World War II in Soviet
". . . the
overwhelming brunt of the Nazi occupation between 1941 and 1944,
as of the devastating Soviet reoccupation, was borne not by Russia but by the
Baltic States, by Belarus, by Poland, and above all by Ukraine."
Professor Jeffrey Burds
Office: 269 Holmes Hall
Telephone: (617) 373-2079
reading and discussion course is devoted to the study of
Each student will be expected to master the historiography of a selected subfield in World War II history. Working individually or in teams, starting in Week IV students will essentially run the course: one or more students will spend the first hour running the discussion of assigned readings and related historiography; the second hour will be devoted to short student presentations on related subfields usually pertinent to the day's discussion; and I will reserve the third hour for my own presentation on new sources and themes emerging from Eastern Europe.
Besides presentations and regular class discussion, students will be expected to write at least 20 pages of papers during the term. The only presumption is that this writing will be based on 6-8 books (or their equivalent) of outside material. You may choose to write one long paper on a given theme: historiography, or a "research paper" focusing on a specific theme, event, or subfield. Or, students may choose to write up to eight shorter papers that summarize the contributions of 6-8 books worth of material. While presentations of selected class readings will vary, shorter historiographic summaries and presentations will usually overlap with this written work. By the end of the term, I will expect that working collectively we will have covered hundreds of titles of published research. Public History students may substitute papers for up to eight shorter original WEB exhibits containing comparable text length.
I expect all papers to represent your best work: all papers should conform to the History Style Guide (to be distributed in class), and all written work should be checked closely for spelling and grammatical errors.
Final grades will be calculated with attention to the following formula:
• Active and considered class participation is encouraged: 30 percent
• Your presentations should be informative, concise, and to the point: 40 percent
• Your semester papers should be well-written, well-argued, and informative: 30 percent
Half of your written work is due by 28 February; the other half by April. All revised work is due by 13 April.
Presentation themes will be set during the first two weeks of classes, and most presentations will be scheduled for the fourth week of the semester and after. Generally, these will be devoted to materials related to the assigned reading for a given week. All presentations will be accompanied with Power Point lectures, as well as pithy handouts summarizing or exploring aspects of the assigned material.
All papers in the course should conform to the History Style Guide, and all written work should be checked closely for spelling and grammatical errors. Sloppy work will receive at least one full grade reduction. Attendance is required; frequent absences or repeated failure to take an active part in the class discussions will result in lower grades.
The following titles (marked with an asterisk) have been ordered at the University Book Store:
Alperovitz, Atomic Diplomacy:
Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in
*Alan Clark, Barbarossa: The Russian-German Conflict, 1941-1945 (New York: Quill, 1965-1985), paper
T. Gross, Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in
Gross, Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of
Waldemar Lotnik, Nine Lives: Ethnic Conflict in the Polish-Ukrainian Borderlands (London: Serif, 1999).
Alaine Polcz, A
*Ben Shepherd, War in the Wild East: The German Army and
Soviet Partisans, 1941-1944 (
Bibliography An extensive list of useful readings and materials for choosing paper themes.
Check out summaries of the latest research in Soviet Military Studies [Frank Cass Publishing]
Check out the Journal of Slavic Military Studies [David M. Glantz, ed.]
Check out the U.S. Army Homepage, with extensive on-line monographs concnering all aspects of the Soviet military, World War II, Soviet partisans, etc.
Connect to the National Archives
Russian Military History Site with thousands of full-text books: Voennaia Literatura
A Russian woman and child under attack by Nazi bayonets: "Save us!" This was one of the most memorable images of the Soviet home front in World War II
Week 1 Introduction (January 12)
Please read three short
selections BEFORE the first class meeting:
Michael Cherniavsky, "Corporal Hitler, General Winter and the Russian Peasant," The Yale Review Volume LI, Number 4 (Summer 1962), pp. 547-558.
Jeffrey Burds, "Ethnicity,
Memory, and Violence: Reflections on Special Problems in Soviet & East
European Archives," in Francis X. Blouin
and William G. Rosenberg, eds., Archives,
Documentation, and the Institutions of Social Memory: Essays from the Sawyer
Seminar, 2000-2001 (
Piotr Wrobel, "Double Memory: Poles and Jews After the Holocaust," East European Politics and Societies Volume 11, Number 3 (Fall 1997), 560-574.
