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Déjà Vu All Over Again: Prague Spring, Romanian Summer and Soviet Autumn on the Soviet Western Frontier

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 May 2006

Department of History, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, United States;
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This article explores the complex dynamics that informed Soviet policies on the western frontier – the territories stretching between the Baltic and Black Seas annexed by the Soviets in 1939–40 – and involves several interlocking aspects: the permeability of borders prone to irredentist pressures by socialist satellites, mass tourism from the West and the Soviet bloc, and the increasing flow of information from foreign media sources; the conflicting sentiments that led locals to embrace or reject reforms based on different pre-Soviet memories, the experiences of the Second World War, postwar sovietisation policies and the suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956; the impact of Romanian and Czechoslovak policies on the authorities and populations of the western republics and the Kremlin's concerns over the region as key factors in the decision to invade Czechoslovakia; and, finally, the domestic and international consequences for an aging, self-styled revolutionary regime choosing between youthful reform and stagnant stability.

Research Article
Cambridge University Press 2006


Thanks to John Connelly, Anu-Mai Kõll, Martina Mőis, Benjamin Nathans, Jeremi Suri, Valerii Vasil'ev, Serhy Yekelchyk and the readers of Contemporary European History for their contributions to this piece. Special thanks to Mark Kramer for sharing several documents with me and to Augustin Stoica for helping with the translation of Romanian-language documents. The research and writing of this article were generously supported by the German Marshall Fund, the W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell and William Bark National Fellowship at the Hoover Institution, and the Department of History at Stanford University.
Amir Weiner is an Associate Professor of History at Stanford University. He is the author of Making Sense of War (2001) and Landscaping the Human Garden (2003). His current project, Wild West, Window to the West, concerns Russia's western frontier, from 1939 to present. He is a member of the editorial board of Contemporary European History.