After the Second World War, the IISH had difficulty collecting materials in Eastern Europe for a long time. This was due in part to Nikolaevsky’s departure for the United States, but it was mainly the universal censorship and the fall of the Iron Curtain that quickly closed the usual channels for obtaining documentation. Much was acquired only later on, thanks to Western journalists and other travellers with some freedom of movement in the post-war years.
The Soviet Union did not occupy and transform Eastern Europe without any struggle or resistance. In 1953 workers revolted in Berlin (107), as well as in Hungary in 1956 (108-109). Despite the purges carried out, national communist parties often proved to be untrustworthy and disobedient, as the Prague Spring demonstrated in 1968 (110-111). The détente in the Cold War and especially the glasnost introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev, who allowed social life in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe greater freedom, gave the Institute the opportunity to keep up with the course of events again from the mid-1980s, thanks in part to bases in Prague (early 1990s) and Moscow (from 1992). This revival of activity led to the acquisition of valuable documentation on the Polish Solidarność (112) and the downfall of communism in Romania (113) and Hungary (114). In Russia major collections about forced labour and repression were recorded on microfilm after 1991. In addition, much was collected from the new ‘alternative’ press and the older underground samizdat (115-117). When Yugoslavia disintegrated, the IISH made a special effort to secure the material from different peace movements (118); much of it was massively digital for the first time. Amid these developments, Cuba, once regarded by some as a non-Stalinist alternative, seemed increasingly like a ‘survivor’ (119).