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Mutual Perceptions and Projections 397

the buildings, which stood directly opposite each other along the avenue lead-
ing from the Eiffel Tower to the Champs de Mars. Both dominated their envi-
ronment. The German pavilion was designed by Albert Speer, Hitler™s master
planner and architect, responsible for the reconstruction of Berlin as Germania,
the Third Reich™s capital. Boris Iofan, who had won the competition for the
470-meter-high Palace of the Soviets in the center of Moscow, designed the
Moscow pavilion. Both were educated in classic academic institutions of pre-
1917 Russia und pre-1933 Germany. Neither liked his modernist rivals of the
1920s. Speer™s pavilion represented a direct response to Mies van der Rohe™s
avant-gardist pavilion for the World™s Fair in Barcelona in 1929. Iofan™s pavil-
ion ignored all the aesthetic principles of the functionalist and constructivist
schools in the Soviet Union. Both architects received gold medals for their Paris
pavilions. But the parallels between the symmetrically located constructions
went even further: at the gates of the German pavilion stood the monumental-
ist sculptures Friendship and Family by Josef Thorak, whereas on the top of the
Soviet pavilion stood a monumental sculpture depicting two ¬gures, Worker
and Collective Farm Woman, by Vera Mukhina. Each nation™s respective sym-
bol of power was clearly visible “ the imperial eagle with swastika on the
front of the German building, hammer and sickle on top of the Soviet pavilion.
The interiors of both exhibition halls combined elements of modernity and
neoclassicist pomp. The organizers of the exhibition wanted to demonstrate
the achievements of their modern and civilized countries. The Soviet pavilion,
for example, included an exhibit highlighting the Soviet constitution of 1936, a
¬ve-meter-high plaster model of the Palace of Soviets, and walls decorated with
scenes from “a better and joyful Soviet life” (the painters were Deineka, Pakho-
mov and Samokhvalov). But attentive visitors and observers noted differences
and antagonisms, as well. The German pavilion was sometimes described as
“static,” whereas the Soviet one was perceived as “dynamic.” The symbolism
of the German sculptures was considered “traditional,” whereas the Soviet
sculpture group was characterized as an “emancipation of class and gender.”
From the memoirs of Albert Speer, we know that a “silent dialogue” existed
between the German and Soviet pavilions:

While looking over the site in Paris, I by chance stumbled into a room containing
the secret sketch of the Soviet pavilion. A sculpted pair of ¬gures thirty-three feet
tall, on a high platform, was striding triumphantly towards the German pavilion.
I therefore designed a cubic mass, also elevated on stout pillars, which seemed to
be checking this onslaught, while from the cornice of my tower an eagle with a
swastika in its claws looked down on the Russian sculptures. I received a gold
medal for the building; so did my Soviet colleague.3

The symbolism inherent in this encounter is perfectly clear, but the symbolic
representations of (and confrontation between) National Socialist Germany

Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs, trans. Richard Winston and Clara Winston
3

(New York: Macmillan, 1970), 130.
¨
Katerina Clark and Karl Schlogel
398

and the Soviet Union at the 1937 World™s Fair hinted at a much more com-
plex, multilayered reality. The year 1937 was the time of the “Great Terror”
in Russia, of the great exhibition of “Degenerate Art” in Munich, and of the
Spanish Civil War. It was also one year prior to the Munich conference and
the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. In retrospect, the similarities and dif-
ferences between these two representative constructions appear as a prologue
to the problems of mutual relations and mutual perceptions that are the subject
of the following analysis.
When we started to write our joint chapter on German perceptions of Stalin™s
Russia and Russian perceptions of Hitler™s Germany, it seemed quite easy to
de¬ne our subject. The questions we asked were, How did Germany and Russia
perceive each other during the Hitler and Stalin regimes? What were the main
features of these images? What was the historical and cultural background of
these images? Who generated and articulated these images? What impact did
they have on German-Russian relations in the 1930s and 1940s?
However, as we submerged ourselves in the project, as a result of the
independent course of our investigations we approached these questions from
widely different angles. Schlogel focused upon the multiplicity of images and
¨
perceptions of the Soviet Union that coexisted within German society, their
origins, and their evolution over the course of the Nazi regime. Clark, in turn,
contrasted the text-based cultural forms privileged in the Soviet Union with the
visual and oral cultural forms favored in Nazi Germany, highlighting the role of
anti-Nazi German intellectuals and cosmopolitan Soviet intellectuals in the con-
struction of Soviet images of Nazi Germany. In the end, rather than a compar-
ative analysis of the representations of Nazi Germany in the Soviet Union and
of the Soviet Union in Nazi Germany, the chapter offers two unique contribu-
tions, two different approaches to understanding German and Soviet history “
and particularly that of representation “ beyond the model of totalitarianism.
Walter Laqueur remarked forty years ago in his seminal book Russia and
Germany (1965) that the mutual perceptions of Nazi Germany and Stalin™s
Russia have been a series of misunderstandings. This insight is still true today.4
But it has become clear that “the titanic clash” between Germany and the Soviet
Union, then the greatest military action in world history, would have been
impossible without the mobilization and instrumentalization of an imagined
“other” that had to be defeated and destroyed. In clashes of this kind and
dimension, it is not only military forces that are engaged, but entire economies
and societies “ their industrial, organizational, and logistical potential and, of
course, their passions, ideas, images, and visions. The central question today
is probably not whether “ideas move the masses” but, rather, how images and
visions are related to certain interests, and how politics is represented in the
rhetoric and iconography of a given system.


