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Cold War Cities

History, Culture and Memory

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Edited By Katia Pizzi and Marjatta Hietala

The Cold War left indelible traces on the city, where polarities on the global stage crystallized and intersected with political and social dynamics predating and bypassing the Blocs. This collection taps into the rich fabric of memories, histories and cultural interactions of thirteen cities worldwide and the lived experience of urban communities during the long Cold War: activated and mobilized by atomic technologies, taking tourist photographs, attending commercial fairs, enjoying the cinema and the ballet, singing in choirs, paying respect in local cemeteries, visiting museums, and responding to town councils, unions and the local press. Literature, film, photography, the press, the monument, the cemetery, the factory, the ruin, the archive and the natural ecosystem are some of the key frameworks of cultural production elucidated here with a view to countering and exploding received myths about the Cold War.
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3 Cold War Trieste on Screen: Memory, Identity and Mystique of a City in the Shadow of the Iron Curtain

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Introduction

On 5 March 1946, in a public address at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri better known as the ‘Iron Curtain’ speech, Winston Churchill emphatically proclaimed:

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line, lie all the capitals of the ancient states of central and Eastern Europe […]. All these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere and all are subject in one form or another not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.1

Churchill’s loaded words were shortly to become prophetic. Together with Stettin (now Polish Szczecin), Trieste was included in this expansive list of glorious European cities singled out by Churchill. Trieste was the southwestern gatekeeper in the face of an impermeable, impenetrable Iron Curtain.

This reputation, to some extent, haunts Trieste up to this day. As such, it chimes in with the city’s uncommon, even eccentric, historical legacy. The relic of a conflictual history characterized by sturdy retrenchments and fierce contentions, Trieste frequently found itself straddling a strategic, and ← 75 | 76 → also unstable and perilous, geopolitical crossroads. Created artificially in the late eighteenth century in order to provide the Habsburg monarchy with a commercial harbour, Trieste perched precariously at the edge of Italy and Western Europe well before the Cold War.2 Located at the...

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