Stalin's Establishment of Control in Eastern Europe
In Eastern Europe, Stalin set about to establish Soviet control by:
- Setting up pro-Stalin coalition governments;
- Controlling the judicial and law enforcement systems;
- Disposing of prominent opposition leaders;
- Building influential communist parties who would slowly take control (gradualism). This was used in East Berlin.
To achieve this, he used:
- 'Salami' tactics. He weakened the opposition by forming alliances and creating internal divisions.
- Communist popularity. Anti-fascist movements had gained support after Hitler's defeat. In some countries, such as Romania, oppressive regimes had been overthrown after the war and the communists had become very popular.
- Intimidation and manipulation.
The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia had become popular after Hitler's defeat in 1945. Winning liberal and democratic elections in 1946, the Communist party formed a government, led by Klement Gottwald.
In 1948, ten non-Communist ministers resigned from office in protest, believing that the Communist Party would be unable to govern without them. They were supported by President Edvard Benes, until he was forced to appoint an all-Communist executive or face a general strike. Benes resigned in June 1948.
The Hungarian Communist Party was weak and unpopular after the Second World War. During the 1946 elections, the party received 17% of the vote, despite a massive growth in membership.
Over the next two years intimidation - because of the Red Army's presence - and salami tactics were used to weaken support for the…