1. Describe and analyze three reasons for the end of soviet domination over Eastern Europe. On New Year’s Eve, 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics was dissolved, sixty-nine years after its founding. By the end of October 1990, all fifteen Soviet republics had already declared their sovereignty. The fall of communism can ironically be described as the “domino theory.” Starting with Mikhail Gorbachev’s effort to transform soviet society, non-communist governments spread from Poland and Hungary to each member of the Eastern bloc. The three reasons I will be describing are Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms, the changes in Poland, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
These brought the end to not only Communism, but also the complete end of the ideology of Marxism. The main reason I feel for the end of soviet domination over Eastern Europe was Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnot (“openness”) and perestroika (“restructuring”) campaign. Gorbachev climbed the Soviet’s party ladder faster than any Soviet leader of the post-Stalinist era, and wasted no time once on top. Gorbachev quickly showed his commitment to reform and glasnot, and reopened investigation of the Stalinist-era. Gorbachev encouraged critical discussion of present problems in the Soviet system, bringing criticism from Conservative party leaders who felt this might encourage attacks on present authority and on their traditional values. Glasnot might have been less controversial had it not inspired non-Russian ethnic groups along the country’s borders to express, often with extreme violence, nationalist and religious resentments.
The Soviet Union was established in 1922 and collapsed in 1991. It was the first state to practice and be based on communism. The communist party obliquely controlled the government at all levels; the party’s politburo efficiently ruled the state whose general secretary was the state’s most influential leader. Soviet factories and industries were owned and managed by the state whereas ...
Most threatening of these was the nationalist aspirations of the Baltic States, Georgia, and the Ukraine. In the late 1980’s the Baltic provinces demanded independence. This would be the first of many demands for independence from the Soviet Union. Under Gorbachev the Soviet consumer economy also worsened, leading normally patient Soviets to widespread strikes. The failure of Communism to develop industries such as computers and quality goods only made their economic situation worse.
Also fields such as agriculture were declining, forcing the import of millions of tons of wheat and corn, much from America. Only a century earlier Russia was one of the largest grain exporters in the world. As consumer goods became scarcer than ever, life expectancy decreased as infant mortality increased. As part of his restructuring of the Soviet system, Gorbachev liberalized the process by which delegates were elected to the congress of People’s Deputies, the Soviet parliament. In the elections of March 1989 many voters elected non-Communists to the Congress. When the new parliament assembled, hundreds of delegates attacked the government for moving too slowly with its reforms.
Gorbachev shifted his power to the new office of president, to which the Congress elected him not the people. Given the increasing problems at home, the power of the Soviets lessened and lessened, until the Soviet “satellites” were all gone. The first sign of the end of Soviet domination was the loss of Poland. In 1989 many changes took place in Poland most notably the legalization of the free trade-union movement Solidarity, victory of non-Communist in the country’s first semi-free elections of the postwar era, and the installation of the East bloc’s first non-Communist government- all made possible by Gorbachev’s reforms in East European affairs. Frustrated by decades of repression and economic stagnation under corrupt Communist officials, Polish workers launched a series of non-violent strikes in the summer of 1980.
Church support was especially significant, for the Church enjoyed tremendous influence in Poland. Catholicism was closely intertwined with Polish nationalism, a tie that was reinforced by Pope John Paul II, the first Polish Pope in Vatican history. Solidarity’s demands went beyond economics and into politics. Among them were calls for free elections and a relaxation of restrictions on foreign travel.
Belarus is a country in Asia. It is right below Russia. In the 5 th century, Belarus (also known as White Russia) was colonized by east Slavic tribes. Kiev dominated it from the 9 th to 12 th centuries. After the destruction of Kiev by the Mongols in the 13 th century, the territory was conquered by the dukes of Lithuania, although it retained an amount of autonomy. Belarus became part of the ...
In December 1981 Solidarity’s leadership demanded a part in running the economy. The government responded by declaring martial law, suspending civil rights, forbidding union activity, imprisoning union leaders, and giving full power to a military council. For the next eight years, Poland stagnated economically and politically. Inflation ran close to 100 percent a year, and Poland’s indebtedness to Western banks became so bad that the government could not meet its annual interest obligations and had to request deferrals of payment. As resentment grew within the people, strikes began again, forcing the government to invite Solidarity leader Lech Walesa to Warsaw.
Within two months agreements on legalizing Solidarity and holding free elections were produced. The result of the first election showed Solidarity had won 99 out of 100 seats in the new Senate. Poland’s new non-Communist leaders hoped to revive the economy by introducing a competitive free market. Though this would be a tough job, and inevitably get worse before better, at least the Poles had fought and beaten Communism. This triumphant victory of Poland would be the first of many in Eastern Europe.
Soon after Poland’s victory, bordering nations began to fill with nationalism and wanted their own freedom from the Soviet Union. What makes the transformation of the GDR so remarkable was the East German people’s reputation for obedient acceptance of state authority. Unlike the Polish, the East German’s had no tradition of violent struggle against pro-Soviet dictatorship. Though East Germany had the highest economy in the Eastern bloc, East German’s could see via West German television that the West was economically better off and politically more powerful than they were. To block this information the regime tried to limit citizen’s contacts with the West through border controls, travel restrictions, and bans on Western literature, newspapers, and films.
Though the people stayed content through the 1970’s, the GDR proved unable to keep up with rapid changes in high technology. With Gorbachev’s dramatic reforms in the Soviet Union and the new developments in Poland and Hungary, East German’s began to demand similar changes in the GDR. Gorbachev’s visit to East Berlin to mark the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the GDR in October 1989 was the occasion of huge demonstrations against the government. On November 9 an East German official announced that the government had just drafted a new law giving citizens the right to leave the country through any border crossing. This meant that the Berlin Wall was now merely an ugly remnant of the Cold War. The crumbling of the Berlin Wall on November 11 was symbolic of the crumbling of the Soviet Union.
... of the Berlin Wall on 8th November 1989 after the East German government and communist leadership resigned. (43) On the 24th of November ... it was only a few months until the Soviet Union completely collapsed. Both the government and the people realized that there was no ... 1989 (or 1991, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in the case of Ukraine), Poland was much quicker to rebound and to firmly ...
This now allowed Germans to emigrate to Czechoslovakia and West Germany. On December 3 less than a month after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Communist government also collapsed. On March 18, 1990 a conservative alliance favoring rapid unification won decisive victory. East Germans felt the quicker unification began, the quicker they would enjoy prosperity. West Germans simar ily wanted unification. On September 12, 1990 the four wartime allies signed a settlement with Germany, and on October 3 East and West Germany were finally reunited.
With the crumbling of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, the Soviet Union was slowly losing grip over Eastern Europe. In the wake of Gorbachev’s reforms, Soviet Russia’s Eastern European Empire was slowly disintegrating. The “domino theory” which was invented to describe the collapse of non-Communist regimes, was now applicable to the Soviet Union. What began in Poland spread than to Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Yugoslavia. Though Communism is no longer a fear in the Western Hemisphere it serves as an important piece of Eastern European history.