One group of Eastern European Diasporas that has been especially successful in passing on its symbolic capital during the Cold War is the Waffen SS veterans. The ambition of this presentation is to shed light on the post-war memory efforts of Belarusian Waffen SS and BKA veterans that had left an enduring legacy. This is due, not least, to the Cold War that was right for an active promotion of their myths in the West. Post-war Belarusians in exile established veterans’ association and monthly journals and have written much-read books that kept the cult of pro-Nazi martyrs alive. Their narratives, symbols and ideologies began to be adopted after the long division of the Cold War by the right-wing politicians in today’s Belarus. The presentation will be based on a paper focusing on how the collaborators’ symbolic capital was memorialized, translated, codified, re-invented and ritualized kept in the Diaspora during the Cold War. Paper’s special focus is on the internal discussions within Belarusian Diaspora on how to avoid the connection to the genocide and the affiliation with SS.
Andrej Kotljarchuk is Associate Professor in History at Södertörn University.