We would like to keep you up-to-date of the current state of our project and share our experiences with you. Feel free to comment and make suggestions!
A Week in the Archives – Berlin Edition
From the 16th to the 20th of April, I was in Berlin in the Bundesarchiv and the Politische Archiv of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was my first trip to the latter which was rather exciting for me.
The first three days I visited the Bundesarchiv in Berlin-Lichterfelde. I went through almost 40 files but – unfortunately – I did not find much related directly to the Union. Things changed when I looked into the files of the Politische Archiv: There was one whole record just for the union tracing the communication before the establishing of the union within the ministry of foreign affairs and between the later and the Postal Ministry of the Reich. Furthermore, I found additional little snippets of information that will help us figure out the puzzle that is EPTU at the moment. The findings will be all the more important as they show an ambivalent German-Italian relationship where the Germans had to push the Italian government towards moving forward with the Union.
Thus, after five days of intense reasearch, I took the train home with a few new findings. Next stops will be the archives in other member states of the union.
My Week in the Rigsarkivet in Copenhagen (10th – 13th of July)
The next stop on my tour through archives in Europe was the Rigsarkivet in Copenhagen. Here, the archives are unlike in other cities right in the heart of the city – next to the Christiansborg. That way, it feels like History is part of the present rather than something separate. I went to the Danish archives on the one hand because I am able to understand Danish (even though about 50% of the documents are in German). On the other hand, it seems quite interesting to retrace how the PTT administration of an occupied country reacted to the creation of the union in which it is formally independent and what kind of strategy it used.
It has been quite a successful week. The documents I found in the archive will be able to fill some of the gaps that existed due to the destruction of German material and add a new layer of information. For example, I could find previous contracts between Germany and Denmark for the area of telecommunications, something that up until now had only been found for postal services.
What is however interesting is the fact that also in the Danish archives one can find a significant rupture in the documentation during the years of the Second World War. Since this project also talks about whether the Second World War was as much of a break in international cooperation as it has often been described so far, this seems to be an important piece in the puzzle. From the point of the existing documents, it appears as if there really is a caesura. On the other hand, in many cases, the cooperation seems to have stopped before the World War had even started – namely in the years 1935-1938. Thus, the questions arise: Which time frames do we mean when we compare cooperation before and after the war? Did the relations really stop or is it simply the documents that are missing?