Peaceful Transition from Communism in East Central Europe

Peaceful Transition from Communism in East Central Europe

On Wednesday, 20 November 2013, Paul Seary wrote:
Despite decades of often brutal repression, the eventual transition out of communism was generally peaceful throughout east central Europe. Discuss why this was the case and identify why it was not in those states and regions where conflict did arise.

‘From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet Sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and , in many cases , increasing measure of control from Moscow’

Winston Churchill, Fulton, Missouri, 5 March 1946.

In 1944, the Soviet Union used military might to impose communism on Eastern Europe – communism was ‘imposed on the peoples of Eastern Europe from outside, not generated internally; it did not express national sentiments but often tried to suppress them.’ (2) Here, is the inherent and fatal weakness which contributed to the demise of communism. Conversely, the people’s revolutions were successful because ‘none of the people’s revolutions was imposed from outside, even though the Soviet reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev played a part in each of them. They were national revolutions in which populations long enslaved, sought to recover their own history. ‘(2)

Historically, Eastern and Central Europe have experienced more than their fair share of turmoil. It is a region whose countries at one time or another formed part of different empires – the Ottoman, the Hapsburg, Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires. This is an area that has been riven by wars. World War 1, World War 2 and the Cold War all began in Eastern Europe. Viewed from the perspective of the West, the Soviet Bloc of Eastern and...

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