New Scholarship on Stalin and the Cold War

April 18, 2007 // 4:00pm5:30pm

5th Floor Conference Room
Woodrow Wilson Center
1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004

with Geoffrey Roberts, University College Cork, Ireland, author of Stalin's Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953
Eric Lohr, American University
Steven A. Barnes,George Mason University

Roberts will discuss the range of sources that underpin his new book--especially new material from the Russian archives--and explore what we know and still don't know about Stalin's thinking and calculations during the early postwar years. Roberts will also emphasize the importance of the public as well as confidential sources for understanding Stalin and Soviet policy during the period, as what the archives reveal above all else is the continuity between public and private Soviet discourse about foreign policy and international relations. Roberts's book highlights the continuing value and utility of public sources such as Soviet newspapers and argues for a resuscitation of the "old" scholarly literature—written before access to archives—which still has much to inform and teach us about the origins of the Cold War.

Some of the themes and arguments contained in the book include the centrality of the German and Japanese threats to Stalin's thinking about the postwar world; the role of Soviet perceptions of growing Western anti-communism in Stalin's abandonment of the Grand Alliance and embrace of the Cold War; the role of the "patriotic" factor in Stalin's postwar policy and relations with the West; the interaction of Soviet domestic and foreign policies in the formation of Stalin's Cold War policy; Stalin's return to a pro-détente policy in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Roberts argues that his research vindicates much of the revisionist side of the debate but that he sees the book as a piece of post-revisionism because of its stress on the role in Soviet policy of Stalin's ideological aspirations and ambitions, and that therefore that there is a convergence between his work and the writings of post-traditionalist historians who have worked in Soviet archives for the early postwar period.

This is event is being co-sponsored by the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute.

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Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Laura Deal // Catalog Specialist
  • Pieter Biersteker // Editorial Assistant
  • Charles Kraus // Program Associate
  • Evan Pikulski // Program Assistant
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project