Module Descriptions

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

Module I

Module I covers the years 1953 to 1960, and consists of files selected from The National Archives series FO 371.

Series FO 371 (Foreign Office: Political Departments: General Correspondence from 1906-1966) 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.

Commencing in the year of Stalin’s death, Module I provides unprecedented coverage of the "Khrushchev Thaw" and the process of "de-Stalinization". These years witnessed moderate reform and an end of political terror in the Soviet Union, but a contrasting reassertion of Soviet power across the Eastern Bloc, with the formation of the Warsaw Pact and the military suppression of uprisings in East Germany, Poland, and Hungary. Concurrently, the death of Stalin and the inauguration of U.S. President Eisenhower ushered in a new phase in Cold War international relations. Module I provides in-depth reporting on and analyses of East-West relations as they evolved, and key milestones in Cold War history, including summit meetings, leaders’ diplomatic visits, and crises.

Key events featured in the files of Module I include:

  • East German Uprising of 1953
  • Founding of the Warsaw Pact
  • Pozna┼ä Uprising in Poland
  • Hungarian Revolution
  • Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech”
  • Khrushchev’s visit to the USA
  • U-2 spy-plane incident

In addition, the full run of FO 371 Russia Committee files dating back to 1946 – totalling 41 files – has 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 policy towards the Soviet Union in the early Cold War.

Module II

Module II covers the years 1961 to 1966 and consists of over 3,300 files sourced entirely from The National Archives series FO 371. Every file from this series relevant to the former socialist states of Eastern Europe dated between 1961 and 1966 has been included.

The first half of the 1960s witnessed a series of international relations crises and realignments as Cold War tensions heightened, including the Cuban Missile crisis, the Sino-Soviet split, and the construction of the Berlin Wall, which solidified the divide between East and West. Module II provides insight into all of these major international events and more, in addition to in-depth coverage of life behind the Iron Curtain in a period of economic reform, space travel, and the rise to power of Brezhnev and Ceau┼čescu.

Key events featured in the files of Module II include:

  • The building of the Berlin Wall and escape attempts from East Berlin
  • Yuri Gagarin’s orbit of the earth
  • Detonation of the "Tsar Bomba"
  • John F. Kennedy’s "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech
  • The ousting of Khrushchev and rise of Brezhnev as leader of the U.S.S.R.
  • The Sino-Soviet split
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