What is the course about?
The Second World War cast a long shadow over the Soviet regime, and memory of the conflict is central to modern Russian national identity today. More than 20 million Soviet citizens died during the conflict, and the Eastern Front of the war remains one of the deadliest conflicts fought in human history. This course seeks to introduce the war as an episode in Soviet history, assess the impact of the war on the Soviet regime, and on the society and culture it governed.
What will we cover?
This course will explore the coming of war from the perspective of Moscow, examining the participation of the USSR in pre-war diplomacy, culminating in the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939. The impact of the German invasion of 1941 on the Party leadership and society at large will be considered, followed by a survey of the brutal campaigns for control over Russia and Eastern Europe which followed. The course will conclude by considering the impact of the Second World War on Soviet culture and society, and the long and short-term legacies of the war in the Soviet Union.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Discuss why the Soviet leadership signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939.
• Identify the impact of the German invasion on Soviet politics and society.
• Discuss the reasons for Soviet victory on the Eastern Front and the possibility of Soviet defeat in the war.
• Understand the key short and long-term impacts of the war on Soviet politics, culture and society.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is intended to be introductory, and is intended for anyone who wants to learn more about Soviet or European history. Some basic familiarity with the history of World War 2 will prove useful for the sake of comparison.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught by a series of short lectures followed by class discussion. You will be expected to complete some preparatory reading before each class.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You should bring note-taking materials – there’s nothing else you need to bring!
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
HH809 Communism in the USSR: 1945-1991.