Proposal preview

Behind the Iron Curtain: Waves of Globalization in Historiography of Economic History

This session offers a systematic exploration of the relationship between the Western and Eastern historiography of economic history through the relationships between the home and exile Eastern European economic historians. It aims
– to compare the scientists’ work conditions in the framework of the different political circumstances during the Cold War;
– to explore both relevant conflicts and transfers of ideas between the two sides of the Iron Curtain;
– to examine the common publishing and research activities as concrete forms of collaboration between Eastern and Western economic historians during the time of the Cold War.

The session is inspired by the 50th anniversary of the last WEHC in USA and by the fact that it was this congress that made the future prominent economic historian, Alice Teichová leave Czechoslovakia together with her husband, Mikuláš Teich. Two years later, they decided for emigration. Their story shows how complicated the relationship between the home and exile historiography was.
The session is dedicated not only to the memory of recently passed Alice Teichová, but also to many other economic historians who were forced by different 20th century dictatorships to leave their respective countries and to look for a new home and for a space for their work. Their life and scientific fates, personal and professional isolation, disregard and marginalization in both their former and new environment, but also the mutual influence between the home and exile groups – all of this will be a part of the session.

Organizers welcome the papers that follow mainly these three aims:
– to clarify the circumstances for the development of economic history on both sides of the Iron Curtain incl. the role of secrete police in Eastern European countries;
– to conceptualize the transfer of ideas between economic historians in exile and those back in home countries;
– to specify a continuity in the work of the exile economic historians with former home historiography;
– to emphasize the influence of the distinguished exile economic historians and their work on the home historiographies of economic history.

Organizer(s)

  • Antonie Doležalová Robinson College, Cambridge University & Charles University, Prague ad875@cam.ac.uk Czech Republic
  • Roman Holec Comenius University, Bratislava rh1918@yahoo.com Slovakia

Session members

  • Maxine Berg, University of Warwick, UK
  • Antonie Doležalová, Robinson College, University of Cambridge & Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
  • Judit Pál , Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca
  • Christopher Kopper, Universität Bielefeld
  • Zarko Lazarevich, Institute of Contemporary History, Ljubljana
  • Damian Bębnowski, University of Lodz
  • Roman Holec, Comenius University, Bratislava
  • Yakov Feygin, The Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Discussant(s)

  • Catherine Albrecht Ohio Northern University c-albrecht@onu.edu

Papers

Panel abstract

The session is inspired by the 50th anniversary of the last WEHC in the USA and it is dedicated to the memory of Alice Teichová, but also to many other economic historians who were forced by different 20th century dictatorships to leave their respective countries and to look for a new home and for a space for their work. This session offers an exploration of the relationship between the Western and Eastern historiography of economic history through the relationships between the home and exile Eastern European economic historians. It aims (1) to compare the scientists’ work conditions in the framework of the different political circumstances during the Cold War; (2) to explore both relevant conflicts and transfers of ideas between the two sides of the Iron Curtain; (3) to examine the concrete forms of collaboration between Eastern and Western economic historians during the time of the Cold War.

1st half

Eastern Europe and the Early Years of the International Economic History Association

Maxine Berg, University of Warwick

The International Economic History Association, founded in 1960, was the brainchild of Fernand Braudel and M.M.Postan. It was certainly a cultural initiative of the years of Cold War and Détente through the 1960s to 1980s, but it was also based in deep roots of international connections of economic historians built especially during the 1930s. A major priority for Braudel and Postan in forming the Association was to foster the continuation and growth in these connections, and especially with the smaller Eastern European countries. Important interlocutors, also key to connections with the American economic historians and the American funding bodies were Frederic C. Lane and Clemens Heller. My introductory paper will discuss the parts they played and the special histories of key Eastern European participants in these early years of the IEHA.

The International Economic History Association, founded in 1960, was the brainchild of Fernand Braudel and M.M.Postan. It was certainly a cultural initiative of the years of Cold War and Détente through the 1960s to 1980s, but it was also based in deep roots of international connections of economic historians built especially during the 1930s. A major priority for Braudel and Postan in forming the Association was to foster the continuation and growth in these connections, and especially with the smaller Eastern European countries. Important interlocutors, also key to connections with the American economic historians and the American funding bodies were Frederic C. Lane and Clemens Heller. My introductory paper will discuss the parts they played and the special histories of key Eastern European participants in these early years of the IEHA.

Despite State Security and the Iron Curtain: Alice Teichova and Mikulas Teich

Antonie Doležalová, Charles University, Prague & Robinson College, University of Cambridge

The paper is focused on the economic historian Alice Teichova and the historian of science, Mikulaš Teich. Their story inspired the entire this session and illustrate how complicated the relationship between the Western and Eastern as well as the home and exile historiographies was. On examples of the cooperation between Teichs and their Western colleagues before their immigration and between them and their former Czechoslovak colleagues after it the paper analyses the particular modes of transfer of ideas between historians on both sides of the Iron Curtain; compares the scientific work conditions in the framework of the different political circumstances; specifies a continuity in the work of the exile economic historians with former home historiography, and evaluate the influence of the distinguished exile economic historians and their work and the impact of mutual cooperation on the Czech (Czechoslovak) historiography.

