Nationalism and its link to the collapse of the Soviet Union (Post WW2…
Nationalism and its link to the collapse of the Soviet Union
Excepting Yugoslavia which was liberated by Tito and the Yugoslav communists.
The USSR was in a strong position to control Eastern Europe because of its occupation by the Red Army.
The West had made no significant contribution to the liberation of Eastern Europe therefore it could have little say in what happened post-war.
Stalin’s agreement to ‘Free elections’ at Yalta had encouraged the US.
They thought that it would produce democratic capitalist countries which eventually aligned themselves to the West.
They were outraged when ‘free elections’ failed to occur
The spread of Soviet Control
It was not until the series of rigged elections across Eastern Europe from 1945-49 that the impact of Stalinist policy in Central and Eastern Europe was felt.
Using Communist groups in Eastern European countries that were chosen for their loyalty to Moscow, Soviet influence in domestic East European politics spread from 1945-47.
NKVD had been undermining non-communist political organisations in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria since their ‘liberation’.
Use of ‘Salami’ tactics, i.e. piece by piece undermine, arrest and intimidate non-communist opponents until only communists were left in power.
1964 onwards - The Brezhnev Doctrine
In the Eastern European Communist Nations, Brezhnev declared that:
‘Whenever internal and external forces hostile to Socialism try to reverse the development of a socialist country towards the restoration of capitalism…this becomes the concern of all socialist countries.’
As a result the Polish government imposed Martial Law to suppress uprising in 1980 – 81.
It was made clear that there would be Soviet military intervention into any nation that try to act on its own to remove communism.
what changed? – Economic problems
Many Eastern Block nations were in a worse position than the USSR. All Eastern Block nations were in recession by 1980.
Hungary had ‘privatised’ 10% of farm plots in 1958. By 1985, 90% of Hungarian food was produced by these farms.
An estimated 20-40% of the Soviet Union’s gas and oil exports were given virtually for free to their Communist allies.
By the late 1980s, Poland had an average 20 year wait time for housing, while Warsaw had between a 26 and 50 year wait time.
A productivity gap of nearly 50% per worker existed between East and West Germany
A Warsaw tractor factory in 1980 had a 52 page list of unused rusting, then useless, equipment
What changed? – Political representation
Under their anti-corruption campaigns they sacked a lot of leaders of republic government bodies and replaced them with Russian nationals.
Andropov and Gorbachev both argued that effective government was more important than representative government.
Many minority nationals were also replaced in the Politburo.
The Sinatra Doctrine
August 1989 - Gorbachev rejected the Brezhnev Doctrine. By 1985 the USSR spent ~ $40 billion annually propping up communist governments around the world.
This renounced the Soviet Unions right to interfere in the affairs of other socialist countries.
He argued other countries should ‘find their own way’ to Communism. Thus the nickname ‘Sinatra Doctrine’
Resulted in MAP