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Collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the USSR


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Title: Collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the USSR

Collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the USSR
  • History 12
  • Ms Leslie

4 reasons for collapse
  • 1. Economic failure
  • Economic stagnation - prices increased, wages did

2. New technology/media
  • Electronic communication made censorship more
  • Fax machines were difficult for a totalitarian
    regime to control. Radio and television signals
    were more and more difficult to jam.
  • This lead to the east learning about conditions
    in the West and raising their expectations for
    standards of living

3. Gorbachev
  • Reluctant to use force, which caused the
    Europeans to become bolder.
  • Reformed the communist regime to the point of

4. nationalism
  • Countries like Poland wanted to rid their country
    of occupiers for years.
  • Czechs and Slovaks had finally been freed of the
    Austrian-Hungarian empire, only to lose to the
    Nazis and then Soviets.
  • Ruskie go home was a common cry.

The Prague Spring
  • Czechoslovakias attempt at liberalization
  • Was a democratic country between the two world
  • In 1968 Dubcek is in charge. He brings back
    freedom of press, assembly, worship and travel
    abroad. He was preparing for free elections and
    called his reform movement socialism with a
    human face

  • His reforms allowing workers more say in
    factories, standard of living raised travel to
    the West open to all.
  • His reforms were threatening to spread to
    Romania, this was a threat the Soviets could not

  • August 22, 500,000 troops were sent in.
  • there was no organized Czech resistance like
    there was in Hungary in 1956
  • Dubcek was arrested and replaced with Husak who
    followed Moscows instructions and removed all
    the newly gained freedoms.

  • It is important to note that the Czechs were not
    trying to break out of the USSR, but to humanize
  • This resulted in the Brezhnev Doctrine. it was
    the right and duty of neighbouring socialist
    countries to intervene in each others affairs
    when socialism was threatened.

Results of the Prague Spring
  • 1. Czechoslovakia returned to communist control
    and Russian troops were stationed there.

  • 2. The Brezhnev Doctrine stated that Iron Curtain
    countries would not be allowed to abandon
    communism, "even if it meant a third world war".
  • 3. Increase of the Cold War. People in the West
    were horrified and so were many communist
    countries, especially Romania and Yugoslavia.

  • In 1980 Poland had created the Solidarity trade
    union by Lech Walesa. They organized several
    peaceful protests and massive strikes.
  • In 1981 the government declared martial law, made
    solidarity illegal and Walesa was imprisoned.

  • In the 1980s the economy of Poland was going
    down hill.
  • In 1981 there was a new leader, General
    Jaruzelski, who was a hardline soviet.
  • Food prices rose 400.

  • In 1983 martial law was lifted and a few
    solidarity leaders were released. (illegal until

Poland 1989
  • In the spring Jaruzelski began talks with the
    opposition about economic reform as he needed
    them onboard to make his reforms.
  • They produced a new constitution which allowed
    for free elections but the communists would keep
    special privileges

  • elections gave Solidarity 92 of the seats in the
    Senate and 160/161 seats in the lower house.
  • The Communists invoked their special
    constitutional privileges and Jaruzelski remained
    president while a solidarity leader, Mazowiecski,
    was Prime Minister.
  • lead to a government coalition of communists and

  • 1990 Lech Walesa Became president of Poland.
  • They become separate from the USSR
  • Its important to note that the soviets did
    nothing to intervene in the democratization of

  • In 1985 the economy was in
  • trouble. The leader Janos Kadar,
  • started democratization.
  • 1988 hes thrown out by people who want
    communistic reforms
  • But, after seeing the events unfolding in
    Poland, the communists in charge decided to leave

  • In March 1990 free elections were held and the
    Democratic Forum party (Peasants and Farmers) won
    and Jozsef Antall became Prime ministers.
  • Not a single shot was fired in this revolution,
    opposite of what happened in 1956.

  • 1980s economy is failing causing the leader,
    Husak to resign and be replaced by hardliner
    Milos Jakes.
  • Nov 17, 1989 was the Velvet revolution when
    huge demonstrations in Prague were violently put

  • Further demonstrations and strikes are organized
    by former leader Dubcek and Vaclev Havel, causing
    the communist party to leave peacefully.

  • Havel became President of a democratic
    Czechoslovakia on Dec 29, 1989.
  • In 1992 Czechoslovakia split in to the two states
    it is today.

  • Had a brutal dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu since
  • Romania was still loyal to the Warsaw Pact.

