Olga Baranova

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2014/2015
discipline History
Lecturer in Contemporary History, Gonzaga University in Florence

Research project

Historiography and Politics of Memory of the Second World War and the Holocaust in the Soviet Union


The proposed research investigates how narrative and memory of the Second World War in the Soviet Union was exploited by the authorities in the political struggle during the Cold War and post-Communist period. The geographical area covered by the research includes western republics of the USSR such as Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic States. The research starts with the analysis and comparison of how various issues of the War such as partisan resistance to the Nazis, the collaboration of Soviet citizens with the German occupation authorities and the Holocaust were presented and discussed in Soviet historiography and in Western history writings during the Cold War period. The research explores the main themes that attracted attention from Soviet and Western scholars and examines the terminology and concepts used by historians on both sides. One of the major objectives of the proposed research is to overcome the simplified East-West Cold War divide and, through the analysis of the idiosyncrasies of the national historiographies in western republics of the Soviet Union to demonstrate that Soviet historiography was not monolithic, and despite centralized censorship, there were many variations in national narratives. Furthermore, the research investigates the changes that occurred in the historiography of the Second World war after the collapse of Communism. It analyses how strongly new political dynamics shaped and changed public discourse and historiographical reflection on the issues of war-time cooperation, resistance and the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. The research examines recent studies conducted by Western historians and scholars from former republics of the Soviet Union such as Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic States that from 1991 became independent countries, and explores the new issues, trends and approaches in the study of the Second World War that became subjects of intense historical and political debate in the 1990s. Particular attention in the project is dedicated to the representation of the Holocaust in the historiography of the Cold War period and in post-Communist history writings. The research provides a nuanced understanding of political reasons why the tragedy of Soviet Jews was largely ignored by Soviet scholars and still remains sensitive and relatively understudied area in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. In addition, the research considers and discusses new historiographical approaches, such as ‘history from below’, ‘oral history’ and ‘gender history’. These approaches challenged the traditional political-military approach in the study of the Second World War and introduced new social, psychological, cultural and gendered issues previously omitted by historians and became important for understanding daily life during the War and occupation.




Olga Baranova teaches Contemporary History at Gonzaga University in Florence. Previously she has also been teaching at the Florence University of the Arts (FUA). She holds a PhD in History  from the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy and a MA in Central European History from the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary. She has been a recipient of fellowships from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the George Soros Foundation, the Open Society Foundation (OSF) and the German Historical Institute (DHI) in Moscow. 


Her research interest lie in the field of contemporary European history, with a particular focus on twentieth century Eastern European and Russian/Soviet history. Her areas of specialization include history of the Second World War: collaboration, resistance and the Holocaust; inter-ethnic relations and politics of memory and identity in the Soviet Union; the Cold War history and transatlantic relations since the Second World War.

Selected publications


Nationalism, Anti-Bolshevism, or the Will to Survive. Forms of Belarusian Interaction with the German Occupation Authorities, 1941-1944, Lambert Academic Publishing, Saarbrücken, 2010.


‘Nazi Occupation of Belarus: Collaboration and Resistance in Historiography', Memoria e Ricerca, vol. 33, 2010, pp. 153-179. [in Italian]


'Collaboration by the Soviet Citizens with the Nazi Occupation Authorities during the Great Patriotic War: How the Issue was Represented and Treated in Soviet, Western, and Post-Soviet Russian and Belarusian Historiography', in W. Bonner & A. Rosenholm (eds), Recalling the Past – (Re)constructing the Past: Collective and Individual Memory of World War II in Russia and Germany,  Aleksanteri Series, vol. 2, Gummerus Printing, Jyväskylä, 2008,  pp. 267-277. 


'Nationalism, Anti-Bolshevism, or the Will to Survive? Collaboration in Belarus under the Nazi Occupation of 1941-1944', European Review of History, vol. 15, no. 2, 2008, pp. 113-128. 



junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline Media
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline Law
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline Political Science
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline History