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The Eastern Bloc, also known as the Communist Bloc, the Socialist Bloc and the Soviet Bloc, was the group of communist states of Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia, and Southeast Asia under the hegemony of the Soviet Union (USSR) that existed during the Cold War (1947–1991) in opposition to the capitalist Western Bloc. In Western Europe, the term Eastern Bloc generally referred to the USSR and its satellite states in the Comecon (East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania); in Asia, the Soviet Bloc comprised the Mongolian People's Republic, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the People's Republic of Kampuchea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the People's Republic of China (before the Sino-Soviet split in 1961). In the Americas, the Communist Bloc included the Caribbean Republic of Cuba since 1961 and Grenada.

Soviet control of the Eastern Bloc was tested by the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état and the Tito–Stalin Split over the direction of the People's Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Chinese Communist Revolution (1949), and China's participation in the Korean War. After Stalin's death in 1953, the Korean War ceased with the 1954 Geneva Conference. In Europe, anti-Soviet sentiment provoked the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany. The break-up of the Eastern Bloc began in 1956 with Nikita Khrushchev's anti-Stalinist speech On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences. This speech was a factor in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, which the Soviet Union suppressed. The Sino–Soviet split gave North Korea and North Vietnam more independence from both and facilitated the Soviet–Albanian split. The Cuban Missile Crisis preserved the Cuban Revolution from rollback by the United States, but Fidel Castro became increasingly independent of Soviet influence afterwards, most notably during the 1975 Cuban intervention in Angola. That year, the communist victory in former French Indochina following the end of the Vietnam War gave the Eastern Bloc renewed confidence after it had been frayed by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev's 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia to suppress the Prague Spring. This led to the People's Republic of Albania withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact, briefly aligning with Mao Zedong's China until the Sino-Albanian split.

Under the Brezhnev Doctrine, the Soviet Union reserved the right to intervene in other socialist states. In response, China moved towards the United States following the Sino-Soviet border conflict and later reformed and liberalized its economy while the Eastern Bloc saw the Era of Stagnation in comparison with the capitalist First World. The Soviet–Afghan War nominally expanded the Eastern Bloc, but the war proved unwinnable and too costly for the Soviets, challenged in Eastern Europe by the civil resistance of Solidarity. In the late 1980s, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev pursued policies of glasnost ("openness") and perestroika ("restructuring") to reform the Eastern Bloc and end the Cold War, which brought forth unrest throughout the bloc.

The opening of a border gate between Austria and Hungary at the Pan-European Picnic in August 1989 then set in motion a chain reaction, at the end of which there was no longer a East Germany and the Eastern Bloc had disintegrated. Due to the inconsistent action of the Eastern European rulers, the bracket of the Eastern Bloc was broken. Now the media-informed Eastern Bloc citizens knew that the Iron Curtain was no longer tight and that the power of the authorities was increasingly broken. Unlike previous Soviet leaders in 1953, 1956, and 1968, Gorbachev refused to use force to end the 1989 Revolutions against Marxist–Leninist rule in Eastern Europe. The fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Warsaw Pact spread nationalist and liberal ideals throughout the Soviet Union, which would soon dissolve at the end of 1991. Conservative communist elites launched a 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt, which hastened the end of Marxist–Leninist rule in Eastern Europe. The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in China were violently repressed by the communist government there, which maintained its grip on power.

Although the Soviet Union and its rival the United States considered Europe to be the most important front of the Cold War, the term Eastern Bloc was often used interchangeably with the term Second World. This broadest usage of the term would include not only Maoist China and Cambodia, but short-lived Soviet satellites such as the Second East Turkestan Republic (1944–1949), the People's Republic of Azerbaijan, and Republic of Mahabad (1946), as well as the Marxist–Leninist states straddling the Second and Third Worlds before the end of the Cold War: the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (from 1967), the People's Republic of the Congo (from 1969), the People's Republic of Benin, the People's Republic of Angola and People's Republic of Mozambique from 1975, the People's Revolutionary Government of Grenada from 1979 to 1983, the Derg/People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia from 1974, and the Somali Democratic Republic from 1969 until the Ogaden War in 1977. Many states were also accused by the Western Bloc of being in the Eastern Bloc when they were actually part of the Non-Aligned Movement. The most limited definition of the Eastern Bloc would only include the Warsaw Pact states and the Mongolian People's Republic as former satellite states most dominated by the Soviet Union. However, North Korea was similarly subordinate before the Korean War and Soviet aid during the Vietnam War enabled Vietnam to dominate Laos and Cambodia until the end of the Cold War. Cuba's defiance of complete Soviet control was noteworthy enough that Cuba was sometimes excluded as a satellite state altogether, as it sometimes intervened in other Third World countries even when the Soviet Union opposed this.

The only surviving communist states are China, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea and Laos. Their state socialist experience was more in line with decolonization from the Global North and anti-imperialism towards the West instead of the Red Army occupation of the former Eastern Bloc. The five surviving socialist states all adopted economic reforms to varying degrees. China and Vietnam are usually described as more state capitalist than the more traditionalist Cuba and Laos and the overtly Stalinist North Korea. Cambodia and Kazakhstan are still led by the same Eastern Bloc leaders as during the Cold War, though they are not officially Marxist–Leninist states. This was previously the case in Kazakhstan's fellow post-Soviet states of Uzbekistan until 2016, Turkmenistan until 2006, Kyrgyzstan until 2005, and Azerbaijan and Georgia until 2003. All presidents of post-Soviet Russia were members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Boris Yeltsin before 1990, Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev before 1991). Azerbaijan is an authoritarian dominant-party state and North Korea is a totalitarian one-party state led by the heirs of their Eastern Bloc leaders, yet both have officially eliminated mentions of communism from their constitutions.

In addition to above, since recently, the term "New Eastern Bloc" applies to countries allied with China and Russia such as Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Serbia and many other countries.



The Eastern Bloc was the former communist states of Central and Eastern Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact.<ref name=houghlin>


</ref><ref> Compare:

</ref> The terms Communist Bloc and Soviet Bloc were also used to denote groupings of states aligned with the Soviet Union, although these terms might include states outside Central and Eastern Europe.

The USSR and World War II in Central and Eastern Europe

File:EasternBloc BorderChange38-48.svg

In 1922, the RSFSR, the Ukrainian SSR, the Byelorussian SSR and the Transcaucasian SFSR, approved the Treaty of Creation of the USSR and the Declaration of the Creation of the USSR, forming the Soviet Union.<ref>Julian Towster. Political Power in the U.S.S.R., 1917–1947: The Theory and Structure of Government in the Soviet State Oxford Univ. Press, 1948. p. 106</ref> Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who viewed the Soviet Union as a “socialist island”, stated that the Soviet Union must see that “the present capitalist encirclement is replaced by a socialist encirclement.”<ref name=“tucker46”>


Expansion of the USSR in 1939–1940

In 1939, the USSR entered into the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany<ref name=“britannicamr”/> that contained a secret protocol that divided Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland into German and Soviet spheres of influence.<ref name=“britannicamr”>Encyclopædia Britannica, German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, 2008</ref><ref name=“mrtext”>''Text of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact'', executed 23 August 1939</ref> Eastern Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Bessarabia in northern Romania were recognized as parts of the Soviet sphere of influence.<ref name=“mrtext”/> Lithuania was added in a second secret protocol in September 1939.<ref name=“christie”>Christie, Kenneth, Historical Injustice and Democratic Transition in Eastern Asia and Northern Europe: Ghosts at the Table of Democracy, RoutledgeCurzon, 2002, ISBN 0-7007-1599-1</ref>

The Soviet Union had invaded the portions of eastern Poland assigned to it by the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact two weeks after the German invasion of western Poland, followed by co-ordination with German forces in Poland.<ref name=“stalinswars43”>

</ref><ref name=“sanford”>

</ref> During the Occupation of East Poland by the Soviet Union, the Soviets liquidated the Polish state, and a German-Soviet meeting addressed the future structure of the “Polish region.”<ref name=“Nekrich131”>

</ref> Soviet authorities immediately started a campaign of sovietization<ref name=“Sowietyzacja”>

</ref><ref name=“Relocation”>

</ref> of the newly Soviet-annexed areas.<ref>The Soviets organized staged elections,

Bartlomiej Kozlowski ''Wybory” do Zgromadzen Ludowych Zachodniej Ukrainy i Zachodniej Bialorusi'', NASK, 2005,, the result of which was to become a legitimization of Soviet annexation of eastern Poland. Jan Tomasz Gross, Revolution from Abroad, Princeton University Press, 2003, page 396 ISBN 0-691-09603-1</ref><ref>Soviet authorities attempted to erase Polish history and culture, Trela-Mazur, Elzbieta, Sowietyzacja oswiaty w Malopolsce Wschodniej pod radziecka okupacja 1939–1941 (Sovietization of Education in Eastern Lesser Poland During the Soviet Occupation 1939–1941), ed. Wlodzimierz Bonusiak, et al. (eds.), Wyzsza Szkola Pedagogiczna im. Jana Kochanowskiego, 1997, ISBN 978-83-7133-100-8</ref><ref>Soviet authorities withdrew the Polish currency without exchanging rubles,

, Karolina Lanckoronska Wspomnienia wojenne; 22 IX 1939 – 5 IV 1945, 2001, ed, page 364, Chapter I – Lwów, ZNAK, ISBN 83-240-0077-1</ref> Soviet authorities collectivized agriculture,<ref name=“PWN OKUPACJA SOWIECKA W POLSCE 1939–41”>

Encyklopedia PWN, “OKUPACJA SOWIECKA W POLSCE 1939–41”, last accessed on 1 March 2006, online, Polish language</ref> and nationalized and redistributed private and state-owned Polish property.<ref name=“Piotrowski_11”>

</ref><ref>Soviet authorities regarded service for the pre-war Polish state as a “crime against revolution” Gustaw Herling-Grudziński, A World Apart: Imprisonment in a Soviet Labor Camp During World War II, 1996, page 284, Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-025184-7 and “counter-revolutionary activity”,

Władysław Anders, Bez ostatniego rozdzialu, 1995, page 540, Test, ISBN 83-7038-168-5 and subsequently started arresting large numbers of Polish citizens.</ref><ref>During the initial Soviet invasion of Poland, between 230,000 to 450,000 Poles were taken as prisoner, some of which were executed (see also Katyn massacre).Sanford, Google Books, p. 20-24.; Fischer, Benjamin B., “The Katyn Controversy: Stalin's Killing Field”, Studies in Intelligence, Winter 1999–2000; ''Stalin's Killing Field''</ref>

Initial Soviet occupations of the Baltic countries had occurred in mid-June 1940, when Soviet NKVD troops raided border posts in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia,<ref name=“wettig20”>

