The Leader Cult in Communist Dictatorship: Stalin and the Eastern Bloc

The Leader Cult in Communist Dictatorship: Stalin and the Eastern Bloc

Balázs Apor, Jan C. Behrends, Polly Jones, E. A. Rees

Language: English

Pages: 309

ISBN: 2:00077733

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This is the first book to analyze the distinct leader cults that flourished in the era of "High Stalinism" as an integral part of the system of dictatorial rule in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Fifteen studies explore the way in which these cults were established, their function and operation, their dissemination and reception, the place of the cults in art and literature, the exportation of the Stalin cult and its implantment in the communist states of Eastern Europe, and the impact which de-Stalinisation had on these cults.

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Furmanov, Fadeev, Alexei Tolstoy, Gorky, Sholokhov, Ostrovskii and Leonov. Photographs in his official biography indicate that he tried his best to be portrayed with as many famous communist writers and sympathizers as Árpád von Klimó 53 possible: Quasimodo, G. B. Shaw, Anna Seghers, Karin Michaelis, Johannes R. Becher. Alone, he wanted to be portrayed as a Soviet soldier, even long before he joined the Red Army. After the Second World War Illés would often wear a Soviet uniform, particularly

Army, was often paralleled with Stalin’s defence of Tsaritsyn in the Russian Civil War. The narrative of the event was also frequently utilised to emphasise his heroic virtues, his ‘enormous organisational talents’, his dynamism, and his intransigent attitude towards the enemy, all of which ensured he emerged triumphant from the conflicts he had to face. Although the myth of Salgótarján remained an essential building block of the Rákosi-cult, the nucleus of all biographical depictions of the

that belonged to the first socialist – federal – state. Stalin’s belonging to any of the ethnoterritories by virtue of his Georgian personal nationality was carefully censored. If representations of Stalin exhibited any kind of ethnic particularism it was Russian. But Russian only to the extent that the symbolism of the Soviet Union was the sum of its ethnoterritorial parts, and that the Russian part in this sum was larger than that of others. Notes 1. Many thanks to Chad Bryant and Malte Rolf

to bring people’s perception of space into line with the new Soviet topography. For the 1930s expressions of city dwellers or travellers being impressed by the new aesthetic and the beauty of socialism stand side by side with a stub- 154 Leader Cults and Spatial Politics born popular reluctance to accept the city’s new centre. Also, older meanings of the territory colonised by Soviet city planners lived on in the form of anecdotes and rumours. The seemingly ‘doomed character’ of the place

birthday campaign – there was just a reversal of emotions: sorrow took the place of joy. The instruments of mobilisation and the codes of communication – collective letters, telegrams, obligations to work overtime – remained. What do we know about popular reactions to Stalin’s death? Internal reports and diaries from both Poland and the GDR show a great variety of responses. Analysing the sources, the official picture of a people united in grief falls apart. Some were surely in deep despair, many

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