The Soviet Union was the largest state in the twentieth-century world, but its repressive power and terrible ambition were most clearly on display in Europe. Under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union transformed itself and then all of the European countries with which it came into contact. This book considers each aspect of the encounter of Stalin with Europe: the attempt to create a kind of European state by accelerating the European model of industrial development; mass murder in anticipation of a war against European powers; the actual contact with Europe’s greatest power, Nazi Germany, during four years of war fought chiefly on Soviet territory and bringing untold millions of deaths, including much of the Holocaust; and finally the reestablishment of the Soviet system, not just in the reestablished Soviet system, but in the Baltic States, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and East Germany. The contributors take up not just high politics but also the experiences of the populations that were affected by them. Divided into four parts, the book deals with Soviet politics and actions mainly in the 1930s; the Soviet invasion and occupation of Poland; German aggression against the Soviet Union as well as plans for occupation and their improvised implementation; and Soviet wartime plans for the postwar period. This volume brings together the best work from a multi-year project sponsored by the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, including scholars who have worked with archival materials in numerous countries and whose research is often published in other languages.
Timothy Snyder is the Bird White Housum Professor of History at Yale University and IWM Permanent Fellow.
Ray Brandon is a freelance translator, historian, and researcher based in Berlin.