On the 25th of April 1945, shortly before the official end of the Second World War, American and Soviet soldiers meet at the Elbe river. But to reach the Elbe river, the Russian troops had to come all the way across Europe, and so across Eastern Europe. By the end of the same year, seven states occupied by the Red Army were led by communist parties , and Albania and Yugoslavia were also ruled by local communists. If we add to the report the fact that most of the eastern part of Europe will remain under communist ruling until the end of the 1980s, the question of why communism became established in those countries seems natural. In order to answer the essay question, it might be interesting, first to examine the different reasons that led to the establishment of communism, but also to try and understand how the situation was implemented. The reasons why communism was implemented in Eastern Europe are numerous, and many classifications are used among historians.
[...] Beyond the Stalinisation of the Popular Democracies and the alternative offered by Titoism, many different tactics were used to establish communism in Eastern Europe. Hugh Seton-Watson classifies the Soviet interventions in east European affairs following three patterns: 'direct political action based on the threat of military force, indirect political action, and economic action'. We have already seen many examples of the first pattern, as proven by the presence of the Red Army, the Prague coup, the destruction of the democratic elites or the political trials and murders. [...]
[...] Eventually, communism became fully established in Eastern Europe through the Soviet influence or some internal factors as proved by Yugoslavia. Seton Watson explains that 'the prefabricated revolutions which between 1945 and 1948 brought nearly hundred million Europeans under Stalinist rule, were the first considerable triumph that could be claimed for the communist cause since the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia'. Because of the necessity of protecting the model from the threat brought by the Cold War, the communists managed (and had to) take advantage of the post-war context. [...]
[...] They were at least efficient enough for communism to last in Eastern Europe for 45 years. The question that can be debated is about the importance of the role played by the communist leaders in this establishment of communism. Would the model have been imposed if it were not 'offered' by Stalin and Tito? It is of course impossible to know, but the question proves that much can still be said and thought about the establishment of communism. Bibliography Books Bernstein, S., and Milza, P., Histoire du XXème siècle Tome 2 (Paris, Hatier, 1996) Borkenau, F., European Communism (New York, Harper &Brothers Publishers, 1953) Djilas, M., Conversations with Stalin (USA, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1962) Lovenduski, J., and Woodall, J., Politics and society in Eastern Europe (Hong-Kong, Indiana University Press, 1987) Schöpflin, G., Politics in Eastern Europe (Oxford, Blackwell Publisher Ltd., 1996) Swain, G., and Swain, N., Eastern Europe since 1945 (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 3rd Edition 1998) Internet resources http://titoism.biography.ms/ http://www.bartleby.com/65/co/Cominfor.html http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/ironcurtain.htm http://www.radio.cz/en/article/63799 http://www.turnerlearning.com/cnn/coldwar/iron/iron_re2.html http://www.usembassy.de/germany/speech_04_25_05.html http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/trudoc.htm Journal Fakiolas, E., 'Kennan's long telegram and NSC-68: a comparative theoretical analysis', in East European Quarterly, Vol. [...]
[...] In the second phase, governments were still composed of coalitions. Several parties were officially sharing the power, but their leaders were in fact chosen by the communists. As Seton-Watson explains, 'political opposition was however still tolerated, although attended with physical risks for those who practised it. Yugoslavia and Albania never passed through this stage. Poland and East Germany began their post-war history in it'. This is the phase in which the communists take advantage of the success of first stage. [...]
[...] All these elements prove, as Schöpflin suggests, that the proposed Soviet 'model is persuasive in that it creates order in what was a complex and confused situation', and that 'overall, the communists made effective use of their élan in the immediate aftermath of the war'. They were able to take advantage of the situation to gain power and influence, which shows the part the Second World War, played in the establishment of communism in Eastern Europe. As seen above, historians and scholars find in the post-war context many reasons explaining the establishment of communism. [...]
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