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The Revolutions of 1989, the Autumn of Nations, the Collapse of Communism, or the Fall of Communism were a revolutionary wave that swept across Central and Eastern Europe in late 1989, ending in the overthrow of Sovietmarker-style communist states within the space of a few months.

The largely bloodless political upheaval began in Poland, continued in Hungary, and then led to a surge of mostly peaceful revolutions in East Germanymarker, Czechoslovakiamarker, and Bulgaria. Romania was the only Eastern-bloc country to overthrow its communist regime violently and execute its head of state.Tiananmen Square protests of 1989marker failed to end communism in China. In Sloveniamarker, then part of former Yugoslaviamarker, the same process started already in spring of 1988, but had little influence on the development in other Socialist countries, except for neighbouring Croatiamarker.

The subsequent events that continued in 1990 and 1991 are sometimes also referred to as a part of the revolutions of 1989. Communism fell in Yugoslavia and Albania by 1991. The Soviet Union was dissolved by the end of 1991, resulting in Russiamarker and 14 new nations that declared their independence from the Soviet Union: Armeniamarker, Azerbaijanmarker, Belarusmarker, Estoniamarker, Georgiamarker, Kazakhstanmarker, Kyrgyzstanmarker, Latviamarker, Lithuaniamarker, Moldovamarker, Tajikistanmarker, Turkmenistanmarker, Ukrainemarker and Uzbekistanmarker.Outside Eastern Europe, communism was abandoned in a number of countries such as Cambodia and Ethiopia.

Reformers in Eastern Europe, as well as those in China and India, began to embrace capitalism. The events in 1989-1991 marked the end of Cold War and the beginning of a new era.


Moscow's control

A Soviet military parade in 1983.

Russia installed communist leaders and retained troops throughout Eastern Europe. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, a spontaneous nationwide anti-authoritarian revolt, Russia invaded Hungary to assert control. A decade later Russia repressed the Prague Spring by organizing the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Secret police

Eastern Bloc secret police organizations were formed on Lenin's theory and Stalin's practical application of "the defense of the revolution." One of the first acts of Lenin after the October 1917 Revolution was' the establishment of a secret police, the Cheka. Such organizations in the Eastern Bloc became the "shield and sword" of the ruling Communist party. The party's claim was based on Lenin's general theory of class struggle, imperialism, legitimate socialism, and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The police served to deter opposition to party directives, and contain it should it appear. The political police were the core of the system. Large numbers of citizens were recruited, sometimes through blackmail, to become informers for the secret police. Sophisticated police networks monitored all strata of society while persecuting only those who overtly expressed dissatisfaction or disagreement with the regime. The names of each political police organization became synonymous with unbridled power and threats of violent retribution should an individual become active against the collective. After Stalin's death in 1953, in general, the profile of the secret police declined, and became less a means to instill terror than to preserve the existing distribution of political power, overall becoming more reactive than proactive. The exceptions to this lower profile were in Albania under Enver Hoxha and in Romania under Nicolae Ceauşescu. The linchpin of Soviet control early in the Eastern Block was General Ivan Serov, who was appointed to chairman of the new Soviet KGBmarker in 1954 as a reward for having effectively applied his secret police expertise to the sovietization of the Eastern Bloc.

State censorship and propaganda

The press in the communist period was an organ of the state, completely reliant on and subservient to the communist party. Before the late 1980s, Eastern Bloc radio and television organizations were state-owned, while print media was usually owned by political organizations, mostly by the local communist party. Youth newspapers and magazines were owned by youth organizations affiliated with communist parties. The control of the media was exercised directly by the communist party itself, and by state censorship, which was also controlled by the party. Media served as an important form of control over information and society. The dissemination and portrayal of knowledge were considered by authorities to be vital to communism's survival by stifling alternative concepts and critiques.

Western countries invested in powerful transmitters which enabled services such as the BBC, VOA and Radio Free Europe (RFE) to be heard in the Eastern Bloc, despite attempts by authorities to jam the airways.

Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet-bloc; individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader, thus building a foundation for the successful resistance of the 1980s. This grassroots practice to evade officially imposed censorship was fraught with danger as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials. Vladimir Bukovsky defined it as follows: "I myself create it, edit it, censor it, publish it, distribute it, and get imprisoned for it."

