July 03, 2020

Next on your Summer Reading List: Putin


Next on your Summer Reading List: Putin
A better fisherman, apparently, than a historian. The RussianLife files

Several German history professors received a surprising email last week from the Russian Embassy in Berlin. The subject line? "Article by Vladimir Putin."

The Russian Embassy reported sent out copies of this article (in German, of course) to several academics, encouraging them to use it in history classes. The article, written to coincide with the 75th celebration of Russia's Victory Day (postponed this year due to the virus), was met with surprise and dismissal by most academics, who see it as historical revisionism and ham-handed propaganda.

Polish leaders, too, have condemned the piece, citing its "blaming" of Poland for its own double-invasion by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

If nothing else, the article reinforces that history – and its interpretation – is fluid and fraught with biases.

"My guess is that quite a large number of colleagues will use Putin's text as a source that can be studied to learn more about the mechanisms of politics of history in general, and antagonistic memory culture in particular," said one scholar.

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