Volume 64 Number 4 Abstracts

Forum: On Collaboration in Polandand the Soviet Union during World War II

Klaus-Peter Friedrich, Jeffrey W.Jones, John Connelly, Tanja Penter, Martin Dean

Astonishingly, we still do not have a history of collaboration in Poland during World War II. Klaus-Peter Friedrich shows that the building blocks for such a history already exist,however. They are scattered throughout the contemporary Polish press and studies on the Nazi occupation regime. Examples include institutionalized cooperation (Baudienst, Polish Police), ethnically defined segments of the population (Volksdeutsche), informal support of Nazi projects on ideological common ground (anti-Semitism and anticommunism), and the stance of the Polish peasantry as well as the Roman Catholic Church. Friedrich concludes that collaboration eludes study because of a mental image according to which ethnic Poles were the foremost victims of the occupiers and heroically resisted them.Questionable views of national self-interest keep Polish society from coming to terms with the past. Nevertheless, debates on "Polish collaboration" continue to recur--as they have since 1939.

Based onarchival and other materials from Rostov-on-Don, a major industrial center insouthern Russia, Jeffrey W. Jones examines the different representations of "collaboration"apparent in Soviet society during and after the war. Jones analyzes several different levels of discourse: inner party deliberations and reports on thesubject, depictions of collaborators and their actions in the local party press, questions and comments of workers and others at public meetings as recordedby party officials, and Cold War and post-Cold War era memoirs and interviews.These sources overlap to a significant degree but deal with the complex issueof collaboration in nuanced ways, stressing different themes and asking different questions. The evidence reveals a subtle divide in the perception and representation of this issue between party leaders and the population at largewhile also showing that the party's public assurances of cossack loyalty contrasted with a widely-shared assumption of cossack disloyalty.

Three historianscomment on the articles. John Connelly considers the moral and historiographical meanings of "collaboration" and "collaborationism" and suggests that even those cases that Friedrich documents do not make Poland into acollaborationist country. In fact, the Nazis were disappointed that Poles refused to collaborate. Connelly emphasizes the complicated choices andintentions among the Polish population and calls for bringing together both the heroic (and true) tale of Polish resistance with the disturbing (and true) tale of Polish accommodation to the slaughter of the Jews. Tanja Penter adds to thediscussion the results of her own research in the records of military tribunalsfor trials of Soviet citizens accused of collaborating with the Germans. Thesedata confirm the Soviet regime's extremely broad understanding of collaboration and provide insight into the collective biography of collaborators. They also suggest which crimes the regime believed most harmful to its integrity. While it is difficult to determine motives and even intentions from these trials,these data, like Jones's, indicate the immense loyalty problem that the Sovietgovernment faced in its occupied territories. Martin Dean calls attention to the difficulties of weeding out collaborators in the postwar Soviet Union and agrees with Jones on the limits of representing the"reality" of collaboration. He notes the reluctance, raised by both Friedrich and Jones, of postwar communist governments and nationalists to deal publicly with the phenomenon. Contrasted to the desire in postwar Europe to deal quicklywith war criminals, collaborators, and traitors so that people could move onwith their lives, Dean emphasizes the necessity and possibility for historiansto write a full history of wartime collaboration, one that recognizes multiple human motives and the responses of hundreds of thousands of individuals who hadto take far-reaching decisions under swiftly changing circumstances.

Kirov and Death in The Great Citizen: The FatalConsequences of Linguistic Mediation

Julie A. Cassiday

A fictional account of the lifeand death of Sergei Kirov, Fridrikh Ermler's two-part film The Great Citizen (1937 and 1939) appears unusual due to its lack of action and its fetishization of the spoken word. As an instance of what Ermler called "conversational cinema," the film defines the outer limit of verbosity and immobility in socialist realist film. The movie's hero Shakhov mediates between Stalin and the Soviet masses; as a result, the conflict between Shakhov and the Troskyist opposition represents a struggle between authentic and corrupt linguistic mediation in the film. By appropriating the myth of the Russian writer's martyrdom, TheGreat Citizen depicts Shakhov's demise not merely as the result of aTrotskyist conspiracy but more importantly as the necessary guarantor of the truth of Shakhov's words. Ermler's film reconfigures the writer's role inRussian society by inverting the hierarchy of the written and the spoken word,thus subjugating the myth of the martyred writer to the esthetic andideological goals of socialist realism. The Great Citizen demonstrates the importance of Kirov's martyrdom within Stalinist mythology and figures as a paradigmatic work of socialist realist film.

"In a Manner Befitting Soviet Citizens": An Uprising in the Post-Stalin"In a Manner Befitting Soviet Citizens": An Uprising in the Post-Stalin Gulag

Steven A. Barnes

In May-June 1954, prisoners inthe Kengir division of the Steplag special camp staged one of the longest and largest uprisings in gulag history. Steven A. Barnes considers the role playedby the west Ukrainian and Baltic nationalists and Red Army veterans whocomprised the Kengir prisoner population in an uprising strangely marked by moderate, even pro-Soviet, demands. Through a careful study of the propaganda war between prisoners and authorities and a consideration of the uprising's nominal leader, Red Army veteran Kapiton Kuznetsov, Barnes explores the possibilities and limits of resistance under Soviet rule and examines the gulag in itstwilight as seen by both leadership and inmates.

Russian Colonialism and the Asiatic Mode of Production: (Post-)SovietEthnography Goes to Alaska

Sonja Luehrmann

This article discusses theconcept of politarism (politarizm), developed by the Soviet ethnographer Iu. I. Semenov as an elaboration on Marx's Asiatic mode of production. Presenting both its origin in the revisionist debates of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras and its recent application in aninnovative analysis of Russian colonialism in Alaska by the ethnohistorian A. V. Grinev, Sonja Luehrmann attempts to grasp the intellectual complexity of Semenov's work.While the Soviet debate on the Asiatic mode of production has been read as Aesopian criticism of the USSR, it may more fruitfully be seen as an argument against a strict five-stage scheme of historical evolution that opened up newpossibilities of concrete empirical analysis and a new theoretical role forethnography as the science of noncapitalist societies. Grinev's use ofpolitarism in the 1990s shows the lasting explanatory value of the concept aswell as the need to understand the origins of Soviet intellectual traditions inorder to critically engage with them.