Stagnant communist economies

By the 1980s, nearly all the economies of the region had stagnated, falling behind the technological advances of the West. The systems, which required party-state planning at all levels, ended up collapsing under the weight of accumulated economic inefficiencies, with various attempts at reform merely contributing to the acceleration of crisis-generating tendencies. Environmental degradation was heavy.

In Poland, more than 60% of population lived in poverty, and inflation, measured by black-market rate of the U.S. dollar, was 1,500% in the period 1982 - 1987.

Western policy

In 1980, Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in the US presidential election, vowing to increase military spending and confront the Soviets everywhere. Both Reagan and new British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher denounced the Soviet Union and its ideology. Reagan labeled the Soviet Union an "evil empire" and predicted that Communism would be left on the "ash heap of history".

Glasnost and perestroika

Although several Eastern bloc countries had attempted some abortive, limited economic and political reform since the 1950s (Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Prague Spring of 1968), the advent of reform-minded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 signaled the trend toward greater liberalization. During the mid 1980s, a younger generation of Soviet apparatchiks, led by Gorbachev, began advocating fundamental reform in order to reverse years of Brezhnev stagnation. The Soviet Union was facing a period of severe economic decline and needed Western technology and credits to make up for its increasing backwardness. The costs of maintaining its so-called "empire" — the military, KGBmarker, subsidies to foreign client states — further strained the moribund Soviet economy.

The first signs of major reform came in 1986 when Gorbachev launched a policy of glasnost (openness) in the Soviet Union, and emphasized the need for perestroika (economic restructuring). By the spring of 1989, the Soviet Union had not only experienced lively media debate, but had also held its first multi-candidate elections in the newly established Congress of People's Deputies. Though glasnost advocated openness and political criticism, at the time, it was only permitted in accordance with the political views of the Communists. The general public in the Eastern bloc were still threatened by secret police and political repression.

Moscow's largest obstacle to improved political and economic relations with the Western powers remained the Iron Curtain that existed between East and West. As long as the specter of Soviet military intervention loomed over Eastern Europe, it seemed unlikely that Moscow could attract the Western economic support needed to finance the country's restructuring. Gorbachev urged his Eastern European counterparts to imitate perestroika and glasnost in their own countries. However, while reformists in Hungarymarker and Polandmarker were emboldened by the force of liberalization spreading from East to West, other Eastern bloc countries remained openly skeptical and demonstrated aversion to reform. Past experiences had demonstrated that although reform in the Soviet Union was manageable, the pressure for change in Eastern Europe had the potential to become uncontrollable. These regimes owed their creation and continued survival to Soviet-style authoritarianism, backed by Soviet military power and subsidies. Believing Gorbachev's reform initiatives would be short-lived, orthodox Communist rulers like East Germanymarker's Erich Honecker, Bulgariamarker's Todor Zhivkov, Czechoslovakiamarker's Gustáv Husák, and Romaniamarker’s Nicolae Ceauşescu obstinately ignored the calls for change. "When your neighbor puts up new wallpaper, it doesn't mean you have to too," declared one East German politburo member.

Tiananmen square protests

Gorbachev's visit to the People's Republic of Chinamarker on May 15 during the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989marker brought many foreign news agencies to Beijing, and their sympathetic portrayals of the protesters helped galvanize a spirit of liberation among the Eastern Europeans who were watching. The Chinese leadership, particularly Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, having begun earlier than the Soviets to radically reform the economy, was open to political reform, but not at the cost of a potential return to the disorder of the Cultural Revolution.


