Tagged: communism

A typical shopping street in the GDR, 1969. 0

‘Hamster shopping’ in East Germany: The Open Border and its Problems

The introduction of visa-free travel on the border between the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Poland on 1 January 1972 was met with scenes of optimism and celebration in communities throughout the border region. As mentioned in a previous post, the border between these two communist states had been established...

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Exploring the Cold War via Video Games

Using the Cold War as a theme in video games is nothing new. It has been used as a backdrop for PC games since at least the mid-1980s, and continues to be a popular trope today. The majority of games using the war as source material are strategy games, unsurprisingly,...

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National Redefinitions Amid Shifting Boundaries: The German–Polish Border in Context

Unsurprisingly, the establishment of the new German–Polish border at Potsdam in 1945 had a lasting and inflammatory impact on relations between the two peoples. More profound, however, was the way in which it shaped the internal political and social development of both Poland and the emergent German Democratic Republic (GDR)....

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A review of Martin Mevius’ ‘Agents of Moscow’

As we have discussed before, the link between nationalism and communism has often been misconstrued by historians and social scientists alike over the past quarter century. While the two are theoretically incompatible, in practice they are often mutually dependent, and no communist state has ever been able to dispense with...

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The Communist Table Tennis Conspiracy

On the 8th of November 1932, Major Valentine Vivian, head of MI6’s counter-espionage unit, received a curious message from his subordinates. The reason for the message, his staff noted, ‘will appear to you rather quaint.’ However quaint it may have seemed, it soon became clear that a communist plot was...

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The Spectre of the Gun: Star Trek and the Cold War

It is to be hoped that the premise, influence and sheer appeal of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek need little introduction. The franchise, chronicling the exploratory and diplomatic adventures of various starship crews, has enjoyed phenomenal success largely due to its optimistic, uplifting portrayal of the future—a welcome change from the...

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A deal with the devil? Why the Soviet Union failed to eradicate nationalism

The elimination of nationalism was one of the USSR’s main stated goals throughout its history. This commitment was largely due to the fundamental clash between communism and nationalism on a theoretical level: they were two political philosophies that should have been incompatible, if implemented in an orthodox manner. However, no...

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“A Convenient Stick With Which to Beat the West”: Northern Ireland Under Soviet Eyes

A 1981 ‘Pravda’ article discusses the H-Block hunger strikes The Northern Irish Troubles present a complex narrative to historians. The histories of all sides in the conflict are resplendent with injustices and obfuscations. Yet for contemporary correspondents of anti-Western states, from Tehran to Moscow, the story was tragically simple: a minority...

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Cleaning house: the German expulsion from postwar Poland and the consolidation of communist rule

As part of the more general dismemberment of the former German Reich at the end of the Second World War, several eastern German territories (East Prussia and Upper Silesia, along with most of Lower Silesia and parts of Brandenburg and Pomerania) were transferred to Poland by the Potsdam agreements of...