35 years ago, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was about to commence its XXVIIth party congress. Party congresses were rare events, held regularly only every five years. They thus marked an important occasion for the Soviet leadership to talk about past successes and lay out future plans. The XXVIIth party congress was the first one headed by the new general secretary of the Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev. He set out an ambitious reform agenda. For the next years, the Soviet Union – and the world – would talk about glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). This post is going to cover three questions: What did those terms mean? Which consequences did the policies that Gorbachev set in motion have? And, a question that is especially important to board gamers, who are used to assess events and policies by their strategic value: Were those policies beneficial?Continue reading
If there is one city to tell the history of the 20th century, it is Berlin. In 1900, it was the heart of imperial Germany, then turned itself into the seat of power of the new German republic after World War I (and the place-to-be for the avantgarde of the Roaring 1920s). The Nazis hated the tolerant, left-leaning Berlin and planned to rebuild it into the “World Capital Germania” once they had won the war. Those megalomaniac visions were shattered by the Soviet Army conquering Berlin in the single largest land battle in history at the end of World War II. During the Cold War, the divided Berlin was the focal point of confrontation between East and West. Finally, Berlin was re-united again in 1989/90. This article will tell the story of how the city became divided 70 years ago, why that was the better option (at least for one half of the city), and what that meant for the future of the city and the Cold War. As always, we’ll have a look at how board games represent our historical topic throughout the article, but there’s also a special section exclusively dealing with them.