Cold War Eastern Europe
Module I: 1953-1960
Module II: 1961-1966
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Taylor & Francis
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Verlagsinformation :: Publisher's information
Cold War Eastern Europe provides access to thousands of files from the political departments of the U.K. Foreign Office responsible for dealing with and reporting on the Soviet Union and the socialist states of Eastern Europe during the Cold War. Sourced entirely from The National Archives, U.K., the files provide a uniquely comprehensive, English-language history of post-Stalinist Eastern Europe.
The Foreign Office, along with their embassies and consulates throughout the region, were interested in every aspect of the political, economic, cultural, social, and dissident life behind the Iron Curtain. They consequently reported on a hugely diverse range of issues, from state leadership to protest movements; agricultural output to international trade agreements; scientific progress to minority populations; religion to sporting events; and state run media to popular culture. They also provided reports, and in some cases eye-witness accounts, on key milestones of the Cold War, such as the Hungarian Revolution and Khrushchev's "Secret Speech".
With coverage of every country in Eastern Europe, the resource enables comparative study of trends across the region, or in-depth analysis of individual countries. The countries featured in this resource are:
- East Germany and Berlin
- Soviet Union
Cold War Eastern Europe will be published in chronological modules. Module I covers the years 1953 to 1960, and consists of files selected from The National Archives series FO 371. Series FO 371 (Foreign Office: Political Departments: General Correspondence from 1906-1966) contains the files of the Foreign Office's Northern, Southern, Central, and Western Departments pertaining to each of the socialist states of Eastern Europe. Every file relevant to the region from 1953 to 1960 a total of nearly 7,000 files is included in this resource, with the exception of any files retained by the government (a full list of retained files is available here).
Key events featured in the files of Module I include:
- The East German Uprising of 1953
- Founding of the Warsaw Pact
- The Poznań Uprising in Poland
- The Hungarian Revolution
- Khrushchev's "Secret Speech"
- The onset of the Sino-Soviet Split
- The U2 spy-plane incident
In addition, the full run of FO 371 Russia Committee files dating back to 1946 totalling 41 files have been included. These complete the set of FO 371 Russia Committee meeting minutes and reports dating up to 1957, and provide context to Britain's Soviet policy in the early Cold War.
Cold War Eastern Europe facilitates research and teaching on a vast array of subjects, a small selection of which include:
- The development of the United Kingdom's diplomatic, trade and cultural relationships with the Soviet Union and other Eastern European states, and on Soviet and East European relations with countries around the world, including China and the U.S.A.
- Soviet projection of power in Eastern Europe, and the development of relations between the Soviet Union and the socialist states of Eastern Europe.
- Relations between East and West Germany, and records of the Four Power talks (between the Soviet Union, U.S.A., the U.K., and France) on the potential reunification of Germany.
- The status of Berlin and evolving situation in the city, including sector administrations, border tensions and escape attempts.
- The fate and (mis)fortunes of leading figures in the socialist states, from Khrushchev and Brezhnev to Lavrentiy Beria and Imre Nagy.
- Dissidence, protest movements, and revolts within the socialist states, as well as reports on regime responses, ranging from the structure of state security forces to reports on purges, arrests, deportations, and military repression.
- Communist propaganda and counter-propaganda in Eastern Europe and the U.K., including reports on state-controlled press and broadcasting, on Radio Free Europe, and on speeches by leading party and state figures.
- Industrial and agricultural policy, and the aims, progress and outcomes of economic plans, including Five Year Plans within the Soviet Union and Soviet satellite states.
- Domestic social welfare policies (such as those relating to healthcare and housing) and changing living standards throughout the period in Eastern Europe.
- The process of de-Stalinization and the end of the cult of personality in the Soviet Union and across Eastern Europe.
- Crime and punishment, including reports on crime levels, prison systems, labour camps, and executions.
- Youth culture in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, including communist youth movements, festivals, and education.
- British reporting on Soviet scientific and technological progress, including atomic energy, atomic weapons, and the space race.
- Testimonies of life under communism, contained in the files as records of conversations held by British embassy and diplomatic staff with local people.
For more information on the themes and documents in this resource, please see the Material Classification page. For examples of research based on the files in Cold War Eastern Europe, please see the Subject Essays page.
The material is predominantly in English, but does contain some original content in other languages, including Russian, German, French and the languages of Eastern Europe.
Cold War Eastern Europe will be published in chronologically-arranged modules.
Module I: 1953-1960
Module I of Cold War Eastern Europe comprises over 6,800 U.K. Foreign Office files, amounting to over 470,000 pages of content.
This module has been sourced entirely from The National Archives, U.K., series FO 371 (Foreign Office: Political Departments: General Correspondence from 1906-1966). FO 371 is the largest file series at the National Archives, and contains the files of the Foreign Office's Northern, Southern, Central and Western Departments, which were responsible for reporting on the socialist states of Eastern Europe.
Commencing in the year of Stalin's death, Module I facilitates an in-depth analysis of the impact of Stalin's death and the process of de-Stalinization under his successors across the region, and in wider international relations. This was a period of relative reform and liberalization within the Soviet Union during the "Khrushchev Thaw", and simultaneous reassertion of Soviet power across the Eastern Bloc, as exemplified by the formation of the Warsaw Pact and the military suppression of uprisings in East Germany, Poland and Hungary.
Key events documented in Module I include:
- The death of Stalin and subsequent power struggle in the Soviet Union.
- The 1953 Balkan Pact intended to inhibit Soviet expansion in the Balkans.
- The 1953 East Germany Uprising.
- The arrest and execution of Lavrentii Beria for treason.
- International conferences, including "Big Four" summits (of the U.S., Soviet Union, U.K., and France), such as the 1954 Geneva Conference and 1955 Geneva Summit.
- The Foundation of the Warsaw Pact.
- Nikita Khrushchev's "Secret Speech" at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
- The Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
- The execution of Imre Nagy, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Hungary.
- The Poznań protests and Polish October of 1956.
- Nikita Khrushchev's visits to the U.S., India, Afghanistan, and Burma.
- The onset of the Sino-Soviet split.
- The shooting down of the U.S. U2 spy-plane over Soviet airspace.
Module I also contains 41 files of the Foreign Office's Russia Committee, responsible for discussing U.K. policy towards the Soviet Union, dating back to 1946. These files complete the set of FO 371 Russia Committee minute meetings and reports dating up to 1957, and provide vital context to Britain's Soviet policy during the early Cold War.
Module I includes the following supplementary content:
- Three specially-commissioned subject essays, written by members of the Editorial Board.
- A timeline of key events between 1953 and 1960 documented in the files.
- A glossary of key people, including state leaders, leading statesmen, and East European and U.K. diplomatic personnel, with hyperlinks to relevant search results.
- A "Communist States Fact File" that includes glossaries of communist state names; governing parties; key organisations; and state leadership positions.
- A "Foreign Office Fact File" that includes a glossary of relevant Foreign Office political departments; an overview of the U.K.'s embassy and consulate network in Eastern Europe; and an index of former Foreign Office file reference numbers.
Module II: 1961-1966
Module II of Cold War Eastern Europe will comprise a further 3,300 files sourced from The National Archives, U.K., file series FO 371.
Commencing in 1961, this module will cover the years of the building of the Berlin Wall, the succession to power in the Soviet Union of Leonid Brezhnev, the detonation of the Tsar Bomba, and Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man to journey into outer-space.