In this unit we focus on the turbulent history of Central Europe after 1945. The emergence of communism and its demise both at the level of ideas and as a political system will be studied. While the primary focus will be on Czech, German, Polish and Slovak societies, the unit is relevant to Europe at large. In fact, Central Europe ‘as an idea, a state of mind, a worldview’ (Konrad) cannot be reduced to a geographic notion, and is better understood as a cultural and political project. We will study different formulations of this project, and see how the ideals of dissident intellectuals, such as Vaclav Havel, shaped the political development in Central Europe and beyond. The ideas developed in the specific context of peaceful resistance against communism in Central Europe, for example, inspired the protagonists of the Ukrainian ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004. In addition to a set of essential reading, students will be encouraged to study literary works, films and TV-documentaries.