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Hornsby, R (2017)
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects:
Between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s tens of millions of young people took part in the Communist Youth League’s ‘All-Union Tours around Sites of Military Glory’, visiting former battle sites, walking old partisan trails, uncovering soldiers’ remains, and meeting with war veterans. This was a prominent facet of the ‘cult’ that the Soviet regime built around the Second World War during the Brezhnev era, and it was also a crucial feature of work aimed at ensuring young people grew up to be good communists and loyal Soviet citizens. Based upon archival research conducted in several former Soviet republics and Russian regions, this article demonstrates that these tours and the wider war cult which they formed a part of were about much more than simply creating a new legitimizing myth for a system running out of ideological energy. They helped fulfil vital state tasks, like preparing youth for military conscription and caring for veterans, they served as a means of shaping young people’s outlook on their country and the world, and they helped knit together the social fabric of the country.

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