DMPQ- . Why and how did communism collapse in Eastern Europe?

Mikhail Gorbachev’s reformist policies in the Soviet Union merely served to encourage opposition movements to the Communist regimes in the Soviet bloc countries. Demonstrations became more frequent. Governments were forced to accept measures, recommended, moreover, by Gorbachev, towards liberalisation. However, these measures were not deemed to be sufficient.

Hopes of freedom, long suppressed by the Communist regimes in the countries of the Soviet bloc and in the USSR itself, were inevitably fuelled by Mikhail Gorbachev’s attempted reforms in the Soviet Union and his conciliatory policy towards the West. It proved impossible to maintain reformed Communist regimes. They were entirely swept away by the desire for political democracy and economic liberty. Within three years, the Communist regimes collapsed and individual nations gained freedom, initially in the USSR’s satellite countries and then within the Soviet Union itself. The structures of the Eastern bloc disintegrated with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and Comecon. The Soviet Union broke up into independent republics.

In the German Democratic Republic (GDR), opposition to the Stalinist regime grew. Huge demonstrations took place, and increasing numbers of East Germans fled the country. The government would not consider any kind of reform, counting on the intervention of Soviet troops stationed in the GDR. Gorbachev, however, refused to help, having renounced Brezhnev’s doctrine of legitimate intervention in fellow Communist countries. From that point on, the Communist regime crumbled. The Wall which had divided Berlin since 1961 came down on 9 November 1989, and East Germans were interested only in reunification with the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG).

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