Workshop: Socialist InterNationalism. Envisioning and Experiencing Nationalism and Internationalism in the Soviet Union, 1945-1990 (Event: 10.07.-11. 07.08 , Berlin)

Friendship of the People and Socialist Internationalism were two closely entangled official slogans of Soviet propaganda. They were to conjure both a vision of peaceful relations between liberated Soviet nationalities within the Soviet Union and an image of Soviet commitment for other countries struggle for radical social justice and national liberation. At the same time, these slogans addressed people not just along the lines of social class, but according to their nationality. In doing so, they established the national alongside the international in its propaganda.
The meanings and interpretations of the slogans 'Friendship of the Peoples' and 'Socialist Internationalism' have however rarely been subject to inquiry. Still, these slogans often seem to structure postsocialist narratives combining nationalist sentiments with nostalgic memories of enabling and enriching encounters with other nationalities and foreigners. Therefore, these slogans might be crucial for our understanding of the cohesion and disintegration of the Soviet Union. The question is what meaning these visions acquired for those groups and people, who made their own experiences in encounters shaped by national or international aspects.
This workshop seeks to bring about a discussion of these slogans and their diverse meanings during the Cold War period, which saw an increase in the usage of these twin terms. During the Cold War, Soviet leaders and local officials as well as subjects of the Soviet Empire and visitors to the Soviet Union often used these slogans in order to invoke common values, praising international connections, ordering everyday encounters and even fostering national(ist) self-assertion. An interrogation of the terms 'Socialist Internationalism' and 'Friendship of the Peoples' might provide an insight into different groups views of themselves, others, and the outside world in a multi-national empire that was reinforcing its global mission after 1945.
Especially since the postwar period was a time of new encounters for citizens and foreigners in the Soviet Union. Soldiers had made new experiences during the war; evacuation and the violent expulsion of large portions of the population and campaigns did bring different nationalities together in one place. Nationality became the determining category for Soviet citizens standing within Soviet society. Day-to-day interactions between citizens in multi-national cities and regions of the national republics fostered peaceful coexistence together with conflict and repression. Travelling and business trips increased during the Khrushchev and Breshnev-years leading to more interactions between members of different nationalities, using Russian as a lingua franca. At the same time such encounters extended on a more regular basis also to the different nationalities from the so-called Eastern Bloc after World War II. And the Third-World became a Cold-War battlefield for influence; as students, intellectuals, workers and politicians travelled from and to the Soviet Union, the values and aims of Soviet Internationalism and the Friendship of the Peoples became tested against Soviet and foreign realities.
While recent research has focused much on social and cultural change after 1945, the national/international dimension has so far been neglected in most inquiries. Therefore, the aim of this workshop is to provide a forum for researchers dealing with the decades between the end of World War II and the disintegration of the Soviet Empire and encourage them to put their research in a national/international context. How are Socialist Internationalism and Friendship of the Peoples represented in Cold War propaganda, art, and literature and how did this differ from the pre-war years? In which ways did officials, intellectuals, members of different nationalities or foreign visitors to the Soviet Union interpret these slogans in the particular environments they were moving in? How was the Friendship of the Peoples experienced in everyday life in a multi-national society? What was the impact of both positive and negative official campaigning on self-perceptions and othering of different groups in the Soviet Union? How might these different aspects have had an impact on the cohesion of the Soviet Union? And, to which extend can the national and the international be seen as interconnected phenomena within Soviet self-imaginations?

Principal investigators
Baberowski, Jörg Prof. Dr. (Details) (History of Eastern Europe)

Fritz Thyssen Stiftung

Duration of project
Start date: 07/2008
End date: 07/2008

Last updated on 2022-07-09 at 19:06