“Mass Graves” and the “Burial Grounds of Enemies”: The Symbolic Significance of Mass Burials in Soviet Russia/USSR, 1920s–1940s («Бpaтcкиe мoгилы» и «вpaжecкиe мoгильники»: cимвoличecкoe oзнaчивaниe мaccoвыx зaxopoнeний в Coвeтcкoй Poccии/CCCP 1920-x–1940-x гoдoв)

in The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review

For several decades, the mass burial practices in Soviet Russia were strongly linked with Soviet ideology and the practices of everyday life. Soviet military and state officials intentionally and unintentionally used mass graves as a political and ideological tool. Soviet Russian and Soviet authorities noted mass graves in documents and in public discourse, and couched them in a “figure of silence.” Places of mass burials were given meaning and characterized as systems of ideological representation and the binary oppositions of “ours” versus “foreign.” This article examines the practice of mass burials from the 1920s to the 1940s and how it shaped and influenced Soviet Russian and Soviet ideological constructs.