Rebuilding Two Europes: 1944-1956

In 1944, the Allies, with their military successes, began to plan for a post-war Europe. It was a momentous task and fraught with difficulty. There were both East/ West disagreements but also tensions between western states. This course examines the divided Europe that emerged from the ashes of a conflagration that killed 50 million civilians – including those Jewish and other citizens murdered by the Nazis. The course ends in 1956, by which time the so-called Iron Curtain was firmly in place, two social, political, and economic systems had been established, and uprisings in East Germany, Poland, and Hungary had been suppressed by Soviet troops. Each class will consist of lectures followed by discussion of readings in handouts, mostly primary documents.

This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom. Enrolling students need to ensure they have an email, a reliable internet connection, microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.


  • Allied and other planning and expectations for peace
  • Zero Hour throughout Europe: coping with a ruined continent
  • Ethnic cleansing and displaced persons
  • De-Nazification and war crimes justice
  • Economic plans east and west; Marshall Plan, Common Market, Council for Mutual Economic Assistance
  • Societal developments: “Welfare states” east and west; class and gender
  • The politics of European states in the context of the Cold War
  • Cultural and intellectual challenges and changes; Americanisation
  • Colonies and decolonisation
  • Dealing with socialist and Communist challenges in the West
  • Dealing with Stalin’s death, as well as protest and uprisings, in the East


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Analyse the concerns of the Allies east and west about the shape of postwar Europe.
  2. Debate the success of de-Nazification and of attempts at justice.
  3. Examine the nature of the Cold War and its effects on policy and on cultural matters.
  4. Examine economic systems, economic stability, and economic growth.
  5. Analyse the state of Europe in 1956: to what extent did each of the Allies succeed?

This course has no current classes. Please join the waiting list by clicking .