December 21, 2007


The KGB was the USSR's most prominent security agency and existed from 1954 to 1991. KGB is the Russian abbreviation for Committee for State Security. Oft-noted fall guy Lavrentiy Beria ran the KGB's precursor. Upon his death the security forces were split into the statewide police and the new KGB, which ran all internal and external security and intelligence functions. The dissolution of the KGB occurred after its head used agency resources to aid the August 1991 coup attempt to overthrow the government of Mikhail Gorbachev.

Partially due to the monolithic nature of this agency, there were fewer checks and balances than the United State's multidepartmental system. The organization was considered notorious within Soviet culture, and to western observers and the general western public as well. In 1967, Yuri Andropov was made head of the organization and immediately ruled that all dissenters, including those with religious motivation, were a threat to the state. This lead to a hardening of the Gulag system, as chronicaed in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's seminal book The Gulag Archipelago. Although the organization is now gone, its methods of opperation and constituents have had lasting impact. As noted previously, Leonid Brezhnev's successor Yuri Andropov was a former head of the KGB. Current Russian President Vladimir Putin also came from KGB ranks, which may partially explain his hard-line approach to government.

Alex Anderson (alex)
Dustin Auman (auma0004)
Molly Hintzen (hint0078)
Elizabeth Peterson (pete5565)

December 20, 2007


Glasnost (along with its counterpart Perestroika) was one of the reform efforts of the Soviet Union. It meant "openess" in Russian and was meant to be a loosing of the restrictions on freedom of speach in the USSR. Coined by Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev around 1986, it was significant in that it was one precedent of the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union. Depending on one's stance it could be argued to have played a major role it this collapse or a minor one, and all shades of grey in between. Nevertheless it remains an important part.
As noted in Wilkinson (552) this reform actually worked to hinder its counterpart "perestoika" (restructuring). As the administration opened itself to criticism, it is noted that this hindered a restructuring.

Mike Epsky
Dave Holly
Kurt Holman

December 6, 2007


1980: Gdansk, Poland. Workers at the Lenin Shipyards are outraged by the recent decree by the Polish government that meat prices will increase. Led by electrician Lech Walesa, the workers began to strike on August 14. Against all attempts by the Polish government, the message of the strike soon spread to other strike committees leading to the creation of the Interfactory Strike Committee. The committee proposed 21 demands ranging from reformed rights for the Church to improved national health system; but foremost in these demands was the right to strike and form trade unions independent of the Communist Party.

With the whole country shocked by factory shutdowns, on August 31, the Gdansk Agreement was signed between the government and the strikers. The agreement spelled out the rights to strike and form free labor unions--which would allow workers' concerns to receive proper representation in the political system--at the cost that the striking movement would never act as a political party. On September 17, representatives in coalition with Walesa formed the first independent labor union in the Soviet Bloc, Solidarity.

The union quickly grew in numbers, eventually rising to 80% of the general population--roughly nine to ten million members. The union quickly disregarded its claims in the Gdansk Agreement and called for "an active Solidarity role in reforming Poland's political and economic systems." Strikes and other forms of protest became the new norms for influencing policy by the movement. On March 19, 1981, 27 Solidarity members were beaten by state police during a National Council meeting. A national strike--the largest in the Eastern bloc at approximately half a million--forced the Polish government to release the story to the international press and investigate the beatings.

Intimidated by Solidarity's influence, General Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law in Poland on December 13, 1981. Hundreds to thousands of members, including Walesa, were imprisoned were strikes around the country were crushed by riot police. Solidarity was declared illegalized by October 1982. By November, Walesa was finally released from prison. The movement moved underground, were some of its mass support began to falter. The radicals of the union created the Fighting Solidarity, a more militant arm of the movement, but Walesa continued to lead his more moderate approach. July 22, 1983, martial law was finally revoked; however, many of the liberties forfeited were not returned. For his efforts, Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; however, he sends his wife to Oslo to fetch the award for fears that he would not be readmitted to his country.

In 1988, with Poland in the worst economic state yet--imposed from foreign sanctions and the rigid anti-reformist policies--the government discussed negotiations with Solidarity. As a result of these talks, on April 7, 1989 Solidarity was legalized once more and allowed to offer political candidates in the upcoming elections. Shockingly, Solidarity won every contest seat, of the 35% available--in the Sejm (legislative body) along with 99 out of 100 Senatorial seats. The communist Jaruzelski, as promised, was elected president but the Sejm elects Solidarity-based Tadeusz Mazowiecki to the premiership as the first non-communist prime minister in Poland since 1945. Soon only Jaruzelski remained of the old Communist rule. Walesa announced he was running for president in the upcoming 1990 elections and won. He became the first Polish president ever elected by a popular vote.

Solidarity proved an example of nonviolent reform. The movement's success proved the weakness at the time of the Polish communist control and contributed humiliation to the communist system as the working class--the foundation of who the Communists were trying to help--was disgruntled to the point of removing the current regime. Solidarity maintained a strong popular foundation through close ties to newly elected Polish Pope John Paul II and through its appeal to students, workers, and the intelligentsia. The non-violent attempt provided a model for other Eastern European reforms at the time while also leading to a sense of legitimacy to the Polish people.

Eric DeVoe
Lauren Huus
Molly Burke

December 5, 2007

Deutsche Wiedervereinigung: The German Reunification

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany was “a third transformation [that] occurred that was not imposed by force, but was instead largely achieved through peaceful means. (Wilkinson, page 549)

Germany was split in 1949. West Germany was territory monitored by the United States, France, and Britain after WW2. The Soviet territory became East Germany. Berlin was split in half. West Germany was a reflection of the West while the East was more representative of the Soviet Union. Thus, in the 1950’s, many thousands of highly educated East Germans fled to the West daily. To resolve this loss of manpower, Erich Honecker came up with a plan. In a matter of a few days, the East Berlin Wall was built. Both West and East Germans were stunned. No one was allowed to cross the Wall without proper permission. The Berlin Wall became a physical symbol the Cold War.

As the Cold War started to thaw with Soviet Mikhail Gorbachev, discussions with the West began. The Soviet Union was struggling to advance (or at least catch up with the West) in various areas (technology, medical, and education). Gorbachev’s reforms, known as perestroika, set the stage for the reunification of Germany among other changes. Gorbachev reduced military commitments, undertook new arms control agreements with the United States, and withdrew troops from Afghanistan. In 1989, most of the Soviet satellites declared independence from Communist rule. The Cold War was indeed thawing. Helping the thaw was Hungary; borders were opened to Austria and thousands applied for visas. Many traveled to Hungary and left the East via Austria. Hungary made is a point of not asking questions.

At this time, both West and East Germany began working together. Speculation was made that their strength, economically, was becoming Western Europe’s lead. Chancellor Kohl saw an opportunity for reunification. Unlike Konrad Adenaur, he did not view East Germany as a separate entity. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. With the physical destruction of the Wall, the end of the Cold War became a reality. Berlin, again, became the capital of the Federated Republic of Germany. October 3, 1990, all five federal states of East Germany joined West Germany. In the next month, the German government signed a treaty with Poland. This treaty finalized borders and denounced any claim to areas that were previously East Prussia.

While Germany is unified, many former East Germans continue to migrate to Western Germany. Unemployment in the East is extremely high. Many industries that were supported by the former East German government were dissolved or dismantled.

An interesting video from ABC News can be watched on

Julia Thieschafer (thie0048)
Julie Koch (koch0190)
Meghan Anderson (ande3607)

Wilkinson, James and H. Stuart Hughes. Contemporary Europe: A History.

December 2, 2007

The 1960"s "Golden Age" In the Eyes of the Soviets

The 1960’s were considered the “Golden Age? of European societies. While facing the criticism of many, soviets saw a marked change in the way they lived their lives. It was a time when Western influence was both a curse and a blessing. Many were now able to enjoy a level of freedom not known during the Stalin period of dominance. They were now able to live for themselves, and enjoy personal freedoms not seen before in the Soviet Union. They enjoyed better standards of living, and happiness, then they ever could have imagined. They now lived under a government that showed a more human side. While they still lived a somewhat modest life compared to that seen in the west, the soviets lived in a world that was much calmer then previous decades.
This time allowed for soviets to now move into less crowded, and better quality apartments. In addition to being able to posses luxury items, such as televisions, stoves, cars and clothes. These were modern convinces that were brought to them from the west. These new living arrangements allowed for the betterment of private lives. They allowed the possession of western luxury unknown to the Soviet Union in any other period in soviet history. These luxuries became a symbol of status and wealth.
The 1960’s not only caused a change in Soviet appearance but also a shift in totalitarian government. The new generations of soviets saw themselves as individuals with a vested interest in the soviet past and future. They displayed their newfound freedom in open discussion of what should be emphasized in the new government structure. Previously such discussion would have been a possible death sentence to any soviet citizen.
This marked a faith in upward mobility in soviet society, and a hope for a better future. However, the soviet government was not on the same page as the citizens. They saw this new lifting of censorship as one that would cause the fall of the government in the Soviet Union. And this decade that seemed so grandiose still encountered the oppressive nature of past governments. In 1962 within the Soviet Union at Norbercherkassk, a riot took place. The result of this riot was the execution of many citizens, and the rise of other domestic problems.
Those who were in favor of the 60’s enlightenment were strong believers in a socialist government. Their hope was to inspire a society that was beneficial to the masses. One that showed concern for their individuality, and one that contained justice, as well as peace. However, their ideas, and the reality of the government they lived under were on two different spheres.
Gretta Schmalle, Cody Smiglewski, Joe Masrue, Rachel packer, Mike Kompa
"Raising the Banner: The Art of Geli Korzhev" Geli Mikhalovich Korchv-Chuvelev, Museum of Russian Art 2007

November 29, 2007

Willy Brandt (1913-1992) and Ostpolitik

Willy Brandt was the mayor of West Berlin (1957-1966), the chairman of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) (1964-1987), and Chancellor of West Germany (1969-1974).

Brandt's early years were marked by his involvement with first the SPD and then the Socialist Workers Party. When the Nazis came to power, this involvement became a liability for Brandt, and he left the country in 1933. He first worked as a journalist in Spain during the Civil War and then went to Norway and then Sweden to avoid being arrested by the Nazis. In 1946, after the war, he moved back to Berlin and became involved again with local politics, rejoining the SPD in 1948. He was elected Mayor of West Berlin in 1957, and when the Berlin Wall began to be built in 1961, Brandt, along with thousands of other Berliners, protested the division of the city. The division of the city would be used by the SPD as an example of how the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), especially under Adenauer, allowed the relationship between western and eastern halves of the country to deteriorate.

By the late '50s, the SDP had been out of power for so long that it become obvious that an adjustment to its platform would be needed if it wanted electoral success in the future. It moved to the center, renouncing its Marxist roots and laying out a new program in a 1959 meeting at Bad Godesberg. This, combined with a growing distrust of the CDU's ability to provide for Germany's public needs, caused the CDU to turn to the SPD to form a political alliance in 1966, which allowed Brandt to become Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister. In this position, he began to advocate rapprochement with the East, a position that became known as Ostpolitik. In 1969, the alliance between the CDU and SPD broke, and the elections of that year, SPD finally came to power in the Bundestag, and Brandt became Chancellor.

