From Sacred Union to Socialist Fatherland: Russian Patriotic Culture, 1914–22

Sunday, January 5, 2014: 8:50 AM
Virginia Suite C (Marriott Wardman Park)
Melissa K. Stockdale, University of Oklahoma
“From Sacred Union to Socialist Fatherland: Patriotic Culture in Russia’s Great War,1914-1918”

           In the decades following the Great War, many Russian elites—and after them, scholars-- concluded that a major cause of Russia’s military collapse was the common people’s inability to conceive  of the nation and the necessity of sacrificing for it. Most blamed this deficient love of country on the reactionary imperial government’s  reluctance to inculcate or mobilize mass patriotism. In fact, we know almost nothing about patriotic culture  in wartime Russia. My paper contends that the government, public and private organizations, and church all engaged in extensive campaigns of patriotic mobilization  that depicted a united and inclusive national community worthy of love and sacrifice.  I examine phenomena such as new mass circulation periodicals, widely distributed maps and images of  Russian heroes and leaders, huge fund-raising campaigns for war relief, and creation of new prayers, mass rituals, and holidays. These efforts continued after February 1917, even as their language and imagery changed. I  believe they helped the population imagine themselves part of  a far-flung  national community united in collective acts of sacrifice, aid, and remembrances--- even as other efforts to find scapegoats and “enemies within” challenged that inclusive narrative of national community.