dekoder Special on Dissent in the USSR

The University of Bremen is investigating the loud and quiet acts of resistance against the authoritarian state with the Grimme Online Award winner "dekoder – Decoding Russia." The special edition entitled "Being Different – Dissent in the Soviet Union" tells the stories of dissidents.

"'Being Different' sheds light on one of the most exciting chapters in Soviet history," states Professor Susanne Schattenberg, Director of the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen (FSO). "It gradually shows various attempts to initiate political change from within culture and society, based on the lives of, for example, Literature Nobel Prize winner Joseph Brodsky, human rights activist Natalya Gorbanevskaya, and artist Ry Nikonova. Or at least bring about cultural change."

Atmospheric Illustrations, Animations, and Texts

Most recently, the biography of physicist, dissident, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, who would have turned 100 in 2021, was published. In 2021, Bremen history students developed an exhibition on Sakharov under the guidance of Susanne Schattenberg and in cooperation with the Sakharov Center Moscow, which was shown from May to July on the Boulevard of the University of Bremen and in Cologne until the end of 2021. The exhibition can be seen at the Ruhr Universität in Bochum until March 31, 2022.

Susanne Schattenberg wrote the dekoder special, and graphic artist Anna Che created the illustrations. The life stories are told in atmospheric illustrations, animations, and texts. They are based, among other things, on sources from personal ancestral and posthumous estates from the archives of the research center. A variety of archive materials are presented in a contemporary and innovative way for the general public.

The Project

"Being Different – Dissent in the Soviet Union" (“Anders sein – Dissens in der Sowjetunion”) is a project of dekoder-lab, in cooperation with the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen and the Chair of Eastern European History at the University of Basel. The Volkswagen Foundation funded the project from January 2019 to May 2020. The online dossiers developed in the project were awarded the Grimme Online Award in 2021. Since 2022, the project has also received support from the Karin and Uwe Hollweg Foundation in Bremen.

The cooperation partners want to make scientific studies the subject of public debates and promote a differentiated public perception of Russia-related issues. In order to establish a digital interface between journalism and science, new multimedia formats are being developed and tested. The format is very innovative – it is a web project within the framework of historical educational work that aims to transfer knowledge from research and archives to the public.

Further Information:

The link to the online special (in German):


Prof. Dr. Susanne Schattenberg
Director of the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen
Professor of Contemporary History and Culture of Eastern Europe
Phone: +49 421 218-69624
Email: schattenbergprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

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