Cover Osteuropa 4-6/2005

In Osteuropa 4-6/2005

What is meant by reappraisal of the past?
The Great Patriotic War in Soviet and Russian historiography

Joachim Hösler

Deutsche Fassung


There have been five phases in scholarship on the history of the Great Patriotic War in the USSR and, since 1991, in Russia. Up to 1953, Stalin decided what could be said and written. Under Khrushchev, it was unclear whether research should follow the ideas put forward in the February 1956 Party Congress speech or the apologetic June 1953 Central Committee resolution. From the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s the history of the war was painted in glowing colours; this was supposed to demonstrate the “superiority of socialism” and was embedded in an iconography of victory which cultivated the myth of a “holy war”. During perestroika the war was the first topic on the historical agenda, the one that aroused most passion, and the most difficult one. Since 1991 it has been the only aspect of Soviet history which remains as a positive, integral component of an affirmative image of that history.

(Osteuropa 4-6/2005, pp. 115–126)