Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century and After

By R. J. Crampton | Go to book overview
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By the terms of the definitions used in the first edition of this book neither the twentieth century nor eastern Europe exist any longer. The totalitarian parties determined to shape state, society, and soul in their ideological image have almost all collapsed, the USSR has dissolved, and it has become an expressed objective of both east European states and western governments that the former socialist countries should become integrated into the European system.

Nevertheless, the states of what was once eastern Europe retain some common features and face common problems, albeit in varying degrees of intensity. It is the object of the concluding chapter of the second edition to outline the political development of the area since the collapse of communism.

The first edition defined eastern Europe as ‘those countries which were under Soviet domination after 1945’ but indicated that the German Zwischeneuropa better incorporated the notion of ‘those areas which were excluded from west European developments but were not fully incorporated in the USSR’. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of a bipolarised Europe have made definition even more arbitrary and precarious. The areas to which the concluding chapter addresses itself are in fact the same as those in part one of the first edition. The Baltic states, having reappeared as independent entities, are included, but the former GDR is excluded. Also excluded are those former Soviet territories which had previously had little or no experience of independence in modern times and which did not therefore feature significantly in the first edition. In effect this means the exclusion of Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine.

Equal treatment has not been given to each separate entity. Where developments have been steady and smooth the story is more quickly told; where the drama, or rather the tragedy, has been more intense and more complex a lengthier examination has been considered advisable.

The preparation of a second edition has also provided an opportunity to make minor adjustments to the existing text and to add to the bibliography the most significant of recent publications.


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