</ref><ref name=“senn”>Senn, Alfred Erich, Lithuania 1940 : revolution from above, Amsterdam, New York, Rodopi, 2007 ISBN 978-90-420-2225-6</ref> followed by the liquidation of state administrations and replacement by Soviet cadres.<ref name=“wettig20”/><ref>34,250 Latvians, 75,000 Lithuanians and almost 60,000 Estonians were deported or killed. Simon Sebag Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, page 334</ref> Elections for parliament and other offices were held with single candidates listed and the official results fabricated, purporting pro-Soviet candidates' approval by 92.8 percent of the voters in Estonia, 97.6 percent in Latvia, and 99.2 percent in Lithuania.<ref name=“wettig21”>

</ref><ref>Furthermore, the Latvian results are known to be complete fabrications, having been accidentally released to the press in London and published a day ahead of schedule. Visvaldis, Mangulis, Latvia in the Wars of the 20th century, 1983, Princeton Junction: Cognition Books, isbn=0-912881-00-3, Chapter=VIII. September 1939 to June 1941; Švābe, Arvīds. The Story of Latvia. Latvian National Foundation. Stockholm. 1949. Feldbrugge, Ferdinand et al., Encyclopedia of Soviet Law, 1985, Brill, ISBN 90-247-3075-9, page 460</ref> The fraudulently installed peoples assemblies immediately requested admission into the USSR, which was granted by the Soviet Union, with the annexations resulting in the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic, Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, and Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic.<ref name=“wettig21”/> The international community condemned this initial annexation of the Baltic states and deemed it illegal.<ref name=“smithpabriksxix”>

</ref><ref name=“oconnor117”>


In 1939, the Soviet Union unsuccessfully attempted an invasion of Finland,<ref name=“ckpipe”>

</ref> subsequent to which the parties entered into an interim peace treaty granting the Soviet Union the eastern region of Karelia (10% of Finnish territory),<ref name=“ckpipe”/> and the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic was established by merging the ceded territories with the KASSR. After a June 1940 Soviet Ultimatum demanding Bessarabia, Bukovina, and the Hertza region from Romania,<ref name=“stalinswars55”>

</ref><ref name=“shirer794”>

</ref> the Soviets entered these areas, Romania caved to Soviet demands and the Soviets occupied the territories.<ref name=“stalinswars55”/><ref>The occupation accompanied religious persecution during the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina and Soviet deportations from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina.</ref>

Eastern Front and Allied Conferences

Winston Churchill, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Premier of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference, February 1945.]]

In June 1941, Germany broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact by invading the Soviet Union. From the time of this invasion to 1944, the areas annexed by the Soviet Union were part of Germany's Ostland (except for the Moldavian SSR). Thereafter, the Soviet Union began to push German forces westward through a series of battles on the Eastern Front.

In the aftermath of WWII on the Soviet-Finnish border, the parties signed another peace treaty ceding to the Soviet Union in 1944, followed by a Soviet annexation of roughly the same eastern Finnish territories as those of the prior interim peace treaty as part of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic.

From 1943 to 1945, several conferences regarding Post-War Europe occurred that, in part, addressed the potential Soviet annexation and control of countries in Central Europe. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's Soviet policy regarding Central Europe differed vastly from that of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with the former believing Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to be a “devil”-like tyrant leading a vile system.<ref name=“miscamble51”>


When warned of potential domination by a Stalin dictatorship over part of Europe, Roosevelt responded with a statement summarizing his rationale for relations with Stalin: “I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of a man. . . . I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace.”<ref name=“miscamble52”>

</ref> While meeting with Stalin and Roosevelt in Tehran in 1943, Churchill stated that Britain was vitally interested in restoring Poland as an independent country.<ref name=“wettig44”/> Britain did not press the matter for fear that it would become a source of inter-allied friction.<ref name=“wettig44”>


In February 1945, at the conference at Yalta, Stalin demanded a Soviet sphere of political influence in Central Europe.<ref name=“stalinswars241”/> Stalin eventually was convinced by Churchill and Roosevelt not to dismember Germany.<ref name=“stalinswars241”/> Stalin stated that the Soviet Union would keep the territory of eastern Poland they had already taken via invasion in 1939, and wanted a pro-Soviet Polish government in power in what would remain of Poland.<ref name=“stalinswars241”>

</ref> After resistance by Churchill and Roosevelt, Stalin promised a re-organization of the current pro-Soviet government on a broader democratic basis in Poland.<ref name=“stalinswars241”/> He stated that the new government's primary task would be to prepare elections.<ref name=“wettig47”>


The parties at Yalta further agreed that the countries of liberated Europe and former Axis satellites would be allowed to “create democratic institutions of their own choice”, pursuant to “the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live.”<ref name=“yaltareport”>11 February 1945 Potsdam Report, reprinted in Potsdam Ashley, John, Soames Grenville and Bernard Wasserstein, The Major International Treaties of the Twentieth Century: A History and Guide with Texts, Taylor & Francis, 2001 ISBN 0-415-23798-X</ref> The parties also agreed to help those countries form interim governments “pledged to the earliest possible establishment through free elections” and “facilitate where necessary the holding of such elections.”<ref name=“yaltareport”/>

At the beginning of the July–August 1945 Potsdam Conference after Germany's unconditional surrender, Stalin repeated previous promises to Churchill that he would refrain from a “sovietization” of Central Europe.<ref name=“stalinswars274”>

</ref> In addition to reparations, Stalin pushed for “war booty”, which would permit the Soviet Union to directly seize property from conquered nations without quantitative or qualitative limitation.<ref name=“wettig90”/> A clause was added permitting this to occur with some limitations.<ref name=“wettig90”>


Formation of Eastern Bloc

When Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov expressed concern that the Yalta Agreement's wording might impede Stalin's plans in Central Europe, Stalin responded “Never mind. We'll do it our own way later.”<ref name=“berthon289”>

</ref> After Soviet forces remained in Eastern and Central European countries, with the beginnings of communist puppet regimes installed in those countries, by falsified elections, Churchill referred to the region as being behind an “Iron Curtain” of control from Moscow.<ref>Muller, James W., Churchill's “Iron Curtain” Speech Fifty Years Later, University of Missouri Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8262-1247-6, pages 1–8</ref>

At first, many non-communist countries condemned the speech as warmongering, though many historians have now revised their opinions.<ref>Gaddis, John Lewis, We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History, Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1998, ISBN 0-19-878071-0</ref> Members of the Eastern Bloc besides the Soviet Union are sometimes referred to as “satellite states” of the Soviet Union.<ref name=“Whincop, Michael J. 2005, page 43”>Whincop, Michael J., Corporate Governance in Government Corporations, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2005, ISBN 0-7546-2276-2, page 43</ref><ref name=“Feldbrugge, Ferdinand Joseph Maria 1993, page 63”>Feldbrugge, Ferdinand Joseph Maria, Russian law: the end of the Soviet system and the role of law, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1993, ISBN 0-7923-2358-0, page 63</ref><ref name=“autogenerated178”>Black, Cyril Edwin Robert English, Jonathan E. Helmreich, Paul C. Helmreich, A. James McAdams, Rebirth: A Political History of Europe Since World War II, Westview Press, 2000, ISBN 0-8133-3664-3, page 178</ref><ref>





Initial control process

The initial problem in countries occupied by the Red Army in 1944–45 was how to transform occupation power into control of domestic development.<ref name=“wettig35”>

</ref> Because communists were small minorities in all countries but Czechoslovakia,<ref name=“wettig39”/> they were initially instructed to form coalitions in their respective countries.<ref name=“wettig36”/> At the war's end, concealment of the Kremlin's role was considered crucial to neutralize resistance and to make the regimes appear not only autonomous, but also to resemble “bourgeois democracies”.<ref name=“wettig39”/>

Soviet takeover of control at the outset generally followed a process:

  • a general coalition of left-wing, antifascist forces;
  • a reorganized 'coalition' in which the communists would have the upper hand and neutralise those in other parties who were not willing to accept communist supremacy;
  • complete communist domination, frequently exercised in a new party formed by the fusion of communist and other leftist groups.<ref name=“crampton211”>


What is sometimes overlooked in the context of how the Eastern Bloc was formed, however, is the political climate of the time in regards to the political orientation of many of those who fought and died to resist fascism on the local and regional levels, as well as the national ones. Quite a significant number of the citizen groupings known collectively as the antifascist 'partisan movement' that did much to defeat fascist forces during the war, were politically communist-oriented or otherwise radical left in political views, such as left communists and anarchists – continuing to a great extent the political spirit of the failed Republican forces that fought Franco during the Spanish Civil War and the anarchist forces who briefly established a social-anarchist society in Catalonia, among other similar precedents. The Soviets, therefore, were to an extent able to 'ride the wave' of respect and admiration these partisans had earned amongst the populations of these countries by the time the war had ended. Their drive to insist on “friendly governments” as the war drew to a close did not happen in an ideological vacuum: the Soviets did indeed impose these pro-Soviet regimes in Central Europe by what effectively wound up being unilateral decree – but the role of the partisans on all fronts of the war, as well as the estimated 20,000,000 Soviet soldiers who died to defeat fascism, cannot be dismissed, as it lent a certain amount of the appearance of 'licence' on the part of the Soviet administration to control Central Europe that they would not otherwise have had.

It was only in the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia that former partisans entered their new government independently of Soviet influence. It was the latter's publicly stubborn independent political stances, its insistence on specifically not being a puppet regime, that led to the Tito–Stalin split and the other moves towards an “independent socialism” that quickly made SR Yugoslavia unique within the context of overall Eastern Bloc politics.