The paper is focused on the economic historian Alice Teichova and the historian of science, Mikulaš Teich. Their story inspired the entire this session and illustrate how complicated the relationship between the Western and Eastern as well as the home and exile historiographies was. On examples of the cooperation between Teichs and their Western colleagues before their immigration and between them and their former Czechoslovak colleagues after it the paper analyses the particular modes of transfer of ideas between historians on both sides of the Iron Curtain; compares the scientific work conditions in the framework of the different political circumstances; specifies a continuity in the work of the exile economic historians with former home historiography, and evaluate the influence of the distinguished exile economic historians and their work and the impact of mutual cooperation on the Czech (Czechoslovak) historiography.

Two Exile Historians from Czechoslovakia: two different experiences

Judit Pál, Babeș–Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca & Roman Holec, Comenius University, Bratislava

In the lecture hereby we will analyze in parallel the life path of two historians. Both of them emigrated from Czechoslovakia after 1968. Mikulas Teich, born in 1918 emigrated twice: first in 1938 fleeing the Nazis, then later in 1968 he failed to return to Czechoslovakia after the Soviets occupied the country, even though he remained a firm believer in the Marxist ideas. Ákos Pauliny was a decade younger than Mikulas Teich. He probably fled the Socialist régime by emigrating to Germany. The life path of the two historians has several points in common, but it shows also significant differences. Both historians conducted research on the topic of the (industrial) revolution. Still, Teich discussed it mainly from a theoretical perspective, while Pauliny viewed it from the perspective of the history of technology.

In the lecture hereby we will analyze in parallel the life path of two historians. Both of them emigrated from Czechoslovakia after 1968. Mikulas Teich, born in 1918 emigrated twice: first in 1938 fleeing the Nazis, then later in 1968 he failed to return to Czechoslovakia after the Soviets occupied the country, even though he remained a firm believer in the Marxist ideas. Ákos Pauliny was a decade younger than Mikulas Teich. He probably fled the Socialist régime by emigrating to Germany. The life path of the two historians has several points in common, but it shows also significant differences. Both historians conducted research on the topic of the (industrial) revolution. Still, Teich discussed it mainly from a theoretical perspective, while Pauliny viewed it from the perspective of the history of technology.

Jürgen Kuczynski: The transfer of economic knowledge from the West to East Germany

Christopher Kopper, Universität Bielefeld

Jürgen Kuczynski was widely known as the most prominent and most influential economic historian in the GDR. The paper will focus on his lesser known publication in economics and his contribution to the transfer of modern non-marxist economic knowledge to the East German academia. An economist by his academic training, Kuczynski spent three years as a post-graduate researcher in the U.S. during the 1920s. In 1936, he emigrated to the UK to escape persecution as a communist and Jewish intellectual. In 1944 and 1945, as a collaborator of the U.S. intelligence, he worked together with J.K.Gailbrath and other renowned Keynesian economists. The paper will examine whether Kuczynski, a self-described “loyal dissident”, can be counted among the heterodox and non-conformist Marxist economists behind the “iron curtain”.

Jürgen Kuczynski was widely known as the most prominent and most influential economic historian in the GDR. The paper will focus on his lesser known publication in economics and his contribution to the transfer of modern non-marxist economic knowledge to the East German academia. An economist by his academic training, Kuczynski spent three years as a post-graduate researcher in the U.S. during the 1920s. In 1936, he emigrated to the UK to escape persecution as a communist and Jewish intellectual. In 1944 and 1945, as a collaborator of the U.S. intelligence, he worked together with J.K.Gailbrath and other renowned Keynesian economists. The paper will examine whether Kuczynski, a self-described “loyal dissident”, can be counted among the heterodox and non-conformist Marxist economists behind the “iron curtain”.

Discussant's comments and discussion

Catherine Albrecht, Ohio Northern University

Discussant's comments and discussion

Discussant's comments and discussion

2nd half

The Art of Economic History within the Communist Ideological Rigidity (Case of Slovenia)

Zarko Lazarevich, Institute of Contemporary History, Ljubljana

The discussion will be focused on the development of economic history as a discipline in Slovenia within the Yugoslav context. It is very important to emphasize that from the 1960s Yugoslavia, was open to the West, scholars were allowed to travel, to migrate, to study abroad, western literature was accessible in bookstores and libraries. We also need to mention the role of Toussaint Hočevar who has been educated and has worked at American universities for all his life. Although his publications were distributed in Slovenia already at the time of publishing, he, as an immigrant, started to publish and entered into discussions with historians in Slovenia only at the beginning of the 1980s and he challenged the prevailing methodological model of economic historiography in Slovenia.

