The Establishment of Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe, 1944-1949

By Norman Naimark; Leonid Gibianskii | Go to book overview

10
Communist Higher Education Policies in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and East Germany 1

John Connelly

Stalinist theory demanded uniformity, yet East European societies produced various Stalinist practices. The origins of diverse practice stretch far back into the political traditions of each society, but World War II and its immediate aftermath had decisive influence in shaping this diversity. The war shattered politics and societies. After the rubble had been cleared, newly constituted societies had to build new foundations upon wartime ruin. The stability of the Stalinist edifice would depend upon the role taken by Communists in establishing these foundations. 2

Given Stalinism's ambitions, this principle applied to all aspects of societal life throughout the emerging Soviet Bloc. The study of beginnings of diversity is promising ground for the comparative social historian, since the political logic that applied in these societies was nearly identical. If the outcomes of the Stalinist experiment varied, that was because the societies varied. Hardly any area of societal life figured as prominently in the Stalinist ambition to transform society as higher education. This was the tool for creating new elites.

The three most northern countries of the Soviet Bloc pursued very similar agendas in education, but achieved strikingly different outcomes. This became most evident after the fall of Communism. Academia in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) has been massively purged. In the Czech Republic there have also been purges,

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