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.
Nakhimovsky Alexander D., PhD, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Linguistics (Emeritus), Colgate University, 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, New York, 13346 USA.
The author develops a new approach to the interpretation of peasant oral stories, especially of those that somehow reconstruct the events of the Civil War of 1917–1922. The relevant short peasant stories were recorded in 1991–1993 during the first peasant expedition of Teodor Shanin. In those years in Russian villages, it was still possible to find direct witnesses of military events of 1917–1922. The fragments of peasant narratives were analyzed with a combination of philosophical, social-linguistic and folkloristic approaches to answer the following questions: what and how do old peasants reconstruct the events of the Civil War? What part of these oral stories can be considered a reliable historical source? What mise-en-scenes of military events remained in the memory of respondents? What is the dominant mode of peasant narratives? What are the discursive nuances of peasant oral stories about the Civil War? The article is intended for historians, ethnographers and sociologists interested in the peasant worlds of Russia.
oral history, civil war in Russia, historical memory, everyday “fairy tale”, peasant life practices, peasant worlds, rural sociology, discourse of short stories and fiction
Vinogradsky Valery G., DSc (Philosophy), Senior Researcher, Center for Agrarian Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. 119571, Moscow, Prosp. Vernadskogo, 82.