Immo Rebitschek, MA

Curriculum Vitae

Immo Rebitschek has been a PhD student in the Imre Kertész Kolleg graduate school since January 2013. Prior to that he worked as a research associate and a graduate assistant at the Kolleg. He also participated in the Internet project “[Ge]denkmuster: Sowjetische Verbrechen - russische Erinnerung” organised by the Department of Eastern European History at Friedrich Schiller University Jena in cooperation with the Buchenwald Memorial.
Immo Rebitschek studied modern history, German and religious studies in Jena from 2006 to 2011 and completed a Master’s thesis on “Das Lager schreiben. Der stalinistische GULag in der westdeutschen und angelsächsischen Geschichtsschreibung” (Writing the camp. The Stalinist GULag in West German and Anglo-American historiography).

Project description

Power and Legality. The Soviet State Prosecutor’s Office in the Molotov Region, 1939 to 1956
This project deals with a crucial figure within Soviet judiciary system: the state prosecutor.  The main task is to explain its function in the realms of a Stalinist and post-stalinist dictatorship. This history is intriguing for several reasons: the linkage of judicial and extrajudicial power structures in this epoch is evident but has not been thoroughly described yet. In addition since the end of the 1930s a huge contrast of authority and accountability gave distinction to the work of the prosecutor’s office. Without any administrative power this institution bore responsibility to adjust the reality of Soviet statehood to a pretended legalist utopia. 
Which role did the so called “bolshevist Tribune of Legality” play in pervading Society and taming (Secret) Police forces? What scopes of action did these officials have at the Soviet periphery:  against and along with the extra-legal routines of the Ministry of Interior, the Courts and the Party organs? What were their ambitions in implementing “Socialist Legality”?
The project therefore examines the work of State prosecutors in the Ural region Molotov - in the light of mobilization and catastrophe between 1939 and 1956. Campaigns against “shirking”, theft and juvenile delinquency were their daily grind. Besides that it was their supervision on camp and police operations which amplifies the image of a Secret Police state. The prosecutors’ basic claim was to organize and to enforce the Soviet state routines on the basis of rules. This claim met resistance which was not always overpowering though. Until 1953 they phrased and defended sometimes successfully if the principle of a steered justice which gave favor to rules for the purpose of repression; a principle which marked the core of political reforms after 1953.
The claim for the enforcement of rules was no political counterweight. It was considerably and consistently Stalinist: to that effect that only the Party could ascribe “Legality” its political value; that “political criminals” were not entitled to this rules. This claim however was a complementary project to the arbitrary rule of NKVD and MVD. Since 1939 the State prosecutors helped to carry and develop this project – increasingly by professional conviction. Thereby the “Tribune of Legality” lent himself after 1953 to become the key figure in a dictatorship without Stalin; in a system of rationalized repression.

Main research areas

  • Soviet history
  • The history of historiography in the twentieth century
  • Russia as a culture of remembrance