Resilience: Life Stories from the Soviet Era

Personal Narratives | Research Publications | Online Resources

The title of this exhibit comes from the 2018 book Resilience: Life stories of centenarians born in the year of revolution (2018), a work based on personal interviews with 22 centenarians of the former Soviet Union.

Likewise its motif. If the authors of the book travelled (they say, “over 20,000 kilometers”) around the vast land mass trying to put face and voice to the resilience and these centenarians personified, this exhibit finds it a compelling undertaking to showcase some of those publications that testify to the same – if not that of centenarians — resilience and survival.

How did ordinary citizens, millions of whom did not survive the catastrophic moments in the history of the Soviet Union, live their lives and navigate through the tumultuous times?

Where do we find such stories?

We have already heard a lot about the many tragic deaths that overtook the former Soviet Union, and no doubt, there will be a lot more such stories to be told and heard. But no less important would be to hear the stories of survival and resilience.  

Would those stories of resilience and survival provide us with new insights about the Soviet past? We do hope that they will enrich our understanding of it.

This exhibit features about 30 titles, most of them published in English. It has two segments, one for first-person stories, another for scholarly research on those stories.

At the end is attached a short list of online resources that we have found to be a good, useful supplement to this brief exhibition of Soviet citizens’ resilient survival stories.