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Stalin at War

Thursday, November 3, 2016, 5:30 pm

The Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies Research Group cordially invites you to the first meeting in the Research Seminar Series 2016/2017 entitled:

Stalin at War by Alfred J. Rieber

In this lecture I argue that the war forced Stalin to combine two apparently contradictory principles of governance in order to mobilize the population: on the one hand he  followed a path toward even greater introducing centralization of power under his command of the civil and military sectors alike; on the other hand he allowed a greater degree of spontaneity and autonomy to key institutions in order to tap new sources of creativity from below. A key element in the latter strategy was to recognize and welcome greater initiatives and flexible responses to solving critical problems to the Academy of Sciences and the cadres of technical specialists engaged in the innovative design and production of weapons. The results were in some cases spectacular and in other cases unexpected. For example, the Academy responded by taking initiatives in the exploration of natural resources, the development of medical and biological research for wartime use, the invention of new techniques and models to enhance the effectiveness of military hardware. As a result of the contribution of the scientific and technical intelligentsia to the war effort, its position in the post war hierarchical structure was strengthened and its defense of the value of pure research was reinforced. A particularly important role was played by the Jewish intelligentsia. However, once the war was over, Stalin re-imposed controls over the local initiatives and harnessed the scientific and technical intelligentsia to the new task of producing the atomic bomb.  

Professor Alfred J. Rieber has written and edited nine books in Russian and Soviet History as well as numerous articles and book chapters. Among his books are Stalin and the French Communist Party, 1941-1947; The Politics of Autocracy; Merchants and Entrepreneurs in Imperial Russia; Perestroika at the Crossroads; Forced Migration in Central and Eastern  Europe, 1939-1950,and Imperial Rule. His most recent scholarly books are Struggle for the Eurasian Borderlands: From the Rise of Early Empires to the End of the First World War  (2014) and Stalin and The Struggle for Supremacy in Eurasia (2015), both published with Cambridge University Press. His chapter, "The Anti-Fascist Resistance during the Second World War," will appear this year in the New Cambridge History of Communism. He is also the author of three historical detective novels: To Kill a Tsar (2010); The Kiev Killings (2013); and Siberian Secrets (2014), all published by the New Academia Press.

All students, faculty and staff members are welcome to attend!

Drinks to follow

Organized by:

Prof Alexander Voronovici, Ksenia Litvinenko, Sofia Lopatina, Yan Mazitov

(SPSS Research Group)