The Lenin yearsEdit
After taking over Russia, which became the Russian SFR (Bolshevik/Red Russia), Litbel SR, Tashkent PSR, amongst others; and then forming the USSR, they began to spread communism, in to neighboring states. They also helped set up similar states in parts of Hungary and Bulgaria at this time. The Bolsheviks helped in the creation of the short lived Bavarian-Munich SSR of 1919 and the long term takeover of Mongolia by communists in 1924.
Whilst Lennin hated Stalin, he did set up much of the represive structures , such as gulags, Stalin would later biuld his dictatorship on.
The Stalin yearsEdit
After Lenin's death, Stalin ruthlessly took power over the party started initially making friends with the European powers and Canada, whilst proceeding to obliterate large parts of the populations in both the Ukraine, Kraznordar Obast, and Bashkoitia in the Hodmador famine of the 1930s. The dictator then removed his political opposites from the Party during 1937-1938 as victims of the Gulags. Many horrific and bloody purges would hit these areas as well as other places in the Soviet Union during the 1930s and 1940s.
Field Marshal Joseph Stalin sign the Molotov - Ribbentrop Pact which led to occupation of Western Poland (now part of Belarus and Ukraine), the Baltic states, some Romanian districts and Finland’s the Karelian province. The locals either fled abroad, slavishly obeyed government orders in fear of there lives or were moved to Gulag prison camps and/or Siberian labour/concentration camps.
Over the years, Stalin killed millions of his people via bloody purges, starvation, death squads, mass gulagings, enslavement and wilfull neglect. His personal insecurity quickly lead to political paranoia, especially after Hitler had betrayed and invaded the USSR in 1941.
After World War II, the Soviet Union had established a military and/or political presence in a number of countries (only Yugoslavia, parts of Albania, eastern Slovakia and parts of eastern Poland were openly backing Communism at the time). After the war, Russia forcibly brought into power various Communist parties who were unswervingly (especially in Poland) loyal to Moscow.
Stalin helped Mao Zedong establish the People's Republic of China and his Communist regime in 1949, which would end in the Cultural Revolution and a 60 year stand-off with Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, S. Korea, The USA and Taiwan.
Between 1945 and 1948, communist governments were set up as puppet and client regimes in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany (Yugoslavia and Albania already got an interim communist government, which they wanted, before the war's end). Stalin, who was clinically paranoid by this time, finally died in 1953. The anti-communist Uprising of 1953 in East Germany was brutally crushed to please Stalin and his murderous cronies just before he died.
The Malenkov yearsEdit
Georgy Malenkov took over after Stalin's death in 1953. He ordered the leaders of the GDR to learn from the anti-communist Uprising of 1953 in East Germany and bring in some major reforms or they would be brutally crushed by Malenkov!
Malenkov struggled with both a ruind nation and the increasingly bizzar power struggle within the Kremlin and was quoted to say "a nuclear war could lead to global destruction."
He advocate the lessening heavy industry in order to increase production of consumer goods, but reduced diversity by subsidising only a narrow list of goods and bread. A drastic imbalance across the still war damaged Soviet national economy leading to a temporary shortages of even basic goods due to mismanagement and poor planning.
There severe food deficits despite of his plans to give more rewards to the farmers on collective farms. The government’s agricultural was a failure.
He also wanted to reduce the Soviet arms build up, decrease the power of the secret police and make friends with the West. He was well aware that the USSR still had many post war problems to solve and was struggling to keep up with the West.
The bulk of low quality early era Khrushchyovka houses started to be built at this time due to a post World War 2 housing shortage.
Malenkov was sadly opposed to handing power to the younger generation and beleved in following the more progresive parts of the Stalinist ideology, which was what got him in trouble with Khrushchev and Bulganin, after only 2 years in power. He was forced to resign before the could have him removed from office and impeached. They believed he was personally responsible for the government’s ill-planned and botched up agricultural policy not succeeding.
When Malenkov was Russian Commissar for power stations, he visited a car factory and General Electrical Company (G.E.C.) powers station at Witten, in Birmingham during 1956. He had also visited Castle Donington Power Station in 1950.
He was eventually kicked out of the Communist Party of the USSR, was banished eastern Kazakhstan, but manage to get a job running a local hydro-electric dam. Malenkov finally became a Russian Orthodox priest of the rank of Reader.
The Bulganin yearsEdit
Following Stalin's death in 1953, the later removal Malenkov, a political "thaw" in the Soviet sphere allowed a more liberal faction of the Polish communists, led by Władysław Gomułka, to gain power. Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin visited Britain in the April of 1956. Bulganin was also present at the Geneva Summit on reunification and disarmament of Germany in the July of 1955.
Ecanomic, industrial and agricultural reforms continued in places, but not so fast or as many.
