Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 June 2021
This chapter focuses on efforts to de-Stalinize the war’s memory and recalibrate Soviet identity in the wake of Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin’s personality cult. It shows that the Khrushchev-era program to create a distinctly Soviet historical mythology was contested and had a number of unintended consequences. The project to eradicate Stalin’s cult prompted a critical engagement with the Russian historical motifs that had been a staple of Stalinist patriotic culture. As Khrushchev picked up his assault on the personality cult in 1961, there emerged what this chapter identifies as a “crisis of patriotic identity,” which centered on renewed friction between the pan-Soviet and Russocentric paradigms. The more overt push to instill a pan-Soviet sense of allegiance raised concerns among Russophile intellectuals about the preservation of unique ethnic identities, histories, and hierarchy. Ideologists attempted to forestall this crisis through the “doctrine of the Soviet people,” which elevated the war victory as an exclusively pan-Soviet achievement, while cordoning off Russocentric themes within prerevolutionary and early Soviet narratives.