Thursday Evening Film, 6:00 p.m. in 90 Snell
FILM: Come & See (Elem Klimov, USSR, 1985)
Described as "142 minutes of raw emotion", this film won top prizes at the Moscow and Venice film festivals in 1985. The story is based on writer Aleksandr Adamovich's WWII memoirs of SS reprisals against partisans. Set in occupied Belorussia in 1943, the film follows a raw teenager into the swamps and forests of the Western border provinces, where he undergoes a hell of atrocities, transformed by his hatred for the fascists as he tries to survive the carnage of war. Russian with English subtitles. 142 minutes.
Week 2 Operation Barbarossa and the German Invasion of Soviet Eastern Europe (January 19)
Alan Clark, Barbarossa: The Russian-German Conflict, 1941-1945, pp. 3-273.
MAP: Soviet Military Intelligence Analysis of the Concentration of German Forces on the Eve of War
MAP: Disposition of Soviet & German Forces on the Soviet western borders on the eve of invasion
Handout: Map1, Operation Barbarossa
Hitler's Commissar Order, dated
Document: Hitler's Commissar Order, dated
Molotov's Note on German Atrocities in Occupied Soviet Territory (January 6, 1942)
Ilya Ehrenberg, "The Justification of Hatred" (Summer 1942)
Data on Soviet/German/British/US Wartime Production
Stalin's Intelligence failure (Gorodetsky, et. al);
Assign paper/presentation themes. Presentations will begin in Week 4.
K. I. Bukov, "The Anxious October of '41", Russian Studies in History Volume 31, No. 4 (Spring 1993): 30-48.
John Erickson, “The Soviet Response to Surprise Attack: Three Directives, 22 June 1941,” Soviet Studies Volume 23, Number 4 (April 1972): 519-553.
Gabriel Gorodetsky, Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German
Mark Harrison, Accounting for War: Soviet Production, Employment, and the Defence Burden, 1940-1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
Clement Leibovitz, Alvin Finkel, Christopher Hitchens, In Our Time: The Chamberlain-Hitler Collusion (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1998).
Bruce W. Menning, ed. At the Threshold of War: The Soviet High Command in 1941 in Russian Studies in History: A Journal of Translations Volume 36, Number 3 (Winter 1997-98), pp. 2-93.
Albert Resis, "The Fall of Litvinov: Harbinger of the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact," Europe-Asia Studies Volume 52, Number (January 2000): 33-56.
Cynthia Roberts, "Planning for War: the Red Army and the Catastrophe of 1941," Europe-Asia Studies Volume 47, Number 8 (December 1995) pp. 1293-1326.
Geoffrey Roberts, "The Soviet Decision for a Pact with Nazi Germany," Soviet Studies Volume 44, Number 1 (1992): 57-80.
World War II in Ukraine [A Photo Essay]
WEB Guide: SS Atrocities in Wartime
Week 3 After Stalingrad: The Soviet Drive to Berlin (January 26)
Alan Clark, Barbarossa: The Russian-German Conflict, 1941-1945, pp. 277-465.
Film: The World at War: Stalingrad
Clips from the Soviet celebration of victory on Red Square, 1945
Handouts: Map3 of the
Photo credit: Raising the Hammer and
Sickle over the Reichstag,
2 May, 1945 by Yevgeni Khaldey
Antony Beevor, Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943(New York: Penguin Press, 1999).
William C. Fletcher, "The Soviet Bible Belt: World War II's Effects on Religion," in Susan J. Linz, editor. The Impact of World War II on the Soviet Union (Rowman & Allanheld, 1985), pp. 129-156.
Leonidas E. Hill, "The Published Political Memoirs of Leading Nazis, 1933-45," in George Egerton, ed. Political Memoir: Essays on the Politics of Memory (London: Frank Cass, 1994), pp. 225-241.
Daniel Peris : "'God is Now On Our Side': The Religious Revival on Unoccupied Soviet Territory during World War II," Kritika, Volume 1, Number 1 (1999): 97-118.
Week 4 1939-1941: The Soviet Occupation of Eastern Poland (February 2)
Jan Gross, Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet
Handouts: Text of the Non-Aggression Pact
Map of Central and
DOCUMENT: Signals from Moscow
Historiography: 1939-1941; The Soviet War against 'Fifth
Columnists'; Katyn; Millman
on Anglo-French operations in
Of Related Interest
Terry Martin, "The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing," The Journal of Modern History Volume 70, Number 4 (December 1998): 813-861.
Victor Zaslavsky, "The Katyn Massacre: 'Class Cleansing' as Totalitarian Praxis," Telos Issue 114 (Winter 1999) 67-107.
