The end of the Cold War

Eastern Europe’s 1989 revolutions

As part of his strategy to revitalize the communist regime, Gorbachev reduced some of the Soviet influence in Eastern Europe and abandoned the previous doctrine of military intervention to preserve communist regimes in satellite nations. Instead, he encouraged reforms in those countries, believing that their communist leaders should take their own measures to gain and maintain the sympathy of the people.

This led to a wave of reforms and changes in the Soviet bloc. In 1989, Hungary’s communist government passed reforms which led to a multiparty system and democratic elections. Poland followed suit, where the first non-communist government since 1948 rose to power.

Political reforms were also initiated in East Germany. East German protestors asked for the borders separating East Germany from both West Berlin and West Germany to be opened. Although the government’s leader, Erich Honecker, resisted this possibility and threatened the protesters with violence, he lo...

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