Rats and resentment: the demobilization of the Red Army in postwar Leningrad, 1945-50

Dale, R, 2010. Rats and resentment: the demobilization of the Red Army in postwar Leningrad, 1945-50. Journal of Contemporary History, 45 (1), pp. 113-133. ISSN 0022-0094

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Abstract

This article reassesses the myth of the heroic homecoming and successful reintegration of Red Army veterans returning to Leningrad after 1945. Soviet propaganda created an official version of demobilization, which presented veterans as exemplary citizens who returned to civilian life with relative ease. This myth created the impression that ordinary Leningraders welcomed home returning veterans as heroes. Throughout the twentieth century the demobilization of mass conscript armies generated tensions and difficulties. Across Europe the experience of demobilization in the wake of industrialized warfare created resentment, disaffection and anger. In contrast to official myths, Leningrad’s veterans were little different from their counterparts elsewhere. Reports based on veterans’ letters intercepted by the military censor reveal that many ex-servicemen were deeply resentful of the reception they received in postwar Leningrad. The frustrations of demobilization were blamed on ‘rear-line rats’, a term of derision for officials believed to have shirked front-line service in favour of safer administrative jobs. These problems were not imagined by disaffected veterans. Other documents confirm that corruption and bureaucracy were widespread problems. Despite these simmering resentments, the myth of a successful demobilization has remained remarkably durable and continues to be accepted by historians and the general population.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Contemporary History
Creators: Dale, R.
Publisher: Sage
Date: 2010
Volume: 45
Number: 1
ISSN: 0022-0094
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1177/0022009409348964DOI
Rights: Robert Dale. © 2010 Journal of Contemporary History This is a post print version of article published in the Journal of Contemporary in January 2010. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of the copyright holder for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in The Journal of Contemporary History, 45:1, doi:10.1177/0022009409348964.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 11:05
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2016 09:13
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22592

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