RESEARCH PAPERS COMPETITION
A total of 18 papers from 13 countries were entered in the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory International Research Papers Competition. Eight of these were articles, six were master’s theses and four were doctoral dissertations. Prizes were awarded in two categories (master’s and doctoral dissertations; published articles). The commission consisted of member of the Council of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory Tõnu-Andrus Tannberg, Professor Emeritus of the University of Stockholm Enn Tarvel, and Estonian Institute of Historical Memory senior research fellow Peeter Kaasik (PhD). Estonian Institute of Historical Memory Research Director Toomas Hiio, research fellow Hiljar Tammela and the editor of the academic periodical Akadeemia Humaniora and of the fields of Socialia Mart Orav participated as experts in the work of the commission.
In the category of master’s and doctoral dissertations, the commission declared the winner to be the master’s thesis Learning Leninism: Factional Struggles in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia during the Great Purge (1936–1940) by Stefan Gužvica defended at the History Department of the Central European University. Professor Alfred J. Rieber supervised this thesis and Professor Ondřej Vojtěchovský served as the opponent.
Gužvica’s work provides a comprehensive overview of the entire pre-World War II history of the Yugoslavian Communist Party but focuses on the period of Stalin’s ‘purges’, when the Party’s First Secretary Milan Gorkić was summoned to Moscow, imprisoned by the NKVD and executed, and Josip Broz Tito rose to the position of leader of Yugoslavia’s communists in the subsequent inter-factional struggle. Tito headed the Party and after less than 10 years, the entire country until his death in 1980. The author of the thesis relies on the treatments of authors from the revisionist school and argues that communist parties were not merely the passive implementers of the orders of the Comintern and the hapless victims of Stalin’s repressions. He argues against the generally widespread view of the Yugoslavian Communist Party in the interwar period as merely the marionette of the Comintern and Moscow.
The author describes the nature of communist underground subversion not only in Yugoslavia but also more broadly. The Comintern ultimately had to direct everything but total control of the movement of all information and people was beyond the means of even that organisation and left opportunities for independent activity on the part of local parties. The events considered in this thesis took place not only in Yugoslavia, but to a great extent in Moscow, and also in Paris, which was one of the centres of expatriate Yugoslavians after the coup of 1929, and in the international brigades of the Spanish Civil War. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic state and Yugoslavia’s communist movement was also multi-ethnic. This inevitably led to contradictions in different objectives, supporters and personalities.
The gripping description of the way the Comintern operated in general and organised worldwide subversive activity could fascinate readers who are not interested directly in matters related to Yugoslavia. The communist movement has never been the avant-garde of the broad working masses and Gužvica’s thesis helps to once again remind us of this. The researcher of the history of Estonia’s communist underground and the Comintern’s subversive activity also finds a number of parallels – from the prison communists to the joint front of the workers and the politics of the people’s front.
Gužvica’s work is based on abundant literature and archival sources from the archives of both the former Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union. One of its main positive features is that it is interestingly and linguistically well written.
The commission unanimously selected Elena Kochetkova’s (National Research University Higher School of Economics) article ‘Industry and Forests: Alternative Raw Materials in the Soviet Forestry Industry from the mid-1950s to the 1960s’, which appeared in the periodical Environment and History, Vol. 24, 2018, pp. 323-347, as the best of the articles.
The posing of a topical problem, the implementation of an appropriate research method, and the use of novel and varied source material characterise E. Kochetkova’s article. It turns out from her research paper that the intensive destruction of forests from the vicinity of cellulose and paper factories and generally from the Soviet Union’s European part, and the consequential critical difficulties in acquiring the necessary raw material for this industry led to the search for alternative raw material (reeds and one-year-old plants, for instance, in addition to residue from the wood industry) and non-wasteful technologies starting in the mid-1950s. The purpose was on the one hand to preserve forests, yet on the other hand to increase production (also for military requirements), all in all to modernise the cellulose and paper industry. This failed in most cases and the destruction of forests continued. The article also examines the utilisation of raw material, and organisational and technological aspects of the development of the forest industry. Aspirations that supported environmental awareness alongside standpoints favouring the intensive industrial use of natural resources in the post-Stalinist state did not lead to non-wasteful use of wood due to infrastructural and organisational obstacles. Enterprises were unable to put the residue of the wood industry and other alternative raw materials to use. Aspirations aimed at learning from Western, especially Finland’s, experience and the acquisition of equipment from the West did not help to alleviate this problem due to the USSR’s rigid and centralised system. At the end of the 1990s, only 16% of wood industry residue was being used in the forest industry, and one-year-old plants were being used only sporadically.
MASTER’S STUDIES SCHOLARSHIP COMPETITION
Two applications were submitted for the Master’s Studies Scholarship Competition jointly announced by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory and the University of Tartu Institute of History and Archaeology. Of these two applications, the commission (Professor Tõnu Tannberg, Professor Mati Laur, Docent Ago Pajur) selected the first year master’s student Simo Jõks as the winner. This scholar’s master’s dissertation will analyse the process of the return of deportees from banishment and their rehabilitation as a whole and at the level of individuals. The selected topic is a continuation of the bachelor’s thesis by Simo Jõks, in which he analysed the correspondence between the Soviet authorities and persons who had been deported from Estonia as kulaks. By researching his selected theme, Simo Jõks can make his contribution to the everyday work of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory and rely on the experience and knowledge of the institute’s research fellows in his development as a scholar.