Soviet Veterans of the Second World War: A Popular Movement in an Authoritarian Society 1941-1991

TitleSoviet Veterans of the Second World War: A Popular Movement in an Authoritarian Society 1941-1991
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsEdele, Mark
Number of Pages348
PublisherOxford University Press
City, CountryOxford; New York
Abstract

Millions of Soviet soldiers died in the USSR's struggle for survival against Nazi Germany but millions more returned to Stalin's state after victory. Mark Edele traces the veterans' story from the early post-war years through to the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. He describes in detail theproblems they encountered during demobilization, the dysfunctional bureaucracy they had to deal with once back, and the way their reintegration into civilian life worked in practice in one of the most devastated countries of Europe. He pays particular attention to groups with specific problems suchas the disabled, former prisoners of war, women soldiers, and youth. The study analyses the old soldiers' long struggle for recognition and the eventual emergence of an organized movement in the years after Stalin's death. The Soviet state at first refused to recognize veterans as a group worthy of special privileges or as an organization. They were not a groupconceived of in Marxist-Leninist theory, there was suspicion about their political loyalty, and the leadership worried about the costs of affording a special status to such a large population group. These preconceptions were overcome only after a long, hard struggle by a popular movement that slowlyemerged within the strict confines of the authoritarian Soviet regime

(UNC Chapel Hill)

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