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The End of Communist Rule in Eastern Europe. “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” Winston Churchill, 1946. Eastern Europe in the 70s and 80s. 1968 - Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia after Prague Spring
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“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” • Winston Churchill, 1946
Eastern Europe in the 70s and 80s • 1968 - Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia after Prague Spring • 1970s - Growing international debt; economic stagnation; Strikes in Poland show the decline of the system; Helsinki Accord • 1978 - Cardinal Karol Wojtyla becomes Pope John Paul II • 1979 - Pope’s visit to Poland • 1980 - Solidarity (Solidarność) in Poland under leadership of Lech Wałęsa • 1981 - Wałęsa is arrested and martial law declared in Poland • 1982 - Death of Leonid Brezhnev; Yuri Andropov takes over as General Secretary of USSR • 1985 - 11 March: Mikhail Gorbachev comes to power in the USSR • 1986 - 26 April: Explosion of nuclear reactor in Chernobyl, Ukraine • 1988 - Round Table Talks in Poland; Hungarian Democratic Forum is created
Timeline: 1989 • February: Rehabilitation of Imre Nagy • May: Opening of borders between Hungary and Austria • June: Elections in Poland • Summer: Reburial of Imre Nagy in Heroes’ Square in Budapest and death of Janos Kadar • October and November: Protests in East Germany and Czechoslovakia • 9November: Fall of Berlin Wall • November: transfer of power in Bulgaria • December: Vaclav Havel takes power in Czechoslovakia • 25 December: Execution of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu in Romania, after being ousted from power a few days before
Older, Neo-Stalinist elite in Eastern Europe, gradually replaced by younger reformist Communists Economics: High debt (Poland, Hungary) and slow growth The USSR’s refusal to intervene: the “Sinatra Doctrine” Intellectual movements / Helsinki: Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland Environmentalism and Peace movements The role of the Church: East Germany, Slovakia, *Poland* Exposure to the West In general, loss of credibility Thematic Overview: “People Power” ?