Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe

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Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe
Communism is a theory and system of social and political organisation that
dominated much of the history of the 20th century. In theory, communism is a
classless society in which all property is owned by the community as a whole and
where all people enjoy equal social and economic status. As a political movement,
communism sought to overthrow capitalism through a workers revolution and
redistribute the wealth in the hands of the working class.
When the war against the Fascist dictators was won in WWII, Communism began
to spread throughout Europe. The Soviet Union trained leaders from other
countries, who then returned to their homelands to build Communist parties.
During the cold war, the USSR had built up quite an empire. It's communist
regime ruled in the majority of East European countries including Poland, East
Germany, Czech, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia all at various times.
The collapse of communism properly began in 1956
in Hungary. Opposition to Soviet control had grown
and as a result, many demonstrations had taken
place. After two weeks of fighting and the deaths of
thousands of Hungarians, the Soviet forces crushed
the resistance. The Prague Spring followed the
Hungarian Uprising in 1968, which also failed and
was once more under Soviet control. These two
revolts showed to the rest on the world, especially
other soviet controlled countries how a communist
regime worked. This led to the Polish revolt.
The next country to grow restless with Soviet control was Poland (1980-1989).
There are several reasons for why Poland was to cause so much trouble for the
Soviet Union. The Poles had long hated the Russians as much of Poland had been
governed by Russia for hundreds of years. They were ruled by a regime, which
did not approve of the Catholic Church and many Poles were Catholic. During the
1970s, Poland was more prosperous than other communist countries in Eastern
Europe. By 1980, this had changed as the standard of living fell sharply while
prices of food, fuel and clothing rose. Because of this, workers formed trades
unions and went on strike. The most important of these trades unions was
Solidarity. Solidarity was a union of workers at the Gdansk shipyards. It was led
by Lech Walesa and his leadership was crucial as he was a brilliant speaker and
Solidarity soon had 9 million members.
Solidarity first demanded better wages
and working conditions but was soon
making political demands such as holding
democratic elections with parties other
than the Communist Party allowed to
stand. Russia decided not to send in
troops as it had done previously in
Hungary and Czechoslovakia but
Solidarity was too popular. In 1980, the

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Soviet Union appointed a new leader of the Polish government ­ General
Jaruzelski. He was told he had to deal with Solidarity or there would be a soviet
invasion. A year later Jaruzelski imposed military law, banned Solidarity and
arrested Walesa and thousands of supporters. Jaruzelski tried to set up a union to
replace Solidarity but the Poles were not interested. Walesa was a national and
international hero and in 1982, he was released from prison and in 1983 awarded
the Nobel Prize.…read more

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There was some Confusion as to what the official line was
and the border guards, uncertain of what to do and ill equipped to deal with the
huge and unyielding mob, were forced to let them pass. The Wall had fallen.
By 1989, it was obvious that the Soviet could no longer hold its empire together
and to maintain control of Eastern Europe. By December 1989, demonstrations in
Czechoslovakia caused the communist government to fall, while in both Romania
and Bulgaria overthrows the communist government.…read more


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