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Journal of Cold War Studies 5.2 (2003) 1-2

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Editor's Note

In addition to the three special issues we are publishing on the collapse of the Soviet Union (the first of which appeared in Winter 2003), we also are preparing a special issue on Tibet, South Asia, and the Cold War. The articles in it are revised versions of papers originally presented at a conference on "The Cold War and Its Legacy in Tibet: Great-Power Politics and Regional Security," held at Harvard University in April 2002. The conference, sponsored by the Harvard Project on Cold War Studies with financial support from the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Asia Center, brought together distinguished scholars from the United States, Great Britain, Tibet, China, India, and Russia. The conference was open to the public, and more than 250 people attended, an unusually large number for a scholarly gathering. (The size of the turnout was attributable in part to concerns about China's continued occupation of Tibet and the human rights abuses that have occurred there, but it also reflected a desire by many in the audience to discuss the latest findings from Western, South Asian, and former East-bloc sources.) The authors of papers had an opportunity after the conference to revise their essays to take account of the proceedings. The revised papers were then submitted to the journal, and we sent them out for external review. Although we will not be able to include all of the accepted articles in our special issue, we intend to put out a conference volume as a supplement, enabling us to publish all the conference papers that made it through the review process.

This current issue begins with an article by Gary Bruce, who has done extensive research in the archive of the former East German Ministry of State Security (MfS, commonly known as the Stasi) and the archive of the former Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED, the East German Communist party). Bruce's forthcoming book, Resistance with the People: Repression and Opposition in Eastern Germany, 1945-1955, will be published in 2003 by Rowman & Littlefield in the Harvard Cold War Studies Book Series. His article here focuses on the early years of the Stasi—the years leading up to the June 1953 uprising in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The vast scale of the unrest in June 1953 spurred official allegations that the Stasi should have foreseen the "fascist putsch" (as the rebellion was characterized by Communist leaders) and had failed in its mission. Bruce shows that, in fact, the MfS was only a relatively small organization before mid-1953 and that its responsibilities did not include broad internal surveillance. Instead, the MfS was responsible for keeping track of well-known opposition groups and for countering anti-Communist organizations based in western Germany. There was no way that the Stasi could have foreseen the full scale of the popular rebellion in June 1953. The harsh criticism that was leveled against the MfS, by Walter Ulbricht and others, stemmed from Ulbricht's political machinations rather than from a genuine attempt to understand how such an explosive [End Page 1] situation could have developed in the GDR. Bruce's article provides a valuable corrective to the many scholars who have tended to accept Ulbricht's allegations about the Stasi at face value.

The next three articles deal with various dimensions of the Vietnam War, a topic that will be explored by other authors in subsequent issues of the journal, including a special issue in Volume 7 or 8. The first of the three articles, by James Hershberg, draws on newly declassified archival materials from Poland, Hungary, and the United States to see how the Polish and Hungarian governments sought to mediate between Hanoi and Washington during a 37-day moratorium in the U.S. bombing campaign against North Vietnam in 1965-1966. Hershberg brings out many interesting aspects of this story that were previously unknown. He shows, for example, that Poland's initiative came closer to being successful, and was apparently more sincere, than the...