Trial until 30 March: Cold War Eastern Europe, Module 1: 1953-1960

Colleagues in the Social Science Library have arranged trial access to Cold War Eastern Europe, Module 1: 1953-1960. The trial ends 30 March 2018. It can be accessed via SOLO or OxLIP+. Please note that documents cannot be downloaded during the trial. Documents from other modules are not accessible either.

This resource provides access to over 6,800 primary source files sourced entirely from the political departments of the U.K. Foreign Office responsible for dealing with and reporting on the Soviet Union and the socialist states of Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The files provide a uniquely comprehensive, English-language history of post-Stalinist Eastern Europe.

The sources are all in English.

Module I covers the years 1953 to 1960, and consists of files selected from The National Archives series FO 371 (Foreign Office: Political Departments: General Correspondence from 1906-1966) which contains the files of the Foreign Office’s Northern, Southern, Central, and Western Departments pertaining to each of the socialist states of Eastern Europe. Every file relevant to the region from 1953 to 1960 – a total of nearly 7,000 files – is included in this resource, with the exception of any files retained by the government.

In addition, the full run of FO 371 Russia Committee files dating back to 1946 – totalling 41 files –  have been included. These complete the set of FO 371 Russia Committee meeting minutes and reports dating up to 1957, and provide context to Britain’s Soviet policy in the early Cold War.

Key events featured in the files of Module I include:

  • The East German Uprising of 1953
  • Founding of the Warsaw Pact
  • The Poznań Uprising in Poland
  • The Hungarian Revolution
  • Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech”
  • The onset of the Sino-Soviet Split
  • The U2 spy-plane incident

The Foreign Office, along with their embassies and consulates throughout the region, were interested in every aspect of the political, economic, cultural, social, and dissident life behind the Iron Curtain. They consequently reported on a hugely diverse range of issues, from state leadership to protest movements; agricultural output to international trade agreements; scientific progress to minority populations; religion to sporting events; and state-run media to popular culture. They also provided reports, and in some cases eye-witness accounts, on key milestones of the Cold War, such as the Hungarian Revolution and Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’.

With coverage of every country in Eastern Europe, the resource enables comparative study of trends across the region, or in-depth analysis of individual countries. The countries featured in this resource are:

  • Albania
  • Bulgaria
  • Czechoslovakia
  • East Germany and Berlin
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Soviet Union
  • Yugoslavia

‘Northern (N): Soviet Union (Ns). Reviews of Developments in the Soviet Union since Stalin’s Death: Elections to Supreme Soviet; Comments on Election Speeches; Reports on Political Events and Meetings of the Supreme Soviet; Quarterly Reports on Soviet Policy’, in FO371: Foreign Office: Political Departments: General Correspondence from 1906-1966 (Foreign Office). [Cold War Eastern Europe, accessed 15 Feb 2018.]

The files also bear annotations relating to the administration and registry of the files which, in themselves, are hugely interesting.

You can search and browse the collections, which use tagging by country, theme, document type, language, etc. If you have a FO reference you can use it to locate specific known documents.

Please send any feedback to angelina.gibson@bodleian.ox.ac.uk by 30 March 2018.

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