Berlin Wall (89)
USSR Collapse (1989-91)
In Hungary during 1956 the Communist Governmental leader (Rakosi) was removed from power and replaced by a Liberal thinking Communist called Imre Nagy.
Nagy tried to change the strict Communist rules which resulted in the oppression of the Hungarian population. He succeeded for 5 days...
The Soviet Union (Russia etc) reacted violently, but were met with violent resistance from the Hungarians. Unfortunately the Russians brought in a heavier military presence, crushed the rebellion, replaced Nagy with a new leader called Kadar and had Nagy executed.
The story was both similar and different in 1968 Czechoslovakia. Novotny was an unpopular Communist leader and was replaced by a Liberal thinking Communist called Dubcek.
Dubcek made some big changes to the rules, resulting in a freer politics, academic thinking, economy and this became known as the 'Prague Spring'.
The Soviets responded with 500,000 Warsaw Pact troops and invaded. Resistance was peaceful and very few people died. Dubcek was removed from power and replaced by Husak.
Poland experienced a similar uprising to both of the others in the 1980s. A workers Union was formed, 10 million members strong, under the leadership of Lech Walesa. He campaigned for new freedoms by striking (Gdansk Shipyard) and forced the government to make concessions (Gdansk Agreement)
The Soviet Union replaced the Polish Communist leader with Jaruzelski, who imprisoned Walesa and 10,000 other members of Solidarity.
When they were released several years later during Gorbachev's time as Russian President, Solidarity because a legitimate political party and won power from the Communist Government.
This triggered uprisings all over Europe. The Soviet Union Collapsed in 1991!
The Berlin wall was constructed because...
1. People were fleeing from East to West Berlin
2. The living standards were different on each side
3. Khruschev was worried about the USA spying on East Germany
4. There were already a formally divided East and West Germany.
Construction happened super fast. It was started on 13th August 1961 with barbed wire, by the 16th they were replacing this with concrete wall and the whole thing was complete by the end of the month!
The wall meant families were divided, living standards were extreme on each side and this got worse as time went on. 200 people were killed trying to cross over!
The wall was seen as a symbol of everything that is wrong with Communism and was eventually demolished in 1989 by Germans from both sides.
The collapse of the USSR was caused by a number of factors:
2. The Afghanistan war (not the 2001 one!)
3. Change in Russian policy (domestic and foreign)
4. Social problems within the USSR
5. A crippled economy which relied on a Russia which had run out of steam
6. Years of oppression
Due to a combination of these things over a 40 year timeframe Russia's Eastern European empire ceased to exist. Boris Yeltsin replaced Gorbachev, broke down the Soviet Union and began a less controlling 'Russian Federation'