This part of the whole term paper will draw a picture of the countries of Eastern Europe during the Cold War era. So that, it can be easily understood the condition of the countries in the post cold era. It means, a review on past to understand the future. In this paper, important parts of the Cold war history will described briefly.
Eastern Europe has an important value when the Cold war era is described. Because, USSR was located in this part of world and it’s one of two most vital role playing countries. Moreover, country like East Germany was also part of it.
After studying this paper, rise and fall of communism in Eastern Europe will be seen. After WW2, communist well spared in Eastern Europe, but at the end of cold war era communism collapsed with the fall of Soviet Union. Actually, from Soviet Union the whole communism spread and controlled or helped. Beginning of the cold war era, east European countries were under the communist government and at the end of the cold war era, most of east European countries became under the western democratic government. Many power politics had happened in this part of the world during cold war era. As Wide-spread description is not possible, this paper will shortly described about many important incidents had happed in this era. Actually, all the issues are not equally important also.
Many books had been reviewed to write this paper. These books are about the history of the countries of the Eastern Europe. Tried to answer some simple questions like what happed and causes behind that. Most of the books are reviewed from internet as PDF file because PDFs are easy to afford. Through internet, rare books can easily be accessed.
Countries during Cold War era in Eastern Europe:
In this section, the discussion will point to the conditions of the countries of the Eastern Europe in the Cold war era. There are some countries in the Eastern Europe demand to discuss about them when it’s a discussion about Cold war. The countries are-
2. East Germany
At first, this paper will analyze about the USSR. As the conflict between the US and the USSR national interests is known as the Cold war, it is one of the most important countries played role in the Cold war.
The cold war emerged from a conflict between USSR premier Stalin and US president Harry Truman over the future of Eastern Europe during the Potsdam Conference in 1945. In 1949, US established the NATO, a mutual defense pact with the most of the western nations. They promised to treat an armed attack against one nation as an attack on all. USSR take this a as threat and fell the necessity of making defense treaty. So, as a balance of power to NATO, USSR established the Warsaw pact, a collective defense treaty with her 7 satellite countries in 1955. The main objects of USSR behind Warsaw pact were the enhancement of national security and the maintenance of hegemony over Eastern Europe.
The Soviet Union successfully maintained its dominance over Warsaw pact through crushing the Hungarian revolution of 1956, suppressing the Prague spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and supporting the suppression of the solidarity movement in Poland in the early 1980s. The Soviet Union also opposed the United States in a number of proxy wars all over the world including Korean War and Vietnam War.
Both of Soviet and US spread nuclear power for the sake of national security and hegemony. Later, they were trying to check further spread of nuclear weapons by treaties such as SALT I, SALT II and Anti-ballistic Missile treaty. Actually, this kind of treaties happened from the fears of each other using of nuclear weapons. As it will result devastation.
Oil and gas were the great strengths of USSR economy. Moreover, oil price hiked in world market twice from 1973-81. The hard currency from oil exports pushed USSR economy too high. They solve many internal problems like the growing food supply crisis, imports of equipment and consumer goods with the hard currency. Moreover, it ensured a financial base for arms race and the achievement of nuclear parity with the US and permitted to pursuit such risky foreign-policy actions as the war in Afghanistan. Because of USSR war in Afghanistan for next 9 years in 1979, US-Soviet relations collapsed.
The 1980 US election of Ronald Reagan was another cause of collapse of communist in USSR and entire East Europe. The hard-line approach of anti-communist Ronald Reagan was also cause of the collapse. Finally, In 1991 when Soviet and communist collapsed, Russia lost her superpower status that she won in the 2nd world war.
2) East Germany
East Germany was the country where the most diverse things happened in the cold war era. It can be said that it was the victim of the Cold war. Lots of worst things happened here. Division of the Germany after the Second World War was one of them. As East Germany was under the USSR regime, its gov’t was communist. On the other hand, West Germany was under the western allies, so its govt. was democratic. But, as Berlin was divided into four parts though it was located entirely inside the East Germany, it was also owned by the three western powers of US, UK and France.
Stalin tried to force the Western Powers out of East Germany such as he closed the roads to Berlin during the Cold war. But it only result Berlin airlift of 1948.
More than that, the whole condition of West Germany was better than East Germany. So, many East Germans left it to West Germany.
In an attempt to discourage the escapes, USSR premier built the Berlin Wall in 1960s. Finally, The East Germany and West Germany reunified on October 3, 1990, almost one year later the fall of Berlin wall. Making the “fall of Berlin Wall” a Centre, people of GDR (German Democratic Republic) played the main role to reunite the Germany again.
Poland was one of the most highly devastated countries after the Second World War like lots of people were killed including many Jews, towns and infrastructures were destroyed.
In 1947, anyhow, it became under the complete control of USSR and communist party after the election of 1947. Though it had a government, but post war years were badly affected by economic depression and social unrest. US offered support to Poland to rebuild the country but because of pressure from the USSR, Poland rejected the offer even though they were under economic depression. The Communist regime never succeeded to achieve stable social and economic condition. In 1980s, the free trade unions were trying to be established. So,
a hard struggle took place between them and communist regime over the next 10 years.
Including many demonstrations that ended in massacre and mass arrests. In 1989, Tadeusz Mazowiecki was elected as the first prime minister in any Soviet bloc country after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Yugoslavia emerged from WW2 with 6 republics of East Europe. Joseph Tito was the premier of the country. The government was communist. The six entities were-
I. Bosnia and Herzegovina
There was no cultural and religious problem among Roman Catholic, Serbian Muslim and Orthodox during the life time of Tito. Actually, there were problems but it was managed not solved. No one tried to solve the problems. So, after the death of Tito, it came out in a shape of ethnic cleansing and genocide during 1990’s. Finally, with the end of the Cold war, Yugoslavia divided into 5 countries. They were-
II. Bosnia and Herzegovina.
After WW2, Hungary was under USSR control. To making the country socialism, was the main goal of that time. The economy of the country had been nationalized but later due some reasons the living standards fall. Production and distribution of consumers goods increased, tax and quota burdens reduced to improve the living condition of the general people. But the people could not enjoy political freedom. So, 16 demands of Hungarians produced by students in a peaceful demonstration on 23 October, 1956. At a stage of the revolution, police attacked on the students using tear gas and bullets. Later, change of the leadership in the parties had happened what was not liked by USSR. They sent Red Army to Hungary and Hungarian forces were quickly defatted by them. Moreover, lots of Hungarians were killed. After revolution, Janos Kadar was in power who led an attack against revolutionaries to kill and arrest many people. With new economic system of 1966, the country rebuilt their economy and brought stability in their politics. It’s transition to western style democracy was much more easier than the others, because it’s economic condition got long lasting stability in 1980’s.
This paper is shortly giving an idea about the east European countries during the cold war. Rise and collapse of communism has been shown in the paper also. How this affects the other communist countries of east Europe has also been shown.
i. Carole K. Fink, Cold War: An International History (2014)
ii. Baylis, Thomas A., David H Childs and Marilyn Rueschemeyer, eds.; East Germany in Comparative Perspective, Routledge. 1989
iii. Childs, David H.. The Fall of the GDR, Longman Personed.co.uk, 2001
iv. Topolski, Jerzy (1986). An Outline History of Poland. Warsaw, Interpress Publishers.
v. Lukowski, Jerzy ; Zawadzki, Hubert (2001). A Concise History of Poland. Cambridge University Press.
vi. History Channel (2014). “Apr 17, 1941: Yugoslavia surrenders”. history.com
vii. Hungary – History”. Nationsencyclopedia.com. Retrieved 21 November 2008