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War in Historical Memory and “Memory Wars” in Modern World

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Abstract. The discussion is dedicated to the problems of historical memory of the World War II / Great Patriotic War, which is largely due to the impact that it had on all subsequent development of Soviet society and the world as a whole. Images of war in the post-Soviet space acquire a new character with the gradual disappearance of the witnesses and eyewitnesses. In this regard, the participants of the discussion were asked questions related to the study of the transformation of images of war, the role of memory institutions in this process. We invited the authors to discuss the changing memory of the war in connection with the generational change and the ways to verify the existing ideas about the past. In addition, we were interested in the opinion of representatives of the professional community about their own role in shaping images of war and modern memory politics. The editorial Board invited leading researchers of historical memory and military history to discuss the causes of modern “memory wars”, identify their initiators and participants, and determine the role of scientists and teachers in them. Each participant in the discussion was free to determine the format of their participation: to answer each question, or choose some of them; to give answers consistently, clearly indicating them in the text, or to consider the proposed questions as the basis for their own reasoning. In general, our task in this discussion was to pose and solve the problem of reflecting the events of military history in various forms of historical memory, public consciousness, everyday life, culture and language, as well as their institutionalization and verification.

Keywords: memory politics, Great Patriotic War, World War II, institutionalization of memory, “memory wars”, teaching of military history, crimes of Nazism, collaboration, mythologization, political instrumentalization.

Questions of the discussion:
1. How exactly and in what forms are images of war created and transformed in public consciousness, culture and language? What is the connection between events and participants of the war and their images in historical memory? How are the different images and symbols of war interconnected?
2. What is the role of memory institutions (archives, museums, libraries) in the process of shaping images of war? Can we talk about verification of existing ideas, and how it can be implemented?
3. How does the memory of the war transform with generational change and gradual disappearance of its direct witnesses and eyewitnesses?
4. What is the place of war in modern memory politics in Russia and other countries? What are the reasons for the “memory wars”, who is their initiator and participant?
5. What role does the professional community (scientists, teachers) play in shaping images of war and modern memory politics?

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