The Soviets retained garrison troops throughout the territories they had occupied. During The Cold War these states formed the Warsaw Pact and Comecon, have continuing political and military tensions with the capitalist NATO bloc, in a 50 year stand-off in Europe.
Khrushchev took power and start simultaneous economic, political, industrial, agricultural and moral reforms. However, the big loss taken in World War 2 didn't seem to have been fully reverted and economic poorness began to swallow the nation.
Many well crafted projects, like space Sputnik and the Khrushchyovka apartment buildings worked well; but others, like agriculture's Virgin Lands Campaign and aircraft like the Ekranoplans, were major flops due to continuing poor planning and even more grandiose ideas! Industry and consumer goods picked up for a while, but it did not last.
In the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, a spontaneous nationwide pro-democracy revolt had occurred and the Soviet Union invaded Hungary to re-assert its control. They chose not to act in Poland during the Polish October or the Poznan 1956 protests. He denounce Stalin and was betrayed by the Chinese despot, Mao Zedong.
Alexei Kosygin and Lieoned Brezhnev were opposed to each other's views on communism.
The 1965 Soviet economic reforms proposed by Alexei Kosygin, sometimes called the Kosygin reform or Liberman reform, were a set of planned changes in the economy of the Soviet Union (USSR). It allowed for profitability and sales as the key indicators of enterprise success. There was to be no stigma in ploughing some money back in to firms. Workers would also be allowed corporate rewords like pay rises and free lodgings. The reforms were stopped and mostly undone by 1973 since the ruling party gerontocracy thought it would go to far as in the Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia and the previous reform attempts in Socialist Republic of Hungary.
The USSR was scared shitless by the idea of reforming democratising its satellite states. It chose to brutally repress the pro-democracy Prague Spring by organizing the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Only Romania and Yugoslavia questioned the crack down, while just Albania ignored it.
Détente then occurred in several East-West summits between Brezhnev and America's president Nixon. Arms reduction, political values, human rights, press freedom, space exploration and trade were the leading topics.
A add-mixture of corruption, fear, incompetence, government dictates, political paranoia, wastefulness, backwardness, and in inefficacy gradually undermined the Soviet state from within after the mid 1970's. 1968 Polish political crisis caused even more chaos as that nation started to fall apart.
Détente flourished in the 1970s, but it was fatally disrupted by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.
By this time Nomenklatura that had been first peering over the fence under Malenkov had finally come to age with the corrupted parts using illegal discreetly placed drably painted doors to secretly find converted basements full of the forbidden pleasures of capitalism, such as drugs, prostitutes, posh food, Rolex watches, Havana cigars....
By the early 1980s the declining Soviet economy got a big hit, thus affecting the whole block. In Poland, more than 60% of population lived in poverty, and inflation, measured by black-market rate of the U.S. dollar, was 1,500% in the period 1982–1987. Poland later became the cradle of the Revolutions of 1989. The Summer 1981 hunger demonstrations in Poland proved that nation was a complete failure under communism!
The by now both ailing and geriatric Soviet Politburo apparatchiks and military chiefs, were de facto led from the death-bed of the terminally ill Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov, a man with no first-hand knowledge of the United States. It's leadership style was that of a non-functional dinosaur at the best of times!
During World War II, Andropov took part in partisan guerrilla activities in Finland and the First Secretary of the Central Committee of Komsomol in the Soviet Karelo-Finnish Republic from 1940 to 1944. After the assassination attempt against Brezhnev in January 1969, Andropov led the interrogation of the captured gunman, Viktor Ivanovich Ilyin. Ilyin was pronounced insane and sent to Kazan Psychiatric Hospital.
He was appointed Soviet Ambassador in Hungary and held this position during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and was so terrified by the Hungarians violence, Andropov suffered from a "Hungarian complex", after these events. He believed that the use of violence was the only thing that was safe to use in the in Prague in 1968, in Kabul in 1979, in Warsaw in 1981.
The Soviet's politically paranoid and bigoted military and political hierarchy (in particularly the 'old guard' led by the Soviet General Secretary, Yuri Andropov, and the Soviet Defence Minister, Dmitry Ustinov,) feared that the US was both war-waky, militarily provocative, political bigoted and trying to undermine the post Cuba Crisis understanding on how they should act during peace time; thus they were deeply suspicious of US President Ronald Reagan's intentions and openly fearful he was planning a first strike nuclear attack against the Soviet Union. The GDR and FRG were also concerned a war was imminent, as the USSR and USA squared up for a pointess war.
Konstantin Chernenko was also a dying man and was as good as useless as Andropov's deputy. He had negotiated a trade pact with the People's Republic of China and helped Sino-Soviet relations, but he also just let the Cold War escalate with the United States. Later U.S. and the Soviet Union did agree to resume arms control talks in early 1985.
