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.