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The Allies, the European Resistance and the Origins of the Cold War in Europe

Final Report Summary - AEROCWE (The Allies, the European Resistance and the Origins of the Cold War in Europe)

The project, developed in conjunction with the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge (UK) and Harvard University (USA), addressed Allied policy towards resistance groups during World War II and its impact on post-war political and ideological divisions.

Although the topic has been investigated extensively in previous scholarship, this project constituted the first attempt to bring together aspects of this subject that are usually addressed separately: the different national scenarios, the two Western intelligence agencies, and the policies of the Soviets and the Western Allies. This was possible due to long research periods spent in the United States, Great Britain and Russia, where the researcher had access to the relevant documentation of the agencies and organizations tasked to deal with resistance movements during the war. In particular, the researcher worked with the records of the US Office of Strategic Services, the British Special Operations Executive and the Soviet Comintern.

The preliminary findings of the projects suggest that this multi-national and comparative approach has several advantages. Firstly, putting national narratives in a broader context enables us to better assess decisions taken by the Allies in individual countries. Secondly, it shows that the mono-causal explanations often adopted to explain the Allies’ decisions do not do justice to the complexity of the situations in which they operated. Thirdly, this approach provides a better understanding of how the three Allies, in dealing with wartime resistance groups, both deliberately and inadvertently shaped the political landscape for decades to come. Combing through records of different national origins also demonstrated the role of mutual misunderstandings between the three Allies and between the Allies and the partisans.

The expected final result of the project is the first comprehensive book on this topic - an important contribution to scholarship on World War II and the origins of the Cold War in Europe. The book project is currently under review with a major British academic publisher.