Reform in Poland

By 1989, the Soviet Union had repealed the Brezhnev Doctrine in favor of non-intervention in the internal affairs of its Warsaw Pact allies, termed the Sinatra Doctrine in a joking reference to the song "My Way". Poland became the first Warsaw Pact state country to break free of Soviet domination. Taking notice from Poland, Hungary was next to follow.
Labour turmoil in Poland during 1980 had led to the formation of the independent trade union, Solidarity, led by Lech Wałęsa, which over time became a political force. On December 13, 1981, Communist leader Wojciech Jaruzelski started a crack-down on Solidarity, declaring martial law in Poland, suspending the union, and temporarily imprisoning all of its leaders. Throughout the mid-1980s, Solidarity persisted solely as an underground organization, supported by the Catholic Church. However, by the late 1980s, Solidarity became sufficiently strong to frustrate Jaruzelski's attempts at reform, and nationwide strikes in 1988 forced the government to open a dialogue with Solidarity. On March 9, 1989, both sides agreed to a bicameral legislature called the National Assembly. The already existing Sejm would become the lower house. The Senate would be elected by the people. Traditionally a ceremonial office, the presidency was given more powers (Polish Round Table Agreement).

In April 1989, Solidarity was again legalized and allowed to participate in parliamentary elections on June 4, 1989 (incidentally, the day following the midnight crackdown on Chinese protesters in Tiananmen Squaremarker). A political earthquake followed. The victory of Solidarity surpassed all predictions. Solidarity candidates captured all the seats they were allowed to compete for in the Sejm, while in the Senate they captured 99 out of the 100 available seats (with the one remaining seat taken by an independent candidate). At the same time, many prominent Communist candidates failed to gain even the minimum number of votes required to capture the seats that were reserved for them. A new non-Communist government, the first of its kind in the former Eastern Bloc, was sworn into office in September 1989.


Following Poland's lead, Hungary was next to revert to a non-communist government. Although Hungary had achieved some lasting economic reforms and limited political liberalization during the 1980s, major reforms only occurred following the replacement of János Kádár as General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1988. That same year, the Parliament adopted a "democracy package", which included trade union pluralism; freedom of association, assembly, and the press; a new electoral law; and a radical revision of the constitution, among others.

In October 1989, the Communist Party convened its last congress and re-established itself as the Hungarian Socialist Party, which still exists today (see MSZP). In a historic session from October 16 to October 20, the parliament adopted legislation providing for multi-party parliamentary elections and a direct presidential election. The legislation transformed Hungary from a People's Republic into the Republic of Hungary, guaranteed human and civil rights, and created an institutional structure that ensured separation of powers among the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government. Hungarians suggested that Soviet troops "go home" — an idea first suggested by Viktor Orbán at the re-burying funeral of Imre Nagy.

Fall of the Berlin Wall

The Socialist Unity Party dispatched plainclothes officers to arrest demonstrators.

After a reformed border was opened from Hungary, a growing number of East Germans began emigrating to West Germanymarker via Hungary's border with Austriamarker. By the end of September 1989, more than 30,000 East Germans had escaped to the West before the GDR denied travel to Hungary, leaving the CSSR (Czechoslovakiamarker) as the only neighboring state where East Germans could travel. Thousands of East Germans tried to reach the West by occupying the West German diplomatic facilities in other Eastern European capitals, notably the Prague Embassymarker where thousands camped in the muddy garden from August to November. The GDR closed the border to the CSSR in early October, thereby isolating itself from all neighbors. Having been shut off from their last chance for escape, East Germans began Monday demonstrations. Hundreds of thousands of people in several cities — particularly Leipzigmarker — eventually took part.

After the October 2 demonstration, Socialist Unity Party (SED) leader Eric Honecker issued a shoot and kill order to the military. Communists prepared a huge police, militia, Stasi, and work-combat troop presence and there were rumors of a Tiananmen Square-style massacre.

On 6 October and 7 October, Gorbachev visited East Germany to mark the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic, and urged the East German leadership to accept reform. A famous quote of his is rendered in German as "Wer zu spät kommt, den bestraft das Leben" (He who is too late is punished by life). However, the elderly Erich Honecker remained opposed to internal reform, with his regime even going so far as forbidding the circulation of Soviet publications that it viewed as subversive.

