Soviet Expanionism

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Stalin's Motives

  • Some, eg. Samuel Sharp and F. Shuman think he was following the expansionist policies of the Tsars. Revisionists believe he was being defensive.
  • The USSR had been invaded 3 times by the West in the past 30 years.
  • Threat of the US A-Bomb.
  • Threat of US military bases in eg. Alaska, Turkey, Japan and Greece.
  • After 4 years of war, the USSR was economically weak
  • Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria had sided with the Nazis. Perhaps this justified keeping Soviet troops there?
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How Did He Do It?

  • About 11 million Red Army troops were stationed in Eastern Europe after World War Two.
  • Stalin made sure that coalition governments were set up in the liberated countries to ensure Soviet influence.
  • He took a 'gradualist' approach.
  • The destruction caused by war made Communism an appealing ideology to many.
  • Stalin valued power over ideology and was pragmatic. 
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Example One: Czechoslovakia

  • The non-Communist Benes led a coalition.
  • The Communist leader, Gottwald, ensured that the radio, police and army was under his control. 
  • Gottwald became Prime Minister and established a secret police.
  • Non-Communists were arrested. 
  • In 1948, there was a Communist workers' strike and Gottwald took power.
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Example Two: Poland

  • Stalin had promised a coalition government at Yalta. 
  • In 1947, he invited 16 non-Communist leaders to Moscow and arrested them. 
  • Thousands of others were arrested, and the 1947 election was rigged. 
  • A Moscow-directed government took control. 
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Example Three: Hungary

  • In 1945, the non-Communists won the election. Tildy was in power.
  • Rakosi took over the secret police and excuted opponents.
  • Tildy was forced to resign.
  • In the 1947 election, Rakosi took power.
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Other Examples

East Germany: In 1949, the Soviets set up a Communist controlled state - the GDR.

Yugoslavia: An independent state led by Tito.

Albania: In 1945, the Communists immediately took power.

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The Warsaw Pact

  • In 1955, the USSR and its Communist satellites signed the "Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance." This became the Warsaw Pact.
  • This pact meant that their armed forces were under joint command, and they would defend each other if threatened by an aggressor (eg. NATO.)
  • West Germany joined NATO in 1955. This was a catalyst for the formation of the Warsaw Pact. 
  • The standoff between NATO and the Warsaw Pact was the basis for Cold War tension. MAD prevented nuclear conflict, and proxy conflicts bore the brunt of tensions. 
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