Ipswich School’s Head of Russian, Dr Liddy Reeves-Croft, is currently on a sabbatical for the last five weeks of the Summer Term 2019. She is spending the time travelling through Eastern Europe and Russia, looking at the legacy of the Soviet era in Eastern Europe and then spending time in St Petersburg and Moscow where she will collect some materials for the new Russian A Level specification along the way.
Dr Reeves-Croft will be giving an Academic Excellence lecture in the Michaelmas Term about her experiences entitled “From Budapest to Beijing – a journey overland through the Russian sphere of influence, featuring the Trans-Mongolian Railway”. Details will be on our website after the summer so keep an eye out, we would love to see as many people as possible there.
During her travels, Dr Reeves-Croft has been writing a Guest Blog for us. The first instalment is here:
“I started off in beautiful Budapest. It is an exciting city with wonderful architecture and beautiful sights but it also has a tortuous past. The course of its history during the 20th century was unbelievably tragic and a visit to the House of Terror was without doubt one of the most moving experiences of my life. Set in the former KGB headquarters, the museum took us through the German occupation of Hungary from 1944-5 and the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz and other death camps. We were then shown actual footage of the liberation of the country by Soviet forces, after which Hungary was forced to become part of Stalin’s Eastern Bloc.
We also learned about the failed Hungarian Uprising in 1956 which was brutally suppressed by Soviet troops. A visit to the interrogation cells in the basement was deeply shocking. It was also humbling to see the moving monument by the river Danube to the many Jews who were murdered by the Nazis. They were told to remove their shoes before being shot on the river bank so that their bodies would fall into the river.
After Budapest I visited Bratislava in Slovakia en route to Vienna. Travelling by road really brought home to me how strange life must have been when Europe was divided into two halves by the Iron Curtain. Set on a hill right by the Austrian border, the citizens of Bratislava had a great view of life in what 30 years ago would have been the forbidden West.
In Vienna I visited Central Cafe, a famous meeting place for intellectuals from the end of the 19th century onwards and a favourite haunt of Trotsky and Freud. As Stalin and Hitler lived nearby in 1913, it is likely that they too visited this Viennese icon.
Next I visited Prague, a stunning city with a complicated 20th century history. The Czechs lived under Nazi rule for 6 years and from 1941 they were governed by the infamous Butcher of Prague, Reinhard Heydrich, who was assassinated in 1942 by two Czech resistance fighters. They, along with other members of the resistance, were killed by German troops in the Cathedral of St Cyril & Methodius and the memorial in the crypt of the church is incredibly moving.
After the country was liberated by the Soviet army, Czechoslovakia, like Hungary, became part of the Warsaw Pact and was in effect ruled by the Soviet government in Moscow. Again, like the Hungarians, the Czechs attempted to resist Soviet influence in 1968 with the liberal reforms which became known as the Prague Spring. Moscow sent half a million troops to the country and many stayed there until 1991. One of the most powerful and tragic stories from this time is the suicide of 20 year old Jan Palach by self-immolation in 1969 as a protest against the Soviet invasion – his memorial in Wenceslas Square provides another deeply moving reminder of the country’s tragic past.”
You can see a gallery of images here.
You can also keep up with Dr Reeves’ Croft’s journey by following the Russian account on Twitter @IpswichRussian
Russian is one of our most successful A Level subjects. To find out more why not come to our Open Day on Saturday 28 September. Click here for more information.