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Europe Divided 1945–89. 1945 Yalta Conference; ‘big 3’ agree on post-war government of occupied Germany and Eastern Europe. Monotheistic religions in Europe. Divisions in Europe; Cold War 1945-91.

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Europe Divided 1945–89

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Europe Divided 1945–89

1945 Yalta Conference; ‘big 3’ agree on post-war government of occupied Germany and Eastern Europe

Monotheistic religions in Europe

Divisions in Europe;Cold War 1945-91

  • East / West competition, tension, conflict emerges from post-war conferences. East/West ideological binaries solidified:

  • Capitalism, democratically-elected gov., rule of law, market economy vs.

  • Communism (socialism), one-party state, planned economy;

Cold War Time-line:

  • 1945 Yalta

  • 1946 Iron Curtain

  • 1947 Marshall Plan

  • 1947 Berlin Airlift

  • 1956 Budapest; Khrushchev’s

    secret speech

  • 1957 Sputnik

  • 1961 Berlin Wall

  • 1968 Prague Spring

  • 1969 Salt Talks

  • 1983 Star Wars

  • 1985 Gorbachev

  • 1987 INF

  • 1989 Berlin Wall falls

  • 1990 Reunification of Germany

  • 1991 Soviet Union Collapses

Sigmar Polke:

Watch Tower with Geese (1987-88)

Divided Berlin

Totalitarianism (Columbia Encyclopedia)

  • modern autocratic government;

  • state aims to control not only economics and politics, but all facets of society and daily life – attitudes, values, beliefs;

  • citizen’s duty to the state is paramount;

  • goal of state: to build perfect society.

  • Ideologically driven: Communist regimes of Soviet Union and China sought fulfilment of humankind through establishment of a classless society; German National Socialism driven by belief in superiority of so-called Aryan race.

Characteristics of Totalitarianism

  • a single party as mobilizer; dictator;

  • support of system by voting compulsory;

  • party monopoly on (government, police, military), communications, economy and education;

  • dissent suppressed; secret police.

  • Past autocracies have always attempted to control their subjects, but modern technology provides means of pervasive control in totalitarianism;

  • Causes?: chaos after World War I enabled establishment of totalitarian regimes in Europe (Russia, Italy, Germany); modern weapons and communications enabled consolidation of power and control.

Dr Lawrence Britt’s Characteristics of Fascism (= Bush admin.; = 20th cent. Totalitarian states)

  • Nationalism (e.g. overt displays of flag);

  • Disdain for human rights (arbitrary arrest);

  • Enemies as scapegoats, ‘us vs. them’ mentality;

  • Cult of the military;

  • Controlled mass media;

  • Obsession with national security;

  • Religion and gov. are one, language of religion used;

  • Labour power suppressed;

  • Disdain for the arts, liberal expression;

  • Obsession with crime and punishment, police power is paramount;

  • Cronyism and corruption;

  • Fraudulent elections with the complicacy of the judiciary.

Boris Yeltsin: “Let’s not talk about Communism; it’s just an idea, an experiment.”

Marxism – Leninism / Socialism / Communism:

  • A theory of social evolution – “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” the ultimate, inexorable end; demise of capitalism and worldwide revolution its aim (Krushev’s “We’ll bury you”)

  • “Being Defines Conscientiousness” – an attempt to change human nature by creating new social conditions;

  • Single ‘enlightened’ party: Communist; single ‘correct’ philosophy: Dialectical Materialism;

  • Single official art form: Socialist Realism

Life under totalitarianism

  • “You have only to show a whip to a beaten dog.” (Solzhenitsyn); threat of repression sufficient to force compliance;

  • Many toed the line, not for ideological conviction, but to make career, avoid problems;

  • Police state – society of “whisperers” (Orlando Figes); “the walls have ears”;

  • citizens of totalitarian state have acute sense of private and public face, life, conversation (fosters closeness with those you can trust);

E. German writer Martin Ahrends cautioned GDR citizens what they would “lose”

  • “Freedom of the East” – their conditioning advantages them over West….

  • endows them with “ascetic virtues” and “new forms of freedom …

  • from obsessions with work, tyrannical structuring of time;

  • from colonization of consciousness by marketing industry;

  • freedom to let things take their course, to dream and remain as a child (?) (Cook)

Cold War Culture:


  • spy novels of John Le Carre, Ian Fleming, Frederick Forsythe;

  • apocalyptic novels: Nevil Shute’s On the Beach

  • Eastern dissident writers: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; Milan Kundera, Vaclav Havel (Czech); Christa Wolf, Stefan Heym (E. Germ.), Czeslaw Milosz (Polish, 1980 Nobel Prize);

Dystopian (anti-utopia) Literary Tradition

  • Evgeny Zamyatin, WE

  • Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

  • George Orwell, 1984.

  • Futuristic dystopian film Blade Runner, Matrix

  • Post-totalitarianism in lit and film – Lives of Others; Good Bye Lenin.

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