Nakhimovsky A. D. Evidence of war and occupation in the memoirs of Russian peasants: Two Cossack women near Stalingrad // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2022. V.7. №1. P. 69-102.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2022-7-1-69-102


The article examines the life of Russian peasants in the steppe regions adjacent to Stalingrad and occupied by the German army at the time of the Stalingrad battle. The battle began in these regions in July–August 1942. In September, when the fighting moved into the city set on a narrow strip along the Volga River, the surrounding steppe was taken over by a more or less organized occupation regime. The occupation came to an end after the Soviet counterattack on November 19-23. While abundant literature has been devoted to the battle in the city, there is practically nothing on the life of peasants under occupation in the surrounding area. Relatively little has been written about the life of peasants during the Great Patriotic War. Studies of the occupation have focused on the western regions of the Soviet Union, where the occupation lasted for years. In the Volga Region, it lasted only for months. There was no occupation administration — only soldiers mostly preoccupied with daily fighting. The local population consisted primarily of the Don Cossacks who preserved Cossack traditions and retained sharp memories of collectivization. The article considers: (1) how the occupiers and the occupied negotiated such unusual conditions; (2) how traditional peasant values and behavioral norms were expressed; (3) how on occasion the occupiers defied their usual stereotypes. The study is based on the records of linguists, specifically dialectologists. Dialectology and oral history frequently use similar materials for different tasks. It is worth noting that the oral history began to develop in Russia only in the 1990s, while dialectology continues a tradition established in the 19th century. Especially in the study of the Russian peasantry, records made by dialectologists can be a valuable source for historians.


Oral history, World War II, Stalingrad, Nazi occupation, peasantry, Don Cossacks, Nazi collaboration, partisans, collectivization, de-kulakization.

About the author

Nakhimovsky Alexander D., PhD, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Linguistics (Emeritus), Colgate University, 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, New York, 13346 USA.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Nakhimovsky A.D. Oral history from below. Materials for the oral history of Russian peasants in the 20th century // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2021. V.6. №1. P. 91-125.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2021-6-1-91-125


The author analyzes the life stories of those Russian peasants who were old enough to remember collectivization. The large collection of such life stories recorded after 1990 is a rich source of materials for the oral history and other fields of study; however, this collection remains unsorted. Such scholars as the ethnographer Sergei Alymov, the sociologist Valery Vinogradsky, the linguist Leonid Kasatkin, and the historian Tatyana Shcheglova have done much work to collect these materials and to analyze them in different disciplinary perspectives. However, their descriptions remain completely isolated, and the author uses their publications to show the internal unity of their work and to explain that a single archive would be very useful for future research. After a brief introduction, the article turns into a chronological narrative of the Russian peasant history from 1918 to 1953, which consists of those key events/episodes in the lives of narrators that inevitably coincide with the key moments of history. In the comments to the narratives, the author describes the narrators’ psychological traits, their attitudes to the state, work and changes of fate, their connection with pre-revolutionary traditions, and their perception of the new reality.


Civil war, NEP, collectivization, famines of 1932–1933 and 1946–1947, migration to the city, walking, court proceedings, infanticide, war, disabled veterans.

About the author

Nakhimovsky Alexander D., PhD, Associate Professor, Computer Science Department; Head of the Linguistics Program (retired), Colgate University. 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, New York, 13346 USA. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


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Center for Agrarian studies of the Russian Presidental Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)

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