The Soviet politics of death was shaped, in practice, by several complementary policies—modernization, atheism, and Soviet patriotism—and the tensions between them. The politics of patriotism accorded no positive meaning to the deaths of deportees and camp prisoners. Their death was devalued, and the accompanying rituals made this clear. This was a result of modernization policies that manifested themselves in practices shaping an anonymous, rational, and unemotional attitude toward the death of another person. Yet the deportees made efforts to resist the anonymization and debasement of the death of their loved ones. The analysis focuses on the memoirs of former Lithuanian deportees and camp prisoners published in 1989-95.
Nerija Putinaitė is an associate professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, Lithuania, and specializes in identity studies, including Soviet, national, and European identity. She focuses on Lithuanian Soviet national identity, accommodation and resistance, and Soviet society and atheization politics. She is the author of several books in Lithuanian and multiple articles. Her current research project is titled Politics of Death in Soviet Lithuania.