Opinion: The history of Soviet Armenia has not been fully studied yet
04.06.2021
Opinion: The history of Soviet Armenia has not been fully studied yet

A republican conference entitled "Armenia in 1945-1965" took place at ASPU on June 4. The event was attended by representatives of various universities, scientific and educational institutions who said the mentioned period is not well studied.

In their reports, they referred to the reconstruction works that began in the territory of the USSR after the end of the Patriotic War, the changes in different spheres ranging from politics to economy, from culture to repatriation, etc.

In his welcome speech, ASPU Rector Ruben Mirzakhanyan stressed the importance of the conference, noting that the 1960s were the period of awakening of national consciousness in various areas. “This speaks to the abilities of the Armenian people that have had certain manifestations in the necessary economic and political conditions,” the rector stressed and expressed hope that the participants would present the abovementioned period thoroughly in their reports.

Ruben Mirzakhanyan also spoke about the trends and development of cultural life in Armenia in the second half of the 1950s. He stressed that at that time most artists and literary figures longed to see the national culture free and unfettered and to make it accessible to people. "The decline in culture is directly proportional to the darkening of the political future of the nation and homeland,” he said. The ASPU rector believes that Khrushchev's theses on the development of the Soviet culture differed slightly from Stalin's theses and mainly pointed out the need for presenting and praising the Soviet life and socialist construction. In addition, the heads of cultural agencies ‘repeated the same melody,’ though delicately praised the idea of not abandoning the national roots and representatives of almost all spheres of culture inspired by "Khrushchev's democracy" tried to bring free thinking to art and to shake off stereotypes.

Ashot Melkonyan, Academician of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) of Armenia, Director of the NAS Institute of History, said in turn that many issues in the history of Soviet Armenia have not been studied yet.

“During the Soviet years, different episodes of that period were praised and presented in a good light, but when we had an independent Armenia we attributed everything negative to the Soviet times,” the academician said dwelling on the differences typical of the two different periods in terms of statehood. He says we must study the history of Soviet Armenia to be able to finally understand what legal and political status it had and if it was not a state or did not have any elements of statehood how was a whole generation that later won the first Artsakh war born and raised there?!

Amatuni Virabyan, Head of the ASPU Chair of Museum Studies, Library Studies and Bibliography, touched upon the resettlement of Azerbaijanis from Armenia in 1948–1953 which was not mentioned in any history book until 1988. He presented all the documents and letters that provided details about the resettlement of the Azerbaijanis, including the letter (1945) of Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia Grigor Harutyunyan to Joseph Stalin and letter (1947) of the Council of Ministers of the USSR.

 “Every century has its best time. The 60s were the best time of the 20th century. And that process was underway not only in Armenia and in the Soviet Union; after the shock of World War II, the 60s brought a fresh breath, cultural consciousness and new outlook to almost all European countries,” said Prof. David Muradyan, President of the National Academy of Armenia film. He particularly focused on the cinema of that period as a consciousness of a new identity and symbolic existence.

Mr. Muradyan considers the films “Hello, It’s Me!” and “We and Our Mountains” to be highly symbolic; an Armenian man bring forth his “self” as a new discovery of his existence; this was the consciousness of the generation that ‘came out of Stalin’s cage’. “These two films were I and we, individual and people are interwoven, became artistic phenomena dictating time, atmosphere and consciousness.

He thinks that the 60s had inertia, that’s why they had developments that had their expression in Armenian cinema as well.

 “Art can dictate time. There are certain chains that art sees sooner than reality,” Mr. Muradyan said adding that the period of his personality formation and youth coincided with the 60s, when Armenian cinema seemed to have become "the unifying force of the nation.”

In his report, Prof. Suren Danielyan, Head of the ASPU Chair of New and Modern Armenian Literature and its Teaching Methods after V. Partizuni, focused on the cultural forms of national life in the given period. “Fate has never been so much like a mirror. Hardly ever have Armenians had long periods of quiet and calm in the history. Restless and turbulent times in the collective life of Armenian people followed one another. The relative calm we have ever had was given to us for accumulating new forces and preparing for the next struggle for existence,” he said.

The professor thinks that in the 40-60s of the last century Diaspora contributed greatly to the strengthening of national identity and shift to a new direction and these transitional changes prepared the ground for a revolution of thought.

Later on, the conference continued in two parallel subgroups, with speakers focusing on the development of fine arts, educational system, psychological and philosophical thought in Armenia in that period.

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