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Formulas of Betrayal
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How good it is to live. How can one explain the survival of this lone Sovietera monument to a "victim" of World War I, the last remaining physical evidence of war memory in the former territory of the Moscow cemetery? The dead soldier was the son of Aleksandr Grigorievich Shlikhter, Soviet Russia's first People's Commissar of Provisioning in and later the vice president of the ukrainian Academy of Sciences.

According to S. Shlikhter's nephew, the youth had joined the tsarist army against his revolutionary father's wishes. Sometime in the early Soviet period, Shlikhter honored his son with a monument carved by the famous sculptor S. When the cemetery was being destroyed, legend has it that Shlikhter lay on the gravestone and protested "You will have to destroy me as well. Whether or not Shlikhter actually intervened in such a dramatic way to save his son's grave, this particular gravestone was preserved from the Stalin-era bulldozers and allowed to remain standing in the park, continuing to give voice to the tragedy of World War I figure 1.

In the late s, as Moscow expanded well beyond the boundaries of the former village of Vsekhsviatskoe, residential and commercial building began in earnest on the cemetery site, the area around today's Peschanaia Street. Urban legend tells us that the Leningrad Movie Theater was built in at the location of the Church of the Transfiguration. A portion of the All-Russian War Cemetery remained a park Leningrad Park , but almost all of the cemetery's memorial features had disappeared.

Soviet authorities had first adopted a utilitarian stance toward the memorial cemetery, burying its heroes and enemies indiscriminately. Later they practiced demolition of both tsarist and Soviet graves by neglect. And ultimately they almost, but not quite, erased the cemetery from the Moscow landscape. The fate of the cemetery demonstrates a dramatic contrast between the Soviet Union and much of the rest of Europe.

Between and Europeans built tens of thousands of World War I memorials.

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They engaged in intense cultural and political activity as they commemorated and reinterpreted the catastrophic events of the war, honored the dead, and connected the war to future political and social agendas. European opinion makers of all persuasions competed to define the war in ways that forwarded their particular social and political goals.

At the same time, as local communities and millions of mourning families tried to come to terms with the loss of their loved ones, they constructed more intimate memorials and remembered the war in highly personal ways. As the successor state to the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union was unique among the combatants in the virtual absence of public commemoration of World War I at the level of the state, community, and civic organizations, or even individual mourning.

The Russian Civil War in Early 1919 I THE GREAT WAR

Scholars generally agree about this erasure of memory. Daniel Orlovsky has observed that the major scholarly works about European intellectual and social responses to World War I do not include "a single word about Russia and Russian memory about the fallen. Peter Gatrell argued that the Bolsheviks "discouraged public reflection on the war as a compelling human struggle and did nothing to sustain its commemoration.


  1. Works (47).
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The Soviet government generally ignored the war and instead poured its energies into creating a myth of the revolution, constructing Sovietness through a conscious process of forgetting imperial Russia's last war. Don't have an account? Your Web browser is not enabled for JavaScript. Some features of WorldCat will not be available. Create lists, bibliographies and reviews: or. Search WorldCat Find items in libraries near you.

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You already recently rated this item. Your rating has been recorded. Write a review Rate this item: 1 2 3 4 5. Indiana University Press. Additional Information. Table of Contents. Cover Download Save. Contents p. Acknowledgments pp. Notes pp. Bibliography pp.