  • Small changes happened in Romania such as
    dropping Russian language from the school system
    and not supporting the Soviet invasion of
    Czechoslovakia, they also had their own
    relationship with Israel.

  • On Dec 17, 1989, in Timisoara the government
    massacred protesters,
  • this sparked another protest on Dec 21 which
    resulted in more deaths.

  • By the Dec 22 Protest the army refused orders to
    fire on the people.
  • The crowds arrested Ceausescu and his wife and
    within days they were tried and executed.
  • Romania was then lead by another dictator, Ion
    Iliescu until 1996

East Germany
  • Was ruled by dictator Erich Honecker since 1971,
    the most repressive of all the soviet satellites.
  • Refused to make any concessions with his people
    despite the events that were unfolding around

  • On the other hand, Gorbachev had traveled to West
    Germany to seek financial assistance and had
    stated he wished to see the end of the division
    between the two Germanys.

  • Summer of 1989 thousands of East Germans were now
    escaping through the Polish, and Hungarian
    borders to Austria.
  • By October there were demonstrations all over
    East Germany calling for reform.
  • This reform movement was led by the Protestant
    church and was called the New Forum.

  • Honecker wanted to shoot the protesters but he
    was overruled by party officials.
  • Honecker was then dumped by the party and Egon
    Krenz became the new leader of East Germany, for
    3 months.

And the wall came tumbling down
  • Nov 9, 1989 Krenz announced that he would make it
    easier for East Germans to cross the border
  • By 10 pm East Berliners flocked ot the wall
    demanding it be opened
  • The border guards let them through

  • Thousands of people stormed the wall
  • Started tearing it down
  • Biggest party in history
  • http//

First elections
  • Nov 9, 1989 the Berlin wall was opened up and
    free elections were promised.
  • These elections were won by Hulmut Kohls
    Christian Democrats.

  • The reunification process of Germany started and
    Gorbachev promised to withdraw troops.
  • On Oct 30, 1990 Helmut Kohl became the first
    chancellor of all of Germany since Hitler.

  • Was not a soviet satellite.
  • It was created in 1919 at the Paris Peace
    conference and had 2 nations in it Croatia,
    Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina
    and Macedonia.

  • A lot of ethnic based hatred, especially between
    the Serbs and Croatians stemming from the
    Croatian collaboration with the Nazis in WWII.
  • Big Nazi movement still

  • Tito who ruled until his death in 1980 liberated
    the country from the Nazis.
  • He did not tolerate nationalist sentiments, upon
    his death a new ethnic representative government
    was set up this new government fell apart in
    the mid 1980s

  • In 1988 Slobodan Milosevic became Prime Minister
    and he started a civil war. He was elected on
    the pretense that he would maintain a united
    Yugoslavia was Serbs as the dominant group
  • By 1991 Croatia and Slovenia were demanding

1991- Serb-Croatian war
  • June Croatia declares independence. Followed by
    Slovenia. Croatia had a large Serbian Majority
    which complicated things. Serbia then invaded
    Croatia and held key parts of the republic by

  • Milosevic was willing to negotiate peace terms
    with Croatia, now that he was in possession of
    most of it.
  • The UN had to intervene with 11,000 peacekeepers.
  • End of 1991 Croatia, Slovenia and
    Bosnia-Herzegovina were independent.

War in Bosnia- Herzegovina
  • Population made up of Muslims, Croatians and
  • Bosnian Serbs attacked the Bosnian Muslims,
    hoping to gain their territory.
  • Milosevic encouraged the Serbs to undertake
    ethnic cleansing meaning the Serbs moved the
    Muslims to camps and killed most of the men.

  • No one intervened to stop the genocide but
    everyone knew about it.
  • NATO finally deployed its airforce and did a few
    air strikes against the Serbs
  • 1996 peace was reached in December
  • 1999 events in Kosovo are directly related to
    this war.

  • Milosevic was tried for crimes against humanity,
    violating the laws of war, breaches of the Geneva
    Conventions and alleged genocide for his role
    during the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbian
    province of Kosovo.
  • He died of a heart attack in 2006 in his jail cell

Fall of the USSR
  • Khrushchev was removed from power in 1964
  • because of failures in agriculture and the Cuban
    Missile Crisis.
  • His behaviour at the UN was also embarrassing
    (shoe banging)
  • He stepped down officially for health reasons and
    died in 1971.

