The research deals with everyday life and survival strategies of the civil population on Nazi occupied Soviet territories during World War II. It is based on various types of so-called ego-documents. They include diaries and memoirs written by members of the Soviet intelligentsia who held anti-Soviet views, collaborated with the Nazis, and emigrated at the end of the war. The sources also include oral history documents, such as life narratives recorded during interviews with World War II and Holocaust survivors in the Soviet Union.
The research aims to reconstruct different aspects of the life and views of different groups of civilians under occupation: primarily Nazi collaborators as well as Jews - the main victims of Nazi atrocities, - but also witnesses of both collaboration and genocide. Research topics include everyday life, living conditions, religious practices, survival strategies, political views, attitudes to Soviet rule and to occupation authorities, as well as the evolution of these attitudes - which ranged from patriotism to collaborationism and to different intermediate forms – throughout the war. This research also examines gender roles and generational stereotypes, reflections on the war and Holocaust, their place in life narratives, collective memory and oblivion. Another goal of this project was to publish and thus to make available to the scholarly community a number of unique historical sources kept mainly in archives outside Russia that had never been published before in their entirety.
Methodologically, this research is grounded in historical anthropology and social history. It includes the analysis of numerous sources of the same type (biographical interviews). The research resulted in the publication of Red Army sergeant Boris Komsky’s Diary (1943-1945) and the preparation for publication of the memoirs of the well-known collaborators Lidia Osipova and Vladimir Samarin (with scholarly commentary and analytical introduction). This is the first scholarly edition of these memoirs that will further advance the study of the phenomenon of collaborationism.
This research also included the examination and structuring of a vast corpus of interviews with Soviet (mainly Ukrainian) World War II and Holocaust survivors (several collections of interviews are kept in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Kiev Judaica Institute archive). The results of this research have been published as articles in scholarly journals, presented at various Russian and international conferences and are used in courses taught at HSE.
The results of the project, including new sources prepared for scholarly editions, can be widely used for the study and teaching of World War II and the Holocaust, Soviet everyday life, Soviet national politics and the “second wave” of the Russian emigration.