Chapter 6 Case Studies

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  • Created on: 05-05-16 12:22

Case study 1: Hungary, 1956 part 1

  • Rákosi - Communist which led Hungary, Hungarians hated the restrictions which he imposed
  • Hungarians bitter about losing freedom of speech & lived in fear of secret police
  • Hungary resented Soviet troops and officials
  • June 1956: group within Communist Party opposed Rákosi, he appealed to Moscow, wanted to arrest 400 leading opponents, Moscow didn't back him, Kremlin ordered Rákosi to be retired
  • Ernö Gerö, new leader, not acceptable to Hungarian people, student demonstration on 23rd October, giant statue of Stalin in Budapest pulled down
  • USSR allowed new gov. to be formed under well-respected Nagy on 24th October
  • Soviet troops and tanks slowly withdrawn, Hungarian soldiers defected to rebel cause
  • Nagy's government made plans to hold free elections, create impartial courts and restore farmland to private ownership, wanted to withdraw Soviet army and leave Warsaw Pact
  • Nagy executed
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Case study 1: Hungary, 1956 part 2

USSR response

  • Khrushchev could not accept that they leave the Warsaw Pact
  • November 1956 thousands of Soviet troops and tanks moved into Budapest
  • Two weeks of fighting followed
  • Over 10,000 casualties


  • Khrushchev put new leader who took several months to crush resistance
  • Around 35,000 anti-Communist activists arrested and 300 executed
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Case study 2: Czechoslovakia and the Prague Spring

  • Khrushchev replaced by Leonid Brezhnev
  • 1960s Czech. new mood, people didn't like what they saw of communist control
  • 1967, Dubček new Communist leader in Czech. 'socialism with a human face'
  • This meant less censorship, more freedom of speech, less secret police activities
  • Dubček committed Communist but believed it didn't need to be as restrictive
  • Reassured Brezhnev that Czech. wouldn't pull out of Warsaw Pact or Comecon
  • Opp. to comm. in Czech. lead by intellectuals, launched out attacks
  • Comm. gov. ministers 'grilled' on live TV and radio about how they were running the country
  • This period was known as 'The Prague Spring' because of all the new ideas, radical ideas emerging, Social Democratic Party rumours
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Case study 2: Czechoslovakia and the Prague Spring

USSR response

  • Suspicious, Czech. was one of the most important countries in the Warsaw Pact
  • Worried the ideas would spread to other countries in Eastern Europe, tried to slow Dubček
  • Thought of imposing economic sanctions
  • In July, USSR meeting with Czech. Dubček agreed to not allow new party, but insisted on reforms, tension decreased
  • 17 days later, 1968, Soviet tanks moved into Czech. little resistance, Dubček removed from power


  • Dubček not executed but downgraded
  • After Soviet invasion Czech. mood was one of despair, resented Soviet connection
  • Brezhnev worried about ideas spreading
  • Brezhnev Doctrine: one party system; to remain member of Warsaw Pact
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Case study 3: The Berlin Wall

  • Crush of Hungarian uprising confirmed to everyone that it was impossible to fight the Communists
  • Some wished to leave Eastern Europe for economic reasons/communist regime
  • Standards of living fell further behind West; contrast particularly great in divided Berlin
  • Western powers had poured massive investment into Berlin
  • 1950s East Germans could travel to West Germany, thousands left, often skilled workers
  • 1961 President JFK refused to withdraw troops from Berlin as Khrushchev had requested
  • 2am 13th August 1961, East German soldiers erected barbed wire fence along entire frontier, forbidding all free movement, replaced quickly with a wall
  • All crossing points from East to West Berlin were sealed, except for one, Checkpoint Charlie
  • Families divided, Berliners unable to go to work, hundreds killed
  • Wall created major crisis, US diplomats and troops crossed regularly into East Berlin
  • 27th October Soviet tanks pulled up to Checkpoint Charlie and refused further access to the East, tense stand-off
  • Represented a symbol of division
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Case study 4: Solidarity in Poland, 1980-81 part 1

1970s hit crisis, regular protests about living standards and prices

July 1980: Gov. announced increases in meat prices

August 1980: Workers at Gdansk shipyard, led by Lech Walesa, put forwards 21 demands to gov., including free trade unions, right to strike, free trade union called Solidarity

30 August: Gov. agreed to 21 Solidarity demands

September 1980: Membership grew to 3.5 million

October 1980: Solidarity membership at 7 million, officially recognised by Gov.

January 1981: Membership of Solidarity reached peak at 9.4 million - more than 1/3 of Polish workers

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Case study 4: Solidarity in Poland, 1980-81 part 2

Reasons for Solidarity's success

  • Union strongest in industries were most important to gov. - shipbuilding
  • 30% of comm. party joined Solidarity
  • Lech Walesa careful in negotiations
  • Immensely popular and had support of Catholic Church
  • Gov. was playing for time
  • Polish Prime Minister resigned 1981, leader of army, Jaruzelski, took over
  • Brezhnev ordered Red Army to carry out 'training manoeuvres' on Polish border
  • Jaruzelski put Walesa and other Solidarity leaders in prison, Solidarity suspended
  • Crushed because: Solidarity acting as a political party; Poland sinking into chaos, food shortages, wages increased; Solidarity tumbling into chaos, strikes continued; Polish people didn't trust Communist leadership; military force had to be used for Communist control
  • Significance of Solidarity: Highlighted failure of Communism to provide good living standards; highlighted inefficiency and corruption; showed that there were organisations capable of resisting Communist gov.; showed Communist gov. could be threatened by 'people power'
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