Property relocation

By the end of World War Two, most of Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union in particular, suffered vast destruction.<ref name=“pearson29”/> The Soviet Union had suffered a staggering 27 million deaths, and the destruction of significant industry and infrastructure, both by the Nazi Wehrmacht and the Soviet Union itself in a “scorched earth” policy to keep it from falling in Nazi hands as they advanced over 1,000 miles to within 15 miles of Moscow.<ref name=“pearson29”>

</ref> Thereafter, the Soviet Union physically transported and relocated east European industrial assets to the Soviet Union.<ref name=“pearson29”/>

This was especially pronounced in eastern European Axis countries, such as Romania and Hungary, where such a policy was considered as punitive reparations (a principle accepted by Western powers).<ref name=“pearson31”>

</ref> In some cases, Red Army officers viewed cities, villages and farms as being open to looting.<ref>Beevor, Antony, Berlin: The Downfall 1945, Penguin Books, 2002, ISBN 0-670-88695-5. Specific reports also include Report of the Swiss legation in Budapest of 1945 and Hubertus Knabe: Tag der Befreiung? Das Kriegsende in Ostdeutschland (A day of liberation? The end of war in East Germany), Propyläen 2005, ISBN 3-549-07245-7 German).</ref> Other Eastern Bloc states were required to provide coal, industrial equipment, technology, rolling stock and other resources to reconstruct the Soviet Union.<ref name=“bideleux461”>

</ref> Between 1945 and 1953, the Soviets received a net transfer of resources from the rest of the Eastern Bloc under this policy roughly comparable to the net transfer from the United States to western Europe in the Marshall Plan.<ref name=“bideleux461”/>

East Germany


. The Soviets ceded the portion to the east of the Oder–Neisse line (light beige) to Poland, while a portion of the isolated easternmost section of German East Prussia, the Kaliningrad Oblast, was annexed directly into the USSR]] Most of Germany east of the Oder–Neisse line, which contained much of Germany's fertile land, was transferred to what remained of unilaterally Soviet-controlled Poland.<ref name=“miller5”/> At the end of World War II, political opposition immediately materialized after occupying Soviet army personnel conducted systematic pillaging and rapes in their zone of then divided Germany,<ref name=“miller12”/> with total rape victim estimates ranging from tens of thousands to two million.<ref>Schissler, Hanna The Miracle Years: A Cultural History of West Germany, 1949–1968</ref><ref>When members of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) reported to Stalin that looting and rapes by Soviet soldiers could result in negative consequences for the future of socialism in post-war East Germany, Stalin reacted angrily: “I shall not tolerate anybody dragging the honor of the Red Army through the mud.” (Wolfgang Leonhard, Child of the Revolution ,Pathfinder Press, 1979, ISBN 0-906133-26-2</ref><ref>Norman M. Naimark. The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945–1949. Harvard University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-674-78405-7) Accordingly, all evidence of looting, rapes and destruction by the Red Army was deleted from archives in the Soviet occupation zone.(Wolfgang Leonhard, Child of the Revolution, Pathfinder Press, 1979, ISBN 0-906133-26-2.)</ref>

In a June 1945 meeting, Stalin told German communist leaders in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany that he expected to slowly undermine the British position within the British occupation zone, that the United States would withdraw within a year or two and that nothing then would stand in the way of a united Germany under communist control within the Soviet orbit.<ref name=“miller13”>

</ref> Stalin and other leaders told visiting Bulgarian and Yugoslav delegations in early 1946 that Germany must be both Soviet and communist.<ref name=“miller13”/>

Factories, equipment, technicians, managers and skilled personnel were forcibly transferred to the Soviet Union.<ref name=“miller12”>

</ref> In the non-annexed remaining portion of Soviet-controlled East Germany, like in the rest of Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe, the major task of the ruling communist party was to channel Soviet orders down to both the administrative apparatus and the other bloc parties pretending that these were initiatives of its own.<ref name=“wettig94”>

</ref> At the direction of Stalin, Soviet authorities forcibly unified the Communist Party of Germany and Social Democratic Party into the SED, claiming at the time that it would not have a Marxist-Leninist or Soviet orientation.<ref name=“wettig96”>


The SED won a first narrow election victory in Soviet-zone elections in 1946, even though Soviet authorities oppressed political opponents and prevented many competing parties from participating in rural areas.<ref name=“wettig106”>

</ref> Property and industry were nationalized under their government.<ref name=“wettig96”/><ref>The political process contrasted with that in western German zones occupied by Britain, France and the United States, where minister-presidents were chosen by freely elected parliamentary assemblies. (Turner, Henry Ashby The Two Germanies Since 1945: East and West, Yale University Press, 1987, ISBN 0-300-03865-8, page 20)</ref> If statements or decisions deviated from the prescribed line, reprimands and, for persons outside public attention, punishment would ensue, such as imprisonment, torture and even death.<ref name=“wettig94”/>

Indoctrination of Marxism-Leninism became a compulsory part of school curricula, sending professors and students fleeing to the west.<ref name=“turner47”>

</ref> Applicants for positions in the government, the judiciary and school systems had to pass ideological scrutiny.<ref name=“turner47”/> An elaborate political police apparatus kept the population under close surveillance,<ref name=“turner47”/> including Soviet SMERSH secret police.<ref name=“wettig96”/> A tight system of censorship restricted access to print or the airwaves.<ref name=“turner47”/>

What remained of non-communist SED opposition parties were also infiltrated to exploit their relations with their “bourgeois” counterparts in western zones to support Soviet unity along Soviet lines, while a "National Democratic" party (NDPD) was created to attract former Nazis and professional military personnel in order to rally them behind the SED.<ref name=“wettig162”>

</ref> In early 1948, during the Tito–Stalin split, the SED underwent a transformation into an authoritarian party dominated by functionaries subservient to Moscow.<ref name=“turner46”>

</ref> Important decisions had to be cleared with the CPSU Central Committee apparatus or even with Stalin himself.<ref name=“wettig94”/>

By early 1949, the SED was capped by a Soviet-style Politburo that was effectively a small self-selecting inner circle.<ref name=“turner46”/> The German Democratic Republic was declared on 7 October 1949, within which the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs accorded the East German state administrative authority, but not autonomy, with an unlimited Soviet exercise of the occupation regime and Soviet penetration of administrative, military and secret police structures.<ref name=“wettig179”>

</ref><ref>In a congratulatory telegram, Stalin emphasized that, with the creation of East Germany, the “enslavement of European countries by the global imperialists was rendered impossible.” (Wettig, Gerhard, Stalin and the Cold War in Europe, Rowman && Littlefield, 2008, isbn=0-7425-5542-9, page 179)</ref>


File:Curzon line en.svg

, while most of Germany east of the Oder–Neisse line (pink) was ceded to what remained of Poland (white), both of which would constitute the newly created People's Republic of Poland]]

After the Soviet invasion of German-occupied Poland in July 1944, Polish government-in-exile prime minister Stanisław Mikołajczyk flew to Moscow with Churchill to argue against the annexation of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact portion of eastern Poland by the Soviet Union.<ref name=“wettig47”>

</ref> Poland served as the first real test of the American President Roosevelt's Soviet policy of “giving” to Stalin assuming noblesse oblige,<ref name=“berthon251”>

</ref> with Roosevelt telling Mikołajczyk before the visit, “Don't worry. Stalin doesn't intend to take freedom from you” and after assuring U.S. backing, concluding “I shall see to it that your country does not come out of this war injured.”<ref name=“berthon252”>


Mikołajczyk offered a smaller section of land, but Stalin declined, telling him that he would allow the exiled government to participate in the Polish Committee of National Liberation (PKWN and later “Lublin Committee”),<ref name=“wettig47”/> which consisted of communists and satellite parties set up under the direct control by the Soviet plenipotentiary Colonel-General Nikolai Bulganin.<ref name=“wettig46”>

</ref> An agreement was reached at the Yalta Conference permitting the annexation of most of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact portion of Eastern Poland, while granting Poland part of East Germany in return.<ref name=“wettig47”/><ref name=“crampton212”/> Thereafter, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic were expanded to include eastern Poland.<ref name=“wettig47”/><ref name=“Potichnyj”>

</ref><ref name=“Cohen”>Cohen, Saul Bernard, Geopolitics: The Geography of International Relations, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008, ISBN 0-7425-5676-X, page 211</ref>

The Soviet Union then compensated what remained of Poland by ceding to it the portion of Germany east of the Oder–Neisse line, which contained much of Germany's fertile land.<ref name=“wettig47”/><ref name=“miller5”>

</ref> An agreement was reached at Yalta that the Soviets' Provisional Government made up of PKWN members would be reorganized “on a broad democratic basis” including the exiled government, and that the reorganized government's primary task would be to prepare for elections.<ref name=“yaltareport”/><ref name=“wettig48”>


Pretending that it was an indigenous body representing Polish society, the PKWN took the role of a governmental authority and challenged the pre–World War II Polish government-in-exile in London.<ref name=“wettig46”/> Doubts began to arise whether the “free and unfettered elections” promised at the Yalta Conference would occur.<ref name=“crampton218”>

</ref> Non-communists and partisans, including those that fought the Nazis, were systematically persecuted.<ref name=“wettig46”/> Hopes for a new free start were immediately dampened when the PKWN claimed they were entitled to choose who they wanted to take part in the government, and the Soviet NKVD seized sixteen Polish underground leaders who had wanted to participate in negotiations on the reorganization in March 1945 brought them to the Soviet Union for a show trial in June.<ref name=“wettig48”/><ref name=“crampton218”/>

, issued on 22 July 1944]]

in 1950s and 1980s.]] While underground leaders were sentenced to long prison terms, assurances that political prisoners would be released and that Soviet forces and security would leave failed to be supported by concrete safeguards or implementation plans.<ref name=“wettig49”>

</ref> Polish government-in-exile figures, including Stanisław Mikołajczyk then returned to a popular reception, and were able to lure several parties to their cause, effectively undermining Bloc politics.<ref name=“wettig80”>


Stalin then directed that Mikołajczyk's Polish People's Party (PSL) must accept just one fourth of parliamentary mandated seats, or else repressions and political isolation would ensue.<ref name=“wettig81”>

</ref> Polish Communists, led by Władysław Gomułka and Bolesław Bierut, were aware of the lack of support for their side, especially after the failure of a referendum for policies known as “3 times YES” (3 razy TAK; 3xTAK), where less than a third of Poland's population voted in favor of the proposed changes included massive communist land reforms and nationalizations of industry.<ref>Curp, David, A Clean Sweep?: The Politics of Ethnic Cleansing in Western Poland, 1945–1960, Boydell & Brewer, 2006, ISBN 1-58046-238-3, pages 66–69</ref>

When the Mikołajczyk's People's Party (PPP) continued to resist pressure to renounce a ticket of its own outside the communist party bloc, it was exposed to open terror,<ref name=“crampton218”/><ref name=“wettig81”/> including the disqualification of PPP candidates in one quarter of the districts and the arrest of over 1000,000 PPP activists,<ref name=“crampton220”>

</ref> followed by vote rigging that resulted in Gomułka's communists winning a majority in the carefully controlled poll.<ref name=“Buchanan”>Tom Buchanan, Europe's Troubled Peace, 1945–2000: 1945–2000, Blackwell Publishing, 2005, ISBN 0-631-22163-8, Google Print, p.84</ref><ref name=“poloniatodayhistory”>A brief history of Poland: Chapter 13: The Post-War Years, 1945–1990. Polonia Today Online. Retrieved 28 March 2007.</ref><ref name=“Britannica”>"Poland." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved on 7 April 2007</ref>

Mikołajczyk lost hope and left the country.<ref name=“wettig81”/> His followers were subjected to unlimited ruthless persecution.<ref name=“wettig81”/> Following the forged referendum, in October 1946, the new government nationalized all enterprises employing over 50 people and all but two banks.<ref name=“crampton218”/><ref name=“historybuffalo”>Poland – The Historical Setting: Chapter 6: The Polish People's Republic. Polish Academic Information Center, University at Buffalo. Retrieved 14 March 2007.</ref> Public opposition had been essentially crushed by 1946, but underground activity still existed.<ref name=“wettig110”/>

Fraudulent Polish elections held in January 1947 resulted in Poland's official transformation to a non-democratic communist state by 1949, the People's Republic of Poland. Resistance fighters continued to battle Communists in the Ukrainian annexed portions of eastern Poland, the Soviet response to which included the arrest of as many as 600,000 people between 1944 and 1952, with about one third executed and the rest imprisoned or exiled.<ref>William Taubman. (2004). The Man and His Era W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-05144-7 pg. 195</ref>