Btw - this famous photo is doctored - no actual
photo of event
Leonid Brezhnev
  • Leader 1964-82
  • More like Stalin
  • Stubborn. Would not recognize the decay of
  • Benefited from the struggles of the working class.

  • Tightened control over criticism and artistic
  • Exiles Solzhenitsyn in 1974 over his biographic
    one day in the life of Ivan Denisovich
  • Became ill - made him talk funny, kiss people and
    award himself a lot of medals
  • Had a stroke in May 1982 and died November.

The KGB also fed him a lot of pills as he got
older and sicker, causing erratic behaviour
Yuri Andropov
  • Leader 1982-84
  • Former chief of KGB ability to use police
    terror to crush dissidents
  • 67 years old with a heart problem
  • Knew the party needed reform for economic growth
    to happen

  • Wanted to eliminate corruption in the high levels
    of the party punished black marketers,
    tightened factory discipline (punishing
    drunkenness on the floor), managers were given
    more decision making power in regards to prices
    and wages.
  • Productivity increased

  • Wanted to have better relations with the USA, but
    Reagan refused
  • The most dramatic even happened when Soviet
    forces shot down a Korean Boeing 747 over their
    territory, killing hundreds. There was fear of
    American retaliation
  • Andropov died in Feb 1984

Konstantin Chernenko
  • Leader 1984-85
  • Was ill when he took office (73 years old)
  • Traditional and opposed to reform
  • Died in March 1985 from heart and lung disease.

Accomplishments of the USSR until 1985
  • Russia now a modern superpower
  • USA and USSR equal in military might
  • Everyday lives on citizens improved famine no
    longer an issue
  • Improvements in education, medical services and
    life expectancy

5 Problems in 1980s USSR
  • 1. Economic Stagnation
  • Economic growth slowed from 5 in the 1960s to
    2 in the 1980s. the people were growing tired
    of lining up for food and a black market had

  • There were 265 million people in the USSR and
    they had to import massive amounts of grain to
    feed them all.
  • From 1985-90 there was rationing of common items.
  • And consumer goods were of poor quality.
  • And resources were used inefficiently.

2. Military spending
  • had to compete with the USA. The military budget
    was 15-25 of the GNP, in the USA is was only
    about 5.
  • The USSR was unable to grow their military while
    ensuring a quality of life for the people.

3. Political stagnation and corruption
  • Party officials had a privileged life and wanted
    to keep it that way.
  • The system helped their economic needs, so why
    change it?

4. Ideology
  • A command economy is different from a free market
    because it does not allow a relationship between
    the producer and consumer.
  • In a command economy, supply and demand is
    replaced by centralized planning the state
    decides pricing.

5. Nationalism
  • The Tsars and dictators used extreme oppression
    to dominate over Russias diverse population.
  • Only 50 of the USSR was Russian.
  • As nationalism increased, so did demand for
    independence and reforms.

Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Became the leader in March 1985 at the age of 54.
  • His greatest strength was his personality he was
    charming and charismatic.

  • His intention was to reform the communist party
    for the modern age, no bring it down.
  • His first years in office were spent trying to
    rid the system of corruption and to catch up with
    capitalist countries in industry and agriculture.
  • successful at the high levels of office, but
    local governments ignored his reforms.

  • Wanted to reform industry to ensure better
    quality products.
  • In the mid 80s he also started talking about
    ending the Soviet adventure in Afghanistan.

  • 1986 April - Chernobyl.
  • The nuclear melt down was a huge embarrassment
    and made it apparent that the socialist system
    had to change drastically.

Glasnost 1986
  • This term basically means openness or making
  • For the first time in Russian/Soviet history a
    leader was inviting and encouraging open debate
    about issues in the country.
  • No longer would opponents of the regime be

  • Newspapers less censored
  • Academic world allowed to review socialist
  • Political prisoners were freed from exile
  • Gorbachev denounced Stalin

  • Told the people that Socialism had not been
    established yet in Russia.
  • Removed corrupt party members from the Brezhnev
    era and even put a few on trial for corruption.
  • believed he was democratizing communism, which
    would make it better then capitalism

Perestroika 1987
  • A book that Gorbachev published which means
  • He used this book to outline his plans for the

  • 1.denounced Stalins command economy and praised
    Lenins 5 year plans
  • 2.committed to one party and one ideology
  • 3.admitted that the treatment of Hungary in 1956
    and Czechoslovakia in 1968 was a mistake.

