Eastern Europe and the Cold War 1948-1989
Terms in this set (19)
How did Stalin Control Eastern Europe? (4 ways)
1. Cominform (Soviet-dominated organization of communist parties) was used to make sure Eastern European countries follow the same policies as the Soviet Union. The Communist party was the only legal one and secret police were assigned to arrest any opposing party members.
2. Because of the need to restore law and order, Stalin had an excuse to station Soviet troops in each Eastern European country.
3. Stalin controlled the shattered Eastern European countries by assigning workers and famers things to produced. Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) ensured the countries to trade with Russia. He promised aid to countries that co-operated with the Soviet Union.
4. Whenever Soviet control was threatened, the Soviet Army would use violence to crush their opposition.
What did ordinary eastern Europeans think of Soviet (Stalin) control?
- Eastern European countries hoped that they too, could achieve industrial growth Russia did prior to WWII if they followed Communist methods.
- The USSR offered a stable government and security because it was a superpower: this was appealing to those who had suffered through poverty during the war.
- Soviet control was very different from what the people of eastern Europe had anticipated: free speech was banned, newspapers were censored, non-communists were put in prison, Marshall Aid and traveling to western Europe was banned.
- Between 1945-1955, eastern European economies did recover, however, the factories were industries used to benefit the Soviet Union, not the people of eastern Europe.
- After economic recovery, eastern Europeans experienced a shortage of coal, milk and meat. Clothing prices rose and consumer goods like radios, electric kettles or TVs were unavailable for purchase.
- Protesters were stomped: in June 1953, a demonstration was head across East Germany against Soviet Policies. Thousands were arrested and 40 were killed.
1. Hungary 1956: Why was there opposition in Hungary?
- Led by hard-line communist, Mátáyas Rákosi. He was not popular with the Hungarians as they did not like the restrictions he put on them.
- Hungarians were bitter about losing their freedom of speech, scared of the secret police and resentful towards the Soviet troops and officials in their country.
- They mostly hated the fact that they had to pay for Soviet forces to reside in Hungary.
- June 1956: a group within the communist party opposed Rákosi and he appealed to Moscow for help, wanting to arrest 400 leading opponents. Moscow did not back him and he retired for 'health reasons'.
- October 23, 1956: The Hungarian people were dissatisfied with Erno Gero, the new leader and the Stalin statue in Budapest was torn down. In response the USSR formed a new government under Imre Nagy (well respected). Soviet troops stationed in Hungary began to withdraw, Hungarian local councils were created to replace Soviet ones, and thousands of Hungarian soldiers defected from the army to the rebel cause, taking weapons with them.
- Nagy's government began to make plans of free elections, impartial courts, and restoring farmland to private ownership. It hoped for the withdrawal of the Soviet army and planned to leave the Warsaw pact, declaring Hungary neutral in the Cold War. The Hungarians hoped that Eisenhower (newly elected US President) would support them.
2. Hungary 1956: How did the Soviet Union Respond?
- Khrushchev seemed accepting of the Hungarian reforms, however, did not agree with Hungary's departure from the Warsaw Pact.
- November 1956: thousands of Soviet troops and tanks move into Budapest. The Hungarians did not give in and for two weeks young hungarian children and university students fought the Russian troops. They asked for help from the Western Powers but they sent none as they were preoccupied with the Suez crisis in the Middle East.
- 3,000 Hungarians were killed and 7,000-8,000 Russian troops were killed. 200,000 Hungarians fled to Austria to escape Communist rule; Nagy and his government were arrested then executed.
- János Kádár was put into power by Khrushchev and it took him months to crush the resistance: 35,000 anti-communists imprisoned and 300 executed.
1. Czechoslovakia and the Prague Spring 1968: Why was there opposition in Czechoslovakia?
- Alexander Dubcek, new Czech Communist leader promised a new policy of "socialism with a human face": less censorship, more freedom of speech and reduction of secret police activity. Although Dubcek believed in Communism, he also believed that it should not be restrictive as he had learnt from the Hungarian uprising . He told Brezhnev, new leader of the USSR, that Czechoslovakia had no intentions of withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact or Comecon.
