Joseph Stalin and Kliment Voroshilov, was a prominent Soviet military officer and politician during the Stalin era. He was one of the original five Marshals of the Soviet Union (the highest military rank of the Soviet Union), along with Chief of the General Staff of the Red Army Alexander Yegorov (military), and three senior commanders, Vasily Blyukher, Semyon Budyonny, and Mikhail Tukhachevsky.

Soviet expansion in Eastern Europe.Twenty million Russians died during the Second World War, so Stalin said he wanted a buffer zone of friendly states around Russia to make sure that Russia could never be invaded again.Stalin was planning the takeover of Eastern Europe. During the war, Communists from the occupied countries of Eastern Europe escaped to Moscow and set up Communist governments in exile there. As the Red Army drove the Nazis back, it occupied large areas of Eastern Europe and Churchill in the so-called percentages agreement - agreed that Eastern Europe could be a Soviet "sphere of influence".The Eastern Bloc was the group of socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact.The terms Communist Bloc and Soviet Bloc were also used to denote groupings of states aligned with the Soviet Union, although these terms might include states outside.In the countries that the Red Army "liberated", communist-dominated governments took power. The Communists made sure that they controlled the army, set up a secret police force, and began to arrest their opponents. Non-Communists were gradually beaten, murdered, executed and terrified out of power. By 1949, all the governments of Eastern Europe, except Yugoslavia, were hard line Stalinist regimes.The Communists made sure that they controlled the army, set up a secret police force, and began to arrest their opponents. Non-Communists were gradually beaten, murdered, executed and terrified out of power. By 1949, all the governments of Eastern Europe, except Yugoslavia, were hard line Stalinist regimes.In 1946, in a speech at Fulton in the USA, Churchill declared that an Iron Curtain had come down across Europe, and that Soviet power was growing and had to be stopped. Stalin called Churchill's speech a "declaration of war". In 1947, Stalin set up Comintern which is an alliance of Communist countries designed to make sure they obeyed Soviet rule.

On May 5, 1955, the American, French, and British forces formally ended their military occupation of West Germany, which became an independent country. Four days later, West Germany was made a member of NATO. For U.S. politicians, this was an important step in the defense of Western Europe. Despite the reluctance of some European nations, such as France, to see a rearmed Germany, even as an ally, the United States believed that remilitarizing West Germany was absolutely vital in order to maintain a good defensive system and stop any Soviet expansion. The Soviet response was immediate. On May 14, 1955, the Soviet Union established the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance between Russia and its Eastern European satellites, including East Germany. Germany began to arm themselves again with better equipment.The Eastern Bloc refered to a group of communist states in Central and Eastern Europe, generally understood to be the countries of the Warsaw Pact.

Following World War I, the victors created nearly a dozen new nations in Eastern Europe. These nations were supposed to become democracies, but they would need time to do this. In the 1930s, time ran out. Ethnic differences, political corruption, and finally the Great Depression undermined the infant democracies.During World War II, Eastern Europe was caught between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Several Eastern European countries Hungary, Romania, and Bulgariaaligned themselves with the Nazis. Nazi troops overran most of the rest of Eastern Europe in the first years of the war. (Troops of Fascist Italy took over Albania.) Some Eastern Europeans joined resistance groups to fight the Nazis. The strongest forces emerged in Yugoslavia and Albania, led by communists. By the war's end in 1945, the Soviet Union's Red Army occupied all of Eastern Europe (except Yugoslavia and Albania).Shortly before Germany surrendered, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet communist dictator Joseph Stalin met at Yalta, a resort in the Soviet Union. The Allied leaders discussed terms for the German surrender and the future of Eastern Europe.ll Eastern European countries established a social security system. It included government health insurance, welfare services, and pensions. In most countries, men could retire as early as 60; the retirement age for women was generally a few years earlier.The rate of violent crime was low. The streets were safe. But crimes of corruption, such as bribery, flourished. People paid off officials and even shop clerks to get ahead in line or get an item in short supply. Theft was a problem for items that were in short supply. For example, car owners routinely removed their windshield wipers when they parked their cars. Otherwise, the wipers might be stolen and replacement parts were hard to find. Eastern Bloc media and propaganda was controlled directly by each country's Communist party, which controlled the state media, censorship and propaganda organs. State and party ownership of print, television and radio media served as an important manner in which to control information and society in light of Eastern Bloc leaderships viewing even marginal groups of opposition intellectuals as a potential threat to the bases underlying Communist power therein.Circumvention of dissemination controls occurred to some degree through samizdat and limited reception of western radio and television broadcasts. In addition, some regimes heavily restricted the flow of information from their countries to outside of the Eastern Bloc by heavily regulating the travel of foreigners and segregating approved travellers from the domestic population.