Benjamin B. Fischer, "The Katyn Controversy: Stalin's Killing Field," Studies in Intelligence (Winter 1999-2000) [CIA's Declassified Journal]
Memorandum on NKVD letterhead from L. Beria to "Comrade Stalin" proposing to execute captured Polish officers, soldiers, and other prisoners by shooting. Stalin's handwritten signature appears on top, followed by signatures of Politburo members K. Voroshilov, V. Molotov, and A. Mikoyan. Signatures in left margin are M. Kalinin and L. Kaganovich, both favoring execution
Week 5 Ostpolitik: The German Occupation Zone (February 9)
READ: Jan T. Gross, Neighbors: The Destruction of the
Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 2001).
And the review: "Polish 'Neighbors' and German Invaders: Contextualizing Anti-Jewish Violence in the Bialystok District during the Opening Weeks of Operation Barbarossa," Forthcoming in Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, Volume 16 (2003), by Alexander B. Rossino
Historiography: June-July 1941; Self-cleansing operations; Eisatzgruppen; Occupation Police
CONTROVERSY: The Reaction to "Neighbors" in
Anna Bikont, "Scene fron Jedwabne," Yad Vashem Studies (2002) A Polish Jew's discussion of the controversy
Of Related Interest on the Problem of Wartime Collaboration
Berhard Chiari, Alltag hinter der Front. Besatzung, Kollaboration und Widerstand in Weissrussland 1941-1944 (Duesseldorf, 1998).
Alexander Dallin, German Rule in Russia,
1941-1945: A Study of Occupation Policies,
pp. 84-167, 305-319, 376-408. [View on-line in PDF format]
Martin Dean, Collaboration in
the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in
Collaboration in the Holocaust in its entirety.
John Erickson, "Nazi Posters in Wartime Russia," History Today, Sep94, Vol. 44 Issue 9, pp. 14-19.
Frank Gordon, Latvians and Jews Between Germany and Russia Translated by Vaira Puķīte and Jānis Straubergs (Stockholm: Memento, 1990)
Jan Tomasz Gross, Polish Society Under German Occupation: The Generalgouvernement, 1939-1944 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979).
Zygmunt Klukowski, Diary from the Years of Occupation, 1939-44 (University of Illinois Press, 1993).
Excerpts from Klukowski's diary
Wolodomyr Kosyk, The Third Reich and Ukraine (New York: Peter Lang Publishers, 1993), pp. 185-315. Documents on pp. 546-548, 548-549, 550, 554 [View on-line in PDF format]
Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death: The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust (New York: Knopf, 2002)
Oleg Zarubinsky, "Collaboration of the Population
Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal Proceedings [Complete series on line]
Week 6 Holocaust & Genocide: The Politics of Ethnic Cleansing (February 16)
Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland
HANDOUT: Holocaust Data
HANDOUT: Hitler's Willing Executioners
HANDOUT: Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders
Historiography: Holocaust; Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders; Goldhagen Thesis
Follow the German Army's brutality in the East at War of Annihilation: War Crimes of the Wehrmacht, 1941-1944
Judith Levin and Daniel Uziel, Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Photos, Yad Vashem Studies, 2002. Studies German soldiers' photo albums as a source about the mentalité of perpetrators of atrocities
Visit the Gallery of Holocaust Images prepared for an on-line Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust.
Visit an on-line Photographic Exhibition of the Holocaust.
Yitzak Arad, Shmuel Krakowski and Shmuel Spector, editors. The Einsatzgruppen Reports (New York: Holocaust Library. 1989). [Includes additional documents]
him that I . . . . Women Writing the Holocaust,"
Breitman, "Himmler's Police Auxiliaries in the Occupied Soviet
Christine Damski/Sara Rozen
Story -- Jewish Rescue in
Follow more stories
in Ellen Land-Webber, To Save a Life:
Stories of Holocaust Rescue (
Daniel Goldgahen, Hitler's Willing Executioners, and review by Raul Hilberg, "The Goldhagen Phenomenon"
Witnesses--On Line Testimonies of Holocaust Survivors, Liberators & Other Documents
Week 7 Partisans & Collaborators (February 23)
READ: Ben Shepherd, War in the Wild East: The German Army and Soviet Partisans
Historiography themes: "The Barbarization of Warfare" (Bartov, Anderson); Wehrmacht War Crimes Exhibition; Espionage; Logistics
HANDOUT: Logistics & Partisan Warfare
Of Related Interest on the Partisan War
Truman Anderson, “Germans, Ukrainians and Jews: Ethnic Politics in Heeresgebiet Süd, June-December 1941,” War in History Volume 7, Number 3 (2000): 325-351.
