Journal Article – Jan Claas Behrends, “Some call us heroes, others call us killers.” Experiencing violent spaces: Soviet soldiers in the Afghan War, July 2015

coverNationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity, July 2015

Jan Claas Behrends, “Some call us heroes, others call us killers.” Experiencing violent spaces: Soviet soldiers in the Afghan War

Abstract

Using memories of and interviews with Soviet soldiers, the article discusses their experience of combat and physical violence during the Soviet War in Afghanistan (1979–1989). With Afghan statehood rapidly dissolving and little interest on the side of the Soviet military to enforce international law, Afghanistan quickly turned into a space where violence became the most important social resource. The soldiers and other Soviet personnel had to adapt to these conditions, which differed immensely from the late socialist society in the USSR. The article traces their immersion into the violent space and discusses their behavior while in Afghanistan. It points to the brutality of counterinsurgency combat and to the atrocities committed by both sides. In addition, it sheds light on the experience of serving in the Soviet Army during the last decade of the USSR. Many of the dysfunctions of the late socialist society were also prevalent – even amplified – while serving in the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. These problems were often exacerbated during the war and impeded the abilities of the Soviet Army. Upon their return from Afghanistan, many veterans found it difficult to return to civilian life in the USSR. Their immersion into the violent space was more rapid and formative than their return to socialist “normality.”



Cite this blog post
Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski (2015, July 11). Journal Article – Jan Claas Behrends, “Some call us heroes, others call us killers.” Experiencing violent spaces: Soviet soldiers in the Afghan War, July 2015. Post-Soviet Armies Newsletter. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/t1r8