Now and Then: 20 Years After the Soviet Collapse | EurasiaNet.org.
Tag: Soviet Union
The Making of 1989:
Few people remember Günter Schabowski. Schabowski, the spokesman for the East German Communist Party Politburo, played a vital role in the toppling of the East German Communist government in the fall of 1989. During a press conference on November 9, 1989, a reporter asked him about new travel regulations issued by the government that seemed to indicate the possibility of easier travel into West Berlin through the Berlin Wall. Schabowski had only recently received a copy of the new regulations and had not yet read them carefully. The reporter asked when, exactly, East German citizens could begin to take advantage of these new travel rules. Schabowski shrugged and responded, “from now.” See video clip Here
That evening Reuters reported (incorrectly) that East German citizens could cross into West Germany by any border crossing and West German television news programs reported that the Berlin Wall was opening. Within minutes, thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands of Berliners, both East and West, began converging on the Berlin Wall. Without orders for how to handle the surging crowds, the East German border guards simply opened the gates. Crowds poured through in both directions and within minutes began tearing down the wall that had for so long symbolized the division of Europe into a Communist East and a non-Communist West.
The night that the Berlin Wall collapsed was certainly one of the most dramatic moments in the cascading events of 1989, events that brought the era of Communist rule in Eastern Europe to a close. Textbooks often describe the events of that year as the inevitable collapse of a repressive system in favor of a freer democratic form of government. But the reality is much more complex. Many forces, both internal and external, conspired to bring down the Communist regimes, and not every government that replaced them could be described as fully democratic.
Catholic Church in Poland: The Catholic Church, Solidarity, and the 1987 Papal visit to Poland.
Everyday Life in Eastern Europe: A wide range of sources analyzing “everyday life” in Eastern Europe.
Nationalities in the USSR: Nationalism and its role in the end of the Soviet Union.
Solidarity Comes to Power: The 1989 Polish election that brought Solidarity to power.
Economies in Transition: The role that economic factors made in the events of 1989.
The Unique Experience of Romania: Romania’s Communist Regime was removed by popular revolt.
THE RESOURCES OF THIS ARCHIVE:
Introductory Essay: Sets the scene for the events of 1989 and explains their significance in world history.
Primary Sources: Over 300 primary sources, including government documents, images, videos, and artifacts with introductory notes.
Scholar Interviews: Four scholars focus on the history & events surrounding 1989 through primary sources.
Teaching Modules: Modules provide historical context, strategies, and resources for teaching the history of 1989 with primary sources.
Do You Know This Woman?
Throughout the Cold War both sides regularly sent agents across the border, both to gather information that might be useful and to test the ability of the guardians of the border to catch agents of the other side.
Divorce in haste, repent at leisure
Divorce in haste, repent at leisure
Twenty years today the USSR held a referendum on whether to support the proposed New Union Treaty. The new setup would have given much more power to the republics; the word used to describe it then was “confederation”.
This infographic displays data on how people voted during this referendum (click for full size)
(This graphic could be misleading, as it takes numbers not from the whole population of potential voters but from those who actually did vote; in several areas not voting was voting “no”). The three Baltic SSRs, the Moldavian, Georgian and Armenian SSRs did not hold votes, on the grounds that they had not legally been incorporated into the USSR in the first place. But the Abkhaz ASSR voted by a small margin to stay in. The Chechen-Ingush ASSR voted to get out as did the Nakhichevan ASSR
Three quotations are instructive: “The recent dramatic events [ie the coup attempt] showed that our republic is absolutely unprotected… ” (Kravchuk 1991); “if Ukraine really will not be in the Union, I cannot imagine such a Union” (Yeltsin 1991); “I believed that Ukraine is so rich that it provided for the entire [Soviet] Union” (Kuchma 1993).
Divorce in haste, repent at leisure: a recent poll from Ukraine says half the population now regrets the breakup. (See article More than half of Ukrainians regret Soviet breakup [Ria Novosti])
(Via Business Special Report [BSR] Russia)