Walter Laqueur, Deutschland und Russland (Frankfurt am Main and Berlin: Propylaen Verlag,
¨
4

1965), 10.
Mutual Perceptions and Projections 399

In the constructivist/deconstructivist discourse of the last decade, we have
lost all na¨vet´ in dealing with ideas and programs. We can no longer take
±e
them for granted; in each and every case, we have to analyze whether they are
the re¬‚ection of a given reality or, rather, a tool for creating social reality. In
this particular case, does Nazi propaganda against the Soviet Union and its
counterpart, Soviet propaganda against Nazi Germany, at all re¬‚ect reality “
that is, is there a “grain of truth” in these purely ideological constructs, or
are they entirely a priori tools for “marking” and “making” the adversary, the
enemy, the target? Obviously, images not only re¬‚ect given realities but also
project desires and ambitions. To that extent, these images are much more
indicative of the interests and ambitions of the “projector” behind them than
of any supposed reality re¬‚ected in them.5
Recognizing the instrumental relationship between representation and real-
ity, both of us emphasize, albeit in different ways, the diversity and complexity
of representation: how it is produced and disseminated, its historical origins
and ongoing evolution, its diverse authorship, its varied distribution, and the
relationship between core and periphery, bureaucrat and citizen. Thus, while
this essay does not provide a mirror-image comparison of representation in
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, by shifting the matrix of analysis from
traditional Cold War binaries to one that situates twentieth-century German
and Russian history within the context of a broader crisis of European civiliza-
tion, it illuminates the potential of these new directions in German and Soviet
history.

the comparative approach
From the outset of our research, it became clear to us that there was no one
image of Stalin™s Russia or Nazi Germany. In any historical period, there is
always a process of evolution and transformation of ideas and images; images
too have a history of rise and fall. Even in a controlled and censored pub-
lic sphere, as that of Nazi Germany, many different, even opposing, views,
perspectives, and images coexist.
When we re¬‚ect on the potential productivity of a comparative approach in
coming to terms with Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, it is obvious that a
study on mutual perceptions is complementary as well as comparative.6 Cer-
tainly, there is no need to legitimate comparison as a method of analysis. We
compare implicitly and expressis verbis. Nevertheless, discussions about com-
parative methods should focus more on the historic arguments that determine

On the limits of constructivist approaches, cf. Richard J. Evans, Fakten und Fiktionen: Uber die
5

Grundlagen historischer Erkenntnis (Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 1998).
Cf. the contributions in Ian Kershaw and Moshe Lewin, eds., Stalinism and Nazism: Dictator-
6

ships in Comparison (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), especially “Introduction:
The Regimes and Their Dictators: Perspectives of Comparison,” 1“25. For an early comparative
study in the form of parallel biographies, see Alan Bullock, Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives
(London: HarperCollins, 1991).
¨
Katerina Clark and Karl Schlogel
400

why we decide to stress one subject and to ignore another. We compare
Germany and Russia in this particular period because Nazi Germany and Stal-
inist Russia have, from a certain point of view, striking similarities. Both were
contrary to what we call an “open society,” a “liberal system,” or “democratic
society” in terms of adequate institutions of freedom and representation. From
this point of view, there was a clash of political cultures in twentieth-century
Europe, a dividing line between open and closed societies, the history of which
began in 1917 and came to an end in 1989. Historiography has re¬‚ected this
opposition from the very beginning, although in different stages: from Bolshe-
vism versus anti-Bolshevism to fascism versus the antifascist coalition to the
Cold War opposition between East and West.7
We also compare Germany and Russia because some nations, some peo-
ples, and some segments of society experienced both regimes simultaneously or
successively. The nations and states “in between” experienced occupation and
great suffering “ including occupation regimes, terror, expulsion, deportation,
forced migration, sometimes with genocide-like implications. This especially
typi¬es the experience of the nations “in between” “ that is, eastern Central
Europe, Central Europe, and the western part of the USSR. Historiography on
twentieth-century Russia and Germany largely re¬‚ects this dual experience of
the imposition of power, violence, and “revolution from abroad.”8 We com-
pare Germany and Russia because the societies are strikingly similar in the
amount of violence they experienced and unleashed. Not only are the numbers
of atrocities important, but also their speci¬c form, their unprecedented ruth-
lessness, and the emancipation of such violence from the rules of “traditional”
war.9 We compare Germany and Russia because both societies in that period
shared with other European societies the discourses of modernity and mod-
ernization, whether promodernist or antimodernist. The German and Soviet

