Adopting and Remembering Soviet Reality

Life Stories of Lithuanian Women, 1945 – 1970

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For millions of people, the Soviet experience meant not only living through the torment of Stalinism and the GULAG, the unbelievable destiny of men and women during the 1917 Revolution, civil war, and the Second World War, or those breathtaking, gigantic Socialist construction projects. Many citizens of the former Soviet Union lived “ordinary lives in ordinary times”, where the fate of men and women depended not on armed coercion, but Soviet ideology and propaganda. Adopting and Remembering Soviet Reality contains the stories of ten women, talking about their lives in Soviet Lithuania, one of the annexed Baltic republics. The book gives a compelling account of how, in the last years of Stalin’s rule, after 1945, during the so-called “Khrushchev Thaw”, and in the beginning of the “Stagnation Era”, Soviet ideology transfused the everyday life of women and dictated just about every major aspect of their lives. Based on interviews, the journalistic press of that era, as well as other material, the book reveals how propaganda shaped women’s understanding of family and work responsibilities, child care, interpersonal relationships, romantic love, and friendship.

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"[Leinarte is] the foremost historian of Lithuanian women … Even though it may be impossible for the reader to feel what the period was like, Leinarte comes close to recreating “what it was really like”. … The lives of these ten women are simply fascinating. … Adopting and Remembering Soviet Realities is an original work of scholarship that one can only hope becomes part of a larger work on Lithuanian women. Dalia Leinarte has prepared herself well to write the grand narrative about Lithuanian women." – in: Lituanus 57/3 (Fall 2011)
"well written and insightful … a compelling work contributing to the disciplines of Baltic History and Eastern European Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and notably the scholarship of Memory and Oral History. Readers will find it solidly researched and well presented. Oral historians will appreciate its focus on personal narratives and life stories capturing the relationship between the individual and society." – in: Oral History Forum d’histoire orale 31 (2011)
Introduction
Part I: Conducting Interviews in the Post-Soviet Space
Oral Testimony as History
Silence as Testimony
Part II: Women, Work, and Family in Soviet Lithuania
State Propaganda and Assistance for Working Mothers
Reconciling Family and Work: Everyday Practices
Gender Roles and Family Life
Soviet Romantic Love and Friendship
Part III: Life Stories Of Lithuanian Women
Stefanija Kučinskienė: “Maybe she was afraid because I was a political prisoner?”
Monika Jonynaitė-Makūnienė: “I almost wanted him to die”
Leokadija Diržinskaitė: “Everyone was creating socialism, and everyone was looking at it with hope”
Julija Greičienė: “I wasn’t sorry that I got divorced – I felt like a fully-esteemed person again”
Marija Popova: “I got married to a Russian and was a member of the Party”
Apolonija Birutė Paliulienė: “I always had two or three jobs. But why did I work so much?”
Adasa Skliutauskaitė: “You’re different to all the other women”
Aušra Dilienė: “We had so much fun in our life”
Aneta Šlegel: “If the state gives you full care then it goes without saying what kind of person you should be and how you should see things”
Danutė Marija Kvasienė: “Life has passed by, just like that...”
Conclusions
Notes
References
Archives
List of Illustrations
Index