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. 


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