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Decline Of Communism In Eastern Europe And The

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  • 1. DECLINE OF COMMUNISM IN EASTERN EUROPE AND THE SOVIET UNION Eastview High School – AP European History McKay et al., 8 th ed. – Chapter 31, Sections 1 & 2
  • 2. Essential Questions
    • Why did efforts to reform the communist system fail and result in successful anticommunist revolutions throughout eastern Europe?
    • What were the consequences of these revolutions and the end of the cold war?
  • 3. The Soviet Union
    • The Soviet Union had shifted back and forth between a desire to reform itself and aggressive dictatorship – then Gorbachev opened a new era of reform.
    • The Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 was the most important event in the Brezhnev era.
    • Re-Stalinization followed, but with a collective not a personal dictatorship .
    • Living standards improved until the 1970s , when economic decline set in; the gap between the elite and the ordinary person grew.
    • Nonconformity and protest were severely punished; Jews were persecuted, and some dissidents (such as Solzhenitsyn) were expelled from the country.
    • Nevertheless, a social revolution was in the making – the urban population grew to 2/3 of the total and became more sophisticated, educated, and political.
    Brezhnev began re-Stalinization of the Soviet Union
  • 4. Solidarity in Poland
    • The Polish communists dropped efforts to impose Soviet-style collectivization on the peasants and to break the Catholic Church.
    • The Polish economy suffered greatly because of poor leadership and the world depression of the 1970s .
    • The “ Polish miracle ” occurred when the economic crisis became a spiritual crisis as well. Karol Wojtyla
    • Pope John Paul II , former archbishop of Cracow, called attention to the rights of all people.
    • Lech Walesa led the new democratic trade union movement called Solidarity . Its demands were for industrial, political, and economic rights. Solidarity had massive support and a sophisticated organization.
    • When Solidarity lost its cohesiveness , the Polish communist leadership under Jaruzelski smashed the movement (1981) and imposed martial law .
  • 5. Gorbachev’s Reforms
    • A new era of fundamental change began under Gorbachev in 1985.
    • He set forth a series of reforms to restructure the economy – PERESTROIKA, centering on a freer market economy , but the economy stalled midway between central planning (command) and free-market mechanisms.
    • He instituted GLASNOST, or openness in society and politics, leading to more freedom of speech .
    • Democratization of the Soviet state was begun; free elections were held in 1989 for the first time since 1917 ; meetings of Congress were televised.
    • Democratization encouraged demands for autonomy by non-Russian minorities.
    • Gorbachev withdrew troops from Afghanistan and encouraged reform in Eastern Europe, repudiating the Brezhnev Doctrine .
  • 6. The Revolutions of 1989
    • The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe
    • In 1989 Solidarity forced Polish leaders to run free elections to a plurality of the seats in the parliament .
    • In the subsequent election the Communists lost control of the parliament. Solidarity leader Lech Walesa became president of Poland .
    • The new government applied “shock therapy” to the economy, ending state planning and price controls .
    • Hungary, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia followed Poland out of the Communist orbit in late 1989 .
    • In Romania, dictator Nicolae Ceausescu resisted revolution and was captured and executed .
    Lech Walesa and Solidarity in Poland
  • 7. The Breakup of the Soviet Union
    • In February 1990 the Communist party lost local elections all over the U.S.S.R.
    • In August 1991 hardline communist leaders opposed to change attempted a coup against Gorbachev . Russian Federation president Boris Yeltsin rallied the Moscow populace and some of the armed forces successfully against the coup .
    • An anti-communist revolution swept the Soviet Union as the constituent republics, including Russia, declared independence. The Soviet Union ceased to exist on December 25, 1991 .
    Boris Yeltsin
  • 8. German Unification and the End of the Cold War
    • In the summer of 1990, German reunification was negotiated .
    • Arms cuts in Europe, the U.S., and the Soviet Union followed.
    • In 1991 Soviet loss of confidence and superpower status enabled the U.S. to fight and defeat Iraq following Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait .
  • 9. Questions for your review
    • What characteristics give the Brezhnev era an appearance of stability? (4)
    • What are the significant changes of the Brezhnev era?
    • How is Poland different from other Eastern Bloc states?
    • What are the demands by workers at the Lenin shipyards in Gdansk?
    • What was the Polish miracle?
    • What were some of the EARLY Gorbachev reforms?
    • What are Gorbachev’s other significant reforms?
    • Why does Gorbachev repudiate the Brezhnev Doctrine? What are the consequences?
    • What was the cause/effect of the Velvet Revolution?
    • Which country responded to the pro-democracy movement (1989) with bloody/violent repression?
    • What was the cause/effect of the attempted coup by communist hardliners in 1991?
    • What event revealed American preeminence as the only remaining “Super Power?”