I’ve been meaning to mention for a couple of weeks a new Russian history group blog that has appeared in cyberspace. Straightforwardly titled Russian History Blog, it’s got a number of posting covering ongoing research and works-in-progress by a number of young historians (and by young, of course, I mean about as old as me).
Military history buffs might start with diary entries from the first days of the war in East Prussia in 1914, found and translated by Josh Sanborn.
Several months back, Dave Stone drew attention to the new website, 1941-1945: Chronicle of Victory, recently established by the Russian Ministry of Mass Communications “for the purpose of providing objective information about the Great Patriotic War.” [natch]
The MinMassComm isn’t the only Russian state agency sponsoring a site devoted to the War. The Ministry of Defense also has one of its own. Titled “Feat of the People,” this new(ish) site aims: “to perpetuate the memory of all the Wars’ heroes – irrespective of rank, scale of exploit, or award status; to educate youth concerning the military valor of their forefathers; and to provide a documentary base for counteracting attempts the falsification of World War II history” by creating a digital database of the 30 million military awards given out during the conflict together with archival documents relating to wartime military operations.
As with the “Chronicle of Victory,” non-Russian speakers are a bit out of luck. Although an “English” button is available on the site, it only translates the site’s anchor page and navigational bar.
Turns out the Russian government’s fight against historical falsification has some good sides as well. The site runivers.ru (all material in Russian) has a truly amazing collection of scanned historical works. Interlibrary loan offices throughout the country will give thanks for everything that’s now available digitally. It starts with the standard great works of Russian-language historiography (Karamzin, Soloviev, Kliuchevskii), extends to three major pre-revolutionary military encyclopedias, and includes a host of 19th century military histories.
My only quibble is that the works are overwhelmingly pre-1917, which reduces the site’s usefulness to me personally. Nonetheless, there are a few post-revolutionary publications. I was delighted to see, for example, the Red Army’s seven-volume Strategicheskii ocherk of World War I. I weep for the trees I killed a couple of years ago making copies of what’s now available online. Likewise, there’s A. A. Svechin’s Evoliutsiia voennogo iskusstva, which will immediately handy.
For a site that seems inspired by the anti-falsification campaign, there’s remarkably little on the things that have preoccupied the Putin-Medvedev regime. Those fall under the site’s category “historical themes.” The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact page, say, has some standard documents (text of the Pact and the secret protocol) but nothing at first glance that seeks to whitewash Stalin. The Katyn section likewise recognizes Soviet responsibility for the massacre and the clear evidentiary trail.
A couple of drawbacks from a technical point of view–the site loads slowly. Full functionality seems to require the use of a DejaVu plugin, which I could not make function on my Mac system. Nonetheless, I was still able to get to everything I wanted to see.
My imperial Russian comrades should bookmark this site and visit often.
Those interested in American policy toward the Russian Federation may want to investigate the new website “Designing U.S. Policy Toward Russia.” Sponsored by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences with support from the Carnegie Corporation, “Designing U.S. Policy Toward Russia” is part of a larger initiative aimed at “develop[ing] a comprehensive, coherent, and effective policy on U.S.-Russian relations for consideration by the new U.S. administration.”
The website’s primary feature is a “Strategic Assessment” PowerPoint presentation which analyzes Russia’s current (and potential) place within the U.S. foreign policy agenda, challenges facing the countries’ bilateral relationship, and specific recommendations for how to structure and conduct a high-level strategic dialogue. Members of the project’s Steering Committee invite feedback from informed readers and will aim to answer as many questions as possible. (Responses will be posted to the project’s blog available via a link from the project’s main page.)
In addition to the “Strategic Assessment,” the site provides a number of recent reports regarding current thinking about the U.S.-Russian relationship. Additional reports will be made available as they are completed.