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Colonialism and Decolonization in National Historical Cultures and Memory Politics in Europe

Modules for History Lessons

Edited By Uta Fenske, Daniel Groth, Klaus-Michael Guse and Bärbel P. Kuhn

Colonialism and decolonization are historical phenomena that are part of the historical experience of many European countries. This volume offers students and teachers a new understanding of how colonialism and decolonization fit into our shared European past and contains teaching materials for history classes in European schools. The contributions have been produced by the EU project CoDec, involving partners from Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Great Britain, Austria, Poland and Switzerland. Analyzing colonial pasts, processes of decolonization and memory politics in different European countries from comparative and transnational perspectives, the study presents useful sources and practical suggestions for cutting-edge history lessons in European schools.
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Between a Brotherly Union and Colonialism – Poland in the USSR Sphere of Influence


Introduction to the Module

The aim of the module is to present different attitudes of Poles toward the Soviet hegemony in the 1970s and 1980s. Students also analyze the attitudes of various Polish social groups to the Soviet Union. While working with the module, students should discuss whether this can be seen as an example of different forms of relationship between a colonizer country (the hegemonic country) and subordinate societies.

The modes and manifestations of the USSR hegemony over the Polish state evolved over the 25 years between the Communists’ gaining power in the country in 1944/1945 and the so-called Edward Gierek era (1970–1980). The imposition of this Soviet hegemony on Poland and high authorities’ dependency on the Kremlin in the first years after the end of the Second World War was extended. Polish independence organizations were defeated with the support of the Soviet army. Former soldiers of the Home Army and resistance activists suffered repression of various kinds. Rigged elections allowed the Communists to complete taking over power and to introduce political, social and economic changes. These changes were realized under the slogans of democratization, modernization and state reconstruction. However, these slogans were not put into political practice. The Stalinist period (which lasted in Poland until 1956) was characterized by strengthened censorship and propaganda, absolute control over the citizens exercised by the extensive coercive apparatus, subordination of all forms of economic or social activity by the citizens to the state policies. Forms...

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