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The Warsaw Treaty (1955–91) is the informal name for the mutual defense Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance commonly known as the Warsaw Pact subscribed by eight communist states in Eastern Europe, that was established at the USSRmarker’s initiative and realised on 14 May 1955, in Warsawmarker, Poland. In the Communist Bloc, the treaty was the military analogue of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CoMEcon), the Communist (East) European economic community. The Warsaw Treaty was the Soviet Bloc’s military response to West Germanymarker’s October 1954 integration to NATO Pactmarker, per the Paris Pacts of 1954.


In the West, the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance is often called as the Warsaw Pact military alliance; abbreviated WAPA, Warpac, and WP. Elsewhere, in the member states, the Warsaw Treaty is known as:

The Cold War (1945–90): NATO vs. the Warsaw Pact, the status of forces in 1973.

Member States

The eight member countries of the Warsaw Treaty pledged the mutual defense of any member who is attacked; relations among the treaty signatories were based upon mutual non-interference in the internal affairs of the member countries, respect for national sovereignty, and political independence. The multi-national Communist armed forces’ sole joint action was the Warsaw Treaty involvment of Czechoslovakia crisis, in August 1968. The founding signatories to the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance consisted of the following communist nations:


The Warsaw Treaty’s organisation was two-fold: the Political Consultative Committee handled civil matters, and the Unified Command of Pact Armed Forces controlled the assigned multi-national forces, with headquarters in Warsaw, Poland. Furthermore, the Supreme Commander of the Warsaw Treaty forces also was the First Deputy Minister of Defense of the USSR, and the head of the Warsaw Treaty Unified Staff also was the First Deputy Head of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR. Therefore, although ostensibly an international collective security alliance, USSR Dominated the Warsaw Treaty armed forces, as the USAmarker dominated NATO Pact.


Communist Bloc Conclave: The Warsaw Pact conference, 11 May 1955, Warsaw, Poland.

In May 1955, the USSR established the Warsaw Treaty in response to the West’s integration of the Federal Republic of Germany into NATO in October 1954 — only nine years after the defeat of Nazi Germany (1933–45) that ended only with the Western Allies' (principally the US and Great Britain) and Soviet invasion of Germany in 1944/45 during World War II in Europe. Nevertheless, for 36 years, NATOmarker and the Warsaw Treaty never directly waged war against each other in Europe; but the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies did confront each other in Europe, and they did fight proxy wars within the wider Cold War (1945–91) outside Europe.

Beginning at the Cold War’s conclusion, in late 1989, popular civil and political public discontent forced the Communist governments of the Warsaw Treaty countries from power — independent national politics made feasible with the perestroika- and glasnost-induced institutional collapse of Communist government in the USSR. In the event the populaces of Hungarymarker, Czechoslovakiamarker, Albaniamarker, East Germanymarker, Polandmarker, Romaniamarker, and Bulgariamarker deposed their Communist governments in the period from 1989–91.

On 1 July 1991, in Praguemarker, the Czechoslovak President, Václav Havel (1989–92), formally ended the 1955 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance and so disestablished the Warsaw Treaty after 36 years of military alliance with the USSR. Four months later, the USSR disestablished itself in December 1991.

Eastern Europe after the Warsaw Treaty

On 12 March 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland joined NATOmarker Pact; later, Bulgariamarker, Estoniamarker, Latviamarker, Lithuaniamarker, Romaniamarker, and Slovakiamarker joined during March 2004; and Albania joined on 1 April 2009.

In November 2005, the conservative Polishmarker government opened its Warsaw Treaty archives to the Institute of National Remembrance who published some 1,300 declassified documents in January 2006. Yet the Polish government reserved publication of 100 documents, pending their military declassification. In the event, 30 of the reserved 100 documents were published; 70 remained secret, and unpublished.

Among the documents published is the Warsaw Treaty 's nuclear war plan, Seven Days to the River Rhine — a short, sharp, shock capturing Western Europe, using nuclear weapons, in self defense, after a NATO first strike. The plan originated as a 1979 field training exercise war game, and metamorphosed into official Warsaw Treaty battle doctrine, until the late 1980s — thus why the People’s Republic of Poland was a nuclear weapons base, first, to 178, then, to 250 tactical-range rockets. Doctrinally, as a Soviet-style (offensive) battle plan, Seven Days to the River Rhine gave commanders few defensive-war strategies for fighting NATO in Warsaw Treaty territory.

Soviet philatelic commemoration: At its 20th anniversary in 1975, the Warsaw Pact remains On Guard for Peace and Socialism.

See also



  1. Arlene Idol Broadhurst, The Future of European Alliance Systems (Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1982) p. 137.
  2. Christopher Cook, Dictionary of Historical Terms (1983)
  3. The Columbia Enclopedia, fifth edition (1993) p. 2926
  4. V>I> Fes'kov, K. A. Kalashnikov, V. I. Golikov, The Soviet Army in the Cold War Years (1945–2007) (Tomsk: Tomsk University Publisher, 2004) p.6
  5. The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought, third edition, 1999, pp. 637–8

Further reading

  • Vojtech Mastny, Malcolm Byrne, Magdalena Klotzbach: A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955–1991, Central European University Press, Budapest, 2005, ISBN 9637326081, ISBN 978-9637326080
  • William J. Lewis: The Warsaw Pact: Arms, Doctrine and Strategy, Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis. 1982. ISBN 0-07-031746-1. Surveys the armed forces, strategy, a campaign against NATO, matériel, uniforms, and nation- and rank-insignia.
  • Václav Havel: To the Castle and Bac New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2007.
  • Frank Umbach: Das rote Bündnis: Entwicklung und Zerfall des Warschauer Pakts, 1955–1991. Berlin: Christoph Links Verlag, 2005.

External links

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