Faced with ongoing civil unrest, the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) deposed Honecker in mid-October, and replaced him with Egon Krenz. Also, the border to Czechoslovakia was opened again, but the Czechoslovak authorities soon let all East Germans travel directly to West Germany without further bureaucratic ado, thus lifting their part of the Iron Curtain on 3 November. Unable to stem the ensuing flow of refugees to the West through Czechoslovakia, the East German authorities eventually caved in to public pressure by allowing East German citizens to enter West Berlin and West Germany directly, via existing border points, on November 9, without having properly briefed the border guards. Triggered by the erratic words of Günter Schabowski in a TV press conference, stating that the planned changes were "in effect immediately", hundreds of thousands of people took advantage of the opportunity; soon new crossing points were opened in the Berlin Wallmarker and along the border with West Germany. By December, Krenz had been replaced, and the SED's monopoly on power had ended. This led to the acceleration of the process of reforms in East Germany that ended with the eventual reunification of East and West Germany that came into force on 3 October 1990.

The Kremlin's willingness to abandon such a strategically vital ally marked a dramatic shift by the Soviet superpower and a fundamental paradigm change in international relations, which until 1989 had been dominated by the East-West divide running through Berlin itself.

The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia

The "Velvet Revolution" was a non-violent revolution in Czechoslovakia that saw the overthrow of the Communist government. On November 17, 1989 (Friday), riot police suppressed a peaceful student demonstration in Prague. That event sparked a series of popular demonstrations from November 19 to late December. By November 20 the number of peaceful protesters assembled in Prague had swelled from 200,000 the previous day to an estimated half-million. A two-hour general strike, involving all citizens of Czechoslovakia, was held on November 27.

Demonstrators in November.
With the collapse of other Communist governments, and increasing street protests, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced on November 28 that it would relinquish power and dismantle the single-party state. Barbed wire and other obstructions were removed from the border with West Germany and Austria in early December. On December 10, President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-Communist government in Czechoslovakia since 1948, and resigned. Alexander Dubček was elected speaker of the federal parliament on December 28 and Václav Havel the President of Czechoslovakia on December 29, 1989.

In June 1990 Czechoslovakia held its first democratic elections since 1946.

Upheaval in Bulgaria

The Turkish minority, which had suffered under communism, began to escape on the summer of 1989. About a quarter million Bulgarian Turks escaped to Turkey where large refugee camps were formed.

On November 10, 1989 — the day after the Berlin Wall was breached — Bulgaria's long-serving leader Todor Zhivkov was ousted by his Politburo. Moscow apparently approved the leadership change, despite Zhivkov's reputation as a slavish Soviet ally. Yet, Zhivkov's departure was not enough to satisfy the growing pro-democracy movement. By the time the impact of Mikhail Gorbachev's reform program in the Soviet Union was felt in Bulgaria in the late 1980s, the Communists, like their leader, had grown too feeble to resist the demand for change for long. In November 1989 demonstrations on ecological issues were staged in Sofia, and these soon broadened into a general campaign for political reform. The Communists reacted by deposing the decrepit Zhivkov and replacing him with Petar Mladenov, but this gained them only a short respite. In February 1990 the Communist Party, forced by street protests gave up its claim on power and in June 1990 the first free elections since 1931 were held, won by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (the new name of the Communist Party). Although Zhivkov eventually faced trial in 1991, he escaped the violent fate of his northern comrade, Romanianmarker President Nicolae Ceauşescu.

End of the Cold War

On December 3, 1989, the leaders of the two world superpowers, U.S.marker President George H.W. Bush  and U.S.S.R. leader Mikhail Gorbachev, declared an end to the Cold War at Malta Summit.

The Romanian Revolution

Unlike other Eastern European countries, Romania had never undergone even limited de-Stalinization, yet had adopted a course independent of Soviet domination since the 1960s. In November 1989, Ceauşescu, then aged 71, was re-elected for another five years as leader of the Romanian Communist Party, signalling that he intended to ride out the anti-Communist uprisings sweeping the rest of Eastern Europe. As Ceauşescu prepared to go on a state visit to Iranmarker, his Securitate ordered the arrest and exile of a local Hungarian-speaking Calvinist minister, László Tőkés, on 16 December, for sermons offending the regime. Tőkés was seized, but only after serious rioting erupted. Timişoaramarker was the first city to react, on 16 December, and it remained rioting for 5 days.