As Chancellor, Brandt set about repairing West Germany's relationship with the east through Ostpolitik. He visited Poland, the USSR, and met several times with the leader of East Germany. His time in Norway during World War II had clearly demonstrated for him the animosity toward Germany felt by many countries formerly occupied by the Nazis. He undoubtedly drew from this experience in his dealings with the East by attempting to improve the East's view of Germany. For example, he visited a Jewish ghetto in Warsaw and recited a prayer asking for forgiveness. Under his administration, West Germany negotiated series of treaties with the USSR, and Poland, and East Germany, which recognized the German-Polish border and the existence of East and West Germany as a separate states. The Helsinki Final Act of 1975, which was the result of a multinational conference begun under Brandt's administration, recognized the borders of all European states, including the USSR's assumption of the territories it had occupied after WWII (e.g., the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania).

Continue reading "Willy Brandt (1913-1992) and Ostpolitik" »

The Falkland Island Wars

The Falkland Islands were claimed by Argentina in the 19th Century; however, Great Britain seized control of the Islands in 1833. The Islands remained in Great Britain’s control for nearly one hundred and fifty years, but in 1982 Argentinean military lead by General Leopoldo Galtieri, invaded the islands. The Argentinean government was under attack by its citizens for mismanagement and human rights abuses. The government believed that by recovery of the islands would bring about a new patriotism among the population.
The invasion began on April 2nd, and by the end of April, Argentina had stationed approximately ten thousand troops in the Falklands. Great Britain declared the Falklands as a war zone and sent its own troops to reclaim the island. On May 2nd, the Argentinean submarine, General Belgrano, sank which killed 368 Argentineans (approximately half of Argentina’s total casualties). By June 14th, a large Argentine garrison was surrendered which marked the end of the war.
This war, although short lived, was historically important for Great Britain and Argentina. Great Britain, under the rule of Margaret Thatcher, had a great surge of nationalism following the war. Thatcher’s popularity also grew greatly. Argentina, as a result of the war, switched from its military government back to civilian rule.

Continue reading "The Falkland Island Wars" »

Boris Yeltsin

When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Boris Yeltsin became the first president of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Yeltsin was voted in by general election on June 12, 1991, and served as president until 1999.

Yeltsin's priority in russian the new Russia was to change the economy into a world power. The plan was to do this by reforming the prices that had been set during the Communist era, and allowing the market to dictate pricing by supply and demand. Cuts were also made in social welfare programs, that led to increased poverty of the lower class in Russia.

While the economic system was being reformed, corruption spread through the new government. Early in the 1990's prices reached record highs, and with combination of cuts in government subsidy the country plunged into an economic recession. Estimations suggest that the Russian GDP dropped around 50% during Yeltsin's time in power. The height of this crisis was marked by the shelling of the congress building by the military in an attempt for Yeltsin to implement his programs.

Yeltsin's approval ratings steadily slid after his second election in 1996. He resigned in 1999 with record low approval raitings and deteriorating health. Yeltsin died in 2007 of heart failure.

-Joseph Masrud

November 28, 2007

Margaret "The Iron Lady" Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher became the first female leader of the British Conservative party in 1975. From this position, she rose to the premiership in 1979 under the political slogan "Labour isn't working." Thatcher pledged to stop Britain's economic decline through strong monetary policy. She worked diligently over her time as Prime Minister to reduce the role of the state in the economy and boost her country's influence in foreign affairs. On April 2, 1982, the Falklands War began when Argentina invaded the long standing British territory on the Falkland Islands. Thatcher sent forth a naval force that brought a British victory, securing the islands back in British hands once more. This victory led to an influx of patriotic enthusiasm and support for her government, ultimately leading to Conservative victory in the 1983 general elections. In her policies, Thatcher preferred defense ties to the United States, a divided Germany, and maintaining the European Commission as a less centralized body for decision making. In 1985, she signed the Hillsborough Anglo-Irish Agreement, giving the Republic of Ireland some say in how Northern Ireland was governed.

Economically, Thatcher proposed a strict and steadfast form of monetarism. While income taxes were largely stable or decreased, Thatcher's government increased indirect taxation, especially in raising the tax on goods and services to a whopping 15%. Thatcher also targeted labor unions, insisting on curbing their power. She emphasized decentralizing the economy from state control and allowing for the free markets to work naturally. Naturally, she asserts that the markets have the power to provide social welfare more efficiently than the state, and therefore state support should be eliminated. After the 1983 elections, she pushed for the selling off of many larger utilities that had remained under state control since the creation of the welfare state. Thatcher's policies of controlling the availability of funds--in an attempt to fight the rising inflation rates--created enormous unemployment, nearly doubling rates seen under previous Labour rule.

Thatcher also ushered in a new political and economic philosophy, aptly named "Thatcherism." Thatcherism stressed reduced state intervention, entrepreneurialism, and allowing markets to function freely. Over time, privatization of many formerly public services was commonplace in the Thatcher government. To summarize Thatcher's domestic policy: all out attacks on the welfare state. These attacks fostered previously unheard of debate regarding the utility of the welfare state and whether it is in deed an established fact. By 1990, the Thatcher government had finally fallen out of approval and was removed from power.

Molly Burke
Eric DeVoe
Lauren Huus

November 27, 2007


“Détente? is the French term for easement, or relaxing. When applied in regards to international relations, “Détente? is used to describe the relaxation of tensions between hostile nations who are not involved in open warfare. The de-escalation of tensions is usually reached by a period of diplomacy and compromise. In contemporary terms, “Détente? is used to describe the de-escalation of the Cold War conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. This period of relaxed tension occurred starting in the late 60’s, and ending with the escalation of problems occurring in the Middle East, relative to the OPEC oil crisis in 1979.
Détente was a timely goal to achieve around the later part of the 1960s. Both sides of the conflict had strategic reason for a relaxation in the tension. Not only did the Soviets have an economically hard time keeping up with the nuclear arms race, but at this time the American government was having difficulty keeping up with nuclear parity; much of its military spending was going towards sustaining troops in the Vietnam conflict. It was a financially sustainable decision on the part of both sides to refrain from further nuclear stockpiling, as it was decided that a rough nuclear parity was reached between the two (demonstrated by the Cuban Missile Crisis, illustrating how the two sides had reached the possibility of Mutually Assured Destruction).
Positive relations between America and China, following the Sino-Soviet split, also furthered Brezhnev’s desire to become a more appealing, less aggressive USSR; as he desired to appeal to Western Europe for much-needed trading partners. With Détente, trade was a possibility (as the US’s appeal to European nations had been marred by their involvement with the Vietnam conflict).
Reaching Détente, of course, had to be outlined by diplomacy and treaty-organisation. The first steps towards Détente were outlined by the anti-nuclear summits that occurred throughout the 60’s, beginning after the Cuban Missile scare. The first included the ‘partial test ban treaty’ in 1963, which relegated the testing of nuclear weapons to underground- no releases into the atmosphere, signed by the UK, US, and USSR. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Outer Space treaties were signed later in the decade (1968 and 1967, respectively), designed to deter others from stockpiling nuclear arms, or developing space-technologies for the use in nuclear warfare. These treaties were not only designed to relax the nuclear competition between the nuclear powers, but to also deter other satellite members from getting in on the conflict as well.
Détente lasted throughout the 70’s, throughout the Vietnam war, and into the crises of 1979. The Iranian Revolution and the subsequent hostage crisis embarrassed the United States, further wounding its reputation. These actions prompted a still-weary Soviet Union to balk at the actions and to take up security position (based off of the Warsaw Pact/ Brezhnev Doctrine) in Afghanistan, against any potential Middle East-based conflict. Because of the conflict in Vietnam, the United States now had a reputation for meddling in others’ affairs unpermissibly, “justifying? the Soviet’s actions. These events, and the election of an anti- Détente President Reagan, would lead to the breakdown of Détente.

Mutual Assured Destruction

Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) is a military strategy and doctrine where it's believed that a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two opposing sides of a conflict would effectively result in the ultimate destruction of both the aggressor and the defender. It is a strategy that has become one of the cornerstone scenarios within the modern theory of "deterrence", according to which the deployment of strong weapons is essential to threaten the enemy in order to prevent the use of the very same weapons. Generally, both sides are attempting to mutually avoid the worst possible outcome-- nuclear annhilation.
Deterrence theory, as a term, is more generally applied to refer to a strategy in any field of potential conflict of being prepared to inflict unacceptable damage on an aggressor, and making sure the potential aggressor is aware of the risk so that he refrains from aggression. Nuclear weaponry, and the maintenance of a nuclear arsenal, is the most relevant practice between agents in regards to the application of MAD and the deterrence theory.
The doctrine assumes that each side has enough nuclear weaponry to destroy the other side, and that the other side will launch on warning (fail-deadly) or with secondary strike capability. One of the main capacities actors strived for during the uncertainty of the Cold War was this "second-strike capability", in the case that the United States or the USSR decided to engage in nuclear warfare. Because of the uncertainty, instead of aggressing, the actors involved will adhere to the doctrine, resulting in a very tense, but stable peace.
The application of the doctrine had its primary application during the Cold War. MAD helped to prevent any full-scale attack between the superpowers, promoting deterence via proxy wars fought along ideological terms around the world, and through the "arms race", where both sides instead competed my stockpiling nuclear arms, keeping nuclear parity.
Through this competition of maintaining second strike capability and nuclear parity, much capital was invested on both sides in military programs, manouvers, and military technology. These investments provided for much of the ebb and flow of each respective country's economies during the Cold War, most notably the side of the USSR.

Brezhnev Doctrine

The Brezhnev Doctrine was a foreign policy model developed by the Soviets to justify its actions during the Czechoslovakian invasion in the spring of 1968, and any likeminded events that could occur after. It was outlined by S. Kovalev , as the guided “Sovereignty and the International Obligations of Socialist Countries. Leonid Brezhnev, then Soviet leader, reiterated this stance on Socialist policy as an extension of the Warsaw Pact theology, stating that “when forces that are hostile to socialism try to turn the development of some socialist country towards capitalism, it becomes not only a problem of the country concerned, but a common problem and concern to all socialist countries?. These interventions and military exercises by the Soviet Union were meant to put an end to liberalization efforts and uprisings that had the potential to compromise Soviet hegemony in the eastern bloc. The eastern bloc was still key at this time to act as a buffer zone for the Soviets, in case hostilities with the West were to turn heated.
The Doctrine basically outlined general ideological restrictions for the east’s Communist parties, among them general independence, but the fact that no country would be allowed to completely leave the Warsaw Pact-- which would lead to compromising “the collective power of the eastern bloc?, and, more fundamentally, the stronghold of direct Soviet influence on the region. The broadness and transparency of how the Doctrine was illustrated gave to vast justification in numerous Soviet military skirmishes with outside forces, even including the attempt to use it to justify their presence in Afghanistan in 1979, which was a non-Warsaw pact country. The Brezhnev Doctrine was repealed by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 after he refused to use military force against eastern bloc countries. This breakdown in the hardline that the Soviets had taken for years (and subsequent admittance of the weakness in the USSR’s resources) led to their admitted loss of hegemony in eastern Europe, and led to the breakdown of Communism across Eastern Europe in 1989-1991.