After occupying Hungary, the Soviets imposed harsh conditions allowing it to seize important material assets and control internal affairs.<ref name=“wettig51”>

</ref> During those occupations, an estimated 50,000 women and girls were raped.<ref>Mark, James, “Remembering Rape: Divided Social Memory and the Red Army in Hungary 1944–1945”, Past & Present – Number 188, August 2005, page 133</ref><ref name=“naimark71”>Naimark, Norman M., The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945–1949. Cambridge: Belknap, 1995, ISBN 0-674-78405-7, pages 70–71</ref> After the Red Army set up police organs to persecute class enemies, the Soviets assumed that the impoverished Hungarian populace would support communists in coming elections.<ref name=“wettig85”>


The communists were trounced, receiving only 17% of the vote, resulting in a coalition government under Prime Minister Zoltán Tildy.<ref>Norton, Donald H. (2002). Essentials of European History: 1935 to the Present, p. 47. REA: Piscataway, New Jersey. ISBN 0-87891-711-X.</ref> Soviet intervention, however, resulted in a government that disregarded Tildy, placed communists in important ministries, and imposed restrictive and repressive measures, including banning the victorious Independent Smallholders, Agrarian Workers and Civic Party.<ref name=“wettig85”/> The Communist Party repeatedly wrestled small concessions from opponents in a process named “salami tactics”.<ref>

</ref> Battling the initial postwar political majority in Hungary ready to establish a democracy,<ref name=“granville”>Granville, Johanna, The First Domino: International Decision Making during the Hungarian Crisis of 1956, Texas A&M University Press, 2004. ISBN 1-58544-298-4</ref> Communist leader Mátyás Rákosi invented the term, which described his tactic slicing up enemies like pieces of salami.<ref>Baer, Helmut David, The Struggle of Hungarian Lutherans Under Communism, Texas A&M University Press, 2006 ISBN 1-58544-480-4, page 16</ref> In 1945, Soviet Marshal Kliment Voroshilov forced the freely elected Hungarian government to yield the Interior Ministry to a nominee of the Hungarian Communist Party. Communist Interior Minister László Rajk established the ÁVH secret police, which suppressed political opposition through intimidation, false accusations, imprisonment, and torture.<ref>UN General Assembly Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary (1957)


In early 1947, the Soviets pressed Rákosi to take a “line of more pronounced class struggle.”<ref name=“wettig110”>

</ref> The People's Republic of Hungary was formed thereafter. At the height of his rule, Rákosi developed a strong cult of personality.<ref name=“sugar375”/> Dubbed the “bald murderer,” Rákosi imitated Stalinist political and economic programs, resulting in Hungary experiencing one of the harshest dictatorships in Europe.<ref name=“granville”/><ref>Gati, Charles, Failed Illusions: Moscow, Washington, Budapest, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt, Stanford University Press, 2006 ISBN 0-8047-5606-6, page 9-12</ref> He described himself as “Stalin's best Hungarian disciple”<ref name=“sugar375”>Sugar, Peter F., Peter Hanak and Tibor Frank, A History of Hungary, Indiana University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-253-20867-X, page 375-77</ref> and “Stalin's best pupil.”<ref name=“matthews93”>Matthews, John P. C. , Explosion: The Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Hippocrene Books, 2007, ISBN 0-7818-1174-0, page 93-4</ref> Repression was harsher in Hungary than in the other satellite countries in the 1940s and 1950s due to a more vehement Hungarian resistance.<ref name=“granville”/>

Approximately 350,000 Hungarian officials and intellectuals were purged from 1948 to 1956.<ref name=“granville”/> Thousands were arrested, tortured, tried, and imprisoned in concentration camps, deported to the east, or were executed, including ÁVH founder László Rajk.<ref name=“Tokes317”>Tőkés, Rudolf L. (1998), Hungary's Negotiated Revolution: Economic Reform, Social Change and Political Succession, p. 317. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. ISBN 0-521-57850-7</ref><ref name=lawsoc>

(page 49). Gati describes “the most gruesome forms of psychological and physical torture…The reign of terror (by the Rákosi government) turned out to be harsher and more extensive than it was in any of the other Soviet satellites in Central and Eastern Europe.” He further references a report prepared after the dissolution of communism, the Fact Finding Commission Torvenytelen szocializmus (Lawless Socialism): “Between 1950 and early 1953, the courts dealt with 650,000 cases (of political crimes), of whom 387,000 or 4 percent of the population were found guilty. (Budapest, Zrinyi Kiado/Uj Magyarorszag, 1991, 154).</ref> Repeated collectivizations in Hungary occurred from the 1940s through the 1960s.<ref name=“bideleux473”>

</ref> Nearly a decade after stricter state control following the Soviet invasion suppressing the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 (including the execution of leader Imre Nagy), János Kádár introduced Goulash Communism which led to a less repressive era.


On 5 September 1944, the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria claiming that Bulgaria was to be prevented from assisting Germany and allowing the Wehrmacht to use its territory.<ref name=“wettig40”>

</ref> On 8 September 1944, the Red Army crossed the border and created the conditions for the coup d'état the following night.<ref name=“wettig40”/> The government was taken over by the ”Fatherland Front“ where the communists played a leading role and an armistice followed.<ref name=“wettig40”/> The Soviet military commander in Sofia assumed supreme authority, and the communists and their allies in the Fatherland Front whom he instructed, including Kimon Georgiev, took full control of domestic politics.<ref name=“wettig40”/> An armed resistance guerilla movement, known as the Goryani Movement, began immediately after Soviet occupation in 1944 and lasted until the late 1950s. It is known to be the longest as well as the first anti-communist armed resistance in the Eastern Bloc. The movement eventually subsided following the quelling of the 1956 uprising in Budapest, which lead to the realisation that no help would come from Western powers.

On 8 September 1946, a national plebiscite was organized in which 96% of all votes (91% of the population voted) for the abolition of the monarchy and the installation of a republic.<ref>Провежда се референдум за монархия или народна република,</ref> In October 1946 elections, persecution against opposition parties occurred, such as jailing members of the previous government, periodic newspaper publication bans and subjecting opposition followers to frequent attacks by communist armed groups.<ref name=“wettig85”/> Thereafter, the People's Republic of Bulgaria was formed and Georgi Dimitrov became the first leader of the newly formed republic.

On 6 June 1947, parliamentary leader Nikola Petkov, a critic of communist rule,<ref name=“wettig85”/> was arrested in the Parliament building, subjected to a show trial, found guilty of espionage, sentenced to death,<ref>Crampton, R. J. A Concise History of Bulgaria, p.186. Cambridge University Press (2005), ISBN 0-521-85085-1</ref> and hanged on 23 September 1947. The Bulgarian secret police arranged for the publication of a false Petkov confession.<ref name=“judt”/> The confession's false nature was so obvious that it became an embarrassment and the authorities ceased mentioning it.<ref name=“judt”>Judt, Tony Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, p. 175. Penguin Press (2005), ISBN 1-59420-065-3</ref> Soon after that, all opposition parties had been banned, while the non-communist members of the Fatherland Front (with the exception of BZNS) either dissolved themselves or joined the Communist party.


(light green) was annexed directly into the USSR, while the rest of the country would become the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic]]

In 1943, Czechoslovakian leader in exile Edvard Beneš agreed to Stalin's demands for unconditional agreement with Soviet foreign policy, including the expulsion of over one million Sudeten ethnic Germans identified as “rich people” and ethnic Hungarians, directed by the Beneš decrees.<ref name=“wettig45”>

</ref> Beneš promised Stalin a “close postwar collaboration” in military and economic affairs, including confiscation and nationalization of large landowners' property, factories, mines, steelworks and banks under a Czechoslovakian “national road to socialism”.<ref name=“wettig45”/> While Beneš was not a Moscow cadre and several domestic reforms of other Eastern Bloc countries were not part Beneš' plan, Stalin did not object because the plan included property expropriation and he was satisfied with the relative strength of communists in Czechoslovakia compared to other Eastern Bloc countries.<ref name=“wettig45”/>

Beneš traveled to Moscow in March 1945.<ref name=“wettig79”/> After answering a list of questions by the Soviet NKVD, Beneš pleased Moscow with his plans to deport two million ethnic Sudeten Germans and 400,000 to 600,000 Hungarian, and to build a strong army that would closely coordinate with the Red Army.<ref name=“wettig79”>

</ref> In April 1945, the Third Republic, a national front coalition ruled by three socialist parties, was formed. Because of the Communist Party's strength (they held 114 of 300 seats) and Beneš' loyalty, unlike in other Eastern Bloc countries, the Kremlin did not require Bloc politics or “reliable” cadres in Czechoslovakian power positions, and the executive and legislative branches retained their traditional structures.<ref name=“wettig86”>


However, the Soviet Union was, at first, disappointed that the communist party did not take advantage of their position after receiving the most votes in 1946 elections.<ref name=“wettig152”>

</ref> While they had deprived the traditional administration of major functions by transferring local and regional government to newly established committees in which they largely dominated, they failed to eliminate “bourgeois” influence in the army or to expropriate industrialists and large landowners.<ref name=“wettig138”/>

The existence of a somewhat independent political structure and Czechoslovakia's initial absence of stereotypical Eastern Bloc political and socioeconomic systems began to be seen as problematic by Soviet authorities.<ref name=“wettig108”/> While parties outside the “National Front” were excluded from the government, they were still allowed to exist.<ref name=“wettig138”/> In contrast to countries occupied by the Red Army, there were no Soviet occupation authorities in Czechoslovakia upon whom the communists could rely to assert a leading role.<ref name=“wettig138”/>

Hope in Moscow was waning for a communist victory in the upcoming 1948 elections.<ref name=“wettig110”/> A May 1947 Kremlin report concluded that “reactionary elements” praising western democracy had strengthened.<ref name=“wettig110”/> Following Czechoslovakia's brief consideration of taking Marshall Plan funds,<ref name=“wettig138”>

</ref> and the subsequent scolding of communist parties by the Cominform at Szklarska Poręba in September 1947, Rudolf Slánský returned to Prague with a plan for the final seizure of power, including the StB's elimination of party enemies and purging of dissidents.<ref name=“Grogin, p. 134”>


In early February 1948, Communist Interior minister Václav Nosek illegally extended his powers by attempting to purge remaining non-Communist elements in the National Police Force.<ref name=“Grenville, p. 370”>

</ref> Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin arrived in Prague to arrange the Czechoslovak coup d'état, followed by the occupation of non-Communist ministers' ministries, while the army was confined to barracks.<ref>

</ref> Communist “Action Committees” and trade union militias were quickly set up, armed, preparing to carry through a purge of anti-Communists, with Zorin pledging the services of the Red Army.

