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101. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 8
Łukasz Bertram Widows of the Revolution: Women in Polish Political Elite 1949–1956
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The aim of this article is to present the collective portrait of the 40 women occupying the highest posts in the communist party and state apparatus in Poland during the Stalinist period. It focuses on the vast majority of people involved in the communist movement, while it also examines the cases of Socialists and women from the younger generation. The first part of the study presents the milieus they came from, their educational and professional careers and – above all – the motivations and patterns of their political engagement. The second part engages with their position in the structures of power, as well as the circumstances of their political advances and declines. The key biographical category is that of “widowhood”, understood both literally – considering the percentage of women whose husbands were killed by Soviets or Germans – and symbolically – as a bitter disappointment with the Idea and its realization.
102. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 8
Iemima Ploscariu Rhetoric and Ritual: Neo-Protestant Women and Gender Equality in Communist Romania
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In communist Romania, as in other Central and East European communist countries, women became fellow workers in the building of the new proletariat state. However, there was a discrepancy between state rhetoric and the treatment of women in reality. Though not the most targeted faith group in communist Romania, neo-Protestant women faced, nevertheless, multiple levels of marginalization, due to their sex and to their religion. These women re-appropriated the state’s gender equality rhetoric and, along with their faith, produced a sense of personal agency, which allowed them to overcome barriers in their various communities.
103. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 8
Rachele Ledda The Season of Transgression Is Over?: The Union of Italian Women and the Italian Communist Party: Reaction, Negotiation and Sanctioned Struggles in Local and Global Context 1944-1963
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This contribution aims to outline the birth and development of the Unione Donne Italiane (UDI) in regard to its relations with the Partito Comunista Italiano (PCI) from 1944 to 1963.The present research has drawn mainly from archival sources.UDI was born as a multi-party women’s organization but the hegemony of the Communist women would de facto bring it under the influence of the PCI. The Italian Communist Party tried to perform a normative and normalizing task. By the logic of the Cold War, women were relegated to deal mainly with the defence of peace, both nationally and internationally.From the international point of view, UDI was among the founding organizations of the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF). Gradually, the Unione began to accrue dissent even within the WIDF, leading to an internal struggle on the path to emancipation that the organization was already developing within its national context.
104. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 8
Jan A. Burek From Party Leaders to Social Outcasts: Women’s Political Activism during the Establishment of Communist Power in a Polish Industrial Town (Żyrardów, 1945-1948)
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The author presents the changing role of women and of the attitudes towards them in the PWP (the Polish Workers’ Party) and the PSP (the Polish Socialist Party) in a midsize industrial town in Central Poland in the years 1945-1948. During the war, women of the PWP were promoted to the highest positions in the party structures, however, due to the quick reaffirmation of gender roles in the post-1945 period, they were relegated to lower posts. Their political influence was thereafter limited solely to the care sector which was considered their natural domain. In turn, the PSP gained importance in the post-war period only after A. Tomaszewska, a woman and an influential prewar labour organizer, took charge of it in 1946. Under her leadership, the Socialists renewed their ties with women workers of the town’s main textile factory and challenged the Communist party.
105. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 8
Natalia Jarska Women Communists and the Polish Communist Party: from “Fanatic” Revolutionaries to Invisible Bureaucrats (1918-1965)
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The paper aims at tracing a collective portrait and the trajectories of a group of about forty women active in the communist movement after Poland had regained independence (1918), and after the Second World War. I explore the relations between gender, communist activity, and the changing circumstances of the communist movement (conspiracy/state socialism). I argue that interwar activities shaped women communists as radical, uncompromising, and questioning traditional femininity political agents, accepted as comrades at every organisational level. This image and identity, though, contributed to the creation of the gender division of political work after the war, when women were assigned specific roles as guardians of revolutionary past. The post-war situation of state socialism with the communist party as the ruling party assigned women mainly to invisible, secondary positions.
106. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 8
Agnieszka Mrozik Communism as a Generational Herstory: Reading Post-Stalinist Memoirs of Polish Communist Women
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The objective of this article is to revise the dominating narrative of communism as male generational history. With the aid of memoirs of communist women, many of whom started their political activity before WWII and belonged to the power-wielding elites of Stalinist Poland, the author shows that the former constituted an integral part of the generation which had planned a revolution and ultimately took over power. Their texts were imbued with a matrilineal perspective on the history of communism: the authors emphasized that other women had strongly motivated them to become involved in politics. However, the memoirs revealed something more: as an attempt to establish new models of emancipation and to transmit them to younger generations of women, they were to rekindle the memory of women as the active agent of that part of Polish history which contemporary feminists refuse to remember.
107. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 8
Ştefan Bosomitu Fighting their War during a “Foreign” War: Women anti-Fascist/Communist Activism during World War II in Romania
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The article discusses this intricate issue of women’s anti-Fascist/communist activism during World War II in Romania. I am particularly interested in the relationship that developed between the Romanian Communist Party and the women who joined the movement in the complicated context of World War II. The article is attempting to assess whether women’s increased involvement in the communist organization was due to the previous and continuous politics of the RCP, or it was a mere consequence of unprecedented circumstances. The article also addresses issues related to the legacy of the anti-Fascist/communist women’s struggle during World War II, in their attempt to establish postwar public careers, but also the manner in which their efforts and activisms were recognized and/or recompensed (or not) after the war.
108. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 8
Alexandr Fokin Women and Their “Radiant Future”: Construction of Communism in the USSR in Women’s Letters to the Government (1960s)
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In 1961, at the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, a new program of the C.P.S.U. was adopted. The adoption of the Third Program of the C.P.S.U. was accompanied by a “nationwide discussion”. People expressed their opinions regarding the draft of the new Program at meetings and lectures and in their letters to various institutions.Naturally, not all the women actively demanded changes; for some there was probably no such thing as “women’s communism”. However, the individual and collective letters attest to the complex of expectations that may be analyzed within the conceptual framework of “women’s communism”.The body of letters to various publications illustrate the most popular measures which, according to the letter writers, should have been implemented during the period of the “full-scale construction of communism” and, therefore, were thought of as intrinsic elements of communism.
109. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 8
Anna Carr Post-Stalinist Body Economy: Female Corporeality, Desire, and Schizophrenia
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The article provides an argument on the Soviet system of the early post-Stalinist years reflected in Haidamaky by Yurii Mushketyk. Through the concept of “body economy” inspired by Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoanalysis, it investigates the case of the female corporeality hidden in the novel. The article contests that the female body is part of the economy of desire flows which connected it to the male body. It also states that, after the death of Stalin, the reorganised Soviet regime demonstrates schizophrenic states as reflected in Mushketyk’s Haidamaky.
110. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 8
Iva Jelušić The Mother in the Yugoslav Partisan Myth: Creative Revisions and Subversive Messages in Women-Centred Narratives
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The foundations of the narrative about the partisan war in socialist Yugoslavia (1941 – 1945) drew from the familiar tradition of folktales and prompted the moulding of a group of characters who, as a rule, followed a pre-established sequence of events, offering a rather polished image of the People’s Liberation Struggle (Narodnooslobodilačka borba, NOB). This paper will focus on one archetype that found its place in the war myth–the partisan mother. The aim of the paper is to illustrate how the women who experienced the armed conflict in Yugoslavia described women’s wartime engagement. More specifically, it shows the extent of their participation in the promotion of the officially established image of the partisan mother and the aspects in which their narrative reimagined, enriched and challenged the heritage of the People’s Liberation Struggle.
111. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
Dalia Báthory History of Science During the Cold War Under the Microscope
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The general post-communist perspective of historiography on the Cold War era is that the world was divided into two blocs, so different and isolated from one another that there was no interaction between them whatsoever. As revisionist literature is expanding, the uncovered data indicates a far more complex reality, with a dynamic East-West exchange of goods, money, information, human resources, and technology, be it formal or informal, official or underground, institutional or personal. The current volume History of Communism in Europe: Breaking the Wall: National and Transnational Perspectives on East-European Science tries to confer more detail to this perspec­tive, by bringing together research papers that focus on the history of science during the Cold War. The articles cover a wide range of subjects, from biology to philosophy and from espionage to medical practices, all sharing an ideological context that continuously impacted and molded the professional relations among scholars from both sides of the Iron Curtain.
112. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
Jean-Claude Dupont L’histoire médicale et politique du pavlovisme en Russie et en France: Fernand Lamaze et le cas de l’accouchement sans douleur
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La méthode psychoprophylactique d’accouchement sans douleur (MPP) se développe en URSS dans un contexte stalinien sur les principes de la médecine pavlovienne, définie officiellement lors de la « session pavlovienne » de 1950. En France, c’est la figure de Fernand Lamaze qui est associée à la promotion de l’accouchement sans douleur, après qu’il ait importé la MPP d’Union soviétique l’année suivante. D’abord soutenue par les organisations marxistes et le mouvement d’émancipation des femmes, elle sera ensuite contestée sous l’effet des transformations dans la gestion médicale de l’accouchement et des rivalités politiques de la guerre froide. L’article interroge les origines historiques, épistémologiques et politiques de la médecine pavlovienne. Il compare la réception du pavlovisme à l’Ouest et à l’Est en suivant le fil de l’histoire de l’accouchement sans douleur et les enjeux en France et en URSS d’une controverse dans laquelle médecine et politique s’entremêlent.
113. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
William deJong Lambert “The Difference Between No. 1 1928 and No. 1 1930 Is Great Indeed.”: Theodosius Dobzhansky’s Self-Imposed Exile From Soviet Russia - the “Dr. Zhivago Period”
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This article chronicles the correspondence between Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975) and his colleagues in the USSR in the years following his arrival in the United States on what was to have been a one-year fellowship working in the laboratory of T.H. Morgan at Columbia University. These letters chronicle a period during which Dobzhansky not only realized the enormous potential of Drosophila genetics for unlocking the secrets of evolution, but also that con­tinuing this research would require finding a way to remain in the United States longer than either the Soviet Academy of Sciences, or the Rockefeller Foundation, would allow. Dobzhansky’s exchanges during this period with mentors such as Yuri Filipchenko and Nikolai Vavilov, as well as fellow students and colleagues such as Nikolai Medvedev, highlight the precarious game Dobzhansky played as he attempted to appear eager to return to his homeland, while secretly maneuvering to delay it. By the time it was over Filipchenko would die an early death of meningitis and Vavilov—who had originally been urging Dobzhansky to return and contribute to development of genetics in Russia—would now advise him to remain in the USA. Dobzhansky was nearly forced to return to the USSR after a routine trip to Canada to renew his visa, an outcome that would surely have resulted in imprisonment or worse. In the end he was allowed to stay, however Dobzhansky’s defection was so resented by the Soviet regime that even decades later he would remain an “un-person” in his homeland, whose name and contributions were never officially acknowledged during his lifetime, and his attempts at reconciliation were rejected.
114. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
Mirosław Sikora From Promising Agent to Suspicious Francophile: Professor Stefan Węgrzyn and His Contacts with Professor Jean Charles Gille Through the Lens of the Polish (counter) Intelligence (1958-1976)
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This paper examines how the Polish communist intelligence service attempted to recruit professor Stefan Węgrzyn, who was a prominent specialist on automatic control and computer science in post-war Poland. Eventually, Węgrzyn’s refusal to cooperate with the Polish spy agency, together with his profound relationship with French scientist and servomechanism expert Jean Charles Gille, made them both targets of surveillance orchestrated by the communist security apparatus.In the broader context of human-intelligence studies, this case study involves the problem of moral ambiguity. We experience informative examples of scientists, who often – not only during the Cold War – have had to choose between commitment to the rules of the academic world, along with its openness and transparency on the one hand, and patriotism including an ethos of secrecy for the sake of the homeland’s prosperity, on the other hand.
115. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 11
Dalia Báthory, Ștefan Bosomitu Conceptualising Transnationalism Through Life Histories
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The term transnationalism has developed into a concept with a broad meaning, defining anything having to do with transgressing the national boundaries. There are limits to it: it has more to do with non-statal actors, it relates to trans-border cultural, political and economic spaces, and it follows identity-defining experiences of individuals who have lived a complex, international life. The current issue of History of Communism in Europe is entitled Transnational Biographies. Destinies at the Crossroads before and after the Cold War and deals especially with the latter situation. The volume comprises a rich diversity of articles that explore adventurous biographies, enriching the studies of transnationalism.
116. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 11
Arturo Zoffmann Rodriguez From Mexico to Moscow via Madrid: the Borodin Mission and the Origins of Communism in Mexico and Spain, 1919-1920
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This article traces the steps of Mikhail Borodin, the first Comintern representative in Mexico and Spain, in 1919-20. He helped create the Mexican and the Spanish communist parties. In order to do this, he latched onto pre-existing networks of transnational activism and recruited a posse of young, committed, and cosmopolitan cadre. Through them, Borodin tried to mobilise the widespread euphoria for Bolshevism that existed among sectors of the Mexican and the Spanish left. However, the potential for vigorous communist movements remained largely untapped due to the recklessness of Borodin and his aides. The Borodin mission is a telling episode in the formative months of the Communist International, pointing to the importance of contingency, individual agency, and transnational activism in the establishment of the international communist movement.
117. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 11
Sandra Neugärtner Anti-Fascist Exile, Political Print Media, and the Variable Tactics of the Communists in Mexico (1939–1946): The Case of Hannes Meyer and Lena Meyer-Bergner
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This article deals with the role of the political print media popular with communists in Mexico when anti-fascism became the code for the behaviour of democratic forces in the face of the provocation of Hitler’s fascism. Under the facade of anti-fascist unity, the German-speaking communist exiles established a publishing culture, from which Hannes Meyer and Lena Meyer-Bergner, who had come to Mexico from Soviet exile and who committed themselves to proletarian internationalism, soon separated or were excluded. Independent of the group, they developed strategies in accord ance with their anti-imperialist mission, from propaganda media for the Soviet state to the implementation of a sign language that would enable communication across borders: the International System of Typographic Picture Education (Isotype). The goal of my analysis is to provide a starting point for classifying Meyer and Meyer-Bergner’s work in print media, beyond the extensively researched Taller de Gráfica Popular context, but within the polarization of international opposition to fascism and totalitarian regimes during the Second World War.
118. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 11
Anna Tonelli Teresa Noce: an Italian Professional Revolutionary Woman
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The role of professional revolutionaries is usually reserved for men. One exception is Teresa Noce, a prominent Italian Communist leader in the (residual) quota reserved for women, who was the wife of Luigi Longo, but with an independence that made her existence an original example of militancy and activism. Both underground and within republican Italy, Noce never adapted to what already existed, but fought to subvert the order, especially in the face of exploitation and discrimination. A member of the ICP, Noce fought against fascism, transporting clandestine material, writing articles for anti-fascist papers, promoting strikes by rice weeders and labourers. In France, she directed partisan movements and, in Spain, she was a militant in voluntary groups against Francisco Franco. After the war, she was elected to the Parliament as a “Constituent Mother”. She also revolutionised the world of labour as the first female Secretary General of the textile trade union.
119. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 11
Ştefan Bosomitu The Permanent Suspicion. The Romanian Communist Party and its International Cadres
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This article attempts to explore the relations between the Romanian Communist Party and its “international” cadres after the end of the Second World War and its accession to power. Beyond a simply descriptive exegesis, the present study tries to capture the evolution of those relationships, and especially how the power relations between the two entities unfolded in the context of a paradigm shift: the legalisation of the party, its transformation into an important force of the political scene and, finally, its accession to power. Those transformations imposed a structural reorganisation of the movement, forced to centralise its entire diffuse network of activists, many of them spread across Europe. After 1945, the Communist Party pursued a consistent policy of repatriating activists, whether they were in the Soviet Union or in Western European countries. But, as we will detail later, the party sought to control that infusion of “qualified personnel” through strict selection and nominal repatriation. Similar efforts were made to control and subordinate this political corpus of “internationals” to a party leadership that did not have flawless legitimacy. Within and as a result of those tangled interactions, complex relationships would emerge and develop between individuals and groups who disputed an informal primacy and whose claimed legitimacy had distinct origins and evolutions.
120. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 11
Valeska Bopp-Filimonov ‘A New Era’ is always Dawning. A Linguistic Biography of a Border Crosser and Doppelgänger from Bukovina in the Second Half of the 20th Century
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This article argues that it was not only physical borders that challenged people’s biographies in the 20th century, but also shifts in ideology, discourse and predominant languages. I shall explore the biography of a man called Cornel, a native of Bukovina who was a communist cultural official in Romania’s capital Bucharest in the 1960s and who became a priest in the 1970s. I shall show that not only obvious breaks such as the beginning and end of communist rule, but ideological shifts too within Romanian communism prompted Cornel to thoroughly reassess himself. For Cornel, it was the ‘mini-cultural revolution’ of 1971 under the rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu that quickly convinced him to leave his job at the Romanian Ministry of Culture and reinvent himself as an Orthodox priest. But was his self-reinvention successful? A thorough analysis of his biography shows that his linguistic biography—oscillating between Romanian, Ukrainian and Russian—contains crucial elements of productive adaptation and continuity that enabled him repeatedly and successfully to circumvent borders imposed by newly emerging policies. His “third” identity as a writer has given him continuity and self-assurance.