The post-Stalin thaw and the bid for peaceful coexistence: Poland and reform in Eastern Europe


Poland and reform in Eastern Europe

  • Counrties in EE repsonded to the secret speech by pushing for reform.

Unrest in Poland 1956

  • Following the speech the people of Poland began to challenge communist rule.
  • The first serious uprising took place at Poznan and focused on:
    • Food shortages
    • Lack of consumer goods
    • Poor housing
  • Khrushchev, alarmed at the situation and under pressure from hardliners, led a delegation to Warsaw to reassert control.
  • It had to deal with Wladyslaw Gomulka - Poland's communist leader and a very shrewd politician.
  • He made it clear to the Soviet delegation that the people of Poland were demanding reform however he emphasised that Poland's reform would not affect their relationship with the USSR.
  • He had no intention of:
    • abandoning communism
    • leaving the Warsaw Pact
  • Radio Free Europe broadcast what had been achieved in Poland and Gomulka became a hero to the student community in Budapest which began to demand reform in Hungary.

Events in Hungary 1956

  • Since the end of WW2 Hungary had been ruled by a hard-line Stalinist - Rakosi.
  • The new, moderate…


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