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Cold War Military Archives from Hungary, Poland, and Romania

This guide provides indexes to the Library of Congress microfilm collections of formerly classified records from the military archives of Hungary, Poland and Romania. Also includes papers from the conference "Cold War Archives in the Decade of Openness"


Boxes of microfilm in the European Reading Room's storage
Boxes of microfilm reels in the European Reading Room's storage. Photograph taken March 2024. Library of Congress European Reading Room.

In 1996 the Department of Defense initiated the Open House Program that provided documents on hundreds of microfilm reels from the military archives from Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

After WWII what became known as Eastern European countries fell under the Soviet sphere of interest, and until Stalin's death in 1953, for several years they were forced to invest heavily in their military. Hungary and Romania also had to pay reparations and provide goods and services for the Soviet troops. The Soviet leaders that followed after Stalin's death were less worried about a war with Yugoslavia or with Western Europe, so the pressure to invest in the military quite so much of the countries' resources eased. In 1955 West Germany joined NATO, and as a reaction to that alliance the Soviet leaders decided to create the Warsaw Pact to bring Eastern European countries into a military alliance too. In 1956 the Hungarian revolution was crushed by the Soviet forces stationed in Hungary, as the Hungarian armed forces worked with the newly established government, and did not turn against the people. In 1968 the Soviet Union led Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia to crush the revolution there, though most of the fighting was done by the Soviet troops. From the 1960s on the Soviet military doctrine started to focus more on the use of nuclear weapons and less on amassing troops in Eastern European countries that they considered to be a buffer zone in case of an attack from the West. Warsaw pact countries took part in joint military exercises in which nuclear arsenal was moved around too.

Military records form these countries were not available to researchers during the Cold War, or for years after it ended. In the late 1990s a selection of declassified documents were made available for researchers to use in the European Reading Room of the Library of Congress. The records in these collections were selected together by the U.S. Department of Defense and the archives of these countries, and they are now all declassified.

This guide provides: 

  • brief descriptions of these collections,
  • indexes to the contents,
  • information about the conference that was organized et the conclusion of the project, and
  • links to further resources.

Other Library of Congress Guides to Cold War Resources

Communist International (Comintern) Archives at the Library of Congress

The Comintern operated from 1919-1943 to foment world revolution. This guide describes a project to make metadata and materials from the Russian State Archives for Social and Political History (RGASPI) in Moscow available at the Library of Congress.

Finding Government Documents

This guide brings together both online and print resources that contain documents created by the U.S. federal government along with related research tools. Includes a section on declassified documents.

Veterans History Project (VHP): Exploring the Collections

VHP collects, preserves, and makes accessible the firsthand narratives of U.S. military veterans who served from World War I through the present. This guide provides an overview and tips for navigating, locating, and accessing these collections.

Stars and Stripes: U.S. Military Newspapers in the Library of Congress

This guide is a compilation of Library of Congress holdings of Stars and Stripes newspaper editions, as well as books in the Library's collection that discuss the newspaper and the journalists who accompanied U.S. forces into battle.

Cold War: Finding Images in the Prints & Photographs Division

This guide highlights collections that are strong for coverage of events and individuals relating to international and diplomatic struggles between 1946 -1991 with an emphasis on rights-free images. Search tips and related resources are also covered.

Draft: Cold War Resources in the Manuscript Division

This guide is an introduction to primary documents related to the Cold War (1947-1991) in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.