History, Memory, and the Second World War in Belarus


  • The author would like to acknowledge the financial assistance of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for funding this paper, which is part of a larger project on Memory and the Great Patriotic War in Belarus. He would also like to recognize the help of his research assistants Oleksandr Melnyk, Eduard Baidaus, Antony Kalashnikov, Brian Daley, and Tatsiana Aliakseyeva.


The paper examines the role of the German-Soviet war in nation-building in Alyaksandr Lukashenka's Belarus through the medium of contemporary popular narratives (media, movies, documentaries), monuments, and historical sites. After highlighting some examples in the former two categories, it focuses specifically on myth-making at three key historic sites – the Brest Hero Fortress, the Liniya Stalina museum, and the Khatyn historic complex – outlining the correlation between the official interpretation of wartime events at these sites and construction of modern-day Belarusian civic nationalism and nation building; the forging of links between veterans and youth for the evolution of memory into post-memory; and the elimination all vestiges of what is termed “historical revisionism”.