Extreme Violence in the Nazi-Soviet War

In “States of Exception: the Nazi-Soviet War as a System of Violence, 1939-1945” Mark Edele and Michael Geyer analyze the mindset of war and the onset of extreme violence in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. The authors posit that the devastation and violence that accompanied the war was a result of the mutual hostility between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Additionally they argue that this war was fought “as a war on an interior and an exterior front” and that the escalation and radicalization of the war had a tremendous psychological impact on soldiers which further contributed to the prevalence of violence.… Read the rest here

Denunciation and the Great Purges

“…he ‘hunted for enemies everywhere with a magnifying glass’.1.

In Shelia Fitzpatrick’s “A Time of Troubles” she analyzed the impact the Great Purges had on everyday life and what mechanisms allowed the wide-spread terror to occur between 1937 and 1938.2. The Great Purges differed from earlier purges the Soviet Union experienced in that the term “enemy” was no longer associated with solely class. The classification of “enemy” became much broader and more difficult to identify.… Read the rest here

Public Works vs. Nature and the Back to the Land Movement

The Great Depression ravaged the economies of the United States and Germany. In an attempt to recover the United States and Germany implemented public works projects to improve not only unemployment rates, but also industry levels and infrastructure. These projects were also used as forms of government propaganda to revive national pride. In Schivelbusch’s chapter on public works he highlights public projects of the United States and Germany as well as the less successful public works attempts of the Soviet Union and Fascist Italy.… Read the rest here

Fascist Italy and Behavior of Individuals

“The Fascist State” by Christopher Leeds describes the ways in which Mussolini and the Italian Fascist Party attempted to mold Italian society.

“Our whole way of eating, dressing, working and sleeping, in short all our everyday habits, must be changed”1 .

This passage is particularly important to the article because it highlights the depth in which the fascist government and Mussolini sought to modify Italian society and change individuals’ behavior. However, as Leeds suggests they were not able to successfully do so.… Read the rest here

Political Leadership

The desire to make such historical comparisons is especially evident when examining the political systems of systems of Europe and the United States in the period surrounding World War II. Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen’s article “The Political (Dis)Orders of Stalinism and National Socialism” and Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s book Three New Deals make comparisons between the political systems of Hitler, Stalin and Roosevelt.

Both the pieces look at the leadership qualities of Hitler and compare them to another notable leader during the same time.… Read the rest here

Gulag Historiography

Bell’s piece focuses on the historiographical analyses of Gulags. He notes that the term “gulag” has taken on several meanings throughout recent history and the term has even been applied to more recent examples such as Guantanamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. However for the purpose of his paper he defines a Gulag as Soviet-era prison camp.

The focus of his paper is on the developments amongst scholars about the possible motivations of these forced labor camps.… Read the rest here

Modernity and Soviet Socialism

David Hoffman’s article analyzes the meanings of what it means to be a modern state and how the Soviet Union has historically fit into this definition. A modern state is recognized as a nation-state that has developed a system of parliamentary democracy and a social and economic system based on industrial capitalism (Hoffman, 246). He acknowledges that the Soviet Union did not develop at the same rate or way compared to its European counterparts, particularly France and England.… Read the rest here