Theodora Dragostinova Stalin's boots are all that remain of his statue in Budapest. Inpopular revolutions exploded across Central and Eastern Europe, bringing an end to communist rule and the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. Twenty years later, as eastern Europeans mark the anniversary of these events, Professor Dragostinova analyzes the social and political weight of those boots in the region. For those in the former Soviet Bloc, has been called an annus mirabilis—a year of miracles.
For more information, please see the full notice. Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, On November 9,thousands of jubilant Germans brought down the most visible symbol of division at the heart of Europe—the Berlin Wall. For two generations, the Wall was the physical representation of the Iron Curtain, and East German border guards had standing shoot-to-kill orders against those who tried to escape.
But just as the Wall had come to represent the division of Europe, its fall came to represent the end of the Cold War. Bush and his National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, watched the unfolding scene on a television in the study, aware of both the historical significance of the moment and of the challenges for U.
Germans celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 10, Bythe former communist leaders were out of power, free elections were held, and Germany was whole again. The peaceful collapse of the regimes was by no means pre-ordained.
Soviet tanks crushed demonstrators in East Berlin in Junein Hungary inand again in Czechoslovakia in Soviet military planners were intimately involved in the Polish planning for martial law inand Soviet troops remained stationed throughout Eastern Europe, as much a guarantee for Soviet security as an ominous reminder to Eastern European peoples of Soviet dominance over their countries.
Gorbachev also made clear—at first secretly to the Eastern European leaders, then increasingly more public—that the Soviet Union had abandoned the policy of military intervention in support of communist regimes the Brezhnev Doctrine. On February 6,negotiations between the Polish Government and members of the underground labor union Solidarity opened officially in Warsaw.
Solidarity was formed in August following a series of strikes that paralyzed the Polish economy. On June 4, as Chinese tanks crushed student-led protests in Beijing, Solidarity delivered a crushing electoral victory.
In Hungary, drastic changes were also under way. In doing so, it provided an avenue to escape for an ever-increasing number of East Germans. The Hungarian Party removed its long-time leader, Janos Kadar, agreed to its own version of the Round Table talks with the opposition, and, on June 16, ceremoniously re-interred Imre Nagy, the reformist communist leader of the Hungarian Revolution.
By October 23, ten months after political reforms began, Hungary adopted a new constitution allowing a multi-party system and competitive elections. The economic collapse of East Germany led increasing numbers of East Germans to seek to emigrate to the West.
Thousands sought refuge in West German embassies in other communist countries, eventually forcing the government to allow them to emigrate via special trains.
Visiting Berlin in early October, Gorbachev cautioned the East German leadership of the need to reform, and confided in his advisors that East German leader Erich Honecker had to be replaced. Two weeks later, Honecker was forced to resign, while hundreds of thousands marched in protest throughout major East German cities.
On November 9, as the world watched on television, the East German Government announced the opening of all East German borders. In a fluid situation, the Berlin Wall came down when an obviously ill-prepared East German spokesman told reporters that the new travel regulations also applied to Berlin.
Before the end of the month, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl unveiled a plan for reunification of the two Germanies. As the Wall came down and the fears of a Soviet reaction receded, the dominoes started falling at a quickened pace. In October, riot police arrested hundreds in Prague after an unsanctioned demonstration; only weeks later, hundreds of thousands gathered in Prague to protest the government.
Alexander Dubcek, the reformist communist who led the Prague Spring inmade his first public appearance in over two decades. In Bulgaria, protests lead to the removal of Todor Zhivkov, the long-time leader of the Bulgarian Communist Party, and his replacement with reformist communist, Petar Mladenov.
The new government quickly announced that the government would hold free elections in Only in Romania did the events turn violent. Nicolae Ceausescu, an increasingly idiosyncratic relic of Stalinist times, refused any reforms.
On December 17 in Timisoara, the army and police fired into crowds protesting government policies, killing dozens.
Protests spread to other cities, with hundreds killed when Ceausescu ordered the violent repression of demonstrations on December By the next day, Ceausescu was forced to flee Bucharest and was arrested by Army units in the countryside.
The interim government, led by a reformist communist Ion Iliescu, held a quick mock trial and Ceausescu and his wife were executed on December By the summer ofall of the former communist regimes of Eastern Europe were replaced by democratically elected governments. In Bulgaria and Romania, reformed communists retained control of the governments, but new center-right parties entered Parliaments and became active on the political scene.
The course was set for the reintegration of Eastern Europe into Western economic, political, and security frameworks. In his memoirs, Bush noted that the rapport he built with Gorbachev at that meeting would prove beneficial later on. And while Scowcroft did not yet feel the Cold War was over, he noted that U.In the Soviet Union's seventy-year history there was no official leader of the Soviet Union office, but during most of that era there was a de facto top leader who usually led the country through the office of Premier or the office of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).Final holder: Mikhail Gorbachev, (as President).
Russian History - Consolidation of Democracy in Post-Soviet Russia Introduction The fall of the Communist regime in the Soviet Union was Introduction The fall of the Communist regime in the Soviet Union was.
Soviet Union: Soviet Union, former in the individual republics and other territories was primarily to put into effect the decisions made by the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. The political system was The struggle against domestic opponents was to prove even more costly in human lives and more threatening to the new regime than the.
In December , with Soviet urging, the Polish government suppressed Solidarity and declared martial law, but in many ways this action marked the beginning of the end of the communist regimes.
The ascent of Mikhail Gorbachev to power as the chairman of the Soviet Communist Party in was an epochal moment. Soviet Union: Soviet Union, former northern Eurasian empire (/22–) stretching from the Baltic and Black seas to the Pacific Ocean.
By December 25, , Mikhail Gorbachev was a president without a country. Three of the Soviet Union’s 15 republics had already declared independence, and days earlier the leaders of 11 others.