Centre for European and International Studies Research

PhD profile

Photo of Mr Jan DeGraaf

Mr Jan DeGraaf

  • Qualifications: BA History (cum laude) (Utrecht University), MA (Research): ‘History: Cities, States, Citizenship’ (cum laude) (Utrecht University)
  • Role Title: PhD Student
  • Address: Park Building, King Henry 1 Street, Portsmouth PO1 2DZ
  • Telephone:
  • Email: jan.degraaf@port.ac.uk
  • Department: Centre for European and International Studies Research
  • Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


My project is a comparative history of the post-war European socialist and social democratic parties, 1944-1948, focusing upon the Czechoslovakian Social Democratic Party and the Polish Socialist Party in Eastern Europe as well as the French Socialist Party and the Italian Socialist Party in Western Europe. Its foremost aim is to demonstrate that Europe was not yet divided by an Iron Curtain during these first post-war years, but instead witnessed manifold parallels and interactions between the two halves of the continent. Rather than teleologically projecting back the Cold War that separated the two halves of the continent after 1947/48, therefore, it concentrates on that set of problems shared by socialists and social democrats in East and West in the aftermath of liberation – the problems of post-war reconstruction. The thesis will explore two specific dimensions of post-war reconstruction. Its first part is devoted to socio-economic reconstruction, studying the tensions between the various production ‘battles’ proclaimed by social democratic leaders in government and the everyday struggles with insufficient wages, the lack of basic necessities, spiralling inflation and the black market facing rank-and-file social democrats in four medium-sized industrial cities – Plzen for Czechoslovakia, Lódz for Poland, Lille for France and Milano for Italy. The second part will deal with political reconstruction, analysing how distinct national political histories and societal structures affected social democratic attitudes on the contours newfound democracy should take.


Research Clusters

  • Transnational Europe
  • Social and Cultural History

Discipline Areas

  • History
  • Area Studies
  • Politics and Public Administration

Current Research Projects

  • Across the Iron Curtain: European Social Democracy between World War and Cold War, 1943-1948.