Short Teaching Module: Humor as Resistance


In order to help students think about the dynamics of power in different kinds of societies, this case study attempts to challenge the black-and-white thinking to which students are inclined when thinking about Communism. By analyzing jokes from the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) we can see how people sought to create their own sense of freedom.

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Short Teaching Module: Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate


In June 1987, President Reagan delivered an important speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin. This case study looks at how to use the speech as a means to examine US foreign policy and the end of the Cold War.

This short teaching module contains an essay including context, discussion questions, a guide to incorporating the three primary sources, and reflections on... Read More »

Short Teaching Module: Women in Romania


Using oral histories, this case study explores various aspects of women’s daily lives in Communist Romania and women’s attitudes toward the changes wrought by the transformation to a pluralist system and to a market economy after the collapse of the regime in December 1989.

This short teaching module includes a guide to a multi-class unit containing discussion questions, common student... Read More »

Source Collection: French Monarchy Falls


Although the monarchy had always struggled against elites over the definition of royal power, virtually no one could imagine France being governed without a king. At the outset of the French Revolution, only a handful of citizens had even contemplated a republic. Yet only a few years later, in August 1792, Louis XVI was deposed, and the following year, revolutionaries executed him and Marie... Read More »

Festival of National Unity, 14 July 1939

Source Collection: Legacies of the Revolution


The powerful influence of the French Revolution can be traced in the reactions of those who witnessed the event firsthand and in the strong emotions it has aroused ever since. For some, the French Revolution was a beacon of light that gave a world dominated by aristocratic privilege and monarchical tyranny a hope of freedom. Nineteenth-century revolutionaries and nationalists frequently... Read More »

Progression of Napoleon’s Life

Source Collection: The Napoleonic Experience


The bare facts of the life of Napoleon Bonaparte stagger the imagination and rival the plots of the most fantastic novels. Born in 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica, just as that island was passing from the hands of the Republic of Genoa to those of France, Bonaparte attended a French military school for impoverished sons of the nobility. Unlike many French nobles, he supported the Revolution, and... Read More »

Source Collection: War, Terror, and Resistance to the French Revolution


One fault line that has divided inquiries into the Terror has been its connections to the democracy introduced in 1789. For some, the Terror had to occur, either to sweep away the remnants of the Old Regime or, from a more critical perspective, because the revolutionaries had inadvertently introduced authoritarianism with their seeming democratic principles. Others have seen the French... Read More »

Source Collection: Women and the Revolution


Women participated in virtually every aspect of the French Revolution, but their participation almost always proved controversial. Women's status in the family, society, and politics had long been a subject of polemics. In the eighteenth century, those who favored improving the status of women insisted primarily on women's right to an education (rather than on the right to vote, for instance,... Read More »

Soviet Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and Egon Krenz


The new Secretary General of East Germany, Egon Krenz, traveled to Moscow on November 1, 1989 to meet in person with Gorbachev and assess the situation in East Germany and discuss possible paths forward. Throughout the lengthy meeting, Krenz and Gorbachev spoke openly about the challenges that now faced the GDR. Gorbachev, for the most part, remained hopeful that the new GDR leadership could... Read More »

Speech by Premier Ladislav Adamec at an extraordinary session of the CPCz CC, stating his preference for a political solution to the crisis


Only days after November 17 a growing number of Czechoslovak communists were becoming convinced that the conservative leadership's hardliner approach to the growing public unrest was failing. This sea change in official opinion began to crystallize on November 24 at the extraordinary session of the Czechoslovak Communist Party's Central Committee, which foreshadowed the ascendancy of younger... Read More »