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By Abbott Gleason

In the tumultuous years after the revolution of 1917, the conventional cutlure of Imperial Russia used to be either destroyed and preserved, as a brand new Soviet tradition started to take form. This booklet makes a speciality of the interplay among the rising political and cultural rules of the Soviet regime and the deeply held conventional values of the employee and peasant masses.

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Additional info for Bolshevik culture: Experiment and order in the Russian Revolution (A Special study of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, the Wilson Center)

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The political commissars in the cities and villages, however, are totally different. Like snipers, they ambush our troops marching through the cities. Good luck to the German soldier who falls into their hands. With sadistic joy they will torture him to death and then mutilate his body beyond recognition. We have already witnessed such atrocious scenes. I pray to God that I will not be taken prisoner. 2 July: It is quiet again today. No shots have been fired. What is going on? I do not like this silence, it eats at my nerves.

It was with the same apprehension that she handed me the set of three diaries, in perfect condition. She told me they were my German grandfather’s personal journals. They were written in German, which I could not read, so I had the first five pages translated as soon as possible. I could hardly wait to see what the diaries contained—and the results were nothing short of amazing. Even the translator, a native German speaker, was shocked after translating only a few pages. I was holding a firsthand account of brutality, carnage and death, combined with the hope that, one day, life would return to the way it was before the war.

It is impossible to comprehend one’s world in such an inferno. Our homeland is still innocently asleep while here death is already collecting a rich harvest. We crouch in our holes with pallid but resolved faces while counting the minutes until we storm the Bug fortifications… a reassuring touch of our ID tags, the arming of hand grenades, the securing of our MPi [machinenpistole: submachine gun]. It is now 0330 hours. A whistle sounds; we quickly jump out from undercover and at an insane speed cross the 20 meters to the inflatable boats.

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