On 25 February 1948, Beneš, fearful of civil war and Soviet intervention, capitulated and appointed a Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ)-dominated government under the leadership of Stalinist Klement Gottwald, who was sworn in two days later, ushering in a dictatorship.<ref>



</ref> The only non-Communist to hold an important office, Jan Masaryk, was found dead two weeks later.<ref name=“Grogin, p. 135”>

</ref> The public brutality of the Soviet-backed coup<ref name=trueye>Airbridge to Berlin, “Eye of the Storm” chapter</ref> shocked Western powers more than any event before it, set in a motion a brief scare that war would occur and swept away the last vestiges of opposition to United States President Truman's Marshall Plan in the United States Congress.<ref name=“miller19”>



as the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic and Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic's Chernivtsi Oblast and Izmail oblast. The dark green area comprises what remained as the People's Republic of Romania.]]

and Snake Island were annexed by the Soviet Union into the Ukrainian SSR]]

As the Red Army battled the Wehrmacht and Romanian forces in August 1944, Soviet agent Emil Bodnăraș organized an underground coalition to stage a coup d'état that would put communists—who were then two tiny groups—into power.<ref name=“wettig49”/> However, King Michael had already organized a coup, in which Bodnăraş also had participated, putting Michael in power.<ref name=“wettig49”/> After Soviet invasions following two years of Romania fighting with the Axis, at the February 1945 Yalta Conference and the July 1945 Potsdam Conference, the western allies agreed to the Soviet absorption of the areas.<ref name=“crampton212”>


Michael accepted the Soviets' armistice terms, which included military occupation along with the annexation of Northern Romania.<ref name=“wettig49”/> The Soviets' 1940 annexation of Bessarabia and part of Northern Bukovina to create the important agricultural region of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic<ref name=“Europa”>Europa Publications Limited,Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, 1999, Routledge, 1999, ISBN 1-85743-058-1, page 545</ref> (while other Romanian territories were converted into the Chernivtsi Oblast and Izmail Oblast of the Ukrainian SSR) became a point of tension between Romania and the Soviet Union, especially after 1965.<ref name=“cook292”>

</ref> The Yalta Conference also had granted the Soviet Union a predominant interest in what remained of Romania, which coincided with the Soviet occupation of Romania.

The Soviets organized the National Democratic Front, which was composed of several parties including the Ploughmen's Front.<ref name=“wettig49”/> It became increasingly communist dominated.<ref name=“wettig49”/> In February 1945, Soviet proponents provoked a crisis to exploit support by the Soviet occupation power for enforcement of unlimited control.<ref name=“wettig49”/> In March 1945, Stalin aide Andre Vyshinskii traveled to Bucharest and installed a government that included only members subservient to the National Front.<ref name=“wettig49”/>

This included Ploughmen's Front member Dr. Petru Groza, who became prime minister. Groza installed a government that included many parties, though communists held the key ministries. The potential of army resistance was neutralized by the removal of major troop leaders and the inclusion of two divisions staffed with ideologically trained prisoners of war.<ref name=“wettig49”/> Bodnăraş was appointed General Secretary and initiated reorganization of the general police and secret police.<ref name=“wettig49”/>

]] Over western allies' objections, traditional parties were excluded from government and subjected to intensifying persecution.<ref name=“wettig49”/> Political persecution of local leaders and strict radio and press control were designed to prepare for an eventual unlimited communist dictatorship, including the liquidation of opposition.<ref name=“wettig40”/> When King Michael attempted to force Groza's resignation by refusing to sign any legislation (“the royal strike”), Groza enacted laws without Michael's signature.

In the Romanian general election of November 1946 that the Soviets had promised the western allies, the Romanian Communist Party (PCR) was trounced, with U.S. embassy estimates of the bloc receiving only about 8% of the vote compared to 70% for the rival Peasant Party.<ref name=“wettig83”>

</ref> The shocked communists asked Moscow for advice, and were told to simply falsify the results.<ref name=“wettig83”/> Forty eight hours later, they announced that the PCR bloc received 70% of the vote, setting off sharp western protests.<ref name=“wettig83”/>

In early 1947, Bodnăraş reported that Romanian leaders Gheorghiu-Dej and Maurer were seeking to bolster the Romanian economy by developing relations with Britain and the United States and were complaining about Soviet occupying troops.<ref name=“wettig110”/> Thereafter, the PCR eliminated the role of the centrist parties, including a show trial of National Peasant Party leaders, and forced other parties to merge with the PCR.<ref name=“wettig83”/> By 1948, most non-Communist politicians were either executed, in exile or in prison. The Communists declared the Romanian People's Republic in 1948.

Following Gheorghiu-Dej's death in 1965, Nicolae Ceaușescu became General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party. He changed the name of the country to the Socialist Republic of Romania, and ruled one of the most brutal states in the Eastern bloc for nearly 25 years.


(1908 - 1985)]]

On 29 December 1944, the National Liberation Movement drove the German occupiers out of Tirana. The LNC, as it was popularly called, was dominated by the two-year-old Albanian Communist Party, led by Enver Hoxha. From this day onward, unlike the other countries in what became the Eastern Bloc, Albania was an out-and-out Communist dictatorship. The LNC wasted little time eliminating almost all potential opposition and isolating the country from the non-Communist world. It swiftly took control of the police, the court system and the economy, while eliminating several hundred political opponents through a series of show trials conducted by judges without legal training.<ref name=“cook17”/><ref name=cs>

</ref> In December 1945, elections for the Albanian People's Assembly were held. However, voters only had the choice of approving or rejecting a single list from the Democratic Front (Albania), the successor to the LNC.<ref name=“cook17”>

</ref> In 1946, Albania was declared the People's Republic of Albania and, thereafter, it broke relations with the United States and refused to participate in the 1947 Marshall Plan.<ref name=“cook17”/>

Albania's close ties with Yugoslavia lasted only until the latter's rift with the Soviet Union in 1948.<ref name=“cook17”/> Albania was a founding member of the Warsaw Pact and was heavily dependent upon Soviet aid.<ref name=“cook17”/> Because of Hoxha's dogmatic Stalinist adherence, Albania broke with the Soviet Union in 1960 and formally left the Warsaw Pact in 1968 following the Soviet de-stalinization.<ref name=“olsen19”>

</ref> Albania began to establish closer contacts with Mao Zedong's People's Republic of China.<ref name=“olsen19”/> Following Mao's death, Albania also severed ties with China in 1978.<ref name=“olsen19”/>


]] Yugoslavia, the second-largest of the communist post-war countries, and the sole communist state with open access to the Mediterranean, was only aligned with the Soviet Union for 3 post-war years (1945-1948). Its leader, Josip Broz Tito, broke with the Soviets with the Tito–Stalin split of 1948. The country subsequently came under threat of invasion by the Warsaw Pact, with the Yugoslav People's Army planning defenses against both Eastern and Western Bloc attacks. Throughout the Cold War period, the country steered an independent course, founding the Non-Aligned Movement in collaboration with Ghana, Egypt and India.

At the end of World War II, Yugoslavia was considered a victor power and had neither an occupation force nor an allied control commission.<ref name=“crampton216”>

</ref> Communism was considered a popular alternative to the west, in part because of the popularity of the Yugoslav Partisans during World War II and opposition to former royalist Chetnik leader Draža Mihailović and King Peter.<ref name=“crampton216”/> A cabinet for the new Democratic Federal Yugoslavia was formed, with twenty five of the twenty eight members being former Communist Yugoslav Partisans led by Josip Broz Tito.<ref name=“crampton216”/> The League of Communists of Yugoslavia formed the National Front of Yugoslavia coalition, with opposition members boycotting the first election because it presented only a single government list which could be accepted or rejected, without opponents.<ref name=“crampton216”/> Censorship, denial of publication allocations and open intimidation of opposition groups followed.<ref name=“crampton216”/> Three weeks after the election, the Front declared that a new Republic would be formed, with a new constitution put in place two months later in January 1946 initiating the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia.<ref name=“crampton217”>

</ref> The Communists continued a campaign against enemies, including arresting Mihailović, conducting a controversial trial and then executing him, followed by several other opposition arrests and trials.<ref name=“crampton217”/> Thereafter, a pro-Soviet phase continued until the Tito–Stalin split of 1948 and the subsequent formation of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Concealed transformation dynamics

Stanisław Mikołajczyk fled Poland in 1947 after facing arrest and persecution.]]

At first, the Soviets concealed their role in other Eastern Bloc politics, with the transformation appearing as a modification of western ”bourgeois democracy“.<ref name=“wettig37”/> As a young communist was told in East Germany: “it's got to look democratic, but we must have everything in our control.”<ref name=“crampton211”/> Stalin felt that socioeconomic transformation was indispensable to establish Soviet control, reflecting the Marxist-Leninist view that material bases, the distribution of the means of production, shaped social and political relations.<ref name=“wettig36”/>

Moscow-trained cadres were put into crucial power positions to fulfill orders regarding sociopolitical transformation.<ref name=“wettig36”>

</ref> Elimination of the bourgeoisie's social and financial power by expropriation of landed and industrial property was accorded absolute priority.<ref name=“wettig37”>

</ref> These measures were publicly billed as “reforms” rather than socioeconomic transformations.<ref name=“wettig37”/> Except for initially in Czechoslovakia, activities by political parties had to adhere to “Bloc politics”, with parties eventually having to accept membership in an “antifascist” “bloc” obliging them to act only by mutual “consensus”.<ref name=“wettig38”>

</ref> The bloc system permitted the Soviet Union to exercise domestic control indirectly.<ref name=“wettig39”>


Crucial departments such as those responsible for personnel, general police, secret police and youth, were strictly communist run.<ref name=“wettig39”/> Moscow cadres distinguished “progressive forces” from “reactionary elements”, and rendered both powerless through. Such procedures were repeated until communists had gained unlimited power, and only politicians who were unconditionally supportive of Soviet policy remained.<ref name=“wettig41”>


Early events prompting stricter control

Marshall Plan rejection

In June 1947, after the Soviets had refused to negotiate a potential lightening of restrictions on German development, the United States announced the Marshall Plan, a comprehensive program of American assistance to all European countries wanting to participate, including the Soviet Union and those of Eastern Europe.<ref name=“miller16”>

</ref> The Soviets rejected the Plan and took a hard line position against the United States and non-communist European nations.<ref name=“wettig139”>

</ref> However, of great concern to the Soviets was Czechoslovakia's eagerness to accept the aid and indications of a similar Polish attitude.<ref name=“wettig138”/>

In one of the clearest signs of Soviet control over the region up to that point, the Czechoslovakian foreign minister, Jan Masaryk, was summoned to Moscow and berated by Stalin for considering joining the Marshall Plan. Polish Prime minister Józef Cyrankiewicz was rewarded for the Polish rejection of the Plan with a huge 5 year trade agreement, including $450 million in credit, 200,000 tons of grain, heavy machinery and factories.<ref>


In July 1947, Stalin ordered these countries to pull out of the Paris Conference on the European Recovery Programme, which has been described as “the moment of truth” in the post–World War II division of Europe.<ref name=“bideleaux”/> Thereafter, Stalin sought stronger control over other Eastern Bloc countries, abandoning the prior appearance of democratic institutions.<ref name=“wettig148”>

</ref> When it appeared that, in spite of heavy pressure, non-communist parties might receive in excess of 40% of the vote in the August 1947 Hungarian elections, repressions were instituted to liquidate any independent political forces.<ref name=“wettig148”/>

In that same month, annihilation of the opposition in Bulgaria began on the basis of continuing instructions by Soviet cadres.<ref name=“wettig148”/><ref name=“wettig149”>

</ref> At a late September 1947 meeting of all communist parties in Szklarska Poręba,<ref name=“wettig140”>

</ref> Eastern Bloc communist parties were blamed for permitting even minor influence by non-communists in their respective countries during the run up to the Marshall Plan.<ref name=“wettig148”/>

Berlin blockade and airlift

during the Berlin Airlift.]]