Soviet expansion in Eastern Europe was massive cause of the cold war. Stalin said he wanted to create a buffer zone of friendly states around Russia to make sure that Russia could never be invaded again.The Red Army was recruited exclusively from among workers and peasants and immediately faced the problem of creating a competent and reliable officers’ corps. Trotsky met this problem by mobilizing former officers of the imperial army such officers served in the Red Army and with but few exceptions remained loyal to the Soviet regime. Political advisers called commissars were attached to all army units to watch over the reliability of officers and to carry out political propaganda among the troops. As the Russian Civil War continued, the short-term officers’ training schools began to turn out young officers who were regarded as more reliable politically.

Under the communist systems of Eastern Europe, the "collective interest" of the people, as determined by the communist party, overcame any claims to individual rights. Thus, the government harshly suppressed freedom of speech, press, and assembly. The government licensed newspapers, other media, and even churches in order to control them. The practice of religion was discouraged.The communist regimes established civil and criminal court systems. In most cases, the trial courts consisted of one professional judge and two citizen "assessors," not specifically trained in the law. Public prosecutors acted as defenders of the state, public defenders, and prosecutors of crimes. They, like the judges and assessors, were accountable only to the government officials who appointed them. The officials, of course, belonged to the communist party.A fair trial might take place if the communist party had no interest in it. But otherwise the system was stacked against those accused of crimes. Defendants could be charged with political or economic crimes. The crime of "economic sabotage" included such offenses as failing to achieve a factory production quota. The courts vigorously prosecuted anyone dissenting against communist-party rule. As in the Soviet Union, Eastern European countries weeded out those suspected of disloyalty. This happened in "show trials," where the government forced defendants to confess their supposed crimes.All the Eastern European countries established extensive secret police organizations. Soviet "advisors" occupied key command positions in each of them. Moreover, secret police agents from the Soviet Union worked throughout Eastern Europe and could arrest anyone.

The Brandenburg Gate dividing East and West Berlin.Two days after sealing off free passage between East and West Berlin with barbed wire, East German authorities begin building a wall the Berlin Wall to permanently close off access to the West. For the next 28 years, the heavily fortified Berlin Wall stood as the most tangible symbol of the Cold War–a literal “iron curtain” dividing Europe.The end of World War II in 1945 saw Germany divided into four Allied occupation zones. Berlin, the German capital, was likewise divided into occupation sectors, even though it was located deep within the Soviet zone. The future of Germany and Berlin was a major sticking point in postwar treaty talks, and tensions grew when the United States, Britain, and France moved in 1948 to unite their occupation zones into a single autonomous entity–the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). In response, the USSR launched a land blockade of West Berlin in an effort to force the West to abandon the city. However, a massive airlift by Britain and the United States kept West Berlin supplied with food and fuel, and in May 1949 the Soviets ended the defeated blockade.