Returning from Iranmarker, Ceauşescu ordered a mass rally in his support outside Communist Party headquarters in Bucharest. However, to his shock, the crowd booed as he spoke. After learning about the incidents (both from Timişoara and from Bucharest) from Western radio stations, years of repressed dissatisfaction boiled to the surface throughout the Romanian populace and even among elements in Ceauşescu's own government, and the demonstrations spread throughout the country. At first the security forces obeyed Ceauşescu's orders to shoot protesters, but on the morning of 22 December, the Romanian military suddenly changed sides. Army tanks began moving towards the Central Committee building with crowds swarming alongside them. The rioters forced open the doors of the Central Committee building in an attempt to get Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena, in their grip, but they managed to escape via a helicopter waiting for them on the roof of the building.

Although elation followed the flight of the Ceauşescus, uncertainty surrounded their fate. On Christmas Day, Romanian television showed the Ceauşescus facing a hasty trial, and then suffering summary execution. An interim National Salvation Front Council took over and announced elections for April 1990. The first elections were actually held on May 20, 1990.

Other events in the Eastern Bloc


In the Socialist People's Republic of Albania, Enver Hoxha, who ruled Albania for four decades with an iron fist, died 11 April 1985. Eventually the new regime introduced some liberalization, including measures in 1990 providing for freedom to travel abroad. Efforts were begun to improve ties with the outside world. March 1991 elections left the former Communists in power, but a general strike and urban opposition led to the formation of a coalition cabinet including non-Communists. Albania's former Communists were routed in elections March 1992, amid economic collapse and social unrest.


The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker was not a part of the Warsaw Pact but pursued its own version of communism under Josip Broz Tito. It was a multi-ethnic state, and the tensions between ethnicities first escalated with the so-called Croatian Spring of 1970-71, a movement for greater autonomy of Croatia, which was suppressed. In 1974 there followed constitutional changes devolving some of the federal powers to the constituent republics and provinces. After Tito's death in 1980 ethnic tensions grew, first in Albanian-majority Kosovo.

In late 1980s Serbia communist leader Slobodan Milošević used the Kosovo crisis to stoke up Serb nationalism and attempt to consolidate and dominate the country, which alienated the other ethnic groups.

Parallel to the same process, Sloveniamarker witnessed a policy of gradual liberalization since 1984, not unlike the Soviet Perestroika. This provoked tensions between the League of Communists of Slovenia on one side, and the central Yugoslav Party and the Federal Army on the other side. In mid May of 1988, the Peasant Union of Slovenia was organized as the first non-Communist political organization in the country. Later in the same month, the Yugoslav Army arrested four Slovenian journalists of the alternative magazine Mladina, accusing them of revealing state secrets. The so-called Ljubljana trial triggered mass protests in Ljubljana and other Slovenian cities. The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights was established as the platform of all major non-Communist political movements. By early 1989, several anti-Communist political parties were already openly functioning, challenging the hegemony of the Slovenian Communists.

Soon, the Slovenian Communists, pressured by their own civil society, entered in conflict with the Serbian Communist leadership. In January 1990, an extraordinary Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia was called in order to settle the disputes among its constituent parties. Faced with being completely outnumbered, the Slovenian Communists left the Congress, thus de facto bringing to an end the Yugoslav Communist Party. The Slovenian Communists were followed by the Croatian ones. Both parties of the two western republics negotiated free multi-party elections with their own opposition movements. In the spring of 1990s, the democratic and anti-Yugoslav DEMOS coalition won the elections in Slovenia, while the Croatian elections witnessed the landslide victory of the nationalists. The results were much more balanced in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia, while the parliamentary and presidential elections in Serbia and Montenegro consolidated the power of Milošević and his supporters. Free elections on the level of the federation were never carried out. Instead, the Slovenian and Croatian leaderships started preparing plans for secession from the federation.

Escalating ethnic and national tensions led to the Yugoslav wars and the independence of the constituent federal units, in chronological order:

Dissolution of Warsaw Pact

On July 1, 1991, the Warsaw Pact was officially dissolved at a meeting in Prague. At a summit later that same month, Gorbachev and Bush declared a US–Soviet strategic partnership, decisively marking the end of the Cold War. President Bush declared that US–Soviet cooperation during the 1990–91 Gulf War had laid the groundwork for a partnership in resolving bilateral and world problems.

