IN THIS ISSUE

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Abstract



This issue examines the consequences of the Great War for Russia and its peoples on the occasion of the Versailles Peace Treaty’s centenary. Concluded by the victors without Russia’s participation, this settlement established the post-war international order. The Great War and the revolutionary turmoil that wracked Europe for eight long years, from 1914 through 1922, were marked by Russia’s early withdrawal from the fighting through a separate peace treaty, a destructive civil war, and the consolidation of Bolshevik power. Together, this “arc of crisis” led to a momentous transformation that institutionalised many wartime practices in the political and social order of the Soviet Union that emerged. The articles in this special issue therefore look into socio-political and socio-cultural consequences of World War I for Russia and the Russian émigré community. Based on a wide range of archival and other sources, together they provide a new perspective on the post-war years The studies by M.V. Oskin and Z.S. Bocharova describe the revolutionary processes and their influence on the fate and fortunes of the Russian army, its combatants, and Russia as an empire. In his article Oskin investigates Russo-Romanian relations in light of the Bessarabian question and the demobilisation of Russian troops on the Romanian Front. He notes that the fate of Bessarabia, which Romanian forces occupied in 1918, depended on agreements between the various European powers and ultimately resulted in its incorporation into the Romanian kingdom. The author concludes that this territorial transfer was inevitable, given Russia’s weakness at the time. Bocharova analyses the fates and fortunes of World War I veterans in the Russian émigré community. She explains that the erstwhile combatants included former prisoners of war, soldiers of the Russian Expeditionary Forces, as well as the White Movement’s combatants. Her article provides details about their numbers and where they settled, as well as efforts by the broader émigré community to support the veterans and commemorate their sacrifices. In their articles, N.I. Dmitriev’s and Yu.M Galkina look into the ways Russia interacted with its former Entente allies in the context of the Civil War. Thus, Dmitriev examines the challenges faced by the representatives of the Czechoslovak Republic to provide economic aid to the various governments that held sway over the Urals during the Civil War to help restore industrial production, supply factories, and arrange social assistance to the local population. Based on extensive research in the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. This piece is particularly valuable given the paucity of relevant sources in Russia. The author concludes that the Russo-Czechoslovak Chamber of Trade and Industry lay the basis for further cooperation between the Czechoslovak government and free Russia, even in the face of Admiral Kolchak’s refusal to cooperate. Galkina’s article examines the life, political views and activities of René Marchand (1888-1962), a correspondent of the leading French newspaper Le Figaro. He became widely known in the young Soviet state thanks to an open letter to French President Raymond Poincaré in 1918 that criticised his dealings with Lenin’s regime and revealed Allied plans to sabotage his government. Relying on French diplomatic and military archives, among many others, the author concludes that René Marchand’s views about the Bolsheviks were more ambivalent than most historians of French leftist politics have hitherto assumed. In her contribution, O.S. Porshneva explains how the Great War shaped Bolshevik social engineering. She accordingly discusses the party’s ideological priorities in its effort to design the “new man” in the in the early Soviet period. The three articles by M.K. Chiniakov, M.V. Katagoshchina and Z.S. Bocharova study various aspects of the politics of memory of Russia’s participation in the Great War. Chiniakov investigates the process of preserving the historical memory of Russian soldiers who fought in the Western European, Balkan and African theatres. Dividing his narrative into three distinct periods - the war itself (1916 to 1918), the inter-war period (1919 to 1939), and the modern period (after 1945) - He pays particular attention to monuments in France and the Balkans as well as historical documentaries, museums, and the associations involved. Meanwhile, Katagoshchina focuses on the origins and fate of private and museum collections dedicated to the Great War both in Russia until 1918 and in the Russian émigré community thereafter. Bocharova likewise discusses efforts to preserve the legacy of the Great War in Russia Abroad. She argues that memorials to fallen Russian soldiers were particularly important for the émigré community’s social memory. Unlike the Soviet government, émigrés actively commemorated the feats of such “bearers of Russian honour” with memorials and related patriotic activities. This special issue will be of particular interest both to scholars and the public interested in the First World War’s impact on the Soviet Union and the émigré community. The conflict’s ‘long echo’ was reflected in social and political practices, international and intercultural relations and in the politics of historical memory. The authors and editors very much hope that the articles, many of which are grounded in previously understudied sources, will provide a fresh and provocative perspective on this aspect of Russian history.

David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye

Brock University

Email: dschimme@brocku.ca
500 Glenridge Avenue, St Catharines, Ontario, L2S 3A1, Canada -

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