and Leadership in Poland, Russia, and Ukraine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 189–90.

(61) Brandenberger, National Bolshevism, 184–85.

(62) Yuri Slezkine, Arctic Mirrors: Russia and the Small Peoples of the North (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994).

(63) David Brandenberger, National Bolshevism, 188–90.

(64) Dobrenko, Metafora Vlasti, 378.

(65) Hahn, Postwar Soviet Politics, 149.

(66) Zubkova, “Fenomen ‘Mestnogo Natsionalizma,’” 89–102.

(67) RGANI f5 op16 d582, 42–44.

(68) Cosmopolitanism was a code word signifying unpatriotic Jewish identification with Jews beyond Soviet borders.

(69) Amy Knight, Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 165.

(70) RGANI f5 op16 d582, 31–32, February 27, 1953.

(71) Brooks, Thank You, Comrade Stalin!, 214; and Dobrenko, Metafora Vlasti, 388.

(72) Anderson, Kremlevskii Kinoteatr, 859–62.

(73) Brandenberger, “Stalin’s Last Crime?” 204.

(74) Danilov and Pyzhikov, Rozhdenie Svekhderzhavy, 167.

(75) Gennadii Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvennyi Antisemitizm v SSSR, 1938–1953: Dokumenty (Moscow: Materik, 2005), 96–97.

(76) Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvennyi Antisemitizm, 110–19; Zubkova, Russia after the War, 136; Brooks, Thank You, 215; Rubenstein, Tangled Loyalties, 255–57; and Dobrenko, Metafora Vlasti, 337–64.

(77) For text of MGB report to the CC on the Jewish Antifascist Committee, see Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvenni Antisemitizm v SSR, 120–30.

(78) Ehrenburg, Post-War Years, 1945–1954, 133.

(79) Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvennyi Antisemitizm v SSSR, 330–31.

(80) Aleksandr N. Iakovlev, ed., Reabilitatsiia: Politicheskie Protsessy 30-50-x godov (Moscow: Izdatelstvo Politicheskoi Literatury, 1991), 323–26; and Fedor D. Volkov, Vzlet i Padenie Stalina (Moscow: Spektr, 1992), 279.

(81) Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvenni Antisemitizm v SSR, 351–57.

(82) American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; and Zubkova, Russia After the War, 136.

(83) RGANI f5 op16 d635, 15–16.

(84) Amir Weiner, Making Sense of the War, 199.

(85) Pikhoia, Sovetskii Soiuz, 60.

(86) For copies of hundreds of documents from the Soviet archives attesting to anti-Semitism from daily life to CC resolutions, see Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvenni Antisemitizm v SSSR.

(87) Kenez, Cinema and Soviet Society, 221.

(88) Weiner, Making Sense of the War, 192.

(89) Dobrenko, Metafora Vlasti, 344.

(90) Weiner, Making Sense of the War, 216–19.

(91) In the same year, Ivan Goncharov’s popular novel, Fregat Pallada, was republished, this time with long anti-Semitic sections. Weiner, Making Sense of the War, 196, 230–32.

(92) Ibid., 114–22.

(93) Ludmilla Alexeyeva and Paul Goldberg, The Thaw Generation: Coming of Age in the Post-Stalin Era (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1990), 44.

(94) Herman Ermolaev, Censorship in Soviet Literature: 1917–1991 (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997), 114–15.

(95) Ehrenburg, Post-War Years, 1945–1954, 125–27.

(96) Weiner, Making Sense of the War, 216–19; and Ehrenburg, Post-War Years, 1945–1954, 298.

(97) Yakov Rapoport, The Doctors’ Plot of 1953 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991).

(98) Ehrenburg, Post-War Years, 1945–1954, 299.

(99) RGANI f5 op16 d 602, 11–43.

(100) Birobidzhan is the eastern Siberian autonomous republic set aside for Jewish settlement.

(101) Vladimir. A. Kozlov, ed., Neizvestnaia Rossiia: XX Vek, vol. II (Moscow: Istoricheskoe Nasledie, 1992), 253–58.

(102) RGANI f5 op17 d392, 136–38, 161–63.

(103) Kultura I Vlast ot Stalina do Gorbacheva. Apparat TsK KPSS I Kultura 1953–1957. Dokumenty (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2001), 19; and Ehrenburg, Post-War Years, 1945–1954, 237.

(104) Zubkova, Russia After the War, 215 n. 1.

(105) RGANI f5 op16 d642 67–69.

(106) RGANI f5 op16 d642, 71–73.

(107) It would be helpful to my story if the word “kult” had the same pejorative connotations in Russian that it has in English. This is, however, not the case, at least to my knowledge.

(108) Chumachenko, Church and State, 89–94.

(109) Zubkova, Russia After the War, 78.

(110) Chumachenko, Church and State, 100–21.

(111) Weiner, Making Sense of the War, 214.

(112) Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvenni Antisemitizm v SSR, 265–69.

(113) Evgenii Gromov, Stalin: Vlast i Iskusstvo (Moscow: Respublika, 1998), 387; and Babichenko, Literaturnyi Front, 197–209.

(114) Brandenberger, National Bolshevism, 190.

(115) Ermolaev, Censorship in Soviet Literature, 106.

(116) Maureen Perrie, The Cult of Ivan the Terrible in Stalin’s Russia (Hampshire: Palgrave, 2001), 102–05, 169–78; and Gromov, Stalin: Vlast I Isskusstvo, 373–75.

