Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


The Great Patriotic War and the Negotiation of Soviet Inheritance Law




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Consistent with the 2010 National Convention's themeof "War and Peace," this paper provides an examination of the evolution of Soviet inheritance law during The Great Patriotic War. The history of the reform to the Civil Code during World War II demonstrates that policy-making officials were responsive to the demands of Soviet citizens, contrary to the view of an all encompassing totalitarian state that did not reflect public opinions or demands on any level. This paper asserts that the realities of war combined with a petitioning and letter writing public provided the impetus for a comprehensive reform during these years that in turn, required officials and jurists to articulate a theory of inheritance applicable to Soviet society that did not rely solely on the premise of social welfare. The revised code of laws passed at the end of the war expanded the categories for eligible heirs beyond a spouse, children and dependents. This paper focuses on the circumstances and debates surrounding the legal reforms to inheritance during and immediately following World War II, arguing that these reforms cemented the break with the focus on limited inheritance as a means of social welfare only that had dominated in the early post-revolutionary years.

Conference Name

National Convention

Conference Location

Los Angeles, California

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