The Punishing Sword of the Revolution: The KGB Myth

This is an Archive of a Past Event

Although the Soviet Union collapsed twenty-four years ago, some historical phenomena of that country continue to exist. One such phenomena is the myth about the KGB as an omnipresent and omnipotent organization. The myth was instilled in the consciousness of the Soviet citizens in the late Soviet period; it underwent convulsions and transformation at the time of the demise of the state and was reborn in the 21st century for a new life. The presentation focuses on two questions: How and under what circumstances was the mythology of the Soviet secret agency created? What are the manifestations of the KGB myth nowadays?

Aurimas Švedas is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of History, Vilnius University. His area of research is the history of historiography, history politics, communicative and cultural memory, and oral history. As a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Stanford University he will pursue his research project, “Red Knights: The KGB between Myth and Reality,” exploring the thesis that opposing discourse and memory models in Soviet and post-Soviet times did not dispel, but rather strengthened, the myth of the omnipotent and omnipresent KGB. Aurimas’ most recent books are: Painting was Like a Door: Aurimas Švedas Speaks with Petras Repšys; Episodes for a Final Film: Film Director Almantas Grikevičius (both in the Lithuanian language, 2013), In the Captivity of the Matrix: Soviet Lithuanian Historiography, 1944–1985, (Rodopi, 2014).