He stopped a visit to West Germany by East German leader Erich Honecker 1984; but met Britain's Labour Party leader, Neil Kinnock In late autumn of 1984.
Mikhail Gorbachev was elected General Secretary by the Politburo on March 11, 1985, only three hours after Konstantin Chernenko's death. Upon his accession at age 54, he was the youngest member of the Politburo. Gorbachev's primary goal as General Secretary was to revive the Soviet economy after the stagnant and corupt Brezhnev years.
During perestroika the closed cities' restricted status was removed and foreigners were allowed to visit the cities yet again and the massive steel mill was sold off. Gorbachev ("Gorbie"/"Gorba") tried to save the economy, but he failed miserably.
Statistically, Romania and Albania were the worst of the Eastern European nations; while the GDR, Hungary and Czechoslovakia were the best; and the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland and Yugoslavia were about average. The Caribbean island of Cuba was about on a par with Yugoslavia. By this time Poland was a major strain on Comecon resources and patience.
Life under communist regimesEdit
The USSR had made great advance during it's existence, but had also become very dictatorial over the years. Politicial prisons and the secret police were to be feared and loathed when run under the rule of both Stalin and Brezhnev. Several Soviet satellite states joined the Warsaw Pact and Comecon.
The Communist governments ran the media as a organ of the state, completely subordinate to and run according to both the Communist party and it's ideology. Media served as an important role in the dissemination and portrayal of information, and were thus were considered by authorities. This would to be vital to Communism's survival by stifling alternative concepts and criticism of the regime's methodology and beliefs. However, Western countries began to use powerful radio transmitters which enabled Western broadcasts (like those of the BBC, VOA and RDW) to be heard in the Eastern Bloc, despite attempts by authorities to jam the air waves to blot out unwanted radio and TV signals. The act of Samizdat, that is to say, reproducing uncensored versions of officially censored versions of censored publications by hand and passing them from around from reader to reader was one of the key forms of dissident activity across the Soviet-bloc. Outside TV and radio transmissions were often jammed.
Political beliefs were taken to the extreme in places like the Politburo! Indoctrination under Communist regimes would later be criticized as leaving a legacy of moral apathy and indifference in their respective countries, as well as introduction of widespread cults of personality, dishonesty, dictatorial attitudes and disdain of criticism, as personified by the long standing regimes of Byelorussia (dictator), Uzbekistan (dictator), Russia (semi-dictator) and Kazakhstan (semi-dictator) that in office today and the Turkmenistani regime (egotist cult of personality) that held sway from 1991 to 2008.
Environmental and social degradation was heavy in European Communist countries. The air pollution, groundwater contamination, censorship, secret policing, spies, the useless VEB Sachsenring Trabant car, brutal office block architecture, shortages, grandiose government wastage, various levels of corruption (and often politically misguided ideas) and the Chernobyl disaster became the negative icons of life under Communism.
War torn Romania's scarce post-war resources were drained by war reparation to the USSR and the SovRoms, which were new tax-exempt Soviet-Romanian companies that allowed the Soviet Union to control Romania's major sources of income.
In Poland, more than 60% of population lived in poverty and food shortages were normal. Inflation when measured by black-market rate of the U.S. dollar to the Zloti, was 1,500% in the period 1982 – 1987. Poland later became the cradle of the Revolutions of 1989. There were some success stories with the general industrialization and urbanization and many improvements in the standards of living in Poland since 1945, the nation was marred by social unrest and economic depression.
In the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, a spontaneous nationwide anti-authoritarian revolt, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary to assert control. The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 or Hungarian Uprising of 1956 (Hungarian: 1956-os forradalom or felkelés). From 1950 to 1952, the Security Police forcibly relocated thousands of people and tried to bully the nation in to vassalage to the USSR
In the People's Republic of China, the Great Leap Forward in the 1950s, the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the Campaign to Suppress Counter-revolutionaries in the 1950s, and psudo-land reform, brought about the death of about 30 to 35 million of people. It was a catastrophic failure.
The Cuba Crisis almost lead to World War 3 in 1962.
In 1968, the USSR repressed the Prague Spring by organizing the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. When Nicolae Ceaușescu became head of the Communist Party in 1965 and head of state in 1967, he began to question Soviet political dogma and reduced political repression for a while. He then assumed the newly established role of President in 1974. When he denounced the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia helped win his regime cudos in the West and in Romania. Unfortunately the rapid economic growth due most to mismanaged foreign aid credits, which ultimately only fueled the need for foreign aid and a crippling national debt as more of it was mismanaged and/or stolen. Life gradually slipped in to the austerity and political repression that led to the fall of his totalitarian government in December 1989. Poland rebelled again and the army massacred a protest by Polish workers in Szczecin during the 1970s.