In former German capital Berlin, surrounded by Soviet-occupied Germany, Stalin instituted the Berlin Blockade, preventing food, materials and supplies from arriving in West Berlin.<ref>

</ref> The blockade was caused, in part, by early local elections of October 1946 in which the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) was rejected in favor of the Social Democratic Party, which had gained two and a half times more votes than the SED.<ref name=“turner19”>

</ref> The United States, Britain, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and several other countries began a massive “Berlin airlift”, supplying West Berlin with food and other supplies.<ref>


The Soviets mounted a public relations campaign against the western policy change and communists attempted to disrupt the elections of 1948 preceding large losses therein,<ref>Turner, Henry Ashby, The Two Germanies Since 1945: East and West, Yale University Press, 1987, ISBN 0-300-03865-8, page 29</ref> while 300,000 Berliners demonstrated urged the international airlift to continue.<ref>Fritsch-Bournazel, Renata, Confronting the German Question: Germans on the East-West Divide, Berg Publishers, 1990, ISBN 0-85496-684-6, page 143</ref> In May 1949, Stalin lifted the blockade, permitting the resumption of Western shipments to Berlin.<ref name=“Gaddis 2005, p. 34”>



Tito-Stalin Split

After disagreements between Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito and the Soviet Union regarding Greece and Albania, a Tito–Stalin split occurred, followed by Yugoslavia being expelled from the Cominform in June 1948 and a brief failed Soviet putsch in Belgrade.<ref name=“wettig156”>

</ref> The split created two separate communist forces in Europe.<ref name=“wettig156”/> A vehement campaign against Titoism was immediately started in the Eastern Bloc, describing agents of both the West and Tito in all places engaging in subversive activity.<ref name=“wettig156”/>

Stalin ordered the conversion of the Cominform into an instrument to monitor and control internal affairs of other Eastern Bloc parties.<ref name=“wettig156”/> He briefly considered also converting the Cominform into an instrument for sentencing high-ranking deviators, but dropped the idea as impractical.<ref name=“wettig156”/> Instead, a move to weaken communist party leaders through conflict was started.<ref name=“wettig156”/> Soviet cadres in communist party and state positions in the Bloc were instructed to foster intra-leadership conflict and to transmit information against each other.<ref name=“wettig156”/> This accompanied a continuous stream of accusations of “nationalistic deviations”, “insufficient appreciation of the USSR's role”, links with Tito and “espionage for Yugoslavia.”<ref name=“wettig157”/> This resulted in the persecution of many major party cadres, including those in East Germany.<ref name=“wettig157”>


The first country experiencing this approach was Albania, where leader Enver Hoxha immediately changed course from favoring Yugoslavia to opposing it.<ref name=“wettig157”/> In Poland, leader Władysław Gomułka, who had previously made pro-Yugoslav statements, was deposed as party secretary-general in early September 1948 and subsequently jailed.<ref name=“wettig157”/> In Bulgaria, when it appeared that Traicho Kostov, who was not a Moscow cadre, was next in line for leadership, in June 1949, Stalin ordered Kostov's arrest, followed soon thereafter by a death sentence and execution.<ref name=“wettig157”/> A number of other high ranking Bulgarian officials were also jailed.<ref name=“wettig157”/> Stalin and Hungarian leader Mátyás Rákosi met in Moscow to orchestrate a show trial of Rákosi opponent László Rajk, who was thereafter executed.<ref name=“wettig158”>



Despite the initial institutional design of communism implemented by Joseph Stalin in the Eastern Bloc, subsequent development varied across countries.<ref name=“hardt11”>

</ref> In satellite states, after peace treaties were initially concluded, opposition was essentially liquidated, fundamental steps towards socialism were enforced and Kremlin leaders sought to strengthen control therein.<ref name=“wettig108”>

</ref> Initially, Stalin directed systems that rejected Western institutional characteristics of market economies, democratic governance (dubbed ”bourgeois democracy“ in Soviet parlance) and the rule of law subduing discretional intervention by the state.<ref name=“hardt12”>

</ref> The resulting states aspired to total control of a political center backed by an extensive and active repressive apparatus, and a central role of Marxist-Leninist ideology.<ref name=“hardt12”/>

However, the vestiges of democratic institutions were never entirely destroyed, resulting in the façade of Western style institutions such as parliaments, which effectively just rubber-stamped decisions made by rulers, and constitutions, to which adherence by authorities was limited or non-existent.<ref name=“hardt12”/> Parliaments were still elected, but their meetings occurred only a few days per year, only to legitimize politburo decisions, and so little attention was paid to them that some of those serving were actually dead, and officials would openly state that they would seat members who had lost elections.<ref name=“crampton246”>


The first or General Secretary of the central committee in each communist party was the most powerful figure in each regime.<ref name=“crampton244”>

</ref> The party over which the politburo held sway was not a mass party but, conforming with Leninist tradition, a smaller selective party of between three and fourteen percent of the country's population who had accepted total obedience.<ref name=“crampton245”>

</ref> Those who secured membership in this selective party received considerable rewards, such as access to special lower priced shops with a greater selection of goods, special schools, holiday facilities, homes, furniture, works of art and official cars with special white license plates so that police and others could identify these members from a distance.<ref name=“crampton245”/>

Political and civil restrictions

In addition to emigration restrictions, civil society, defined as a domain of political action outside the party's state control, was not allowed to firmly take root, with the possible exception of Poland in the 1980s.<ref name=“hardt18”>

</ref> While the institutional design on the communist systems were based on the rejection of rule of law, the legal infrastructure was not immune to change reflecting decaying ideology and the substitution of autonomous law.<ref name=“hardt18”/> Initially, communist parties were small in all countries except Czechoslovakia, such that there existed an acute shortage of politically “trustworthy” persons for administration, police and other professions.<ref name=“wettig40”>

</ref> Thus, “politically unreliable” non-communists initially had to fill such roles.<ref name=“wettig40”/> Those not obedient to communist authorities were ousted, while Moscow cadres started a large-scale party programs to train personnel who would meet political requirements.<ref name=“wettig40”/>

Communist regimes in the Eastern Bloc viewed marginal groups of opposition intellectuals as a potential threat because of the bases underlying Communist power therein.<ref name=“Pollackxiv”>

</ref> The suppression of dissidence and opposition was considered a central prerequisite to retain power, though the enormous expense at which the population in certain countries were kept under secret surveillance may not have been rational.<ref name=“Pollackxiv”/> Following a totalitarian initial phase, a post-totalitarian period followed the death of Stalin in which the primary method of Communist rule shifted from mass terror to selective repression, along with ideological and sociopolitical strategies of legitimation and the securing of loyalty.<ref name=“Pollackxv”>

</ref> Juries were replaced by a tribunal of a professional judges and two lay assessors that were dependable party actors.<ref name=“crampton247”>


The police deterred and contained opposition to party directives.<ref name=“crampton247”/> The political police served as the core of the system, with their names becoming synonymous with raw power and the threat of violent retribution should an individual become active against the collective.<ref name=“crampton247”/> Several state police and secret police organizations enforced communist party rule, including:

Media and information restrictions

<!– Commented out:

, 6 October]] –> <!– Deleted image removed:

poster stating: “More work for our republic – that's our agitation!” “Strength of Communist Party – strength of the republic!” “Rudé Právo for every family”]] –>

14 December 1981 reports Martial law in Poland]]

The press in the communist period was an organ of the state, completely reliant on and subservient to the communist party.<ref name=“oneil15”>

</ref> Before the late 1980s, Eastern Bloc radio and television organizations were state-owned, while print media was usually owned by political organizations, mostly by the local communist party.<ref name=“oneil25”>

</ref> Youth newspapers and magazines were owned by youth organizations affiliated with communist parties.<ref name=“oneil25”/>

The control of the media was exercised directly by the communist party itself, and by state censorship, which was also controlled by the party.<ref name=“oneil25”/> Media served as an important form of control over information and society.<ref name=“oneil1”>

</ref> The dissemination and portrayal of knowledge were considered by authorities to be vital to communism's survival by stifling alternative concepts and critiques.<ref name=“oneil1”/> Several state Communist Party newspapers were published, including:

The Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS) served as the central agency for collection and distribution of internal and international news for all Soviet newspapers, radio and television stations. It was frequently infiltrated by Soviet intelligence and security agencies, such as the NKVD and GRU. TASS had affiliates in 14 Soviet republics, including the Lithuanian SSR, Latvian SSR, Estonian SSR, Moldavian SSR. Ukrainian SSR and Byelorussian SSR.

Western countries invested heavily in powerful transmitters which enabled services such as the BBC, VOA and Radio Free Europe (RFE) to be heard in the Eastern Bloc, despite attempts by authorities to jam the airways.


, once the most dominant landmarks in Baku, was demolished in the 1930s under Stalin.]]

