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In this compelling account of life and death in a Russian province under Nazi occupation, Johannes Due Enstad challenges received wisdom about Russian patriotism during World War II. With the benefit of hindsight, we know how hopelessly destructive Germany's war against the Soviet Union was. Yet ordinary Russians witnessing the advancing German forces saw things differently. For many of them, having lived through collectivization and Stalinist terror in the 1930s, the invasion created hopes of a better life without the Bolsheviks. German policies on land and church helped sustain those hopes for parts of the population. Drawing on Soviet and German archival sources as well as eyewitness accounts, memoirs, and diaries, Enstad demonstrates the impact of Nazi rule on the mostly peasant population of northwest Russia and offers a reconsideration of the relationship between the Soviet regime and its core Russian population at this crucial moment in their history.Read more
- A clear and readable account of the Russian experience under Nazi rule
- Draws on both Soviet and German archival sources, as well as eyewitness accounts, diaries, and memoirs
- Reconsiders the relationship of ordinary Russians to Stalinism and to the German occupation
Reviews & endorsements
'The narrative of the Great Patriotic War is a part of Russian national identity, but Western studies show that most of the Soviet population welcomed the German invasion as a liberation from Stalinist repression. Focusing on the less-studied northwestern region of the Soviet Union - the area between Leningrad and Moscow - Enstad uses Soviet and German sources to understand how Soviet society experienced the German invasion and occupation. … The Russian population came to see the Nazi occupiers as no better than the Bolsheviks. Enstad's conclusion that decades of Soviet rule had not formed bonds of loyalty between the people and the regime is not surprising, but it is a valuable confirmation that a lack of 'patriotism' was evident among the Russian population as well as among other peoples of the Soviet Union. A valuable resource for those interested in German-occupied Soviet Union. … Recommended.' R. P. Peters, ChoiceSee more reviews
'This is a superb monograph with important implications for our understanding of both life under Stalinism and responses to Nazi conquest among ethnically Russian peasants. It opens an intriguing window on the experiences of one hitherto understudied region of Russia during the war, and constitutes an inspiring model for the study of public attitudes and private emotions in other parts of the Soviet Union in this era.' Aviel Roshwald, Slavic Review
'… a welcome addition to the literature on the Soviet experience of World War II. Scholars studying World War II or the history of Soviet rural life will find that it adds a complementary view to works on the occupation of other areas of the Soviet Union.' Seth Bernstein, Journal of Contemporary History
'… Enstad’s work deserves acclaim not just for its insights into the Soviet Russian bifurcation during the war, but also as a model microhistory with an approach well worth emulating.' Kiril Feferman, The Russian Review
'… offers rich food for thought and prompts further inquiries …' Natalia Kovalyova, Europe-Asia Studies
‘The book’s findings offer valuable insight into life within the wartime USSR, and demonstrate the Stalinist system’s prewar failure to create meaningful bonds of loyalty between the regime and the majority of the Soviet population. Enstad’s work helps to fill a gap in existing Soviet historiography, which has long overlooked the experiences of Soviet citizens who fell under German occupation during World War II … this book will be much appreciated by anyone interested in Soviet experiences of World War II as well as anyone interested in better understanding how tens of millions of Soviet citizens - particularly rural residents and collective farmers - felt about the Soviet state in the 1940s.’ Maris Rowe-McCulloch, H-Russia
‘This is an excellent book, a model of historical research, clearly written, and interesting and provocative to boot. I strongly recommend it to anybody interested in the history of either the Soviet Union or the Second World War.’ Paul Robinson, Irrussianality
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- Date Published: August 2018
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781108421263
- length: 272 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 158 x 17 mm
- weight: 0.59kg
- contains: 12 b/w illus. 2 maps
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Life in the 1930s and the limits of Stalinist civilization
2. Hopes and fears: popular responses to the invasion
3. Facing annihilation
4. The ghost of hunger
5. 'More meat, milk, and bread than in the Stalinist Kolkhoz': life in the de-collectivized village
6. Religious revival and the Pskov Orthodox Mission
7. Relating to German and Soviet power
8. Hopes and fears, revisited: the end and aftermath of occupation
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