Nicolae Ceauşescu

Nicolae Ceauşescu (born January 26, 1918; died December 25, 1989) was the leader of Romania from 1965 until December 1989, when a revolution and subsequent coup in Romania removed him from power. The revolutionaries who removed him held a two-hour trial and sentenced him to death for crimes against the state, genocide, and “undermining the national economy?. Although having noted grievances against his public, the trial held by the revolutionaries against Ceausescu has long been debated as an unfair “kangaroo court? (one that is a judicial proceeding that denies due process in the name of timeliness—a sham legal proceeding), and was therefore never deemed a fair ending to the Romanian Revolution of 1989.
Ceausescu was born in Scornicesti, Romania. He moved to Bucharest in his early teens to become an apprentice. He joined the then-illegal Romanian Communist party in early 1932, and was first arrested during a workers strike in 1933. He would be arrested time and again for his actions related to Communist agitation, campaigning, and anti-Facist propaganda distribution throughout the 1930s. He would be imprisoned again in 1940, and transferred to the Targu Jiu internment camp in Oletena, Romania, where he’d meet Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, a Stalinist Communist who would become the Communist leader in Romania in 1948. Ceausescu would become his protégé, and would resume power after Dej’s death in March 1965. Ceausescu became the first secretary of the Romanian Worker’s Party (which he changed to the Romanian Communist Party), and would declare Romania as a total Socialist Republic, rather than the People’s Republic (as its Socially Democratic past suggested). He consolidated power in 1967 by becoming president of the State Council.
Ceausescu was a popular figure at first, touted as a nationalistic leader comparative to the classic Communist leaderships of the Muscovites of the Bolshevik school. He wielded an independent stance on foreign policy, withdrawing active participation from the Warsaw Pact in the 1968, refusing to take part in the invasion of Czechoslovakia along with other Warsaw forces, and openly condemned the action. The Soviet Union tolerated Ceausescu’s behavior (largely because they had occupations with other member’s of the eastern bloc that had greater proxemic relevance) , but furthermore, this independence that Romania had relative to the Soviet Union was respected within the eastern bloc.
Ceausescu’s policy approach would be decidedly all over the map, strategy-wise. He was opposed to de-Stalinization (which was the protocol the USSR was imposing among the eastern bloc members) and would proceed to get involved with Western Europe and its sociopolitical trends, while keeping a Communist, Stalin-esque hardline within Romania and its domestic policy. This hardline would extend into his proposed cultural reforms during the 1970s, where he instituted a program of systemization, or a way to develop a multilaterally developed socialist society, fusing together these two spheres of influence (Western cultural approaches alongside old-school Communism). In fact, Stephen Morewood (political commentator) holds that Ceausescu’s greatest policy mistake was “… to allow “Dallas? (a popular American show at the time) to be screened on Romanian national television?, noting how the images and desires of commodity culture had filtered to the remotest of Europe’s geographic corners. This desire for a more material-oriented society, stifled by the static of Communist economic policy, would develop into a larger problem for Ceausescu’s Romania—one of the largest demonstrations of this contention being the widespread demolition of villages and buildings, in exchange for a construction more likeable to Ceausescu’s own style. The systemization of peasants from the countryside to city flats (and the untimely and incomplete mess that the program left behind in many places) would remain a disturbing mark on Ceausescu’s reign. Some of his stranger policies also included awarding mother’s who’d mothered five or more children with cars, material goods, and the like—a part of his policy to promote birth rate and population growth. These strict fertility policies would exacerbate the problems of disease, overpopulation, displaced and abandoned children, and poverty within the demolished country.
Ceausescu’s reign would end at the fall of the Berlin wall, and the end to the Cold War, in December 1989. He personally lost control of the regime upon the discovery of numerous spy agents within the Romanian intelligence community. These agents unearthed claims that Ceausescu’s regime collaborated with Arab terrorists, attempted mass espionage on American industry, was guilty of mass extortion of the Romanian economy, and was guilty of personally altering much of the Romanian constitution. One of the largest problems his regime ended on was the massive international debt collected at the hands of the Western powers, who funded Romania after believing that Romania represented a deflection from the Soviet influence. Much of this funding was in the form of international loans (via the IMF and the World Bank) and set the Romanian government back considerably. Instead of being transparent of the situation to the people, Ceausescu chose to write off the foreign debt, and exported much of the country’s agricultural production at a cheap rate to repay the debt. This resulted in mass-poverty and hunger, as rationing was introduced to an already overcrowded populace. This unrest led to the 1989 Revolution and subsequent execution of Ceasescu.

Continue reading "Nicolae Ceauşescu" »

November 13, 2007

Northern Ireland Conflict

Ethnic identity has long been a battle in Northern Ireland; it’s been a continuous battle between the Protestants and the Catholics. In 1922 the settlement had left a large Catholic minority in the Protestant dominated North. In essence the North became a self-governing part of the United Kingdom. The Catholics of Northern Ireland had been the victims of discrimination, everything from housing to job opportunities.
It was in 1969 when a group of fed up students became active on the behalf of the discontentment of Catholics. Originally this group of student’s based their discontents on the labor ideology and had been directed at all the poor, regardless of their race or religion. However, it quickly became an issue of religion Catholic versus Protestant, it was an undeclared civil war. Harold Wilson the Prime Minister of Britain did his best to stay out of it, but was soon forced to intervene. He sent British troops into Ireland to restore the order, while promising that the issues of the Catholics would be addressed.
When Edward Heath and the Conservative party found themselves trying to settle a civil war.
By 1972 events took a turn for the worse. In Londonderry, Irelands second largest city and the strength of the Catholics, British troops fired into the crowd killing thirteen. The events of “Bloody Sunday? made it impossible to continue to carry on under the old system of Protestant dominance. Following these events Heath suspended government in Northern Ireland and assembled a new government with Catholic participation. However, the killings on both sides would go for another half a decade. By 1976, there remained no alternative to direct rule from London, patience had run out.
Northern Ireland was not the only country experiencing and ethnic conflict, Belgium was as well. There was hostility between the Flemings and Walloons that had begun two decades prior. It was a battle of linguistics, the French-speaking Walloons had mastered business and politics while the Flemings remained behind. The controversy broke out at the University along the linguistics border. Finally, in 1970 Brussels was officially ordered bilingual.

Julie Koch
Meghan Anderson
Julia Thie

James Wilkinson

November 7, 2007

Alexander Dubcek

Czechoslovakia Communist party leader Alexander Dubcek came into power in January of 1968 replacing the Stalinist predecessor Antonin Novotny. His election was seen as a response to Czech's economic stagnation and the growing concerns regarding the Slavic minority population as they struggled for equal rights with the Czechs. Having spent time in Moscow during the war, he was not unknown to the Beshnev government which allowed his election to the leadership to the party to proceed virtually without incident.

Dubcek embodied personable qualities and eloquence that would prove to win the hearts and minds of his people. He inspired hope and represented a liberalization of government policy that would return the power to the people. In February, the Czech party's Censorship board was rendered impotent and was is considered the first popular communist regime was born,

Dubcek was an astute politician. He understood the delicate balancing act between instituting democratic reforms without raising red flags in Moscow. He engineered the election of Ludvik Svoboda who was esteemed in Moscow as a war hero. He approved of suppressing dissent to any challenging parties and permitted the Communist Action Program to continue to operate within Czech society. Most importantly, he maintained his country's loyalty to the Warsaw pact.

Unfortunately, the Soviets felt threatened by the Czech model of a more open political system. The Soviets feared this would inspire 'counter-revolutionary' activity domestically. Not ready to commit to a full scale invasion, Moscow sent Kosygin to appraise the situation and his report reassured the Soviets. Then, a group of Czech intellectuals wrote a manifesto entitled 'Two Thousand Words' which was an indictment on the overseeing powers of Moscow and urged Dubcek to accelerate the process towards democratic institutions.

On August 21, after negotiations stalled, Russia and four other Warsaw Pact members: Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, East Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. Apparently, the last straw came in a publication which printed a draft of the Czechs communist statues that outlined future objectives consisting of a wider range of political freedom within the party and a forming of a congress to implement reforms.

The Soviets invasion secured Prague as wells as other major cities but the military success was met by political confusion. In their haste, the Soviets neglected to plan for a provisional government in the wake of the intervention. Dubcek and Svoboda were arrested and brought to Moscow and within days were released and flown back to Czechoslovakia. They came back as heroes and resumed their respective positions. The feeling of returning to the struggle for reforms again was revived but was short lived. Dubcek ordered the dissolution of the reform movement which weakened considerably the ability of the government to resist Moscow's pressure. He was finally forced to retire in April of 1969.

Even though Dubcek's reforms failed, the events of 1968 forced the Soviets to reconsider their foreign policy relations with Eastern European countries. They adopted what is know as the 'Breshnev Doctrine' which was the east's answer to the Truman Doctrine. It stated that whenever socialism was threatened that it was the duty of all socialist nations to join in the struggle to protect socialism.

David Holly
Mike Epsky
Kurt Homan

November 6, 2007

The Common Market

The common market was an organized effort to increase efficiency of production amongst the six nations of “Little Europe? by forming an integrated economy. This market was formally established in 1958 by the ratification of the Treaty of Rome although the idea of the common market had already been established through coalitions such as the European Coal and Steel community which had been set up in 1951, the failure of the proposed plan of the European Defense Community, and the formation of Euratom (European Atomic Energy Community) in 1956. All of these communities were formed in an effort to integrate European economy and to spike production rates that dropped following WWII.

The main idea of this common market was to cut tariffs down amongst the member nations to provide a level playing field with “Little Europe’s? competition such as the Soviet Union, US, and Asian nations. At first, the tariff was only reduced a small amount to provide for adjustments needed to be made by the six nations, but once the project got going people began to lose fear that the market wouldn’t work and with that they lost any ambition to gradually lower tariffs. By mid-1953, the Common Market was a whole two and a half years ahead of schedule with tariffs down 40 percent to the level they were before inauguration of the Common Market. Also between 1958 and 1962, industrial production within the nations of the Common Market went up at an average of 7.6%. In the end, the Common Market brought a great economic boom to its member nations and it was a plan that brought great prosperity to many of its nation’s inhabitants.

Evan Hosseini
Jacob Schultz
Chris Winkler

November 5, 2007

Simone & the Western European Feminism

Simone de Beauvoir (January 9, 1908 – April 14, 1986) was a French philosopher, feminist, and writer from Paris. She is most often associated with her lifelong partner, fellow French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. Among Beauvoir’s many literary works, the most famous and influential may have been her 1949 book titled “The Second Sex.? This book was “a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism.? Her theories would help lead the Western European feminist movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

In the 1940’s and 1950’s, there was a return to the domestic and traditional roles of men and women. All gains by women were lost due to the “normalization? as a result of World War II. The war had undermined masculine roles; by returning to traditional male and female roles, a sense of normalcy was restored. With the activities of the radical 60’s, women were not to be left behind. The feminist movement of Western Europe took longer to develop than in the United States, but nonetheless, it developed. This was considered the “second wave? of women’s equality. The “first wave of feminism? was during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Women fought for equal rights to own property, opposition to chattel marriage, ownership of married women (and their children) by husbands, and the right to vote.

Beauvoir, as expected, was active in the women’s movement in France. In 1971, she signed the Manifesto of the 343 (the Manifesto is a list of famous women who claimed, mostly falsely, to have had an abortion). Beauvoir was one of the women who actually did not have an abortion. In 1974, abortion was legalized in France. Other countries followed: Italy in 1978, Spain in 1985, and Belgium in 1990. Although these laws were passed, many times these women faced paperwork nightmares and rejections by doctors.

By the 1970’s, a great number of other advances had been gained by Western European women. The number of women highly educated increased while family sized decreased. Two income families was becoming the norm. But divorces were also becoming the norm. In countries such as Italy and Spain, divorce was now obtainable. As a result of some of these advancements, women became discriminated against in other ways. They worked for lower pay with longer hours. If a woman was divorced, alimony often was not enforced. Thus, many women were living in poverty while raising children. Women now make up a large percentage of those employed: Sweden 50%, France and Italy 30%, Ireland 25%.

