Major Field: Russian and East European History
Adviser: Donald J. Raleigh
MA European University Institute
My dissertation, “Digging for Victory: The Stalinist State’s Mobilization of Civilian Labor for the Battle of Kursk,” will explore the methods the Soviet leadership employed to mobilize the local peasantry to construct a variety of military installations in preparation for the Battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in human history and, arguably, the turning point of the war against Hitler. Dozens of authors have written on the armies, the weapons, and the fighting in the battle, but none have focused on the tremendous achievement of more than 300,000 civilians, mostly women, who labored under German fire for several months in 1943 to ensure the Red Army a defensive system that would guarantee victory in the final significant German offensive of the war. My dissertation will tell the heretofore untold story of how the Kursk Communist Party leadership, three Soviet army groups, and the Moscow political elites coordinated myriad construction projects that were ultimately crucial to the Soviet victory. In so doing I will shed light on civil-military relations as well as center-periphery tensions in the Soviet system. More importantly, I will illustrate the dynamic relationship between the state and citizenry in wartime.