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The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the USSR

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Introduction

The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the USSR 1. What part did Mikhail Gorbachev play in: a. ending the Cold War, b. ending communism control in the countries of Eastern Europe and c. reforming the USSR. 2. Describe how communist control came to an end in Eastern Germany and how German reunification was achieved by October 1990. 3. Make notes on the collapse of communism in the USSR. 1. Mikhail Gorbachev was in a way the key figure in ending the Cold War, communism control in Eastern Europe and in reforming the USSR. Thanks to his policies of ‘glasnost’ (openness) and ‘perestroika’ (restructuring), Gorbachev was able to bring drastic changes into all of Eastern Europe and the USSR. He had committed himself to reform the Soviet Union and was not prepared to shore-up a Soviet-dominated structure in Central and Eastern Europe which was failing economically and was threatening to bankrupt the USSR if it continued to try and match the USA as a political and military force. Gorbachev took many initiatives on détente, arms control, improving relations with China and in slackening Russia’s heavy involvement in Afghanistan which was taking its toll. He offered many major concessions in the ongoing arms control negotiations. ...read more.

Middle

Small-scale private enterprise such as family restaurants or business making clothes or handicrafts or providing services such as car and television repairs, painting, decorating and private tuition was to be allowed, as were worker co-operatives up to a maximum of 50 workers. One motive behind this reforms was to provide competition for the slow and inefficient services provided by the state in the hope of stimulating a rapid improvement and economic growth. Another was the need to provide alternative employment as patterns of employment changed over the following decade, and as more automation and computerization were introduced into factories and offices, the need for manual and clerical workers declined. Another important change was that the responsibility for quality control throughout industry as a whole was to be taken over by independent state bodies rather than by factory management. It was hoped that by the year 200, the USSR would have experienced a profound social and economic transformation and growth. However this process is still taking place, amidst serious problems, notable corruption throughout former Soviet societies. Gorbachev was also prepared to change course in human rights. Many well-known dissidents, notably critics of the system, were released, and the Sakharovs were permitted to return to Moscow from internal exile in Gorky in December 1986. ...read more.

Conclusion

But when these trains passed through Dresden, there were riots as more Easter Germans tried to board the trains. There were huge demonstrations in Leipzig, and following the virtually hamstrung Honecker who was clearly not in control of the situation and was replaced as General Secretary by Egon Krenz in October 1989, who tried to secure popularity for the government by opening the crossing points in the Berlin Wall. Thousands poured through into West Berlin, and many started to dismantle the Wall itself, without any opposition. Indeed many of the guards on both sides even helped, and it became clear that the government had run its course. Krenz was replaced by the more moderate Hans Modrow, who conceded free elections held in March 1990. At this point, Chancellor Kohl stepped in to seize the initiative. After having secured foreign approval, including that of the USSR thanks to Gorbachev, for German reunifications, events went quickly and smoothly. In May 1990, both Germanies agreed there would be economic, social and monetary union for both on the 1st of July. Following that the Treaty of Unification was signed so that on the 3rd of October, all of Germany was unified, the former occupying Powers (USA, USSR, Britain and France) having already agreed to give up their Rights in Berlin. ...read more.

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