Beauvoir died in Paris in 1986. There was much reflection on her books and involvement in the feminist movements after her death. It was realized that many accomplishments were made during the “second wave? of the feminist movement during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Meghan Anderson (ande3607)
Julie Koch (koch0190)
Julia Thieschafer (thie0048)

Wilkinson, James and H. Stuart Hughes. Contemporary Europe: A History.

November 1, 2007

Problems of the New Deal

The stated purpose for the new deal was to create economic stability, however in retrospect it is more likely that the new deal only compounded the already difficult economic problems that many states were plagued with. The initial enthusiasm for the new deal wore off fast. Once people were aware that it was more an ideology, then firm plan of action they began to criticize the governments economic intervention program.
While, it is difficult to show that the west received economic favoritism, it is clear that they received the largest portion of aid. This in itself did not instill confidence in that people that the new deal was by any means beneficial. The sheer lack of structure in the program, and the failure of the federal government to effectively provide adequate aid to all states was a major problem that made the new deal difficult to accept. Additionally, few states prior to the new deal had strong governments. Instead many residences of these states were left on their own to survive. When the depression began most of these states were not effectively prepared to deal with the financial burden that the new deal brought with it. However, the lack of structure in the new deal left it to the states to decide where to appropriate funds, and sadly the people who suffered the most were the ones who suffered the most. States were unlikely to take on any new programs that would future compound their financial burdens, and instead enforced taxes that were often in favor of the most affluent.

Mike Kompa, Greta Schnalle, Cody Smiglewesi

October 31, 2007

Suez Crisis of 1956

The Suez Canal was a vital artery for European powers to maintain connections to their colonies and trade interests for many years. In July, 1956 Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser declares martial law in the canal zone and seizes control of the Anglo-Franco Suez Canal Company. Nasser's dramatic nationalization of the Suez Canal was not unprovoked, but in response to the British and American decision not to finance the construction of the Aswan Dam as a result of increased relations between Egypt and the Soviet Union. With the newly nationalized canal, Nasser estimated that the dam would be paid for within five years. With the new national control, Egypt blocked the passage of ships making port in or shipping out of Israel through the Suez Canal, coupling with his blockade of the Straits of Tiran--Israel's only outlet to the Red Sea--and Egyptian supported attacks by the Palestinians that further degraded Egyptian-Israeli relations.

The British were outraged by the Egyptian's audacity leading the conservative British Prime Minister Anthony Eden to push for punitive action against Nasser and thereby extinguish the spread of nationalism in the Arab world. The French, eager to stop the flow of military supplies to insurgents in Algeria, were ready for action alongside the British. Both countries feared that Egyptian control of the canal would lead to Western Europe being ostracized from vital petroleum reserves in the Persian Gulf. Three months after Suez nationalization, British, French, and Israeli leaders discuss the Protocol of Sèvres, a plan in which Israel would attack the Sinai desert pressing the Egyptians back to the canal. Once the fighting was within the canal zone, the British and French would declare Egypt too unstable to maintain the canal and, with help of the United Nations, take back the canal.

The invasions began in October, 1956; however, the canal was fully functional once more and therefore did not lend to the effectiveness and support of the action. with growing opposition both at home and within the UN, especially by the United States, the invasion--albeit a success--was a political folly. After the Soviet threat to intervene on behalf of Egypt, the U.S. put tremendous pressure on Israel, France, and Britain to move towards a cease-fire.

Europe sealed its fate in the aftermath of the conflict. The British and French lost any remaining influence in the Middle East while Nasser made tremendous political gains and was seen as a hero of Egyptian and Arab nationalism. Israel did not win freedom to use the canal, but the Straits of Tiran were opened. France also learned to distrust their allies more while Britain chose to increase ties to the United States. The conflict also coincided precisely with the Soviet military intervention in the Hungarian Revolution which both gave precedent to the Soviet intervention capabilities in addition to giving a justification to the Soviets for their invasive actions. Most importantly, with the failure of Britain and France to implement their policy without Soviet or U.S. approval, the Suez Crisis solidified the power shift from Europe to the two major superpowers.

Molly Burke
Eric DeVoe
Lauren Huus

October 25, 2007

European Defense Community

With the threat of Soviet Invasion of West Germany, The United States involved in Korea a plan to rearm West Germany was put forth. France not wanting Germany to create a military force proposed a rearmed Germany under the control of a European Leadership. The republic of Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and The Netherlands signed a treaty on May 27, 1952 forming the European Defense Community (EDC). France however failed to ratify the treaty. Even though it had been the initial proposal to establish a military in Germany under the control of European Leadership, France felt that a military presence in Germany would threaten French national security. Communists opposed the plan for fear of US capitalist expansion in Western Europe. The EDC would have established a Pan-European military with a leadership made up of an organized 6 country military to have a common budget arms and institutions.
Today NATO, the European Union and the Western European Union have taken some of the duties and functions that the EDC was attempting to form however taking in the military that had been envisioned it would provide.

Group Members
Kurt Homan
David Holly
Mike Epsky

October 24, 2007

Imre Nagy (1896-1958)

Imre Nagy was a humanistic communist politician from Hungary. He emerged from less powerful political positions to the deputy prime minister under Matyas Rakosi, a Stalinist dictator currently in control of Hungary. In the period following Stalin's death in 1953, there was no clear heir to the seat of Stalin in the Soviet Union and the political turmoil that ensued directly effected the Eastern European satellites.

The Soviet Union, under the new leadership of Georgi Malenkov, no longer favored Rakosi's tactics in Hungary and replaced him with the more favorable Nagy in 1953. (Rakosi, on the other hand, remained in the political arena as the secretary of the Hungarian Worker's Party, thereby staying available for a leap to power should an opportunity present itself.) As prime minister, Nagy advocated for a reforming "New Course" to Hungarian society. In this policy, he relaxed the pace of industrialization, allowed for peasants to leave collective farms, and relaxed the terror of the police. In 1955, however, Malenkov's favorable position slipped and on February of 1955, he resigns. The new opinion in the Soviet Union ruled against Nagy and he too was forced to resign to be replaced again by Rakosi.

This second term of Rakosi was dangerously unstable, especially after Nikita Khrushchev's "secret speech" on February 25, 1953, admitting to the crimes of Stalin. Rakosi's refusal to admit his actions in the purge of the Hungarian communist party caused distrust in the people leading to the appointment of Ernö Gerö to the premiership on July 18, 1956 as a way of reconciling with the people. This attempt was in vain was Gerö's leadership paralleled that of Rakosi.

On October 23, demonstrators in Budapest call for the resignation of Gerö and by October 24, 1956, Nagy resumes as prime minister. Nagy returned to power far after things were out of hand throughout the country, therefore it took all his capabilities to attempt to control the reforms. He offered amnesty to the demonstrators, abolished the one-party system, and negotiated the withdrawal of the Red Army from Hungary. Then, on November 1, Nagy declares Hungarian neutrality and withdraws his country from the Warsaw Pact. By November 4, 1956, the Soviet Union invades Hungary and Gerö is forced from power by Soviet and internal communist pressure to be replaced by the Soviet approved János Kádár.

Fearful for his own future, Nagy seeks asylum in the Yugoslavian Embassy. Nineteen days later, through a guarantee of safe passage, Nagy left the embassy, however he was seized by the Soviets. After two years of incarceration in Romania and a refusal to endorse the new Soviet appointed government, Nagy is executed on June 16, 1958, representing one of the last executions of a politician leaving power. The next day back in Hungary, Kádár announces that Nagy and several of his fellow reformers were executed on accounts of treason thereby curbed any revolutionary reformers that were left in the wake of the Revolution.

Molly Burke
Eric DeVoe
Lauren Huus

October 18, 2007

The Battle of Algiers, 1966

The Battle of Algiers is an Italian film which depicts the conflict between disenfranchised revolutionaries and the French military/settlers (pied-noirs) in French Algeria, spanning the period from 1954 to 1960. The film was shot in black and white, on location in the capitol of Algiers. It is reknowned for its realism and relatively fair portrayal of both sides of the conflict. During the 1960's, some thought The Battle of Algiers amounted to a training film for urban guerilla warfare, while others see it as a fitting piece on the struggle to terminate France's colonial system.

A number of organizations have held screenings of the film, including one hosted by the Pentagon in 2003, shortly after the beginning of the current military actions in Iraq. A flyer for the screening noted:

"How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film."

Alex Anderson (alex)
Dustin Auman (auma0004)
Molly Hintzen (hint0078
Elizabeth Peterson (pete5565)

Trofim Lysenko

Trofim Lysenko was a soviet biologist, best known for rejecting the Mendelian theory which explains hereditary traits. In 1927, Lysenko became well known throughout the Soviet Union after he discovered a way to plant pea crops with out fertilizing with minerals or fertilizer. In the following years, Lysenko had several “discoveries? published in the Soviet Media which increased his fame. These discoveries were somewhat questionable, because other scientist could not scientifically reproduce the procedure and obtain the same results as Lysenko.

The Communist Party backed his research methods and he later became the director of Genetics at the USSR’s Academy of Science. While some of experiments were successful, Lysenko could not explain this success scientifically and therefore created his own reasoning to explain what was happening. Lysenko theorized that inheritance was a result of the environment. Under the rule of Stalin, the USSR only taught the Lysenko theory of inheritance. This continued up until 1965, when the USSR recognized this was incorrect and returned the Mendelian theory of inheritance.

Continue reading "Trofim Lysenko" »

Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962)

Algeria had been at least partially under French control since 1830, and in the century or so afterward, the country became an integral part of the France. By the years after World War II, there were about a million Europeans living in Algeria. Many had been born in Algeria (an Algerian of French descent was called a "pied-noir," which means "black foot" in French) and had never so much as visited Europe. As the decolonization process gained momentum worldwide after World War II, native Algerians gained hope that they might receive independence. Algerian soldiers had fought in both World Wars, but Algerians were treated as second-class citizens in France and, in effect, were second class citizens in Algeria itself. This made independence desirable to them. At the same time, pieds-noirs feared independence because it would upset their place in Algerian society and the economy, and they also had more connections and influence with the government in France.

Continue reading "Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962)" »

October 5, 2007

William Beveridge, First Baron Beveridge and the “Beveridge Report?

William Henry Beveridge (5 March 1879, b. 16 March 1963, d.) was a British economist and social reformer. He is best known for his extensive work and authorship for his 1942 report Social Insurance and Allied Services, also known as the “Beveridge Report?. This report would go on to outline the basis for the post-World War II Labour government’s “welfare state? in the United Kingdom. Among some of the reforms proposed included the National Health Service, or the publicly funded social health care system in England. The NHS operates separately and alongside three other national health systems that have been developed under differing legislation, but provides the majority of healthcare in England to the present day.
William Beveridge was born to Henry Beveridge an Indian Civil Service agent officer, and his wife, Annette, in Rangpur, Bengal (or Rangpur, Bangladesh today) in 1879. After studying at Balliot College, Oxford, he became a lawyer. He quickly became interested in social services. He was considered the United Kingdom’s highest authority on unemployment insurance by 1908, and was considered for the UK’s Board of Trade early on in his career. He was instrumental in developing England’s national system of labour exchanges, being appointed director in 1909. During the First World War (1914-1918) Beveridge was involved in mobilizing and controlling British manpower. After the war, he was knighted for his efforts and made the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Food. In 1919 he would leave that post to become the director of the London School of Economics and Political Science, in Central London. He would become one of the higher intelligistas within the London Fabian society—the British socialist intellectual movement.
In 1941 Ernest Bevin (Minister of Labor at the time) asked Beveridge to look into and examine the existing schemes of Social Security in England, and to make recommendations to it—this report would evolve to the report on how Britain should be rebuilt after the Second World War. The report on Social Insurance and Allied Services proposed that all people of working age should pay a weekly national insurance contribution—a sort of tax—for social welfare benefit purposes. In return, benefits would be paid to people who were sick, unemployed, retired, or widowed. Beveridge claimed that such a system would provide the bare minimum standard of living “below which no on should be allowed to fall?. This outlined a social safety net, a foundation on which Britain would begin to pull itself back up economically and socially.
Many of the items proposed in the Beveridge Report were direct parts of the framework of the Fabian project—in that it served to combat the “Five Giant Evils?: Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness. It promoted economic community, as well as the need for work and the desire for wellness. This was especially represented by the implementation of a national health care system.