Perry Biddiscombe, Perry Biddiscombe, "Unternehmen Zeppelin: The Deployment of SS Saboteurs and Spies in the Soviet Union, 1942-1945," Europe-Asia Studies Volume 52, Number 6 (2000): 1115-1142.
Perry Biddiscombe, "The problem
with glass houses The Soviet recruitment and deployment of SS men as spies and
saboteurs," Intelligence and
National Security (
D. Karov, Underground Activity in
Alexander Dallin, German Rule in Russia, 1941-1945: A
Study of Occupation Policies,
pp. 497-636. [View on-line in PDF format]
Leonid D. Grenkevich, Soviet Partisan Movements: A Critical Historiographical Analysis (London: Frank Cass, 1999).
Rear Area Security in Russia: The Soviet Second Front Behind the German Front (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1951).
[From the German War Report Series based on
Major Claude R. Sasso, Soviet
Night Operations in World War II (
Ben Shepherd, “Hawks, Doves
and Tote Zonen:
A Wehrmacht Security Division in
Robert W. Stephan, Stalin's
Secret War: Soviet Counterintelligence against the Nazis, 1941-1945 (
Pavel Sudoplatov, Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness -- A Soviet Spymaster (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1994-1995). Revised Edition.
Week 8 "War within the War": World War II as a Civil War (March 2)
We will be having dinner in the seminar. Prof. Burds will provide the main courses; and I ask you all to let me know in advance about drinks, desserts, etc. you might like to bring.
GUEST: Dr. Alexander Statiev,
GUEST: Dr. Benjamin Lieberman, Professor,
READ: Alfred J. Rieber, "Civil Wars in the Soviet Union," Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 4(1): 129–62, Winter 2003.
READ: Waldemar Lotnik, Nine Lives: Ethnic Conflict in the Polish-Ukrainian Borderlands (London: Serif, 1999), pp. 7-206.
READ: Timothy Snyder, "The Causes of Ukrainian-Polish Ethnic Cleansing, 1943," Past and Present Volume 178 (May 2003).
Colonel I. G. Starinov, Over the Abyss: My Life in Soviet Special Operations (New York: Ivy Books [Ballantine Books], 1995), pp. 161-366.
Timothy Snyder, The
Reconstruction of Nations(New
First half of written work is due: 10 or more pages on at least three or four books of material.
Spring Break March 4-12
Week 9 Individual Meetings by appointment on Monday and Thursday
No formal class meeting on March 16.
Week 10 Volksdeutsche: East European Reprisals Against Ethnic Germans (March 23)
READ: Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans, 1944-1950 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993).
READ: Alaine Polcz, A Wartime Memoir: Hungary 1944-1945 (Budapest: Corvina, 1991-1997).
Warfare; Gender and Warfare; Snyder/Kulczyski and
War Crimes; Postwar reconstruction
Of Related Interest
Jan Gross, and Tony Judt, eds.
The Politics of Retribution in
Lucille Eichengreen, From Ashes to Life: My Memories of the Holocaust (Mercury House, 1994).
Marlene Epp, "The Memory of Violence: Soviet and East European Mennonite Refugees and Rape in the Second World War" Journal of Women's History, 9 (1), Spring 1997.
Wendy Jo Gertjejanssen,
"Victims, Heroes, Survivors: Sexual Violence on the Eastern Front during
World War II," Ph.D. Dissertation,
"Soviet Soldiers, German Women and the Problem of Rape." The Russians in
Agate Nesaule, A Woman in Amber: Healing the Trauma of War and Exile (New York: Penguin Books, 1995).
Erich Anton Helfert, Valley of the Shadow: After the Turmoil, My Heart Cries No More (Creative Arts Books, 1997). [Chronicles the fate of a Sudeten German family]
John Sack, An Eye for an Eye: The Untold Story of Jewish Revenge against Germans in 1945 (New York: Basic Books, 1993, 1995).
The Testimony of Lives: Narrative and Memory
Timothy Snyder, "'To
Resolve the Ukrainian Question Once and For All': The Ethnic Cleansing
of Ukrainians in
For More Information
Violence and Self-Identity: Diagnostic Criteria for Evaluating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as identified by Judith Herman, M.D. Trauma & Recovery (New York: Basic Books, 1992). Herman identifies trauma as an overlooked epidemic.
Bozena Szaynok, "The Jewish Pogrom in Kielce, July 1946 -- New Evidence," Intermarium Volume I, Number 3,
Of Related Interest on Postwar Ethnic Violence
Zygmunt Klukowski, Red Shadow: a physician's memoir of the Soviet occupation of Eastern Poland, 1944-1956 (Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., 1997).
