De-Stalinisation in the Soviet Union

From a Totalitarian State to an Open Society? De-Stalinisation in the Soviet Union

9-12 February 2012

Schloss Rauischholzhausen, Ferdinand-von-Stumm-Straße, 35085

Ebsdorfergrund-Rauischholzhausen Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen; Gießener Zentrum Östliches Europa (GiZo); Gerda Henkel Stiftung

There are many differing interpretations of the Khrushchev-Era, or the era of ‘De-Stalinization’, in the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, the period between 1953 and 1964 remains vague, since no one has been able to define the term “De-Stalinization” in a valid and concise way. Publications about the Khrushchev years only appear sporadically in German- or English-language historical research. This is in stark contrast to the topic of Stalinism, which dominates the current interest of historians. In the last few years, however, there have been a series of impulses from the Anglo-Saxon space, which is evident, for example, in an edition of ‘The Slavonic and East European Review’ from 2008 entitled “The Relaunch of the Soviet Project, 1945-1964″. The conference organizers suggest that, in both the German-speaking and the international context, there is a certain need to take stock of and discuss the base of prospective research into this era, free of the rigid frame of ‘contemporary history’ or other established historical concepts. In order to meet this aim, relevant experts will be invited from Germany, Great Britain, Russia and the USA to present their papers.

Thursday, 9th February 2012 20.00

– Opening lecture (impulse)

Chair: Thomas Bohn (Gießen) Stefan Plaggenborg (Bochum): Post-Stalinism – An Epoch?

Friday, 10th February 2012 9.00-12.30 – Panel 1: Society

Chair: Steven Bittner (Sonoma)

Thomas Bohn (Gießen): Closed Cities” versus “Open Society”. De-Stalinisation and Urbanisation Galina Ivanova (Moscow): Destalinizatsiya i sotsial’naya programma Chrushcheva Melanie Ilic (Birmingham): Khrushchev and the Revival of the Woman Question Juliane Fürst (Bristol): Destalinised Youth? Changes and Continuities of Policy, Concept and Experience Commentary: Dietmar Neutatz (Freiburg)

14.00-17.30 –Panel 2:

Communication Chair: Melanie Ilic (Birmingham)

Stephan Merl (Bielefeld): Did Basic Principles of Political Communication change after Stalin’s Death? Jurij Aksyutin (Moscow): Evolyutsiya obshchestvennych nastroeniy v SSSR v 50-e – 70-e gody po materialam massovych oprosov ochevidtsev i svideteley sobytiy tech let Simon Huxtable (London): Rethinking ‘The Regime’: Komsomol’skaia pravda and Political Power, 1956-68 Commentary: Sergei Zhuravlev (Moscow)

Saturday, 11th February 2012 9.00-12.30 – Panel 3: Culture and memory

Chair: Stephan Merl (Bielefeld)

Polly Jones (London): Coming to terms with the past, or mastering the past? De-Stalinisation in comparative perspective Maria Zezina (Moscow): Soviet writers and De-Stalinization in the period of “thaw” and after Alexandra Oberländer (Bremen): Those who don’t work shall not eat: A Cultural History of (non-)work in the USSR Michel Abesser (Freiburg): A cultural playground for the Soviet Middle Class? – Soviet Jazz in the 1950s and 60s Commentary: Beate Fieseler (Düsseldorf)

14.00-17.30 – Panel 4: Space

Chair: Jurij Aksyutin (Moscow)

Karsten Brüggemann (Tallinn): National in form, socialist in content? Song Festivals in the Estonian Soviet Republic Rayk Einax (Gießen): Much ado about De-stalinisation. The view from the Belarussian periphery Natalija Kibita (Glasgow): De-Stalinising economic administration: Ukrainian ideas on an alternative vision of centre-republic economic relations (1953-1965) Commentary: Julia Obertreis (Freiburg)

19.00 – Final session & discussion Chair: Michel Abesser (Freiburg)/Rayk Einax (Gießen) Steven Bittner (Sonoma): Was it really the Beginning of the End? De-Stalinisation and the Shadow of the Soviet Collapse

Contact: Rayk Einax (

JLU Gießen, Historisches Institut, Abt. Osteuropäische Geschichte Otto-Behagel-Str. 10 D; 35394 Gießen 0641 99 28261 0641 99 28259

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