Wladislaw Gomulka

Wladislaw Gomulka was an influential Polish Communist leader. He was a member of the Communist Party of Poland (Komunistyczna Partia Polski, or the KPP) starting in 1926. He is a Communist leader of the “Old School?, which relates to the Bolsheviks; know as the “Muscovites?, or those hardliners trained in the iron discipline and revolution the Bolshevik era celebrated. He was arrested and imprisoned in Moscow (like many of the Muscovites were) during World War II, and for the most part because of this imprisonment by the Soviets, remained protected. Gomulka would become an influential Polish Communist, and in 1943 he convinced Stalin to allow for the restoration of the Polish Worker’s Party in Poland. He was named Deputy Prime Minister in the Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland in 1945, and again as the DPM for the Provisional Government of National Unity from 1945 to 1947. Gomulka would use his political position to win the People’s Referendum of 1946—a referendum calling on the public to test the popularity of those vying for political control in Poland following the war.
Although the actual results showed a lack of support for a communist government, the results were rigged to show that communist policies had a lot of support. (This sort of dogged behavior would outline things to come in regards to the Polish sentiment surrounding Communism). His win would usher in the era of the “hegemon of Poland?. However, trends to shortly follow between party factions would expel the Muscovite Gomulka from the Polish United Worker’s Party in the early 1950’s. Following the Nationalist split from the Soviet bloc by Tito’s Yugoslavia, Muscovite leaders around the eastern bloc were being viewed with increasing caution, seen as “right wing? and “reactionary?—not wanting to risk any more Soviet dissent, Muscovite leaders were purged left and right from the Communist sphere. This purge would lead to the deaths of many Muscovite leaders and their influential players, and the eventual imprisonment of Gomulka in 1956.
De-Stalinization began after the death of Stalinist Prime Minister Boleslaw Beirut in 1956 in Poland. This destalinization began on the heels of worker protests, citing extreme food shortages and consumer goods, bad housing, decline in real income, and economic mismanagement by the Communist Soviet Union. Security agents in Poland and elsewhere cited these rioters as “provocateurs? and the like, and killed scores of their own people across the region. This lead to the party hierarchy noting the Soviet’s purges and the riots against them, awakening nationalist sentiments, and thus reversing the party’s stance on nationalism and a potential break from the Soviet sphere. Wages were raised, and political change was promised. Thus was the results of the Poland October in 1956.
Edward Ochab invited Gomulka back from exile to serve as the First Secretary of the party. Gomulka insisted on being given a position of power to help implement the reforms, (as he was of the school established in bringing up a hard-line approach to discipline and reform). Gomulka would be key in establishing dialogue and compromise with the Soviets, who were looking at Poland’s problems as potential for a nationalist revolt against the Socialist line. Gomulka made it clear that Polish troops would resist any Soviet military pressure, and reassured the Soviet leadership that reforms were internal matters and that Poland would not stray from Communism; thus the Soviets retreated.
Information regarding the events in Poland reached a likewise compromised Hungary via Radio Free Europe’s news in October 1956. This led to a student demonstration in Budapest to support Gomulka and his reforms, asking for similar reforms in Hungary… leading to the much more volatile Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Gomulka’s “Polish approach to Socialism? became popular, and began an era dubbed “Gomulka’s Thaw?, a peaceful, albeit ambivalent time, between the Soviets and Poland. During his reign Gomulka would toughen the censorship of the media (to Soviet favor), and would persecute dissenters and intelligista of his reign (this would be one of the negatives of Gomulka’s reign). Another unpopular stance that he’d take would be the anti-Zionist propaganda campaign against Israel and their approaches to the Transjordan region—leading to the Soviet bloc opposition of the Six-Day War in 1968 (and thus, sentiments against Jews in Russia and beyond, some of which remain today).
Gomulka would retire in 1970, weakened by stroke. He yielded power to a young political dynamo, Edward Gierek. Gomulka died in 1982 of cancer. After the fall of the Berlin wall, much of his negative images in Communist propaganda were modified to reveal more of his positive accomplishments, and more of his constructive contributions to the Polish legacy were recognized.

October 4, 2007

Berlin Airlift

On 24 June 1948 the soviets blocked the three Western powers access to Berlin by blocking the roadways and railways. This started the greatest airlift campaign in American history, the Berlin Airlift. On June 25, 1948 General Lucius D. Clay ordered the beginning of a massive airlift utilizing both military and civilian aircraft. The first plane took off the very next day. Lt. General William H. Turner was put in charge of the airlift. He instituted three rules. Instrument flight rules would be followed at all times, planes had only one chance to land returning to home if they missed, and air crews were not allowed to leave the planes at anytime for any reason while in Berlin. The Airlift lasted for 321 days, ending on September 30, 1959, significantly longer than the originally planned three weeks. At the height of the operation on April 16, 1948 an airplane landed in Berlin every minute, totaling 1,398 flights in 24 hours hauling 12, 940 tons of cargo. In all 278,228 were made during the airlift, and 2,326,406 tons of cargo. The Berlin airlift was essential to the survival of western occupied sectors of Berlin.

Chris Winkler
Jacob Schultz
Evan Hosseini


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established in April 1949, the purpose of it was to create a collective defense against outside forces. It consisted mostly of Western countries like France, the United Kingdom, Norway, Greece, Turkey, West Germany and most importantly the United States. The main reason why the Western countries wanted the help of the United States is because they felt that the Soviet Union would not want to attack the West if they knew that the United Stated was backing them up. The Soviets would be scared of what the States were capable of doing and did not want to see what would happen. The Soviets would not want to start a nuclear war with the West because that would mean that the United States would get involve. If the United States would not have been involved in NATO, the West would be unable to stand up against the Communist East. So if you were a member of NATO, and a Communist country of the East decided to attack a Western country, you would be obligated to take some kind of action but it was unclear, until later, what kind of act needed to be taken, but you could not just sit back and watch you had to get involved. The key importance here is that they must respond to the action that has happened. There are many reasons why NATO was created, but one of the main reasons was to discourage Communist aggression. And in response to NATO, the Eastern Communist countries came up with the Warsaw act as a way of being able to defend themselves again the West.

By: Molly B
Eric D
Lauren H

The Berlin Airlift

The Berlin Airlift was necessary in order to provide supplies to the portion of Berlin not under Soviet control. The three Western allies (America, Britain and France) were each given sectors of Germany and sectors within Berlin. The problem was that they were only given a 20-mile wide air corridor from their sectors into Berlin, but on June 24, 1948 the Soviets blocked access to Berlin through railways and roadways to the three Western powers. Access to Berlin was essential for rebuilding and to help individuals. The first deliveries took place on two days after ground access was blocked, and was scheduled to last for three weeks. C-47s made 32 flights into Berlin with 80 tons of cargo; mainly powdered milk, flour, and medicine. As the winter months approached, there was a need for coal to heat the houses and more food. They realized the operation would exceeded the capabilities of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, so the Berlin Airlift became the responsibility of the Military Air Transport Service, created on June 1st, 1948 by the merger of Air Force and Navy transport units. General Tunner arrived in Germany late in July 1948 and came with the goal to speed up the delivery of cargo. He established goal of a landing every minute, day or night. At times, the aircrews participating in the operation came close to achieving this goal, touching down just 3 minutes apart. The Airlift lasted for 321 days, ending on September 30, 1959. There were a total of 278,228 flights made during the airlift, and 2,326,406 tons of cargo delivered.

Continue reading "The Berlin Airlift" »

The push to Consumerism

After the two world wars, global depression, and rise of authoritarian regimes the modern world was ready for a change in the way governments would treat their people. Americans pushed consumerism on Western Europe, particularly in France, England, and West Germany. The United States looked for an outlet to sell their goods world wide; Europe was the most logical choice; they had enough money for the U.S. to make good profits and also were in good relations politically as they just finished fighting two wars against Germany.

Having so much tragedy in the recent years it is obvious to see why Europe would want to indulge in material goods; this would be a treat for them selves instead of constant struggles. Not only were the rich targeted, everyone was ensured of protection from consumer society. Governments created groups in order to satisfy the people with the products companies were producing. These governmental agencies created laws and strict guidelines to produce the best quality products available to the market. The communism idea of consumerism was to produce a massive amount of goods in order for their citizens and other Eastern Europe citizens to have. The capitalism and communism systems clashed over which system effectively pleased its consumers more. In the end capitalism prevailed, communism lost due to excessive concentration on pushing out mass quantities of goods and not focusing on quality. It could be argued that the laws created on the quality of goods in the post war years in West Europe and the United States are one of the reasons communism failed to keep its citizens engaged in their political theory as they looked to the western model as a way to attain the good life.

Darrel Olson
Mike Bucahnon
Peter Kvamme

October 2, 2007

Greek Civil War 1942-1944, 1946-1949

The cause of the Greek Civil War was a government division that occurred as a result of the Nazi Germany/Bulgarian occupation of Greece from 1941-1944. In all, there were a total of two different governments and a formation of several resistance movements. One of these governments was a government in exile proclaimed by the King of Greece after he escaped to Egypt during German occupation. This government was recognized by the Western Allies, but not by the Soviet Union. The second government was set-up in Athens by the Germans, but this government also lacked support/legitimacy. Due to the lack of a legitimate government, several resistance movements were created. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) created the largest of these resistance movements the National Liberation Front (EAM). The EAM was determined to establish a monopoly over other resistances so that they would have an advantageous position when the Germans left Greece. This led to the ELAS (the EAM’s army) attacking other resistances, precipitating a civil war across most of Greece. The largest of these attacked resistances was the Greek National Republican League (EDES), a group committed to the liberation of Greece from communism and fascism. The socialist EAM and conservative EDES made up the two sides of this war.
In early 1947, the EDES’s primary support switched from Great Britain to the United States due to financial reasons. The EAM’s support, on the other hand did not change. It remained strongly supported by Yugoslav and Albanian Communist regimes, with the support from Yugoslavia’s Prime Minister Josip Broz Tito being the stronger of the two. Both Yugoslavia and Albania allowed the ELAS to operate from within their borders. Despite Tito’s and the Soviet Union’s strong bond, the Soviet Union, on the other hand, did not directly support the KKE due to Stalin’s strategy not being to conduct war against the Western Allies in Greece. However, the EAM’s support would drastically change in 1949.
In June of 1949, the Soviet Union and its satellites cut off their relations with Tito in Yugoslavia. Thus, the KKE had to make a choice: should it ally itself with the country that had been supporting it since the beginning of the war (Yugoslavia) or should it choose the country that their communist principles were derived from (the Soviet Union)? The KKE chose Stalin and the Soviet Union. As a result to this decision, Tito closed down the Yugoslavian border to the ELAS (now the Democratic Army of Greece, DSE). Due to Tito’s actions, the DSE began to “hunt? for Tito supporters within its own ranks, resulting in its disorganization. This disorganization and the desertion of DSE fighters resulted in the DSE to not be able to sustain resistance in battle. Finally, in late August of 1949, the Albanian government under Soviet approval, announced to the KKE that it no longer would allow the DSE to operate from within its borders. On October 16, the KKE announced a cease-fire, thus marking the end of the Greek Civil War and resulting in the victory of the government’s anti-Communist forces. This victory led to Greece’s membership in NATO later that year.
In all 50,000 people were killed during the Civil War. Most of these deaths occurred as a result of the EAM’s brutality. The EAM burned villages, and executed civilians, suspected collaborators, and those who had committed various political ‘crimes’.