By the early 1980s, nearly all the economies of the Eastern Bloc had stagnated, falling behind the technological advances of the West. The systems, which required a government run party-state planning at all levels, ended up collapsing under the weight of accumulated economic inefficiencies, with various attempts at reform merely contributing to the acceleration of crisis-generating tendencies. The Bydgoszcz events of March 1981 showed Poland was a troubled land.
The Braşov Rebellion hit Romania in 1987. in which about 20,000 workers at the local Steagul Roşu truck plant protested reduced salaries and the proposed and of 15,000 job cuts in the city. They marched toward the Communist headquarters at the city center. They complained about there poor pay, then they shouted slogans like “Down with Ceauşescu!”, “Down with Communism!”, chanting anthems of the 1848 Revolution "Down with the Dictatorship" and "We want bread." Later 20,000 workers from the Brașov Tractor Plant, Hidromecanica factory and a number of townspeople joined the protest march and sacked the headquarters building and city hall. They destroyed portraits of Ceauşescu and removed food from the canteen. A massive bonfire was made of hate local party records and propaganda, which burned for several hours in the city square. At the end of the day the Securitate secret police force and troops violently crushed it. There were 300 arrests and many wounded.
Whilst Soviet forces were awesome on paper in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a sharp economic decline, shortages in key industries, endemic political corruption and bureaucratic inefficacy had devastated their battle readiness. Many had also started to doubt the value of Life under communism.
There were queues were waiting to enter usually empty stores and shops was typical in Romania since the 1960s, the USSR from the early 1980s, Mongolia in the late 1980s and Poland between the 1950s and 1980s. The Black Book of Communism, published in 1997, estimates that 94 million people were killed under Communist regimes.
Kraków's Nowa Huta housing\industrial complex in Poland, the petro-chemical works Cluj in in Romania and Magnitogorsk's massive metallurgical works in Russia were well known for their industrial pollution, soot clouds, smogs and strangely coloured toxic smoke clouds during the 1970s and 1980s. During perestroika Magnitogorsk's closed city status was removed and foreigners were allowed to visit the city again and the massive steel mill was sold off.
By the Brezhnev era Nomenklatura that had been first peering over the fence under Malenkov had finally come to age with the corrupted parts using illegal discreetly placed drably painted doors to secretly find converted basements full of the forbidden pleasures of capitalism, such as drugs, prostitutes, posh food, Rolex watches, Havana cigars....
Cars and vansEdit
the useless VEB Sachsenring Trabant (AKA “Trabbie”) car was a fiberglass bodied failure that most East Germans dumped for cheap Fiat models soon after Germany’s reunification.
Like the Lada Riva, the Dacia 1100, 1986 Dacia 1310 (AKA-The RO4) and Dacia 1100; Skoda Estelle, the FSO Polonez Celina, Prima and Caro; Polski Fiat 126p, Zastava 750, and Yugo were all meant to be cars on a par with either those like Austin 'Mini' Metro and/or cheep western cars like the Fiat 126 , Fiat 131, SEAT 1430, Fiat 126 and Tofaş Murat 131.
Czech Tatra T3 – 14,113 units sold worldwide make it one of the highest-selling types of tram. total production, between 1960 and 1999, 13,991 powered units and 122 unpowered trailers were sold worldwide, mostly in Central and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Reliability was excellent if they were looked after by their owners.
A Khrushchyovka (Russian: хрущёвка, pronounced [xrʊˈɕːɵfkə]) is a type of prefabricated Soviet apartment building that was built in the former USSR. They were named Nikita Khrushchev, who the party director for Moscow in the 1950s and who was in charge of the Soviet government in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
They were first thought of as a way of tackling the post war housing shortage of 1947 to 1951 and later expanded in to various other urban housing projects since they were cheep, quickly erected, used less ground space than other options and were easy to build. Most were biult between mid 1950s and early 1960s and are now in need of repair or demolition due to old age.
The Ceauşescus face justice!Edit
Modern day improvementsEdit
Most had a
- Raadio vabadus Eesti- ja Liivimaal
- Radio brīva Latvija un Pärnu
- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
- Radio Moscow
- Cold War radio propaganda
- The anti-communist "Revolutions of 1989"
- Cold War radio jamming
- Why the USSR broke up in reality
- Operation Gladio
- Soviet Social Apparatus
- Cold War secret police organisations
- Political Bureau (Politburo)
- Russian and Soviet Leaders since 1917
- Politically Communist and/or Socialist
- The "plain"/"secret"/"dark"/"drab" doors
- Soviet political organs
- Politically Communist and/or Socialist
- Political Bureau (Politburo)
- The "Baltic Chain" demonstration on August 23, 1989
- A political diorama
- The House of the Soviets, Kaliningrad