Collective memory often functions as embeddedness for a narrative that can have profound legitimation consequences. In order to make a population ‘buy’ a narrative, memory entrepreneurs can manipulate traumatic memories in a population to justify the subversion of democratic processes, which is particularly dangerous. The ‘Great Patriotic War’, as World War II is known in Russia, commemorates not just the defeat of fascism, but also the survival of the nation in the face of extinction. It is also the most important heroic and unifying event in recent Russian history and is now actively used in nation-building efforts. The main argument of this essay is that due to the very traumatic nature of the collective memory of the Great Patriotic War in Russia, its citizens are bound to react in an emotional way to the issues that are discursively connected to the war.

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