In this 1991 letter, written in formal diplomatic language, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Albania agrees to accept a mission to Albania from the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) (later the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). As a precondition for this mission, the Albanian government had to accept the Helsinki Final Act, including important….
In following letter, a Solidarity activist writes to Józef Cardinal Glemp, the head of the Roman Catholic church in Poland, to inform him of difficulties in setting up much-anticipated Round Table talks with the Communist regime. The correspondence provides some insight into the complicated relationship between Solidarity and the Catholic church. On the one hand, opposition leaders clearly saw….
December 1989 proved to be a revolutionary month in Romania. Demonstrations erupted in the city of Timisoara in mid-December, spreading to other parts of Romania within just a few days and developing into a full-scale revolution, which eventually resulted in the execution of President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife on December 25. Not surprisingly, Soviet officials exhibited concern about the….
Letter from the Civic Forum to US President George Bush and USSR General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev
On November 21, Civic Forum representatives addressed the throngs of demonstrators on Wenceslas Square for the first time; this public "meeting" would soon became a daily ritual. Afterwards, Forum members wrote this letter to the U.S. and Soviet leaders, speaking as the legitimate representatives of those "hundreds of thousands" on the Square. The letter concerns one of the touchiest subjects….
Between February and April 1989 in Poland, Communist Party leaders and Solidarity activists engaged in negotiations during the historic roundtable talks. Several days after these talks commenced, Andrzej Slowik, a Solidarity activist in the city of Łódż who was not asked to participate in the talks, wrote this letter to Wladyslaw Findeisen, the roundtable chair for Solidarity. In this….
With the opening of the border between East and West Germany on November 9, 1989, jubilant crowds took to the streets in Berlin to celebrate this historic event. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was traveling in Poland when word reached him about the events in East Germany and he quickly rearranged his schedule so that he could make a public appearance the following day, on November 10.….
Hungary began dismantling the barbed wire along its border with Austria in May, 1989. Over the summer months, thousands of East Germans risked their lives crossing over the Hungarian-Austrian border before heading north to West Germany. East Germany pressured Hungary to close its border with Austria, but on September 10, 1989 the Hungarian government announced that it was officially opening the….
Formed in September 1980 in Poland and recognized as a legal union by Communist officials in November, Solidarity was formally dissolved by Communist leaders on October 8, 1982, and forced to function illegally and underground. During the historic roundtable talks between Communist officials and leaders of the opposition that took place in February through April 1989, participants revisited the….
Just a few days after Soviet leaders met with two Polish officials, Stanislaw Kania (first party secretary) and Josef Pinkowski (prime minister), to discuss the critical situation in Poland, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev wrote an urgent letter to Erich Honecker, first party secretary in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). This letter shows the grave concern on the part of the Soviet….
In this letter to Mikhail Gorbachev dated October 6, 1988, Georgy Shakhnazarov, Gorbachev's adviser and a champion of reform in the Soviet Union, revealed his views about the urgency of perestroika (reform) in socialist countries worldwide. Shakhnarazov acknowledged not only that each country had unique problems in need of some country-specific reform measures but also that some problems….
Prior to the historic roundtable talks between Polish Communist officials and leaders of the opposition that eventually took place from February to April 1989, Solidarity activist Andrzej Stelmachowski secretly met with Secretary Jozef Czyrek, a member of the Polish Politburo. While their occasional meetings to discuss the content, structure, and composition of the upcoming talks were….
Soviet-American relations thawed during the second term of President Ronald Reagan as he and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev developed a personal rapport, signed the first treaty between the superpowers to reduce nuclear weapons arsenals, the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and moved forward on further arms negotiations. In December 1988, Gorbachev delivered what he called a….
Prior to the historic roundtable talks that took place between February and April 1989 in Poland, preparations took place on many levels. In this letter dated January 20, 1989, a couple of weeks before the beginning of the roundtable talks, Andrzej Stelmachowski, a Solidarity activist, provided suggestions to Solidarity leader Lech Walesa on how to prepare for the upcoming discussions. In….
In the summer of 1989, Slovak dissidents decided to commemorate the anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion by publicly laying flowers at various locations in Slovakia where citizens had been killed in 1968. They announced their plans in a letter to the Slovak government dated August 4, 1989. Copies of the letter were produced in samizdat (clandestine press) and secretly distributed throughout….
By 1986, reforms associated with Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union had begun to affect political and economic life in Poland. Lech Wałesa, leader of the Polish trade union movement Solidarity, and a veteran organizer of illegal strikes and demonstrations, wrote to the Polish Council of State (the most powerful branch of government in the Republic of Poland) requesting the end of martial….
President Reagan Discusses Soviet Violations of Arms Control Agreements with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Ronald Reagan began his presidency in 1981 confident that the policy of détente with the Soviet Union—initiated by Richard Nixon in May 1972 and terminated in January 1980 by Jimmy Carter as a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—was misguided. During his first three years in office, Reagan substituted a confrontational approach. Nations of Western Europe, however, maintained….
This pastoral letter was issued on March 11, 1981, and sent to every priest in Poland. It summarizes the message that the bishops wanted the parish clergy to transmit to their flocks during their Sunday sermons. While not every priest faithfully replicated the tone of this letter, very few openly defied the instructions of the Church hierarchy. The goal of this letter is clear: to hold the….