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Reviewed by:
  • Kalter Krieg: Beiträge zur Ost-West-Konfrontation 1945 bis 1990
  • Gary Bruce
Stefan Karner, Erich Reiter, and Gerald Schöpfer , eds., Kalter Krieg: Beiträge zur Ost-West-Konfrontation 1945 bis 1990. Graz, Austria: Leykam, 2002. 297 pp. 29.90

This important book grew out of the proceedings of conferences held in Graz in 1998 and 1999 on "East-West Confrontation," sponsored by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Kriegsfolgen-Forschung, the Militärwissenschaftliches Büro des Bundesministeriums für Landesverteidigung, the Cold War International History Project (for the 1999 conference), and the Institut für Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte der Universität Graz (for the 1999 conference). The twenty-three essays are almost all by European academics, including important contributions from Russian scholars. The editors have organized the essays topically into five groups: (1) the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact, (2) the Soviet Union, (3) the neutrals Austria and Switzerland, (4) archives, and (5) restitution. Two of the chapters are in English, and all the others are in German.

The authors in the section "NATO/Warsaw Pact" deal with a wide range of topics, from the importance of budgets in driving NATO policy to the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Netherlands. Bruno Thoß argues that monetary savings played a salient role in key U.S. Cold War decisions vis-à-vis NATO, pointing to the Eisenhower administration's massive nuclear buildup that resulted from the need to save on conventional forces. Similarly, the United States increasingly came to rely on West German troops because of cost considerations. The essay by Bob de Graaf and Cees Weibes on the Dutch Foreign Intelligence Service (IDB) concludes that internal quarrels prevented the IDB from being a truly effective government instrument. This argument complements Thoß's essay by reminding historians that foreign policy is a complex interplay of domestic and external forces.

Yurii Afanas'ev's "theses" on the Soviet Union and the Cold War, like Erwin Schmindl's chapter on the early phase of the Cold War, serve as important reminders of the limitations of the "Stunde Null" theory that 1945 represented a sharp break with the past. The French desire for a stand against the Soviet Union in Austria if war broke out has roots in the disastrous experience of France's own wartime occupation, as Schmidl points out. For Afanas'ev, the Soviet Union's approach to the Cold War parallels Russia's religious wars beginning under Ivan III.

In the "Soviet Union" section, Valerii Vartanov provides impressive detail (lamentably, without citing any sources) on the role of the Soviet Union in nearly forty localized conflicts during the Cold War, which, according to his data, led to a staggering total of 30 million deaths. It is worth remembering that the Cold War was cold only in Europe and North America, and even in these cases the phrase should be applied cautiously (not least because of the Soviet Army's intervention in East Germany in 1953, Hungary in 1956, and Czechoslovakia in 1968). Vartanov regards ideology as the main impetus behind Soviet involvement. Local conflicts, he avers, were viewed not in terms of their internal roots but in terms of the global Cold War context. Vartanov argues, for example, that the reason Soviet leaders replied in military fashion [End Page 179] to the rebellions in East Germany and Hungary and the peaceful reforms in Czechoslovakia is that ideology caused them to view these events as Western putsch attempts that could be suppressed only by force.

Valerii Kondratov and Anatolii Prokopenko address the commendable Soviet attempts to deal with two unpleasant legacies of the Cold War. Kondratov describes how Austrian and Russian authorities since 1991 have been working closely to rehabilitate Austrians who were forced into labor in the Soviet Union after World War II without a trial, a group Kondratov calls the "administratively repressed" (in contrast to the larger, better known group of people who were sentenced after a nominal trial). Prokopenko urges the establishment of an independent commission to review the role of Soviet psychiatrists in committing political dissidents to insane asylums on grounds of "mental instability."

Stefan Karner, the editor of the volume, paints...