The Valaam myth and the fate of Leningrad's disabled veterans

Dale, R., 2013. The Valaam myth and the fate of Leningrad's disabled veterans. The Russian Review, 72 (2), pp. 260-284. ISSN 1467-9434


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This article explores an enduring Soviet myth, the myth of Valaam. According to this widely believed story in 1946 or 1947 vagrant disabled veterans were forcibly cleared from the streets of Soviet cities and deported to Valaam, an isolated archipelago of fifty islands, approximately 250 kilometres north of Leningrad. These myths continue to be repeated by both historians and the general public, but little evidence has been provided to support them. This article provides original archival evidence about the myth's two main components: the clearance of disabled veterans from the streets and their subsequent exile to Valaam. For the first time it demonstrates the existence of an invalid's home on Valaam, but which challenges the "facts" of the myth. Attempts were made to clear the disabled vagrants from Leningrad's streets, but these did not occur in 1946 or 1947, and were neither successful nor systematic. Although a residential institution for the elderly and disabled was established on Valaam, which had its own unedifying history, it was not a dumping ground for thousands of disabled veterans cleared from urban areas.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: The Russian Review
Creators: Dale, R.
Publisher: Wiley
Date: 2013
Volume: 72
Number: 2
ISSN: 1467-9434
Rights: Robert Dale © 2013 The Russian Review. 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 Russian Review, 72:2,
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:06
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2016 09:08

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