- The Prague Spring: Czech opposition was led by intellectuals who felt Communism had failed Czechoslovakia. Eased censorship allowed for them to attack Communist leadership and criticized previous leaders. Talks of a Social Democratic Party to be set as a rival for the Communist party were emerging.
2. Czechoslovakia and the Prague Spring 1968: How did the Soviet Union Respond?
- The USSR was suspicious of the changes in Czechoslovakia. It had the strongest industry amongst the Warsaw Pact countries and the Soviets worried that the new Czechoslovakian ideas would spread in eastern Europe.
- Brezhnev, was under pressure from the East German and Polish leader to restrain reform in Czechoslovakia.
- The USSR tried various methods:
1. Communist Leaders argued with Dubcek
2. Soviet, Polish and German troops performed public training exercises at the Czech border.
3. They considered economic sanctions but decided against it because the US would help the Czechs.
- July 1968: USSR has a summit conference with Czechoslovakia and Dubcek agrees to forbid a new Social Democratic Party but insists on keeping his reforms.
- August 1968: Warsaw Pact countries produce a vague declaration calling on Czechoslovakia to maintain political stability.
- August 20, 1968: Soviet tanks move into Czechoslovakia. There is little resistance although many Czechs refuse to cooperate with Russian troops. Dubcek is removed from power because Brezhnev is afraid of his ideas spreading.
3. Czechoslovakia and the Prague Spring 1968: Brezhnev Doctrine
Essentials of Communism defined as:
1. one party system
2. remain a member of the Warsaw Pact
Dubcek was not executed but was downgraded gradually, first to an ambassador in Turkey and then removed from the Communist party altogether.
Czechoslovakia now felt extremely resentful towards the Soviet Union in contrast to the optimistic attitude they once had for it.
1. The Berlin Wall: Why was it built? (3 reasons)
1. Nearly 2,000 refugees a day were fleeing to the West through west Berlin - hardly proof of the Soviet claim that the Communist way of life was better than capitalism
2, Many of those leaving were skilled and qualified workers.
3, The Soviets believed (rightly) that West Berlin was a centre for US espionage.
Khrushchev initially tried to get young and inexperienced Kennedy to make the US leave Germany. However Kennedy refused.
The Berlin wall was assembled at 2am on 13 August 1961. There was only only one unsealed point, aka Checkpoint Charlie. Families were divided and Berliners were unable to go to work.
2. The Berlin Wall: Western Reaction
- Major crises: access to East Berlin was guaranteed to the allies since 1945. In October 1961 US troops and diplomats crossed regularly to East berlin as a test.
- October 27: Soviet tanks pulled up to Checkpoint Charlie and refuse US access to East Berlin. US and USSR tanks face each other for 18 hours and slowly begin to pull back.
Why did the Cold War Thaw in the 1970s? (4 events)
1. End of Vietnam War: Relations between the US, USSR and China improve
2. Hand shake in space between Soviet and American astronaut
3. Helsinki Conference August 1975: all countries established the borders set up after WWII. The country representatives agreed to respect human rights. These human rights included freedom of speech and freedom to move from one country to another.
4. Arms Race:
- It seemed immoral and unlikely to happen. In addition, it ruined the environment, and cost too much - there were numerous anti-nuclear protests in the US.
- During the 70s, the superpowers came up with incredibly high-tech missile warheads and a submarine-launched missiles that could set more than a few cities on fire. Although they created these expensive and high-tech weapons, both superpowers thought they could use the money for other things in their countries instead.
- Both Brezhnev and Nixon visited each other's countries. Nixon was the first American President to visit Russia. In 1972, the Nuclear Arms Limitation Treaty, SALT 1, was signed. The relationship between the USSR and US was improving so much that there was even a chance of there being a SALT 2.