  • 4.wanted to rebuild the spirit of detente with
    the west. He recognized the common human
    values between the East and the West and that
    political dogma was less important
  • became clear Gorbachev was committed to

  • 1987 party officials would now be elected, not
  • 1988 elected officials allowed to set prices
    for goods

  • Gorbachevs biggest victory could be in foreign
  • The press loved him. Margaret Thatcher said he
    was a man she could do business with.
  • He met regularly with Reagan to discuss nuclear

Gorbachevs errors 1985-89
  • 1. anti-alcohol campaign lost revenue
  • 2. heavily invested in machinery
  • 3. glasnost criticism of economy
  • deficit grew annually
  • 5. stayed in Afghanistan too long
  • 6. local officials continued to ignore his
  • 7. net production did not increase enough. Only
    2 a year.

1989-1991 beginning of the collapse
  • Gorbachev wanted to create a socialist market
    economy, this was very much like NEP were
    private businesses were owned by groups of people
    and they flourished.
  • These stores competed and won against state run

  • Coal miners in the Kuz and Don Basins had been on
    strike and won a huge pay increase this raised
    the expectation of workers across the USSR.

May 25 June 9, 1989 Reform Congress
  • The newly elected congress in the USSR. Was made
    up of 3 groups.
  • One led by Boris Yeltsin, another by Sakharov and
    the third by traditional communists.
  • Accomplished nothing by making criticism of the
    state a national pastime.

  • Glasnost allowed writers to openly criticize
    every aspect of Soviet life, causing the public
    to despise politicians.
  • Materials from the West were coming in like Paul
    McCartneys albums, books and TV shows

  • The further from Moscow, the louder the protests.
  • By 1989 all of the Eastern bloc had separated
    from the USSR.
  • 1991 The Baltic States also became independent.

  • so much reform had taken place that the
    fundamentals laid by Lenin and Stalin were gone.
    Such as
  • the one party state
  • economic monopoly of the state
  • atheism of the Communist Party
  • Ideological singularity
  • Centralized administration of everything.

Enter Yeltsin
  • Yeltsin was rising in power in 1989-1990.
  • He was seen as a counter to the Communist-linked
  • Yeltsin wanted reform and got his support from
    the Russian Republic.
  • Gorbachev was loyal to the communist Party
  • http//
  • http//

  • Yeltsin invited Gorbachev to leave the party and
    join Yeltsins ranks, Gorbachev refused, causing
    Yeltsin and his supporters to desert Gorbachev.
  • Gorbachev was loosing supporters in the Party and

  • people of the USSR were worse off then they had
    been in decades.
  • People were back to starving.
  • Gorbachev was blamed for their suffering
    although he was seen as a hero internationally.
    The people were proud of the USSRs history and
    Gorbachev was attacking it.

  • Production declined 18, energy was also down 10
    and the economy was on the brink of collapse.
  • Gorbachev failed to secure a large international
    loan to stabilize the economy at the G-7
  • Yeltsin heavily criticized him for this.

  • Gorbachev also failed in keeping the republics
  • By July the republics were openly opposing his
    plans and defying his authority.

Attempted coup detat August 1991.
  • Gorbachev and his wife went on Vacation and he
    asked Yeltsin to stay in Moscow
  • August 19 conspirators announced the State
    Committee for Emergency Situation.
  • The coup was poorly planed and they failed to
    take hold of the government.
  • They did not arrest Soviet supporters and had
    asked Gorbachev to resign nicely. Gorbachev

  • Yeltsin emerged from these events as a leader.
  • He had driven on tanks in the streets of Moscow
    to drive out the Committee and set up barricades
    around the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Building.
  • This action would force the coup leaders to use
    the army on its own people.

  • The Coup leaders argued over whether or not to
    use violence, they disbanded.
  • Aug 22, Gorbachev returns from Vacation

Results of the Coup detat
  • Gorbachev now a lame duck leader. Yeltsin had
    saved him and now criticized him openly.
  • Soviet Army was discredited
  • Yeltsin outlawed the Communist Party in the
    Russian Republic.
  • Independence movements around the USSR gained

  • On Dec 1, 1991 the Ukraine voted to leave the
  • They created the Commonwealth of Independent
    states (CIS).
  • A structure with which Yeltsin was able to
    dismiss the USSR and Gorbachev.
  • On Christmas Day, Gorbachev signed documents that
    would dissolve the USSR by the 31st.
  • End )