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Red Army 1925“1941 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996); id., Red Commanders:
A Social History of the Soviet Army Of¬cer Corps, 1918“1991 (Lawrence: University Press of
Kansas, 2005), 134“57; Glantz, Colossus Reborn, 466“71; Glantz and House, When Titans
Clashed, 5“45.
Mark Edele and Michael Geyer
362

proletariat. Stalin™s Revolution from Above was a reaction to perceived military
threats, and the explicit goal was the creation of an industrialized society which
could withstand modern warfare. The result was a highly centralized polity
already mobilized in peacetime and thus well prepared for war.73
In terms of mentality, also, much of Soviet society was already mobilized.
War had been a recurrent phenomenon in the forty years since the turn of the
century. And these wars became more and more total: the Russo-Japanese War
of 1904“5 was still a relatively conventional con¬‚ict, although it already drew
in enough of civilian society to trigger a ¬rst revolution in 1905. World War I
necessitated the mobilization of all resources for the war effort and overtaxed
the imperial political system; Russia imploded into two revolutions in 1917
which triggered the civil war of 1918“21 “ a truly total, if not “totalitarian” war
that not only called for the complete mobilization of resources by the warring
parties, but also undid the distinction between combatant and noncombatant.
In this war, the goal was not to force concessions out of the adversary (“politics
by other means”), but to produce complete physical destruction of the enemy
and all his allies. In the mentality born of this con¬‚ict “ which would form part
of the ground on which Stalinism was built “ politics became an extension of
war, not the other way around.74
The experience of unfettered violence formed the mental background to the
peculiarly Soviet reaction to the German invasion. This was not a society where

Roger Pethybridge, The Social Prelude to Stalinism (London and Basingstoke: Macmillan,
73

1974), 73“131; Sheila Fitzpatrick, “War and Society in Soviet Context: Soviet Labor before,
during, and after World War II,” International Labor and Working-Class History 35 (Spring
1989): 37“52; John Barber and Mark Harrison, The Soviet Home Front, 1941“1945: A Social
and Economic History of the USSR in World War II (London and New York: Longman, 1991),
13“18; Mark von Hagen, Soldiers in the Proletarian Dictatorship: The Red Army and the Soviet
Socialist State, 1917“1930 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990); Peter Holquist, Making
War, Forging Revolution: Russia™s Continuum of Crisis, 1914“1921 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 2002); Joshua Sanborn, Drafting the Russian Nation: Military Conscription,
Total War, and Mass Politics 1905“1925 (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2003).
On the role of the Civil War in the mentality of Bolshevism and Stalinism see, for example,
74

Robert C. Tucker, “Stalinism as Revolution from Above,” in Stalinism: Essays in Historical
Interpretation, ed. R. C. Tucker (New York: Norton, 1977), 77“108; esp. 103. Sheila Fitz-
patrick, “The Legacy of the Civil War,” in Party, State, and Society in the Russian Civil War:
Explorations in Social History, eds. William Rosenberg, Diane P. Koenker, and Ronald G. Suny
(Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989), 385“98; and id., “The Civil
War as a Formative Experience” in Bolshevik Culture, eds. Abbott Gleason, Peter Kenez, and
Richard Stites (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), 57“76. On the replay of Civil
War traditions “ often by those who had “missed” it “ see id., “Cultural Revolution as Class
War,” Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1928“1931, ed. S. Fitzpatrick (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1978), 8“40, esp. 18, 25. For broader perspectives on the history of violence
and violent mentalit´ s see Stefan Plaggenborg, “Weltkrieg, Burgerkrieg, Klassenkrieg: Men-
e ¨
talitatsgeschichtliche Versuch uber die Gewalt in Sowjetrußland,” Historische Anthropologie
¨ ¨
¨ ¨
3 (1995): 493“505; id., “Gewalt und Militanz in Sowjetrussland 1917“1930,” Jahrbucher fur
Geschichte Osteuropas 44, no. 3 (1996): 409“30; and E. S. Seniavskaia, Psikhologiia voiny v
xx veke: Istoricheskii opyt Rossii (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 1999). For the importance of these for
the war see Weiner, “Something to Die For.”
States of Exception 363

