MEMORIES AND MYTHS: THE PERSONAL AND POLITICAL IMPACTS OF THE SIEGE OF LENINGRAD
Thursday, April 18, 4:00 p.m.
In partnership with UW-Madison War in Society and Culture Program
University of Wisconsin- Ingraham Hall, Room 2016-1155 Obervatory Dr.
Presented by: Dr. Lisa Kirschenbaum, Professor of History at West Chester University
The siege of Leningrad was one of the most tragic episodes of World War II. Blockaded for almost three years, the city suffered staggering losses; perhaps as many as one million civilians died, primarily of starvation. During the war, the Soviet state covered up the extent of the losses and propagated the story of Leningrad as a “hero city.” In the presentation, I seek to explain how and why this heroic story outlasted the state that promoted it. Drawing on a variety of commemorative projects and memoirs, I show the ways in which personal memories underpinned the “official” narrative of Leningrad as a “hero city” and how the official narrative in turn offered a resource for survivors attempting to cope with and make sense of painful memoires. The case of Leningrad illustrates how difficult it can be to separate the political and personal impacts of war. Recognizing the personal importance, if not internalization, of shared, ostensibly official narratives helps to explain why in contemporary Russia it has been so difficult to decouple ideology, politics, and memory.
This event is FREE and open to the public