Memorials on Sites of Sudden Death in the USSR: Cases from the 1940s–1960s

Key words
memorial culture, commemorative signs, cenotaphs, ritual, USSR
Anna D. Sokolova
About the Author
E-mail: Tel.: +7 (495) 938-00-19
32a, Leninskii ave., Moscow, 119334, Russian Federation
PhD in History, Research Fellow, N. N. Mikluho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences
Date of publication

The review was written in accordance with the research plan of the N. N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences. Received: January 12, 2022.


This article examines the practice of erecting memorials in cases of sudden death which has become widespread in recent decades. Although memorials of this kind have only recently become a widespread and recognizable phenomenon, they have existed worldwide for a very long time, including in Russia. This article focuses on the spread of this practice in the USSR. It demonstrates its connection with the erecting of memorials for “Soviet heroes” of the Civil War and WWII. It also describes how this practice was reflected in folklore and cinematography during the Soviet era. In the post-war period the practice of erecting memorials in case of sudden death was widespread among people in dangerous professions (e. g., sailors) or occupied in risky activities (rafting, mountaineering). Thus the article reveals that the Russian practice of setting memorial signs at places where sudden accidental deaths have occurred is not a late cultural borrowing. While it has undoubtedly experienced some changes due to modern media and the reproduction of images of this kind, this Russian practice is based on a long tradition.


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For citation

Sokolova A. D. Memorials on the Sites of Sudden Death in the USSR: Cases from the 1940s–1960s. Traditional Culture. 2022. Vol. 23. No. 1. Pp. 90–96. In Russian.