Hillary Krause
Lisa Eimer
Joe Milner


The Deutsche Mark

Following the fall of the Third Reich, the German economy lay in ruins. In order to prevent Western Germany from hyperinflation, excessive bartering, and a large black market, the Western Allies implemented a new currency called the Deutsche Mark. The Deutsche Mark would replace the previous German currency, Reichsmark and Rentenmark, which was worth nothing. Old currency could be exchanged at three different rates according to specific situations. One situation was for essential currency, such as wages, payment of rents etc., at a rate of one Deutsche Mark for one Reichsmark. The second situation was for the remainder of money in private non-banks credit balance. This came at a rate of one Deutsche Mark to ten Reichsmark. The third situation was for large sums of money. In this situation ten Reichsmark could be exchanged for 65 pfennig (100 pfennig equaled one Deutsche Mark). Also every citizen received 60 Deutsche Mark per capita allowance to help get back on track.

The introduction of the Deutsche Mark made the Soviets extremely mad, because they thought this was the Western Allies trying to gain control of Germany. After the Deutsche Mark hit the streets in West Germany the Soviets closed all roads, canals, and rail to Berlin, leading to the Berlin Blockade.

The Deutsche mark was also the currency of a reunified Germany until 2000 when the Euro went in to affect as the national currency. Many Germans disliked the idea of the Euro because the Deutsche mark symbolized national pride and economic prosperity. A poll in recent years showed many Germans wished to return to the Deutsche mark.

The Deutsche Mark came in bank notes of 5 DM (Deutsche Mark), 10 DM, 20 DM, 50 DM, 100 DM, 200 DM, 500 DM and coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 Pfennig, 1 DM, 2 DM, 5 DM.

Interesting Fact: Following WWII American cigarettes served as the currency on the black market.

Bryce Benda, Meagan Smith, Ben Winter, Jodi Keuth, Elin Soderberg


October 1, 2007

The "Summit" of 1955

The summit was a meeting at Geneva, it was the decade's largest display of the new international atmosphere. The Geneva convention followed the failure of the EDC, European Defense Community. The four major countries that took part in the summit at Geneva were the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. This meeting was not historic for any decisions that had been reached, it was historic because it was the first time in 10 years since the leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union came together. The leaders at the time were President Eisenhower and Nikita Khrushchev of Russia. It was the first time these two leaders had been seen speaking in a friendly fashion. There were no major agreemenst between the two leaders, except for one, it was agreed upon that while they remained in power, the Cold War would not be pushed for a final decision. Eisenhower and Khrushchev would keep the peace allowing Europeans to breath a sigh of relief. Therefore with a new leaf turned in regardts to the Cold War, Europe began to occupy itself with its own concerns.

Julie Koch
Meghan Anderson
Julia Th

September 29, 2007

The Truman Doctrine

On March 12th, 1947 President Harry S. Truman announced to congress a bold new initiative that transformed U.S. foreign policy. Set amid the Greek Civil War which pitted communist forces against the incumbent right wing junta, Truman viewed the conflict in much broader terms as a battles agianst Soviet expansion. Truman requested military and economic aide for the governments of Greece and Turkey to help suppress communist insurgents. Fearing a regional domino effect, Truman stated "If Greece was lost, Turkey would become an untenable outpost in a sea of communism. Similarly, if Turkey yeildd to Soviet demands, the position of Greede would be endangered." As post-war Europe began its reconstuction, the U.S. felt that it was a matter of national security to prevent European countries from falling into the Soviet sphere. Thus, as Truman states, it bacame "the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugaion by armed minorities or by outside pressures."
On May 22nd, 1947 the act was signed into law allocating a total of 400 million in aide (300 million to Greece and 100 million to Turkey). As a result, both countries resisted communist aggression and eventually solidified their alliance with the West by entering into the NATO pact. Thus, the phrase coined by George F. Kennan, a "policy of containment" was formed ushering in the Cold War.

Mike Epsy
David Holly
Kurt Homan
Bob Keady

www.wikipedia. org

September 28, 2007

The German Question

At the end of World War II, the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union had to make a decision about what to do with the state of Germany. The USSR pushed hard for harsh reparations and punishment while the US and Britain believed Germany would be needed as a central player in European reconstruction and recovery. These opposing viewpoints are not hard to understand considering, on the Russian side, the unbelievable losses that they had to endure, while on the other side, the fact that Western countries needed new markets to keep economies going.
In the end, Germany was split into four zones which essentially created two 'bi-zones', one Communist and one Western-capitalist. According to Wilkinson, Russia treated their German zone as an economic asset by invoking significant reparations while dismantling Germany's industry. On the Western side, the US, Britain, and France allowed Germany to rebuild economically and industrially while slowly gaining political and economic independence.

Group members: Peder Kvamme
Darrell Olson
Mike Buchanon

September 27, 2007

The Warsaw Pact

The Warsaw pact was created on May 14, 1955 in Warsaw Poland. The Soviet Union claimed that the alliance of countries from Central and Eastern Europe was formed as a result of NATO re-militarizing West Germany on May 9th. The members included the Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania. The pact was created to protect a member if they were attacked. The pact was not supposed to interfere with internal conflicts of the members, but this occurred twice: once in Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution (in 1956) and then again in Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring in 1968.
The Warsaw Pact had two Branches. The non-military branch was called Political Consultative Committee. The military branch was called the Unified Command of Pact Armed forces. Albania withdrew from the pact in 1968, and East Germany left on September 1990 and reunited with West Germany a few weeks later. In 1991, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland withdrew from the pact and later that year the pact dissolved completely

Continue reading "The Warsaw Pact" »

The Marshall Plan

With Europe being in economic ruin and America fearing that such economic hardship would breed new political extremism, “The Marshall Plan/European Recovery Program? was created in 1948. Originally purposed by Secretary of State George C. Marshall, unlike the Truman Doctrine which only extended aid to Greece & Turkey, the Marshall Plan was designed to help ALL of Europe including the Soviet Union and its allies. The aid offered in the plan was not contingent on a nations political idealogy, thought it did require essentially pro-capitalist economic reforms.
Hence, the Soviets were hesitant of the program and feared that a hidden agenda was lurking behind America’s actions, and ultimately decided not to participate nor allow any of their satellite governments to do so. Thus the Marshall Plan became somewhat exclusive to Western Europe. Operating for 4 yrs and distributing over 13 billion in economic and technical assistance to European countries the Marshall Plan/ERP was successful in helping Western Europe recover from economic hardship and continue to grow even.

India Rambo
Mike Enright

Wilkinson, James and Hughes, H. Stuart. Contemporary Europe: A History. Page 415,416


Cominform (Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers' Parties) was an international communist forum born in September of 1947. Cominform can be seen as the revival of the Comintern, disbanded in 1943. It is believed that Cominform was in response to growing interest of east European governments in participating in the 1947 Paris Conference regarding the prospect of United States financial funding through the Marshall Plan.

The new Soviet led system provided information and connections to communist parties in the Soviet Union and its satellite--Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania--in addition to Tito's Yugoslavia and the powerful Western communist parties of France and Italy. The information network proved less influential than attempts in the past as it only included two western parties.

To the Soviets, Cominform represented a powerful extension of their foreign policy. It allowed for the spread of Stalinism, furthered Soviet anti-Western beliefs, and allowed for a strict Soviet dictation of economic and ideological policies in participating governments. In the West, Cominform pushed French and Italian communist parties into a more militant revolutionary action.

As a result of political difficulties between Tito and Stalin, in 1948, Yugoslavia was banned from Cominform. This forced the seat of the forum to be uprooted from Belgrade, Yugoslavia and transported to Bucharest, Romania. In April, 1956 Cominform dissolves as a way of reconciling with Yugoslavia and beginning the process of DeStalinization, as its service to the Soviets had been played out.

Eric DeVoe
Lauren Huus
Molly Burke

Andrei Zhdanov and “Zhdanovism?

Andrei Aleksandrovich Zhdanov (born in Mariupol 26 February 1896- d. August 31, 1948, in Moscow) was a Soviet politician instrumental in the cultural implementation of Soviet society in the Communist eastern bloc of Europe. Appropriating a title for the scientific, stoic representation of art via Soviet society, “Zhdanovism? would come to be the Soviet cultural policy for the majority of Stalin’s political golden age, following the Second World War.
Zhdanov first joined the Bolshevik party in 1915, quickly going through the party ranks, to become the trusted Communist party leader in Leningrad in 1934. During WWII Zhdanov was in charge of the Soviet defense in Leningrad. After the cease-fire between the Soviet Union and Finland was signed in September 1944, Zhdanov assumed the head of the Allied Control Commission in Finland until 1947. After he was released of his post by Stalin, he was put in charge of commissioning the Soviet Union’s “cultural policy? in late 1946. He was instrumental in organizing the “Cominform? in 1947, coordinating the Eastern Communist parties of Europe—part of this organization implied getting all on the same page regarding the arts and culture. Zhdanovism called for simplicity, straightforward realism, and art being reduced down to a calculated science; he believed that this employed moral value in society, and that it created art that was “right? or “correct?. Indeed, the credo of Zhdanovism could be summed up in the often quoted phrase “The only conflict that is possible in Soviet culture is the conflict between good and best?. He proclaimed a Soviet approach to culture was the “best? way, in that it was correct, calculated, unambiguous, and implicit of a moral message.
The Zhdanovist approach also meant many purges in the arts of anything un-Soviet, or of a foreign (read: Western) influence. This meant the immense censorship of prolific Soviet writers, performing artists, and creative artists; including renown composer Dmitri Shostakovich, the writer Anna Akhmatova, and satirists such as Mikhail Zoshchenko. Many progressive publications that were seen to be slanderous against the Soviet approach, such as the Zvezda and Leningrad, were also axed by the policy. Artists who did not adhere to policy risked persecution and condemnation by the government.
Zhdanov died of heart failure in 1948, noted in most part due to his excessive alcoholism. Once flouted as the natural successor to Stalin (as he represented a politician of the Bolshevik Old School, and therefore prodigious to Stalin), his personal fall from grace allowed for his rivals to usurp his influence and to come into favor with Stalin. In 1952 the Soviet Union repealed the policy of “Zhdanovism?, as its successive censorship was found by the new leadership to be declared as having a negative effect on Soviet culture.