(117) Quoted in Grigorii B. Mariamov, Kremlevskii Tsenzor: Stalin Smotrit Kino (Moscow: Kinotsentr, 1992), 85.

(118) Boterbloem, The Life and Times of Andrei Zhdanov, 299.

(119) Tatiana A. Pokivailova, “Moskva i Ustanovlenie monopolii Kompartii na Informatsiiu na Rubezhe 40-50-x godov,” in Moskva i Vostochnaia Evropa. Stanovlenie politicheskikh rezhimov sovetskogo tipa (1949–1953). Ocherki istorii, ed. Tatiana V. Volokitina et al. (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2002), 421.

(120) Anatolii M. Beda, Sovetskaia Politicheskaia Kultura Cherez Prizma MVD (Moscow: Mosgorarkhiv, 2002), 34.

(121) Antoine Baudin, “‘Why is Soviet Painting Hidden from Us?’ Zhdanov Art and its International Relations and Fallout, 1947–53,” in Socialist Realism Without Shores, ed. Thomas Lahusen and Evgeny Dobrenko (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997), 230–31.

(122) Alexeyeva, The Thaw Generation, 38. Any resemblance to the renaming of French fries as “freedom fries” in the US Congress cafeterias after French refusal to join the US adventure in Iraq in 2003 is completely coincidental.

(123) Zubkova, Russia After the War, 119; Krementsov, Stalinist Science, 131–36; and Boterbloem, The Life and Times of Andrei Zhdanov, 293–97.

(124) Simonov, Glazami Cheloveka, 111–15; and Gromov, Stalin: Vlast I Isskusstvo, 403.

(125) Iurii S. Aksenov, “Poslevoennyi Stalinizm: Udar po Intelligentsii,” Kentavr (October–December 1991), 82.

(126) RGASPI f82 op2 d159, 77–79.

(127) Krementsov, Stalinist Science, 136–43.

(128) Shepilov, “Politicheskii Arkhiv XX Veka. Vospominaniia,” Voprosy Istorii (May 1998), 11.

(129) Ehrenburg, Post-War Years, 61.

(130) Ilya Ehrenburg, “Zashchitniki Kultury,” Novoe Vremia 46 (1947): 8.

(131) Joshua Rubenstein, Tangled Loyalties: The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg (New York: Basic 1996), 249.

(132) Ehrenburg, Post-War Years, 1945–1954, 109.

(133) Kenez, Cinema and Soviet Society, 213–14.

(134) Hahn, Postwar Soviet Politics, 84–93.

(135) Brooks, Thank You, Comrade Stalin!, 213; Krementsov, Stalinist Science, 179–83; and Dmitrii T. Shepilov, “Politicheskii Arkhiv XX Veka. Vospominaniia,” Voprosy Istorii (June 1998): 5–11.

(136) Krementsov, Stalinist Science, 275.

(137) Simonov, Glazami Cheloveka, 110–11.

(138) Emma Widdis, “Russia as Space,” in National Identity in Russian Culture, ed. Simon Franklin and Emma Widdis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 46.

(139) Tolz, “‘Cultural Bosses,’” 96.

(140) Slezkine, Arctic Mirrors, 313.

(141) Lahusen, Real Socialism, 106.

(142) Gromov, Stalin: Vlast I Isskusstvo, 390.

(143) A. S. Kiselev, ed., Moskva Poslevoennaia 1945/47 (Moscow: MOSGOARKhIV, 2000), 763–64.

(144) Katerina Clark, The Soviet Novel: History as Ritual, 3rd ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), 197.

(145) Vera S. Dunham, In Stalin’s Time: Middleclass Values in Soviet Fiction (Durham: Duke University Press, 1990), 91.

(146) Hans Gunther, “Wise Father Stalin and his Family in Soviet Cinema,” in Socialist Realism Without Shores, ed. Thomas Lahusen and Evgeny Dobrenko (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997), 178; and Leonid Heller, “A World of Prettiness: Socialist Realism between Modernism and Postmodernism,” in Socialist Realism Without Shores, ed. Thomas Lahusen and Evgeny Dobrenko (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997), 65.

(147) Gunther, “Wise Father Stalin,” 183–87.

(148) Rossiiskii Illiuzion, (Moscow: Materik, 2003), 255; and Harold Swayze, Political Control of Literature in the USSR, 1946–1959 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962), 44–46.

(149) Shepilov, “Politicheskii Arkhiv XX Veka. Vospominaniia,” Voprosi Istorii (June 1998): 44.

(150) Clark, The Soviet Novel, 161–70.

(151) Djilas, Conversations with Stalin, 157.

(152) Kiselev, Moskva Poslevoennaia, 765.

(153) Clark, The Soviet Novel, 202–03.

(154) Kirill M. Anderson, Kremlevskii Kinoteatr, 797.

(155) Baudin, “Zhdanov Art,” 232.

(156) Edith Rogovin Frankel, Novy Mir: A Case Study in the Politics of Literature, 1952–1958 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 5–12.

(157) Shepilov, “Politicheskii Arkhiv XX Veka. Vospominaniia,” Voprosi Istorii (June 1998): 36.

(158) Clark, The Soviet Novel, 208.

(159) Babichenko, Literaturnyi Front, 229.

(160) Gromov, Stalin: Vlast I Isskusstvo, 391.

(161) Kenez, Cinema, 216.

(162) For the text of the CC resolution on the film, see Kiselev, Moskva Poslevoennaia, 763–64.

(163) Clark, The Soviet Novel, 162.