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How effectively did the Soviet Union control Eastern Europe from 1945 to 1968?

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Introduction

How effectively did the Soviet Union control Eastern Europe from 1945 to 1968? Danielle Solanki-Mensah In 1945, it was very important that Stalin gained control over his sphere of influence; WW2 had come to an end, and the future of the Soviet Union was at an unstable point. From 1945-8 Stalin used a series of 'salami' tactics to gain control over the Eastern European countries. This would involve setting up communist parties within a country, winning a coalition government, and ultimately, taking over to run a full communist regime. This was effective in the sense that Stalin, in the space of three years, was able to takeover seven different countries. However, out of these, only one country - Albania - allowed the takeover without any opposition, the other countries gave more of a struggle. There was obviously some backlash against Stalin's actions, as they did not run smoothly, and this is why he probably had to use more severe tactics when trying to take control over Eastern Europe. In Bulgaria (1945), Stalin had all opposing party members executed, and was only then able to take full control. ...read more.

Middle

Stalin finally dies in 1953, and Khrushchev takes over. He introduces a new relaxed policy, and looks to 'de-Stalinise' Eastern Europe, hoping to promote better relations with the West. Subsequently, other countries within the sphere wanted a more liberal government, and started to rebel. This shows that Stalin himself, along with his attitude and thinking, was an effective way to keep control over Eastern Europe. he was not a liberal man, he insinuated fear and death throughout the people, who dared not oppose. Now that there is a more liberal leader in office, the people feel this is the opportunity they need to express their feelings. What Khrushchev may have done wrong, was to initiate an 'instant' change, which could not be done on a large scale in regards to the whole of Eastern Europe at one given time. Stalin was effective in what he did, as he used gradual changes to implant his policy. 1953 also saw riots in Czechoslovakia, where people where burning Soviet flags and demolishing Stalin statues - this was an obvious attack on Soviet power. However, the riots were quickly put down by the Red army, but the consequences were not great ones, and therefore encouraged strikes in East Germany to occur. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is the first time compromising had been used, but quickly backfired. Riots continued, and Nagy had declared Hungary would be leaving the Warsaw Pact. The S.U. was looking at losing control over one country, and sure enough, others would follow. The Soviets again, reverted back to trusted methods, calling in the Red Army to crush all uprising - killing Nagy in the process. The exact same happened with Czechoslovakia in 1968. It now seems that from 1945-68, there were times when the Soviet had complete control over Eastern Europe, and others, quite the opposite. Stalin had realised that in order to have control, he would have to use extreme tactics - the fear of the Red Army, propaganda etc. He also knew that with complete control, there was no edge way for choice or compromise with the people. This is where Khrushchev went wrong, expecting to have complete control when he gave individual countries more power. Knowing of such a relaxed attitude, the people then took advantage of this, and were no longer scared of the repercussions, as there is uprising after uprising under Khrushchev's rule. By the mid-50's effective control is on its way to becoming highly non-existent. ...read more.

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