In this excerpt of a diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, we see the first official analysis of East Germany's new leader Egon Krenz, who replaced Erich Honecker on October 18, 1989. In the summary remarks, the embassy officials make clear that Krenz is attempting immediate reform, but not yet on a scale that could be compared to Gorbachev's perestroika.
In this proclamation, the political leaders of the Lithuanian national movement made a formal break with the Soviet Communist Party, and by implication with the Soviet government itself. Published as the last of the East European communist governments was coming to an end, thus marking the breakdown of the Iron Curtain, the first Soviet republics were beginning to assert their independence from….
This interview with V. Kamalov, minister of internal affairs of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, echoes a perception similar to that of S.A. Niyazov, the Communist Party leader of Turkmenistan, in a related document, which attributes a sense of disorder to the expression of political perspectives.
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In this interview, published just days after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Communist leader in Turkmenistan, S. A. Niyazov, offered a stiff defense of the existing structure of the Soviet Union. Implicitly contrasting the "calm" that prevailed in his republic with the turmoil spreading from Eastern Europe through the Baltic republics and Ukraine into the rest of the Soviet Union, Niyazov's….
This report describes the demands of the Latvian Popular Front, one of the coalition groups that emerged across the Soviet Union, but most aggressively in the Baltic states, during the last years of the Soviet regime. As this report indicates, by the end of the summer of 1989, this political organization had already taken the step of demanding political independence for Latvia, thus challenging….
In this selection, a member of the Communist Party in Estonia articulates a new role for Communists as leaders of the movement for national self-determination within the existing structures of the Soviet Union. In addition to defining the goals in this excerpt, the remainder of this article focuses on the controversial role of Communists in collaborating in the forced incorporation of Estonia….
This statement by the Ukrainian Communist Party was an attempt to respond to growing expressions of nationalist sentiment within the Ukrainian population, while also seeking to maintain control over the expression of dissenting views and preventing inter-ethnic conflicts, especially between the majority Ukrainians and minority Russians and Jews.
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In 1978, one year after the creation of Charter '77, Vaclav Havel wrote his famous essay, "The Power of the Powerless." In it he argued that the countries of the East Bloc were under the rule of post-totalitarian regimes that appealed to popular desires for consumer goods, in order to secure domination over their populations. Indeed, these governments did make consumerist appeals. But they….
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….
Following World War II, the peoples of Eastern Europe not only had increased access to affordable, hygienic housing, they also had improved access to health care. Still, like the new housing opportunities, the new health care offerings were limited in quantity and quality, and other everyday life changes conspired to test their efficacy. In the first years of Communist rule, the health of East….
Alcohol and cigarette consumption were very regular parts of everyday life for great numbers of Eastern Europeans, including youth, during the Cold War era. In fact, these countries had some of the highest alcoholism rates in the world and a very large percentage of the population smoked. Recreational drug addiction was not as prevalent as it was in the West, largely due to government efforts….
The history of music, including rock, punk and heavy metal, forms a fascinating chapter in the history of everyday life in Cold War Eastern Europe. Among the many bands that formed during the three decades before 1989, perhaps none is better known than the Plastic People of the Universe of Czechoslovakia. The group's anti-Communist lyrics led it to be declared illegal. Persecution ranged from….
In Communist Eastern Europe much propaganda was directed toward young people, who party leaders correctly viewed as forces important for the future of the state. This propaganda was filled with messages about the Communist Party's benevolent protection of workers' interests and the evils of Western capitalism. These messages were delivered in schools, where all teachers were required to write….
Rudé Pravo was the Czechoslovak equivalent of the Soviet newspaper Pravda. Both were the official daily news publications of their respective Communist governments; both depicted the official version of truth about current events and conditions. Rudé Pravo had a daily circulation of over one million, a fact attributable not to its popularity but rather to the….