Module Descriptions

Cold War Eastern Europe will be published in chronologically-arranged modules.

Module I: 1953-1960


Module I of Cold War Eastern Europe comprises over 6,800 U.K. Foreign Office files, amounting to over 470,000 pages of content.

This module has been sourced entirely from The National Archives, U.K., series FO 371 (Foreign Office: Political Departments: General Correspondence from 1906-1966). FO 371 is the largest file series at the National Archives, and contains the files of the Foreign Office’s Northern, Southern, Central and Western Departments, which were responsible for reporting on the socialist states of Eastern Europe.

Commencing in the year of Stalin’s death, Module I facilitates an in-depth analysis of the impact of Stalin’s death and the process of de-Stalinization under his successors across the region, and in wider international relations. This was a period of relative reform and liberalization within the Soviet Union during the ‘Khrushchev Thaw’, and simultaneous reassertion of Soviet power across the Eastern Bloc, as exemplified by the formation of the Warsaw Pact and the military suppression of uprisings in East Germany, Poland and Hungary.

Key events documented in Module I include:

  • The death of Stalin and subsequent power struggle in the Soviet Union.
  • The 1953 Balkan Pact intended to inhibit Soviet expansion in the Balkans.
  • The 1953 East Germany Uprising.
  • The arrest and execution of Lavrentii Beria for treason.
  • International conferences, including ‘Big Four’ summits (of the U.S., Soviet Union, U.K., and France), such as the 1954 Geneva Conference and 1955 Geneva Summit.
  • The Foundation of the Warsaw Pact.
  • Nikita Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
  • The Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
  • The execution of Imre Nagy, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Hungary.
  • The PoznaƄ protests and Polish October of 1956.
  • Nikita Khrushchev’s visits to the U.S., India, Afghanistan, and Burma.
  • The onset of the Sino-Soviet split.
  • The shooting down of the U.S. U2 spy-plane over Soviet airspace.

Module I also contains 41 files of the Foreign Office’s Russia Committee, responsible for discussing U.K. policy towards the Soviet Union, dating back to 1946. These files complete the set of FO 371 Russia Committee minute meetings and reports dating up to 1957, and provide vital context to Britain’s Soviet policy during the early Cold War.

Additional Content

 Module I includes the following supplementary content:

  • Three specially-commissioned subject essays, written by members of the Editorial Board.
  • A timeline of key events between 1953 and 1960 documented in the files.
  • A glossary of key people, including state leaders, leading statesmen, and East European and U.K. diplomatic personnel, with hyperlinks to relevant search results.
  • A ‘Communist States Fact File’ that includes glossaries of communist state names; governing parties; key organisations; and state leadership positions.
  • A ‘Foreign Office Fact File’ that includes a glossary of relevant Foreign Office political departments; an overview of the U.K.’s embassy and consulate network in Eastern Europe; and an index of former Foreign Office file reference numbers.

Module II: 1961-1966 – Launching 2018!


Module II of Cold War Eastern Europe will comprise a further 3,300 files sourced from The National Archives, U.K., file series FO 371.

Commencing in 1961, this module will cover the years of the building of the Berlin Wall, the succession to power in the Soviet Union of Leonid Brezhnev, the detonation of the Tsar Bomba, and Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man to journey into outer-space.

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