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Good Playlist: Eastern European politics ▶️

An Eastern European politics scholar offers a list of videos to help students understand the region's history.

- February 2, 2024

Russia and Eastern European countries regularly feature in the news, but many students lack the historical, political, and cultural perspectives that would help them put current events in context. When I teach students Eastern European politics, I use videos to fill in the background of the class’s lectures and academic readings. 

The YouTube playlist below includes in chronological order some of the videos I show (a longer list including videos not available on YouTube is here). It was designed with a primary, although not exclusive, focus on the countries situated between Germany and the Soviet Union, which were under Soviet occupation and political control between the end of World War II and the fall of communism in 1989. 

The playlist starts with an animated overview of the Eastern Front of World War II, giving students a sense of the scale of the war, as it took place on the territories of the affected countries. 

Next, the playlist illustrates the communists’ takeover of Eastern Europe, life under the regime, and early attempts to resist and overthrow the communist rule. 

The playlist then turns to videos about early resistance before turning to the end of the Eastern European communist regimes, including the revolutions of 1989 and the subsequent fall of the Berlin Wall. 

Early resistance 

  • Revolt In Hungary,” about the 1956 Hungarian revolution and Soviet suppression.
  • Occupation,” documentary about the Prague Spring (1968).

The revolutions of 1989 

The playlist also contains links relevant to the breakup of Yugoslavia, post-communist developments such as democratic backsliding, and the future of the Eastern enlargement of the European Union. 

Petia Kostadinova is an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.