DECRA awarded: The Chaotic Transition from War to Peace in Soviet-Occupied Europe

Research news

10 December 2015

"Historians are struggling to understand the complexities of the chaotic and violent transition from war to peace in Soviet-occupied Europe", according to ADI Research Fellow Dr Filip Slaveski, "and newly declassified Soviet archives may hold a key to developing our understanding of that period".

Dr Slaveski has been awarded a three-year Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) to apply an innovative comparative methodology to the newly declassified Soviet archival data in order to compare the experiences of social collapse, famine and reconstruction across this region. Through a comparative exploration, the project will address the unresolved question of why violence against the Soviet state, culminating in insurgency, emerged in some areas, but not others.

"The end of the Second World War brought little relief to the lands it ravaged most. Mass wartime violence continued in Eastern Europe beyond the 'false peace' of 1945, especially in the Soviet-occupied territories. Mass insurgencies against the Soviet state and its supporters broke out or intensified across Ukraine and the Baltics, inviting a Soviet counterinsurgency which redoubled the violence and left hundreds of thousands dead, wounded and imprisoned in the Gulags. Even outside of the insurgent areas, violent non-state collectives also ethnically cleansed their neighbours and recriminatory violence against suspect 'collaborators' raged for years. Everywhere brutalized soldiers struggled to make the transition to civilian life and civilians struggled to avoid post-war violence in collapsed societies—violence, which, at times, was indistinguishable from that suffered during war", he explains.

"Violence against the state and the state's response to it is a multifaceted problem which goes far beyond the physical act-the memory of which can endure for generations and, if not reconciled, spark new conflicts similar or worse than the original. By exploring the difficulties of post-war reconstruction comparatively, with a particular focus on mass violence in Ukraine and the Baltics, this project will advance knowledge in European history and help address the problem of reconstructing war-torn and collapsed states, particularly those dealing with the trauma of past violence", he said.

Learn more:-DECRA project page

Contact: Rebecca Buys

Phone: 03 9244 6658

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