From Russia with Love

Our guest speaker this past week in class was an extremely positive and informative insight directly into aspects of Russian culture. Even if received in the form of a relatively small sample, her anecdotes were valuable in bringing our coursework into real world scenarios within this realm of study. To bring this back into the topic of this week’s blogpost, she brought up how and why the Russian folk have such emotional and strong ties to the Second World War.

This post seeks to analyze this question, specifically through smaller facets of the overall cultural umbrella of the time.

One of these smaller facets is that of women and their relationship to the war. A captivating perspective of this comes in the form of the poem by Konstantin Simonov “Wait for Me” (1941). My initial thought was that this poem was from the perspective of a woman, but after reading it is obviously coming from that of a solider writing to his love waiting for him back home. The poem itself represents almost an allegory; an allegory that represents the primary questions asked for this blog prompt in regard to motivations for the war effort. These motivations for say the political/governmental machine were of course harsh, fight or flight purely defensive actions of for the government. But for the people? These motivations were their personal connections, for their family and friends, and their community at large. This is captivated in the “Russian Reader” quote “the necessity to defend the motherland was transmuted into a level of rage against the Germans that for many Russians justified any act of violence or atrocity committed against the enemy.” This manifestation of violence was a response to the corner these Russian citizens felt they were placed in to defend their culture. With a culture rooted in interpersonal relationships and family ties, the reasons to fight must have been clear to the Russians called to arms.

To me, the “how they won” question is obvious: they won as a result of sheer will, mostly manpower. The amount of Russians that volunteered, and ultimately died in the war effort can be considered a testament to the spirit and need to defend their land/families by the Russians.
The poem itself is littered with references to these family ties, speaking of not just their women waiting for them, but their mothers, sons, and daughters as well. The poem seemingly sheds light on the motivations for fighting without revealing directly these passions. But to the reader it is obvious, it is all rooted in family ties.

10 Replies to “From Russia with Love”

  1. I really liked how you tied in some of what the speaker said last week! I agree that she was really interesting and her comments on WW2 added great context to what we are learning about this week. I thought your analysis on their sheer will to win and the impact of their culture was really thoughtful.

  2. I read “Wait for Me” too and could only see the surface of the poem, it being written about a Russian WWII soldier about his lover. I didn’t delve as deep as you did regarding the other underlying motivations of a Russian soldier, I commend you!

  3. Great post! I liked how you summed it up with the core idea that the Soviets won because they had more to fight for than a political ideology, they had love/family/commit. I really enjoyed how our guest speaker come talk to us as well. She was so sweet and energetic about Russia/ Russian culture, it made me more eager to visit!

  4. I think something ate my previous post? Anyway — there are lots of posts about this song this week, but I really like the way you examined the context and how your own perspective on the song evolved. This post complement’s Joy’s (which deals mainly with the personal story of Simonov and the human drama of love and loss) really nicely: https://jvillvt.wordpress.com/2018/10/28/shall-i-compare-thee-to-a-russian-winter/comment-page-1/#comment-39

  5. Ok. something is definitely eating my comments. Ethan – can you check your spam folder and see if there’s anything there from me? Thanks!

  6. I like how you incorporated what our guest speaker said about the strong emotional ties that Russians had to World War II, I remember her saying that the emotions were so strong because virtually everyone had lost someone they loved in the war. The insight into the motivations of war was also really powerful with your reference to “Wait for Me”!

  7. Ethan – This is a really excellent post about the societal implications of affectionate tendencies during the war. How do you think this compliments or contrasts the expectations of socialist relationships? The song is stunning and so is its meaning. Very lovely all together, both post and song.

  8. “Wait for me” is such a beautiful and heart-wrenching poem. Can you imagine how lonely and desperate you would be if you knew you wouldn’t make it back to your family/loved ones and all you could do is write a poem describing your feelings? WW2 is easily my most favorite global conflict to study because it is so multi-faceted, including so many societies and how grief struck them.

  9. Do you think that the people of Russia are more patriotic or nationalistic? I really liked how you incorporated parts of what the guest speaker said. Good job!

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