J. Otto Pohl, Ethnic Cleansing in the USSR, 1937-1949 (Greenwod Publishing, 1999).
Visit the WEBsite of Poland's Institute of National Remembrance, the Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes Against the Polish Nation
Week 11 Aftermath: Origins of the Cold War (March 30)
Gar Alperovitz, Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima & Potsdam (The Use of the Atomic Bomb and the American Confrontation with Soviet Power) (Boulder, Colorado: Pluto Press, 1994). Second Expanded Edition.
Aldrich, "Historians of Secret Service and their
Enemies," The Hidden Hand:
"Operation Unthinkable: 'Russia: Threat
to Western Civilization,'" British War Cabinet, Joint Planning Staff
[Draft and Final Reports: 22 May, 8 June, and
"Use of Special Intelligence by Official
Historians," Report by the Joint Intelligence Sub-Committee [JIC (45) 223 (0) Final]
Historiography: Origins of the Cold War; Hasegawa; Coverups
The Origins of Containment: George Kennan's "Long Telegram" (Moscow-to-Washington) (February 22, 1946)
of Peace": Audio and Transcript of Churchill's Speech at
The Novikov Telegram: Soviet Ambassador in
NSC-68 -- The Foundations of American Cold War Policy
Of Related Interest
Cold War/International History Project WEBsite
Cold War Espionage on CNN.COM
Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb (New York: Random House, 1996).
James Jay Carafano, "Mobilizing
Fifty Years of Deceit and Self-Deception [An Exhibition at
Kenneth M. Jensen, ed. The
Origins of the Cold War: The Novikov, Kennan and Roberts "Long
Telegrams" of 1946. 1993 revised edition (US Inst of Peace, 1993).
Christopher Simpson, Blowback: America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War (New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988), pp. 3-11, 138-175, 264-290.
Presidential Papers. (University Publications of America) Vol. 1 The Decision
to Drop the Atomic Bomb in
Week 12 Aftermath, Part II: Postwar Soviet Policy in East Europe (April 7)
Burds, Selections from unpublished manuscript: 'A
READ: Jeffrey Burds, “The Struggle
Against Banditry in the USSR, 1944-1953,” Social History—Yearbook 2000
Photo: Soviet MVD
Special Tasks Unit near
READ: Jeffrey Burds, "AGENTURA:
Soviet Informants' Networks & the Ukrainian Rebel Underground in
READ: Jeffrey Burds, "Gender and Policing in Soviet West Ukraine, 1944-1948," Cahiers du Monde Russe Volume 42, Numbers 2-4 (April-December 2001).
READ: Alfred J. Rieber, "Civil Wars in the Soviet Union," Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 4(1): 129–62, Winter 2003.
READ: Jeffrey Burds, "The Early Cold
War in Soviet West Ukraine," No. 1505 in The Carl Beck Papers in
Russian and East European Studies (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh,
Historiography: The Struggle against Banditry;
The second half of your written work is due in 249 Meserve by April 3. I will comment on that work and try to return it by April 6, leaving you a full week to complete final revisions.
Of Related Interest
The Anti-Soviet Resistance in the Baltic States (Vilnius: Du Ka Press, 1999).
Juozas Daumantas, Fighters for Freedom: Lithuanian Partisans Versus the USSR (1944-1947). Second Edition. (Toronto, 1975). [Fascinating first-hand account by Lithuanian anti-Soviet guerrilla leader, originally written in 1948. The name is a pseudonym for Juozas Luksa, who escaped to the West in December 1947 and returned to rejoin the Lithuanian Freedom Army in 1950. He was captured and executed by the NKVD in October 1951.]
Stephen Dorril, MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service (2000).
Peter Grose, Operation Rollback: America's Secret War Behind the Iron Curtain (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Company, 2000).
Mart Laar, War in the Woods: Estonia's Struggle for Survival, 1944-56 (Washington, D.C.: Compass Press, 1992).
Gregory Mitrovich, Undermining the Kremlin: America's Strategy to Subvert the Soviet Bloc, 1947-1956 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000).
Amir Weiner, "Nature, Nurture, and Memory in a Socialist Utopia: Delineating the Soviet Socio-Ethnic Body in the Age of Socialism," American Historical Review Volume 104, Number 4 (October 1999): 1114-1155.
Week 13 Final Presentations & Discussions (April 13)
A final version of your revised papers, plus comments and earlier drafts, should be submitted to the instructor by April 13.