Continue reading "Andrei Zhdanov and “Zhdanovism?" »


Bizonia is a geopolitical region located on the Western side of the Rhine river in what is now present-day Germany. It was the half of Germany, designated for British and American control at the Yalta conference following the defeat of Germany in World War II in February 1945. The Yalta, or Crimean Conference, was an official post-war meeting between the heads of the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Although each country had a specific agenda (the US was for calling on help in regards to their war with the Japanese in the Pacific, the UK was calling for democracy in Eastern Europe; particularly Poland, and the Soviet Union was set on establishing a sphere of influence and resource procurement in Eastern Europe), Yalta’s ultimate achievement was figuring out what to do with the German state, and how to go about the responsibility of rehabilitating the region for diplomatic purposes.
It was decided that each of the Big Three (UK, US, and USSR) would split up the region, respectively; with the United States taking the southern region, the UK taking the northwestern portion to the western border of Germany, France having a small allotment to the extreme southwest, and the Soviets taking the rest of the region, east of the Rhine river. Although the US and the UK were bent on rehabilitiation of their regions, including implementing a self-governing, democratic society once again, the Soviets had different plans. Operating as a Soviet satellite, the region that would soon become East Germany was used for immense industrial resource procurement and economic purging at the benefit of the Soviet government.
In 1946, the USSR stopped delivering agricultural products from their Eastern sector to the US and UK sectors of Germany. Likewise, the western sectors cut off their transfer of industrial supplies, and dismantled important factories in the southern Ruhr region, imperative to the Soviet’s sector. As a result, the USSR began a propaganda campaign detesting these moves by the West, citing “imperialist? motives, and began to try to disrupt the administrative work to all four sectors (the fourth being France’s German holdings to the southwest, which wouldn’t be entirely cooperative with the UK or US until later).
Because of these actions, the US and the UK united their zones, creating “Bizonia?, or the Bizone, in order to advance the development of Germany along the lines of a new democratic political order by January, 1947. France would add their alottment in 1949, creating a brief “trizone?, which soon after became the united Federal Republic of Germany, or the democratic “West Germany? to the Communist East German area.
Although both would develop at comparative rates, it would eventually show that Western Germany was economically and politically advancing at a more sustainable rate than the East. This would manifest itself in a sort of Soviet contention between sectors of the East German population, and that of Soviet bureaucracy.

September 26, 2007

Percentage Deal

Towards the end of 1944 the end of World War II looked inevitable. The decision making of reconstructing the war torn zone was looming and the allies desperately did not want any repercussions forming from the rebuilding process. In October of 1944, however, a deal between the Soviets and the United Kingdom was formed to split up the upcoming ‘responsibility’ of rebuilding the post war countries. This “Percentage Deal? however, was not primarily about dividing the responsibility of reconstruction. To the Soviets this deal was a plan to gain more land and in turn provide more of a security cushion from the western allies for after the war ended. It was a perfect representation of how the Soviet Union wanted their post World War II region to look like. The leader of the Soviets, Josef Stalin, wanted to be separate from the western allies. When he signed this agreement with Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom he was confident that at the conclusion of the war he would be in control of the post war situation. This was not the case for Stalin however. In the end this agreement proved to be more of a thorny contention between the eastern and western divisions, leading to bitter feuds brought on the start of the cold war.

Continue reading "Percentage Deal" »

Jean Moulin

Jean Moulin was born on June 20, 1899 in Beziers, France. Highly active in
French political life, he became the youngest Head of Cabinet ever under
the prefect of Albertville. Still active in politics after the nazi take
over he was sought out by Germans, who tried to force him to sign a
document blaming French soldiers for atrocities committed by Germans. When
he refused to sign it, he was locked in a closest for the night to think
over his decision. Nervous about capitulating under torture the next day,
he slit his throat with some broken glass. Later, he typically tried to
hide the scar by wearing a scarf, as featured in most of his photos. Moulin
was rushed to the hospital, and the Germans were so embarrassed when the
word got out, since at the time they were trying to pretend they were on
France's side, that they promptly let him go, and turned to blaming someone
else for the crimes. Moulin went to Paris in the winter of 1940-41 and
argued there for the need of a Resistance with "republican legitimacy". But
few people listened to him, so from there he went south, to the Unoccupied
Zone, adopted a new identity, and sought out leaders of Resistance groups.
When he finally arrived in London in October, 1941, he was the
representative of three Resistance groups. He went with one purpose in
mind: to talk to de Gaulle. De Gaulle was the leader of all the French
movements, for the most part, but they movements were beginning to move
away from him as well. The Resistance felt that he was seated safe and
sound in merry old England while they were risking their lives. Also, they
were worried that he would simply start another military dictatorship after
the war. But Moulin's personality and beliefs helped to clarify this
matter. Within days of meeting Moulin, Charles de Gaulle dropped much of
what he had learned about the different sides of political matters. He made
it clear in a broadcast on November 15th 1941 that he wanted "to remain
faithful to the democratic principles that our ancestors set out." Now that
de Gaulle was in the Republic mainstream, Moulin was parachuted back to
France January 1st, 1942, as de Gaulle's "delegate general".

Now the highest leader of the Resistance that was stationed in France,
and second only to de Gaulle, he was given funds to help him pay for the
working of the Resistance. He displayed great personal authority, and
remarkable political and administrative skills. He managed, with his funds
and skills, to unite the oftentimes competitive, and typically suspicious
Resistance groups, which tended to be touchy and argumentative at best. In
1942 he created MUR, the Unified Resistance Movement. After another visit
to London in early 1943, he took charge on May 27th at the first meeting of
the National Resistance Council. On June 21, he was captured, along with
several other high ranking Resistance officials, by the Nazis. He was
tortured by Clause Barbie and just as the final plans for his rescue were
being made, he was transported to Paris: mortally wounded. From there, he
died on July 8th, of a heart failure on the train to Germany, and was
cremated. In December 1964, his remains were placed in the Pantheon, to
rest alone with those of Victor Hugo, Jean Jaures, and Lazare Carnot, by
the now President de Gaulle during a special ceremony. His remains are one
of very few to be added in recent years. As de Gaulle said of him, "he was
the martyr of the Resistance".


The Warsaw Pact –

It was established on May 14, 1955 in Warsaw, Poland. The member states were the Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. Notably absent form this list is Yugoslavia, the Nationalist Estern European communist state under Tito. Due to the fractured relations between the Tito and the USSR, at the inception of the treaty, the Yugoslavs were not included.

Soviets claimed at the time that the pact was a reaction to the formation of NATO and the rearmament of West Germany. The Warsaw pact was created under the guise of mutual protection of the Eastern European socialist states, against their western counterpart. An Argument is made (Wilkinson, Hughes 465) that the formation of the pact was a maneuver made necessary by the independence Austria, and the lack of another means to justify the positioning of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania. The treaty solidified Soviet Military control over all of the socialist satellites.

The treaty is used as justification in 1956 by Kruschev when Hungary attempted to pull out of the Warsaw pact. Soviet troops were sent into Hungary. A token force of Romanian tanks prevented it from being a strictly Russian enterprise. In 1968 Warsaw Pact forces invaded Czechoslovakia, (with the exception of the Czechs and Romanians) to crush the Dubchek rebellion.

This treaty is significant as it solidifies further the battlelines of the cold war. Like it's Western opposite, plans are laid and military exercises are conducted in the event of hostilities, in this case on the part of NATO.

Following the reunification of Germany, and the collapse of the USSR the Treaty was dissolved officially July 1, 1991.

AKA the Warsaw Treaty Organization or the Warsaw Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance

Definition 2 - 27 Sep 07
Group Members:
Mike Epsky
David Holly
Kurt Homan
Bob Keady

Wilkinson, James and Hughes, H. Stuart. Contemporary Europe: A History. Page 465, 469.

The Man Behind the Wall

Walter Ulbricht arrived in Berlin shortly after the collapse of the Third Reich along with other German communists living in exile in the Soviet Union with the intention of rebuilding the German Communist Party along strict Stalinist lines. He played a pivotal role in the creation of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), was head of state, and ordered the construction of the Berlin Wall.

Ulbricht was born in Leipzig in 1893 and became an active communist in the years after the First World War. He had a knack for eliminating rivals and acquiring power for himself. After the Nazis came to power, Ulbricht emigrated to France and later to the Soviet Union with the intent of keeping the Kommunist Partei Deutschland (KPD) alive. After the German capitulation, Ulbricht and a group of fellow exiles arrived in Berlin on the heels of the Red Army. They moved quickly to consolidate power by uniting the Social Democrats and Communists into a single party and imposing Stalin’s will on the Soviet Occupation Zone. In October of 1949 the GDR became a nation with Ulbricht in the role of Deputy Chairman of the Ministerial Council. By 1957 he was the de facto ruler of the GDR. Ulbricht played a significant role in the economic development of the new nation. The focus was on heavy industry and despite the poorly conceived plan there were some small gains. However, it wasn’t enough to stem the tide of emigration.

By the early 1960s, millions of East Germans had emigrated to the West. In 1961, Ulbricht made his most notorious decision when he ordered the construction of the Berlin Wall. The Wall would become the most recognizable symbol of the Cold War and its demise would mean the end of communism in Eastern Europe.

Ulbricht remained in power until 1971 when he fell out of favor with the Soviets and his fellow German Communists over some of his more liberal economic policies. He was replaced by Erich Honecker and would die two years later. His legacy is that of an ardent Stalinist and brutal dictator, but also an excellent politician who stabilized the GDR.

Lisa Eimer
Hillary Kraus
Joe Milner


September 24, 2007

NATO - North American Treaty Organization

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in the early years of the Cold War on April 4, 1949. The original countries included the United States, Canada, France, Great Britain, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg), Portugal, and Iceland. After a few years, Greece, Turkey, and West Germany joined. In 1954, the Soviet Union tried to join. The other members rejected their request. Today there are 26 members in NATO. Before being accepted, countries must meet political, military, and economic goals. This will enforce the contributions they can make as well as the benefits they may receive. According to NATO, “NATO and Russia made a reciprocal commitment to work together to build a stable, secure and undivided continent on the basis of partnership and common interest in 1997.?

The intent behind NATO was a military arrangement for mutual protection between various countries, both in Europe and North America. In other words, if one of the NATO countries were attacked, all other countries would give support to the defense of that country. The other countries would respond as if they were being attacked. This is often referred to as Article 5. Per NATO, “In accordance with the Treaty, the fundamental role of NATO is to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means. NATO is playing an increasingly important role in crisis management and peacekeeping.?

In addition to protection from outside military attacks from non-NATO countries and communists, NATO hoped to discourage fighting within the European countries. This stability within Western Europe would increase strong governments, economies, and confidence.

Group Members:
Meghan Anderson (ande3607)
Julie Koch (koch0190)
Julia Thieschafer (thie0048)

Wilkinson, James and H. Stuart Hughes. Contemporary Europe: A History. Pages 418-419

The Yalta Conference

The Yalta Conference was a meeting between the three representatives of the superpowers of post-WWII which included Winston Churchill of Great Britain, Theodore Roosevelt of the United States, and Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union. The three had met at Yalta primarily to discuss what was to be done with post-war Germany, although each individual came into the conference with their own separate agenda as to what action should be taken. Stalin wanted to create a Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe to tighten Soviet national security, while Churchill was looking to institute free elections and democracy among Eastern Europe. Roosevelt’s stance was a bit hesitant, and it is for this reason that some of his enemies claimed Stalin tricked him into “Selling Out? Eastern Europe to the Soviets. Roosevelt most definitely did not have any faith in communism, but he was also suspicious of the imperialist aims of the British, and it was for this reason that Roosevelt was unable to coordinate with Churchill and prevent Soviet control of Eastern Europe. Roosevelt’s main concern was keeping allied unity intact, and to establish the United Nations by getting commitment from Stalin to join.

