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Behind the Iron Curtain

Soviet Estonia in the Era of the Cold War


Tõnu Tannberg

During the Cold War, Estonia lay behind the Iron Curtain. Even in the grip of Soviet rule, the country underwent many important developments. This volume brings together fourteen papers on the political, economic, and cultural history of Estonia during the Cold War. Their topics range from international relations and the border regime to tourism and the media. The papers are based on extensive archival research and make use of many previously unexamined documents. The resulting book offers new insights into the history of Estonia and of the Cold War on a local level.
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The Economic Impact of the Early Cold War on the Estonian SSR


← 118 | 119 →Olaf Mertelsmann

Abstract: The author describes and analyzes in detail how the Estonian SSR’s economy was affected by Sovietization, postwar reconstruction of the economy, the needs of the armament industry, and the impact of the Cold War. He also analyzes the reorganizations carried out in the Union republic in the context of changes that took place in Europe.

Economic history is not usually a central focus of Cold War historiography, which is far more interested in politics.1 Nevertheless, a great deal of effort was invested by the West in researching the economic system of the ideological enemy, and the ← 119 | 120 →first deep insights into Soviet economics were a product of the Cold War.2 But in the last two decades this field did not develop much.3 Still-existing restrictions hamper archival access. Thus, to my knowledge, only four monographs have been published that are based on research in Soviet archives and that deal with postwar Soviet economic history and the military industrial complex.4 Nevertheless, the economic impact of the Cold War on all societies involved was significant, which makes this topic a valuable one.

For far too long, master narratives presented the Cold War as a conflict taking place in a bipolar world with only two superpowers. But Moscow and Washington were not the only parties involved. It would be more accurate to regard the Cold War as a conflict taking place on various levels with a multitude of players fulfilling different roles....

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