Behind the Iron Curtain on the stage of the world - (the 60s in eastern and western European countries)

-> See application form


The project Behind the Iron Curtain attempts to look deeply at previously brutally torn Europe and by personal experience to map one of the most interesting epochs of the 20th century - the sixties. However, it will not concern the academic history but the research of common, everyday experience preserved in the memories of personal observers and contemporary materials. What is especially important is that we will be able to compare the view of the reality of the 60s in the minds of inhabitants of the two parts of Europe cut by the Cold War. How do these two Europes remain in the living memories of personal observers of that time everydayness? Do their memories have any meeting-points or do they only pass each other?

Our project mainly plans to reconstruct the double face of divided Europe in the 60s of the 20th century; we want this reconstruction to be done by today's teenagers, children of the 21st century, who will get to know this extraordinarily important era of modern European history. We will not be looking for the "big" history, we will look for the shape of a working day to be able to confront experience of the West and East and to learn where the mentality and stances (and prejudices and superstitions) of today's Europeans are born. During our work we intend to proceed from the field research, meet the living culture and methods of its research - memories of the parents, their friends, local politicians, intellectuals, sportspeople, artists etc of that time. We also want to compare various contemporary facts which create the image of a working day - course of the day, daily press, posters, clothing, pop music etc

We think that the work on the project will be for all participants an extraordinary occasion how to search their own past in "their own hands" and compare it with the view of people coming from the other side of the imaginary fence.

Project topics and main thematic areas

  1. Historical and social situation in our countries at the end of the 60s (study)

    Sofia 2009
  2. Life at the end of the 60s in memories of the personal observers on both sides of the Iron Curtain
    -> the basic part of our work

    First results: Sofia 2009, then Amberieu 2009
  3. That day - reconstruction of a particular day, e.g. 23/5/1967, on the base of daily press and contemporary photographs

    Sofia 2009
    (Amberieu 2009)
  4. The Best of – collection of hits in our countries; each country will bring five songs which will be mentioned by the respondents most frequently
    (Book of songs?)

    Eisenstadt 2009
  5. Gallery of photographs from our cities and towns from the end of the 60s

    Eisenstadt 2009
  6. Gallery of the most popular personalities of our countries which will be mentioned by the respondents most frequently <úspan>

    Eisenstadt 2009

Main thematic areas

  • Image of a work day
  • Image of a holiday
  • Entertainment (music, games, movies,TV…)
  • Idols (politics, sport, culture, ...)
  • Clothing
  • Sports in our town
  • Typical flat and its equipment
  • Phenomenon of a housing estate (Its community life)
  • Travelling
  • Family life (status of women, principles of children's education)
  • Attitude towards inner and foreign affairs
  • Religion
  • Woman and society
  • Prejudices
  • Average income and what for it
  • Everyday dreams of an ordinary person
  • Face of family photoalbums
  • Trips and holidays
  • Authority for people (church, political party, government)
  • Authority of the teachers
  • Relation to the Soviet Union
  • Relation to WW II
  • Military service
  • Love and friendship
  • Contemporary slogans
  • Contemporary castbacks of the 60s
  • Attitude of the respondents to the countries of the project
  • etc.


Two years (2008/2009, 2009/2010)


Aims of the project

In the 20th century the 60s played a very important role. These years are symbol of political relief after the ice 50s, a symbol of a specific flush of freedom, rise of culture, radical student's politicians as well as tanks supressing the Prague spring.

There can be many points of view we can speculate about the question how much the heritage of the 60s touches the beginning of the 21st century. What – however – seems to be beyond dispute is that there exist two 60s – those of “western” Europe, democratic, and those “eastern” controlled by the slaves of totalitarian ideologies. In what way do these two Europes remain in the living memories of personal observers of that time everydayness? Do their memories have any meeting-point or are they only skew?

Our project would like to do its bit to the recognition of this everydayness by means of different methods– both through the research of the archives and investigating directly among the witnesses of those times. Students involved in this international project would search the answers to commonly defined circles of questions and the result could draw a vivid image – what colour and smell are the “golden sixties” in the memories in both Europes? The same? Different? In which points?

The crucial aim of the project is to enable the students an international cooperation, to get to know a living history, to learn standard methods of historical research, to find out the common roots of then brutally torn Europe and to map their own experience with one of the most interesting epoches of the 20th century.

In the beginning a common conference would establish the basic topics of the research, which would come out of the proposed entries. Every entry would receive its skeleton, which would enlight what kinds of information the researcher should look for.

Regular working session would compare the results of the student's work and they would define the directions of the following steps.

General project calendar

1/12 – 5/12 2008 Meeting in Brno
20/4 – 24/4 2009 Meeting in Sofia
19/10 - 23/10 2009 Meeting in Amberieu
9/12 - 12/12 2009 Meeting in Eisenstadt
3/5 - 10/5 2010 Final meeting in Roma

Project outputs

The basic output of the project would be:

  • shared website confronting “everydaily” achieved results,
  • final students conference,
  • printed proceedings and
  • multimedial DVD with the results in electronic form
  • etc.