Cross-National Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training Program (CONSIRT) Lectures in Eastern Europe World War Two and the Origins of Communism in Eastern Europe
Russian Revolution of 1917 -- Russian monarchy (Czars), Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky, Vladimir I. Lenin, Josef Stalin, and the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) -- This mass uprising by workers, peasants and soldiers took the form of mass strikes and protests and was led by a social movement organization called the Soviets. Soviet means “council . ” -- T he aim was to create the world’s first Communist state based on Marxian principles.
Poland, Germany and USSR in World War Two September 1939 : Germany invades Poland; USSR invades Poland shortly thereafter. 1940 : USSR invades Baltic States; Germany invades Denmark, Netherlands and other European countries. Soviet secret police murder 20,000 Polish military and allied P.O.W.s, buries them in mass graves in Katyn, Russia. 1941 : In June, Germany attacks USSR. In December, Japan attacks USA; Germany declares war on USA. 1943 : Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. First Great Powers meeting, in Tehran. 1944 : Warsaw Uprising. D-Day in France: First mass arrival of American troops in Europe. 1945 : Soviets reach Berlin; In May, Germany unconditionally surrenders to Allies. Over 60 million people died during WWII, including 20 million from USSR (of which half are civilian deaths), which translates into 12 percent of their population; in Poland, 5.9 million died (of which half were Jews), almost 16 percent of their population, and 7 million Germans died.
THE COST OF WORLD WAR TWO: TOTAL DEVESTATION IN EUROPE After WWII, the fate of Eastern Europe was left to the Soviets. Yalta Conference after World War II (1945) -- A largely ceremonial meeting between the Great Powers (USA, UK, and USSR) regarding the postwar fate of Eastern Europe. The fate was unoffically sealed by 1943, when USA and UK decided to not challenge Stalin’s control of Eastern Europe. Soviet Soldiers in Berlin, Germany,1945
How did Eastern Europe become „communist?” <ul><li>We start from the context of a war-ravaged Europe. </li></ul><ul><li>-- Psychological adjustment to radical change and concentration on daily physical survival </li></ul><ul><li>-- Demographic change: elimination of elites during and after WWII, and new possibilities for upward mobility </li></ul><ul><li>-- Perhaps the most important reason was that the Soviet Union emerged as an unchallenged leader in the region: </li></ul><ul><li>-- In general, the Soviet Union had the following main mechanisms of realizing their will: </li></ul><ul><li>military forces stationed in-country, </li></ul><ul><li>Soviet “advisors” strategically placed in political parties, and </li></ul><ul><li>Money and other resource-based incentives for in-country nationals to cooperate. </li></ul><ul><li>In addition to these, each country had its own unique variations. </li></ul>
„ 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 March 5 1946