Shitting medals: L.I. Brezhnev, the Great Patriotic War, and the failure of the personality cult, 1965-1982 Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Nolan, Adrianne
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This thesis explores the relationship between L.I. Brezhnev's cult of personality and the memory of the Second World War in the Soviet Union. By glorifying and falsifying Brezhnev's record of wartime service, his personality cult placed him within the myth of the Great Patriotic War, which had become the historical anchor of Soviet regime legitimacy. The General Secretary also used the memory of the war to bolster his other public personae, or hero roles. Brezhnev's war hero image, however, ultimately contributed to the failure of his personality cult. Becoming increasingly overblown, this persona invited ridicule that undermined Brezhnev's cult. The consequences of this failure, moreover, potentially reach beyond the 1970s and 1980s. The implosion of Brezhnev's cult undermined not only his legitimacy but, by encouraging the desacralization of the leadership, may also have gravely damaged the legitimacy of the Soviet regime as a whole.
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  • Raleigh, Donald
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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