Episode 2 in the SHAPS Podcast Series: Professor Mark Edele

Does an unplanned and large-scale calamity – a war, say, or a global economic crisis – lead to lasting social, cultural, and political change? This podcast explores this question with regard to the Soviet Union and World War II. The calamity of the war had a devastating impact on Soviet society, on the Soviet economy, and on the Soviet population. Hopes for social and political change were high in 1945, but they were nearly universally disappointed. The dictatorship and the command economy, which had been adapted during the catastrophe of the war, snapped back into their pre-war mould. And yet, there were subterranean changes in politics, the economy, and society, which would work themselves out over the coming decades. The podcast explains some of these changes and ends by drawing larger conclusions on the relationship between disaster and change.

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Mark Edele is Hansen Professor of History and Deputy Head of School of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies. Parts of this podcast use material from his current book project, Stalinism at War. The Soviet Union in World War II. Some sections have been published as Mark Edele, ‘The Soviet Culture of Victory‘, Journal of Contemporary History 54, no. 4 (2019): 780–798. The book on veterans mentioned in the podcast is Martin Crotty, Neil J. Diamant and Mark Edele, The Politics of Veteran Benefits in the Twentieth Century. A Comparative History (Cornell University Press, 2020).

Banner background image: The centre of the city of Stalingrad after liberation from the German occupation, 2 February 1943. RIA Novosti archive, image 602161