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The new Secretary General of East Germany, Egon Krenz, traveled to Moscow on November 1, 1989 to meet in person with Gorbachev and assess the situation in East Germany and discuss possible paths forward. Throughout the lengthy meeting, Krenz and Gorbachev spoke openly about the challenges that now faced the GDR. Gorbachev, for the most part, remained hopeful that the new GDR leadership could….

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October 28 holds a special place on the Czechoslovak political calendar because on that day the First Czechoslovak Republic was established in 1918. This liberal bourgeois state, symbolized by its founding father and President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, was a powerful counter-example to socialist Czechoslovakia and a magnet for anti-communist protest. This 1989 report from the Ministry of the….

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One of the most important agreements made by Communist officials and opposition leaders in Poland at the roundtable talks that took place in February through April 1989 was the decision to hold, for the first time, semi-free elections, in which half of the parliamentary seats would be freely contested. In this confidential cable, the American Embassy in Warsaw reported to the U.S. Secretary of….

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Nestled in the very heart of Central Europe is a region that has come to be known as the Black Triangle. It contains land surrounding where the borders of Czechoslovakia, Poland, and East Germany meet. This large tri-state area is rich with natural resources, including lignite, iron ores, and uranium. Lignite is soft coal and is found close to the earth's surface, so it is easy to mine simply….

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Tuzex, short for Tuzemsk√Ĺ export (or domestic export), was a set of special stores in Communist Czechoslovakia. The Communist Party established Tuzex in 1957, in order to draw hard currency from citizens' pockets into the coffers of the state. Hard currency, including American dollars and West German marks, was convertible currency linked to the international gold….

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In 1986 the Czechoslovak Communist Central Committee approved its Eighth Five Year Plan since 1948, which stayed in effect, with modifications, until 1990. The plan built upon the East Bloc practices of following the Soviet command-economy model and emphasizing heavy industry over consumer goods. For example, the plan called for industrial output to grow 15.8% for the five year period (roughly….

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Czechoslovaks watched the unfolding of perestroika [restructuring] in the Soviet Union and its slow introduction into their own economy with great interest, although there were obstacles to doing so. While the Czechoslovak Communist Party was ready to start experimenting with economic perestroika, it maintained reservations about glasnost [openness or publicity]. It suppressed reports about….

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In the summer of 1980, strikes erupted among workers in Poland, making Communist leaders throughout the Soviet bloc uneasy. The Central Committee of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union met in October 1980 to discuss and endorse a report compiled by some of its members about a forthcoming visit of two Polish officials, Stanislaw Kania and Josef Pinkowski. In their discussions, they agreed….

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In response to another rise in prices, for meat products in particular, strikes erupted in the summer of 1980 in Poland among workers throughout the country, especially in the cities of Gdansk, Gdynia, and Szczecin. Strikers listed a total of twenty-one demands, including higher pay, more openness in media, less censorship, and the formation of free trade unions. To quell the situation,….

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In Bulgaria, the Communist Party led the movement toward democratic change. Following the legalization of several other political parties, and the formation of the Union of Democratic Forces, the Bulgarian Communist Party Secretary, Petur Mladenov, announced a further set of reforms. The following is an official report from the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria about Mladenov's rally on 13 December….

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In this December 18 communique from the U.S. Department of State, spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler briefed the press about the recent events in Timisoara, Romania, where demonstrators protesting the forcible relocation of local minister Laszlo Tokes to another congregation had been assaulted by the government's security forces. Tutwiler's limited account of what happened reflected the efforts by….

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In its final years, Nicolae Ceausescu's dictatorial regime in Romania increasingly isolated itself from the rest of the Eastern Bloc. Likewise, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev distanced himself from the ultra-hardliners in Bucharest. In keeping with Gorbachev's policy of non-intervention into East European domestic affairs, the Soviets had not commented officially on the mid-December shootings….

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