Why did the Cold War freeze again in the 1980s? (8 causes)
1. Revolution in Iran
In 1979, the Shah, was overthrown in Iran during the Iranian revolution, a period of time when the Iranian people were aiming to move towards having a government and society firmly grounded in Islamic beliefs. The Americans supported the shah who had given them access to Iran's immense oil supply. The new government however, was strongly anti- American and anti-Communist, and the revolution had created a ripple effect throughout the Middle East, shifting the balance of power. Both superpowers were extremely worried about how the other would respond, which increased tensions.
2. Civil Wars In Nicaragua, El Salvador And In Angola
During this period in time, communist rebels in El Salvador, Angola, and Nicaragua were receiving funding from the USSR and Cuba to aid them in attempting to overthrow their respective governments. In response to this, the USA began funding the governments, to help them against the rebels, and in Angola, a long running civil war ensued which was funded by both superpowers.
3. Human Rights
Another incidence, which intensified the tension between the USA and USSR, was American president, Jimmy Carter's criticism of the Soviet's policy of suppressing dissidents, or people who critiqued the communists throughout the soviet bloc.
4. New Nuclear Weapons
In 1977, the USSR began placing the newly developed SS-20 nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe to replace the older, out-of-date weapons. President carter was extremely unnerved, as he saw the new weapons as a warning of a new potential battlefield, confined to Europe. In response, he authorized the development of the Cruise missile, and by 1979 Pershing missiles had been placed in Western Europe.
5. Collapse of SALT 2
By 1974, the terms of the SALT 2 agreement had been established, and it was signed in June of 1979. However, congress refused to ratify the agreement, as US- Soviet relations had degenerated.
By 1979, the Mujahedeen, or the Muslim opponents to the Pro- Soviet government running Afghanistan had gained popularity, and became a serious threat for the Soviets. The USSR then sent troops into Afghanistan, on the 25th of December 1979, in the hopes of regaining control. This alarmed the USA, who were worried about the USSR being so close to the West's oil supplies in the Middle East. President Carter then declared the Soviet's invasion "the biggest threat to peace since the second world war". The USA then began sending financial aid as well as arms through Pakistan to the Mujahedeen. The soviet's invasion was incredibly unpopular, and there was no chance of them winning, and they left in the early 1990's.
7. The Moscow and Los Angeles Olympics
The Americans boycotted the 1980 Olympic games held in Moscow in protest of the soviet's campaign in Afghanistan. In response, the USSR boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.
8. Ronald Reagan
In 1981, Ronald Reagan was elected as the American President, who famously called the USSR the "Evil Empire". He supported anti- communists in Nicaragua and Afghanistan, and was helped by Britain's prime- minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher, who supported his approach to handling the USSR.
Meanwhile, he continued to escalate the arms race in the hopes of ending it, increasing the Defense budget by $32.6 billion. In 1982, he approved the Strategic Defense Institute, which was a multi-million dollar project, that aimed to create a defense mechanism which could destroy missiles before they reached their targets, using satellites and lasers. This increased tensions, as it would completely change how the Cold War was handled by both superpowers.
1. Solidarity: List the events leading up to the Government's agreements to the Solidarity demands
Poland and Russia had always had an uneasy relationship. Soviet control on Russia was extremely unpopular.
Over the years there had been protests against Soviet control and the hardships that came with. In 1956 and 1970, strikes led to changes in leadership.
During the 1970s, things were better in Poland and people were experiencing a degree of prosperity because of foreign loans and the Marshall Plan.
However, by 1979, Poland experienced an recession and standards of living fell.
Polish workers started to form Trade Unions.
In July 1980, the government announced an increase in food prices. This began the strikes.
A trade union emerged from the Gdask Shipyards called "Solidarity" was led by Lech Wałęsa. It was supposed to be a non-political moment. It became a political movement when the government failed to meet their needs.
Solidarity put forward 21 demands, the most important ones being: the acceptance of non violent protesters, less censorship, paid paternity leave for three years, etc.
