Pius XII and the Cold War

The Vatican’s Struggle against the Communist Ideology in East-Central and Southeastern Europe

Marion Dotter

Although the Cold War was a conflict of global proportions, its mechanisms can only be understood through in-depth studies of individual cases. My project will compare three countries in Central and Eastern: Czechoslovakia was formally independent but closely aligned to the Soviet Union, whilst Yugoslavia declared itself to be ‘bloc-free’ and developed a very distinct form of state socialism. In addition, Austria constitutes a special case as the country remained occupied by Soviet troops until 1955, but declared its neutrality thereafter. In this context, the project will examine the role of the pope as an important diplomatic stakeholder, on the one hand, and as the head of a global institution with strong connections to regional networks in various policy fields on the other. Therefore, my analysis will start on the local level and ask how national clergies observed and reacted to the communist propaganda and measures against the Church. In a second step, my research will concentrate on the pope’s activities in a global and diplomatic context: how was he able to draw attention to the critical situation of the Church in the international press and politics? Finally, my research will focus on the administration and decision-making-processes inside the Curia: who were the main actors and institutions that demanded and drove the struggle against Communism?

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