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Cold War in Documents 1945-1962

Class at Faculty of Social Sciences |


The course will focus on the following topics: 1. The origins of the Cold War (Soviet strategic planning in the final stages of World War II, U.S. proto-containment, correspondence between Churchill and Roosevelt in 1944-45) 2.

The key documents related to the beginning of the Cold War (Kennan, Roberts, Novikov, Churchill) 3. Czechoslovakia's road to the Soviet bloc (Beneš's negotiations in Moscow in 1943 and 1945, Czechoslovakia's uranium ore, the Marshall Plan, the Communist coup of February 1948).

A comparison with the case of Finland. 4. The Berlin Crisis, 1948-49 5.

The Soviet-Yugoslav split 6. The Soviet threat in the early 1950s - perceptions and reality (NSC-68, the Moscow summit in January 1951) 7.

The Korean War - prelude to a global conflict? 8. The East German Uprising in 1953 9.

The year 1956 - three major crises with different results (Suez X Poland and Hungary) 10.The Soviet strategic planning in the 1950s and 1960s 11. The second Berlin crisis (1958-1961) and the Vienna summit (1961) 12.

The Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) - diplomacy and intelligence under the threat of nuclear holocaust


This course is drawn up as a one-semester seminar, concluded by an exam. Its major content comprises detailed analysis of strategic and diplomatic documents related to the key stages of the bipolar struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union (and their respective Allies) in the years 1945-1962.

It thus focuses on the early stages of the Cold War - from the aftermath of the Second World War to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The major aim of this course is to acquire basic skills of research work with primary sources of political, diplomatic as well as strategic character - their thorough critique, setting them into relevant context(s) and subsequently providing their adequate interpretation(s).

This professional training is based on the use of attractive documentary material in English (plus in one or two cases also in Czech and Russian - if there are students able to read in these languages) that were mostly declassified in the last three decades.