Seven papers qualified for the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory’s (EIHM) international communism-themed research competition for young scholars. The papers were evaluated by a committee that consisted of EIHM’s Member of Board Meelis Maripuu, EIHM’s Research Director Toomas Hiio, and EIHM’s Senior Researchers Peeter Kaasik, Olev Liivik and Hiljar Tammela.
In the category of unpublished scholarly papers, the winner was Daniel Rugerio Bonenkamp with his Master’s thesis Die “Aktion Verwüstung” und der Einfluss des Ministeriums für Staatssicherheit auf die deutsch-deutschen Beziehungen ende der 1960er-jahre [Operation “Devastation” and the influence of the Ministry for State Security on inter-German relations in the late 1960s] (University of Münster, Germany). His research will be published in cooperation with the author and rewarded with 1,500€.
Daniel Bonenkamp’s research analyses the disinformation activities of the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR, commonly known as East Germany) Socialist Unity Party (SED), which were directed against the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the 1960s. This was carried out by the GDR’s Ministry of State Security (Stasi) in cooperation with the USSR’s KGB. The paper focuses on Operation “Devastation” (Aktion Verwüstung), a disinformation and smear campaign organised in the late 1960s, which was aimed at associating the FRG with the forbidden production of weapons of mass destruction, and drawing parallels between the FRG and Hitler’s Germany. On the one hand, the objective was damaging the FRG’s international reputation and credibility, as well as complicating the relations among western allies. On the other hand, such actions aspired to make western recognition available for the GDR, which East Germany did not yet have at the time. Bonenkamp’s groundbreaking research on GDR’s disinformation activities is the result of thorough archival work. The author is well acquainted with the history of international relations and espionage. The research reveals the GDR’s and USSR’s foreign policy goals with regard to the FRG and Western Europe in general. It also explores the cooperation between the security forces of the GDR and USSR, as well as Stasi’s espionage and influence. Bonenkamp’s paper exposes a gripping story, reminiscent of a spy-thriller, of planning, preparing, and executing an operation that was aimed at spreading disinformation.
In the category of published articles, Idrit Idrizi’s paper Between Subordination and Symbiosis: Historians’ Relationship with Political Power in Communist Albania (European History Quarterly 2020, Vol. 50(1), 66–87) was deemed the best. The award for the winning article is 1,500€.
We would like to thank all the participants and offer our congratulations to the winners!