Iryna Sklokina (Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, Lviv)

Trials of Nazi Collaborators in the Context of Soviet Propaganda, Nationality Policy, and the Cold War (1960-80s)

The paper outlines how the trials of Nazis and their collaborators played a role in the re-shaping of Soviet society in later decades (1960s-80s), in the new contexts of nation-building, dissident movement, and rise of WWII memory cult. I show how the persecution of war criminals, as well as media coverage of their persecution in the West, was organized in the USSR and what were the old and new actors in this process. I will analyze the conventions of the Soviet representation of the collaboration and responsibility in the public trials as important instruments of competition with the capitalist West and the fight against the dissident movement. The trials of the Nazi perpetrators and their accomplices made an impact on day-to-day communication between the people with different wartime experience, as well as on unwritten conventions and social rules of communication, social hierarchies, and ways of behavior. Importantly enough, the instrumentalization of the theme of collaboration in the struggle against dissident movement inside the USSR and émigré organizations outside had an unexpected outcome of the growing public attention to the theme of specifically Jewish suffering in the WWII, as well as helped to introduce the notion of “human rights” into the Soviet official discourse.