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This issue opens the twenty-fifth volume of Contemporary European History. In the journal's inaugural editorial in 1992, Kathleen Burk and Dick Geary noted that they were standing ‘on the brink of a new Europe’ – and what exciting times those were. Just two and a half years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and barely months after the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, CEH came into existence at a time of radical change in Europe and beyond. With the treaties signed at Maastricht in 1992 and in Amsterdam in 1997 European integration accelerated apace. The European Community became a Union. The twelve became fifteen. From March 1995 the Schengen Agreement let people of any nationality travel freely between the seven participating countries without any passport controls at the borders. By the end of the decade, the Single Market was a reality, the Euro was about to be introduced and negotiations for EU membership of ten central and eastern European countries were well underway. The themes of the decade were (re)integration, federation, ever greater union. As Burk and Geary wrote in their 1992 editorial, ‘year by year, the concept of Europe as both a geographical and an historical entity becomes more credible’.
In 1989 I was chatting to Anthony Seldon, then the head of the Institute of Contemporary British History in London, and we agreed that the turmoil and resultant developments in the Eastern bloc gave hope for the rise of a new Europe. We were academics, and we immediately considered how information and ideas about these exciting events might be provided to the academic community. What about a journal? We looked around. There were many journals focusing on what was then termed Western Europe, and some on the bloc then termed Eastern Europe, as well as on the USSR; there was a journal on contemporary history in toto, although it was then in something of a quiescent period. Our conclusion was that there was no general academic journal which stood back and focused on the whole of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals, as the area was then described. We decided that something should be done about it.
This article shows how one can read political history from evidence on corporate corruption. The study exploits newly discovered archival material from Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas, a politically connected investment bank. We contribute to current research by replacing existing conjectures with precise qualitative and quantitative evidence. After reviewing previous works and providing a sketch of information repression and media control in France during the interwar period, we argue that the study of patterns of ‘informational criminality’ provides an original entry to the writing of political history and the history of information.
Established in 1933 by Oliveira Salazar, the Portuguese New State was a civil, nationalist, conservative and corporatist dictatorship. A concordat was established between the New State and the Holy See in 1940, yet the treaty did not favour the Catholic Church to the degree one might expect from a Catholic interwar dictator. The fact that the political legitimacy of the Portuguese regime was not dependent on sanctioning by the Holy See justifies this apparent inconsistency. The distinctive features of the Portuguese concordat were enhanced by the authoritarian, rather than totalitarian, nature of the regime. Salazar, more so than Mussolini or Franco, was constrained by political forces not in favour of Catholic privileges. In addition, the dictator himself defended a strict separation of church and state as prescribed by the Portuguese constitution. Nonetheless, Salazar regarded the concordat as an important propaganda instrument that, in association with the 1940 Exhibition of the Portuguese World, would allow the internal and external prestige of the regime to be increased.
This article recounts a little-known episode in which Yugoslav partisans, led by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, rescued some 2,500 Jews from the former Italian camp for Jews in the northern Adriatic in the autumn of 1943. By focusing on this historical event, the article argues for broadening the notion of rescue of Jews during the Holocaust. Rather than locating ‘rescue’ in the motivations of individuals, the article takes as a point of departure the collective aspect of rescue and investigates the importance of the ideological considerations of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in its decision to rescue the Jews. Rather than in abstract ethical notions, the partisan rescue of the Jews was rooted in their political vision of the future socialist federation, of which the Jews were part.
Sweden's relationship with the United Nations fluctuated considerably between 1941 and 1946. This article examines how the Nordic country's own security interests were sometimes viewed as compatible and sometimes at odds with membership of the United Nations. The discussions surrounding Sweden's accession to the United Nations and actions of its first delegates to the international organisation are explored at length. So too is the discrepancy between Sweden's reputation for neutrality and its enthusiastic support for the United Nations, on the one hand, and its internal debates and policy decisions during the 1940s, on the other. Finally, the article explores the ways in which Sweden used the United Nations as an arena in which to manifest both its indifference to security alignment and its exceptionalism in world affairs.
Seventeen-year-old Sicilian Franca Viola was abducted and raped in 1965, with the intention of forcing her into marriage. She came to prominence in 1966 as the first Sicilian woman to refuse a so-called reparatory marriage – which would have legally absolved her rapist of his crime – resulting in his prosecution in a high profile trial in December 1966. Through an examination of the media coverage, and by making use of history of the emotions, this article examines the trial as a crucial moment for post-war Italy, when gender, sexuality and marriage were being redefined in a rapidly changing society. Different emotional styles could be connected to debates about national identity and regional character, as well as to broader anxieties about ‘modernity’ and ‘backwardness’.
During the 1970s opposition to nuclear energy was present in countries around the world and thus eminently ‘transnational’. But what did it mean to participate at the grassroots of such a transnational movement and (how) did cross-border connections change protest? This article answers these questions by differentiating three categories of transnational engagement that were accessible to grassroots activists. ‘Thinking transnationally’ involved extrapolating from, decontextualising and recontextualising limited information in order to rethink one's own situation. ‘Acting transnationally’ entailed accessing transnational spaces; it therefore required more mobility, but could be useful as a means of challenging and deconstructing state power. Intermediaries at the grassroots engaged in ‘being transnational’, which affected their personal and political identities as well as life histories. These examples of transnational agency illustrate how grassroots activists, including some without vast wealth or institutional resources, participated in transnational processes in ways that enriched, but also complicated protest.
This article explores the activities of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Spain during the transition to democracy. It describes the financial, logistical and training support with which this German Foundation contributed to the unexpected rebirth of the Spanish Socialist Party after Franco and its meteoric emergence as the leading left-wing party. It also assesses its cooperation with the Socialist trade union, which moved from irrelevance to a position of importance greater than the powerful Communist union. Finally, the article examines how the Foundation diversified its activities in order to meet the growing needs of and challenges faced by the Spanish Socialists in their path towards power.
‘What exactly is the history of emotions?’ This question, often still encountered by historians working in the field, suggests that the history of emotions is difficult to understand yet hard to ignore. Historians active in other areas may have noticed the recent founding (and funding) of emotions research centres by Queen Mary, University of London, the Max Planck Society and the Australian Research Council. Yet the emergence of a critical mass of emotions researchers has not altogether dispelled concerns that emotions are not really accessible to the historian or worthy of sustained and serious consideration. Even a pioneer of the once dubious field of cultural history such as Peter Burke has wondered about the history of emotions’ viability while recognising its promise. As he sees it, if historians regard emotions as stable across time (and thus pre-cultural, it seems) then all they can do is chart changing attitudes to these constant emotions. This leaves historians writing intellectual history but not the history of emotions. If historians, by contrast, treat emotions as historically variable then they may deliver more innovative work, but they may also end up struggling to find evidence for their conclusions. Taking anxiety as an example, Burke asks pointedly how ‘could a historian possibly find evidence to establish’ whether people were more anxious in a given historical period than another, rather than simply being affected by different anxieties. The books under review here represent the latest generation of historians’ efforts to answer Burke's questions and examine whether and how fundamental changes in the history of emotions can be charted.
Written seven years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, as the shockwaves of the Yugoslav wars still reverberated through the continent, Ugrešić’s essays spoke to a period of European history in which the West's lack of familiarity with the East was particularly marked. In part owing to this Western incomprehension, the period of the 1990s were a rich one for theoretical discussions within the field of Eastern European Studies, as scholars sharing Ugrešić’s concerns turned their attention to the ways in which Eastern Europe had come to be imagined as that great blank space beyond the wall.