Cathleen M. Giustino: Kindergartenlektionen aus Osteuropa. Spiel und Nachahmung in der sozialistischen Tschechoslowakei und der Sowjetunion, in: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2021. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, pp. 69-86.


This essay explores ideas about play found in the official textbook that was used for training of future kindergarten teachers in socialist Czechoslovakia for much of the Cold War. The textbook under examination here, published in numerous editions starting in 1955 through 1977, presented ideas about play in socialist Czechoslovakia. Because many of the ideas in the teaching text were drawn from a Soviet book published for the purpose of training Soviet kindergarten teachers, the Czechoslovak volume also provides a view into official thinking about children’s play in the Soviet Union and, additionally, sheds light on knowledge transfer within the eastern half of Cold War Europe. Significantly, experts in the Soviet Union and socialist Czechoslovakia argued that acts of mimesis or imitation were at the heart of children’s play. They added that imitation encouraged children’s creativity, rather than impeding or stifling it. This latter conception left open possibilities for some relatively independent thought among children. Ideas about play and mimesis presented here were not entirely new in the postwar era or highly unique to the Soviet sphere of influence.

Über die Autorin

Cathleen M. Giustino, Professorin für Geschichte an der Auburn University, USA. 1997 Promotion in mitteleuropäischer Geschichte an der University of Chicago. 2017–2019 Recherchen für ein Projekt über den Verbleib konfiszierter Kulturgüter in der Tschechoslowakei als Carnegie Fellow. Veröffentlichungen u. a.: »Simply Child’s Play? Toy Design, Ideology and the Avant-Garde in Socialist Czechoslovakia«, in: Megan Brandow-Faller (Hg.): Childhood by Design: Toys and the Material Culture of Childhood, 1700 to the Present, New York 2018; Mithg.: Socialist Escapes: Breaks from Ideology and the Everyday in Eastern Europe, 1945–1989, New York/Oxford 2013 (mit Catherine Plum und Alexander Vari); »Industrial Design and the Czechoslovak Pavilion at EXPO ’58: Artistic Autonomy, Party Control and Cold War Common Ground«, in: Journal of Contemporary History 47 (Januar 2012), H. 1, S. 185–212; Tearing Down Prague’s Jewish Town: Ghetto Clearance and the Legacy of Middle-
Class Ethnic Politics around 1900, New York 2004.

Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung