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

Modules for History Lessons

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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The Case of the Secret Uranium Factory in Sillamäe


Introduction to the Module

By the end of World War II, the United States demonstrated the power of nuclear bombs by attacking Japan. The USSR took this as a threat and started to make huge efforts to develop its nuclear capabilities and construct a nuclear bomb as well. At this time, only few uranium ore deposits had been found within the territory of the USSR. One of them was located on the northern coast of Estonia. In 1946, the government of the USSR decided to establish a nuclear factory in Sillamäe. In 1946–1949 workers as well as engineers came to Sillamäe from different areas of the USSR.

The raw material, graptolite argillite, contained merely a small amount of uranium, but in urgent demand, it was sufficient to start the production. Later, the raw material was imported from Czechoslovakia and East Germany. Despite the better quality ore, the working methods remained the same. The radioactive ore was transported in winter time in open railway wagons covered with water and ice. All the radioactive tailings were buried in a depository located on the coastline of the Gulf of Finland.

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