The USSR officially ceased to exist on 31 December 1991. The collapse of the Soviet.Union in December 1991 changed the world’s geopolitical balance. When the Soviet Union fell, it ended the tenure of a superpower with the resources of more than a dozen countries. The fall left its largest component, Russia, unable to wield anything like the global clout that the Soviet Union had for decades. The concluding drama of the Cold War  the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the end of the four-decade-old East-West conflict  unfolded in three acts between 1989 and 1991.The Bolshevik Revolution triumphed on 07 November 1917 (October 25 old calendar), when the Bolsheviks dispersed the Provisional Government from the Winter Palace in Petrograd. On 03 March 1918, Soviet government officials signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, relinquishing Poland, the Baltic lands, Finland, and Ukraine to German control and giving up a portion of the Caucasus region to Turkey. And the monarchical cause was effectively killed when Communists shot the imperial family in July 1918.Anti-Soviet popular uprisings began in Budapest and spread throughout Hungary in the autumn of 1956. On November 2, Hungarian Premier Imre Nagy, who had already promised the Hungarians free elections, denounced the Warsaw Pact and asked for United Nations support. On November 4, Soviet forces moved into Hungary and suppressed the revolt. Soviet, Polish, East German, Bulgarian, and Hungarian troops invaded Czechoslovakia on 20 August 1968, and deposed the reformist government of Alexander Dubcek, who had begun a program of economic and political liberalization (the "Prague spring")Mikhail S. Gorbachev entered office in March 1985 determined to scrap old assumptions about Soviet foreign policy. He had drawn lessons from the return of Cold War tensions in the early 1980s and they scared him. The "old thinking" believed that the USSR would emerge victorious in the Cold War if it continued building up its arsenal and fostering "progressive" regimes in the Third World in places like Angola, Ethiopia, and especially Afghanistan. Gorbachev's "new thinking" sought to reorganize and revitalize the Soviet system; but to do so required a favorable international situation to relieve the material burden of arms competition with the West. On 09 November 1989, the East German Government opened the Berlin Wall. East Germany, the center of contention throughout the Cold War, was united with West Germany and integrated into NATO. As one historian noted, in Poland communism took ten years, in Hungary ten months, in East Germany ten weeks, and in Czechoslovakia ten days to disappear. In Romania the bloody exception to the rule of peaceful transition  the end came with the execution of Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife on Christmas Day. The collapse of the Warsaw Pact a year later plus the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe [that substantially reduced Soviet superiority in conventional forces in Europe] resulted in a stronger Western alliance.The third and final act closed with the 1991 dissolution of the USSR. By 1989 Gorbachev's domestic reforms had run into serious trouble, and the economy went into a tailspin. The centrifugal forces in the "outer empire" stimulated and accelerated those in the "inner empire", as the Soviet republics sought sovereignty and then independence. As the center disintegrated and Gorbachev opened up the political process with glasnost (openness), the old communist "barons" in the republics saw the handwriting on the wall and became nationalists; they "first of all attacked the USSR government and subsequently destroyed the USSR." Asked when he decided to secede from the USSR, Ukrainian party boss Leonid Kravchuk replied: "1989" [he did so in mid-1990]. Each of the USSR's republics, as they declared independence or sovereignty, also adopted statements by the republic leaderships on service in the armed forces, including the creation of their own military forces.

US president Ronald Reagan at Brandenburg Gate - "tear down this wall".This speech by President Ronald Reagan to the people of Wes Berlin contains one of the most memorable lines spoken during his presidency. President Reagan and Mikhail S. Gorbachev  signed the first treaty reducing the size of their nations' nuclear arsenals. The President and the Soviet leader, beginning three days of talks aimed at even broader reductions, pledged to build on the accord by striving toward what Mr. Gorbachev called ''the more important goal.October 11, 1986: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev Meet in Reykjavik, Iceland, to Negotiate Disarmament.

When the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, its destruction was nearly as instantaneous as its creation. For 28 years, the Berlin Wall had been a symbol of the Cold War and the Iron Curtain between Soviet-led Communism and the democracies of the West.This same division into West and East occurred in Berlin. Since the city of Berlin had been situated entirely within the Soviet Zone of Occupation, West Berlin became an island of democracy within Communist East Germany.

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