peace was normal and war best avoided. This was a political system “whose
innate harshness replicated life in the military in many ways.”75 In principle,
war was seen as inevitable and had been expected for decades. A children™s
novel of the 1920s not only predicted world Communism to arrive by the late
1950s, but also made it clear to its young readership what to expect between
the miserable present and the bright future “ revolutionary war as world war.76
The Civil War in Spain was a major staple of popular culture in the 1930s,
and movies with titles like If Tomorrow Brings War (1938) celebrated the
coming con¬‚ict.77 Soviet citizens fantasized about “Spain” in their daydreams,
which they recorded in their diaries; at night they sometimes dreamed their way
into the slaughter, participating in a more heroic reality than their mundane
and often numbing everyday existence afforded. Soon, they could act out such
wishes in real life.78 A particularly impressive example of this psychological-
cum-cultural preparation for the coming con¬‚ict and one™s own likely violent
death was the writer Alexander A¬nogenov. In 1940 he started writing a play
called On the Eve. It documented “the eve and the ¬rst days of the great war
that, he was sure, was imminent.” Within days of the beginning of Barbarossa,
the play was commissioned and the author “had only to endow the abstract
enemy forces of his ¬rst draft with the faces of the invading Nazi forces.”79
The symbolic means to engage the coming violence were thus readily avail-
able.80 Russian nationalism had developed as a strong theme throughout the
1930s, which explains why the con¬‚ict could be termed the (Great) Patriotic
War right from the outset.81 The corollary “ the repression, deportation, or

Glantz, Colossus Reborn, 589.
75

Innokenty Zhukov, “Voyage of the Red Star Pioneer Troop to Wonderland” (1924), in Mass
76

Culture in Soviet Russia: Tales, Poems, Songs, Movies, Plays, and Folklore, 1917“1953, eds.
James von Geldern and Richard Stites (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press,
1995), 90“112.
Seniavskaia, Frontovoe pokolenie, 75“6; A. B. Zubov, “Pobeda, kotoruiu my poteriali,” Dru-
77

gaia voina, 384“5; von Geldern and Stites, eds., Mass Culture in Soviet Russia, 316“18; Sheila
Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism, 10, 69, 171; Marius Broekmeyer, Stalin, the Russians, and
Their War, trans. Rosalind Buck (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1999), 3“5.
Jochen Hellbeck, Revolution on My Mind: Writing a Diary under Stalin (Cambridge, MA, and
78

London: Harvard University Press, 2006), 92“3.
Hellbeck, Revolution on My Mind, 340.
79

On the war preparations of the propaganda apparatus see Vladimir Aleksandrovich Nevezhin,
80

“Rech™ Stalina 5 maia 1941 goda i apologiia nastupatel™noi voiny,” Otechestvennaia istoriia,
no. 2 (1995): 54“69.
Iu. A. Poliakov, “Istoki narodnogo podviga,” in Narod i voina, 13; David Brandenberger,
81

National Bolshevism: Stalinist Mass Culture and the Formation of Modern Russian National
Identity, 1931“1956 (Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard University Press, 2002). The com-
parison with the “patriotic war” (otechestvennaia voina) against Napoleon was already made
in Molotov™s radio address of 22 June 1941. Izvestiia, 24 June 1941, reprinted in V. P. Naumov,
ed., 1941 god. V 2-kh knigakh, vol. 2 (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyi fond “Demokratiia,” 1998),
434“5, here: 435. Although historians sometimes claim otherwise, this war soon became
“Great” in Soviet propaganda, which used the terms Velikaia Otechestvennaia voina and
Otechestvennaia voina interchangably for war. Compare the uses of the term in the documents
from 1941 and 1943 in V. A. Zolotarev, ed., Glavnye politicheskie organy vooruzhennykh
Mark Edele and Michael Geyer
364

