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Power and Legality: The Soviet Procuracy in the Molotov Region, 1943-1950; lecture by Immo Rebitschek

The CEU Campus
Friday, December 2, 2016, 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm

The seminar is dedicated to a crucial figure within Soviet judiciary system: the state prosecutor. Rebitschek’s main task is to explain its function in the realms of a Stalinist and post-stalinist dictatorship. This history is intriguing for several reasons: the linkage of judicial and extrajudicial power structures in this epoch is evident but has not been thoroughly described yet. In addition since the end of the 1930s a huge contrast of authority and accountability gave distinction to the work of the prosecutor’s office. Without any administrative power this institution bore responsibility to adjust the reality of Soviet statehood to a pretended legalist utopia.

 Rebitschek, therefore, examines the work of State prosecutors in the Ural region Molotov - in the light of mobilization and catastrophe between 1939 and 1956. Campaigns against “shirking”, theft and juvenile delinquency were their daily grind. Besides that it was their supervision on camp and police operations which amplifies the image of a Secret Police state. The prosecutors’ basic claim was to organize and to enforce the Soviet state routines on the basis of rules. This claim met resistance which was not always overpowering though. Until 1953 they phrased and defended sometimes successfully if the principle of a steered justice which gave favor to rules for the purpose of repression; a principle which marked the core of political reforms after 1953.

Immo Rebitschek has been a PhD student in the Imre Kertész Kolleg (Jena) graduate school since January 2013. Prior to that he worked as a research associate and a graduate assistant at the Kolleg. He also participated in the Internet project “[Ge]denkmuster: Sowjetische Verbrechen - Russische Erinnerung” organised by the Department of Eastern European History at Friedrich Schiller University Jena in cooperation with the Buchenwald Memorial.