- About the book
DetailsThe Western understanding of what happened in Ukraine during World War II has been shaped by historical and ideological constructs created in the Kremlin. The Ukrainian specificity has been dissolved in the concept of the “great victorious Russian people” and distorted by attempts to equate Ukrainian nationalists to German Nazis, while the occupation and colonization of Ukraine by Russian Bolsheviks in the 1920s and 1930s has widely been ignored or artificially silenced. In her Four Essays on World War II, Olena Stiazhkina inscribes the Ukrainian history of the war into a wider European and world context. Amongst other aspects, she analyzes the mobilization measures on the eve of the war, reconsidering Soviet narratives. Scrutinizing the social and political processes initiated by the Bolshevik leadership in the 1920s and 1930s, Stiahhkina concludes that mobilization and militarization were integral parts of Soviet power policy. The Soviet and contemporary Russian narratives about World War II have been used to justify the Kremlin’s policies towards democratic countries. Today, Russia remains deeply engaged in the falsification of the past, which underpins the claims of the so-called “Russian World” and the ongoing war against Ukraine. Olena Stiazhkina’s book promotes a new, historically adequate understanding of what happened in Ukraine before, during, and after World War II.
- The author
About the authorProfessor Dr. Olena Stiazhkina studied history at Donetsk National University. Since 2016 she is Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Ukrainian History in the second half of the XX. century at the Institute of History of Ukraine at the National Academy of Science of Ukraine. Previously, she completed an internship at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM, Austria) and held a professorship at the Department of Slavs’ History at the Vasyl Stus Donetsk National University (Ukraine).
Olena Stiazhkina is a member of the Ukrainian Oral History Association, the Ukrainian Association of Research in Women's History, and the PEN Club Ukraine. Her previous books include Women in the history of Ukrainian Culture in the Second Half of the 20th Century (Donetsk: Skhidny Vydavnychy Dim, 2002), Gender Relations in a Modern Society (Donetsk: Skhidny Vydavnychy Dim, 2006), A Person in the Soviet Province: Evolution of Failure (Donetsk: Noulidzh, 2013), Stigma of Occupation: Soviet Women of the 1940s in Self-Vision (Kyiv, Dukh I Litera). Her papers have been published by, among other outlets, Indiana Press, University of Tulsa, Istorychni i politologichni doslidzhennia, Nauka. Relihiya. Suspilstvo.
Reviews“Olena Stiazhkina knows how to put historical processes under a microscope. How did the Soviet Union militarize everyday life in Ukraine since the early 1920s? Here you get answers that will change your knowledge both of Ukrainian history and of how the “building of a new society” by a totalitarian regime affected everyone, even children. This fascinating book reinforces interest not only in the history of Ukraine but in the history of whole Eastern Europe.”—Andriy Kurkov, author and president of PEN Ukraine
“These essays by Olena Stiazhkina are a whole new Ukrainian view of the Second World War and, at the same time, a literature review that includes the newest approaches to historical research and to research of the events before, during, and after the war. The author presents the atrocities, performed in the Ukrainian territories by two totalitarian regimes—communist and Nazi—and convincingly demonstrates that there would not be one without the other. The author’s view of war and occupation may be defined as ‘hundred years war’ that started in Ukraine in 1914 and lasts up till now in the Ukrainian East.”–Ola Hnatiuk, Dr. habil., professor at the University of Warsaw and at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
“This book, despite being small in volume, has all the chances to open up new levels of social discussion and overall culture of WWII remembrance. That is a result, primarily, of a humanistic drive of the author who is guided by total respect and attention to matters of human dignity. The fact that she urges the reader to adopt a braver approach regarding the change of methodological framework, however, doing that moderately, without any revisionism or relativism, is no less valuable. Definitely a must-read.”—Dr. Anton Drobovych, director, Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance
“This is a book by an intellectual and author working in the field of history. In her four essays, Stiazhkina searches for answers on how to write about the complicated history of the Second World War, on how to get out from under the tombstone of the ‘Great Patriotic War’ historiographical tradition. One of the ways to do that is to find out how exactly the Kremlin rediscovered the formula of its existence after reestablishing control over the Ukrainian territories. Olena Stiazhkina terms this process a ‘re-Sovietization’.”—Dr. Tetiana Pastushenko, Research Associate, Institute of History of Ukraine
- Additional Information