Bridging the Baltic Sea: Networks of resistance and opposition during the Cold War era
Title: Bridging the Baltic Sea: Networks of resistance and opposition during the Cold War era
Author: STÖCKER, Lars Fredrik
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
Located at the point of intersection of Northern, Eastern and Central Europe, the Baltic Sea Region has historically been a setting of an, at times, vivid exchange between the shores of the small inland sea. Challenging the perception of the region as a merely peripheral borderland of the Cold War in Europe, the present study aims to investigate to what degree the Baltic waterways maintained their specific entangling function in an era largely characterised by demarcation and disintegration. In order to move beyond the bipolar pattern that still dominates Cold War historiography, this study focuses on networks and channels of communication that could develop underneath the level of the official political relations across the Baltic Sea. The neutral Nordic states are in this context seen as a so far underestimated but crucial element in the geopolitical constellation of Cold War Europe. The proximity of Sweden and Finland to their Polish and Soviet opposite coasts and the comparatively low level of political tensions in the region triggered an exceptionally dynamic field of interaction, which was fuelled by the vigorous anti-communist activism of the numerous Polish and Baltic exiles in neutral Sweden. In a chronological framework that covers half a century of resistance and opposition against the geopolitical status quo, the study will reconstruct a topography of uncontrolled communication between the societies around the Baltic rim that hitherto has received undeservedly little attention. Based on so far mostly unexplored archival sources and oral history interviews, the thesis aims to present the first synthesis of the Baltic Sea Region’s Cold War history. It is supposed to form a counter-narrative to the prevailing emphasis on disintegration and conflict and constitutes a first step towards a European Cold War history that efficiently challenges the topos of the Iron Curtain as an impermeable barrier.
Defence date: 28 September 2012; Examining Board: Professor Philipp Ther, University of Vienna (Supervisor); Dr. Juhana Aunesluoma, University of Helsinki; Professor Karsten Brüggemann, University of Tallinn; Professor Federico Romero, EUI.
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