Skip to content

In Search of Soviet Salvation: Young People Write to the Stalinist Authorities

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327 - 345
Number of pages19
JournalContemporary European History
Volume15 (3)
StatePublished - Aug 2006


Letters have always been an important medium between rulers and subjects in the Soviet Union and Russia. This article looks at letters from young people to Soviet party officials, newspapers and youth organizations, using them as texts in their own right rather than as sources for the events they describe. A close and detailed analysis of the letters' language, structure and style reveals the subjective universe of their authors and the function of letters both in the personal life of their writers and in the Soviet system overall. Particular attention is paid to letters that employ confessionary narratives. The eschatological trajectory of other Soviet autobiographical texts, which chart the inevitable progress from an unenlightened state to ideological conviction, is reversed in these letters, leading the reader from a happy Soviet life to a point of confusion and ideological doubt. While the crises, which are at the heart of these letters, reveal the difficulties of young people in making sense of the Soviet world around them, they also demonstrate the extent to which young people's norms, values and language were infused by Bolshevik thought. The process of letter writing was thus both an affirmation of the system and a testimony to its failings.

Additional information

Publisher: Cambridge University Press Other identifier: E-ISSN: 1469-2171



View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups