Behind the Iron Curtain

Ref: C2342784

Aspects of life in the “Warsaw Pact” countries: East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania from the end of the Second World War until 1989. How particular characteristics, cultures and even different political systems combined to undermine the Soviet Union’s protective barrier against the West. Among other things, we will cover Marxist-Leninist ideology, nationalism and ethnic diversity, socialisation through youth groups and clubs and societies, culture and popular culture, rebellions and uprisings, the reasons for the building of the Berlin Wall, how events in the Soviet Union affected life in Eastern European countries, why the Soviet leaders Stalin and Gorbachëv were so significant, and why the Roman Catholic religion was so important in Poland. We will also look at events in 1989 in particular and how the communist system came to a sudden end in Eastern Europe and then the Soviet Union.

Course aim

To show how the Soviet model of communism applied in Eastern Europe after WWII affected people's lives in Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria until the system collapsed in 1989.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Discuss how Poland's recent history meant that subjugation by the Soviet Union after WWII was more difficult to achieve than in other East European countries
  • Explain why unrest in Poland and in Hungary in 1956 were treated differently by the Soviet Union.
  • Explain why the Roman Catholic Church in Poland was such a problem for the authorities.
  • Give examples of how the erection of the Berlin Wall affected life for East Berliners and East Germans.
  • Show how the election of Mikhail Gorbachëv as Soviet leader affected the communist states in Eastern Europe

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • Informal group discussions will be encouraged throughout.

What else do I need to know?

  • Some means of taking notes

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

Behind the Iron Curtain

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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