I’ve gotten several interesting responses to the first post on atrocities: on this site, in private communication, and on the listserve of the International Society for First World War Studies. Many of those comments have related to the issue of rape in wartime. One knowledgeable respondent offered the suggestion that the officers (esp. Gen. Gurko) would not have known that the straggling soldiers had been raping the locals. Rape, he argues, was a capital crime in the Russian army and was “unlikely to be shrugged off at this early stage.” Another respondent found this interesting and asked whether the Russian army was unusual in its attention to crimes against women and whether anyone was ever punished for it. A response, with a couple more translations, may help to develop this question further.
For some time now, I’ve followed and listened with great interest to Marshall Poe‘s terrific series of podcast interviews at New Books in History. Poe, a historian of early modern Russia, interviews a wide variety of historians including many in Russian history. Poe is in the process of launching the New Books Network including a variety of more specialized interview channels with their own hosts. I could not be more pleased to see that Sean Guillory of Sean’s Russia Blog has launched the New Books in Russia and Eurasia channel.
Guillory’s first interview is with J. Arch Getty. They discuss Getty’s 2008 book Ezhov: The Rise of Stalin’s “Iron Fist” (Yale UP, 2008). This series will be an excellent resource for scholars and students alike. Hopefully it will also bring some of the best scholarship in our field to a wider audience.
In the autumn I attended a conference on “Unthinking the Imaginary War: Intellectual Reflections of the Nuclear Age, 1945-1990” in London. The very same weekend another cohort of academics were attending a conference on “Accidental Armageddons: The Nuclear Crisis and the Culture of the Second Cold War, 1975-1989” in Washington. The Cold War is a hot topic at the moment. Increasingly scholars are taking interdisciplinary approaches, using film, novels, and art, to explore how this ever-looming, but unconsummated, conflict was imagined, and the emotions it generated. In London I learned how peace activists, scientists, politicians, and the general public reacted to the nuclear threat, with papers on a range of countries including Germany, Britain, France, Japan, and the USA. Curiously, the Soviet Union, the red menace behind so many of these anxious projections, often seems to be missing. The question of how Soviet society regarded its adversaries in the capitalist world, and how fears of nuclear annihilation were handled, is nevertheless a fascinating one and some interesting work is beginning to appear.