Dissolution of the Soviet Union

Tanks on Red Square during the 1991 coup attempt

As the Soviet Union rapidly withdrew its forces from Eastern Europe, the spillover from the 1989 upheavals began reverberating throughout the Soviet Union itself. Agitation for self-determination led to first Lithuaniamarker, and then Estoniamarker, Latviamarker and Armeniamarker declaring independence. Disaffection in other Soviet republics, such as Georgiamarker and Azerbaijanmarker, was countered by promises of greater decentralization. More open elections led to the election of candidates opposed to Communist Party rule.

Glasnost had inadvertently released the long-suppressed national sentiments of all peoples within the borders of the multinational Soviet state. These nationalist movements were further strengthened by the rapid deterioration of the Soviet economy, whereby Moscow's rule became a convenient scapegoat for economic troubles. Gorbachev's reforms had failed to improve the economy, with the old Soviet command structure completely breaking down. One by one, the constituent republics created their own economic systems and voted to subordinate Soviet laws to local laws.

In an attempt to halt the rapid changes to the system, a group of Soviet hard-liners represented by Vice-President Gennadi Yanayev launched a coup overthrowing Gorbachev in August 1991. Boris Yeltsin, then president of the Russian SFSR, rallied the people and much of the army against the coup and the effort collapsed. Although restored to power, Gorbachev's authority had been irreparably undermined. In September, the Baltic states were granted independence. On December 1, Ukrainianmarker voters approved independence from the Soviet Union in a referendum. On December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union was officially disbanded, breaking up into fifteen constituent parts, thereby ending the world's largest and most influential Communist state, and leaving Chinamarker to that position.

The nations that gained independence from Moscow were:

The Russian republic Chechnyamarker's attempts to gain independence were suppressed by Russia in the First Chechen War and the Second Chechen War.Russian military continued to occupy bases in Transnistriamarker (Moldova), South Ossetiamarker (Georgia), Abkhaziamarker (Georgia), and Crimeamarker (Ukraine).

Other impact

Communist/socialist countries

Countries which abandoned communism/socialism:

Communist/socialist groups


The events caught many by surprise. Predictions of the Soviet Union's impending demise had been often dismissed.

Bartlomiej Kaminski's book The Collapse Of State Socialism argued that the state socialist system has a lethal paradox: "policy actions designed to improve performance only accelerate its decay".

By the end of 1989, revolts had spread from one capital to another, ousting the regimes imposed on Eastern Europe after World War II. Even the isolationist Stalinist regime in Albaniamarker was unable to stem the tide. Gorbachev's abrogation of the Brezhnev Doctrine was perhaps the key factor that enabled the popular uprisings to succeed. Once it became evident that the feared Red Army would not intervene to crush dissent, the Eastern European regimes were exposed as vulnerable in the face of popular uprisings against the one-party system and power of secret police.

Coit D. Blacker wrote in 1990 that the Soviet leadership "appeared to have believed that whatever loss of authority the Soviet Union might suffer in Eastern Europe would be more than offset by a net increase in its influence in western Europe." Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Gorbachev ever intended for the complete dismantling of Communism and the Warsaw Pact. Rather, Gorbachev assumed that the Communist parties of Eastern Europe could be reformed in a similar way to the reforms he hoped to achieve in the CPSU. Just as perestroika was aimed at making the Soviet Union more efficient economically and politically, Gorbachev believed that the Comecon and Warsaw Pact could be reformed into more effective entities. However, Alexander Yakovlev, a close advisor to Gorbachev, would later state that it would have been "absurd to keep the system" in Eastern Europe. Yakovlev had come to the conclusion that the Soviet-dominated Comecon could not work on non-market principles and that the Warsaw Pact had "no relevance to real life."



Decommunization is a process of overcoming the legacies of the communist state establishments, culture, and psychology in the post-Communist states. It is similar to denazification.

Eastern Bloc countries faced serious economic challenges. Lech Walesa famously compared the challenges of restoring capitalism to aquarium and fish soup: "It is easy to turn an aquarium into fish soup, but not so easy to turn fish soup back into an aquarium."

Integration in the West

[[File:EU2004-2007.svg|thumb|EU's enlargements in the 2000s:


Many Eastern European countries joined the EU and NATO in 2004 and later.

