In January 1939, the theater critic V. Blium wrote to Stalin in despair that:
"Socialist patriotism sometimes and in some places is starting to display all the characteristics of racial nationalism... [Our people] don't understand that to beat the enemy fascist, we must under no circumstances use his weapon (racism), but a far superior weapon - internationalist socialism."1
What had provoked such a letter? Soviet society witnessed a major ideological about-face during the mid-to-late 1930s as russocentric etatism superseded earlier internationalist slogans. Nevskii, Peter, Kutuzov and Pushkin had joined Lenin, Stalin, Molotov, Voroshilov, Frunze and Dzerzhinskii in a newly-integrated Soviet pantheon of heroes which aimed to co opt charismatic elements of the tsarist past.2 Blium found this shift - often referred to as the "great retreat"3 - to be a betrayal of Communist ideals.
Copyright © 2000 Franz Steiner Verlag. This article first appeared in Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 48:3 (2000), 388-406.
Please note that downloads of the article are for private/personal use only.
Brandenberger, David. "OrgSoviet Social Mentalité and Russocentrism on the Eve of War, 1936-1941." Jahrbücher Für Geschichte Osteuropas 48, no. 3 (2000): 388-406.