The discussion will be focused on the development of economic history as a discipline in Slovenia within the Yugoslav context. It is very important to emphasize that from the 1960s Yugoslavia, was open to the West, scholars were allowed to travel, to migrate, to study abroad, western literature was accessible in bookstores and libraries. We also need to mention the role of Toussaint Hočevar who has been educated and has worked at American universities for all his life. Although his publications were distributed in Slovenia already at the time of publishing, he, as an immigrant, started to publish and entered into discussions with historians in Slovenia only at the beginning of the 1980s and he challenged the prevailing methodological model of economic historiography in Slovenia.

Home and Exile Polish Economic Historiography, 1945-1989

Damian Bębnowski, University of Lodz

The aim of the paper is to verify the hypothesis if there were relationships between home Polish economic historiography and exile Polish historiographies in Great Britain and the USA in 1945-1989. The main questions are: (1) What were conditions of development of Polish economic historiography in Poland, Great Britain, and the USA? (2) What was the perception of exile Polish economic historiography in communist Poland? (3) What was the role of the communist regime in the context of the limit of this perception? (4) What was the influence of home economic historiography on Polish researchers in Great Britain and the USA? (5) Were there any relationships between Polish economic historiographies in Great Britain and the USA?

The aim of the paper is to verify the hypothesis if there were relationships between home Polish economic historiography and exile Polish historiographies in Great Britain and the USA in 1945-1989. The main questions are: (1) What were conditions of development of Polish economic historiography in Poland, Great Britain, and the USA? (2) What was the perception of exile Polish economic historiography in communist Poland? (3) What was the role of the communist regime in the context of the limit of this perception? (4) What was the influence of home economic historiography on Polish researchers in Great Britain and the USA? (5) Were there any relationships between Polish economic historiographies in Great Britain and the USA?

Discussant's comments

Catherine Albrecht, Ohio Northern University

Discussant's comments

Discussant's comments

An Economist between History and Present in Exile

Roman Holec, Comenius University, Bratislava

Erwin Hexner was in exile from 1939, when he emigrated from Czechoslovakia, at first to escape from German fascism. He was already a qualified expert and soon found employment in the USA. Since he lost his closest relations in the Holocaust, he had few reasons to return. However, in 1944 he represented Czechoslovakia at the Bretton Woods Conference. He remained in exile after the communists came to power in 1948. He cooperated with other Czechoslovak political exiles, especially those from the Agrarian Party, which he supported. However, in the end, he withdrew from the political and partisan activities of the exiles into private life. Exile helped Hexner to achieve success outside the Central European framework. His contacts with home were entirely broken after 1948. Emigration meant the beginning of a completely new life for him.

Erwin Hexner was in exile from 1939, when he emigrated from Czechoslovakia, at first to escape from German fascism. He was already a qualified expert and soon found employment in the USA. Since he lost his closest relations in the Holocaust, he had few reasons to return. However, in 1944 he represented Czechoslovakia at the Bretton Woods Conference. He remained in exile after the communists came to power in 1948. He cooperated with other Czechoslovak political exiles, especially those from the Agrarian Party, which he supported. However, in the end, he withdrew from the political and partisan activities of the exiles into private life. Exile helped Hexner to achieve success outside the Central European framework. His contacts with home were entirely broken after 1948. Emigration meant the beginning of a completely new life for him.

Dreaming of a Humane Plan: International Expert Networks and the Globalization of Soviet Economic Thought

Yakov Feygin, The Harvard Kennedy School of Government

This paper traces how Soviet economic sciences interacted with and helped establish an international network of theorists who believed that mathematical economics and the tools of cybernetics could create a global, humane planning. Beginning in the late-1950s, the USSR’s economists began working with western econometricians and management specialists on questions of global economic development within international organization. Based on their shared belief in achievability of a “scientific” planning, these figures create international organizations to establish a program for humane development planning which they termed “the new planning.” This paper argues that proponents of this idea across the Iron Curtain saw it as a way reorganize the global economy during the turbulent 1970s that was an alternative to both neoliberalism and the demands of the “third world.”

This paper traces how Soviet economic sciences interacted with and helped establish an international network of theorists who believed that mathematical economics and the tools of cybernetics could create a global, humane planning. Beginning in the late-1950s, the USSR’s economists began working with western econometricians and management specialists on questions of global economic development within international organization. Based on their shared belief in achievability of a “scientific” planning, these figures create international organizations to establish a program for humane development planning which they termed “the new planning.” This paper argues that proponents of this idea across the Iron Curtain saw it as a way reorganize the global economy during the turbulent 1970s that was an alternative to both neoliberalism and the demands of the “third world.”

Discussant's comments and discussion

Catherine Albrecht, Ohio Northern University

Discussant's comments and final discussion

Discussant's comments and final discussion