Under the state atheism of many Eastern Bloc nations, religion was actively suppressed.<ref>



In 1949, the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania founded the Comecon in accordance with Stalin's desire to enforce Soviet domination of the lesser states of Central Europe and to mollify some states that had expressed interest in the Marshall Plan,<ref name=“loc-cs”>Germany (East), Library of Congress Country Study, ''Appendix B: The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance''</ref><ref name=“crampton240”>

</ref> and which were now, increasingly, cut off from their traditional markets and suppliers in Western Europe.<ref name=“bideleaux”>Bideleux, Robert and Ian Jeffries, A History of Eastern Europe: Crisis and Change, Routledge, 1998, ISBN 041516118</ref> The Comecon's role became ambiguous because Stalin preferred more direct links with other party chiefs than the Comecon's indirect sophistication; it played no significant role in the 1950s in economic planning.<ref name=“turnock26”>

</ref> Initially, the Comecon served as cover for the Soviet taking of materials and equipment from the rest of the Eastern Bloc, but the balance changed when the Soviets became net subsidizers of the rest of the Bloc by the 1970s via an exchange of low cost raw materials in return for shoddily manufactured finished goods.<ref name=“turnock27”>


In 1955, the Warsaw Pact was formed partly in response to NATO's inclusion of West Germany and partly because the Soviets needed an excuse to retain Red Army units in Hungary.<ref name=“crampton240”/> For 35 years, the Pact perpetuated the Stalinist concept of Soviet national security based on imperial expansion and control over satellite regimes in Eastern Europe.<ref name=“michta31”>

</ref> This Soviet formalization of their security relationships in the Eastern Bloc reflected Moscow's basic security policy principle that continued presence in East Central Europe was a foundation of its defense against the West.<ref name=“michta31”/> Through its institutional structures, the Pact also compensated in part for the absence of Joseph Stalin's personal leadership since his death in 1953.<ref name=“michta31”/> The Pact consolidated the other Bloc members' armies in which Soviet officers and security agents served under a unified Soviet command structure.<ref name=“michta32”>


Beginning in 1964, Romania took a more independent course.<ref name=“crampton313”/> While it did not repudiate either Comecon or the Warsaw Pact, it ceased to play a significant role in either.<ref name=“crampton313”>

</ref> Nicolae Ceaușescu's assumption of leadership one year later pushed Romania even further in the direction of separateness.<ref name=“crampton313”/> Albania, which had become increasingly isolated under Stalinist leader Enver Hoxha following de-Stalinization, withdrew from the Warsaw Pact in 1968<ref name=“cook18”>

</ref> following the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.<ref name=“crampton378”>


Emigration restrictions and defectors


top and guard tower.]]

In 1917, Russia restricted emigration by instituting passport controls and forbidding the exit of belligerent nationals.<ref name=“dowty68”>

</ref> In 1922, after the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR, both the Ukrainian SSR and the Russian SFSR issued general rules for travel that foreclosed virtually all departures, making legal emigration impossible.<ref name=“dowty69”>

</ref> Border controls thereafter strengthened such that, by 1928, even illegal departure was effectively impossible.<ref name=“dowty69”/> This later included internal passport controls, which when combined with individual city Propiska (“place of residence”) permits, and internal freedom of movement restrictions often called the 101st kilometre, greatly restricted mobility within even small areas of the Soviet Union.<ref name=“dowty70”>


After the creation of the Eastern Bloc, emigration out of the newly occupied countries, except under limited circumstances, was effectively halted in the early 1950s, with the Soviet approach to controlling national movement emulated by most of the rest of the Eastern Bloc.<ref name=“dowty114”>

</ref> However, in East Germany, taking advantage of the Inner German border between occupied zones, hundreds of thousands fled to West Germany, with figures totaling 197,000 in 1950, 165,000 in 1951, 182,000 in 1952 and 331,000 in 1953.<ref>''Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Arbeit und Sozialordnung, Familie und Frauen, Statistik Spätaussiedler'', Bundesgebiet Bayern, Dezember 2007, p.3 (in German)</ref><ref name=“loescher60”>

</ref> One reason for the sharp 1953 increase was fear of potential further Sovietization with the increasingly paranoid actions of Joseph Stalin in late 1952 and early 1953.<ref name=“loescher68”>

</ref> 226,000 had fled in the just the first six months of 1953.<ref name=“dale17”>


With the closing of the Inner German border officially in 1952,<ref name=“harrison99”>

</ref> the Berlin city sector borders remained considerably more accessible than the rest of the border because of their administration by all four occupying powers.<ref name=“dowty121”>

</ref> Accordingly, it effectively comprised a “loophole” through which Eastern Bloc citizens could still move west.<ref name=“harrison99”/> The 3.5&nbsp;million East Germans that had left by 1961, called Republikflucht, totaled approximately 20% of the entire East German population.<ref name=“dowty122”>

</ref> In August 1961, East Germany erected a barbed-wire barrier that would eventually be expanded through construction into the Berlin Wall, effectively closing the loophole.<ref name=“pearson75”>


With virtually non-existent conventional emigration, more than 75% of those emigrating from Eastern Bloc countries between 1950 and 1990 did so under bilateral agreements for “ethnic migration.”<ref name=“bocker209”>

</ref> About 10% were refugee migrants under the Geneva Convention of 1951.<ref name=“bocker209”/> Most Soviets allowed to leave during this time period were ethnic Jews permitted to emigrate to Israel after a series of embarrassing defections in 1970 caused the Soviets to open very limited ethnic emigrations.<ref>

</ref> The fall of the Iron Curtain was accompanied by a massive rise in European East-West migration.<ref name=“bocker209”/> Famous Eastern Bloc defectors included Joseph Stalin's daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva, who denounced Stalin after her 1967 defection.<ref name=“krasnov2”>



601 Limousine. Trabants were manufactured in East Germany between 1957 and 1991, and exported throughout the Eastern Bloc]]

in May 1986]]

” computer, produced in Bulgaria, 1960s]]

Because of the lack of market signals, Eastern Bloc economies experienced mis-development by central planners resulting in those countries following a path of extensive rather than intensive development.<ref name=“hardt15”>

</ref> Consumer goods were lacking in quantity in the shortage economies that resulted.<ref name=“dale85”>

</ref> The Eastern Bloc also depended upon the Soviet Union for significant amounts of materials.<ref name=“hardt15”/> Economic activity was governed by Five Year Plans, divided into monthly segments with government planners frequently attempting to meet plan targets regardless of whether markets existed for the goods being produced.<ref name=“crampton250”>

</ref> Growth rates within the bloc began to decline.<ref name=“hardt16”>


Meanwhile, Western Germany, Austria, France and other Western European nations experienced increased economic growth in the Wirtschaftswunder (“economic miracle”) Trente Glorieuses (“thirty glorious years”) and the post–World War II boom. Overall, the inefficiency of systems without competition or market-clearing prices became costly and unsustainable, especially with the increasing complexity of world economics.<ref name=“hardt1”>

</ref> While most western European economies essentially caught up in large part with the United States levels of per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Eastern Bloc countries did not.<ref name=“hardt16”/> They possessed per capita GDPs significantly below their comparable western European counterparts,<ref name=“hardt17”>

</ref> for example (Eastern bloc countries are in green):

:{| class=“wikitable” style=“text-align: left”

!style=“text-align: left;background:#B0C4DE”|Per Capita GDP (1990 $<ref name=“madison185”>

</ref>) !style=“background:#B0C4DE”|1950 !style=“background:#B0C4DE”|1973 !style=“background:#B0C4DE”|1989<ref>

</ref> !style=“background:#B0C4DE”|1990

align=leftUnited States $9,561 $16,689 n/a
align=leftFinland $4,253 $11,085 $16,676
align=leftAustria $3,706 $11,235 $16,305
align=leftItaly $3,502 $10,643 $15,650
align=left<span style="color:green;">Czechoslovakia</span> $3,501 $7,041 $8,729
align=leftSoviet Union $2,834 $6,058 n/a
align=left<span style="color:green;">Hungary</span> $2,480 $5,596 $6,787
align=left<span style="color:green;">Poland</span> $2,447 $5,334 n/a
align=leftSpain $2,397 $8,739 $11,752
align=leftPortugal $2,069 $7,343 $10,355
align=leftGreece $1,915 $7,655 $10,262
align=left<span style="color:green;">Bulgaria</span> $1,651 $5,284 $6,217
align=left<span style="color:green;">Yugoslavia</span> $1,585 $4,350 $5,917
align=left<span style="color:green;">Romania</span> $1,182 $3,477 $3,890
align=left<span style="color:green;">Albania</span> $1,101 $2,252 n/a

:{| class=“wikitable” style=“text-align: left”

!style=“text-align: left;background:#B0C4DE”|Per Capita GDP 1989 Deutsche Marks<ref name=“teichova74”>

</ref> !style=“background:#B0C4DE”|1989

style=“text-align:left;”West Germany
style=“text-align:left;”East Germany

Their economic systems, which required party-state planning at all levels, ended up collapsing under the weight of accumulated economic inefficiencies, with various attempts at reform merely contributing to the acceleration of crisis-generating tendencies.<ref name=“hardt10”>



1953 East Germany uprising

Three months after the death of Joseph Stalin, a dramatic increase of emigration (Republikflucht, brain drain) occurred from East Germany in the first half-year of 1953. Large numbers of East Germans traveled west through the only “loophole” left in the Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions, the Berlin sector border.<ref name=“crampton278”>

</ref> The East German government then raised “norms” – the amount each worker was required to produce—by 10%.<ref name=“crampton278”/> Already disaffected East Germans, who could see the relative economic successes of West Germany within Berlin, became enraged.<ref name=“crampton278”/> Angry building workers initiated street protests, and were soon joined by others in a march to the Berlin trade union headquarters.<ref name=“crampton278”/>

While no official spoke to them at that location, by 2:00&nbsp;pm, the East German government agreed to withdraw the “norm” increases.<ref name=“crampton279”/> However, the crisis had already escalated such that the demands were now political, including free elections, disbanding the army and resignation of the government.<ref name=“crampton279”>

</ref> By 17 June, strikes were recorded in 317 locations involving approximately 400,000 workers.<ref name=“crampton279”/> When strikers set ruling SED party buildings aflame and tore the flag from the Brandenburg Gate, SED General Secretary Walter Ulbricht left Berlin.<ref name=“crampton279”/>

A major emergency was declared and the Soviet Red Army stormed some important buildings.<ref name=“crampton279”/> With hours, Soviet tanks arrived, but they did not immediately fire upon all workers.<ref name=“crampton279”/> Rather, a gradual pressure was applied.<ref name=“crampton279”/> Approximately 16 Soviet divisions with 20,000 soldiers from the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany using tanks, as well as 8,000 Kasernierte Volkspolizei members, were employed. Bloodshed could not be entirely avoided, with the official death toll standing at 21, while the actual casualty toll may have been much higher.<ref name=“crampton279”/> Thereafter, 20,000 arrests took place along with 40 executions.<ref name=“crampton279”/>

Hungarian Revolution of 1956

invasion in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.]] After Stalin's 1953 death, a period of de-Stalinization followed, with reformist Imre Nagy replacing Hungarian Stalinist dictator Mátyás Rákosi.<ref>

</ref> Responding to popular demand, in October 1956, the government appointed the recently rehabilitated reformist Władysław Gomułka as First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party, with a mandate to negotiate trade concessions and troop reductions with the Soviet government. After a few tense days of negotiations, on 19 October, the Soviets finally gave in to Gomułka's reformist requests.<ref name = satellite>


The revolution began after students of the Technical University compiled a list of Demands of Hungarian Revolutionaries of 1956 and conducted protests in support of the demands on 22 October.<ref name=sixteen>Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Resolution by students of the Building Industry Technological University: Sixteen Political, Economic, and Ideological Points, Budapest, 22 October 1956. Retrieved 22 October 2006.</ref> Protests of support swelled to 200,000 by 6&nbsp;pm the following day,<ref>UN General Assembly Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary (1957)

</ref><ref name=“UN report 2C p55”>UN General Assembly Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary (1957)

