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Журнальный клуб Интелрос » Quaestio Rossica » №1, 2021

Francois-Xavier Nуrard
Red Corpses: A Microhistory of Mass Graves, Dead Bodies, and Their Public Uses

What happens to corpses produced by armed conflicts? This question may seem simple: most bodies are buried, more or less quickly, in mass graves. However, the time between death and the moment when the human remains are inhumed deserves to be studied. This article focuses on the situation in the Urals at the end of the Civil War (1918–1919). The fights between the Bolsheviks and their opponents resulted in many casualties. The Bolsheviks gave a fundamental, and rather unusual, importance to the bodies of ‘their’ dead and attached a specific political significance to them. They developed a politics of corpses, using them in public space to assert their power. The bodies of dead Red fighters were brought back to symbolic places, resulting in impressive public funerals across the city of Yekaterinburg in 1918. Their burial sites became contested territories, protected by the authorities but derided by their opponents. After their final victory in 1919, Bolsheviks displayed their dead as proof of the cost of their struggle. Mutilated bodies were shown to carry the stigmata of sacrifice.

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