Of the huge literature on totalitarianism, one can mention here only Hannah Arendt, Elemente
7

¨
und Ursprunge totaler Herrschaft (Munich and Zurich: Piper Verlag, 1986). For analysis of dis-
¨
course see Abbott Gleason, Totalitarianism: The Inner History of the Cold War (New York and
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995); Alfons Sollner, Ralf Walkenhaus, and Karin Wieland,
¨
eds., Totalitarismus: Eine Ideengeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1997).
See also the anthology of Bruno Seidel and Siegfried Jenkner, eds., Wege der Totalitarismus-
forschung (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1968). Opening the ¬eld beyond an
approach focused on total political rule, see Sheila Fitzpatrick, ed., Stalinism: New Directions
(London & New York: Routledge, 2000) esp., 1“14.
Cf. Jan T. Gross™s study on Soviet occupied eastern Poland, Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet
8

Conquest of Poland™s Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univer-
sity Press, 1988). See also Pavel Polian, Ne po svoei vole . . . : Istoriia i geogra¬ia prinuditel™nykh
migratsii v SSSR (Moscow: OGI-Memorial, 2001).
There are studies on the speci¬c form and function of violence and atrocities in Norman M.
9

Naimark, Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 2001); Nikolai Bougai, The Deportation of Peoples in the Soviet
Union (New York: Nova Science, 1996); Dittmar Dahlmann and Gerhard Hirschfeld, eds.,
Lager, Zwangsarbeit, Vertreibung und Deportation: Dimensionen der Massenverbrechen in der
Sowjetunion und in Deutschland 1933 bis 1945 (Essen: Klartext, 1999).
Mutual Perceptions and Projections 401

discourses are part of a genuinely European intellectual landscape “ from the
New Man and Lebensreform to redesigning nature and nations.10
Yet, despite the indisputably positive results of comparative approaches,
there remain some doubts about what comparisons may or may not achieve.
The following offers some arguments for an, as it were, angular view of both
“systems.” The comparative perspective on Russia and Germany has tradi-
tionally been determined by historical and political constellations that allow
some insights but simultaneously distract from more pertinent questions and
approaches. This view on Germany and Russia is a view from outside, from a
normative basis alien to what happened there. The parameters are the univer-
salia of modern liberal society, the categories developed in one region of the
world pretending to give a matrix for analysis and interpretation of cultures
and traditions all over the world. This is an illusion.
We need to move two or three steps back to a different matrix of analy-
sis. The matrix of open versus closed society does not allow for more basic
questions such as empire versus nation-state; preindustrial versus industrial;
preurban versus urbanized; semicolonial versus imperial; introverted and self-
destructive violence versus extroverted and aggressive violence; weak and “fail-
ing” powers versus superstates; Russia on the move versus settled Germany;
unmastered Russian space versus the well-ordered Third Reich police state;
“Faust™s metropolis” versus the “Peasant metropolis”; social revolution and
upward mobility versus seizure of power by the “movement”; the longue dur´ e e
of the Soviet Revolution versus the twelve-year episode of Nazi Germany;
and so forth.11 In other words, we have to resist the suggestive power of the
kinds of comparisons that have been central for understanding the world dur-
ing the Cold War period, but which are not so central for analysis beyond
the divide. We should move toward designing different matrices for a histoire
´e
ev´ nementielle. Convincing arguments exist in favor of a shift in priorities:
from comparing to reconstructing the contexts, the interactions, the transfers
and interplays of “national” histories in the framework of European civiliza-
tion. There is something arti¬cial and overly ambitious in making the Nazism-
Stalinism comparisons. There is a tendency toward symmetry and symmetrical


There is a mass of new literature about discourses on modernity, aesthetics, sport, body, health,
10

hygiene, reproductive medicine, leisure time, architecture, planning, nature, etc. For the early
¨
period see Kai Buchholz, ed., Die Lebensreform: Entwurfe zur Neugestaltung von Leben und
Kunst um 1900, 2 vols. (Darmstadt: Hausser, 2001). For the later period, cf. the catalogues
¨
of the two exhibitions Paris-Moscow 1900“1930 (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1979)
and Irina Antonowa and Jorn Merkert, eds., Berlin-Moskau, Ausstellungskatalog (Munich and
New York: Prestel, 1995). See also Nicola Lepp and Martin Roth, eds., Der neue Mensch:
Obsessionen des 20: Jahrhunderts: Katalog der Ausstellung im Deutschen Hygiene-Museum
vom 2. August bis 8. August 1999 (Ost¬ldern-Ruit: Crantz, 1999).
The terms are from Alexandra Richie, Faust™s Metropolis: A History of Berlin (London: Harper
11

Collins, 1998), and David L. Hoffmann, Peasant Metropolis: Social Identities in Moscow,
1929“1941 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994).

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