Historical Memory About Great Patriotic War In Communication Of Modern Russian Society


The historical memory of the Great Patriotic War is one of the major factors for the unity of the modern Russian society. It contributes to the maintaining of the spiritual potential; it generates moral ideals and values, develops the worldview of younger generations. The modern society’s idea of the events of the Great Patriotic War today is ambiguous. Despite the interest of the scientific community to the problems of the war period, a significant range of issues associated with the historical memory of the Great Patriotic War, requires further study. Special attention is paid to the analysis of the contribution of the Soviet Union and the countries participating in the anti-Hitler coalition into the Victory, a prominent place is given to the problems of the German occupation regime and collaboration. The authors’ interest lies in the events connected with the repressions, deportations of peoples, the situation with prisoners of war. Mechanisms of the war memory formation have changed significantly today. With the veterans of the war passing away, interpersonal communication disappears. There is a growth of public transfer of information about the past by using technical means, such as periodicals, radio, television. Today the formation of the historical connections of Russians’ generations meets many obstacles. First of all, these are attempts to distort the historical truth about the war, which threaten the national security of modern Russia. In these circumstances, it is necessary to form respect for the past and respect for the historical memory about the Great Patriotic War.

Keywords: Historical memorythe Great Patriotic WarVictorythe modern Russian societycommunication spacespiritual potential


In modern conditions of scientific discourse, the problem of national security and national solidarity, the preservation of the spiritual potential of the Russian people, forming a respectful attitude to the past are actively discussed. Understanding the past occurs through such social phenomenon as historical memory, i.e. the society’s ability to preserve and transmit the knowledge of the past to descendants. Historical memory finds its expression in the myths and oral memory, in the academic and popular literature, in mass media programs, museum and archival presentation of the past (Merkushin, 2004).

The study of social memory problems is particularly relevant today because it not only describes the past and defines the present but also shapes the future, actively transferring the past experience into it. It is important here not just to pass knowledge about the past to future generations, but also to develop everyday practical life, to form values and moral guidelines on its basis.

In the historical memory of the modern Russian society, events of the past with tragic and dramatic color receive a special response. First and foremost, these are wars, revolutions, crises, characterized by the society destabilization on the whole, intensification of the internal contradictions, an increase of external threats. The Great Patriotic war became the most important event of the XX century. The historical memory estimates it as the most significant event, because it is connected with the history of every family; it has touched the most significant and intimate aspects in the people’s personal life (Toshchenko, 2000; Shuman, Scott, 1992). Preserving the memory of the Great Patriotic war is the most important condition of multi-religious Russia’s unity, social stability in society, strengthening of the national security and the state as a whole.

Problem Statement

The study aims at the analysis of the problem of transformation of the historical memory content concerning the Great Patriotic War in contemporary Russian society. This research problem is closely related to identifying the role of various social communications in the process of its formation.

Research Questions

Currently, the study of the problems of historical memory about the Great Patriotic War has accumulated some questions that require scientific analysis. It is necessary to analyze the state of scientific development of this research problem; to characterize the sources of formation of historical memory about the war; to reveal reasons of public interest in the events of the Great Patriotic war, to identify the role of historical memory about it in the formation of spiritual and moral values of the society; to analyze the mechanisms of perception of past events in the contemporary society, the reflection of the Great Patriotic war in the scientific and ordinary consciousness. Solving these research problems will allow one to analyze the peculiarities of the formation of the Great Patriotic war historical image in the modern society.

Purpose of the Study

The study aims at analyzing the content of the modern Russian society’s historical memory about the events of 1941-1945, a study of its role in the evolution of cultural and spiritual attitudes and values, identifying the communicative practices that contribute to the formation of the Great Patriotic war historical image.

Research Methods

The study of the problems associated with the preservation and transmission of historical memory about the Great Patriotic war in the communicative space of the modern Russian society, involves the selection of a particular theoretical paradigm. A key concept in determining the scientific search in this direction is the concept of "historical memory". Its research has determined the appeal to the socio-cultural approach, which is based on the works of M. Halbwachs (Halbwachs, 2007) and the theory of communicative memory, based on the work of J. Assman (Assman, 2014). As a theoretical basis for the research, the authors chose the understanding of history as a dialogue of the present with the past that involves an appeal to the concept of "new local history" and the use of a micro-historical approach. Here the subject of historical memory is the experience of direct participants of military events, primarily veterans - "living memory" carriers.

The historical memory of the Great Patriotic war is formed by the perception of information contained in their memories, existing in society traditions, monuments and works of art, movies, television programs, through visits to museums and memorable places.

In the process of research, the ideas of the civilizational concept were used, according to which cultural norms, values, stereotypes, formed in modern society on the basis of the historical memory of the Great Patriotic War, are subject to analysis and serve as elements of motivation for the behavior and activities of the individual, social groups and society as a whole. Within the framework of the above-mentioned methodological concept, the image of a specific historical event - the Great Patriotic War as a result and the form of its reflection in the minds of man and society, arising in the conditions of socio-historical practice on the basis of certain communicative practices - was used. Such values ​​determine the attitude of society towards the events of the military past as a whole. The past itself acts as a certain system of values, consonant with the tasks put forward by modern practice.