execution of members of “enemy nations” “ was also not a result of the war but
an escalation of practices of the past decade.82 The criminalization of captivity
was, likewise, in place. Already the Criminal Code of 1926 had de¬ned “giving
oneself over to the enemy” (sdat™sia v plen) as treason, if it was not caused by
the “battle situation”; in the 1930s, the security organs were keenly interested
in people who had been POWs during World War I or in the Soviet-Polish war;
and during the winter war with Finland in 1939-40 recovered captives had
been treated as traitors.83 The Red Army™s propaganda apparatus threatened
soldiers already on 24 June 1941 with “the highest form of punishment” for
the “treason and betrayal” of “giving oneself into captivity.”84 The repres-
sive policies against POWs connected to Stalin™s order No. 270 of 16 August
1941 were thus just reinforcements and radicalizations of what was already in
place.85 Something similar can be said about the brutality against their own
troops, which would characterize the wartime Red Army and which was sym-
bolized in the famous “blocking detachments” (zagraditel™nye otriady). New
disciplinary regulations introduced on 12 October 1940 had given commanders
far-reaching authority to punish subordinates “ including “employing force or
weapons.”86


sil SSSR v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine 1941“1945 gg. Dokumenty i materialy. Vol. 17“6,
Russkii Arkhiv. Velikaia Otechestvennaia (Moscow: Terra, 1996), 20, 39, 45, 69, 235, with
Mawdsley, Thunder, 460 fn. 3, and Bellamy, Absolute War, 3.
Terry Martin, “The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing,” The Journal of Modern History 70,
82

no. 4 (1998): 813“61; Pavel Polian, Ne po svoei vole . . . istoriia i geogra¬ia prinuditel™nykh
migratsii v SSSR (Moscow: OGI, 2001); Kate Brown, A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic
Borderland to Soviet Heartland (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003); N. L.
Pobol™ and P. M. Polian, eds., Stalinskie deportatsii 1928“1953, Rossiia XX vek. Dokumenty
(Moscow: Demokratiia, 2005); Jeffrey Burds, “The Soviet War against ˜Fifth Columnists™:
The Case of Chechnya, 1942“4,” Journal of Contemporary History 42, no. 2 (2007): 267“
314.
L. G. Ivashov and A. S. Emelin, “Nravstvennye i pravovye problemy plena v Otechestven-
83

noi istorii,” Voenno-istoricheskii zhurnal, no. 1 (1992): 47“8; V. Danilov, R. Manning, and
L. Viola, eds., Tragediia sovetskoi derevni: Kollektivizatsiia i raskulachivanie: Dokumenty i
materialy v 5 tomakh 1927“1939. Tom 5, kn. 2: 1938“1939 (Moscow: Rosspen, 2006), 53“5;
V. K. Luzherenko, “Plen: tragediia millionov,” in: Narod i voina, 188.
Zolotarev, ed., Glavnye politicheskie organy vooruzhennykh sil SSSR, 24.
84

There is a large literature on Soviet POWs during and after the war. For a guide up to the mid-
85

1990s see Jorg Osterloh, Sowjetische Kriegsgefangene 1941“1945 im Spiegel nationaler und
¨
¨
internationaler Untersuchungen: Forschungsuberblick und Bibliographie, 2nd rev. ed. (Dres-
den: Hannah-Arendt-Institut fur Totalitarismusforschung e.V. and der TU Dresden, 1996).
¨
Basic Russian-language reading includes Pavel Polian, Zhertvy dvukh diktatur: Ostarbaitery i
voennoplennye v tret™em reikhe i ikh repatriatsiia (Moscow: Vash Vybor TsIPZ, 1996); V. P.
Naumov, “Sud™ba voennoplennykh i deportirovannykh grazhdan SSSR. Materialy komissii po
reabilitatsii zhertv politicheskikh repressii,” Novaia i noveishaia istoriia no. 2 (1996): 91“112;
Luzherenko, “Plen: tragediia millionov,” and Aron Shneer, Plen: Sovetskie voennoplennye v
Germanii, 1941“1945 (Moscow: Mosty kultury, 2005). The German classic is Christian Streit,
Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen 1941“1945 (Bonn:
Dietz, 1997).
Pechenkin, “Byla li vozmozhnost nastupat™?” 48“49; Zolotarev, ed., Glavnye politicheskie
86