After all was said and done, both East and West left with conflicting interpretations of what was to be done. The spheres of influence had been established, but the countries that were to be split 50/50 in power for example, were still completely lost in terms of leadership and dominating parties. The only thing that was really set in stone was Churchill and Roosevelt agreeing to Stalin’s request of a new frontier line for Poland which roughly corresponded to the Curzon Line. The positive that the West took from the meeting was admitting France to equal partnership for control of Germany, winning France control of land in Germany that bordered France, as well as an occupation zone in Berlin.

Continue reading "The Yalta Conference" »

September 20, 2007


Born in Italy and popularized in the immediate years after World War II, neorealism was an art movement based in literature and film that primarily focused on the poor and working-class of society, seeking to find the heroism in the struggles of everyday life. Although it shared the emphasis for the natural and real that its predecessor, the realist movement of the 19th century, had, neorealism did not value distant objectivity, instead opting to create art that would be more popular and accessible. In the 1950s, neorealism's popularity would fade as it was replaced by more creative and fanciful works.
Some of the most prominent neorealist authors include Elio Vittorini, Vasco Pratolini, and Cesare Pavese along with English writers Kingsley Amis, who wrote Lucky Jim (1954), and John Brain, the author of Room at the Top (1957).
Neorealist film was very similar in theme and style to its literary counterpart, also highlighting the everyday lives of the common people, though it ultimately may have had a more lasting impact on the art world. Neorealist movies were very simple, partly due to a lack of resources, and were often shot outside with only one camera, using amateur actors. Famous works include Luchino Visconti's Ossessione (1943), Roberto Rossellini's Open City (1944), and Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thief (1948).

Mike Enright
India Rambo

Wilkinson, James and H. Stuart Hughes. Contemporary Europe: A History. pp. 397, 400


Existentialism was a philosophical movement that began following World War II. During this period, there were large numbers of new freedoms being granted to artists of all kinds, and with this new latitude new forms of thinking were taking shape. The existentialism movement began in France, but quickly spread throughout Western Europe due to philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett, and Albert Camus. Through existentialism, these thinkers focused their writings on the way in which people found meaning in their lives and through their actions. Against the backdrop of the Second World War, they especially wanted to know how people made decisions under the moral dilemma of good and bad. More specifically, many of the existentialists, led by Sartre, believed that men and women (presumably post-war Europeans) left their lives to be decided largely by outside influences. In this sense they were not taking personal responsibility for their lives and, because of this, the fate of mankind was left to outside forces to do as they pleased leaving an overall feeling of helplessness for the direction of the world.

Group members: Peder Kvamme
Darrel Olson
Mike Buchanan

Social Democrats

The Social Democrats emerged out of teh socialist movement in the late 19th century. After World War II they didn't really have a commitment to get rid of capitalism. They believed that they could keep the capitalist system by nationalization of large businesses, the use of social programs (i.e. public education, and universal healthcare) and a permanent establishment of a welfare state based on progressive taxation. Also, most of their voting base was the middle class.

Lauren Huus
Molly Burke
Eric D.

Def. 1 - Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980)

Josip Broz was born in 1892 to a Croatian father and a Slovenian mother in what was then Austria-Hungary (Croatia today) and was raised Catholic. He left school at the age of 12 or so and began work as a machinist's apprentice. He soon joined the Social Democratic party of Croatia. Shortly before the outbreak of World War I, he was drafted into the army of Austria-Hungary. He was captured by the Russian army and sent to a work camp where he was elected leader by his fellow prisoners. In early 1917, during the early stages of the Russian revolution, the prisoners at his camp were let go. Broz shortly thereafter joined a Bolshevik group, and in 1918 he joined the Russian Communist Party and became a member of the Red Guard.

In 1920, Broz returned home with his wife whom he had met in Russia. He joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY). The party had grown in power to such an extent that it posed a political threat to the King of Yugoslavia's administration. The party was outlawed in the early 1920s and went underground. Broz remained a member. In the years up to 1934, Broz demonstrated his leadership skills and his commitment to workers' rights. He was elected to important positions in several unions. It was in 1934 that Broz took the alias 'Tito' for his work in the CPY. In 1935 he went to the USSR and worked for the Comintern and the Soviet Secret Police. Stalin had recently purged the CPY leadership, and Tito was sent back to be Secretary-General and rebuild the party, which was still illegal in Yugoslavia.

In 1941, Hitler's armies invaded Yugoslavia and captured the country in 11 days. Two resistance movements sprang up. Draja Mihailovich, a Serbian army officer, led the guerilla Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland, also known as the Royal Chetniks, who were loyal to the government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the government that had been in place before the Axis armies invaded. Tito led the Yugoslav partisans, also a guerilla force. The two resistance movements worked together early on, but later each saw the other as a threat, and they began fighting against each other as well against the Axis powers. Mihailovich's successes won him the support of the West and was even lauded in Time magazine in 1942. However, he "made no secret of his intention of enforcing Serbian supremacy on the country's liberation" (Wilkinson and Hughes, p. 323), and in the end eased his attack against the Axis armies. This led Churchill and Roosevelt to question the wisdom of supporting him. Tito, on the other hand, "preached reconciliation and unity among the Yugoslav peoples" (Wilkinson and Hughes, p. 323). The Allies eventually switched their support to Tito.

Tito became Prime Minister after the war and purged those who weren't loyal to the communists. He set up the new Yugoslavia after the model of the Soviet Union and was successful in suppressing nationalist and separationist movements. Tito's relationship with Stalin deteriorated in the post-war years due to Tito's insistence upon Yugoslavian self-determination and his support of the communists in Greece (which had been agreed by Churchill and Stalin to be under British influence). In 1948 Tito and Yugoslavia were expelled from Cominform. This left Yugoslavia non-aligned in the Cold War. In the 1960s, Yugoslavia was one of the five founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement (along with India, Indonesia, Egypt, and Ghana). Tito took advantage of his neutrality to enable Yugoslavia to have good diplomatic relations with countries with many different types of governments. Tito was named President for Life in 1963. He died in 1980. Within 12 years of his death, Yugoslavia had split up.


Wilkinson and Hughes, Contemporary Europe (2004).

Meghan Anderson (ande3607)
Julie Koch (koch0190)
Julia Thieschafer (thie0048)

Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany

This party experienced ‘significant shifts’ in philosophy and organizational structure since its initial development in the 1860s and 1870s. Consequently, it is essential to view the party’s development from the evolving perspectives of ‘within a period of time ’and ‘across a political spectrum’. The SPD originally advocated Marxist socialism; however, major philosophical differences occurred early in the 20th Century which caused a split into ‘revolutionary socialists’ and ‘reform socialists’. Revolutionist ideology (democratic socialism) was associated with the left wing of the political spectrum (moving right from Marxism) and fully supported socialist systems. Whereas the reformist (social democracy) leaned towards the political center (moving left from capitalism) and fully supported social reforms within a capitalist system. From 1920-1932 the SPD (reformist) won a significant number of seats in the German Parliament (Reichstag), becoming Germany’s leading political party. However, after voting against Hitler’s Enabling Act, the party was banned on 14 July 1933.
In the Post-War period, the SPD experienced crucial changes in its philosophy and politics: its Marxist past was recanted in 1959; opposition to membership in NATO and the European Economic Community was dropped; and, it accepted the ‘social market economy’ strategy. Between the late 1960s and into the 1990s, the party was shaped by internal issues causing another significant split with one group emphasizing economic and social justice, egalitarianism, and environmental protection, while another group focused on controlling inflation, encouraging fiscal responsibility, and playing a significant part in the European security system. In coalitions with other minor parties, and with the party repositioned left of centre, the SPD was the main governing body of Germany from 1966-1982 and from 1998-2005. Currently, the SPD’s reform path objectives are expressed in its ‘Agenda 2010’. This manifesto lays claim (under its control of government) to: children allowances being raised; income tax reduced; society strengthened by new immigration laws; reforms in health, pension and labor market systems; merger of unemployment and social benefits; and the creation of "mini-jobs". The SPD’s foreign policy platform emphasizes getting a permanent seat on the UN Security Council for Germany. And, within the European Union (EU), the SPD has two primary goals: (1) to further enlargement and strengthening of the EU's capacity to act in its Common Foreign and Security Policy; and (2) to modernize EU organizations and decision-making processes. For the future, the SPD advocates change without creating a different Germany, solidarity, social justice, social market economic growth, sustainable wealth for all, reduction of unemployment, improved Eastern Germany development, a modern (global) energy policy and a more family-friendly Germany.

Current SPD Chairman: Franz Müntefering
Membership: 594,000
Result in the 2002 Bundestag elections: 38.5%

Sources: Partyof_Germany

Definition 1 - 20 Sep 07
Group Members:
Mike Epsky
David Holly
Kurt Homan
Bob Keady

Konrad Adenauer

Konrad Adenauer served as the first chancellor of the BRD, serving from 1949-1963. A Cologne native and member of the Catholic Center Party, Adenauer was adamantly against the Nazi regime. He was often punished for his outspoken viewpoints during the years of Nazi rule. Adenauer was arrested several times and barred from office (he was previously mayor of Cologne). He was forced to move often while the party confiscated his home every time they felt the need for reprisal, and near the end of the war he was sent to a concentration camp.

When the first elections of the new BRD were held on August 15, 1949, the Christian Democrats were voted as majority party in a coalition with the Bavarian Christian Social Union and the Free Democrats. Adenauer was voted chancellor- a perfect choice as he was anti-communist and had no Nazi ties. He worked to reestablish a relationship with France, joined NATO, and under his governance, Germany became one of the six founding members of the European Union. An important part of his time as chancellor is the successful early return of the Saarland to Germany in 1957. He served as chancellor for 14 years and was known for his conservative views.

-Meagan Smith, Bryce Benda, Ben Winter, Elin Soderberg

Dmitri Shostakovich

Dmitri Shostakovich is one of Russia’s most popular composers despite the
fact that he began his professional musical career under Stalin’s rule.
During this time, artistic expression was limited by government approval,
and punishment for not producing “acceptable work? was often extreme.
Shostakovich was no exception; he was denounced twice for his works (Lady
Macbeth in particular).

After he was denounced, Shostakovich remained more conservative in
his works, but still remained very popular. During this time, he composed
his Fifth Symphony which is regarded as one of his best pieces. After
Stalin’s death in 1953, Shostakovich released works (particularly the Tenth
Symphony) that were more artistically daring.

During World War II Shostakovich took on duties other than composing by becoming a spokesman for the Soviet Union. In 1942 Shotakovich was featured in a Soviet propaganda painting as a fire warden. This painting ended up on the front page of Time magazine in the United States in 1942. Shotakovich also gave a radio adress to the Soviet people on behalf of the government.

In 1960 Shostakovich joined the Soviet communist party and his motives are still a source of controversy. Some observers believed he had succumbed to political pressure, while others believed it was a genuine attempt to show respect and commitment to the state. It has also been reported that Shostokivich told his wife that he was blackmailed, and later because distraught and suicidal over his decision.

Shostakovich composed up until he died in 1975. His famous later
works include the theme music for the 1980 Olympics (held in Moscow) and
his Thirteenth Symphony (subtitled Babi Yar) which commemorates the Jewish
genocide in World War Two.

Greta Schmalle
Joe Masrud
Cody Smiglewski

September 14, 2007

Next week's mapquiz

Remember that we have a mapquiz next week, and you will have to have the following countries and geographic features down:
The Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, The River Rhine, The Danube River
United Kingdom, France, Italy, Netherlands, West Germany (Federal Republic) and East Germany (People's Republic), Austria, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Soviet Union,
You will be working with a post 1945, pre 1989 map.