Repression and mass killings

Having experienced horrors of state socialism, including genocides and atrocities, many nations have taken tough measures against socialism. In several European countries, endorsing or attempting to justify Nazi or Communist genocide will be punishable by up to years of imprisonment.

Investigations in repression and mass killings include:
  • Cambodia - The Cambodia Tribunal has prosecuted Cambodian communists responsible for the Cambodian genocide. As of 2009 only Kang Kek Iew has been tried.
  • Estonia - Communists responsible for the genocide and crimes against humanity in Estonia during the occupation of the Baltic states have been prosecuted.
  • Ethiopia - The nation has charged members of the Derg with genocide and crimes against humanity.
  • Germany - Germany has investigated and prosecuted communists who committed crimes, including Stasi agents.
  • Poland - Poland has created Communist crime laws to prosecute those responsible for repression. This concept has replaced the term previously used in Polish law for similar issues, stalinist crime (zbrodnia stalinowska), just as the concept of a Nazi crime has replaced that of the hitlerite crime; both (stalinist and hitlerite first defined in Polish legislation in 1991).


Compared with the efforts of the other former constituents of the Soviet bloc and the Soviet Unionmarker, decommunization in Russia has been restricted to half-measures, if conducted at all. As of 2008, nearly half of Russians view Stalin positively, and many support restoration of his monuments dismantled in the past. The siloviki continued to exercise great power in Russia. Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, has called the collapse of the Soviet Union "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century".



Symbols and memorials


Books and films

See also


  1. See various uses of this term in the following publications. The term is a play on a more widely used term for 1848 revolutions, the Spring of Nations.
  2. E. Szafarz, "The Legal Framework for Political Cooperation in Europe" in The Changing Political Structure of Europe: Aspects of International Law, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 0-7923-1379-8. p.221.
  3. Sorin Antohi and Vladimir Tismăneanu, "Independence Reborn and the Demons of the Velvet Revolution" in Between Past and Future: The Revolutions of 1989 and Their Aftermath, Central European University Press. ISBN 963-9116-71-8. p.85.
  4. Piotr Sztompka, preface to Society in Action: the Theory of Social Becoming, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-78815-6. p. x.
  6. Milan Balažic, Slovenska demokratična revolucija, 1986-1988 (Ljubljana: Liberalna akademija, 2004).
  7. "Самиздат: сам сочиняю, сам редактирую, сам цензурирую, сам издаю, сам распространяю, сам и отсиживаю за него." (autobiographical novel И возвращается ветер..., And the Wind returns... NY, Хроника, 1978, p.126) Also online at [1]
  8. In search of Poland By Arthur R. Rachwald, page 120
  9. Romania - Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, U.S. Library of Congress
  10. Poland:Major Political Reform Agreed, Facts on File World News Digest, 24 March 1989. Facts on File News Services. 6 September 2007
  11. Audio slideshow: The exodus of Bulgaria's Turks
  12. The Collapse Of State Socialism Foreign Affairs
  13. Coit D. Blacker. "The Collapse of Soviet Power in Europe." Foreign Affairs. 1990.
  14. Steele, Jonathan. Eternal Russia: Yeltsin, Gorbachev and the Mirage of Democracy. Boston: Faber, 1994.
  15. Is Holocaust denial against the law? Anne Frank House
  16. Genowefa Rajman, ZBRODNIE KOMUNISTYCZNE W KONCEPCJI POLSKIEGO PRAWA KARNEGO, Wojskowy Przegląd Prawniczy, Number 1 z 2006 r.
  17. Witold Kulesza, Stenogram 32 posiedzenia Senatu RP. Retrieved on 8 May 2007
  18. Karl W. Ryavec. Russian Bureaucracy: Power and Pathology, 2003, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 0-847-69503-4, page 13
  19. “The Glamorous Tyrant: The Cult of Stalin Experiences a Rebirth,” by Mikhail Pozdnyaev, Novye Izvestia
  21. Putin deplores collapse of USSR BBC
  • Dietmar Schultke: Keiner kommt durch - Die Geschichte der innerdeutschen Grenze und der Berliner Mauer, Aufbau-Verlag Berlin 2008

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