Great Patriotic war: what remains in personal memory?

Great Patriotic war:
what remains in personal memory?

Makarova L.V.

Russian State Social University, Moscow, Russia

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For citation:

Makarova L.V. Great Patriotic war: what remains in personal memory?. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2015. No 11. P. 107-114


The article describes how well do Russians remember events of the World War II (known as Great Patriotic War in Soviet Union and Russia). The study highlights memories of key events that older generations share with younger people in private conversations. The author of the article singles out comparable war events and analyzes how much Russian youth know them. This aspect is particularly important as the people born after 1990th are the last generation having a chance to personallly converse with witnesses of 174 Социологические исследования № 11, 2015 the war. The study has been conducted in two stages: during the first stage the pollees wrote about war events using testimonies shared by the eyewitnesses of the war. At the second stage these written texts were analyzed. Main sources of knowledge about war events were memories of family members, as well as conversations with school teachers and war veterans. The most frequently shared memories concern famine, losing loved ones, hard labor in the rear (especially child labor) and injuries. Surprisingly, a fair share of memories is related to hardships suffered under occupation and good treatment of occupied people by the Germans. The memory of war in younger peoples’ minds is associated with highest display of human efforts: sharing scarce food, sacrificing one’s life to save injured and Jews, brotherhood on the battlefield and love in life-long marriages. According to results of the study, almost all young Russians keep memory of the events of the World War II described by older generations. This memory does not contradict cultural memory or the ideas contained in official history textbooks. The only exception is the memory on Germans’ behavior, but it is always related to particular individuals and does not change definition of war as a sacred act of defending the land from the fascist occupants. Personal memory of the youth is always emotional, the pollees could not help admiring and worshipping war generations.

historical memory; Great Patriotic War; youth; personal memory
Content No 11, 2015