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Cold War archival documents published for the first time

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The British Academy has published a collection of archival documents relating to the early Cold War, many of which have never been published or sufficiently researched before. 

This unique online resource was created by two teams of Cold War historians representing the British Academy in partnership with LSE’s foreign Policy think tank LSE IDEAS and the Russian Academy of Sciences. It includes documents from multiple archives in the UK and Russia, including the National Archives at Kew and the Russian Presidential Archive.

Around 360 documents with editorial notes, totalling more than 1,150 pages, of telegrams, letters, records of meetings, memorandums and reports have been published online. These documents include Maxim Litvinov’s notes from November 1944 on preparations of peace-treaties and post-war settlement, titled ‘On prospects and possible foundation for Soviet-British cooperation’, that envisioned “an amicable division of security spheres in Europe”, and Stalin’s secret instructions to Molotov on how to handle Bevin and Byrnes during the Council of Foreign Ministers meetings in 1945-1946.

The documents demonstrate how Europe slid into the Cold War and, importantly, they reveal that post-war strategy making in Russia was as apparent as it was in the USA and the UK. The resource also reveals previously unknown details about the decision-making environment and a number of prominent Soviet diplomats who were involved.

Dr Svetozar Rajak, Academic Director, LSE IDEAS, who has led with Professor Arne Westad FBA, the UK side of the research collaboration said:

“Through this exceptional collaboration, we can provide new avenues for understanding this key historical period. These documents will be a valuable resource, made publicly available for researchers, scholars, students and policymakers all over the world. It will enrich scholarship and understanding for an academic audience and the wider public.”

Professor Vladimir O. Pechatnov, Chair in the Department of European and American Studies, Moscow State Institute of International Relations, who has led with Academician Alexander Chubariyan, the Russian side of the collaboration said:

“What makes this project unique is the fact that this is the first bilateral collaboration of British and Russian historians in many years on the Cold War and its aftermath. It is also special because it is an exercise in parallel international history with each side providing a documentary record of its own and then putting it in a joint comparative perspective against the evidence from the other side. This dual approach makes it possible to create a more rounded and comprehensive picture of Soviet-British relationship”.

Professor Michael Cox, LSE IDEAS Director said:

“IDEAS began life at the LSE thinking creatively about the influence of the Cold War upon the modern world. It is wonderful to see this brilliant project on the early years of the Cold War finally coming to fruition. ”

The resource will act as a live platform, allowing new documents and analysis to be added as the project continues and develops. It is free and available for all to use at: www.lse.ac.uk/ColdWarArchives

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