The post-Stalin thaw and the bid for peaceful coexistence - The Eastern bloc after Stalin

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The Eastern bloc after Stalin

  • Stalin's death on 5th of March 1953 raised the possibilty of a change within the communist bloc and a new relationship between the two superpowers.
  • Following his death, Soviet gov't was dominated by two men:
    • Georgy Malenkov - chairman of the Council of Ministers
    • Nikita Khrushchev - secretary of the Central Committee

Unrest in East Germany

  • Series of major protests and strikes across Eastern Europe in summer 1953
  • Unrest in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet zone of Germany.
  • These presented challeges to the new leaders of the USSR.
  • In East Germany there were serious protests against communism, Walter Ulbricht, leader of East Germany, had embarked on an austere socialist programme leading to low living standards and  high levels of inflation.
  • He increased compulsory work quotas by 10% led to large-scale protests and strikes.
  • The new Soviet leaders summoned him to Moscow and advised him to modify his policies but he refused.
  • After more protests exploded in June 1953 the Soviet leadership felt they had to back Ulbricht's regime - they sent military forces to crush the anti-comminist risings.
  • This was a propaganda disaster for the USSR.

The foundation of the Warsaw Pact 1955

  • May 1955 - the USSR created the Warsaw Pact


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