Understanding history as a dialogue with the past, analysis of human activity through the prism of cultural norms and values as elements of motivation of their behavior is not contrary to the principles of historicism and consistency, which were used in this study. All the methodological approaches mentioned above have determined the choice of the specific historical methods of research. These include comparative-historical, structural and systematic, chronological and retrospective methods, as well as methods of some related sciences: social psychology, philosophy, and sociology. The authors also used the method of historiographical analysis of the literature on the history of the Great Patriotic War.


The history of the Great Patriotic war has always been an important area of research. A considerable number of works about the war were written in 1945-1985. At the turn of the XX-XXI centuries, the authors turned to the tragic side of the war, their interest was aroused by the events related to repression, deportations of peoples, the situation of prisoners of war. Considerable attention has been paid to the price of Victory; human losses have been calculated.

The idea of the modern society about the events of the Great Patriotic war is ambiguous today. The historical memory of the war became an object of ideological struggle inside and outside the country. The most radical Russian politicians, publicists, historians not only revealed the "white spots", setting the forbidden earlier questions and making secret documents public. Many of them also rearranged the accents in the estimates unnecessarily and even openly falsified history following the principle "the worse, the better", considering that the destruction of historical memory is a necessary condition for the destruction of the "totalitarian regime" and its ideology (Senyavsky, Senyavskaya, 2009).

The successes and achievements at the front and in the rear are more and more often denied, creating a historical concept, which do not correspond to the objective realities of the wartime. In recent years, there has been an ongoing debate about the international significance of the Victory, the contribution of the Soviet Union and its allies in the defeat of fascism is being evaluated (Speransky, 2015). The object of disagreement remains the problem of the contribution of the countries participating in the anti-Hitler coalition to the defeat of fascism. Among the problems that attract both today's professional historians and the society as a whole, a significant place is given to the German occupation regime and collaboration work in the rear (Krasnozhenova, 2012).

The crimes of fascism in the temporarily occupied territories are not a subject to oblivion. The Wehrmacht armies followed the program of extermination of millions of civilians, which had been set out in the plan "Ost". Simultaneously, the invaders destroyed Soviet towns and villages, destroying houses, hospitals, schools, theatres, museums, libraries. The memory of the fascism atrocities is the memory of the dead who paid for the humankind’s peace and freedom.

In modern Russia, the tendency to make the events of the Great Patriotic war seem less heroic has increased. There has been a fashion of ignoring the role of the USSR in winning the great Victory. This creates a threat to the stable historical connection of generations, leads to the denial of the military, moral, humanistic deed of the Soviet people, leads to an aggravation of social contradictions. Helps destroy the values and ideals of heroism, courage, selflessness, leads to a violation of social integrity, deprives the society of the prospects for development (Malysheva, 2012). Although in the 1990s, there have been numerous attempts of disavowing of the war results and events, they were rejected by historical memory. The attempts to diminish the value of Moscow, Stalingrad battles, the attempts to make Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, Alexander Matrosov and others’ feats seem less heroic were not only unaccepted in the scientific community, but also rejected by the mass historical consciousness (Toshchenko, 2000).

Despite the fact that the history of war today is the most important and discussed historical topic, the mechanisms of its memory formation have undergone significant changes. In connection with the death of witnesses, war veterans, interpersonal communication is gradually disappearing, giving rise to the problem of communication gap between generations (Britvina, 2014; Prokazina, Starykh, 2014). Simultaneously, the role of the public transmission of information about the past by using technical means such as periodicals, radio, television etc. has significantly increased.

To preserve the historic and collective memory about the past, symbols that provide mandatory sharing the memories for the next generations are used. Monuments and memorials perform this function. They give an opportunity to younger generations to join the shared memories of the past. Monuments in places of mass burials of dead soldiers appeared in the war and early postwar years in many regions of the country (Kulik, 2014; Krinko, 2016). Most often, obelisks, concrete steles or sculptures marked them. Smaller monuments were dedicated to the inhabitants of individual cities and villages who took part in the war. Monuments were created in honor of workers and employees of enterprises and institutions, doctors and scientists.

An important role in the formation of historical memory about the war is played by the system of education and the upbringing of the youth. Patriotic education makes the basis of preparation of younger citizens in a rapidly changing society and ensures the continued spiritual connection of generations, transfer of winners’ experience to young people (Varshikov, Kusmartsev, 2015; Isaeva, 2014).


The historical memory of the Great Patriotic war in the modern society is increasingly transmitted through the media, through visual communication, historical chronicles and books. The memory of the war is changing due to the fact that there are fewer and fewer its witnesses and participants — veterans for whom the war years were their personal tragic experience.

Today it is difficult for the generation that grew up in peace to imagine the tragedy of war-time starvation and devastation – a small piece of bread, issued according to the rule in besieged Leningrad, daily radio alerts on the situation at the front, letters from the war borders, funerals. In the system of the modern Russian society’s values, the Victory in the Great Patriotic war does not lose its preciousness. The preservation of historical memory about the war times ensures political stability in the society, leads to its consolidation. The memory about it is based on pride for the country, gratitude to the liberators and enormous losses sorrow.


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19 February 2018

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Krasnozhenova, E., & Kulik, S. (2018). Historical Memory About Great Patriotic War In Communication Of Modern Russian Society. In I. B. Ardashkin, N. V. Martyushev, S. V. Klyagin, E. V. Barkova, A. R. Massalimova, & V. N. Syrov (Eds.), Research Paradigms Transformation in Social Sciences, vol 35. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 677-682). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2018.02.80