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Stalin and the Fate of Europe

Stalin and the Fate of Europe

The Postwar Struggle for Sovereignty

Norman M. Naimark

ISBN 9780674238770

Publication date: 10/08/2019

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Winner of the Norris and Carol Hundley Award
Winner of the U.S.–Russia Relations Book Prize

A Financial Times Best History Book of the Year

The Cold War division of Europe was not inevitable—the acclaimed author of Stalin’s Genocides shows how postwar Europeans fought to determine their own destinies.

Was the division of Europe after World War II inevitable? In this powerful reassessment of the postwar order in Europe, Norman Naimark suggests that Joseph Stalin was far more open to a settlement on the continent than we have thought. Through revealing case studies from Poland and Yugoslavia to Denmark and Albania, Naimark recasts the early Cold War by focusing on Europeans’ fight to determine their future.

As nations devastated by war began rebuilding, Soviet intentions loomed large. Stalin’s armies controlled most of the eastern half of the continent, and in France and Italy, communist parties were serious political forces. Yet Naimark reveals a surprisingly flexible Stalin, who initially had no intention of dividing Europe. During a window of opportunity from 1945 to 1948, leaders across the political spectrum, including Juho Kusti Paasikivi of Finland, Wladyslaw Gomulka of Poland, and Karl Renner of Austria, pushed back against outside pressures. For some, this meant struggling against Soviet dominance. For others, it meant enlisting the Americans to support their aims.

The first frost of Cold War could be felt in the tense patrolling of zones of occupation in Germany, but not until 1948, with the coup in Czechoslovakia and the Berlin Blockade, did the familiar polarization set in. The split did not become irreversible until the formal division of Germany and establishment of NATO in 1949. In illuminating how European leaders deftly managed national interests in the face of dominating powers, Stalin and the Fate of Europe reveals the real potential of an alternative trajectory for the continent.


  • Naimark selects seven case studies to illustrate the complexity of Stalin’s aims in Europe, as he brings his superlative knowledge of the Soviet leader to bear on present-day realities…Naimark has few peers as a scholar of Stalinism, the Soviet Union and 20th-century Europe, and his latest work Stalin and the Fate of Europe is one of his most original and interesting.

    —Financial Times


  • 2020, Winner of the Norris and Carol Hundley Award
  • 2020, Winner of the US-Russia Relations Book Prize


  • Norman M. Naimark is the critically acclaimed author of Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe, The Russians in Germany, and Stalin’s Genocides. He is Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor of East European Studies at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow (by courtesy) of the Hoover Institution and the Freeman-Spogli Institute. He received the Richard W. Lyman Award and Dean’s Teaching Award from Stanford University.

Book Details

  • 368 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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