</ref> The demands included free secret ballot elections, independent tribunals, inquiries into Stalin and Rákosi Hungarian activities and that “the statue of Stalin, symbol of Stalinist tyranny and political oppression, be removed as quickly as possible.” By 9:30&nbsp;pm the statue was toppled (see photo to the right) and jubilant crowds celebrated by placing Hungarian flags in Stalin's boots, which was all that remained the statue.<ref name=“UN report 2C p55” /> The ÁVH was called, Hungarian soldiers sided with the crowd over the ÁVH and shots were fired on the crowd.<ref name=“UN report 2C p56”>UN General Assembly Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary (1957)

</ref><ref>UN General Assembly Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary 1956 (1957)


By 2&nbsp;am on 24 October, under orders of Soviet defense minister Georgy Zhukov, Soviet tanks entered Budapest.<ref>UN General Assembly Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary (1957)

</ref> Protester attacks at the Parliament forced the dissolution of the government.<ref>UN General Assembly Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary (1957)

</ref> A ceasefire was arranged on 28 October, and by 30 October most Soviet troops had withdrawn from Budapest to garrisons in the Hungarian countryside.<ref>UN General Assembly Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary (1957)

</ref> Fighting had virtually ceased between 28 October and 4 November, while many Hungarians believed that Soviet military units were indeed withdrawing from Hungary.<ref>Video: Revolt in Hungary :// Narrator: Walter Cronkite, producer: CBS (1956) - Fonds 306, Audiovisual Materials Relating to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, OSA Archivum, Budapest, Hungary ID number: HU OSA 306-0-1:40</ref>

The new government that came to power during the revolution formally disbanded ÁVH, declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections. The Soviet Politburo thereafter moved to crush the revolution. On 4 November, a large Soviet force invaded Budapest and other regions of the country.<ref name=troops>UN General Assembly Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary (1957)

</ref> The last pocket of resistance called for ceasefire on 10 November. Over 2,500 Hungarians and 722 Soviet troops were killed and thousands more were wounded.<ref>Mark Kramer, “The Soviet Union and the 1956 Crises in Hungary and Poland: Reassessments and New Findings”, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol.33, No.2, April 1998, p.210.</ref><ref>Péter Gosztonyi, “Az 1956-os forradalom számokban”, Népszabadság (Budapest), 3 November 1990.</ref>

Thousands of Hungarians were arrested, imprisoned and deported to the Soviet Union, many without evidence.<ref>

</ref> Approximately 200,000 Hungarians fled Hungary,<ref name=“Cseresneyes”>

</ref> some 26,000 Hungarians were put on trial by the new Soviet-installed János Kádár government, and of those, 13,000 were imprisoned.<ref>

</ref> Imre Nagy was executed, along with Pál Maléter and Miklós Gimes, after secret trials in June 1958. Their bodies were placed in unmarked graves in the Municipal Cemetery outside Budapest.<ref name=“BBCJune16”>"On This Day 16 June 1989: Hungary reburies fallen hero Imre Nagy" British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reports on Nagy reburial with full honors. . Retrieved 13 October 2006.</ref> By January 1957, the new Soviet-installed government had suppressed all public opposition now.

Prague Spring and the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia

self-immolating in protest against the invasion.]] A period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia called the Prague Spring took place in 1968. The event was spurred by several events, including economic reforms that addressed an early 1960s economic downturn.<ref>

</ref><ref name=“Williams5”>

</ref> The event began on 5 January 1968, when reformist Slovak Alexander Dubček came to power. In April, Dubček launched an “Action Program” of liberalizations, which included increasing freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of movement, along with an economic emphasis on consumer goods, the possibility of a multiparty government and limiting the power of the secret police.<ref>Ello (ed.), Paul (April 1968). Control Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, “Action Plan of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (Prague, April 1968)” in Dubcek’s Blueprint for Freedom: His original documents leading to the invasion of Czechoslovakia. William Kimber & Co. 1968, pp 32, 54</ref><ref>


Initial reaction within the Eastern Bloc was mixed, with Hungary's János Kádár expressing support, while Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and others grew concerned about Dubček's reforms, which they feared might weaken the Eastern Bloc's position during the Cold War.<ref name=“trans”>


</ref> On 3 August, representatives from the Soviet Union, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia met in Bratislava and signed the Bratislava Declaration, which affirmed unshakable fidelity to Marxism–Leninism and proletarian internationalism and declared an implacable struggle against “bourgeois” ideology and all “anti-socialist” forces.<ref>


On the night of 20–21 August 1968, Eastern Bloc armies from five Warsaw Pact countries – the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany, Hungary and Bulgariainvaded Czechoslovakia.<ref>

</ref><ref name=“Global”>

</ref> The invasion comported with the Brezhnev Doctrine, a policy of compelling Eastern Bloc states to subordinate national interests to those of the Bloc as a whole and the exercise of a Soviet right to intervene if an Eastern Bloc country appeared to shift towards capitalism .<ref>


</ref> The invasion was followed by a wave of emigration, including an estimated 70,000 Czechs initially fleeing, with the total eventually reaching 300,000.<ref>


In April 1969, Dubček was replaced as first secretary by Gustáv Husák, and a period of “normalization” began.<ref name=“Williams”>

</ref> Husák reversed Dubček's reforms, purged the party of liberal members, dismissed opponents from public office, reinstated the power of the police authorities, sought to re-centralize the economy and re-instated the disallowance of political commentary in mainstream media and by persons not considered to have “full political trust”.<ref name=“Interpolitics”>

</ref><ref name=“KieranPress”>



During the late 1980s, the weakened Soviet Union gradually stopped interfering in the internal affairs of Eastern Bloc nations and numerous independence movements took place.

Following the Brezhnev stagnation, the reform-minded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 signaled the trend towards greater liberalization. Gorbachev rejected the Brezhnev Doctrine, which held that Moscow would intervene if socialism were threatened in any state.<ref name=“crampton338”>

</ref> He announced what was jokingly called the “Sinatra Doctrine” after the singer's “My Way”, to allow the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to determine their own internal affairs during this period.

Gorbachev initiated a policy of glasnost (openness) in the Soviet Union, and emphasized the need for perestroika (economic restructuring). The Soviet Union was struggling economically after the long war in Afghanistan and did not have the resources to control Central and Eastern Europe.

A wave of Revolutions of 1989, sometimes called the “Autumn of Nations”,<ref>See various uses of this term in the following publications. The term is a play on a more widely used term for 1848 revolutions, the Spring of Nations.</ref> swept across the Eastern Bloc.<ref name=“Szafarz-221”>E. Szafarz, “The Legal Framework for Political Cooperation in Europe” in The Changing Political Structure of Europe: Aspects of International Law, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 0-7923-1379-8. p.221.</ref>

Major reforms occurred in Hungary following the replacement of János Kádár as General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1988.<ref name=“crampton381”>

</ref> In Poland in April 1989, the Solidarity organization was legalized and allowed to participate in parliamentary elections. It captured 99% of available parliamentary seats.<ref name=“crampton392”>


On 9 November 1989, following mass protests in East Germany and the relaxing of border restrictions in Czechoslovakia, tens of thousands of Eastern Berliners flooded checkpoints along the Berlin Wall and crossed into West Berlin.<ref name=“crampton394”>

</ref> The wall was torn down and Germany was eventually reunified. In Bulgaria, the day after the mass crossings through the Berlin Wall, the leader Todor Zhivkov was ousted by his Politburo and replaced with Petar Mladenov.<ref name=“crampton395”>


In Czechoslovakia, following protests of an estimated half-million Czechs and Slovaks demanding freedoms and a general strike, the authorities, which had allowed travel to the West, abolished provisions guaranteeing the ruling Communist party its leading role.<ref name=“crampton398”>

</ref> President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-Communist government in Czechoslovakia since 1948, and resigned, in what was called the Velvet Revolution.<ref name=“crampton398”/>

Romania had not had any de-Stalinization. Following growing public protests, president Nicolae Ceaușescu ordered a mass rally in his support outside Communist Party headquarters in Bucharest. But mass protests against Ceauşescu proceeded.<ref name=“crampton399”>

</ref> The Romanian military sided with protesters and turned on Ceauşescu. They executed him after a brief trial three days later.<ref name=“crampton400”>


Even before the Bloc's last years, all of the countries in the Warsaw Pact did not always act as a unified bloc. For instance, the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia was condemned by Romania, which refused to take part in it.

Terminology and other countries

Use of the term “Eastern Bloc” generally refers to the “communist states of eastern Europe.”<ref name=houghlin/> Sometimes, more generally, they are referred to as “the countries of Eastern Europe under communism”.<ref> Satyendra, Kush, Encyclopaedic dictionary of political science, Sarup & Sons, 2003, ISBN 81-7890-071-8, page 65 </ref> Many sources consider Yugoslavia to be a member of the Eastern Bloc.<ref name=houghlin/><ref>







</ref> Others consider Yugoslavia not to be a member after it broke with Soviet policy in the 1948 Tito–Stalin split.<ref>


“Eastern Bloc” was sometimes used interchangeably with the term Second World, and was opposed by the Western Bloc. The Soviet-aligned members of the Eastern Bloc besides the Soviet Union are often referred to as “satellite states” of the Soviet Union.<ref name=“Whincop, Michael J. 2005, page 43”/><ref name=“Feldbrugge, Ferdinand Joseph Maria 1993, page 63”/><ref name=“autogenerated178”/><ref>Ludlow, N. Piers, European integration and the Cold War: Ostpolitik-Westpolitik, 1965–1973, Routledge, 2007, ISBN 0-415-42109-8, page 37, 39 </ref><ref> Ahonen, Pertti, After the expulsion: West Germany and Eastern Europe, 1945–1990, Oxford University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-19-925989-5, page 125-126 & 183 </ref><ref> Zwass, Adam,Globalization of Unequal National Economies: Players and Controversies, M.E. Sharpe, 2002, ISBN 0-7656-0731-X, page 214 </ref><ref> Loth, Wilfried, The Division of the World, 1941–1955: 1941–1955, Routledge, 1988, ISBN 0-415-00365-2, page 297 </ref><ref> Haggett, Peter, Encyclopedia of World Geography, Marshall Cavendish, 2001, ISBN 0-7614-7289-4, page 1850 </ref><ref> Rees, G. Wyn “International politics in Europe: the new agenda, Routledge, 1993, ISBN 0-415-08282-X, page 6 </ref><ref> Skinner, Kiron F., The strategy of campaigning: lessons from Ronald Reagan & Boris Yeltsin, University of Michigan Press, 2007, ISBN 0-472-11627-4, page 137-8 </ref> In the 1920s, “Eastern bloc” was used to refer to a loose alliance of eastern and central European countries.

Other countries that were not Soviet Socialist Republics, not Soviet Satellite States or not in Europe were sometimes referred to as being in the Eastern Bloc, Soviet Bloc or Communist Bloc, including:

See also


Further reading

Eastern Bloc

eastern_bloc.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/12 18:33 (external edit)