This is a major account of the Soviet occupation of postwar Germany and the beginning of the Cold War. Dr Filip Slaveski shows how in the immediate aftermath of war the Red Army command struggled to contain the violence of soldiers against German civilians and, at the same time, feed and rebuild the country. This task was then assumed by the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SVAG) which was established to impose order on this chaos. Its attempt, however, intensified the battle for resources and power among competing occupation organs, especially SVAG and the army, which spilled over from threats and sabotage into fighting and shootouts in the streets. At times, such conflicts threatened to paralyse occupation governance, leaving armed troops, liberated POWs and slave labourers free to roam. SVAG's successes in reducing the violence and reconstructing eastern Germany were a remarkable achievement in the chaotic aftermath of war.
Filip Slaveski is a lecturer at the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne. He received his PhD in History from the University of Melbourne and has taught Russian and Soviet History there for a number of years. Much of his research is based on declassified Soviet archival sources relevant to his major interests of Soviet occupations in post-war Eastern Europe, particularly in Germany, and the post-war reconstruction of the Soviet Union itself. Dr Slaveski has collaborated on international research projects investigating Soviet famine in 1946-7 and its impact on Eastern Europe, the demobilisation of the Red Army from 1945, and published journal articles and book chapters in this area. His current work involves a comparative study of the chaotic reconstruction of former Soviet territories and Soviet-occupied Europe in the wake of the Second World War. It compares aspects of mass violence and social disintegration which plagued these countries and asks how violent insurgencies hindered the Soviets in their attempts at reconstructing them, providing much-needed historical insights into the most contemporary and pressing problem of modern state-building.