Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century and After

By R. J. Crampton | Go to book overview

17

EASTERN EUROPE, 1956-68

The period between the Hungarian revolution of 1956 and the Czechoslovak ‘events’ of 1968 was a difficult one for the rulers of eastern Europe. The Soviet Union, despite its technological achievements in space, suffered a number of major setbacks; so too did Moscow’s east European allies. There were serious defeats for Soviet foreign policy in central and western Africa, in the six day war of 1967, and above all in the humiliation of Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. At the same time there were ideological discomforts. Despite the marxist-leninist prediction that the capitalist states would inevitably fly at each others’ throats and would equally inevitably impoverish their working classes, western Europe moved towards a significantly higher level of economic and political cooperation and enjoyed a seemingly unbreakable rise in living standards in all levels of society, whilst the Japanese showed that recovery from the devastation of war could be achieved outside the framework of marxismleninism. And it was the communist world which was fragmenting, most dramatically with the Sino-Soviet split.

In eastern Europe the Hungarian revolution had shown that political experimentation could all too easily get out of hand. Gradual economic restructuring was a much safer option and it was one which received encouragement from Moscow where in 1961, after Khrushchev had indulged in a second and far more vehement denunciation of Stalin, the CPSU adopted a new programme based on the assumption of rapid economic expansion. In 1962 articles by professor Libermann in Pravda outlined a series of measures which were aimed at decentralising economic decision making. Economic rethinking was also prompted by the fact that for most states the first stage of socialist construction was well on the road to completion if it were not actually finished. Agriculture was by and large collectivised, urbanisation was proceeding apace, and massive heavy industrial complexes were either functioning or being built. However, the economic reforms which were enacted were generated from above, from within the party/state apparatus, and they involved primarily the reorganising of economic administration.

Upheavals such as those of 1956 inevitably demanded some examination of relations between Moscow and the east European communist parties and govern-

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Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century and After
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Maps and Tables vii
  • Preface to the First Edition ix
  • Preface to the Second Edition xiii
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • 1 - Before the Twentieth Century 1
  • Part I - The Inter-War Period 29
  • 2 - The Inter-War Years 31
  • 3 - Poland, 1918-39 39
  • 4 - Czechoslovakia, 1918-38 57
  • 5 - Hungary, 1918-41 78
  • 6 - The Baltic States, 1918-40 95
  • 7 - Romania, 1918-41 107
  • 8 - Bulgaria, 1918-41 119
  • 9 - Yugoslavia, 1918-41 130
  • 10 - Albania, 1918-39 144
  • 11 - Ideological Currents in the Inter-War Period 152
  • Part II - Totalitarianism 177
  • 12 - The Second World War in Eastern Europe 179
  • 13 - The Communist Takeovers 211
  • 14 - The Communist System 240
  • 15 - East European Stalinism, 1948-53 255
  • 16 - The Retreat from Stalinism, 1953-6 275
  • Part III - Revisionism 305
  • 17 - Eastern Europe, 1956-68 307
  • 18 - Czechoslovakia, 1968-9 326
  • Part IV - The Decline of Socialism 343
  • 19 - Eastern Europe, 1969-80 345
  • 20 - The Solidarity Crisis, Poland 1980-1 367
  • Part V - The Death of Socialism 377
  • 21 - Eastern Europe, 1980-9 379
  • 22 - The Revolutions of 1989-91 391
  • Part VI - After the Twentieth Century—and after Eastern Europe? 417
  • 23 - Separate Roads to Democracy—and Elsewhere 419
  • Notes 459
  • Bibliography 469
  • Index 499
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