By the end of 1980, membership of Solidarity grew to 9 million.
The government agreed to all 21 demands.
2. Solidarity: Why did the Government agree to solidarity? (8 reasons)
1. Strongest union in industries that were essential the government and economy- a strike would seriously damage the economy
2. They were not seen as an alternative to the communist party, in fact ⅓ of members were part of the Communist Party
3. The leader, Walesa was careful with his negotiations. He didn't want the Soviet Union sending in the tanks
4. Learnt from the Prague Spring and Hungarian Uprising
5. It was very popular, 95% of the Oikes said they trusted it
6. It had the support of the Catholic church, the government dare not confront the church, as it was incredibly powerful in poland
7. The government was playing for time- it helped that the union would be divided like previous movements
8. It had gained the Interest and support of the west- the soviet union had to tread carefully
3. Solidarity: Clampdown
1. February 1981: Prime Minister of Poland "resigned" and the leader of the army took over. From the moment he took office people around the world expected the Soviet Union to send in tanks.
2. March 1981: After negotiations with Jaruzelski, Walesa called off a strike at Bydgoszcz. Many Solidarity members were unhappy about this.
3. May 1981: 'Rural Solidarity' was set up as a farmer's union
4. September 1981: Lech Walesa was elected chairman of Solidarity. The Solidarity Congress produced an 'open letter' to the workers of eastern Europe saying that they were fighting for worker's rights throughout the communist bloc.
5. November 1981: Negotiations between Walesa and Jaruzelski to form a government of 'National Understanding' broke down. Poland was at the edge of chaos. The government was very unstable.
6. December 1981: The government acted - Soviet troops were based on the Polish border and martial law was introduced. Walesa and 1000 solidarity leaders were imprisoned.
4. Solidarity: Why did the Polish government clamp down on Solidarity in December 1981? (4 reasons)
1. Increasing signs that Solidarity was acting as a political party. The Soviet Union could not have an eastern European country within the Soviet bloc dictated by an independent party.
2. The situation had gone too far for the Soviet Union - they had to restore communist control.
3. Poland was sinking into chaos - food was being rationed, national income had fallen by 13%, industrial production by 11%, foreign trade by 20%, and unemployment was rising.
4. Solidarity itself was trembling into chaos - the union was divided between many different fractions. Walesa no longer had control.
5. Solidarity: Significance of Solidarity (4 points)
1. It proved that some opposition could not be stamped out by the government or the Soviet Union.
2. It showed communist countries that if they stood together against oppression it was very difficult for the authorities to deal with them.
3. Proved that some people no longer trusted communist governments.
4. If military force was not used the communist control seemed very shaky.
Problems facing the USSR in the 1980s
- Afghanistan had become "Russia's Vietnam".
- Russia could not afford the arms race.
- The Soviet economy was backwards - factories and mines were decrepit and out of date.
- Backward industry was causing increasing environmental problems - eg pollution, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion of 1986, and the Aral Sea dried up.
- Many people were much poorer than the poorest people in the capitalist West - unrest about shortages was growing.
- Crime, alcoholism and drugs were out of control in Soviet towns.
- Many people were dissatisfied with the Soviet police state and censorship.
What did Gorbachev do (once in power) that changed the Soviet Union?
- withdrew from Afghanistan.
- realised that the USSR could not afford the arms race, and opened the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) with the USA and signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987.
- to reform the Soviet system by allowing perestroika (competition in business) and glasnost (freedom).
Why did Soviet control of eastern Europe collapse?
As in 1956 and 1968, a relaxation by the Soviet government encouraged revolutions in Eastern Europe only this time, the USSR did not have the means or the will to impose military control.
- Free elections held in Poland in June 1989 were won by Solidarity, originally a banned trade union, and Lech Walesa became the first non-communist president of Poland.
- Revolutions in other Eastern European countries quickly followed - notably the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.
- In 1991, Gorbachev fell from power and the Soviet Union was dissolved.
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