organy vooruzhennykh sil SSSR, 325 n.11.
States of Exception 365

Finally, the hate propaganda which became so central to the war effort of
the Soviets had a history which went back at least as far as World War I
and the Civil War.87 The representation of the animallike German soldier in
wartime posters was not simply a symbolic expression of the enemy™s real-
life monstrosity. It was that, too, but it also drew on an established pictorial
repertoire “ the fascist monster of the 1930s.88 Soviet propagandists were thus
ready for this war, and the atrocity agitation was at full pitch long before Ger-
man behavior could con¬rm these expectations.89 Moreover, important groups
of Soviet citizens “ what we might call the cadres of totalitarian violence “
were not only mentally, but also practically prepared for this war. A (due to
the purges) thinning, but nevertheless important section of the of¬cer corps
had gained prior wartime experience in the ¬erce Russian and Spanish Civil
Wars.90 In fact, the top circles of power during the war years included many
men whose worldview was deeply in¬‚uenced by the savage ¬ghting of 1918“
21 “ Timoshenko, Voroshilov, Kulik, Budennyi, Zhukov, and of course Stalin
himself.91 The latter™s conduct during the Civil War pointed to things to come “
preference for severe discipline and force over persuasion, callous sacri¬ce of
soldiers, and disregard for obscene casualty numbers.92
Likewise, the civilian population included people like Iosif Prut, an utterly
peaceful scriptwriter, who two decades earlier had liquidated anti-Soviet rebels


Frank Kampfer, Der rote Keil: Das politische Plakat: Theorie und Geschichte (Berlin: Gebr.
¨
87

Mann Verlag, 1985); Hubertus Jahn, Patriotic Culture in Russia during World War I (Ithaca,
NY, and London: Cornell University Press, 1995); Richard Stites, ed., Culture and Entertain-
ment in Wartime Russia (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1995); Vic-
toria Bonnell, Iconography of Power: Soviet Political Posters under Lenin and Stalin (Berkeley,
Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1997); Mark Edele, “Paper Soldiers:
¨ ¨
The World of the Soldier Hero According to Soviet Wartime Posters,” Jahrbucher fur Geschichte
Osteuropas 47, no. 1 (1999): 89“108; Jeffrey Brooks, Thank You, Comrade Stalin! Soviet Pub-
lic Culture from Revolution to Cold War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000);
Stephen M. Norris, A War of Images: Russian Popular Prints, Wartime Culture, and National
Identity 1812“1945 (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2006); E. S. Seniavskaia, Pro-
tivniki Rossii v voinakh xx veka: Evoliutsiia ˜obraza vraga™ v soznanii armii i obshchestva
(Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2006); Denise J. Youngblood, Russian War Films: On the Cinema Front,
1914“2005 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007).
For example, see the folowing posters: V. Deni and N. Dolgorukov, “Fashizm “ eto voina”
88

(1936); reprinted in Simvoly epokhi v sovetskom plakate, ed. T. G. Koloskova (Moscow:
Gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii muzei, 2001), #81; or I. Dolgopolov and Iu. Uzbekov, “Doloi
fashistskikh podzhigatelei voiny!” (1938); reprinted in Plakaty pervykh let sovetskoi vlasti
i sotsialisticheskogo sotrudnichestva (1918“1941): Katalog, eds. I. P. Avdeichik and G. K.
Iukhnovich (Minsk: “Polymia,” 1985), 112.
See, for example, Krasnaia zvezda, 26 June 1941, 1 and 3.
89

Reese, Red Commanders, 150.
90

V. A. Torchinov and A. M. Leontiuk, Vokrug Stalina: Istoriko-biogra¬cheskii spravochnik
91

(St. Petersburg: Filologicheskii fakul™tet Sankt-Peterburgskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta,
2000), 479; Kevin McDermott, Stalin: Revolutionary in an Era of War (Basingtoke and New
York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 34“40; Robert Service, Stalin: A Biography (Cambridge,
MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005), 163“75, 337.
Service, Stalin, 170. On the Civil War legacy and Stalin™s learning process during the war see
92

also Mawdsley, Thunder, 207.
Mark Edele and Michael Geyer
366

in Central Asia, delivering the head of one of these “bandits” as proof of an
accomplished mission to his commander.93 Such men brought their knowledge
of all-out civil warfare with them into the army. They joined thousands of
younger communists who had participated in the civil war against the peas-
antry in the early 1930s and had been well-enough schooled in dialectics to

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